The Wind Chill Factor

In David Mamets 'Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama' Mamet puts forward the notion that drama is an inherent part of the human condition. It is what he calls 'the wind chill factor'. Even though the temperature in winter might only be
-10 degrees we dramatize it with the sinister wind chill factor creating an unbelievable -25 degree day. It is our nature, Mamet contests, to crave drama even where there is none. Yesterday in Toronto the temperature hit 34 degrees celcius but it wasn't dramatic enough so the weather was reported as 44 degrees with the 'humidex'. I guess we need the counterpart to the wind chill. It made me laugh - we are a melodramatic lot.

There are some who defy this intrinsic nature. You know the one - he corners you at a party and has stories without purpose or point - anecdotes without anecdotes.


Anonymous said...

"We lived in a cardboard box in the middle of the road. And you tell that to kids these days and they won't believe you!"

Bless Monty Python.

I believe (as do the greater minds of Joseph Campbell, Harold Bloom and Northrop Frye) that what makes us truly human is narrative. The telling of stories. In this respect, with or without exaggerations, we define and understand ourselves through time.

Since cinema is an artifice of time - and a placeholder of time dramatized - it's only natural that we would tell tales (tall, short and otherwise) in our continuing effort to create, define, recreate and redefine who we were, who we are and we (hopefully) will be.

Mark said...

Well said. John Saul points out that throughout time, it isn't the bankers or beurocrats that are remembered (not for a lack of effort and a good job either). It's the story tellers and artists who are remembered, not for who they were so much as how they reflected and recreated their time on earth. Thus, as you so eloquently put, 'we define and understand ourselves', where we have been and where we are going.

We also love to remember tyrants and murderers but that might go back to our love of drama.