| The conception-day gift comes without any return address or signed card. Human nature looks suspiciously as if it was packed by both God and the Devil. Your Bergman has the courage to face full frontal the war between the Good and the Evil contained potentially in all of us. The Devil is well represented on the human stage he sets by the character Death but there is no character Life to represent God. Where is he? In the wings with the angels? Above the stage manipulating the characters? Or did he simply raise the curtain and sit back in the audience to watch the show? |
Actors tend to prefer to play Bad Guys, since they are more interesting than Good Guys. Does Bergman too find Heroes less interesting than Villains? Whereas the Devil plays chess, God - according to Woody Allen much influenced by Bergman - plays hide-and-seek. Bergman suggests that we search within ourselves (Pages 140-145). (Woody Allen by the way was born with me in 1935. So was Bibi Andersson, who has a prominent "role" in your book. I'm following the careers of such people born in 1935 - from Elvis Presley to the Dalai Lama -to explore the factors which determine the varied lives we lead.)
While author-in-residence at a publisher in California, I helped a little with a posthumous collection of the writings of Abraham Maslow which my publisher was working on. Found among his papers was an unpublished note to Maslow from Ruth Benedict about the distinction between the societies she liked and the ones she didn't like. After a lifetime as an anthropologist, she decided she liked societies in which the ends of the individual and the ends of society are synergistic and she disliked societies in which the ends of the individual and of society were antagonistic. Western society, whether conceived by Hobbes as Bad Person controlled by Good Society or by Rousseau as Good Person destroyed by Bad Society, is antagonistic. Bergman avoids such a simple-minded formulation by recognizing that the potential for Good and for Evil is in all of us and societies should be designed to realize the opportunity of the former and avoid the threat of the latter.
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