91 per cent

I loved shooting cities. The hustle and bustle and street life. And in the rain, they’re so moody. I was able to begin with a montage of Paris accompanied by Sidney Bechet, who caught the French spirit on his horn so perfectly. I’d be happy just doing montages of cities with my favorite music in support. To work in Paris. To live in Paris. Why didn’t I stay when Pussycat was over? What a different life I would have had. Couldn’t have been a stand-up comic. Never would have met Soon-Yi. Paid a big price for loving Soon-Yi. All worth it. Pretty, sexy, bright, funny, a perfect wife. If only she remembers to have me cremated. While doing preproduction for Midnight in Paris, we were invited to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni. We brunched at the Élysée Palace. I was so nervous I forgot to bring my Joy Buzzer. And so we all chatted for a while and finally, because Carla Bruni was delightful and fascinating and I knew she had done some show business work singing, I got up the nerve to ask if she’d be willing to do a stint in the movie. She looked at her husband for a signal about how he felt about getting involved with a grubby commoner, and he said nothing wrong in it, so she agreed. From the press you’d have thought a spaceship had landed. All over Europe it was front-page news. When it came time to shoot she was totally professional. She came on time, did her acting and did it well, impressing all of us. She knew her lines, performed beautifully, and could make quick switches and add or cut lines on the spur of the moment. They should all be so good to work with, as Mom might have put it.

Naturally, her husband, President Sarkozy, came to watch our shoot one night, and you can imagine how the French crew was excited and on best behavior lest some clumsy grip accidentally drop something and get guillotined.

of Woody Allen’s memoirs Apropos of Nothing. There’s not a single line in the whole book that is not worth it.

To understand politics properly, take care to notice that

politics is about getting and keeping political power. It is not about the general welfare of “We, the people.” When addressing politics, we must accustom ourselves to think and speak about the actions and interests of specific, named leaders rather than thinking and talking about fuzzy ideas like the national interest, the common good, and the general welfare. Once we think about what helps leaders come to and stay in power, we will also begin to see how to fix politics. Politics, like all of life, is about individuals, each motivated to do what is good for them, not what is good for others.

THE DICTATOR’S HANDBOOK: WHY BAD BEHAVIOR IS ALMOST ALWAYS GOOD POLITICS, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita & Alastair Smith.

Unchecked, unbounded

« I looked forward, through the present age of loud disputes but generally weak convictions, to a future which shall unite the best qualities of the critical with the best qualities of the organic periods; unchecked liberty of thought, unbounded freedom of individual action in all modes not hurtful to others; but also, convictions as to what is right and wrong, useful and pernicious, deeply engraven on the feelings by early education and general unanimity of sentiment, and so firmly grounded in reason and in the true exigencies of life, that they shall not, like all former and present creeds, religious, ethical, and political, require to be periodically thrown off and replaced by others.»

John Stuart Mill, Autobiography (1873)

End of Boswell’s Life of Johnson

Amidst the melancholy clouds which hung over the dying Johnson, his characteristical manner shewed itself on different occasions. When Dr. Warren, in the usual style, hoped that he was better; his answer was, ‘No, Sir; you cannot conceive with what acceleration I advance towards death.’

Mr. Windham having placed a pillow conveniently to support him, he thanked him for his kindness, and said, ‘That will do, —all that a pillow can do.’

Johnson, with that native fortitude, which, amidst all his bodily distress and mental sufferings, never forsook him, asked Dr. Brocklesby, as a man in whom he had confidence, to tell him plainly whether he could recover. ‘Give me (said he,) a direct answer.’ The Doctor having first asked him if he could hear the whole truth, which way soever it might lead, and being answered that he could, declared that, in his opinion, he could not recover without a miracle. ‘Then, (said Johnson,) I will take no more physick, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.’

Having, as has been already mentioned, made his will on the 8th and 9th of December, and settled all his worldly affairs, he languished till Monday, the 13th of that month, when he expired, about seven o’clock in the evening, with so little apparent pain that his attendants hardly perceived when his dissolution took place.

A few days before his death, he had asked Sir John Hawkins, as one of his executors, where he should be buried; and on being answered, ‘Doubtless, in Westminster-Abbey,’ seemed to feel a satisfaction, very natural to a Poet; and indeed in my opinion very natural to every man of any imagination, who has no family sepulchre in which he can be laid with his fathers. Accordingly, upon Monday, December 20, his remains were deposited in that noble and renowned edifice; and over his grave was placed a large blue flag-stone, with this inscription: –‘SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. Obiit XIII die Decembris, Anno Domini M.DCC.LXXXIV. Aetatis suae LXXV.’

Tunes on the fiddle

In the evening our gentleman-farmer, and two others, entertained themselves and the company with a great number of tunes on the fiddle. Johnson desired to have ‘Let ambition fire thy mind,’ played over again, and appeared to give a patient attention to it; though he owned to me that he was very insensible to the power of musick. I told him, that it affected me to such a degree, as often to agitate my nerves painfully, producing in my mind alternate sensations of pathetick dejection, so that I was ready to shed tears; and of daring resolution, so that I was inclined to rush into the thickest part of the battle. ‘Sir, (said he,) I should never hear it, if it made me such a fool.’

Boswell, Life of Johnson.

El filosofar autobiográfico

[Montaigne] Por lo demás, condena todo intento de evadir los límites propios del hombre en cuanto tal, toda queja sobre la suerte y la condición del ser humano. Es inútil imaginar una naturaleza más perfecta que la del hombre y lamentar que no haya sido concedida a este. Es menester que el hombre acepte su condición y su suerte y que solo aspire a comprender con claridad la una y la otra. Esta es la meta del filosofar autobiográfico de Montaigne.

Abbagnano & Visalberghi, Historia de la pedagogía (1957).

Será cierta riqueza

Cuanto a los negocios, «será cierta riqueza dejar a los hijos tantos bienes de fortuna que no se vean constreñidos a pronunciar esa tan acerba (y a los libres ingenios tan odiosa) palabra: ‘yo te ruego’. Pero sin duda será mayor herencia legar a los hijos una tal firmeza de ánimo que prefieran sufrir pobrezas a rogar o a servir para alcanzar riquezas»

Della famiglia, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), as excerpted in

Abbagnano & Visalberghi, Historia de la pedagogía (1957).

Una fidelidad dogmática

Sabido es que en el espíritu de todo creador de nuevas teorías todo es más fluido y flexible que en el espíritu de los discípulos, a quienes les falta la viva fuerza creadora y que, por tanto, tienden siempre a suplir esta falta de libido por una fidelidad dogmática.

Carl Jung, Teoría del psicoanálisis (1912).