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Arthur Miller


Vanity Fair ran a story two weeks ago about Arthur Miller's hidden son. The above is a NY Time "exposé" on the story. Basically the son was born (his name is Daniel) to Miller's third wife. She wanted to keep him, Miller said they wouldn't and put him in an institution where he lived his entire life. He never mentioned the kid, not even in his big auto-biography. And then finally a few weeks before he died he rewrote his will, splitting his estate equally among his children, including Daniel.

People online (because having a blog makes you important) are falling all over themselves to shit talk him because of this. His plays were about the evils of being inhuman toward each other, the importance of understanding, and frequently indicted common people for being willfully ignorant or lacking compassion. So many people see this as a dirty secret from a hypocrite. Others say that Daniel was born well after most of Arthur Miller's well known plays were written and that after that time his work was never really up to par. These people draw a correlation between the secret kid and the dip in the quality of Miller's plays, implying that guilt made him incapable of the self righteous fire he previously employed.

Either way - I don't think people understand how common the "it's deformed, put it in a home" phenomenon was in the '40's, '50's, and '60's. Probably because it conflicts with the dumb Rockwellian ideal of what that time period was.

I want to say it doesn't matter. That his plays are his plays and are separate from who he was as a person. But then - I can't listen to Bo Diddly because I think he's a piece of shit. So does an artist's work stand alone or does who they are as a person have a hand in not just how they are seen, but how they *should* be seen? I don't think there's a standard equation for that.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 7th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC)
Apparently he married his third wife and they had Daniel in 1962.

And from what I read, his concern about keeping Daniel wasn't just what anyone else would think - it was fear of having his daughter be raised with him. People of the time period frequently felt that down syndrome (they tended to call people with downs syndrome "mongoloids" just like anyone who was mentally retarded was an "idiot") made people crazed, super strong, uncontrollable, etc. and that it was actually dangerous to have them around other people. Which if funny given just how opposite a case that is as people with downs tend to be really sweet, passive, kind, etc. moreso than your average person.

After Daniel was born he published one acts, books, monologues, a few non-fiction pieces and his autobiography. But none of this "big works" came after that point. I find it interesting that his entire chronology though is sprinkled with his efforts to free dissident writers from the Soviets, the Czech government, etc. He never stopped trying to make sure writers were free to write, even if it was damning the current regime.

And honestly - if you can watch Tom Cruise and not dislike him, you're a better person than me. For me though it's his scenery chewing that I can't take more than his personal life.

Sep. 7th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)
I feel that an artist should be separate from his or her work. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that it's not understandable for someone to personally be unable to make that separation.

Did that make any sense?
Sep. 7th, 2007 05:12 pm (UTC)
heh, complete and total :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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