The Stella Adler Center and the Chekhov Intensive presented a discussion between Cornel West and Thomas Chatterton Williams on October 4. It was focused on the idea of “Absolute Condemnation of No One” Art in a Polarized World. The quote is from Anton Chekhov. Colin Greer moderated.
Williams was quite good, but Cornel kept bringing me to tears. The conversation offers so much knowledge, book lists, thoughts to research and study. But at the heart of it is “holy seeing,” something unnameable, the mystery of love.
CORRECTION: I recently learned that the quote “Absolute Condemnation of No One” is taken from a statement by Cornel West, not Chekhov. The source for this correction has not been able to give a citation, but has provided the statement it came from. Quite a powerful one:
What sits at the center of Chekhov is absolute condemnation of no one. That’s why he doesn’t condemn his characters even when they’re gangsters. Because he knows they have the capacity to be different. And he knows there’s a gangster element inside of him…there’s some gangster in you, check yourself. Chekhov teaches us, and the Blues teaches us the same thing in the US context, that you can acknowledge just how gangster like people are but it’s not this kind of cancellation and absolute condemnation as if you sit on some pure throne and are dispensing judgment. That’s not the way the world is. You’re going to end up living a lie yourself.