Tennessee Williams: Beautiful Bones and Beautiful Light

Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans

I think the great moment in American history was that time, roughly beginning with the Great Depression, as we must now call it, to sometime in the 1960s, when our imaginations were expanded and our realities altered by movies. Sitting in dark and lovely places with our fears and our loneliness and our multiple questions, we saw beautiful bones and beautiful lights and we recognized the power, the simple power, of narrative. Our loneliness and that of the bones and light on the screen would be quelled in one hundred minutes or less. This great moment ended, I guess, when we all had access both to medication that took us away from reality and expanded our imaginations, and to fucking, which we were encouraged to play around with, try in a different position, discuss, repeat. And another little pill--unlike the pill that helped you lose weight or the pill that helped you sleep--kept you from becoming pregnant, so freedom was found in another way. A new community was born, so to speak. And the theatres--once so palatial--were now like clinics, hospitals, doling out their medication like the community center down the street was. Squat, ugly, functional. My mother never needed a diet pill. None of her lady friends did: They looked at Joan Crawford on the screen and broke out the lettuce and the cottage cheese. On top of everything else in that great moment, movie stars gave us willpower along with the beautiful bones and the beautiful light.

©  2014   James Grissom


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