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Manhattan

manhattan
Everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people.

Witness the teaching of the story, so tortuously arrived at in the final lines. Not played for laughs. The angel-faced girl, uncannily sensible throughout the travails of love, delivers this line with the same calm with which she had announced the guy that he had really hurt her. This girl of seventeen or eighteen could easily be said to deserve to tyrannize over the far more erratic adults of the story – so many wrecks of the ‘60s.

The comic guy berates her now & then – he says, what do you know?, you grew up on drugs, television, & the pill! His generation was responsible for that – though he himself only for TV. Like an overwrought parent to a precocious kid, he says sometimes, don’t be so precocious, or, don’t be so mature. If everyone were like this girl, there would be no comedy; maybe no need for comedy. The comic guy is not so quick to arrive.

His first wife, kindergarten teacher, left him to become a weird San Francisco hippie. His second left him for another woman; he’d left his analyst rather than not marry her. She is publishing a book about the disaster, which scares & angers him, & the damning details brim with plausibility. He knows he could never stand up to judgment. It were better nobody knew his private life. He’s now dating a teenager, presumably out of fear.

He makes a living writing TV comedy to afford living in ambitious New York. He lives among the cleverest, quickest types & is occasionally exasperated with their genius – he recommends stupidity, they could learn something… He delivers his moral rant next to a primate skeleton – morality might relieve mortality, but laughter is easier. Maybe the man is right, trying to run over the wife & her lover is proof he was not demoralized. But it was not going to make him happy. Happily, in New York you don’t go to jail over a thing like that. Maybe part of the splendor of the city is how many chances these people get.

The story starts & ends with his affair with this young girl. There is another woman in the middle, who seems to be everything people might think about New York, but insists she is from Philadelphia – they believe in God there, there are thing they do not discuss publicly, & they do not go for adultery. Aside from morality, she loses her analyst to an acid-induced coma.

The great danger to love is this sophistication, the worst of which is not immorality. The girl insists on being taken seriously. Only love makes that possible. This might help things – beautiful New York might distract people from themselves.

Woody Allen’s best story, how difficult it is to take love seriously