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Category: Quotes to Remember (page 1 of 2)

Random quotes from the famous and infamous.

Thomas Mann on Lubeck, harems and marzipan

Now if anyone wishes to vent a little spite against me, or take a casual swipe at me, I can count on his bringing up my Lubeck origin and Lubeck marzipan. If some ill-wisher can think of nothing else, he invariably thinks of connecting me with comic marzipan and representing me as a marzipan baker. Such stuff goes by the name of literary satire. But it does not bother me . . . And I certainly do not feel in the least insulted about the marzipan. In the first place it is a very tasty confection, and in the second place it is anything but trivial; rather it is remarkable and, as I have said, mysterious. And if we examine this sweet more closely, this mixture of almonds, rosewater and sugar, the suspicion arises that it is originally oriental, a [Haremskonfekt] confection for the harem, and that in all probability the recipe for this barely digestible delicacy came to Lubeck from the Orient by way of Venice. And it turns out that those wits are not so wrong as they themselves think, that Death in Venice is really ‘marzipan’ although in a deeper sense than they ever meant it.

Thomas Mann, ‘LUBECK AS A WAY OF LIFE AND THOUGHT’ (1926)

Kim Gordon on singing, Kim Deal and cake

At the same time, I loved hanging out with Kim Deal, and when I rewatch the video [for ‘Little Trouble Girl’], my favorite part is seeing the two of us together singing and looking hot. Maybe everything always looks better twenty years later. When Kim showed up in Memphis to record the song, she had the engineer play it back into the big room, and she sang without any headphones. Then and now Kim’s voice has an incredibly cakelike quality—like the sound when you say cake, a lightness, its body thinned out—that’s so classic pop.

Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band

Donald G. Payne on benzedrine, baths and nymphos

After a while she realized she’d made a mistake: the sort of mistake that would never have occurred if she hadn’t been so tired. She tossed the calculations aside. She lit a cigarette, and noticed her hands were trembling. Christabel Barlow, she told herself, you’re damn-all use to anyone in your present state; you need a good sleep, a good meal and a new face; and then perhaps you’ll think straight instead of in ever-decreasing circles. But how can I eat and sleep, she thought, when so much is at stake and time’s running out, not only for Ken and Jim but maybe for hundreds of thousands of others, all over the world? And her eyes strayed to the top drawer of her desk and the little tube of tablets which she’d already delved into twice. I know, she thought, I’ll be like the nymphos in the pulp magazines: I’ll have a benzedrine and a bath.

Donald G. Payne, Flight of the Bat (1963)

Pat Cash on Wimbledon and tennis balls

The ITF needs to do something to help the volley because, at the moment, it has died. The attacker has no chance. Pat Rafter or me, at our best, would get smashed out there. The balls they use here are soft and they fluff up after three games. After a few games it’s almost impossible to hit a volley for a winner. They should just take the US Open ball – end of problem and it would be a much fairer tournament. It’s almost impossible for the volleyer to exist in the game of tennis. Something has to change. You can’t have a slow court and slow ball, coupled with the string technology which means the ball is coming off the strings quicker and with more spin. The rallies are going longer, there’s more injuries because of the longer rallies and nobody has done anything about it. You see all the injuries that the guys and also the women are suffering on hardcourt as a result of that. There’s three issues that we’ve seen develop in tennis that’s restricted the volley and therefore the variety of the game. One’s the strings, another is the pace of the court and the other is the ball. The US Open have a fastcourt, similar to here, but with a faster ball. They also have a women’s ball and a men’s ball. The men’s ball is slower than the women’s which is quite often why you see Venus Williams serving almost as fast as the men. But the men’s ball at the US Open is significantly faster than here. To me, the way to fix it is obvious – just take the US Open ball.

Pat Cash

Kevin Rudd on Sweden and his poor Swedish language skills

Jag är glad över att vara tillbaka i [Sverige]. Ett land som jag länge beundrat, och där min karriär som diplomat började för nästan trettio år sedan. Australien och Sverige har en lång gemensam historia. Faktum är att Australien kude ha blivit svenskt. Gustav den tredje gav order om en svensk bosättning i Västra Australien i November sjuttonhundraåttiosex, två år innan brittiska skepp anlände för första gången. Men kungens plan stoppades av krigsutbrottet med Ryssland nästkommande år. Så mitt modermål är inte svenska, utan engelska. Och efter trettio år är min svenska inget vidare.

Kevin Rudd, at SIPRI (May 2011)

Jonathan Swift on medieval electronica and the academic world

The first professor I saw, was in a very large room, with forty pupils about him. After salutation, observing me to look earnestly upon a frame, which took up the greatest part of both the length and breadth of the room, he said, “Perhaps I might wonder to see him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge, by practical and mechanical operations. But the world would soon be sensible of its usefulness; and he flattered himself, that a more noble, exalted thought never sprang in any other man’s head. Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.” He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work.” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down.

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726-27)

Hilary Mantel on Catholicism, reality and rebels

In the ideal world, all writers would have a Catholic childhood, or belong to some other religion which does the equivalent for you. Because Catholicism tells you at a very early age the world is not what you see; that beyond everything you see, and the appearance – or the accidents as they’re known – there is another reality, and it is a far more important reality. So it’s like running in the imagination. I think that this was the whole point for me – that from my earliest years I believed the world to have an overt face and a hidden face, and behind every cause another cause, and behind every explanation another explanation, which is perhaps of quite a different order. And if you cease to believe in Catholic doctrine it doesn’t mean that you lose that; you still regard the world as ineffable and mysterious and as something which perhaps in the end can’t quite be added up. It could be summed up as saying “all is not as it seems”, and of course that’s the first thing Catholicism tells you. And then it just runs through everything you write and everything you touch, really. Plus, it’s good to have something to rebel against.

Hilary Mantel

Michael Joyce on afternoon: a story and teaching electronic literature

I find that my students are often much more able than I am to move easily between print and electronic media and to see the value in each. Remember that I am very much a creature of print culture and so always an alien to even the revolution in which I play a part. Like any reader and writer I still love the fetish of print, the beautifully bound volume, the sensuality of text. Increasingly I also value the vibrancy of electronic text, the dynamic of it. Everyone always focuses on the drawbacks of electronic media (“you can’t read it in bed”) which are transitory and largely artifacts of the current (brutish) state of technology. In time there will be beautiful, even sensual, e l e c t r o n i c objects which are utterly portable and transmutable (even transcendental) in ways that we cannot yet imagine for the book even after centuries of imagination of its beauties. Perhaps at that time we will come to see books for their multiplicity rather than their authority, learning from electronic media to appreciate that their lastingness was not in their supposed canonicity but rather their actual community. We will then live happily ever after.

Michael Joyce (1987)

Bike Snob NYC on lobster deities and the modern world

In these crazy, wild, topsy-turvy times of wars, conflicts, battles, and excessive synonym usage, it can be important to have something that gives you a sense of security. This can be something as complex as a belief system, as simple as a talisman. This is why I worship a Lobster deity whose glowing Pincers of Justice light my way like Glo Stix in the horrific rave that is life in the modern world.

Bike Snob NYC

Philippe Gigantés on Korean fighting cocks

In Korea, cocks are allowed to fight till they kill one another, and to egg them on to greater excitement red pepper is rubbed into their eyes. Newly born calves are allowed to spend the night in the open at 70 degrees below zero. Many die. The puppy which grows as the children’s pet is put in a sack and beaten to death slowly so that the meat will be tenderer for eating. Death and pain are such commonplace things that in the mountains of North Korea, they do not shock the inhabitants of that rugged country. That is why, perhaps, with the cold at its highest, their miserable hovel burned out by some strange machine for reasons they do not understand, they sit outside in the road and hardly moan. What has happened to them is not really remarkable. It is just another installment of pain and death. These things have to be, and in the summer there will be more puppies, more calves, more babies, and it will be possible to dig the now frozen earth to get clay for the new mud hut. It’s hard to defeat them, because they are already defeated, they have nothing left to lose.

Philippe Gigantés, I Was a Captive In Korea (1953)

Den of Geek on the Star Wars TIE fighter

Colin Cantwell’s design for the Empire’s short-range [TIE] fighters is one of the most distinctive visual motifs of Star Wars. In a decade newly (perhaps foolishly) obsessed with the possibilities of solar power, it seemed at the cutting edge to make that source of energy a part of the craft’s design. The shape and dynamic of the craft has pretty much no forebear in any terrestrial technology with the possible exception of marine exploration – it’s truly an ‘alien’ aesthetic, despite the use of solar panels and the cloister-like windows with their primitive support struts. As with the UFOs in Gerry Anderson’s UFO, the craft have a distinctive and impressive flying noise, created by Ben Burtt from recordings of vehicles skidding on a wet motorway, mixed in with the braying of an elephant . . . This is technology designed to show 1977 audiences that they were in big trouble, as opposed to the noble and classic shapes of the rebellion’s X-Wing, which might have fitted in unnoticed to the Battle Of Britain. My only complaint is that I can’t really ‘see’ a TIE fighter landing on those abutting solar panels, and it appears to have no landing gear of any other kind.

Den of Geek

Lee Si-woo on history, tragedy and the DMZ

History is always cruel to the defeated because it belongs to the victor. History offers a future to the latter, but tragedy to the former. In spite of this, tragedy is beautiful because a solution presupposes the problem that caused the loser to lose, and because as the saying goes, human beings present only those problems that can be resolved. Tragedy is always rooted in reality, not in empty space, in the same way that we can walk the streets on a snowy night with our eyes closed because we walk on our feet, not with our eyes. That’s why an ideal is achievable for those who labour and struggle, but empty for those who do not. Tragedy is accompanied by abiding loneliness, an emotion that differs from desolation. Compared to the latter, which is a passive response to the external environment, loneliness stems from a self-awareness of emptiness and thus contains energy with which to combat the emptiness. The energy contained in loneliness within tragedy and derived from the ideal comes to have a trajectory, albeit uncharted, and precisely for this reason may encounter numerous failures and setbacks but will eventually find its intended path.

Lee Si-woo (trans. Kim Myung-hee)

Thomas Mars on Radiohead lyrics and magnets

We’re fascinated with the idea of every word fitting perfectly with every chord so it creates a new standard of beauty . . . It’s almost like Radiohead are using those word magnets. That’s my worst fear — the magnet thing . . .

Thomas Mars of Phoenix

Chris de Burgh on Iran

Recent events in Iran have filled me with shock and mounting horror, and I send my heartfelt sympathies and support to all my friends and fans there who may have been caught up in what has become a huge international story. Many people all over the world have reacted with anger and dismay at what appears to be blatant violations of basic human rights to freedom, health and happiness, and I sincerely hope that there will be a proper and fair resolution to these serious and opposing points of view, in this country with such a rich and important history, and a place that I have come to regard with respect and affection.

Chris de Burgh, 22 June 2009

Richard Tognetti on being an Antipodean in Oxford

I thought that our unique geographic identity would be taken as exotic and therefore: enticing. That wasn’t the case. A review on our first tour in Vienna was entitled: ‘Vom ende der Welt aber gut’ – from the end of the world but good. We also played in Oxford on that trip and a group of us stopped to ask an old don if he could recommend a good restaurant, ‘Do I detect an Australian accent, what are you doing here?’ ‘Indeed you do, Sir,’ we replied. ‘We’re performing in your town tonight as the Australian Chamber Orchestra’. ‘Goodness me,’ he scoffed, ‘that’s a contradiction in terms’. ‘So is a good restaurant in Oxford’. Things have changed.

Richard Tognetti

(Hat tip: GMT at Reeling and Writhing).

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