Monday, August 1, 2011

Are We Doomed?

Angels in America, Part Two begins with the oldest living Bolshevik asking three questions:
  1. Are we doomed?
  2. Will the past release us?
  3. Can we change?  In time?
In Angels, we see characters who loved their partners, but not enough.  There's Louis who was unable to handle his partner (Prior)'s AIDS.  He hoped he could escape his life and focus only on himself.  We see Joe who tried to abandon his wingy wife (Harper) and escape into his passionate moments with Louis.  And there's Roy Cohn who loved nobody and his loyalty was unapologetically only to himself (and note:  it is Roy who dies).  In the cosmological scenes, it seems that god did not love the angels enough and has abandoned them.  The angels are waiting for him or her to return.  The cosmological scenes seem to suggest complex societal changes as god, the angels, and humanity all drift away from each other.  (An old order is dying and a new one is struggling to be born.)

In the end, the possibility of redemption comes from the willingness of Prior and Harper to cut themselves off from Louis and Joe, cut themselves off from those who did not love them enough.  Not being loved enough is one slow, sure death.... and if god has not loved the angels enough, perhaps they too should stop waiting.

So I believe the play's answers to the questions that begin it are
  1. No.
  2. Only when we accept it.
  3. Maybe, some of us can.  Change.  In time.

 Here's a downer.  A quote from the play:

Harper: In your experience of the world. How do people change?
Mormon Mother: Well it has something to do with God so it's not very nice. God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can't even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn. It's up to you to do the stitching.
Harper: And then up you get. And walk around.
Mormon Mother: Just mangled guts pretending.
Mormon Mother: That's how people change.

1 comment:

  1. Doomed is a matter of degrees.

    The perennial bachelor is doomed when he marries. The sailor is doomed when he chooses a landlocked life. The Gambler is doomed when certainty replaces Lady Luck as his companion.

    Perhaps we are all doomed in the sense that we all strive to shed previous skins, leaving the person we were behind in favour of something new or different.

    It is the 'mangled guts' of our experience that defines the nature of our future clothes. It is the ordered chaos of our life that defines us as 'angels', 'devils' or merely human.