Really Great Words

On the first day of my first scriptwriting class in film school, my teacher asked us to go around the room and name our favorite movie and who wrote it. The first part was easy, but only about 40% of my classmates knew who wrote their favorite movie. Moreso with movies than with books and poems, writers often remain anonymous figures, mere shadows breathing life into the characters on the page or screen.

So, what lies below are words that have made me feel something, followed by the writer who wrote them.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
-Mark Twain

“Films, perhaps, show us who we want to be, and literature shows us who we actually are. Sitcoms, if they show us anything, show us people we might like to know.”
-Tom Bissell

“It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that’s the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and…this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember…and I need to remember…Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.”                                                                            -Alan Ball, American Beauty

“I like the dark part of the night, after midnight and before four-thirty, when it’s hollow, when ceilings are harder and farther away. Then I can breathe, and can think while others are sleeping, in a way can stop time, can have it so – this has always been my dream – so that while everyone else is frozen, I can work busily about them, doing whatever it is that needs to be done, like the elves who make the shoes while children sleep.”                                                                                 -Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

“The outdoors is what you must past through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab….People (a group that in my opinion has always attracted an undue amount of attention) have often been likened to snowflakes.” -Fran Lebowitz

“We respond to a drama to that extent to which it corresponds to our dreamlife.” -David Mamet

“Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older.” -J.M. Barrie

“It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.”                                                                          -William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

“The man who said ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’ saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.”                                                                                                                                   -Woody Allen, Match Point

“16 blue ponies, 21 jetplanes, and 12 spinning midgets.”                                    -Woody Allen, Scoop

“It’s strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.”/”I’m just thinking too fast – much too fast.”/”I don’t know. I just had a great day. I hope you did, too.”                                                                                 -Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie. A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly. Ask me a riddle and I reply: Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”                           -Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says ‘Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘But, doctor…I am Pagliacci.’ Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains. Fade to black.”                                                           -Alan Moore, Watchmen

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.”                                                                                                                    -William Blake, The Doors of Perception

“I don’t know if there is anything wrong because I don’t know how other people are.”                                                                                                                                     -Paul Thomas Anderson, Punch Drunk Love

“Organized religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions, by inhibiting our decisions, out of fear of some intangible parent figure, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says ‘Do it, do it and I’ll fucking spank you!'” -Kevin Smith, Dogma

“You sure have a way with people.”/”Well, yes, they’re my species.”/”Do you pray?”/”Pray? No I communicate.”/”With God?/”With life.”                            -Colin Higgins, Harold and Maude

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, and ‘what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?'”                                    -Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”    -J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“I hate writing. I love having written.”                                                                   -Dorothy Parker

“I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind.”/”Wherever there’s magic and make-believe and an audience, there’s theater.”                                                                             -Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve

“It’s better not to know so much about what things mean or how they might be interpreted or you’ll be too afraid to let things keep happening. Psychology destroys the mystery, this kind of magic quality. It can be reduced to certain neuroses or certain things, and since it is now named and defined, it’s lost its mystery and the potential for a vast, infinite experience.”                                  -David Lynch

“Because I know that time is always time and place is always and only place.” -T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

“…nobobdy, not even the rain, has such small hands.”                            -e.e.cummings, somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

“The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”                                                                                                                       -Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”                                                -Groucho Marx

“Before, despite, and because of all the things he senses await him, he leans, then leaps, into the wind, away.”                                                                                           -Bill Clegg, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man

“Imagination can’t create anything new, can it? It only recycles bits and pieces from the world and reassembles them into visions. So when we think we’ve escaped the unbearable ordinariness and, well, untruthfulness of our lives, it’s really only the same old ordinariness and falseness rearranged into the appearance of novelty and truth. Nothing unknown is knowable.”                    -Tony Kushner, Angels in America

“No man is a failure who has friends.”                                                                     -Frank Capra, It’s A Wonderful Life


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