the world according to my heroes – Isaac Asimov, part 4

For those not familiar with this series: I extrapolate quotations from those who influence me strongly to apply to playwrighting and theater.  And life.

[on self-trust] It’s not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it’s what you have to unlearn.

[on rewrites] Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know – and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance.

[on the “grail”] The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

[on why to bother with such a statistically unremunerative activity] I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.

[on character] Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.

[on historical plays] No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically.

[on generosity] There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.

[on character] It seems to me that God is a convenient invention of the human mind.

[on the world of the play] You don’t need to predict the future. Just choose a future — a good future, a useful future — and make the kind of prediction that will alter human emotions and reactions in such a way that the future you predicted will be brought about.

[on character] To insult someone we call him “bestial.” For deliberate cruelty and nature, “human” might be the greater insult.

[on icon-smashing characters, on whistle-blowers] Where is the world whose people don’t prefer a comfortable, warm, and well-worn belief, however illogical, to the chilly winds of uncertainty.

[on tilting at windmills] Courtiers don’t take wagers against the king’s skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.

[on conflict] There is no one so insufferable as a person who gives no other excuse for a peculiar action than saying he had been directed to it in a dream.

[on character] The spell of power never quite releases its hold.

[on greed] If you ask for too much, you lose even that which you have.

[on gratitude for short-term memory loss] If all human beings understood history, they might cease making the same stupid mistakes over and over.

[on stage directions] Speech as known to us was unnecessary. A fragment of a sentence amounted almost to a long-winded redundancy. A gesture, a grunt, the curve of a facial line–even a significantly timed pause yielded informational juice.

[on conflict] If we only obey those rules that we think are just and reasonable, then no rule will stand, for there is no rule that some will not think is unjust and unreasonable.

[on characters’ force of convictions] Only a lie that wasn’t ashamed of itself could possibly succeed.

[and my current favorite] Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases.


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