1. The Self-portrait by Gustave Courbet (The Desperate man). I am not sure how desperate the young Courbet really was at the time he painted this though: not only was he on a much better financial position that his fellow painters (he inherited plenty of money), but he also knew very well how to create controversy to get noticed (this was his goal in life, and noticed he did get).
2. That line from stand-up comedian Steven Wright:
You know how it feels when you’re leaning back on a chair, and you lean too far back, and you almost fall over backwards, but then you catch yourself at the last second? I feel like that all the time
3. That line from Fran Lebowitz (a beautiful example of her dark humor):
There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness and death
4. The opening lines from the short story “Jim” by the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño:
Many years ago I had a friend named Jim and since then I have not seen a sadder American. Desperate I have seen plenty. Sad, like Jim, none.
On a different topic and since I mentioned Ms. Lebowitz; this is from the Fran Lebowitz Reader:
From Children, pro or con?
Children do not sit next to one in restaurants and discuss their preposterous hopes for the future in loud tones of voice.
Children ask better questions than do adults. “May I have a cookie?” “Why is the sky blue?” and “What does a cow say?” are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than“Where’s your manuscript?” “Why haven’t you called?” and “Who’s your lawyer?”
Children sleep either alone or with small toy animals. The wisdom of such behavior is unquestionable, as it frees them from the immeasurable tedium of being privy to the whispered confessions of others. I have yet to run across a teddybear who was harboring the secret desire to wear a maid’s uniform
Children respond inadequately to sardonic humor and veiled threats.
Notoriously insensitive to subtle shifts in mood, children will persist in discussing the color of a recently sighted cement mixer long after one’s own interest in the topic has waned.
Children are rarely in the position to lend one a truly interesting sum of money. There are, however, exceptions, and such children are an excellent addition to any party
All too often children are accompanied by adults.
I suppose I am on a Fran Lebowitz phase (maybe to be expected since I was rereading a lot of Oscar Wilde before) so I will also recommend the documentary “Public Speaking” by Martin Scorsese. It is amazing to see how the way she writes is exactly like the way she talks.