Tag: Quote

Apology for Idlers – Robert Louis Stevenson

He who has much looked on at the childish satisfaction of other people in their hobbies, will regard his own with only a very ironical indulgence. He will not be heard among the dogmatists. He will have a great and cool allowance for all sorts of people and opinions. If he finds no out-of-the-way truths, he will identify himself with no very burning falsehood. His way takes him along a by-road, not much frequented, but very even and pleasant, which is called Commonplace Lane, and leads to the Belvedere of Commonsense. Thence he shall command an agreeable, if no very noble prospect; and while others behold the East and West, the Devil and the Sunrise, he will be contentedly aware of a sort of morning hour upon all sublunary things, with an army of shadows running speedily and in many different directions into the great daylight of Eternity. The shadows and the generations, the shrill doctors and the plangent wars, go by into ultimate silence and emptiness; but underneath all this, a man may see, out of the Belvedere windows, much green and peaceful landscape; many firelit parlours; good people laughing, drinking, and making love as they did before the Flood or the French Revolution; and the old shepherd telling his tale under the hawthorn.

Quote from the essay, Apology for Idlers, which you can find here:
The Lantern-Bearers and Other Essays
Robert Louis Stevenson

Provocative Drama – Cassavetes on

When people were walking out of Husbands and Faces en masse I never felt bad about that because I thought that it was pain that was taking them out of the theater and I thought that it wasn’t the fact that the film was bad. It was that they couldn’t take it without changing their own lifestyles, which made both those films very successful to me. I thought at the time that Husbands was anti the lifestyle of almost everyone in America. We presented a lifestyle that went against their lifestyle. People walked out because they didn’t want to accept the fact that there could be anything wrong with the way they lived their lives.

It doesn’t matter whether audiences like it; it matters whether they feel something. I feel I’ve succeeded if I make them feel something — anything. The hope is that you don’t make it so easy for an audience that when they go to your movie they have nothing to think about except, ‘That was wonderful. Good. Next! What else are you going to entertain my great appetite with?’ I want to make you mad. Yeah, that’s going to take longer. And yeah, when we have it we’ll let you know, I mean. And we’ll put it there.

Cassavetes on Cassavetes
John Cassavetes, Ray Carney

Human beings reveal their character most clearly by what they find ridiculous. – Goethe Quote

The first time I read “Elective Affinities” was in college, when it appeared on the syllabus of a class that I swiftly dropped. The teacher pronounced “Goethe” with enthusiastic violence, making it sound like a noise someone would make when using the toilet. I read the book on my own time and strip-mined it for insights on marriage, fashion and virtue. (“Human beings reveal their character most clearly by what they find ridiculous.”)

It wasn’t until revisiting the book five years later that I saw what I had missed — and, contrarily, probably missed a lot of what I’d understood the first time. The novel is about an aristocratic married couple, Charlotte and Eduard, who fall in love with other people. They work through their rift by exchanging stiff philosophical dialogues about fate, domesticity, nature, freedom, transgression — you know, all the fun stuff. Aphorisms everywhere.

There’s a piece in The American Scholar in which Alberto Manguel describes Goethe as never merely narrating, but always injecting theories into his prose, with those theories permeating each section “like the smell of fried onions.” It remains the only novel I’ve read that feels like the work of a scientist (author) guiding lab rats (characters) through a maze (plot). It was published in 1809 to widespread bafflement.

Wind, Of Course, Goethe and Shame Our critic recommends old and new books.
Molly Young

When a Scholar Acknowledges All His Sources, He Brings the Day of Redemption a Little Closer – Talmud Quote

His voice is so weightily authoritative that he hardly ever bothers to cite a source or quote a fellow critic. There is, so the sociologist Michael Walzer tells us, ‘a saying in the Talmud that when a scholar acknowledges all his sources, he brings the day of redemption a little closer’, in which case Williams has managed to postpone the Messiah’s arrival indefinitely. Not that he always had that many sources to quote. There were many significant thinkers whom he never read; and while this reflects something of his originality and independence of mind, the way he draws so deeply on his own resources, it also betrays a certain pride and aloofness, a refusal to be beholden to his fellow intellectuals, which is not easy to square with his politics.

Critical Revolutionaries: Five Critics Who Changed the Way We Read
Terry Eagleton
(from the section on Raymond Williams. )

Eye Color in Literature, Significance of, Semiotic Meaning

I feel sorry for novelists when they have to mention women’s eyes, there’s so little choice . . .
Her eyes are blue: innocence and honesty.
Her eyes are black: passion and depth.
Her eyes are green: wildness and jealousy.
Her eyes are brown: reliability and common sense.
Her eyes are violet: the novel is by Raymond Chandler.

Flaubert’s Parrot
Julian Barnes

Quote found in book:
What We See When We Read
Peter Mendelsund
A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading—how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader.

Faith and Self Acceptance – Thumbsucker Quote

Justin Cobb: I just came here for a checkup.

Dr. Perry Lyman: Really? Justin, I’m sorry if I contributed to any feelings of shame you may have about your thumb. I’ve been reading up on it. Medically, psychologically, there’s nothing really wrong with thumb sucking.

Justin Cobb: I don’t think I can agree with that.

Dr. Perry Lyman: No, really. Look. Justin… there was nothing wrong with you.

Justin Cobb: It felt like everything was wrong with me.

Dr. Perry Lyman: That’s ’cause we all wanna be problemless. To fix ourselves. We look for some magic solution to make us all better, but none of us really know what we’re doing. And why is that so bad? That’s all we humans can do. Guess. Try. Hope. But, Justin, just pray you don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve got the answer. Because that’s bullshit. The trick is living without an answer. I think.

[both chuckle and laugh]

Dr. Perry Lyman: [Dr. Perry chuckles and lights another cigarette] I think.


Some Epigraphs Recently Encountered

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.”
– Often attributed to George Bernhard Shaw. Although its doubtful he ever said it.

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?
Alan Alda

There is no intellectual exercise that is not ultimately pointless.
– J.L. Borges, in “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote

A Student’s Guide to Analytical Mechanics
John L. Bohn

This morning I met a woman with a golden nose. She was riding in a Cadillac with a monkey in her arms. Her driver stopped and she asked me, “Are you Fellini?” With this metallic voice she continued, “Why is it that in your movies, there is not even one normal person?”
— Federico Fellini

The Promise
Damon Galgut

Definition of epigraph
1: an engraved inscription
2: a quotation set at the beginning of a literary work or one of its divisions to suggest its theme

Car as Status – Two References

Thunderbirds had been out for only a year now, since ‘55, and because they were new and there weren’t that many of them they were considered somewhat cooler than Corvettes. It was early evening. The Thunderbird was idling before a red light at the intersection, and from our perch behind the parapet we could hear the song on the radio – “Over the Mountains and across the Seas” – and hear too, just below the music, the full-throated purr of the engine. The black body glistened like obsidian. Blue smoke chugged from the twin exhausts. The top was rolled back. We could see the red leather upholstery and the blond man in the dinner jacket sitting in the driver’s seat. He was young and handsome and fresh. You could almost smell the Listerine on his breath, the Mennen on his cheeks. We were looking right down at him. With the palm of his left hand he kept the beat of the song against the steering wheel. His right arm rested on the back of the empty seat beside him, which would not remain empty for long. He was on his way to pick someone up.

We held no conference. One look was enough to see that he was everything we were not, his life a progress of satisfactions we had no hope of attaining in any future we could seriously propose for ourselves.

The first egg hit the street beside him. The second egg hit the front fender. The third egg hit the trunk and splattered his shoulders and neck and hair. We looked down just long enough to tally the damage before pulling our heads back. A moment passed. Then a howl rose skyward. No words – just one solitary soul cry of disbelief. We could still hear the music coming from his radio. The light must have changed, because a horn honked, and honked again, and someone yelled something, and another voice answered harshly, and the song was suddenly lost in the noise of engines.

This Boy’s Life
Tobias Wolff

I said, What’re you gonna do, man? Get a job up at the mall? Yeah, right, Chappie. The mall. The line forms at the end, man. They got fucking college graduates up there flipping Big Macs and carrying out the garbage. Forget it, man.

Well maybe you could sell your Camaro. You could get eight, nine hundred bucks easy for it. More maybe.

You bet your ass more. A grand and a half easy. But no fucking way, man. That car’s all I got between me and total nothingness.

Rule of the Bone
Russell Banks

March 9 – Calendar of Wisdom Quote, Tolstoy

War and Christianity are not compatible.

War is one of the worst, most terrible things in this world.

War in this world can be stopped not by the ruling establishment, but by those who suffer from the war. They will do the most natural thing: stop obeying orders.

The armed world and the wars it wages will be destroyed one day, but not by the kings or the rulers of this world. War is profitable for them. War will stop the moment the people who suffer from war fully understand that it is evil.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts
Leo Tolstoy