Getting a Fix from ‘The Connection’


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

September 8, 1960, Vol. V, No. 46

So You Don’t Identify

By Mike Newberry

So you don’t identify with Marlon or Montgomery. Clift, that is, not Robert.

How about Frankie or Harry, Joanne or Shelley? Winters that is, not Bysshe. No one identifies with Bysshe these days but Gregory Corso, and he only in the original, in the Harvard Library.

You may meditate on this, if you wish, walking away from the performance of “The Connection” of Jack Gelber, the way you walk away from a raging canvas of Jackson Pollock, to see if you can see it. To see, simply, to see.

Suppose you do not walk away, but insist on sticking your nose unto the stage, into the canvas? What will happen? You will be drowned, overwhelmed, devoured, and digested by the work and, no longer an observer, but a participant of line and and shape and color, you will be destroyed, as by a magician. The audience destroyed by the artist? The body destroyed by its shadow? Character destroying the actor? Reality destroyed by its abstract image? God destroyed by a winestained, sensual monk whose obesities are unwashed?

It is well and good to talk of identifying with a work of art or artist. But be forewarned!

Once the audience has crossed the footlights, that dividing line between illusion and reality, beyond the scenery, illusion will be not the same. Nor will reality. It is the price of artistry…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]