“Amava più musicisti e pittori. Non parlava mai di cinema. E non andava al cinema, se non per 007, perché – diceva – era il luna park. Una sera, promise a Sergio Leone di vedere “C’era una volta in America”. Invece, ce ne andammo a cena con una dottoressa tedesca. La mattina dopo, alle otto, al Bar Canova di piazza del Popolo a Roma, scrisse una letterina di critica come se l’avesse visto. Due ore dopo, chiama Leone e dice che non ha mai letto una critica di uno che ha seguito così attentamente il film.”—Filippo Ascione racconta Federico Fellini
“The Latin verb cogito for ‘to think’ etymologically means ‘to shake together.’ St. Augustine had already noticed that and also observed that intelligo means ‘to select among.’”—Arthur Koestler [via Brain Pickings]
“The thinker, as he sits in his study drawing his plans for the direction of society, will do no thinking if his breakfast has not been produced for him by a social process that is beyond his detailed comprehension. He knows that his breakfast depends upon workers on the coffee plantations of Brazil, the citrus groves of Florida, the sugar fields of Cuba, the wheat farms of the Dakotas, the dairies of New York; that it has been assembled by ships, railroads, and trucks, has been cooked with coal from Pennsylvania in utensils made of aluminum, china, steel, and glass. But the intricacy of one breakfast, if every process that brought it to the table had deliberately to be planned, would be beyond the understanding of any mind. Only because he can count upon an infinitely complex system of working routines can a man eat his breakfast and then think about a new social order. The things he can think about are few compared with those that he must presuppose…. Of the little he has learned, he can, moreover, at any one time comprehend only a part, and of that part he can attend only to a fragment. The essential limitation, therefore, of all policy, of all government, is that the human mind must take a partial and simplified view of existence. The ocean of experience cannot be poured into the bottles of his intelligence…. Men deceive themselves when they imagine that they can take charge of the social order. They can never do more than break in at some point and cause a diversion.”—Walter Lippmann, The Good Society [via Peter Boettke]
While ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy were hardly free of war, violence and corruption, the model they provide for dynamic economic independence cannot be denied. Regional competition, the necessity of private property, entrepreneurial freedom, the leadership of visionaries and of conservative economic practices: All of these brought those countries out of their respective dark ages and onto the world stage. It is high time these two Mediterranean countries put these aspects of their glorious histories back in business.
This is not a fan letter in the usual sense—unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama. Rather call this a letter from “the reader”—vital statistics are not in capital letters—a selection from marginal notes on material submitted as all “writing” is submitted to this department. I have followed your literary development from its inception, conducting on behalf of the department I represent a series of inquiries as exhaustive as your own recent investigations in the sun flower state. I have interviewed all your characters beginning with Miriam—in her case withholding sugar over a period of several days proved sufficient inducement to render her quite communicative—I prefer to have all the facts at my disposal before taking action. Needless to say, I have read the recent exchange of genialities between Mr Kenneth Tynan and yourself. I feel that he was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. You further cheapened yourself by reiterating the banal argument that echoes through letters to the editor whenever the issue of capital punishment is raised: “Why all this sympathy for the murderer and none for his innocent victims?” I have in line of duty read all your published work. The early work was in some respects promising—I refer particularly to the short stories. You were granted an area for psychic development. It seemed for a while as if you would make good use of this grant. You choose instead to sell out a talent that is not yours to sell. You have written a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on the New Yorker—(an undercover reactionary periodical dedicated to the interests of vested American wealth). You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created. You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.
”—William S. Burroughs to Truman Capote, July 23, 1970 [via Angelo Ricci]
“I enjoy government functions like I enjoy getting kicked in the nuggets with a steel-toe boot. But this hotel always serves bacon-wrapped shrimp. That’s my number 1 favorite food wrapped around my number 3 favorite food. I’d go to a banquet and honor those Somali pirates if they served bacon-wrapped shrimp.”—Ron Swanson (S01E05)