- from "Trash, Art, and the Movies" by Pauline Kael
[image via Wikipedia]
"A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theatre; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact, not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption. The movie doesn’t have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line. An actor’s scowl, a small subversive gesture, a dirty remark that someone tosses off with a mock-innocent face, and the world makes a little bit of sense. Sitting there alone or painfully alone because those with you do not react as you do, you know there must be others perhaps in this very theatre or in this city, surely in other theatres in other cities, now, in the past or future, who react as you do. And because movies are the most total and encompassing art form we have, these reactions can seem the most personal and, maybe the most important, imaginable. The romance of movies is not just in those stories and those people on the screen but in the adolescent dream of meeting others who feel as you do about what you’ve seen. You do meet them, of course, and you know each other at once because you talk less about good movies than about what you love in bad movies."
- from "Trash, Art, and the Movies" by Pauline Kael
[image via Wikipedia]
"Old Providence! It was this place and the mysterious force of its long, continuous history which had brought him into being, and which had drawn him back toward marvels and secrets whose boundaries no prophets might fix. Here lay the arcana, wondrous or dreadful as the case might be, for which all his years of travel and application had been preparing him. A taxicab whirled him through Post Office Square with its glimpse of the river, the old Market House, and the head of the bay, and up the steep curved slope of Waterman Street to Prospect, where the vast gleaming dome and sunset-flushed Ionic columns of the Christian Science Church beckoned northward. Then eight squares past the fine old estates his childish eyes had known, and the quaint brick sidewalks so often trodden by his youthful feet. And at last the little white overtaken farmhouse on the right, on the left the classic Adam porch and stately bayed facade of the great brick house where he was born. It was twilight, and Charles Dexter Ward had come home."
- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", collected in The Thing On The Doorstep and Other Weird Stories
(image via Wikipedia)
"I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade.
"It was seven o'clock when we got into the coupé with him and started for Long Island. Tom talked incessantly, exulting and laughing, but his voice was as remote from Jordan and me as the foreign clamor on the sidewalk or the tumult of the elevated overhead. Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty - the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise to ever carry well-forgotten dreams from age-to-age. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat's shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
"Oh something'll happen. If not tonight, then some other night. Because if it don't happen, he'll lose interest, and quit coming around, and you wouldn't like that. And when it happens, it's Sin. It's Sin, because you're a grass widow, and fast. And he's all paid up, because he bought your dinner, and that makes it square. ...
"But — if you cook his dinner, and cooked it for him the way only you can cook, and you just happened to look cute in that little apron, and something just happened to happen, then it's Nature. Old Mother Nature, baby, and we all know she's no bum."
- James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce (1941)
"If I've bet my life's work on a suspicion that we live at least as much in our wishes and dreams, our constructions and projections, as we do in any real waking life the existence of which we can demonstrate by rapping it with our knuckles, perhaps my non-utilization of the live nude models helped me place the bet. How could I ever be astonished to see how we human animals slid into the vicarious at the faintest invitation, leaving vast flaming puddings of the Real uneaten? I did."
- Jonathan Lethem, "Live Nude Models," in The Ecstasy of Influence, 2011
"Until this moment, she would have had to slip a skin over her perceptions to point to the Andromeda galaxy in the sky. But now it seemed like the most important thing in the world that, two and a half million years away, somebody had shouted across the void before they died.
"'We're here,' Ferron said to the ancient light that spilled across the sky and did not pierce the shadow into which she descended. As her colleagues turned and stared, she repeated the words like a mantra. 'We're here too! And we heard you.'"
- Elizabeth Bear, "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns," from Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2012
"Time has not softened my opinions on this matter. It is my belief that, as a rule, creatures of Happy's ilk — I am thinking here of canines and men both — more often run free than live caged, and it is in fact a world of mud and feces they desire, a world with no Art in it, or anyone like him, a place where there is no talk of books or God or the worlds beyond this world, a place where the only communication is the hysterical barking of starving and hate-filled dogs."
- Joe Hill, "Pop Art," collected in American Fantastic Tales, volume 2
"'It's a knowledge guild,' he said soberly. 'The bosses, the big'uns, they can take all manner of things away from us. With their bloody laws and factories and courts and banks. ... They can make the world to their pleasure, they can take away your home and kin and even the work you do. ..." Mick shrugged angrily, his lean shoulders denting the heavy of fabric of the greatcoat. 'And even a rob a hero's daughter of her virtue, if I'm not too bold in speaking of it.' He pressed her hand against his sleeve, a hard, trapping grip. 'But they can't ever take what you know, now can they Sybil? They can't ever take that."
- William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine
"'Oh I don't know about,' he replied, implying that he had had several successful affairs to enhance her opinion of him. Similarly Rosanette did not confess to all her lovers, so that he would think more highly of her. For in the midst of the most intimate confidences, false shame, delicacy, or pity always impose a certain reticence. We come across precipices or morasses, in ourselves or in the other person, which bring us to a halt; in any case, we feel that we would not be understood; it is difficult to express anything exactly; perfect unions, for that reason are rare.
"The poor Marshall had never known anything better than this."
- Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education, translated by Robert Baldick and Geoffrey Wall
"A lot of people now—even people much younger than James Wolcott—dream of a lost moment when the opportunities were truly 'hidden like Easter eggs,' when the paths were not yet mapped and overrun. How can we be expected to create properly, the thinking goes, without the tools of past success? How can we write without the old serious publications, make movies without risk-taking Hollywood producers, live without cheap urban housing, discover art without the underground, make a career without the circulation-desk jobs?
"Kael's great achievement was to fight this way of thinking, to persuade her readers that work is always done with the machinery at hand."
- from "What She Said: The Doings and Undoings of Pauline Kael" by Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, Oct 24, 2011