Archive for the 'Quotes' Category

Stanford Prison Experiment (What do you add to the script?)

Everyone was acting out a part and playing a role: prisoners, guards, staff … everyone was acting out a part. It’s when you start contributing to the script. That’s you, and thus you should take responsibility …

Prisoner 416, of the Stanford Prison Experiment*

From wikipedia:

The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

From the Professor Zimbardo’s website about the experiment:

What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.

* Debates on “free will” aside, I do believe in subjective free will, and always holding people accountable for their actions. Prisoner 416’s statement sums it up perfectly for me.

Hallucinations … writing … schizophrenia

I always depend on a molecular assemblage of enunciation that is not given in my conscious mind, any more than it depends solely on my apparent social determinations, which combine many heterogeneous regimes of signs. Speaking in tongues. To write is perhaps to bring this assemblage of the unconscious to the light of day, to select the whispering voices, to gather the tribes and secret idioms from which I extract something I call my Self.

Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Is Žižek an existentialist?

The experience that we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is fundamentally a lie – the truth lies outside, in what we do.

From Violence

Robert Solomon on existentialism


From the movie Waking Life

I’ve read the postmodernists with some interest, even admiration. But when I read them, I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It’s something very concrete. It’s you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences.

Benjamin on Cinema

The ill-fated German cultural critic and brilliant writer Walter Benjamin, on cinema:

By close-ups of the things around us, by focusing on hidden details of familiar objects, by exploring common place milieus under the ingenious guidance of the camera, the film, on the one hand, extends our comprehension of the necessities which rule our lives; on the other hand, it manages to assure us of an immense and unexpected field of action. Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have us locked up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison-world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of a second, so that now, in the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go traveling. With the close-up, space expands; with slow motion, movement is extended. The enlargement of a snapshot does not simply render more precise what in any case was visible, though unclear: it reveals entirely new structural formations of the subject. So, too, slow motion not only presents familiar qualities of movement but reveals in them entirely unknown ones “which, far from looking like retarded rapid movements, give the effect of singularly gliding, floating, supernatural motions.” Evidently a different nature opens itself to the camera than opens to the naked eye – if only because an unconsciously penetrated space is substituted for a space consciously explored by man. Even if one has a general knowledge of the way people walk, one knows nothing of a person’s posture during the fractional second of a stride. The act of reaching for a lighter or a spoon is familiar routine, yet we hardly know what really goes on between hand and metal, not to mention how this fluctuates with our moods. Here the camera intervenes with the resources of its lowerings and liftings, its interruptions and isolations, it extensions and accelerations, its enlargements and reductions. The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses

From his 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

Chandler on Hammett

In his 1950 essay, the Simple Art of Murder, Raymond Chandler writes about the various styles of mystery writing and the genius of Dashiell Hammett, the first hardboiled detective fiction writer. Hammett himself was a detective at the Pinkerton Detective Agency in San Francisco, until health problems and disillusionment with some of the agency’s tactics drove him to try his hand at writing. He wrote with the lingo, he wrote about what he knew, and he wrote with a stripped-down style that Hemingway later became famous for. Chandler writes:

Hammett took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley. [...] He wrote at first (and almost to the end) for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street.

Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought duelling pistols, curare, and tropical fish. He put these people down on paper as they are, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes. He had style, but his audience didn’t know it, because it was in a language not supposed to be capable of such refinements. They thought they were getting a good meaty melodrama written in the kind of lingo they imagined they spoke themselves. [...] He is said to have lacked heart, yet the story he thought most of himself is the record of a man’s devotion to a friend. He was spare, frugal, hardboiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before.

David Lynch on Product Placement

I guess he forgot about Dennis Hopper’s passionate endorsement of Pabst Blue Ribbon in Blue Velvet:

“Heineken? Fuck that sheeeeit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”