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Christopher Hampton

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Masturbation is the thinking man's television.
--
Jonathan, in The Philanthropist (1969)

 
Christopher Hampton

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I used to think that television could be potentially the most powerful medium for the dissemination of knowledge that the world has ever known, it could be a very rich and rewarding thing if handled properly and that the problem was in the execution. I've now come, after ten years in the business, five years of which was as a television critic, to taking the very extreme view point. I think television itself is bad.
The idea of television, the act of watching television kills the imagination. It's not like radio, with radio you had to listen, had to make things, you had to build things in your mind. Movies do that. Television is something else again. Television lays it all out there in a very prescribed way and the bare minimum of imagination on the part of the viewer is needed and I really fear for all of us.

 
Harlan Ellison
 

Soon it will be achieved. The lie of television has been that there are contexts to which television will grant an access. Since lies last, usually, no more than one generation, television will re-form around the idea that television itself is a context to which television will grant an access.

 
George W. S. Trow
 

I wanted to put a reference to masturbation in one of the scripts for the Sandman. It was immediately cut by the editor [Karen Berger]. She told me, "There's no masturbation in the DC Universe." To which my reaction was, "Well that explains a lot about the DC Universe."

 
Neil Gaiman
 

The emergence of something called Metafiction in the American '60s was hailed by academic critics as a radical aesthetic, a whole new literary form, literature unshackled from the cultural cinctures of mimetic narrative and free to plunge into reflexivity and self-conscious meditations on aboutness. Radical it may have been, but thinking that postmodern Metafiction evolved unconscious of prior changes in readerly taste is about as innocent as thinking that all those college students we saw on television protesting the Vietnam war were protesting only because they hated the Vietnam war (They may have hated the war, but they also wanted to be seen protesting on television. TV was where they'd seen the war, after all. Why wouldn't they go about hating it on the very medium that made their hate possible?) Metafictionists may have had aesthetic theories out the bazoo, but they were also sentient citizens of a community that was exchanging an old idea of itself as a nation of do-ers and be-ers for a new vision of the U.S.A. as an atomized mass of self-conscious watchers and appearers. For Metafiction, in its ascendant and most important phases, was really nothing more than a single-order expansion of its own theoritcal nemesis, Realism: if Realism called it like it saw it, Metafiction simply called it as it saw itself seeing it. This high-cultural postmodern genre, in other words, was deeply informed by the emergence of television and the metastasis of self-conscious watching.

 
David Foster Wallace
 

(on the current state of satire) Alas, irreverence has been subsumed by mere grossness, at least in the so-called mass media. What we have now--to quote myself at my most pretentious--is a nimiety of scurrility with a concomitant exiguity of taste. For example, the freedom (hooray!) to say almost anything you want on television about society's problems has been co-opted (alas!) by the freedom to talk instead about flatulence, orgasms, genitalia, masturbation, etc., etc., and to replace real comment with pop-culture references and so-called "adult" language. Irreverence is easy--what's hard is wit.

 
Tom Lehrer
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