How does David Mamet’s 4 A.M. relate to the Toynbee Tiles?
Well, the tiles promote the idea of resurrecting the dead on Jupiter through ideas found in the movie 2001 and the writings of Arnold Toynbee. Mamet’s play 4 A.M., which he describes as “a homage to Larry King” relates a conversation between a radio host, in conversation with a caller to his show promoting his idea to bring back the dead on Jupiter through the ideas found in the movie 2001 and the writings of Arnold Toynbee. As Justin Duerr said in Resurrect Dead, this is no mere coincidence. But how did it happen?
Mamet himself told NPR’s Joel Rose that “there was no call on the radio, I made it up.” In Minority Association documents that we uncovered, The Toynbee Tiler (TTT) wrote:
Arnold Toynbee’s Conception of the Colinization of Outer Space, as depicted in the movie “2001 A Space Odyssey,” was first explained in a ‘call in’ on the Larry King Show in February 1980.
We received another credible report that TTT was more than a one-time caller to King. So what we have is:
- February 1980 – April 1983: TTT repeatedly calls Larry King’s show with his idea.
- 1983: Mamet writes 4 A.M.
I can bolster the case with other material, but is that really necessary? From the timeline alone, consciously or not, Mamet based 4 A.M. off of a conversation he heard between TTT and Larry King. Memory is fallible, so I’m going to give Mamet the benefit of the doubt when he says “I made it up” but the evidence says otherwise.
For posterity, here’s the text of 4 A.M.
An announcer seated at a radio console desk. He wears earphones and speaks into a microphone. We hear the voice of the caller over a loudspeaker.
Interviewer: Hello, you’re on the air.
Caller: Hello, Greg, how are you?
Int: I’m fine
Caller: Good. Greg, it’s a pleasure to talk with you. I had the pleasure of talking to you three-and-one-half years ago, and I’ve been a continual listener of yours since you started out with the twenty-two stations, and I admire you very much.
Int: Thank You.
Caller: Thank you Greg.
Int: What’s your problem?
Caller: Greg, we need your help to publicize our plan. We’ve been trying to get our organization together to raise money to be able to hire a public relations firm like Wells and Jacoby to publicize our organization. (Pause.) Where are we going to get the money…? I don’t know…
Int: To publicize your…
Caller: In the movie 2001, based on the writings of Arnold Toynbee, they speak of the plan…
Int: Excuse me, excuse me, but the movie 2001 was based on the writings…
Caller: …all human life is made of molecules…
Int: …based on the writings of Arthur C. Clarke…
Caller: All human…no, Greg, if you examine…
Int: …it was based on the writings of Arthur C. Clarke…
Caller: Oh, Greg, No. We have the…
Int: Well, go on.
Caller: Greg: In the writings of Arnold Toynbee he discusses a plan whereby all human life could be easily reconstituted on the planet Jupiter.
Int: Yes? (Pause.) I’m listening.
Caller: In the wr…
Int: Yeah. I got it. Go on.
Caller: In the…
Int: No, no. No. Go on. I got it. Arnold Toynbee, human life on…
Caller: As we’re made of molecules, Greg, and the atoms of all human life that ever lived are still in all of us…
Int: Okay, I got it. They exist, they’ve just been rearranged. (Pause.)
Caller: Yes. (Pause.)
Caller: We’d like to publicize our organization, Greg. We’re very young. We’ve just been existence over a year and we want to publicize our theory. And, Greg, we don’t know how.
Int: You…how do you publicize your plan to bring dead people back to life on Jupiter.
Int: Why? (Pause.) Why would you want to do this? (Pause.) Hello?
Int: Why would you want to do this? (Pause.) You see what I’m saying to you? (Pause.) What is the aim of your group?
Int: What are your plans? (Pause.)
Caller: I…Greg I told you.
Int: You said that you want to bring dead people back to life.
Int: On the planet Jupiter.
Caller: Just as they showed us in the mo…
Int: Well, I’m not sure that’s what the movie was about, but be that as it may, why would you want to do that?
Caller: Oh, Greg, you can’t mean it…
Int: Well, yes, I mean it. Why would you…what’s the idea…? You’re walking down the street, there’s AbrahamLincoln…is that the idea?
Int: …so anybody that you want to talk to, so forth, there they are. Is that the idea? (Pause.)
Int: Who do you pick? Who picks ’em? You? Your organization?…or do you just bring ’em all back? (Pause.) What is your…I mean, do you have a program for this? Or…what are the goals…? (Pause.)
Caller: To bring…
Int: Naah…it’s to broad. It’s too broad. Don’t you see what I’m talking about? You can’t bring ’em all back. (Pause.) Can you?
Caller: I don’t know.
Int: Well, think about it. (Pause.) Think about it. You’re talking about billions of people. Eh? They’ve lived at different times. They speak different languages-the ones that speak our language, it’s changed over the years. Thedialects are different. Customs change. Their lives are different. Some of them died violent deaths…some aredisfigured…they’ve been decomposing…Now: listen to this: At what point do you bring them back? (Pause.) Right before they died? What if they were ill? What if they were infirm? And so you don’t do it then, when do you do it? At what point? You see what I’m telling you? Someone wants to come back at age twenty, so you bring him back at fifty-five…is he allowed to change? And who’s to say if he can or can’t? What if he never wanted to come back?
Int: What about people who killed themselves? Because they didn’t want to live? Some of them we know. We could leave out. What about ones that we don’t know? Who’s going to pass on this? You and your group? Well, then you’re talking about something very much like fascism. Is that what you want? Because I’ll tell you what you get very quickly is a State where only the Pure can come back. Or the good looking…or whatever the people in charge that day seem to feel is the ultimate good…and tickles their fancy. Or do you just press a button and everyonecomes back? And what do you have then? I’ll tell you what you have: wars. You’ve got wars. Unless you think that being dead improved them. You see what I’m saying? You’ve got the same jealousies and…misunderstandings you had the first time. And how do you explain the technology to some guy who’s just come back from 1565 and all of a sudden he’s in some space suit and he’s alive again…
Caller: He wouldn’t be in a space suit.
Int: …whatever. And who governs this august group? Or do they just “get along”? Not in this lifetime, friend. What do you think? Because they’re on a foreign planet that it’s going to be cooperation and good will? They’re going to forget about their human nature and just live in joy? You’re talking about heaven, my friend. Heaven doesn’t exist. You think the fact that they’ve come back is going to make them all philosophers? I don’t think so. Far a day, yes. Maybe. A week, a month later, and I’m going to tell you something: It’s going to be worse than it was before, and you know what you’ve got? Chaos. And any tine you get a State like that you have a populace that thinks the world owes it a living. And you’ve got a tragedy. It doesn’t hold up. Even as a dream. It’s not thought out. And what do they eat?
Caller: Toynbee says that we can bombard the atmosphere with oxygen and reclaim the soil.
Int: Does he? And what if he’s wrong…? (Pause.) You see what I’m saying? (Pause.)
Int: Listen to me: The world is full of histories of people trying to live in Utopias. It doesn’t work. We wish it did, itdoesn’t. (Pause.) Alright? (Pause.) Alright?
Int: Alright. Thank you for calling. (Loudspeaker goes dead.) Let’s move along.