Reading about the Australian Open winner, Stanislas Wawrinka, a first-time major winner, I read that he has a Samuel Beckett tattoo on his left forearm. It's one of my favorite Beckett quotes: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
I think Stanislas Wawrinka is my favorite player all of a sudden.
For anybody out there living in cave, let me just say this: Congratulations. You've apparently made the soundest real estate investment possible.
— Jon Stewart
The beauty of that quote being the incisive joke coming on the heels of a completely cliched lead-in that unexpectedly becomes part of the joke itself.
A few more quotes, not so funny, just pointed and true:
Watching Washington rush to throw taxpayer money at Wall Street has been sobering and a little frightening.
— Newt Gingrich
This is scare tactics to try to do something that's in the private but not the public interest. It's terrible.
— Allan Meltzer, former economic adviser to President Reagan and Carnegie Mellon professor of political economy, quoted in the New York Times
Many economists argue that taxpayers ought to get more than avoidance of the apocalypse for their dollars: they ought to get an ownership stake in the companies on the receiving end.
— New York Times front-page analysis by reporter Peter S. Goodman
from 10 zen monkeys via boing boing
Quoted from Idolator:
The Spice Girls are walking away with "£50 million between them" for their sold-out 17-night stand at London's 02 Arena. "The truth of the matter is, to put on this tour has cost £18.6 million," Ginger sez. "This is not a money-making expedition...Hopefully we will break even but it has never been about that."
I'm soliciting theories on what the Spice Girls reunions shows were really about, since they were never about making money (or breaking even), as pretty much everyone on the planet who isn't a Spice Girl might naturally assume.
Gilbert Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew:
As far as noting "what my work and my life as a writer mean" -- how shall I speak of that? As I compose, I think sometimes of the lovely and yet terrifying phenomena of all the world: immense waterfalls falling, gigantic gales from the four corners of the earth carrying in their gritty teeth chunks of rough-hewn farmers' tables and beloved credenzas, dust and excreta from Iowa barns, the sweet simplicity of the voices of both Cohens and Kellys, laughter from gay, come-what-may places, girls with braces (glistening with their tears) on youthful teeth . . . how to speak of these things? How to speak of what the tiny, yet handsome vase from Java, the dew-touched day's eye trembling in it, means to me? Of a half-frozen sparrow, beak worrying a Carnation condensed-milk-can wrapper? Of the masculine rhythms of Dostoevski's anger and comedy and compassion? Of the memory of the memory of first love? How . . . ? How can one explain what it means to think continually of those who were truly great? Of the rough expertise of the air-conditioner repairman? Of American cities, wrapped in local mystery -- Natchez and Mobile, Memphis and St. Joe: raw towns that we believe and die in? Of The Last Supper and the wine on the table on that evening of mystery? How is it possible to articulate the surging emotions felt watching children in the playground, running, playing, gleeful on their divine seesaws? The images crowd together, mix with the emotions, judgment is suspended, one is drunk as one is drunk on wine, and laughter. One writes ceaselessly, one writes -- everything. The notebooks fill, the black ink of the recording pen sets down the rhythms of life itself, rich nuggets of symbol, image, both clear and mysterious, deep, lie buried, waiting for the moment when they will be rescued from their temporary home. Meaning is held in an almost unbearable tension on the dizzying edge of the meaningless, and there! There lies the quicksilvery truth that makes one's life as a writer meaningful and endlessly rich. The wearisome hours of staring at the white paper, the lonely white paper, the clock ticking inexorably on -- all of it is worth it as the haunting image of the emotion is wrenched free from the mulchy notebooks and transformed into sheerest beauty! But how does one explain . . . ? To recast one's life as purest art -- that is the program. That is what my life and work "mean". One would like to achieve full expression of one's inchoate and sinewy self. In one's self, in the dark shed of the untameable mind, lies the truth, waiting to be released into the line, the sentence, the story or novel. I strive for it continually.
As unfathomable as it seems from the distance of over 30 years, for a few months, Gerry and the Pacemakers were the Beatles' nearest competitors in Britain. --Richie Unterberger, Allmusic
For a very brief time in 1964, it seemed that the biggest challenger to the Beatles' phenomenon was the Dave Clark Five. --Rick Clark and Richie Unterberger, Allmusic
Now, to this declared fact that there are no more than thirty-six dramatic situations, is attached a singular corollary, the discovery that there are in life but thirty-six emotions. A maximum of thirty-six emotions -- and therein we have all the savor of existence; there we have the unceasing ebb and flow which fills human history like tides of the sea; which is, indeed, the very substance of history, since it is the substance of humanity itself, in the shades of African forests as Unter den Linden or beneath the electric lights of the Boulevards; as it was in the ages of man's hand-to-hand struggle with the wild beasts of wood and mountain, and as it will be, indubitably, in the most infinitely distant future, since it is with these thirty-six emotions -- no more -- that we color, nay, we comprehend, cosmic mechanism, and since it is from them that our theogonies and our metaphysics are, and ever will be, constructed; all our dear and fanciful "beyonds" -- thirty-six situations, thirty-six emotions, and no more.
--Georges Polti, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations
Charles Thompson (aka Black Francis aka Frank Black) on the Pixies playing their songs in alphabetical order:
You're going to play all these songs tonight. At the end of the day, does it really matter, the order of the songs? All that matters is the one song you're playing at that time. Because the song begins here and ends here. And it's three minutes long. And while that song is going on, it's the center of the universe. Nothing else matters.
I have my favorite albums and whatnot, but in the religion of rock music, the most holy sacrament is the song. More than the bands. More than the solos. And more than the albums. It's the song. That's the experience. That's why it's like, "Eh, let's do it in alphabetical order." Because it doesn't matter what order we play it in. If we're a good band, get out there and prove it. I'd rather not prove it by all this kind of like showbizzy, Now we're going to finish with our big anthem! Let's just do the anthem now. They better all be anthems, right? They better all be amazing.
(from the 33 1/3 book on Doolittle, by Ben Sisario. I've edited the quote down a bit, removing repetitions and some talkinesses from what seems to be verbatim transcript.)
If you enjoy the opinions you possess, if they give you a glow, be suspicious. They may be possessing you. An opinion should be treated like a guest who is likely to stay too late and drink all the whiskey.
--William H. Gass, "Influence"
I'm fascinated by misattributions, and I think I'd like to make a web page of them. There are a few particular names for whom quotes are always suspect, because clever lines will be attributed to them regardless of evidence: check twice before believing a given line was uttered by Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, or Dorothy Parker.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Commonly attributed to Voltaire. But there's no evidence of the quote before the twentieth century; you can check Bartlett's 9th and 10th editions (from 1901 and 1919) online, for example, and not find the quote -- though of course there's plenty of Voltaire, including a quote ("God is always on the side of the big battalions") that is from a letter than Norbert Guterman said contained the "defend to the death" quote; Richard Shenkman says the quote is nowhere in the letter (and I don't read French).
It's a fact that Voltaire was never quoted on the "defend to the death" quote, at any rate, until years after it had been said by Beatrice Hall (under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre) in 1907. She did say that it was something Voltaire might have said; ever since then it's been credited to Voltaire.
Gregory Feeley adds:
I too collect misattributions. There are as many interesting-but-little-known ones as there are interesting-and-well-known ones, such as those discussed here. Briefly, two:
"Madame Bovary, c'est moi." Universally treated as a genuine Flaubert quote, it first appeared in a 1907 treatise written by someone who had never known Flaubert. He gave no citation, and the quote runs counter to everything Flaubert ever said, in letter or conversation, regarding his fictional character.
"Close your eyes and think of England." I noticed many years ago that no reference work of familiar quotations includes this, and that while the line is very widely quoted as something said by Victorian mothers to their soon-to-be-married daughters, I never saw it in any Victorian work. It sounded, in fact, less an authentic Victorian remark than a smug twentieth-century characterization of Victorianism (we still like to imagine that Victorian women had a horror of sexuality, even married, which is quite untrue.)
Eventually I came across what is probably its first appearance: an Edwardian (or slightly later) diary, written by a woman who was speaking about her own experience, and rather archly. It was never said by mothers to their daughters.
I liked being in a dangerous band, and I never thought I wouldn't be in that dangerous band. So if I ever go back to it, it's going to be dangerous. It's not going to be gingerbread cookies and milk.--Billy Corgan