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Marya Mannes

  • He had the familiar defense of all those who wield great power in a popular medium: 'We only give the public what it wants — .' It is the most useful, and least valid, reason for having no convictions that I know of.

  • Human progress had so often been checked by those who were afraid of losing what they had.

  • A musical audience is at best uninspiring, at worst definitely drab. ... Respectability hangs like a pall over the orchestra and the boxes; a sort of sterile sobriety ill-fitted to the passionate geometry of music.

  • A candidate for office can have no greater advantage than muddled syntax; no greater liability than a command of language.

  • If American men are obsessed with money, American women are obsessed with weight. The men talk of gain, the women talk of loss, and I do not know which talk is the more boring.

  • People on horses look better than they are. People in cars look worse than they are.

  • ... the car, by bisecting the human outline, diminishes it, producing a race of half-people in a motion not of their own making

  • ... certain kinds of people become Republicans and certain kinds of people become Democrats, and ... it's more than a matter of party affiliation. It's a way of thinking and being.

  • ... the Republicans think they have a corner on morality ...

  • Republicans seems to me to be chiefly concerned with holding on to what they have: in society, it's position, or respectability, or what you will; in business, of course, it's profit.

  • I don't think it's possible to write a good play or paint a good picture and be a good Republican.

  • ... the overwhelming majority of people who are engaged in the processes of thought and expression are Democrats because the essence of thought is exploration and diversity and change. It's impossible to have vision in art or government without risk, or the boldness and courage which produce risk. And this — in spite of what they call modern Republicanism — is the antithesis of true Republican thinking.

  • A high standard of living is usually accompanied by a low standard of thinking.

  • Promiscuous ... was a word I had never applied to myself. Possibly no one ever does, for it is a sordid word, reducing many valuable moments to nothing more than doglike copulation.

  • All really great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction.

  • The ultimate cynicism is to suspend judgment so that you are not judged.

  • ... good-fellowship, unflagging, is the prime requisite for success in our society, and the man or woman who smiles only for reasons of humor or pleasure is a deviate ...

  • There is no 'trick' in being young: it happens to you. But the process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained.

  • In our society to admit inferiority is to be a fool, and to admit superiority is to be an outcast. Those who are in reality superior in intelligence can be accepted by their fellows only if they pretend they are not.

  • Everybody likes to see somebody else get caught for the vices practiced by themselves.

  • ... to know the good is to react against the bad. Indifference is the mark of deprivation.

  • Slowly the wasters and despoilers are impoverishing our land, our nature, and our beauty, so that there will not be one beach, one hill, one lane, one meadow, one forest free from the debris of man and the stigma of his improvidence.

  • The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.

  • ... the sign of an intelligent people is their ability to control emotions by the application of reason ...

  • Until a child can meet reality, he must live in fantasy. But he must create his own fantasy. And it is television's primary damage that it provides ten million children with the same fantasy, ready-made and on a platter.

  • Art can excite, titillate, please, entertain, and sometimes shock; but its ultimate function is to ennoble.

  • Surely the hold of great music on the listener is precisely this: that the listener is made whole; and at the same time part of an image of infinite grace and grandeur which is creation.

  • To be successful in the world of art you must, of course, have talent, although very small talents have gone very far in this age. Just as the microphone gave volume to voices that had none, so does the science of press-agentry magnify limited skills into highly saleable properties.

  • Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I cannot see any other honest way of taking them.

  • There is nothing harder to come by than detachment and solitude; and nothing more important.

  • Borders are scratched across the hearts of men / By strangers with a calm, judicial pen, / And when the borders bleed we watch with dread / The lines of ink along the map turn red.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "Gaza Strip," Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times ()
  • There's always a job for an engineer / (But nobody wants a poet).

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "Help Wanted," Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times ()
  • How many wives does your husband have? / My husband, he has three: / One at the office, one in dreams / And me. / How many wives does your husband have? / My husband, he has two: / The imagined woman he married and The true. / How many wives does your husband have? / My husband, he has none: / He's wed to money. That makes less / Than one.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "Wives," Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times ()
  • ... performance is an act of faith.

  • ... on Broadway money rules. Like a host of vultures, the ticket brokers, the speculators, the craft unions, the agents, the backers, the real estate owners move in on the creative body and take their bite. The world of dreams breathes in an iron lung; and without this mechanical pumping it dies.

  • All people talk of money sometimes, everywhere. But not for all people, everywhere, is money the addiction, the obsession, the stimulant, that it seems to be in New York. It is a large part of the clamor, and it is the voice — quite literally — of the man in the street.

  • The New York voice reflects its diversity, its foreignness, and, inevitably, the sense of superiority New Yorkers feel or come to feel. It says, without saying, We Know.

  • The real demon is success — the anxieties engendered by this quest are relentless, degrading, corroding. What is worse, there is no end to the escalation of desire.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "The Roots of Anxiety in the Modern Woman," Journal of Neuropsychiatry ()
  • In an age where the lowered eyelid is just a sign of fatigue, the delicate game of love is pining away. Freud and flirtation are poor companions.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "New Bites by a Girl Gadfly," in Life ()
  • Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist as long as she manages also to be a good wife, mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, unaggressive.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "New Bites by a Girl Gadfly," in Life ()
  • The art of flirtation is dying. A man and woman are either in love these days or just friends. In the realm of love, reticence and sophistication should go hand in hand, for one of the joys of life is discovery. Nowadays, instead of progressing from vous to tu, from Mister to Jim, it's 'darling' and 'come to my place' in the first hour.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "New Bites by a Girl Gadfly," in Life ()
  • A man at his desk in a room with a closed door is a man at work. A woman at a desk in any room is available.

  • Flirtation is merely an expression of considered desire coupled with an admission of its impracticability.

  • ... flirtation ... is a graceful salute to sex, a small impermanent spark between one human being and another, between a man and a woman not in need of fire.

  • Generosity with strings is not generosity: it is a deal.

  • ... the more people are reached by mass communications, the less they communicate with each other.

  • ... television and radio violence was considered by most experts of minimal importance as a contributory cause of youthful killing. ... there were always enough experts to assure the public that crime and violence had nothing to do with crime and violence.

  • Self-restraint may be alien to the human temperament, but humanity without restraint will dig its own grave.

  • Know the difference between Giant and Jumbo? Between two-ounce and a big two-ounce? Between a quart and a full quart? What's a tall 24-inch? What does Extra Long mean? Who's kidding who?

  • What is asserted by a man is an opinion; what is asserted by a woman is opinionated. A woman with ideas and the ability to express them is something of a social embarrassment, like an unhousebroken pet.

  • Money is not an aphrodisiac; the desire it may kindle in the female eye is more for the cash than the carrier.

  • I would call an intellectual one whose instrument of work — his mind — is also his major source of pleasure; a man whose entertainment is his intelligence.

  • Wit has a deadly aim and it is possible to prick a large pretense with a small pin.

  • It's never what you say, but how / You make it sound sincere.

  • We pity or condemn the communist peoples of the world for being bound in the chains of doctrine. So are we. Our doctrine runs as follows: Our Way is the Only Way.

  • The suppression of civil liberties is to many less a matter for horror than the curtailment of the freedom to profit.

  • For every five well-adjusted and smoothly functioning Americans, there are two who never had the chance to discover themselves. It may well be because they have never been alone with themselves. The great omission in American life is solitude ...

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "To Save the Life of 'I'," in Vogue ()
  • The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • "To Save the Life of 'I'," in Vogue ()
  • People minus space equals Poverty ... What is living for? If the answer is a life of dignity, decency and opportunity, then every increase in population means a decrease in all three. The crowd is a threat to every single being.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • in Life ()
  • Revelation is the marriage of knowing and feeling.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • They
    • ()
  • You mix the affluence of the white and the poverty of the black and you do not get a civilized society. Integration on an equal level is one thing. Mixing on an unequal level is another.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • They
    • ()
  • [The sea] is the healer and the reviver, it cleanses the cavities of self-disgust and melancholy, of sloth and negation with the salt solution of life. It cures the lethargies of flesh and spirit with the slap and shake of elemental force. It cradles and comforts. Give it trust and it holds you secure; fight it and it kills.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • They
    • ()
  • You cannot know what you do not feel.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • They
    • ()
  • Artists never make wars. They are too busy making life out of the matter of their visions.

    • Marya Mannes,
    • They
    • ()
  • Timing and arrogance are decisive factors in the successful use of talent.

  • Infants are interesting only to their parents.

  • A critical, strong speech made by a man is 'blunt' or "outspoken" or 'pulls no punches.' A speech of similar force and candor made by a woman is 'waspish,' 'sarcastic,' or 'cutting.' A man of strong opinions is defined as having 'deep convictions.' A woman so constituted is merely 'opinionated,' and always 'aggressive.'

  • All wars derive from lack of empathy: the incapacity of one to understand and accept the likeness or difference of another. Whether in nations or the encounters of race and sex, competition then replaces compassion, subjection excludes mutuality.

  • When women can cherish the vulnerability of men as much as men can exult in the strength of women, a new breed could lift a ruinous yoke from both.

  • Hoary idea, in any case, expecting a woman to surrender her name to her husband's in exchange for his. Why? Would any man submerge his identity and heritage to the woman he wed?

  • Long before Playboy, Woman was not the sum of her parts: her parts were her sum.

  • The barbarian weapon is fission: the splitting asunder. It has been perfected for death. Our only weapon is fusion: an imperfect process still, though designed for life.

  • In our long and obsessive passion for youth, we have — more than any other modern society — avoided direct approach to age and to dying by denying them in word, in fact, and — above all — in worth.

  • ... fear has always been a diminisher of life. Whether bred in the bogs of superstition or clothed in the brocades of dogma and ritual, the specter of death has reduced the living to supplicants, powerless.

  • The right to choose death when life no longer holds meaning is not only the next liberation but the last human right.

  • ... the incredible new medical technology has made it possible for highly disciplined teams of surgeons ... to keep stricken organisms alive even if the brain is irretrievably damaged or lung and heart incapable of functioning without mechanical help. Now it is not dust to dust, but human to vegetable.

  • Euthanasia ... is simply to be able to die with dignity at a moment when life is devoid of it.

  • The curse of the romantic is a greed for dreams, an intensity of expectation that, in the end, diminishes the reality.

Marya Mannes, U.S. writer, journalist, critic

(1904 - 1990)

Full name: Marie Mannes; sometimes wrote under “Sec.”