An election-season essay
by David Mamet
March 11th, 2008
John Maynard Keynes was twitted with changing
his mind. He replied, "When the facts change, I change my
opinion. What do you do, sir?"
My favorite example of a change of mind was Norman Mailer at
The Village Voice.
Norman took on the role of drama critic, weighing in on the New
York premiere of Waiting for Godot.
Twentieth century's greatest play. Without bothering to go, Mailer
called it a piece of garbage.
When he did get around to seeing it, he realized his mistake.
He was no longer a Voice columnist, however, so he bought
a page in the paper and wrote a retraction, praising the play
as the masterpiece it is.
Every playwright's dream.
I once won one of Mary Ann Madden's "Competitions"
in New York magazine. The task was to name or create
a "10" of anything, and mine was the World's Perfect
Theatrical Review. It went like this: "I never understood
the theater until last night. Please forgive everything I've ever
written. When you read this I'll be dead." That, of course,
is the only review anybody in the theater ever wants to get.
My prize, in a stunning example of irony, was a year's subscription
to New York, which rag (apart from Mary Ann's "Competition")
I considered an open running sore on the body of world literacy—this
due to the presence in its pages of John Simon, whose stunning
amalgam of superciliousness and savagery, over the years, was
appreciated by that readership searching for an endorsement of
But I digress.