“We are languishing in a period without much direction and no shared body of ideas about what we and our society are all about. Now, as never before, we need people who have stories to tell that make sense and order out of the daily avalanche of sensation, news, events; the function of the artist in society is to reveal the order of the universe, to trace the grand design that others cannot see. That is what story is.”
Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Pierson (Dog Day Afternoon)
That quote actually gives you a little glimpse into the roots of this blog. This is not a recent quote from the now 86-year-old Pierson lamenting how we’re lost in 2012 without any direction home. I actually don’t know how old that quote is—but it’s at least 20-years old.
Earlier this week I pulled a notebook of mine off a shelf that’s about an inch thick of screenwriting notes and old articles. I flipped through the notebook looking for a little inspiration and came across an article from American Film Magazine. So while I don’t know the specific month or year of the article, I do know that American Film, a publication of AFI, ceased printing in 1992—so it’s at least two decades old.
The article is titled The Screenwriter: An Essential Element and was written by Jean Firsteneberg, who headed the American Film Institute in 1980—2007, and is now AFI’s President Emerita.
And since the article states that Pierson is the Writers Guild president, which he was between 1981-83*, that means that quote is closer to 30 years old. If Pierson thought we had a “daily avalanche of sensation, news, events” 30 years ago—what does he think now? (Love to interview him and ask if anyone has any connections to him.)
What does in think now that we’re bombarded with You Tube videos, Twitter feeds, 24-hour cable TV, Facebook updates, streaming Netflix and video on demand, email, cell phones with Internet access, and the Real Housewives of Wherever?
Perhaps he’d echo the words of Flight Club philosopher/theologian Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt); “Our great war is a spiritual war.”
* The Harvard educated Pierson was also the Writers Guild president from 1993-95, but that was after the American Film magazine had already ceased publication.
P.S. Notice in right corner of my little iPhone photo the distinctive round sign of paper printed on a dot matrix printer. All waiting for the era of blogging so these words could have a new life.