By Bob Brakeman
Exhibit "A": "Any man over 35 for whom death is not the main consideration is a fool.
Exhibit "B": "One reason death-jokes appear in his writing is that he is preoccupied with death. To him it is an irrational, hostile act on the part of the universe."
Exhibit "C": "The enemy is God and nature and universe--that's what's killing us. The enemy is not the Chinese or the guy next door to you; the enemy is death."
Exhibit "D": "What my film Love and Death is about is this: that guys are running around doing all that shit, killing each other, and they don't know what they're doing--they should be fighting death, not fighting each other.
The quotations above comprise a mini-encyclopedia of all that's important about Woody Allen, because they comprise the core of his views on The Issue of our time or any time, the enthusiastic annihilator, the vagabond executioner, death.
Exhibit "A" is Allen's favorite quotation (on any subject); it's from Tolstoy.
Exhibit "B" is a statement about his work from the American Film Institute.
Exhibit is Allen's own personal statement on what The Problem is.
Exhibit "D" is his statement about the meaning of his own favorite among his movies.
Although Woody Allen has yet to become involved in the immortalist movement in a practical way, his philosophical leanings are made clear by the quotes above and by related ones:
"I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens."
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it by not dying."
All of that makes Allen sound like one of the Good Guys, but that would be a premature conclusion. As with such other celebrities as Gore Vidal (this bestselling author has both laughed at the fantasies which comprise the core of pro-death thinking and stated that death is the only enemy that matters; what he hasn't done is add a single burst of activity to his talk) and Alan Harrington (the author of the striking book The Immortalist has yet to take the first practical step toward ensuring that his own future will match his book's title, and has yet to assist any cryonics/immortalist organization or even provide for his own cryonic suspension ), the Big Question about Allen and immortalism is still unanswered, but at least we can ask it appropriately: is he going to remain forever one of those people who talk a good game but do nothing about it), or will he finally act upon his supposed principles? Or is he just a hobbyist -- is someone who knows both the right questions and the right answers (knowing the latter is impossible without first knowing the former), who knows the right things to say to be intellectually respectable--but who continues to act in ways which showcase dementia instead of intelligence. To date Allen has enthusiastically groped the second role; his powerful talk has been accompanied by powerful inactivity. Has he given a nickel to any immortalist cause? Has he joined any immortalist group? Has he embraced cryonics by giving it public support? The no answers to those questions are as loud as the laughter at the screening of any Woody Allen movie.
Allen has once or twice seemed to be on the verge of allowing some activity to accompany his talk. When he had his film Sleeper deal with suspended animation he seemed to be leaning toward making immortalism a recurrent rather than merely an occasional theme in his work; and there was also talk around LA and NY that he was considering becoming actively involved with immortalist causes or groups. But so far it's just been all talk. Allen's intellectual concern with death as the only issue has put him in a respectability league with a writer like Dick Jones (The Carol Burnett Show, The Facts of Life, Mamas Family, et al.) Will Allen ever join Jones and the others in the intensity of his activity? Only time will tell -- and Woody Allen should realize that time is exactly what he's running out of.
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