Harold Pinter: A Sort Of Hell

Candid of Antonia Fraser and Harold Pinter

Interview with Harold Pinter
Conducted by James Grissom

Tennessee [Williams] was preoccupied with Hell, wasn't he? Perhaps due to the various priests circling his crib. I loved the story of him digging in his backyard as a child, trying to get to Satan. For what? Discussion? Conversion? Rapprochement? Seduction? He claims he was also looking for other things, but I think he wanted to get away. I think he wanted to be alone with his thoughts, which he told me were equally demonic and angelic.

A pure artist, I think.

You know, I do think Hell--for me, at any rate--will arrive when words have no meaning. This can happen through some cerebral accident--I love that term, as if the brain tripped on the stairs leading to an idea or an epiphany--or it can happen when everyone is allowed equal time to share the tatty examples they've cobbled together.

Hell, for me, will be a world in which everyone has an opinion that is based on little or no experience. A sense of entitlement without any sense or sensuality--merely noise and access.

I was told quite often when I was young--and youngish--to know my place. One has a place, you see, and one has earned it, and it is either the punishment or the reward for how one's life has been lived up until the presentation of the placement. 

What I want to say is that people are--more and more--failing to recognize their place. Everything is wanted now; everything is expressed now; everyone is felt to be ready for what they want now; and impatience has few rewards. I still do not feel that I can tell John Gielgud how to read a line. I never felt I could just pull Peter Hall over in a corner and have him account for himself. One waits. One hears the partner out. One recognizes that he can be wrong.

One knows one's place.

Well, everyone is a winner now, aren't they? Entitled. Heard. No foundation, but lots of words. There's a house that's going to crumble.

And a sort of Hell.

© 2014 James Grissom

From Artistic Suicide


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