Quote for Discussion: Angels In America

Night flight to San Francisco.  Chase the moon across America.  God!  It’s been years since I was on a plane!

When we hit thirty-five thousand feet, we’ll have reached the tropopause.  The great belt of calm air.  As close as I’ll ever get to the ozone.

I dreamed we were there.  The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening…

But I saw something only I could see, because of my astonishing ability to see such things:

Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning.  And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles, and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules, of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them, and was repaired.

Nothing’s lost forever.  In this world, there is a kind of painful progress.  Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead.

At least I think that’s so.

Angels In America: Perestroika, by Tony Kushner.


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  1. …of several of us choosing to write essays or comments on a single artistic work, to gain some idea of how works impact us collectively.  Due to personal reasons, I immediately thought of Angels as a work that probably many of us are familiar which is deserving of attention.  Then again, I may simply be too close to this work.

    What say y’all?

  2. …but I don’t know if enough folks here are even familiar with it.  Maybe half? A third?  It would be fascinating to know…

    For myself, I can only do the HBO version at intervals.  Long intervals; and anything so sprawling and serious would require either reading the script or watching it again before I pontificated.  Also people would go “djeez Jessica wrote another Angels diary, she must be really, really pissed off about one of her queer things.”  Though I took the last one referencing it down…

    That said, I love the idea.  Such beautiful, lyrical language.

  3. and I have the artistic sensibilities of a slug lounging on concrete but I would love to see other people who actually know what they are talking about take a shot…

    • kj on August 15, 2008 at 15:15

    virgin, here.  although i’ve known about the work and the subsequent production, which class A actors (and Mike Nichols) apparently threw their hearts and souls into creating.

    i read Randy Shilts in the late 1980’s.

    love your idea, Jay.  hope it becomes a reality.


  4. years ago. And I must admit that the depth and breadth of the content was sometimes hard for this small mind to grasp.

    • Robyn on August 15, 2008 at 17:58

    …when it was performed in Little Rock in the mid 90s.

    It was difficult.

  5. Not that the play(s) aren’t great, they are!  By the time I got to see the first, it’d been out for 7-8 years.  I’d read them 12-13 times by then, and I had definate ideas as to how it should play.  Needless to say, it didn’t meet what I expected.  As I was the technical director for the theatre I worked at and there was a rehersal going on I went back to the rehearsal.

  6. this blog is if anything literary, chockful of writers and readers. I would perfer to deal with the written word rather then the plays or movie versions. So much of the power of the words and rhythm gets lost in translation and editing. I read your quotes for discussion as much for the actual words as I do for the fodder for discussion part.

    Regarding Angels in America, not just a queer thing a transcending work of art. Language and images that trill.    

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