The Real and the Unreal: Downton Abbey and Joys of Distraction

Tonight the announcer for PBS promises “surprises and scandals,” but today has been full of them in real life–forget Masterpiece Theater.

This morning everyone was stunned at the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead in his New York City apartment.  He was only 46. Winner of an Academy Award for his portrayal of Truman Capote, praised for his stage work with such plays as Death of a Salesman, his talent was indisputable.

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He was found with heroin.  He had apparently struggled with addiction.  He had three small children.  He was supposed to see them today.  Something went terribly wrong.  But it had been going wrong for awhile.  Richard Brody has already written a piece for The New Yorker praising his stratospheric talent, and suggesting that in some way his genius was so great, so incomprehensible to mere mortals, that, somehow, he had died for his art. This is the stutter of grief. Continue reading