INTERVIEWS FROM THE FAMOUSLY DEPARTED
George Bernard Shaw Speaks
George Bernard Shaw was born July 26, 1856, in Dublin, Ireland and died in England on November 2,1950. Shaw wrote sixty plays dealing with social problems but used humor as a means to lighten the message. He was a noted socialist. His play Pygmalion was made into the musical, My Fair Lady.
WRR: In his book, Going to Extremes, Joe McGinnis wrote that Alaska was a place people go to get away from everybody else; but because the elements are so severe, the only way to survive is to get along with everybody else.
What do you think of McGinnis’s observation?
Shaw: Independence? That’s middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth. (Pygmalion; 1912)
WRR: Do you agree with Lewis Carroll that life is better through the looking glass?
Shaw: The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. (Maxims for Revolutionists; 1903)
WRR: In other words?
Shaw: You see things as they are and ask, “Why?” I dream things as they never were and ask, “Why not?” (Back to Methuselah; 1921)
WRR: Victor Hugo said Homer was the first person he would see in heaven, how about you?
Shaw: The schoolboy who uses his Homer to throw at his fellow’s head makes perhaps the safest and most rational use of him. (Man and Superman; 1903)
WRR: What’s the golden rule?
Shaw: The golden rule is that there are no golden rules. (Maxims for Revolutionists)
WRR: How about a silver rule?
Shaw: Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. (Maxims for Revolutionists)
WRR: Let’s go for the bronze?
Shaw: Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it. (Maxims for Revolutionists)
WRR: You wrote a lot about the sexes, Pygmalion being your most famous. How would you define a relationship?
Shaw: When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part. (Getting Married; 1908)
WRR: So are relationships good or is it better to stay single?
Shaw: There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to get it. (Man and Superman)
WRR: And if you’re stuck in one of these relationships?
Shaw: The test of a man or woman’s breeding is how they behave in a quarrel. (The Philanderer; 1893)
WRR: And why are these quarrels often never-ending?
Shaw: Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you’re driving at another. (Pygmalion 1913)
WRR: Let’s try a few questions on truth and honesty
How would you define truth?
All great truths begin as blasphemies. (Annajanska; 1919)
All kidding aside are there any consequences to lying?
Aliar’s punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else. (Quintessence Of Ibsenism; 1891;1913)
WRR: How do you deal with it personally?
My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world. (John Bull’s Other Island; 1917)
WRR: What about some other human traits – Compassion?
Shaw: The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity. (The Devil’s Disciple, Act II; 1901)
WRR: And character?
Shaw: People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. (Mrs. Warren’s Profession; 1893)
WRR: Britain vs. America I?
Shaw: We don’t bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don’t dress well and we’ve no manners. (You Never Can Tell, Act I; 1898)
WRR: Britain vs. America II
Shaw: Ah-ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo-oo!!! I ain’t dirty: I washed me face and hands afore I come, I did! (Pygmalion1913)
WRR: OK not sure if that last answered applied to Britain or America. Let’s try Britain vs. America III?
Shaw: Revolutionary movements attract those who are not good enough for established institutions as well as those who are too good for them. (Androcles and the Lion; 1913)
WRR: Ever try a real profession?
Shaw: It is more dangerous to be a great prophet or poet than to promote twenty companies for swindling simple folk out of their savings. (Misalliance; 1910)
WRR: Ever think of retiring?
Shaw: A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell. (Misalliance; 1910)
WRR: You’ve been around a couple of centuries – what have you seen on Earth that fascinates you, since you expired?
Shaw: The novelties of one generation are only the resuscitated fashions of the generation before last. (Three Plays for Puritans, Preface; 1900)
WRR: Put another way?
Shaw: Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough. (Back to Methuselah; 1921)
WRR: The key to a long life?
Shaw: As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death. (Overruled; 1912)
WRR: And death?
Shaw: Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh. (The Doctor’s Dilemma; 1911)
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.
Joe Glantz in this Edition
Dick Perez: Sports Artist for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Phillies
From Washington DC to Salt Lake City: How Nancy Boskoff became Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council