Response to Reassessing an Artist’s Work (and Persona) in the Wake of Stunning Revelations

From an anonymous contributor:

…THE PRICE is the only one of Miller’s major plays that I don’t know and when I heard that his denial and sending away of a Downs [sic] Syndrome child would be a theme in re-considering an artist and choices in his life, a piece of my life and choices stirred in me. When I read the Vanity Fair article this afternoon, I did want to try to say something…

So much of me in hearing the first part of Danny Miller’s story, said oh my GOD, sent away against the wishes of Inge, denied as a profound human event in this man’s life, and not even money and deep connecting sorrow thrown at this “problem”. Just a huge denial … but then reading on, his shards of recognition, remorse, and finally mystery as to ultimate motives about gestures near the end of a great life. Maybe I can say that this proves him less worthy than I might wish to have thought, but more human and connected to choices and different options I and my wife faced in different times.

The joy at the birth, the horror and denial a day later when he realized it was Downs. For us the joy at the beginning of the last decade of a first pregnancy of our married life, turned into frantic despairing mobilization at the phone call I received with my wife away at a conference, that the chromosomal reading meant Downs. The hasty appointment with genetic counselors, the frantic research and reading on just this “thing” I’d only seen in passing strangers, the monumental sorrow in my wife who carried this child still, torn by an already experienced rigidity about choice that the religious culture to which she was born allowed.

Through 48 hours of this intensity, we went together through a decision-making process whose result, I sum up as “…what we have to give in this life, is best given to a healthy child.” And we had the choice, which Miller didn’t. We played God, we took a potential human life, which two days earlier had meant everything to uis. For my wife’s emotional health, “twere best it were done quickly” and we pushed hard to make that happen. That’s not a happy theatrical reference, but in this instance of life and death, we chose death. In the course of time, we were rewarded with a healthy child from a I think wise, but not unselfish choice. And we have been flawed and exhilarated in the giving and supremely rewarded in the getting from this child, become emerging adult.

So I read of the luminosity of Daniel, and of advocates for their Downs children, and my heart is tugged, attention is paid, and I keep silent about the gratitude I feel for the choice I had. I don’t feel guilt or that I sinned, although I am capable of thinking in non-relativistic moral terms. There is a monster in us all, and we face, live with it, turn away from it, hold on to each other as best we can. I wish Arthur Miller and Inge Morath had had our range of choice and that he had done better with the choices he did have. All the great and blissfully fought for artistry in the world can’t see you through every choice you must face.