Monday, 3 October 2011

Woody Allen on Antinatalism

From an interview in the Sunday Times, October 2nd, 2011.

I never thought I was doing anyone a favour by bringing children into the world. With people as cruel to each other as they are, it’s a terrible proposition. The best of lives are sad and tragic. The best of them. My general conclusion is that it’s not a nice thing to do. The world doesn’t need it. The kid doesn’t need it.

When the interviewer, obviously a little incredulous, responded by saying that surely a man of Allen’s wealth could guarantee a child a good life, Woody answered

I can’t guarantee a child anything. I can’t guarantee that I was around five minutes after he or she was born.

Good man, Woody!

19 comments:

  1. =)

    Woody is the man, and you the man also, for bringing it up.

    Cheers!

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  2. I'm trying to think of another mainstream celebrity who has publicly expressed such an undeniably antinatalist sentiment, and I can't come up with a single one. Can anyone else think of one?
    I'm also wondering whether Woody has been vocal about this throughout his life, or is it more recent. I know from his movies that he's always had a dark side, but these hardcore AN quotes seem to be a more recent phenomenon. Maybe he figures that as his own end nears, there's nothing to lose, and he might as well really say it like it is.

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    1. I just saw an interview with Sarah Silverman where she alludes to being an antinatalist. It was on real time with Bill Maher. It's hard to read her though because her schtick is present even when she's being serious. I wish she would just speak plainly without using irony and her act.

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  3. Anonymous, here's a link to a great Woody interview where he lets rip about the horror of it all.

    http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/woody

    Can't think of any other celebs who've voiced AN sentiments. Not good for business, I guess.

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  4. Karl: my thoughts exactly!

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  6. Hello Karl.

    I hope you're well.

    I am personally 'anti-natalist' and have been since before I ever heard the word. Recently, with the Internet, I notice more antinatalist sentiment coming to light, and the fact is it has generally dissuaded me from an antinatalist view because I have the impression that it is often an ossified position surrounded, in its subtext, by unexamined contradictions.

    I've had a read of a few of your blog entries now and find them to be free of this ossification and contradiction. Well, I suppose we all have those things to a degree, but anyway, relatively very free. I just thought I'd say that I find this refreshing.

    Thanks.

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  7. Quentin, thanks! I'm quite moved by the compliment. I follow your blog and thoroughly enjoy it. As for avoiding dogmatism in antinatalism, I think it's important if it isn't to be written off as a crank philosophy. The best interview I've seen in this regard is the latest Ligotti one where he explores the ambiguities superbly (doubtless you've read it already):

    http://evilhat.blogspot.com/2011/09/interview-thomas-ligotti.html

    Strange coincidence seeing you comment here, as I quite literally just put down Dazai Osamu's 'No Longer Human', which I know is one of your favourite novels. What a great novel of alienation, with a paradoxically comforting quality.

    Thanks again!

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  8. Hello Karl.

    The Evil Hat interview - yes, you're quite right, he goes into some fine detail there. I think the questions were good, actually; overall a good interview.

    I also agree on the comforting quality of No Longer Human. It's probably about time I re-read it. I'm thinking at the moment of the bit where he coughs up blood into the snow - there's a kind of swell of enormous fatalism at that point.

    Best,

    Quentin.

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  9. Hi Quentin,

    Yes, and also the book contains one of the most beautiful passages I've encountered in literature, the description of the location of his school:

    On the shore, at a point so close to the ocean one might imagine it was there that the waves broke, stood a row of over twenty fairly tall cherry tress with coal-black trunks. Every April when the new school year was about to begin these trees would display their dazzling blossoms and their moist brown leaves against the blue of the sea. Soon a snowstorm of blossoms would scatter innumerable petals into the water, flecking the surface with points of white which the waves carried back to the shore.

    I find that passage almost heart-breaking in its beauty. Oh well, if you ever fancy meeting up for a pint and a chat about Ligotti, Buddhism, Dasai and so on, give me a shout. I'm in London and am at w1.karl@gmail.com

    Best,

    Karl

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  10. He quotes sophoclese on this in Match Point

    http://modernartists.blogspot.com/2011/10/woody-allens-midnight-in-paris-movable.html

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  11. Hello Karl.

    Thank you. I've been very busy this last week, so didn't check back again until just now. I may well write when things slow down again a bit.

    Best,

    Quentin.

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  12. Dhiraj: Thank you for the heads up re.Sophocles. Appreciated.

    Quentin: Thank you. Do that if you get a chance.

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  13. Kurt Vonnegut in one of his last interviews:
    VONNEGUT: No, look, I think it's -- I think the earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, and it's high time they did. My goodness, we are a disease on the face of this planet. You know, after two world wars and the Holocaust, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, well, the Roman games and the Spanish Inquisition, and the burning of women in public squares. It's time we got out of here, and I...

    MAHER: You left out "The Gong Show." [laughter]

    VONNEGUT: Yeah, but we are a disease on the planet. And I think we ought to become "syphilis with a conscience" and stop reproducing. [laughter] [applause]
    The audience laughed, but they also applauded.

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  14. Hi, Les. Thanks for the comment! Will go and check that interview!

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  15. Also by Vonnegut: "Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse."

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  16. Thanks, anonymous. Right on!

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  17. What a hypocrite. He has two daughters himself!

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    1. Those were adopted I believe. They look nothing like Allen.

      His so-called only biological child with Mia farrow is not his either. He is a spitting image of Frank Sinatra

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