Monday, August 21, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Donald Barthelme (1931 – 1989)


American author known for his postmodern short stories and novels.
Donald Barthelme
“My readers,” said Pillsbury, “need, nay, require reassurance as to whether the throne is, in this century, still a viable institution.”
“King,” said Arthur, “king, king, king. Fundamentally an absurd idea, that one chap has better blood than another chap. Has to do with dogs, dog breeding, really, dogs and horses. Oh, it’s no great thing to be a king. On the other hand, I’ve never not been a king, so I’ve no idea what that’s like. Might be quite grand. The pleasure of being inconspicuous, a fudge in the crowd. Can’t imagine it.
“Can’t imagine what it would be like to be a churl. The country’s full of them, yet I have no idea how they think. It’s not good for a king to have no idea how people think. By the same token, the people have no idea how I think. When I address them, it’s in the language of a proclamation, isn’t it? And the language of a proclamation is hardly cozy, is it? I could even be witty, and the people would never know. Pity.
“In the same universe of discourse,” said Arthur, “the question of leadership, with accompanying subsections, such as statesmanship, generalship, gamesmanship, rabble-rousing, and the like. The king’s sceptre, the marshal’s baton, the conductor’s baton, the physician’s caduceus, the magician’s wand—a stick of some kind, with which one must animate a mass. In your case, Mr. Pillsbury, a pencil. But one must know how to operate the stick, eh? One can’t just wave the damned thing around to no purpose. All in the wrist, eh, Mr. Pillsbury?”
Barthelme quotes
“How old are you Hogo.” “Thirty-five Jane. A not unpleasant age to be.” “You don’t mind then. That you are not young.” “It has its buggy aspects as what does not?” “You don’t mind then that you are sagging in the direction of death.” “No, Jane.”
Barthelme
"It's true," Carl said, "with a kind of merde-y inner truth which shines forth as the objective correlative of what actually did happen, back home."




Barthelme Donald quotes
Oh, there is nothing better than intelligent conversation except thrashing about in bed with a naked girl and Egmont Light Italic.
Barthelme Donald
Poignance is all.
Donald Barthelme quotes
As a magician works with the unique compressibility of doves, finding some, losing others in the same silk foulard, so the rebels fold scratchy, relaxed meanings into their smallest actions.
Donald Barthelme
Instant gratification is not as good as that gratification which comes dripping slow, over the sere seasons.
Barthelme Donald quotes
The present goal of the individual in group enterprises is to avoid dominance; leadership is felt to be a character disorder.
Barthelme
No man's plenum, Mr. Quistgaard, is impervious to the awl of God's will.
Barthelme Donald
“Being merciless, while not exactly easy, is finally a job like any other. It’s theater. It’s got nothing to do with my private life. Still, sometimes when I used to yell at my kids, I wondered if I was maybe...putting a little too much into it. They’re grown now, so the question is moot. They seem OK. Roderick is at Harvard and Betsy is married and has a couple of kids of her own.”
Donald Barthelme
Barthelme isn’t easy, and he frequently fails, but he’s written some of the best stories of the last twenty years.




Donald Barthelme quotes
"Is that true," I asked, "that song?"
"It is a metaphor," said Mrs. Davis, "it has metaphorical truth."
"And the end of the mechanical age," I said, "is that a metaphor?"
"The end of the mechanical age," said Mrs. Davis, "is in my judgment an actuality straining to become a metaphor. One must wish it luck, I suppose. One must cheer it on. Intellectual rigor demands that we give these damned metaphors every chance, even if they are inimical to personal well-being and comfort. We have a duty to understand everything, whether we like it or not–a duty I would scant if I could." At that moment the water jumped into the boat and sank us.
Donald Barthelme
“The Continental Congress resolved that your famous plainneff and modefty would be ill ferved were it known that a houfe for your horfe was paid for from the public purfe.”
Barthelme quotes
[Snow White talking to herself] “... No wonder we who are twenty-two don’t trust anybody over twelve. That is where you find people who know the score, under twelve. I think I will go out and speak to some eleven-year-olds, now, to refresh myself. Now or soon.”
Barthelme Donald
BILL: ... We are what we have been told about ourselves. We are the sum of the messages we have received. The true messages. The false messages.
Barthelme Donald quotes
I am never needlessly obscure—I am needfully obscure, when I am obscure.
Donald Barthelme
I didn’t go to church because I was a black sheep. There were five children in my family and the males rotated the position of black sheep among us, the oldest one being the black sheep for a while while he was in his DWI period or whatever and then getting grayer as he maybe got a job or was in the service and then finally becoming a white sheep when he got married and had a grandchild. My sister was never a black sheep because she was a girl.
Donald Barthelme quotes
“How does one conquer fear, Don B.?”
“One takes a frog and sews it to one’s shoe,” he said.
“The left or the right?”
Don B. gave me a pitying look.
“Well, you’d look mighty funny going down the street with only one frog sewed to your shoes, wouldn’t you?" he said. “One frog on each shoe.”
Donald Barthelme
The actors feel that the music played before the curtain rises will put the audience in the wrong mood. The playwright suggests that the (purposefully lugubrious) music be played at twice-speed. This peps it up somewhat while retaining its essentially dark and gloomy character. The actors listen carefully, and are pleased.
Barthelme Donald
It is not true that Kafka wanted Brod to burn his manuscripts after his death. Rather it is the case that Kafka was on fire to be published...rushed to the postbox day after day...ate with editors...intrigued for favorable notices...read the Writer’s Digest...consorted with critics...autographed napkins...made himself available to librarians...spoke on the radio...


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