Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Quotable Blog Presents: Culture

I’m back.

Forgive the hiatus. Deadlines make unreliable bloggers of us all.

To salve the wounds my absence caused, I present another in my series of quotable blogs. Last time we focused on relationships. This time, we study the arts:

Personally, I love opera. I think life would be more exciting if everybody sang everything. Someone could tell me that my house burned and wife left me as long they had the proper verbrato. But if some stuffed shirt is explaining to you why Bizet is better than The Rolling Stones, tell him, “Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.” (Ed Gardner)

If the bore persists, say, “There are moments when art attains almost to the dignity of manual labor.” (Oscar Wilde)

Perhaps, you will have the misfortune of speaking with a singer some day. Should this occur, I advise you steer the conversation toward anything but singing. Here are some approved responses should a singer mention music, singing or any other subject that can be easily related to their profession.

1. It sure has been cold lately. (This statement can be modified to reflect any recent weather trend.)

2. These little crab things are delicious. (You can still use this if there are no ‘little crab things’ present. It will confuse them and give you time to escape.)

3. “All singers have this fault: If asked to sing among friends, they are never so inclined; if unasked, they never leave off.” (Horace)

If someone has the arrogance to quote Horace at you, tell them stop speaking Latin and sit down. (Arthur Wellesley)

Finally, you may have the misfortune to speak with a writer in your lifetime. All writers — whether novelists, reporters or bloggers — are egotists. If trapped between a writer and a hard place, choose the hard place. Hold your breath until you pass out. Do whatever it takes to escape.

Do not bother asking them about themselves. There will be no need. By the time you have introduced yourself, they have told you they are a writer, how they feel about national politics and why your favorite writer is a hack compared to Marcel Proust.

As David Brin said, “If you believe you can make a living as a writer, you already have enough ego.”

The only thing worse than talking about literature with a writer is talking about anything else.

For example, “If a literary man puts together two words about music, one of them will be wrong.” (Aaron Copland)

-Jason Lea,



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