GÜNTER GRASS

 

“There was once in Danzig a discussion between some stupid Germans and some stupid Poles about Copernicus was he German or was he Polish --and I was sitting among these people, it was very boring, but nevertheless I said that Copernicus wasn’t German nor Polish but a Kashub. They got so angry about it. But I know how to handle things like this. I made up a marvelous story about his mother as if it was a fact that everybody should know. After that they called me for weeks to find out the truth but I kept this version until today. So, obviously I consider myself a Kashubian, like Copernicus…

 

The Kashubians weren’t strong enough to make history. They were always being beaten by the Poles or by the Germans. In 1938 I visited my uncle in this little farm house, I was a boy, and at this time there was a political struggle between the Germans, Hitler was already in power, and the Polish and the Kashubians were in the middle. They were troubled.

“What are you going to do, uncle Joseph?" I asked him. He led me to a closet opened it and said: "Here you see two flags -- the Polish flag and the Nazi German flag --and when the war starts, Jan (his oldest son) will climb the tree and look who's coming first. And if he'll shout the Polish are coming we'll use the Polish flag and if the Germans will come first we'll use the German flag!

This was his philosophy. I hate people calling him an opportunist. What could he do? Keep on to his two flags and claim that he was a Kashubian? I like the mentality of these people who are between the frontiers.

It’s not far from what was the Jewish philosophy of living between the frontiers. Now they have their own flag and they have troubles.”

 

 

TOM WOLFE

 "You see in this country writers and artists are so used to being pessimistic that if they can’t be pessimistic they think something’s wrong. They really feel insecure because that’s one of the things that made people, writers, feel very good about life, was pessimism, and the twilight theory. As long as you could feel that we’re in the twilight of American civilization, you felt good, because that was what was supposed to happen.

It’s much easier to be eloquent pessimistically. Optimists always sound like fools, or idiots. They always sound like evangelists. That’s why all the Great War literature comes from the losing side.”

 

 

ISAAC ASIMOV

“I don't give interviews,” Isaac Asimov told me over the phone.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I have said everything in my 213 books.”

“You couldn’t have possibly said everything in your books.” I said despairing. “What haven't I said, for example?” he asked joyfully.

“You never said why you wouldn’t give me an interview.”

There was a pause, after which he began laughing loudly.

“OK,” he conceded, “you are right, I never wrote that.

And I was let in.

* * *

“Now, I am going to sing you a song that I made up today. It’s about clones. As you may know everybody has a set of genes in his cells. If you are a female you have 23 pairs, all reasonable identical, including 2 X’s. If you are male, you have 22 pairs, all reasonably identical, but instead of that 23d pair of 2 X’s, you have an X and a Y.

The Y is just a stop, which is why females are superior!

If biologically you could change the Y into an X, you turn the female into a male. This is the subject of the song. Listen closely, it will tell you a lot about genetics!

 

O give me a clone of my own flesh and bone,

With its Y chromosome changed to X,

And after it's grown,

Then my own little clone,

Will be of the opposite sex.

 

Clone, clone of my own,

With its Y chromosome changed to X,

And when I'm alone with my own

Little clone,

We will both think of nothing but sex!

O give me a clone, is my sorrowful moan,

A clone that is wholly my own,

And if she’s an X,

Of the feminine sex,

Oh, what fun we will have when she’s grown.

 

My heart’s not of stone as I have frequently shown,

When alone with my own little X,

And after we are dined,

I’m sure we will find,

Better incest than Oedipus Rex.

 

O, why should such sex disturb or perplex,

Or induce a disparaging tone,

After all don’t you see, since we’re both of us me

When we’re having sex, I’m alone!

 

After I’m gone, she will still have her fun,

For I’ll clone myself twice before I die,

And this time without fail,

They’ll be both of them male,

And they’ll each ravish her by and by!”

 

 

SUSAN SONTAG

“I'm very interested in the truth. I have intuitions about relationships between fantasies, metaphors and hallucinations on the one hand and, something that one might call, the truth, or more direct relationship to reality on the other hand. I suppose that all my work stems from that choreography of the mind.”

 

 

 

 

ARTHUR MILLER

“I will protect my sense of myself. I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him.”

He was then, convicted for contempt of Congress.)

John Steinbeck published an open letter in which he said: “If I were in Arthur Miller's shoes, I do not know what I would do, but I could wish, for myself and for my children, that I would be brave enough to fortify and defend by private morality as he has.”

 

 

BELLA ABZUG   

“We are not running things in this country. As a matter of fact we aren’t running things anywhere. Basically we have no power. Women have no power. We don’t own the corporations, we don’t own the defense plants, we don’t own the uranium mines and we’re not in the governments.”

 

 

ALVIN TOFFLER

“Most people think that I’m predicting the future. I don't do anything of the kind. It is only because the future had already appeared in the present, and because most people don't see the present, they think that I see the future. I am just analyzing what's already going on in the world.”

 

EDWARD KOCH

 “First my contact with people is at the best level which is at the street level.  I am an ordinary person, and when people meet me in the street it is on the same plane. I am not better than they are. And I have never have been nor will I ever be. And they know that’s the way I feel about it.”

 

TEDDY KOLLEK

                                

I suggested to him to make Jerusalem the first city in the world in which bread and milk would be gotten for free.

I could see that somehow my idea caught his human imagination. He inquired of how do I see it put to use. I told him that any person should be able to enter any supermarket or a store in Jerusalem and pick up from the shelf any amount of bread and milk for free.

He was silent for some time. Probably he needed this time to transform his own true thinking to the common political lie.

“It won’t work.” He said.

“Why not?”

“Because if people would’ve free bread and milk they’d stop working.”

“You’re not saying that only because people will have free bread and milk they’d stop working?”

“Oh!” He exclaimed. “They will.”

“O.K., let’s suppose people will stop working. What are they going to do?”

“Work is the only thing they won’t choose to do,” Kollek said with disdain, “besides, when people get something for free they don’t appreciated it.”

“Who should they appreciate, anyway?”

“The one who’s giving it to them. In this case the Israeli government.”

“Suppose they won’t appreciate the government, they have the right not to.”

“Then, why should we give them bread and milk for free?”

 

I didn’t tell him the following but I thought it to myself:

“Because babies and mothers and fathers and children need bread and milk, you shmuck! That’s why. Because it’s no good to go hungry! Because in this great Jerusalem, a city that since time immemorial has been turned by the politicians into an everlasting battleground, there are many people, Arabs and Jews and Armenians and Greeks and Turks and Christians who were forced to live in the sidewalks of life and are desperate for a piece of bread or a glass of milk. That’s why.”

But I was overly pleased to have thought what I felt.

 

 

SHIMON PERES

“Israel was born out of a dream… It’s the only country in the world that was born out of a dream. Not in wars or armies…”

 

 

LEO CASTELLI

“I know that many people say that art-dealers initiate trends. Maybe. In my case it was the artists who did it. I only recognized them. When I see a work of art that expresses exactly what I feel about life then I recognize it. I saw their work, loved it, and showed it.” 

 

 

CHRISTO AND JEAN CLAUDE

"I am an artist, and I have to have courage ... Do you know that I don't have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they're finished. Only the preparatory drawings, and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain."

 

 

ROSALYN YALOW

“Smoking is still identified with heroism and masculinity. If you are a woman and you want to be emancipated, you have to smoke. I'll go so far as to say that the little old ladies who distributed cigarettes to our soldiers during the war are the ones really responsible for the twenty-fold increase in lung cancer. Now people don't think of these little old ladies as being worse than the drug pushers. Anyway, I don't really know how we can change people's perception of risk.”

 

 ISIDOR RABI

“I consider God more as a useful metaphor. I think it’s a very important metaphor because I don’t know any other words to use for some idea of universal order and existence in the universe, which we’re trying to find it, and nobody tells you what it is, not even on Mount Sinai.”

 

STUDS TERKEL

“If I were courageous I’d say I was an atheist, but since I’m a coward I say I’m an agnostic. I do believe in God. You know the God I believe in? I believe in the God in you and the God in me.”

 

DR. GEORGE BACH

“Total acceptance, total positive regard for people, unconditional regard for people is a romantic, impractical model. Because then the aggression is taken outside, and a reservoir of aggression builds up.”

 

 

MARY CALDERONE

“My goal is not to make money off of this.”

 

 

 

 

VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY

“The very fact that you're looking for an ideal in your profession moves at least me to look for an ideal in all areas of my life. Obviously in relationships with other people.”

 

 

BOB GUCCIONE

“The one who has both the desire and the need to make a reality of his dreams, the one who has the impetus, the drive, the momentum is the one who is going to succeed. The dreamer who's locked in his dreams, to whom the dream is the beginning and the end, is the one who’s less likely to succeed.” 

 

 

CHARLES AZNAVOUR

“There are three most important things in filmmaking: Text, text and text.”

 

 

JOAN BAEZ        

My notes of my inerview with Joan Baez were sadly lost. But I must say that all what she told me was of wondrous nature.

 

NOA

A song Noa sung to me on the bus to the airport:

 

“Stop.
It’s 3:15
You have one minute.
Are you ready?

Now think of all things created
Think of those that you care for
Think of what you've been blessed with
And everything that makes you afraid

Wish for anything
Let yourself dream
Wish for things to get better
Until 3:16

There's a stone in my garden that keeps me committed
And close to the ground when I feel I should run
There's a branch in my window that helps me remember
To reach out my arms and touch the sun..

There are two million ants that live in my sidewalk
Working together to nurture and feed
And the old TV set, with the sad evening news
So I never forget how much love we need

Home-made religion
(In my kitchen)
Home-made religion..

Think of how you've been feeling
And how you've made others feel
Think of what you've been given
And what you need to heal

Wish for anything..
Try to keep still
Wish for things to get better
And maybe they will

There’s a plant in the corner that helps me remember
All of the beauty that grows from a seed
And the old TV set, with the sad evening news
So I never forget how much love we need

Home-made religion
(In my kitchen)
Home-made religion..

 


 

 


JOSEPH CAMPBELL

“Ritual has been wiped out. It started seriously with the Puritan revolution in England. That was an absolute rejection of ritual. It just turned into sermon. The word instead of the act was what was delivered.

And that has infected America more than other countries. This "nature boy" you can see when you look at the President of the United States in a ceremonious occasion.

Back in Wilson's time they wore high hats, you get to Carter, he comes out in his sweater, you know, a good guy, and phew, the whole thing's gone to pieces. Reagan is trying to put a little back in. He’s an artist, he was an actor, and he knows a little bit about style and what it does for the spirit. But this country lost it.”

 
ABBIE NATHAN

                                                                                      

“Usually politicians feel that the making of peace is strictly the monopoly of politicians. And that there's no role for the individual. And throughout history it's the individual that spoke out, created a climate that enabled politicians to change their minds and to change their policies.”


 

 

SAEB IREKAT                                                  

“In 1967 I was 12 years old. My childhood ended that day. I’ve never seen war before, I’ve never seen death before, I’ve never seen hundreds of thousands of people fleeing and my life was never the same. I’m a Palestinian father. I have twin daughters. They are eleven years old now. I was scared all the time and a feeling inside me: I didn’t want them to grow up. Still this feeling of a father, who really wishes for his children not to grow up. While all fathers in the world look for one thing is for their children to grow. Can we change? And this will not happen because Arafat and Rabin signed agreements. You know, leaders may sign agreements but they don’t make peace. It’s people that make peace.”

 

 

URI AVNERY

“I went to see Arafat during the Lebanon war in West Beirut which was at that time besieged by the Israeli army. Actually I crossed the lines of 4 different armies. The Israeli Army, the Phalanges Christian army, the Lebanese Army and the PLO Army. At that time Arafat was sure that he’s going to die within a few days, because everybody was certain that the Israeli army is going to attack West Beirut and kill everybody. I went the same day back to Israel and on the way , still in Lebanon I heard on the Israeli radio that three cabinet ministers demand to put me to trial for treason and the government instructed the attorney general to launch an investigation and because of this the Israeli government made a new law making all meetings with PLO people illegal. Actually these peace negotiations started illegally. The people who started these contacts acted against the law which shows you how stupid and really anti-peace this law really was.”

 

JOSEPH HELLER

“All what I made of Catch 22; I lost in this dreadful stock exchange…”

 

 

ANDY WARHOL

“My primary aim in life is to be able to stop thinking”

 

 

JOYCE CAROL OATES

“Mixing fact and fiction is very much in the province of the imaginative writer, it's always been.”