Brooks Atkinson

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In every age 'the good old days' were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Time
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It takes most men five years to recover from a college education, and to learn that poetry is as vital to thinking as knowledge.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Poetry
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Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.
- Brooks Atkinson
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After each war there is a little less democracy to save.
- Brooks Atkinson
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There is no joy so great as that of reporting that a good play has come to town.
- Brooks Atkinson
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People everywhere enjoy believing things that they know are not true. It spares them the ordeal of thinking for themselves and taking responsibility for what they know.
- Brooks Atkinson
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It seems not to have been written. It is the quintessence of life. It is the basic truth.
- Brooks Atkinson
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Good plays drive bad playgoers crazy.
- Brooks Atkinson
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Don't be condescending to unskilled labor. Try it for a half a day first.
- Brooks Atkinson
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The most fatal illusion is the narrow point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.
- Brooks Atkinson
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Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Sea
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This nation was built by men who took risks-pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, businessmen who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Men
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Bureaucracies are designed to perform public business. But as soon as a bureaucracy is established, it develops an autonomous spiritual life and comes to regard the public as its enemy.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Spiritual
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Poetry is as vital to thinking as knowledge.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Thinking
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The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Life
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The perfect bureaucrat everywhere is the man who manages to make no decisions and escape all responsibility.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Responsibility
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After each war there is a little less democracy left to save.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: War
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Say "Yes" to the seedlings and a giant forest cleaves the sky. Say "Yes" to the universe and the planets become your neighbors. Say "Yes" to dreams of love and freedom. It is the password to utopia.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Dream
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Writing is not an end in itself but life transmuted into radiance.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Book
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Walking companions, like heroes, are difficult to pluck out of the crowd of acquaintances. Good dispositions, ready wit, friendly conversation serve well enough by the fireside but they prove insufficient in the field. For there you need transcendentalists-nothing less; you need poets, sages, humorists and natural philosophers.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Hero
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The humorous man recognizes that absolute purity, absolute justice, absolute logic and perfection are beyond human achievement and that men have been able to live happily for thousands of years in a state of genial frailty.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Humorous
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I have no objections to churches so long as they do not interfere with God's work.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Long
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In the ideal sense nothing is uninteresting; there are only uninterested people.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: People
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The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Photography
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There should be a dash of the amateur in criticism. For the amateur is a man of enthusiasm who has not settled down and is not habit bound.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Men
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There is a good deal of solemn cant about the common interests of capital and labor. As matters stand, their only common interest is that of cutting each others throat.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Business
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The evil that men do lives on the front pages of greedy newspapers, but the good is oft interred apathetically inside.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Life
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We tolerate differences of opinion in people who are familiar to us. But differences of opinion in people we do not know sound like heresy or plots.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Differences
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Everyone in daily life carries such a heavy mixed burden on his own conscience that he is reluctant to penalize those who have been caught.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Guilt
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Nothing a man writes can please him as profoundly as something he does with his back, shoulders and hands. For writing is an artificial activity. It is a lonely and private substitute for conversation.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Lonely
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Although birds coexist with us on this eroded planet, they live independently of us with a self-sufficiency that is almost a rebuke. In the world of birds a symposium on the purpose of life would be inconceivable. They do not need it. We are not that self-reliant. We are the ones who have lost our way.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Nature
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Materialism is decadent and degenerate only if the spirit of the nation has withered and if individual people are so unimaginative that they wallow in it.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: People
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The cult of nature is a form of patronage by people who have declared their materialistic independence from nature and do not have to struggle with nature every day of their lives.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Struggle
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New Yorkers are inclined to assume it will never rain, and certainly not on New Yorkers.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: New York
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In the 1920s dramatists attacked their subjects as if the inequities could be resolved. Some of the traditional optimism of America lurked behind most of the early plays. But not now. There is no conviction now that the problem will be solved.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Play
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Nobody is fully alive who cannot apply to art as much discrimination and appreciation as he applies to the work by which he earns his living.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Appreciation
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The cheese and wine party has the form of friendship without the warmth and devotion. It is a device either for getting rid of social obligations hurriedly en mass, or for making overtures towards more serious social relationships, as in the etiquette of whoring.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Party
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It seems to me that the thing that makes the theater worthwhile is the fact that it attracts so many people with ideas who are constantly trying to share them with the public. Real art is illumination. It gives a man an idea he never had before or lights up ideas that were formless or only lurking in the shadows of his mind. It adds stature to life.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Art
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Real art is illumination, it adds stature to life.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Art
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We cheerfully assume that in some mystic way love conquers all, that good outweighs evil in the just balances of the universe and at the 11th hour something gloriously triumphant will prevent the worst before it happens.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Love
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Life is seldom as unendurable as, to judge by the facts, it logically ought to be.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Judging
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Although the theater is not life, it is composed of fragments or imitations of life, and people on both sides of the footlight have to unite to make the fragments whole and the imitations genuine.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: People
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Every man with an idea has at least two or three followers.
- Brooks Atkinson
Collection: Men