Outside People

Mr. Isherwood recently reviewed Mr. Zayd Dohrn’s new play Outside People.  I wrote a comment.  Here it is:

As you know, Mr. Isherwood, I do not generally favor your favorable reviews. I find them pandering and saccharine–they are abrupt and unsatisfying without feeling achingly true. Your recent love letter to that Sontag piece was disturbing–I understand that we must pay some grudging obeisance at the altar of certain intellectual icons, but I hope that in the future you can better control yourself. The only reason to pay homage to an intellectual is to give others the impression that we are intellectuals too. If we go too far, we risk drawing attention to our enterprise. I know you know this truth already–it’s just a word of caution and reminder.

Happily, though, this particular review had a bright spot: despite giving the impression that the play is about someone lost and searching for his place in the world (yawn! Having no sense of direction at all, my wife is constantly lost. I am chronically misplacing her. So I can tell you from experience that few things are more boring than lostness–it is quite prosaic and hardly a worthy topic for a play), you wind up telling us that the chief subject of the play is Chinese insularity. How gratifying to read a critic who is not afraid to make such authoritative, iron-clad pronouncements! Whether you are right or wrong is beside the point, Mr. Isherwood–what you pronounce is no mere opinion, it is Law! I cannot underestimate the value of such firm declarations–hopefully, the playwright will read this review and understand what his play is truly about! And hopefully, he will thank you for it, as I do now.

Dean Thropwelle

I hope you agree!


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