Writer Paddy Chayefsky (1923-1981)

Paddy Chayefsky
Paddy Chayefsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
August 3, 2013
by Jerry Alatalo

If there are any writers out there who have never heard of Paddy Chayefsky, find his work and you will have a new role model. He spent 58 years on this Earth and wrote some of the finest literature the world has ever been blessed to experience.

Paddy Chayefsky wrote in a manner which led to him being described as a realist. He was the only person to win three Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay; screenplays written by himself, alone.

The first Academy Award he won was for the film “Marty” about a lonely butcher, played by Ernest Borgnine, who finally finds love after meeting a quiet, also lonely schoolteacher played by Betsy Blair. Paddy Chayefsky won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Marty” in 1955, while Ernest Borgnine won the Award for Best Actor, and the Best Director Oscar went to Delbert Mann. “Marty” won the Academy Award for Best Picture. “Marty” was only the second American film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The other was “The Lost Weekend.”

His screenplay for “The Hospital”, which one reviewer called “a scathing indictment of the medical community”, won him his second Academy Award in 1971. The film starred George C. Scott and Diana Rigg.

Paddy Chayefsky gained his greatest acclaim and fame for writing the screenplay for the 1976 film “Network”, starring Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Beatrice Straight and Robert Duvall. The film was directed by Sydney Lumet. It is a satirical film about a fictional television network that is struggling with poor ratings, UBS. Chayefsky won his third Academy Award for Original Screenplay. Faye Dunaway won the Academy Award for Best Actress, Beatrice Straight won for Best Supporting Actress, and Peter Finch was posthumously given the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Howard Beele.

In 2006 Paddy Chayefsky’s script for “Network” was added to the list of the top-ten screenplays by the Writers Guild of America.

Any actor would love to sink their teeth into the role of Howard Beele, played by Finch. His performance in “Network” remains one of the greatest performances by an actor in a film. The film “Network” remains as powerful and relevant today as when Paddy Chayefsky, a true artist, created it in the 1970’s.


Heaven On Earth. Part 5.

Saturn and Earth #2
Saturn and Earth #2 (Photo credit: Val Klavans)
August 3, 2013 by Jerry Alatalo

“Sincerity is the way of Heaven. The attainment of sincerity is the way of men. He who possesses sincerity, is he who, without an effort, hit what is right, and apprehends, without the exercise of thought; he is the sage who naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains sincerity, is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast.” – Confucius

Around a year ago I thought it would be a worthwhile effort to compile a book of essays contributed by men and women retirees. The spiritual traditions hold that the utmost respect is given to the elders, as they have earned it because of their experiences, sacrifices and wisdom. One of the factors that led me to invite retirees to give an essay was that I felt that the highest respect for elders was not expressed at the level it should. At that point I sent e-mail communications to many retiree organizations, inviting retirees to join the project by sending their most profound thoughts surrounding the question: “Is Heaven on Earth possible?”

This invitation was e-mailed to primarily university retiree associations, as the men and women of these groups have the most formal education. Another one of the factors that led me to searching for retiree response was that retired folks have almost no fear of retribution. This was important as those still employed would be reticent to be 100% honest with their essays, or unwilling to write one for the project.

What we see with the fear of being 100% honest leads one to feel a certain amount of sadness. It makes one wonder what is going on with humanity when people have a fear of being honest. Perhaps folks are afraid of criticism or being judged by others. It is quite unfortunate that human beings in various fields have come to a point where expressing total honesty is avoided.  Unfortunately there seems no lack of criticism and the judging of others these days. It would seem that people would be happy with each interaction where genuineness and truthful words are shared. Yet, we are very optimistic that we are seeing more truth coming to us as time moves on.

Humans have been given examples of the ways that they should conduct themselves which are taken as the gospel truth. Our feeling is that the constraints on the honest communication of ideas have led to many of the problems people are experiencing with regard to mental health. It seems that people are aware of all of humanity’s problems, but somehow many have concluded that the problems can only be solved by those in authority.

Many of you may have had the thought that there are far too few instances of genuine, honest and positive conversations. Human to human interactions are too often centered on content which is shallow and irrelevant. We sometimes will talk to each other about the weather, sports, last night’s television show or the latest celebrity scandal. This is understandable given the criticism and judging that we mentioned. Folks are reluctant to talk about important issues for fear of how others may take their opinions.

A somewhat surreal state of affairs has resulted where folks are left joyless, sensing a lost opportunity far too often in our interactions. One can sense that we all want to go deeper into the real issues of life, but that fear of criticism or judging holds us hostage. Can it be a surprise that so many end up taking pills for depression?

Russian author Leo Tolstoy said: “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to be worse than useless.”

I was anticipating a deluge of essays from men and women retirees arriving for inclusion in the work. After three weeks I did not receive any. The vision for the project as described in the invitation to retirees was attempting to create the most important book ever published in human history. What did I learn here when an opportunity to contribute to the most important book ever published in human history gets declined? I guess it was seen as too ambitious.

Perhaps the invitation was seen, and those who received it were of the thought that a vision of the most important book ever published in human history was somehow too optimistic. I thought maybe I had been premature in my conclusion that there would be many accepting my invitation to share their most profound thoughts on the question: “Is Heaven on Earth possible?”

So maybe I was naïve in my effort to collect wisdom of a spiritual nature from retired men and women. I kept my fingers crossed that essays of profound wisdom would arrive. With or without help, I was going to attempt to create the most important book ever published in human history. Now some of you are rolling your eyes. How arrogant/self-important can this writer be? The most important book ever published in human history?! Give me a break.

You will have to believe this writer when he speaks of the vision for the work. Our invitation to retired men and women was delivered with nothing but the most benevolent intent. As the invitation was e-mailed to the largest retiree associations in America and Canada, along with university associations, I  held the hope that the anticipated essay compilation would be very important and enlightening for many, many readers all around the world. The aim was to improve the conditions on Earth for every man, woman and child.

As more people strive to create a better world then that world will manifest in reality.

“I believe in the doctrine of non-violence as a weapon of the weak. I believe in the doctrine of non-violence as a weapon of the strongest. I believe that a man is the strongest soldier for daring to die unarmed.”

– Mohandes Gandhi

How are we going to go about articulating in such a way that the creation of Heaven on Earth is believed by readers to be a very real possibility? Imagine yourself in my shoes as we try to come up with a battle plan, so to speak, to carry out such a daunting task. Probably the first thing to do here is ask God/Creator for humility before anything else is written. Any trace of ego, pride, arrogance or superiority complex has to be totally eliminated, as self-importance is antithetical to any concept of Heaven on Earth.

Any examination of the concept of the literal creation of Heaven on Earth has to be based on the philosophy of selfless service. The major purpose of this work is to contribute in a good way to creating a better world. Creating a world of unconditional love is an effort of perennial, utmost urgency.

It would have been nice to have received the hundreds of essays we were anticipating. How much easier the work would be if one could simply relay the wisdom contained in essays. As mentioned none arrived. So where should we begin this effort? Perhaps we can take an in-depth look at the many historical problems that humanity has dealt with for so many generations. The big problems like war and peace, greed, anger, hate, poverty, starvation, disease, and pollution of the environment.

Maybe there is a way to look at humanity’s problems and show the connection to spiritual deficiency. There have been many men and women through history who have made the attempt to improve the human condition by offering solutions of spirit. We are extremely impressed, thankful and grateful to have come across the work of many of these wonderful people. We would recommend that all come into as much contact as possible with those writings/works which attempt to help all people and all life on Earth.

Philipus Aureolus Paracelsus (c. 1493-1541) German physician:

“Thoughts give birth to a creative force that is neither elemental nor sidereal… Thoughts create a new Heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow.”

The words of Paracelsus remind us of the power of our thoughts and imagination. There is a theory that our thoughts and imagination create our reality. If the theory is correct then the gathering of numbers of men and women who have the same thoughts, imagination, and intent can literally create a reality that matches those thoughts. This is a very interesting area to consider.

 If we take a look at all the great changes that have occurred through human history, we can conclude that the combined thoughts of human beings actually created those changes, the new realities.