Saturday, February 06, 2016

Timebends

I don't know why, with all the research I've been doing about Marilyn Monroe that it took me so long to get around to reading Arthur Miller's autobiography Timebends. While some of the information is included in biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Miller's book is rarely quoted directly and I don't know why because it's a treasure trove. And thanks to the Internet I didn't even have to wait once I determined to read it - I just downloaded it (after paying 9 bucks) from Google books.

As a professional writer, you can count on Arthur Miller to do a very nice job of expressing his feelings for Monroe in ways that her first two husbands, a cop and a baseball player could not. For example:
She was a whirling light to me then, all paradox and enticing mystery, street-tough one moment, then lifted by a lyrical and poetic sensitivity that few retain past early adolescence. Sometimes she seemed to see all men as boys, children with immediate needs that it was her place in nature to fulfill; meanwhile her adult self stood aside observing the game. Men were their need, imperious and somehow sacred. She might tell about being held down at a party by two of the guests in a rape attempt from which she said she had escaped, but the truth of the account was far less important than its strange remoteness from her personally. And ultimately something nearly godlike would emerge from this depersonalization. She was at this point incapable of condemning or even of judging people who had damaged her, and to be with her was to be accepted, like moving out into a kind of sanctifying light from which a life where suspicion was common sense. She had no common sense, but what she did have was something holier, a long-reaching vision of which she herself was only fitfully aware: humans were all need, all wound. What she wanted most was not to judge but to win recognition from a sentimentally cruel profession, and from men blinded to her humanity by her perfect beauty. She was part queen, part waif, sometimes on her knees before her own body and sometimes despairing because of it - "Oh, there's lots of beautiful girls," she would say to some expression of awed amazement, as though her beauty betrayed her quest for more enduring acceptance. For myself it was beyond rationalizing; I was in a swift current, there was no stopping or handhold, she was finally all that was true. What I did not know about her life was easy to guess and I suppose I felt the pain of her memories even more because I did not have her compensating small pride at having survived such a life.

I had wondered what Miller thought when he heard Monroe had married DiMaggio - he mentions in his autobiography that he met Monroe in 1951 and they corresponded until they eventually got together in New York. Meanwhile she married DiMaggio in 1954 - and Miller in 1956.

Well Miller doesn't mention how he felt about the marriage and only mentions DiMaggio once:
...her breaking up what (the media) had decided was the perfect American marriage, with Joe DiMaggio, had simply been unforgivable.
But he did reveal something more important which I will discuss tomorrow.


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