Hugo and Flaubert are sitting down to lunch. They have been writing all day, and they’re meeting to report on their progress. Hugo says he’s just finished a chapter; he’s quite satisfied. Good day so far. Flaubert says he’s been wrestling with a comma. He’s decided to leave it in. Excellent thing.
After lunch, they get back to work. They return later to dine together. At dinner, Hugo’s ecstatic. Another chapter. Great day, marvelous day. Flaubert’s also pleased. He’s decided to take out the comma. Perfect day. Couldn’t be better.
From Ingmar Bergman’s inestimable Smiles in Summertime (1956): “If people only knew how unhealthy it is to pay attention to what people say, they wouldn’t bother to listen and they’d feel so much better.”
And then they’d become therapists.
“You’re always quoting yourself.”
“I’m imminently quotable.”