Quotations from Joseph Epstein

One of the delights of being an intellectual is that one is expected to have opinions on everything while incurring responsibility for nothing. (Narcissus Leaves the Pool)

Most people, I suspect, must do what I do: hold, on most matters of genuine controversy, an opinion based less on solid information than on hunch, temperament, and one’s general politics and point of view. (Narcissus Leaves the Pool)

I can face the fact that we all grow older, but I prefer to face it only one or two persons at a time. A large room filled with people in this condition is more than I can handle. That is why I shan’t be attending my fiftieth-year class reunion.(Wind Sprints)

I blame the number of beggars in America not on capitalism, but on the great human lottery, which awards less skill, little power of forming good habits, and simple bad luck to a small but, it now seems, not insignificant number of people in every society.(Wind Sprints)

On the Internet anyone can say anything without need of argument or authentication.(Wind Sprints)

The camera, it is said, does not lie, but the man behind it can have his devious subtexts and political agendas. (Wind Sprints)

Gossip, make no mistake, always implies a judgment. (Gossip: the Untrivial Pursuit)

Over the past three or four decades, the university has become something akin to a continuing WPA program by furnishing an ever-larger number of artists—chiefly writers but painters and musicians, too—with jobs. (A Literary Education and Other Essays)

But no sooner had Felix moved into the Northwood than he began to wonder if he hadn't perhaps made a serious mistake. Part of the problem was living so exclusively among the old. Would he ever grow used to it? So many osteoporotic women, humped and bent forward; one woman, in a crueler trick of nature, was bent backward, each of her steps seeming perilous, as if she were permanently backing away from the edge of a cliff. Every second person at Northwood seemed to wear a hearing aid, and some wore two—Felix's own hearing was not so good, though thus far he had resisted getting such a device—with the result that people seemed not to talk but to yell at one another. Because of bad hearing, too, few people answered to knocking on their doors. Metal canes with thick rubber bottoms were everywhere. One man, who Felix learned had had three strokes, trudged about on a walker, a piece of hideous aluminum scaffolding the mere sight of which never failed to lower Felix's spirits. No shortage of toupees among the men, nor wigs among the women. Eyesight everywhere was damnably dim, and it was common to see people reading the newspaper or letters with their heads two or three inches from the paper. Conversation, at least much of it that Felix overheard, seemed to be chiefly about health, when it was not about death and the dead. The old women complained about the present, Felix noted, while the old men tended to lie about the past. (Fabulous Small Jews)