A Confederacy of Dunces: quotes (15)

I may have some valuable insights which may benefit my employer. Perhaps the experience can give my writing a new dimension. Being actively engaged in the system which I criticize will be an interesting irony in itself.

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Interpreting Italo Svevo: When Literary Orthodoxy Misses The Mark

Dario Maestripieri in Quillette. Literary studies has for several decades been given over to theory-saturated “activism masquerading as inquiry.” It’s self-aggrandizing political and identitarian Newspeak, as the late D. G. Myers put it, is “a caterwaul of screeching, dogmatic ‘movements.’ Neither method nor logic unites them.”

Both Freudians and Marxists have missed the mark on Svevo. There is another, more compelling interpretation of his novels, which has never been fully articulated in print, mainly because it challenges these orthodoxies.


Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (13)

Weeping obscures our guilt and allows us to accuse fate, without contradiction. I wept because I was losing the father for whom I had always lived. No matter that I had given him scant company. Hadn’t my efforts to become a better man been aimed at affording him some satisfaction? The success I yearned for was to be my boast to him, who had always doubted me, but primarily it would be his consolation. And now, on the contrary, he could no longer wait for me and was going off, convinced of my incurable weakness. My tears were very bitter.


The Moviegoer: quotes (15)

Being a creature of habit, as regular as a monk, and taking pleasure in the homeliest repetitions, I listen every night at ten to a program called This I Believe. Monks have their compline, I have This I Believe. On the program hundreds of the highest minded people in our country, thoughtful and intelligent people, people with mature inquiring minds, state their personal credos. The two or three hundred I have heard so far were without exception admirable people. I doubt if any other country or any other time in history has produced such thoughtful and high-minded people, especially the women. And especially the South. I do believe the South has produced more high-minded women, women of universal sentiments, than any other section of the country except possibly New England in the last century. Of my six living aunts, five are women of the loftiest theosophical panBrahman sentiments. The sixth is still a Presbyterian.

If I had to name a single trait that all these people shared, it is their niceness. Their lives are triumphs of niceness. They like everyone with the warmest and most generous feelings. And as for themselves: it would be impossible for even a dour person not to like them.

Tonight’s subject is a playwright who transmits this very quality of niceness in his plays. He begins:

I believe in people. I believe in tolerance and understanding between people. I believe in the uniqueness and the dignity of the individual—

Everyone on This I Believe believes in the uniqueness and the dignity of the individual. I have noticed, however, that the believers are far from unique themselves, are in fact alike as peas in a pod.

I believe in music. I believe in a child’s smile. I believe in love. I also believe in hate.

This is true. I have known a couple of these believers, humanists and lady psychologists who come to my aunt’s house. On This I Believe they like everyone. But when it comes down to this or that particular person, I have noticed that they usually hate his guts.

I did not always enjoy This I Believe. While I was living at my aunt’s house, I was overtaken by a fit of perversity. But instead of writing a letter to an editor, as was my custom, I recorded a tape which I submitted to Mr Edward R. Murrow. “Here are the beliefs of John Bickerson Bolling, a moviegoer living in New Orleans,” it began, and ended, “I believe in a good kick in the ass. This—I believe.” I soon regretted it, however, as what my grandfather would have called “a smart-alecky stunt” and I was relieved when the tape was returned. I have listened faithfully to This I Believe ever since.

I believe in freedom, the sacredness of the individual and the brotherhood of man—concludes the playwright.

I believe in believing. This—I believe.


Yukio Mishima: The Death of a Man

This photo-essay by photographer Kishin Shinoyama is the first of what I anticipate will be a flurry of publications marking, come November, fifty years since Mishima’s death.


A Confederacy of Dunces: quotes (14)

“You realize, of course, that this is all your fault. The progress of my work will be greatly delayed. I suggest that you go to your confessor and make some penance, Mother. Promise him that you will avoid the path of sin and drinking in the future. Tell him what the consequence of your moral failure has been. Let him know that you have delayed the completion of a monumental indictment against our society. Perhaps he will comprehend the magnitude of your failing. If he is my type of priest, the penance will no doubt be rather strict. However, I have learned to expect little from today’s clergyman.”

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The Death of Liberalism? An Interview With Nicholas Capaldi

Zbigniew Janowski interviews Nick about his latest book (and chats about much more besides.


Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (12)

And left alone (this, too, was strange) I didn’t think about my father’s health, but instead, moved and – I may say – filled with proper filial respect, I regretted that for such a mind, aspiring to lofty goals, a finer education had not been possible. Today, as I write, approaching the age reached by my father, I know for certain that a man can feel the existence of his own lofty intelligence, which gives no other sign of itself beyond that strong feeling. Thus, you take a deep breath, you accept yourself and you admire all nature as it is and as, unchanging, it is offered to us. This is a manifestation of the same intelligence that decreed all Creation. Certainly, in the last lucid moment of his life, my father’s feeling of intelligence originated in his sudden religious inspiration, and in fact he was led to speak to me about it because I had told him of my discussion of the origins of Christianity. Now, however, I know also that this feeling of his was the first symptom of a cerebral hemorrhage.