INTERVIEWS WITH THE FAMOUSLY DEPARTED
Oscar Wilde Speaks
Oscar Wilde was born, in Dublin, October 16, 1854 A successful playwright (The Importance of Being Earnest), novelist (The Picture of Dorian Gray), and poet (The Ballad of Reading Goal); Wilde was tried and convicted for “gross indecency,” because he was gay. He died at age 46, in 1900.
WRR: So, Mr. Wilde, what do the British think of the American Revolution all these years later?
Wilde: We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language (The Canterville Ghost; 1887)
Oscar Wilde: And by that you mean?
Wilde: The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years. (A Woman of No Importance; 1893)
WRR: Any thoughts on American Consumerism
Wilde: Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. (The Picture of Dorian Gray; 1891)
WRR: Let’s get your take on a few current trends since you were known for being stylish.
Keeping up with the Kardashians?
Wilde: And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view, it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months (Literar and Other Notes I; Woman’s World(November; 1887)
WRR: Critics of Reality TV?
Wilde: It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
WRR: Political correctness?
Wilde: If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being immensely over-educated (The Importance of Being Earnest; 1895)
WRR: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes?
Wilde: Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one (The Picture of Dorian Gray; 1889)
WRR: Can they learn anything from their predecessor in humor, Jack Benny?
Wilde: He knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing. (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
WRR: And winning the Golden Globes?
Wilde: In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. (Lady Windermere’s Fan)
WRR: Carrie Underwood’s acting performance in the Sound of Music?
Wilde: My dear fellow, the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl. (The Importance of Being Earnest)
WRR: Ouch. Surely, you have something nice to say about Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo’s fourth quarter failures?
Wilde: He is really not so ugly after all, provided, of course, that one shuts one’s eyes, and does not look at him (The Birthday of the Infanta, The House of Pomegranates; 1892)
WRR: Any advise for our President?
Wilde: Life is far too important to be taken seriously (Lady Windermere’s Fan; 1892)
WRR: Advise for conservatives?
Wilde: Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do. (The Remarkable Rocket: The Happy Prince and Other Tales; 1888)
WRR: Romney’s mistake in the 2012 election?
Wilde: Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that. (The Importance of Being Earnest)
WRR: Today’s hot topic – What the NSA really found out?
Wilde: It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information ( A Few Maxims for the Intstruction of the Over-Educated; 1894)
WRR: Eric Snowden?
Wilde: If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out. (Phrases and Philosophies for the use of the Young; 1894)
WRR: Why cancer, diabetes and heart disease have never been mentioned in the Affordable Care Debate?
Wilde: Science can never grapple with the irrational. That is why it has no future before it, in this world. (An Ideal Husband; 1895)
Wilde: As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. (The Critic as Artist; 1891)
WRR: Thomas Hobbes remarked that a Foolish Consistency is the Hobgoblin of little minds –What say you?
Wilde: Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. (“The Relation of Dress to Art,” The Pall Mall Gazette; February 28, 1885)
WRR: Is College a waste of time and money?
Wilde: Time is a waste of money. (Phrases and Philosophies for the use of the Young. 1894)
WRR: Let’s move on to some questions on writing and today’s 21st century version of it. All our columnists and talking heads?
Wilde: In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press (The Soule of Man under Socialism; 1895)
WRR: Learning about the world from the Internet?
Wilde: It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read. (The Importance of Being Earnest)
Wilde: A poet can survive everything but a misprint. (“The Children of the Poets,” The Pall Mall Gazette; October 14, 1886)
Wilde: Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it. The Critic as Artist)
WRR: Biographies or Historical Fiction?
Wilde: The one duty we owe to history is to re-write it. (The Critic as Artist )
WRR: While we’re on the subject of either-ors. Art or Science?
Wilde: The more we study Art, the less we care for Nature. What Art really reveals to us is Nature’s lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition (Intentions; 1891).
WRR: Let’s complete the trinity. We have art and science. What about Religion?
Wilde: Prayer must never be answered: if it is, it ceases to be prayer and becomes correspondence. (Quoted by Alvin Redman in The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde. 1952)
WRR: The days beteween Holidays?
Wilde: Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event. (The Pall Mall Gazette. February 17, 1887)
WRR: Oy, that’s pretty grim. How about something to cheer us up. Oscar is to Wilde as Thornton is to Wilder? Isn’t that the wildest?
Wilde: A simile committing suicide is always a depressing spectacle. (The Poets’ Corner III, The Pall Mall Gazette. May 30, 1887).
WRR: Old age?
Wilde: To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. (The Importance of Being Earnest)
WRR: And finally, let’s talk about the end? What’s life all about?
Wilde: The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility (The Importance of Being Earnest)
WRR: In other words?
Wilde: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. (Quoted by Jim Hightower in Swim against the current, even a dead fish can go with the flow, Wiley & Sons, 2008)
WRR: The real key?
Wilde: Those whom the gods love grow young. (A Few Maxims For The Instruction Of The Over-Educated. 1894)
WRR: Any other keys?
Wilde: The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death. (Salomé)
WRR: Hmmm, we started with America let’s end with it?
Wilde: Mrs. Allonby: They say, Lady Hunstanton, that when good Americans die they go to Paris.
Lady Hunstanton: Indeed? And when bad Americans die, where do they go to?
Lord Illingworth: Oh, they go to America.
WRR: We like to ask about some of our other interviewees now and then. How’s George Bernard Shaw doing up there?
Wilde: An excellent man: he has no enemies, and none of his friends like him. (Quoted by George Bernard Shaw in a letter to Ellen Terry, 25 September 1896.)
WRR: Great! Thanks! Pretty good interview, huh?
Wilde: Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. (De Profundis; 1897)
Joe practiced law in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, for 14 years and designed large scale databases for AT&T for five years. He currently works for NextLevel Web Strategies, a legal marketing firm based in Princeton, NJ. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, received his J.D. from George Washington Law School and he has a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Drexel University.
Joe’s book, Philadelphia Originals, was released for publication by Schiffer Publishing in 2009. The book shows that the unique styles (how Philadelphians paint, sing, practice law, tell a joke, cook) of Philadelphia’s most notable professions can be traced back to the perfect complement of the spiritual William Penn and the practical Benjamin Franklin.
His second project. Philadelphia Before You Were Born, is a study of the last time Philadelphia newspapers used artists for all their illustrations. It was published in 2011.
Joe’s many other published writings include a humorous look at book clubs for the Bucks County Writer and the literary stages of a baseball season for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He also writes the Interviews with the Famously Departed Column for the Wild River Review.
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