The Way We Live Now Essay, Research Paper
The Way We Live Now abstract
“The Way We Live Now” is designed to create a dialogue surrounding the issues of AIDS. The play will confront these issues and allow each reader to explore their own beliefs without being confronted by controversial situations. It is a clear, lyrical piece with emphasis placed on words and individual feelings.
“The Way We Live Now” consists entirely of fragments of conversation among friends concerned about a friend with AIDS. They confer on the telephone, over coffee, in the halls of the hospital, about the patient and his illness. They speculate, prognosticate, share anxieties, trade feelings of guilt and blame, pool their medical knowledge, and criticize the medical establishment.
The patient never appears, and indeed, we never meet a fully-fledged character, but only hear the orchestra of voices that accurately reflect the mediated and fragmented character of modern community life. News travels among them like an electric current, carrying shock waves of fear and pain. Their pooling of medical lore results in an eclectic mix of remedies that reach from chicken soup to the patient’s favorite jelly beans.
By the end, several of the characters, represented only by voices in the conversation, have had to come to terms not only with the impending loss of their friend, but with their own various and
unsettling responses. The disease, clearly AIDS, is never mentioned by name.
The person at the center of the story serves as a mirror and sign of his friends’ own vulnerability. They don’t really know how to become a functioning healing and helping community, but figure it out as they go along. The dark side of this story is its exposure of the lack of friendship and good intentions; some friends just back off.
In our struggle for a perfect live, we sometimes forget that dying is an inevitable element of living, and rarely do we experience perfect deaths. Sometimes we or a loved one dies before old age claims us. Some of us, still young, become ill with an incurable disease. Some contract a deadly disease that is contagious.
The heartening message is that communities of friendship can be strong, flexible and cheerful even as they construct in a time of crisis. The story suggests and demonstrates how conversation quite literally creates a community of healing.