Friday, 20 October 2006

Three Uses of The Knife

"The avant-garde is to the left what jingoism is to the right. Both are a refuge in nonsense."

Three Uses of the Knife is an excellent book by writer and general theatre legend, David Mamet.

The book concerns itself with what makes good drama, why good drama matters in the modern age and why making drama is an essential component of human existence. It also turns out that the book is a very powerful piece of contemporary philosophy.

Mamet makes comparison with ancient Rome and the modern day, stating that: "when all avenues of success have been travelled and all prizes won, the final prize is the delusion of godhead" and so via the act of deification that viewer-voter-fan commits to its preferred choice of individual, we are building the replacement to religion.

He also speaks powerfully about the true purpose of drama: "to remind us that we live in an extraordinarily debauched, interesting, savage world, where things really don't come out even...the purpose of theatre, like magic, like religion (those three harness mates) is to inspire cleansing awe."

As always with Mamet I end up disagreeing with him on some fundamentals, for instance he lays out his argument for theatre never being used an instrument for social change, something I hold as a firm belief. His argument is that it relies on the writer assuming an air of moral/knowledge supremacy that is not only offensive but flawed.

I don't think I could be an actor if I didn't believe that drama and theatre were tools for change, change for the better, no matter how small the victory may be.

Oh and the three uses of the knife are: to cut the bread to give you strength to work, to shave your face to look nice for your lover and on discovering her with another, to cut out her lying heart.


  1. "on discovering her with another, to cut out her lying heart".
    Here here!
    I can definately buy in to that. I once told a my lover "If I catch you lying to me, I will stab you in the neck!"
    I see nothing wrong with that...?

  2. Agreed.

    Harsh but fair, best way to be. At least you know where you stand and always good to wear your passion and your love on your sleeve.

  3. You know where you stand by the fact that you're standing and haven't been dropped by your "lover"'s knife?

    I stand, therefore I am in good standing?

    Hopefully they don't just "think" you're lying. Like they would if they were told tall tales about you by their potential next lover...

  4. Drama and theatre changes nothing - it is just entertainment and entertainment is there to distract us from the inevitability of our own mortality. You are employed to provide a smokescreen to our futile existence. Actors and "artists" of that ilk talk themselves up far too much and should be consigned back to the level of the court jester. Fucking luvvie scumbags.

    As for the knife and the lover, you use the knife to cut out HIS heart, eat the heart and then use the knife to sexually mutilate your cheating lover so that no man would ever go near her again...

    Wait a minute, I think I might have gone a little too far.


    I need the money to buy a knife.

  5. Hello Dan I have now succumbed to write a proper blog now.

    I hope you enjoy reading mine half as much as i ENJOY reading yours.

    ps i loved the mexican story lol


  6. Darren: as always, so open and so very wrong.

    Tales: are you Tom?


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