“I go through the Cascine down to the Arno, where its yellow waters splash monotonously about a couple of stray willows. There I set and cast up my final accounts with existence. I let my entire life pass before me. On the whole, it is rather a wretched affair – a few joys, an endless number of indifferent and worthless things, and between these an abundant harvest of pain, misery, fear, disappointment, shipwrecked hopes, afflictions, sorrow, and grief.
I thought of my mother, whom I loved so deeply and whom I had to watch waste away beneath a horrible disease; of my brother, who full of the promise of joy and happiness died in the flower of youth without even having put his lips to the cup of life. I thought of my dead nurse, my childhood playmates, the friends who had striven and studied with me; all of those covered by the cold, dead, uncaring earth. I thought of my turtle-dove, who not infrequently made his cooing bows to me instead of his mate – All have returned, dust unto dust.
(‘Venus in Furs’ – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch)
“A neurotic individual’s entire self-esteem shrinks to nothing if he does not receive admiration. To be admired and to be respected is a protection against helplessness, against insignificance. Because he’s continually sensing humiliation, it will be difficult for him to have anyone as a friend.” – Marlon Brando
“There’s that terrible adage that the torturer’s greatest act is to make the victim go on torturing himself after he gets up off the rack. But there’s a flip side to that, the ecstatic, positive version of it: that the artist’s greatest act is to leave you making your own art after the fact. You come away with your own wheels spinning. That’s what Orson Welles does to you.” – F X Feeney
Hours before Orson Welles died on 10th October 1985, he appeared one last time on the Merv Griffin Show and Griffin asked him. “Were there certain parts of your life that were really joyous?” Welles paused for a moment and replied, “Oh, yes. There are certain parts of every day that are joyous… I’m not essentially a happy person, but I have all kinds of joy. There’s a difference, you know, because joy is a great big electrical experience. And just happiness is, what, I don’t know. A warthog can be happy.”
LESTER: Tell me, Dr. Schwartz, what do you feel you can bring to LesterCorp?
CRAIG: Well, sir, I’m an excellent filer.
LESTER (crafty): You think so, eh? Which comes first, L or… Glooph?
CRAIG: Glooph is not a letter, sir.
LESTER: Damn, you are good. I tried to trick you. Okay, put these in order.
Lester hands Craig a bunch of index cards. Craig orders them with amazing speed and dexterity. Lester watches, eyes wide.
LESTER (flips intercom switch): Floris, get Guinness on the phone.
FLORIS (O.S.): Gehginnis ondah foam?
LESTER: Forget it.
FLORIS (CONT’D): Fork ah did?
LESTER (flips off switch): Fine woman, Floris. I don’t know how she puts up with this damn speech impediment of mine.
CRAIG: You don’t have a speech impediment, Dr. Lester.
LESTER: Flattery will get you everywhere, my boy. But I’m afraid I have to trust Floris on this one. You see, she has her doctorate in speech impedimentology from Case Western. Perhaps you’ve read her memoirs, “I can’t understand a word any of you are saying.”
LESTER: Pity, it tells it like it is. That’s why the eastern, read Jewish, publishing establishment won’t touch it. That’s a quote from the book jacket. George Will, I think.
(beat) I apologize if you can’t understand a word I’m saying, Dr. Schwartz.
CRAIG: No. I understand perfectly.
LESTER (choking up): Thank you for being kind enough to lie. You see, I’ve been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech. You’re hired. Any questions?
(from Being John Malkovich, written by Charlie Kaufman)
“I was watching a documentary on A&E last night about these guys who go whacko and shoot up the office where they work, and I was thinking they never mention the fact that one of the main causes is the fact that most people are bored with their job, and their bosses are petty tyrants, and they hate every hour they spend there. They never talk about that side. It’s always, ‘what’s wrong with their genes?'” – Robert Anton Wilson
“[My wife] liked to collect old encyclopedias from second-hand bookstores, and at one point we had eight of them. When I wrote my first historical novel—back in 1980, before I was online—I used them often as a research tool. Every time I wanted to look up a historical detail I’d look it up in 3 or 4 encyclopaedias and always there’d be disagreement. For instance, how old was Mozart when he wrote his first symphony? Either 7 or 8 depending on which encyclopaedia you look in. How tall was the Bastille? 90 feet high or 100 feet or 120 feet according to three different encyclopaedias I consulted. This is what provoked me to formulate Wilson’s 22nd Law: ‘Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia.’ “–Robert Anton Wilson
“Things are becoming more and more unpredictable. Now to those that can stand unpredictability, it makes life a lot more interesting. For those that can’t stand unpredictability it leads to a lot of conspiracy, pessimism and general apocalyptic visions.” – Robert Anton Wilson
OW: Everybody said, “You’re gonna think the [Georges] Pompidou thing is beautiful. You just have to get used to it.” But the more you look at it, the more impossible it is. It’s a big piece of junk. But I remind myself that half of aesthetic France threatened to leave Paris when they started to build the Eiffel Tower. So maybe I’m just a reactionary. If I am it doesn’t bother me too much, though. I’m perfectly content to be reactionary – to belong to my own time.
HJ: Everybody thought the Eiffel Tower was a piece of junk. Now it’s something so beautiful—-
OW: But, you see, the Eiffel Tower is marvellous because it has an historical meaning. It is the last great work of the Age of Iron.
HJ: Still at the time you can imagine people who wanted the vista uncluttered being —
OW: But now it’s destroyed anyway because all the good views have been ruined by the Tour Montparnasse. If you stand and look through that small Arc de Triomphe – that little miniature, which is in front of the Louvre, and look up the Champs – Elysees, you used to be able to look right through to the Arc de Triomphe into blue sky. Now what you see looks like Detroit.
HJ: But I’m curious. Is taste objective or subjective?
OW: Subjective basically. But it’s an interesting question. I remember my darling Louise de Vilmorin, who always swore that Paris was one of the ugliest cities in the world, a terrible nineteenth-century atrocity. She could only stand the things that dated from before then, and there were few enough of those. If your taste is back there in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, then Paris is an ugly city. The automobile did it, with all those underpasses and the highway by the Seine. Do you remember what the Seine was like when you could stroll along it with your girl? God, that was another world.
I’ve been asked to write some little thing in Paris Vogue, along with a lot of other people who don’t know anything, about why I love Paris. And I can’t think of anything to say. It should be “Why I Loved Paris.” When I could walk on the sidewalk in Paris, I loved it, but now I have to climb over automobiles. Taking down the Halles was the beginning of the end. Les Halles was a good building. The new one is already falling apart. It looks older the Notre Dame! The paint is peeling off. Soon there won’t be any real Paris left, you know. Or real London or real Rome. Because a few untouchable monuments are not gonna keep a city… I think all the cities of the world are in decline. Because the idea of supporting cities has ceased to part of world culture. We’re all moving into shopping malls.