Tag Archives: A.J. Liebling

Placebo Effect

‘When I got tired of talking to the other passengers, I thought about women. I frequently do this for hours without becoming bored; they are much pleasanter than sheep to think of when you are trying to fall asleep.  Thinking about women also makes you insensible to mild fright or minor discomforts.  Once I was sleeping with another fellow under a pup tent in a rainstorm in Tunisia and at about two o’clock in the morning he woke me up.  I said, “What’s up?” and he said, “The tent’s just blown away.”  The rain had turned to a cloudburst, and my blankets were soaked through.  I got into the front seat of a jeep and wrapped the wet blankets around me.  The top and windshield afforded some help, but the water lashed in from both sides.  I thought about women for four and a half hours and never caught a cold.’

~ A.J. Liebling, The Road Back to Paris

Image: Mata Hari, 1905

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Marginalia, no.52

By then I had only an hour or so to catch the plane, so I began to curse, which I do well.  The secret of good cursing lies in cadence, emphasis, and antiphony.  The basic themes are always the same.  Conscious striving after variety is not to be encouraged, because it takes your mind off your cursing.

~ A.J. Liebling, The Road Back to Paris

No true master ever failed to respect the rules that govern his art.  It’s the negative space within the frame that gives shape and power to the portrait, damn it.

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