Category Archives: quotes

Some Sort of Orientation

“You shouldn’t feel upset that I haven’t seen the Star Wars films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year … Sometimes I see things that are completely against my cultural nature. I was raised with Latin and Ancient Greek and poetry from Greek antiquity, but sometimes, just to see the world I live in, I watch ‘WrestleMania’ … You have to know what a good amount of the population is watching. Do not underestimate the Kardashians. As vulgar as they may be, it doesn’t matter that much, but you have to find some sort of orientation. As I always say, the poet must not close his eyes, must not avert them.”

Werner Herzog, Variety, November 2019

Time Will Do the Rest

“Let the currents move beneath you. Powers will shift. Enemies can vanish. Do what you can do to stay alive. Time will do the rest.”

—Luke Evans’s character in Anna(2019), directed by Luc Besson, who is admittedly “problematic” (Outlaw Vern explains in his review), but I liked it and this line

A More Natural Transition

“Read the tabloids before you read the Times. It’s a more natural transition from the dream state to full wakefulness.”

Glenn O’Brien

A Mark of Sanity

“Teach classes that are meaningful to you and that engage that portion of your students that are reachable. Ignore, in other words, the very idea of professional wisdom. Only write what you want to write. Once you have job security (which I know is a huge barrier) don’t write if you don’t want to. Write for media directed at non-historians, whether that be the local newspaper or fancy national magazines. Write for other academic disciplines. Explore other media than the printed word. Ignoring what the profession rewards might very well be a mark of sanity at the close of the 20th century.”

Ken Cmiel, “History Against Itself” (1994)

Let the Half-Wit Out for a Walk

“Baseball is for watching. From April to October I watch the Red Sox every night. (Other sports fill the darker months.) I do not write; I do not work at all. After supper I become the American male — but I think I do something else. Try to forgive my comparisons, but before Yeats went to sleep every night he read an American Western. When Eliot was done with poetry and editing, he read a mystery book. Everyone who concentrates all day, in the evening needs to let the half-wit out for a walk. Sometimes it is Zane Grey, sometimes Agatha Christie, sometimes the Red Sox.”

—Donald Hall, Essays After Eighty

Things and Their Meanings

“The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine. He was quick and ready in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in their meanings. Fifty degrees below zero meant 80 degrees of frost. Such facts told him that it was cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to consider his weaknesses as a creature affected by temperature. Nor did he think about man’s general weakness, able to live only within narrow limits of heat and cold. From there, it did not lead him to thoughts of heaven and the meaning of a man’s life. 50 degrees below zero meant a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against by the use of mittens, ear coverings, warm moccasins, and thick socks. 50 degrees below zero was to him nothing more than 50 degrees below zero. That it should be more important than that was a thought that never entered his head.”

—Jack London, “To Build a Fire” (1908)

Yellow Legal Pads

oakImage-1538591403363-jumbo.jpg

“I’ve been using yellow legal pads since coming to the United States with Honda in 1986. I found my favorite brand, Tops Docket Gold legal pads, in 2001. I’ve used two every month to write action items and ideas. I still have every one, stored in my office, all with dates so I can look up any history.”

Michimasa Fujino

Related reading: Suzanne Snider, “Old Yeller: The Illustrious History of the Yellow Legal Pad,” Legal Affairs, May/June 2005.