Literary Birthday - 8 September - Michael Frayn

Happy Birthday, Michael Frayn, born 8 September 1933

Seven Quotes

  1. I haven't come to the theatre to hear about other people's problems. I've come to be taken out of myself, and, preferably, not put back again.
  2. Everything is as it was, I discover when I reach my destination, and everything has changed.
  3. You can create a good impression on yourself by being right, he realises, but for creating a good impression on others there's nothing to beat being totally and catastrophically wrong.
  4. We can't stop reading. Compulsively we find ourselves reading significance into dreams (we construct a science upon it); into tea-leaves and the fall of cards. We look up at the shifting vapours in the sky, and see faces, lost cities, defeated armies. Isolated in the dark, with nothing to hear and no surfaces to touch, we hallucinate reading-matter. Our craving becomes generalized – for 'the meaning of life'.  If we lived alone in a featureless desert we should learn to place the individual grains of sand in a moral or aesthetic hierarchy. We should long to find the greatest grain of sand in the world, and even (in order to find a fixed point of orientation in time as well as in space) the all-time greatest grain of sand; the grain of sand whose discovery changed our whole understanding of grains of sand for ever.
  5. Some questions remain long after their owners have died. Lingering like ghosts. Looking for the answers they never found in life.
  6. Mathematics becomes very odd when you apply it to people. One plus one can add up to so many different sums.
  7. We know nothing worth knowing about what goes on outside our frontiers. Worse-we know very little more about what goes on within them. Beyond the light of one's own personal experience-darkness. What are people thinking? What are they feeling? How do they behave? Messages of reassurance or exhortation come through. One reads between the lines. Friends pool their knowledge. But in general we live like animals, in ignorance of the world around us.

Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes. He has also written philosophical works, such as The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of the Universe.

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