The Affair. TV show


N: I think about these questions, why people live the way they do, all the time.

P: You do?

N: Yes, I…

N: Helen once told me that when she reads obituaries, she’s looking for whether the person loved and was loved. Did they have a family, were they married long, did they have children, grandchildren? And it kind of blew my mind at the time, ’cause it never occurred to me to judge someone by their family.

P: Instead, you’re looking at what?

N: What they… what they did.

P: Meaning their work, their accomplishments?

N: – Yes.

P: – And yet, there’s something about what Helen said that stayed with you, that… that makes you think she might be on to something. I just think there are so many different matrices by which to measure a man’s worth, and I… I don’t know which is right. I’m writing a whole book about this question. At least, I’m trying to.

P: – Your new novel?

N: – Yeah.

P: You haven’t talked about that much in here. It’s historical, right? It’s World War II?

N: – Right. Do you know who Omar Bradley is?

P: Uh, it sounds familiar.

N: He’s a… he’s a war hero. He was a five-star general. He was the commander of the First Army at Normandy.

P: Ah.

N: The book is based on his life. I mean, it’s fiction, but he was fascinating. He was a great man. He led this extraordinary, significant life. You’d have to write two or three books just to cover half of his achievements. I spent half of chapter two writing about one meeting he had with Montgomery, and then I got to page 65, and…

P: What happened on page 65?

N: Marlene Dietrich.

P: What?

N: I was gonna leave her out, but then I just… I don’t know, she somehow appeared on my screen.

P: She just appeared? On her own?

N: Uh, no.

P: And then seduced your main character? Did you make this up, or…

N: No, no, no, no, it happened. Well, it was rumored to. There are photos of them together. And Bradley was married, I’m guessing. For 49 years. To the girl across the street. But you see, that’s… that’s who he was. He wasn’t just some fearless leader, some cartoon Captain America, he was… he was flawed, and imperfect, and selfish, and that, I now realize is what makes the book compelling. It’s the center of all of it. What do we make of this guy? Does the fact that he had sex with a movie star outside marriage, does that somehow negate all of his achievements? Or do those traits that made him cheat… ego, intensity, drive… do they also lead him to achieve?

P: Those are some big questions.

N: Well, I mean, it’s a very big book. And I hope it’s an important one. If I could only fucking finish it.

P: Are you having trouble?

N: No, I’m not having trouble. I just… Well, the problem is I don’t have any time. Between the teaching and the baby, and… I need to do more research. I need to go to France and spend six or eight weeks and see where he lived, and he fought, and he fucked and…

P: So why not go? Buy a ticket.

N: I’m sure you could figure it out. No, Alison’s program is accelerated, so she’s got courses all summer and the soonest I can get away is… I don’t even fucking know. Fifteen months?

P: That’s frustrating.

N: When I go I need… I need time to write the thing. I mean, a book like this, it takes concentration. Real focus. It’s not some piece of pulp you can pump out in ten weeks.

P: Like “Descent”, you mean?

N: ”Descent” is what it is. It was… It was… It was… it did amazingly well. But I’ve known for a while I wanted to take the next step. I wanted to do something bigger with real scope. Something serious and significant.

P: So do you notice that the words you use to describe Bradley’s life… “big,” “significant,” “great”… you’re now using them to describe your new book.

N: Well, he’s the subject of the book. But what I’m interested in is how this subject relates to your own life. In your mind. I want to know… I want to know if it’s possible, really possible to be both.

P: Both?

N: A good man and a great man.

P: And by good, you mean?

N: Well, the way Helen reads the obituaries, you know, for long-lasting marriages, for virtue, basically, monogamy, partnership, love. I mean, do the men who Helen thinks led good lives, how many of them also had great lives?

P: Depends on what you mean by great.

N: Would General Bradley have conquered Normandy if he’d been home changing diapers? I’m serious. You look at the way this guy led his life. He went out in the world and he followed his instincts, and he took whatever he wanted. Maybe he was narcissistic, maybe Mary was unhappy, but his life had consequence. He basically won the war for us. So do we judge him for his absence for his family and his infidelity, or do we just let that slide, because what does it matter at the end? The guy stopped Hitler.

P: What does it matter to whom?

N: There’s a certain type of man that history reveres. We see it over and over. Jefferson, Hamilton, Picasso, Hemingway, all of them cheaters. It’s like they have this bald desire, this… this willingness to take whatever they want, that ends up making them remarkable.

P: But again, I want to understand how this connects to you.

N: What if, I mean, what if? What if I… What if I have it in me to be great? What if the only thing that separates me from Ernest Hemingway is that he never had to choose? He… He… He just gave himself permission to do whatever the fuck he wanted in the name of his work and he didn’t care who he made suffer. And he blew out his brains at 60.

P: Well, what does that mean?

N:  You tell me.

P: It’s one minute to three, Noah.

N: Is it?

P: But before we stop, I’d like to return to where we were at the start of the session. You have some questions to answer with Alison.  Are you ready to tell her your divorce is finalized? And do you actually want to move forward with your second marriage?

N: I know I want to be a good husband, I want to be… I want to be a good partner and a good father, and I love having a family, um, and a home and people who depend on me, but I know that in my gut. But I also want to go to France, and… for two years, and fuck whoever and feel alive again, and write a great novel. What I do not want is to be dishonest. I tried that and I hate myself for it. I…if there’s one thing I could change, I do not want to lie…to myself or anyone else.

P: I think that’s admirable, Noah.

N: I really do.

P: And we’re at time.


Nostalghia di Tarkovskij

“Я так и знал, что вы сегодня не уедете голос какого предка говорит во мне: я не могу примерить свои мысли с моим телом? Вот почему я не могу быть всегда одним и тем же в один миг. Я могу ощутить бесконечное  множество явлений. Истинное зло нашего времени состоит в том, что не осталось больше великих учителей. Мы должны вслушиваться в голоса, которые лишь кажутся нам бесполезными. Нужно, чтобы наш мозг, загаженный канализацией школьной рутиной, страховкой снова отозвался на гудение насекомых. Надо, чтобы наши глаза, уши, все мы напитались тем, что лежит у истоков великой мечты. Кто-то должен воскликнуть что мы построим пирамиды и неважно, если потом мы их не построим. Нужно пробудить желания. Мы должны во все стороны растягивать нашу душу словно это полотно, растягиваемое до бесконечности. Если вы хотите, чтобы жизнь не пресекалась мы должны взяться за руки, мы должны смешаться между собой: так называемые здоровые и так называемы больные Эй, вы, здоровые? Что значит ваше здоровье? Глаза всего человечества устремлены на водоворот в который нас всех вот-вот затянет. Кому нужна свобода если вам не хватает мужества взглянуть в наши глаза, есть, пить и спать вместе с нами? Только так называемые здоровые люди довели мир до грани катастрофы Человек, выслушай меня. Тебе – вода огонь и еще пепел и кости в пепле, кости и пепел. Где я, если я не в реальности и не в своем воображении. Я заключаю новый договор с миром. Да, воссияет солнце ночью и падет снег в августе. Великое – недолговечно. Только малое имеет продолжение. Люди должны вернуться к единству, а не оставаться разъединенными. Достаточно присмотреться к природе,чтобы понять, что жизнь проста и нужно лишь вернуться туда, где вы вступили на ложный путь. Нужно вернуться к истокам жизни и стараться не замутить воду. Что же это за мир,если сумасшедший кричит что вы должны стыдиться самих себя? Воздух так легок. Да, кружиться вокруг твоей головы и становится прозрачней, когда ты улыбаешься.”

Self-reliance by Emerson

He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. But the rage of travelling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. However, our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home.

Die Kultur, die per definitionem keinem Zweck dient, steht nun endlich im Dienst der so genannten Unternehmenskultur. Das stinkt von vornherein zum Himmel, denn es gibt keinen größeren Kulturverächter als das Unternehmen; Unternehmenskultur ist folglich ein Oxymoron, eine Stilform, die zwei Wörter zusammenfügt, welche absolut nichts gemeinsam haben.

Solange alles gut läuft, ist die Unternehmenskultur sehr nützlich für das Management, weil sie ein künstliches Identitäts- und Zugehörigkeitsgefühl schafft; wenn alles schief geht, gilt als archaisches Relikt, das Veränderungen im Wege steht.

Sollte das Unternehmen uns belügen, wenn es ein ums andere Mal von “Menschen, dem größten Reichtum des Unternehmens” spricht? Der Satz ist beunruhigend, schon Stalin benutzte ihn. Bedeutet das, dass der Mensch real umso mehr erniedrigt wird, je mehr man ihn idealisiert? Denn das Unternehmen nimmt und wirft weg nach Bedarf.

Corinne Maier-Die Entdeckung der Faulheit

On Grief and Reason 

But perhaps our greater value and greater function are to be unwitting embodiments of the disheartening idea that a freed man is not a free man, that liberation is just a means to attain freedom and is not synonymous with it. This highlights the extent of the damage that can be done to the species, and we can feel prouf of playing this role. However, if we wan to play a bigger role, the role of a free man, then we should be capable of accepting – or at least imitating – the manner in which a free man fails. A free man, when he fails, blames nobody.

Joseph Brodsky