To the Parisians, and especially to the children, all Americans are now 'heros du cinema.' This is particularly disconcerting to sensitive war correspondents, if any, aware, as they are, that these innocent thanks belong to those American combat troops who won the beachhead and then made the breakthrough. There are few such men in Paris.
A. J. Liebling
The foulest damage to our political life comes not from the 'secrets' which they hide from us, but from the little bits of half-truth and disinformation which they do tell us. These are already pre-digested, and then are sicked up as little gobbits of authorised spew. The columns of defense correspondents in the establishment sheets serve as the spittoons.
E. P. Thompson
A dogmatical spirit inclines a man to be censorious of his neighbors. Every one of his opinions appears to him written, as it were, with sunbeams, and he grows angry that his neighbors do not see it in the same light. He is tempted to disdain his correspondents as men of low and dark understandings because they do not believe what he does.
A farmer, as one of his farmer correspondents once wrote to Liberty Hyde Bailey, is "a dispenser of the 'Mysteries of God.'" The husband, unlike the "manager" or the would-be objective scientist, belongs inherently to the complexity and the mystery that is to be husbanded, and so the husbanding mind is both careful and humble.
It is not quite true that there are no good letters written in America: among my own circle of correspondents there, there are ladies and gentlemen whose letters would stand a comparison with any for frankness, grace, and epistolary beauty of every kind. But I am not aware of any medium between this excellence and the boarding-school insignificance which characterizes the rest.
In decades from now, I'm sure they'll say we Joes were all noble, every one of us grimy but patriotic cherubs. Because we won a war. Back home they already do think it, thanks to the publicity teams, the ads, correspondents, censors. I'm not buying it. If we have to come here and fight to do away with your Hitler and the sorry mess he created, then people ought to know just how much the effort sucks all our souls. That way, maybe no one will try a war again.
Political reporters no longer get to decide what's news. The days when a minister gave briefings to a dozen lobby correspondents, and thereby dictated the next day's headlines, are over. Now, a thousand bloggers decide for themselves what is interesting. If enough of them are tickled then, bingo, you're news.
'I was going to start off tonight by telling some self-deprecating jokes, but then I couldn't think of any mistakes I've made to be self-deprecating about.' -President Bush, at the White House Correspondents' dinner, poking fun at his performance in a recent news conference, in which he drew a blank when asked about mistakes he had made
George W. Bush
Nevertheless, hateful as saying 'No' always is to an imaginative person, and certain as the offence may be that it will cause to individuals whose own work does not require isolated effort, the writer who is engaged on a book must learn to say it. He must say it consistently to all interrupters; to the numerous callers and correspondents who want him to speak, open bazaars, see them for 'only' ten minutes, attend literary parties, put people up, or read, correct and find publishers for semi-literate manuscripts by his personal friends.
I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by mythmakers- historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists, and the state- all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty.
For nearly a century the psychoanalysts have been writing op-ed pieces about the workings of a country they've never traveled to, a place that, like China, has been off-limits. Suddenly, the country has opened its borders and is crawling with foreign correspondents, neurobiologists are filing ten stories a week, filled with new data. These two groups of writers, however, don't seem to read each other's work. That's because the analysts are writing about a country they call Mind and the neuroscientists are reporting from a country they call Brain.
International correspondents with their long dictaphones, and dirty jeans, and five hundred words before whiskey, are slouched over the red velvet chairs, in the VIP section in the front, looking for the Story: the Most Macheteing Deathest, Most Treasury Corruptest, Most Entrail-Eating Civil Warest, Most Crocodile-Grinning Dictatorest, MOst Heart-Wrenching and Genociding Pulitzerest, Most Black Big-Eyed Oxfam Child Starvingest, Most Wild African Savages Having AIDS-Ridden Sexest with Genetically Mutilatedest Girls...The Most Authentic Real Black Africanest story they can find...
As far as he could discover, there were no signs of spring. The decay that covered the surface of the mottled ground was not the kind in which life generates. Last year, he remembered, May had failed to quicken these soiled fields. It had taken all the brutality of July to torture a few green spikes through the exhausted dirt. What the little park needed, even more than he did, was a drink. Neither alcohol nor rain would do. Tomorrow, in his column, he would ask Broken-hearted, Sick-of-it-all, Desperate, Disillusioned-with-tubercular-husband and the rest of his correspondents to come here and water the soil with their tears. Flowers would then spring up, flowers that smelled of feet. "Ah, humanity... " But he was heavy with shadow and the joke went into a dying fall. He trist to break its fall by laughing at himself.
Perhaps I should admit on the title page that this book is "By L. Frank Baum and his correspondents, " for I have used many suggestions conveyed to me in letters from children. Once on a time I really imagined myself "an author of fairy tales, " but now I am merely an editor or private secretary for a host of youngsters whose ideas I am requested to weave into the thread of my stories... My, what imaginations these children have developed! Sometimes I am fairly astounded by their daring an genius. There will be no lack of fairy-tale authors in the future, I am sure. My readers have told me what to do with Dorothy, and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, and I have obeyed their mandates. They have also given me a variety of subjects to write about in the future: enough, in fact, to keep me busy for some time. I am very proud of this alliance. Children love these stories because children have helped to create them. My readers know what they want and realize I try to please them. The result is satisfactory to the publishers, to me, and (I am quite sure) to the children. I hope, my dears, it will be a long time before we are obliged to dissolve partnership.
L. Frank Baum
The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern 'knowledge' is that it is wrong. The young man then quoted with approval what Socrates had said on learning that the Delphic oracle had proclaimed him the wisest man in Greece. 'If I am the wisest man, ' said Socrates, 'it is because I alone know that I know nothing.' The implication was that I was very foolish because I was under the impression I knew a great deal. Alas, none of this was new to me. (There is very little that is new to me; I wish my correspondents would realize this.) This particular theme was addressed to me a quarter of a century ago by John Campbell, who specialized in irritating me. He also told me that all theories are proven wrong in time. My answer to him was, 'John, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.