Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

In the late director Michael Igor Peschkowsky (aka ‘Mike Nichols’) one can see a succinct distillation of the psychology-of-the-Jew. Tablet Magazine (‘A New Read on Jewish Life’) has an excerpt about Nichols from Abigail Pogrebin’s book Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish. As has been discussed elsewhere, The Graduate (1967) is Nichols’ coded homage to Jewish alienation in a Gentile-majority country:

DUSTIN HOFFMAN TOLD ME that when he auditioned for The Graduate (1967), the director, Mike Nichols, told him that the WASPy character of Benjamin Braddock was “Jewish inside.” When I ask Nichols what he might have meant by this, he says his answer can be found in a Thomas Mann story. “Did you ever read Tonio Kröger?” he asks me. (I didn’t.) “It took place in Germany one hundred years ago and it was about the blond, blue-eyed people and the dark people. The dark people were the artists and the outcasts. And the blond, blue-eyed people were at the heart of the group and were the desired objects.” I see where he’s going: Benjamin’s an outsider, so he’s metaphorically Jewish. “

No matter what the discussion is, no matter what the context is, Jews obsess over their perceived ‘outsider’ status, a deep persecution complex infusing their entire Being.

Elsewhere in the piece — about what it doesn’t matter — Pogrebin writes: “I ask whether he relates this outcast feeling to his Jewishness.”

It always comes back to that.

That, and the continual demarcation of social reality to ‘us vs. them’:

He offers an example of when he momentarily “joined” the scorn for his own people: “I once said to Jerry Robbins [the director and choreographer of Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story], ‘I’m worried that all the great monsters of narcissism in show business are Jewish.’ And I named some names, which I won’t do now. And there was a long silence, and he said, ‘Yes, well: Mickey Rooney.’ ” Nichols laughs heartily. “I said, ‘Oh, thank you; thank you. That feels better.’ ”

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