From David Sedaris's When Engulfed in Flames:
An apartment of my own was unthinkable at that time of my life, and even if I’d found an affordable one it wouldn’t have satisfied my fundamental need to live in a communal past, or what I imagined the past to be like: a world full of antiques. What I could never fathom, and still can’t, really, is that at one point all those things were new. The wheezing Victrola, the hulking davenport — how were they any different from the eight-track tape player or my parents’ Scandinavian dining room set? Given enough time, I guess anything can look good. All it has to do is survive...I know! (Hand gesticulates wildly in the air.) The Walton's! Sorry, I'll keep quiet now.
It was hard to live in a college town and not go to college. The students I saw out my window were a constant reminder that I was just spinning my wheels, and I was beginning to imagine how I would feel in another ten years, when they started looking like kids to me.
What changed my mind was a television show, a weekly drama about a close-knit family in Depression-era Virginia. This family didn’t have a blender or a country club membership, but they did have one another — that and a really great house, an old one, built in the twenties or something. All of their bedrooms had slanted clapboard walls and oil lamps that bathed everything in fragile golden light. I wouldn’t have used the word “romantic,” but that’s how I thought of it.
From John Updike's Widows of Eastwick:
...whose own playing had once formed the fiery center, the furious inner resort, of her emotive life, listened with a seething impatience as the figures on the stage insistently sawed and swayed through Vivaldi with his sugary whine, Beethoven’s surly tangle of near-dissonance, and a bit of Ravel like a wispy handkerchief disappearing up a wide-cuffed sleeve. Then, after a brief intermission during which the narrow lobby loudly overflowed with all the exciting things that small-town people manage to find to say to one another, day after day, get-together after get-together, while only a sneaky remnant of former addicted multitudes ventured outdoors to pollute with cigarette smoke the night air above the drastically diminished green, one of Bach’s great cat’s cradles was essayed, an arrangement for strings from Die Kunst der Fuge, its themes crisscrossing and lifting a third and then a fifth between his giant ghostly fingers...brought to the last and highest paroxysm of the Baroque...Baroque indeed. More:
Sukie had imagined before turning old that quirks—bad traits and mannerisms—would fall away, once the need to make a sexual impression was removed; without the distraction of sex, a realer, more honest self would be revealed. But it is sex, it turned out, that engages us in society, and keeps us on our toes, and persuades us to retract our rough edges, so we can mix in. Without the sexual need to negotiate, there is little to curb neurotic crankiness. Jane was succumbing to hers. “I remember Eastwick as a fun hick place,” Jane complained, “but it’s gotten homogenized, all ssmoothed..."
"Eastwick’s lost its messy charm.” “Hasn’t the whole world?” Sukie asked idly, unpacking milk and orange juice and yogurt and ground coffee and cranberry juice and Jewish rye into the refrigerator...."People adjust, is the frightening thing. They forget, generation by generation, what it ever was to be free.” “Free,” Jane mused. “What does that mean? You have to be born, you have to die. You’re never in control.”
Blogger at "Anecdotal Evidence":
My father, like Chekhov, was a doctor. He also tended to reserve judgement, I think because so many of his patients were drug addicts or violent criminals that judgement would quickly have overwhelmed the clarity he needed for his work. It wasn't that he was oblivious to a patient's character as that he witheld condemnation because it was irrelevant. He wasn't what I would call compassionate; he was businesslike in his work, without any theory of doing good or helping humanity: it was what he was good at, what he enjoyed, and I think his patients appreciated the sense that he was a good businessman, his business being Medicine. So when he gets on a bus, passengers often recognise him from 15 or more years ago, and offer him their seats. And yet, he was simply doing his job.Sounds a bit like Dr. House, although of course not as misanthropic.
From NY Times piece on Newt Gingrich:
“Most Republicans are not entrepreneurial,” he lamented to me. “They’re corporatists. They like the security and the comfort of a well-thought-out, highly boring boardroom meeting in which they do a PowerPoint once. And it worries them to have ideas, because ideas have edges, and they’re not totally formed, and you’ve got to prove them, and they sound strange because they’re new, and if it’s new how do you know it’s any good, because, after all, it’s new and you’ve never heard it before.” At our first meeting in November, Gingrich laid out for me his latest preoccupation, which, surprisingly, had nothing to do with stimulus or banking. “One of the projects I’m going to launch — we don’t have a name for it yet — is an air-traffic modernization project,” Gingrich told me excitedly. “You can do a space-based air-traffic-control system with half the current number...From The Scarlet Letter:
The witnesses of Hester Prynne's disgrace had not yet passed beyond their simplicity. They were stern enough to look upon her death, had that been the sentence, without a murmur at its severity, but had none of the heartlessness of another social state, which would find only a theme for jest in an exhibition like the present. Even had there been a disposition to turn the matter into ridicule, it must have been repressed and overpowered...