Commonplace Book: Quotations, Mid-December 2006

“The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.”
(Thomas Paine)

“... It's not a state of law. Iran is a little bit like Guantanamo. You don't know exactly what is going on over there. You remember more than two years ago this Iranian-Canadian journalist/photographer? She took pictures of the prison that she didn't have the right to. It was very easy to confiscate her camera, but they took her and they killed her. And the guy who killed her was promoted. The lawyer of her family was Shirin Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, and even with her name and the whole Nobel Prize thing etc., you know, the process doesn't give anything. It's not something that you can count on that can happen. That's why I don't go [back].
“And you know, if they told me that if I go to Iran they'll kill me or they'll hang me or whatever, and that then Iran will be a fantastic place and a democracy, I would go today. Believe me, I will do it. But the fact is if dying would change something in the world, you would have a paradise right now. For all the people that have died for their ideas until now, nothing changed. Now I have decided that I want to die for my ideas, but through a very slow death. It's better.”
(Marjane Satrapi)

“...Instead of categorizing the candidates as Republican and Democrat, why not go with Clean Hands and Bloody Hands as the name of each group. Doing so would put all the Republicans and the Democrats who sold out into one bucket, and those with sound judgment in another.”
(Digby’s Hullabaloo)

“.... if any radical, misled by George Galloway’s description of Hitchens as ‘a drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay’, should suggest that this book was written out of vanity, he would surely be mistaken. A vain man would have taken care to write a better book than this: more original, more accurate, less damaging to his own estimation of himself, less somniferously inert. The press release accompanying the book led me to expect something much livelier; Hitchens, it exclaims, ‘marvels’ at the forethought of Rights of Man, and ‘revels’ in its contentiousness. There is a bit of marvelling and revelling here and there, but it is as routine as everything else in this book, which reads like the work of a tired man.”
(John Burrell on Christopher’s Hitchen’s biography of Thomas Paine, in The London Review of Books)
“... the real danger posed by the Truth Movement isn't paranoia. Rather, the danger is that it will discredit and deform the salutary skepticism Americans increasingly show toward their leaders.

Four years ago ... ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who died last year, suddenly piped up, “How does it feel to be a war criminal, Henry?”
The subject of Kissinger’s past sins was very much in the air at the time. Judges in both France and Spain were seeking Kissinger for questioning as the long-simmering debate over his connection to Chilean general Augusto Pinochet’s brutal killing of dissidents in the seventies returned with a vengeance…
The question stunned the dinner guests, who included Time Inc. editor Henry Grunwald, who also died last year, and former ABC chairman Thomas Murphy. Grunwald told Jennings the comment was “unsuitable,” but Jennings persisted.
“I tried to change the subject, but it was a very uncomfortable moment,” says Walters. “[Kissinger’s wife] Nancy reacted very strongly and hurt.” Kissinger said nothing.
(New York magazine)

Daniel Robert Epstein: This is a broad question but do you think we’ll ever live in a world or at least in an America where the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund [CBLDF] isn’t needed?
Frank Miller:
My answer would be no because some fights have to be kept on perpetually. The fund is defending retailers against the various wannabe district attorneys and other assholes. I don’t think that we’ll ever not need it but I just love the fact that it exists. When I first came in, the only thing we had was the Comics Code, which enforced censorship. Now we have an organization that actually fights censorship and I support it wholeheartedly. Have you heard Hillary Clinton talking about videogames?
Yes it’s just awful!... Personally when I walk out of my apartment and I see homeless people and crackheads, I’m like “Why isn’t she fighting to save them?”
I feel that and many other things. Why didn’t she try to keep these people from knocking the towers down? But I’m hearing about videogames. It’s pathetic.
(from an interview with Frank Miller by Daniel Robert Epstein

“Opera often borrows characters from myth - witches such as Medea, militant saviours such as Siegfried - but seldom creates archetypal figures of its own. The exception is Carmen. The wily gypsy of Georges Bizet's opera has come to symbolise eternal womanhood, ...
Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones moved it to the segregated southern United States, unsettled by mobilisation for the Second World War. The Romanian director Lucian Pintilie, staging the opera in Cardiff in 1986, presented it as the mad revelry of a gang of Latin American anarchists. In 2004 Mark Dornford-May filmed U-Carmen eKhayelitsha in a bedraggled township near Cape Town, with the suave gypsy singing in Xhosa, one of South Africa's 11 official languages. The music, which is indestructible, emerged unharmed.
No single performance of Bizet's opera, fortunately, can ever be definitive. My personal anthology of favourite Carmens includes both Régine Crespin's sophisticated courtesan and the brassy, bumptious Marilyn Horne. Teresa Berganza played the character as a skittish tomboy, Agnes Baltsa as an unbridled peasant; Anne Sofie von Otter gave her an undertone of depressed, introverted melancholy that was more Scandinavian than tropical. Olga Borodina's Carmen was a lazy feline, her voice slowly curling through the air like smoke from a perfumed cigarette. As if to illustrate the range of options, Covent Garden has double-cast the role: Anna Caterina Antonacci, better known as a grave classical tragedian in operas by Handel or Berlioz, will be followed in January by Marina Domashenko, who, as a Russian, still possesses the exotic allure that Mérimée and Bizet found in Spain. Mythic characters possess a thousand faces, and Carmen remains as inexhaustibly various as Shakespeare's Cleopatra.”
(Peter Conrad)

Ubi Saeva Indignatio
Cor Lacerare Nequit
Abi Viator
Et Imitare Si Poteris
Strenuum Pro Virili
Libertatis Vindicatorem

-- Epitaph of Jonathan Swift

[“He has gone where fierce indignation can lacerate his heart no more-- depart wayfarer, and imitate if you are able one who to the utmost strenuously championed liberty.”]

Swift has sailed unto his rest,
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast
Imitate him if you dare,
World besotted traveler; he
Served human liberty.


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