Persons [ ] The Opposite of Talking | Fran Lebowitz on Writing, Life, Art & Wealth



“All the time I’m not writing I feel like a criminal. It’s horrible to feel felonious every second of the day.
It’s much more relaxing to actually write.”

“A book is not supposed to be a mirror. It’s supposed to be a door.”

“Words Are Easy, Books Are Not,” Half of writing, maybe 3/4 of writing, is editing.”

“There’s no equivalent to Mozart in writing.”

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”

“Talent is something you’re born with. You cannot acquire it by working hard, and you cannot lose it by lying around

“I never took hallucinogenic drugs because I never wanted my consciousness expanded one unnecessary iota.”

“Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine.”

“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”



“Romantic love is mental illness. But it’s a pleasurable one. It’s a drug. It distorts reality, and that’s the point of it.
It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw. ”

“Knowingness is sexy. The opposite of sexy is naivete.”

“The main symptom of falling in love is that you lose your intellectual prowess.”

“Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not possibly have


“Should you be a teenager blessed with uncommon good looks, document this state of affairs by the taking
of photographs. It is the only way anyone will ever believe you in years to come.”

“What’s the point of being young if you’re not going to make new things, I wonder?”

“Humility is no substitute for a good personality.”

“If you are truly serious abut preparing your child for the future, don’t teach him to subtract teach him to deduct.”

“Any child who cannot do long division by himself does not deserve to smoke.”

“Did it ever occur to anyone that if you put nice libraries in public schools you wouldn’t have to put them in prisons?”

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“To me the outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab.”

“Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one’s home.   When it is necessary, however, to go out of the house,
they must be prepared, as I am, to deal with the unpleasant personal habits of others. That is what “public” means.”

“You can’t go around hoping that most people have sterling moral characters. The most you can hope for is that people
will pretend that they do.”

“Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.”

“Life is something that happens when you can’t get to sleep.”

“I love sleep because it is both pleasant and safe to use. Pleasant because one is in the best possible company and safe
because sleep is the consummate protection against the unseemliness that is the invariable consequence of being awake.
What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Sleep is death without the responsibility.”


Peter Hujar,Fran Lebowitz at home, Morristown, 1974


“Perhaps the least cheering statement ever made on the subject of art is that life imitates it.”

“Rome is a very loony city in every respect. One needs but spend an hour or two there to realize that Fellini makes

“Ever since I was a little child, I refused to see movies of books that I loved. Because you already know what Heidi looks like
and she doesn’t look like Shirley Temple.”

“Now the culture is made of old things, it’s a collage. Art made out of art is not art. You’re supposed to make art out of life.”

“People always say “pop culture.” As if we have some high culture to distinguish it from.”


“Albert Einstein didn’t care where he lived. Albert Einstein was a genius. Albert Einstein wasn’t getting lost in the
master bedroom, he was lost in thought.”

“I do not believe in God. I believe in cashmere.”

“I don’t believe in anything you have to believe in.”

“You do not have to be a genius to get rich. You have to be ruthless to get rich.”

“No one earns $100 million. You steal $100 million.”

“Americans do not hate the rich; they want to be them. Every American believes that they are the impending rich,
and that will never change.”

“Generally speaking, the poorer person summers where he winters.”

Fran Lebowitz

Frances Ann “Fran” Lebowitz (b.1950) After being expelled from high school and receiving a GED, Lebowitz worked various odd jobs before Andy Warhol hired her as a columnist for Interview. This was followed by a stint at Mademoiselle.  Her first two books were the essay collections Metropolitan Life (1978) and Social Studies (1981). Lebowitz has been known, in part, for Exterior Signs of Wealth, a long-overdue, unfinished novel, purportedly about rich people who want to be artists, and artists
who want to be rich.

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