Brando on Women
Tennessee Williams believed that in the earliest days of Creation, God created man and mud and a few other utilities, but he soon saw that this new invention lacked a few things: imagination, kindness, color, understanding. And so God created women, or, as Tenn called them, the follies of God.
"Women are the mirror of all things," Tenn told me. "They see and they reflect; they take in and they teach; they harbor and they hold; women were not only created to improve the world, but they populate and shape the world. I owe everything to women, with one exception: They offer me no amatory satisfaction. In every other way, I am devoted and captive to women, and I would like to be their witness."
Tenn then told me that he would like for me to be his witness. Thus began the book.
I told this to Marlon Brando in July of 1990, and this was his reply:
I am exactly the same, except that women do--and have and will--offer me amatory satisfaction, amatory frustration, amatory confusion. I have not behaved well in my relationships, but I was always seeking to get closer to not only one woman but to all women. Any comfort I have known has come from both a single woman and all women.
My mother was my first and greatest champion and teacher and confidante. My mother taught all of us not only how to dream, but why it was necessary. The dream world, the dream life, the dream persona is the one that is real, the one that should be pursued, and she made all of us wanderers, lifelong students: We had to know things, new things, because the reality of where we were placed and what we were forced--by birth and by nature and by geography--to endure could not be faced or accepted.
Eventually, the foundation for my mother's dreams was alcohol, and it destroyed her. Tennessee searched in a mental fog for his women, and my mother searched in alcoholic fumes for her story, her mission, her dreams. I searched my mother's face and waited for her to read to me, sing to me, help me memorize poems and plays and escape the reality that would have killed us had we stayed.
I owe everything to her.
It is a common and repulsive slur to say of a man that he is feminine, that he thinks or acts like a woman. I am proud to say that I am feminine; that I try to think like a woman. I have never approached a character as a man, but as a curious, caring person--which in my history is a woman. I approach things as if I were my mother, sometimes my sister, always as if I were Stella Adler. Or as if Stella were next to me, hectoring, hugging, correcting. Only after I have analyzed a character--or a person or a situation--through my metaphorical female eyes--do I approach it as the physical man that I am.
Everything that is important to the thinking, caring race derives from women.
I derive from women.
At the end of his ministrations, even God knew something greater was needed.
I will certainly die trying to better myself through women, and trying to treat them with the love and respect they deserve.
My great and final lesson.