Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Tony Kushner's speech is online


The other day, I told y’all about Tony Kushner’s commencement address at SUNY Purchase. Yesterday, the college posted the text of the speech.

Go read it, please. As you do, keep in mind that the odd punctuation is trying to convey Mr Kushner’s delivery, at the same time breathless and rushed (in response to laughter early in the speech, he admonished us not to interrupt him, saying that they only gave him five minutes and he wrote more than that), and yet done in perfect rhythm and with perfect emphasis, as a playwright acting in his own play.

Here are my favourite bits:

I began speaking at commencements in the mid-1990s, during the Clinton Interruption of the Reagan Counter-Revolution, and I have continued speaking at commencements, at shorter and greater lengths, throughout the resumption of the Reagan Era, through these past eight years, these long, long, long years of an administration whose every action outflanks one’s wildest satirical impulses and surpasses even the most hyperbolically alarmist imagination.
The rat gets depressed. I am the rat’s poor earth-borne companion and fellow mortal. Ow! I feel his pain. I know it well. It isn’t depression; call it by its correct name: it’s terror. The world, which once seemed a flowing fountain of corn and malt, now stands revealed as the cage it actually is, a prisonhouse of no good possibilities and a future we cannot see but which will bring, we guess, more shocks, further fear, further terror. Ow! The subprime mortgage collapse! Ow! The bloody, criminal miasma in Iraq! Ow! Global warming! Ow! The cyclone and the junta in Burma! Ow! Ow! The earthquake and the lack of construction standards in China! Ow! The President of the United States stands before the Knesset and deliberately — to the extent that anything this President does truly merits the adverbial form of the word “deliberation” — and deliberately confuses appeasement and diplomacy! Ow!
That fear’s followed by hope, my husband reminding me that a likely heavy big-D Democratic turnout, far greater in number than the Republican turnout in the primaries, in November will favor the defeat of the homophobes’ plans; which hope is followed by the depressing news that neither candidate for the Democratic nomination is going to openly disavow the separate-but-equal discriminatory treatment implicit in any exclusion of LGBT citizens from the legally-sanctioned estate of marriage; followed by the news that Governor Schwarzenegger, who’s a Republican, sort of, is going make a break with his party and not support the homophobes, and so on...


Julietta said...

I LOVE Tony Kushner.

Anonymous said...

i acctually graduated with that speech. it was soo amazing to hear