Heywood “Woody” Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) has a sparkling career spanning 50 years, and his energetic output seems to never ebb or waver. Woody is simply indefatigable!
Carving out a niche for himself from an early age as a writer and comedian, Allen developed a work ethic via his working class background in Manhattan.
Born in 1935 from immigrant parents, Allen has become controversial in latter years for marrying Soon-Yi Privin (his third marriage), the adopted daughter of his former partner, Mia Farrow. Their relationship began when Allen was 51, and Privin 19. Many people (especially Mia Farrow) rushed to throw ridicule on Allen for this supposed misdemeanour, however he still remains married to this day. Allen’s defense was that he fell in love with Privin:
“What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now. There was no scandal, but people refer to it all the time as a scandal and I kind of like that in a way because when I go I would like to say I had one real juicy scandal in my life.” ~ Woody Allen
Allen’s social commentaries have tended toward the self-aware and socially conscious. He recently turned his attention to religion with astonishing fervour:
“The religions of the world have been pernicious. They’re economic and political movements—if God existed, they would have no particular special line to him. And they’ve been responsible for so much misery and slaughter over the years, they have such an abysmal record.”
Hard to disagree with such sentiments. Spoken with a sharpness and clarion call for folks to carve out their own independent and autonomous path. Allen continues:
“They (religions) run on defrauding the public. You see all these people in their fancy costumes laying down the rules as to what you can do and what you can’t do, and telling you it’s come from God. It’s so silly, and people are so terrified of the situation they’re in that they buy into anything.
The distractions take many forms. In my life, I distract myself by turning on the baseball game or going to the movies and getting lost in the movies, or obsessing over the third act of my play—you know, a lot of stuff that’s annoying and puzzling and stimulating but not terrifying.”
I think the sense of uncertainty we all inhabit, lends itself to being more open to “answers” that present themselves than we would normally be, especially when people present the “truth” with such confidence. Distraction is a way we comfort ourselves from facing our own death, facing that we are a tiny speck in the ocean, facing that when we die, we leave with nothing but our soul.
When the spokespeople for religions present themselves in fancy costumes, the act is strengthened. When they appear on high pedestals in high temples and cathedrals, they become even more imposing. The more vehement their message, the more it sucks us in to their worldview.
The rise of extremism in the world is particularly potent in vulnerable groups of people, particularly boys and young men, clinging on to hope, clinging on to meaning. Ultimately it is their search for meaning that is being fulfilled by these vociferous self-appointed messiahs of their generation.
Sadly in the Middle East, these are messiahs of hell, messiahs of evil, messiahs of war, who seem hellbent on destruction, destroying Western civilisation, and in their hatred, destroying all civilisation.
Further, the collective demonisation of certain groups that resist annihilation, is telling.
The practice of compassion is surely something to be applied to all peoples. However, if we do face the nemesis of the civilised world, if we do face pure evil, then it is incumbent on all of us to take a stand.
“A moral life is a sensible life. It’s not just a good thing because of the platonic beauty of morality. To be moral pays off.” ~ Woody Allen
Hornaday, Ann. ‘You know, I’m never happy’: Woody Allen discusses new ‘Magic in the Moonlight.’ The Washington Post, July 26, 2014. Web. September 19, 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/you-know-im-never-happy-woody-allen-discusses-new-magic-in-the-moonlight/2014/07/24/eff49e74-1102-11e4-98ee-daea85133bc9_story.html>
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Wiki Commons