Isaac Davis: All the times I come over here, I can't understand how you can prefer her to me.
Jill: You can't understand that?
Isaac Davis: No. It's a mystery to me.
Jill: Well, you knew my history when you married me.
Isaac Davis: I know. My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful that I got another analyst.
Isaac Davis: Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Wilie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face...
[music: the opening of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Voiceover]
Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street smart guys who seemed to know all the angles. Ah, corny, too corny for, you know, my taste. Let me, let me try and make it more profound.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. To him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in - no, it's gonna be too preachy, I mean, you know, let's face it, I wanna sell some books here.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. Although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage - too angry. I don't want to be angry.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. Oh, I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be.
Isaac Davis: I don't get angry. Okay? I mean, I have a tendency to internalize. I can't express anger. That's one of the problems I have. I grow a tumor instead.
Isaac Davis: I'm old fashioned. I don't believe in extra-marital relationships. I think people should mate for life - like pigeons or Catholics.
Yale: You are so self-righteous, you know. I mean we're just people. We're just human beings, you know? You think you're God.
Isaac Davis: I... I gotta model myself after someone.
Isaac Davis: I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion.
[On her ex-husband]
Mary Wilke: I was tired of submerging my identity to a very brilliant, dominating man. He's a genius.
Isaac Davis: Oh really, he was a genius, Helen's a genius and Dennis is a genius. You know a lot of geniuses, y'know. You should meet some stupid people once in a while, y'know, you could learn something.
Isaac Davis: You know what you are? You're God's answer to Job, y'know? You would have ended all argument between them. I mean, He would have pointed to you and said, y'know, "I do a lot of terrible things, but I can still make one of these." You know? And then Job would have said, "Eh. Yeah, well, you win."
Isaac Davis: It's an interesting group of people, your friends are.
Mary Wilke: I know.
Isaac Davis: Like the cast of a Fellini movie.
Mary Wilke: [reading aloud from Issac's wife's memoir] "He was given to fits of rage, Jewish liberal paranoia, male chauvinism, self-righteous misanthropy, and nihilistic moods of despair. He had complaints about life but never any solutions. He longed to be an artist but balked at the necessary sacrifices. In his most private moments, he spoke of his fear of death, which he elevated to tragic heights when in fact it was mere narcissism."
Mary Wilke: Facts?I got a million facts at my fingertips.
Isaac Davis: That's right, and they don't mean a thing, right? Because nothing worth knowing can be understood with the mind. Everything really valuable has to enter you through a different opening, if you'll forgive the disgusting imagery.
Party Guest: I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind.
Isaac Davis: You had the wrong kind? I've never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.
Isaac Davis: I got a kid, he's being raised by two women at the moment.
Mary Wilke: Oh, y'know, I mean I think that works. Uh, they made some studies, I read in one of the psychoanalytic quarterlies. You don't need a male, I mean. Two mothers are absolutely fine.
Isaac Davis: Really? Because I always feel very few people survive one mother.
Tracy: Let's fool around, it'll take your mind off it.
Isaac Davis: Hey, how many times a night can you, how, how often can you make love in an evening?
Tracy: Well, a lot.
Isaac Davis: Yeah! I can tell, a lot. That's, well, a lot is my favorite number.
Tracy: I'll be back in six months.
Isaac Davis: Six months are you kidding? Six months you're gonna go for?
Tracy: We've gone this long, well what's six months if we still love each other?
Isaac Davis: Hey, don't be so mature, okay? I mean, six months is a long time! Six months, you know you're gonna be, you'll be in, in, in, in the th - working in a theater there, you'll be with actors and directors, you kno w you're, you know, you go to rehearsal, and you, you hang out with those people, you have lunch a lot, and, and, before you even know it attachments form and, and, you know, I mean, you, you don't want to be get into that kind a, I mean, you, you'll change. You know, you'll be, you'll be, in six months you'll be a completely different person.
Tracy: Well, don't you want me to have that experience? I mean a while ago you made such a convincing case.
Isaac Davis: Ye, yeah of course I do, you know, but you - you know, you, I mean you, I, I just don't want - that thing about you that I like to change.
Tracy: I've got to make a plane.
Isaac Davis: C'mon, you don't - c'mon. You don't, you don't have to - go.
Tracy: Why couldn't you have brought this up last week? Six months isn't so long. Not everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people.
Isaac Davis: You honestly think that I tried to run you over?
Connie: You just happened to hit the gas as I walked in front of the car?
Isaac Davis: Did I do it on purpose?
Jill: Well, what would Freud say?
Isaac Davis: Freud would say I really wanted to run her over, that's why he was a genius.
Yale: It's just gossip, you know. Gossip is the new pornography.
Mary Wilke: I'm honest, whaddya want? I say what's on my mind and, if you can't take it, well then fuck off!
Isaac Davis: And I like the way you express yourself too, y'know, it's pithy yet degenerate. You get many dates?
Isaac Davis: What are you telling me, that you're going to leave Emily, is this true, and run away with the winner of the Zelda Fitzgerald emotional maturity award?
Yale: Look, I love her, I've always loved her.
Isaac Davis: What kind of crazy friend are you?
Yale: I'm a good friend! I introduced her to you, remember?
Isaac Davis: Right, what was the point? I don't understand that!
Yale: Well, I thought you liked her?
Isaac Davis: Yes, I do like her, now we both like her!
Yale: Yeah, well I liked her first!
Isaac Davis: I liked her first? What are you, six years old? Jeezus!
Yale: Look, I thought it was over. I mean, would I have encouraged you to take her out if I still liked her?
Isaac Davis: So, what, you like her, now you don't like her, then you did like her, you know it's still early, you can change your mind one more time before dinner!
Yale: Don't get sarcastic about this. You think I like this?
Isaac Davis: How long were you going to see her without saying anything to me?
Yale: Don't turn this into one of your big moral issues!
Isaac Davis: You could have said, but all you had to do was call me and talk to me. You know, I'm very understanding. I'd have said no, but you'd have felt honest!
Yale: I wanted to tell you about it, I knew it was going to upset you! We had a few innocent meetings.
Isaac Davis: A few? She said one! You guys should get your story straight, you know. Don't you rehearse?
Yale: We met twice for coffee.
Isaac Davis: Hey come off it, she doesn't drink coffee! What'd you do, meet for Sanka? That's not too romantic, you know, it's a little on the geriatric side.
Yale: Well, I'm not a saint, okay.
Isaac Davis: But, you're too easy on yourself! Don't you see that? That's your problem, that's your whole problem. You rationalize everything, you're not honest with yourself. You talk about, you want to write a book, but in the end you'd rather buy the Porsche, you know. Or, you cheat a little bit on Emily and you play around the truth a little with me, and next thing you know, you're in front of a Senate committee and you're naming names, you're informing on your friends!
Yale: You are so self righteous, you know. We're just people! We're just human beings, you know. You think you're God!
Isaac Davis: I gotta model myself after someone!
Isaac Davis: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Y'know, I read this in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, y'know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them.
Party Guest: There is this devastating satirical piece on that on the Op Ed page of the Times, it is devastating.
Isaac Davis: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point.
Mary Wilke: Well tell me, why did you get a divorce?
Isaac Davis: Why? I got a divorce because my ex-wife left me for another woman.
Mary Wilke: Really? God, that must have been really demoralizing.
Isaac Davis: Well, I dunno, I thought I took it rather well under the circumstances. I tried to run them both over with a car.
Isaac Davis: My book is about decaying values. It's about, you see, years ago I wrote a short story about my mother called, 'The Castrating Zionist,' and I want to expand it into a novel.
Isaac Davis: Plus I'll probably have to give my parents less money. It'll kill my father. He's not gonna be able to get as good a seat in the synagogue. He'll be in the back, away from God, far from the action.
[Looking at old meat]
Isaac Davis: Corn beef should not be blue
Isaac Davis: No, I didn't read the piece on China's faceless masses, I was, I was checking out the lingerie ads.
Party Guest: Oh,but really biting satire is always better than physical force.
Isaac Davis: No,physical force is always better with Nazis.
Isaac Davis: You certainly fooled me.
Mary Wilke: What do you mean?
Isaac Davis: I mean, I was shocked. 'cause that's not what - this is not what I expected.
Mary Wilke: What did you expect?
Isaac Davis: I don't know. You said you, you know, you had always led me to - I uh - you said that, that he was a great ladies' man.
Mary Wilke: Yeah.
Isaac Davis: And that he opened you up sexually...
Mary Wilke: So? So?
Isaac Davis: So I - you know, and then this little homunculus is here.
Mary Wilke: [sneers]
Isaac Davis: Really? Well, see you know
Isaac Davis: - I, it's, I - It's amazing how subjective all that stuff is.
Tracy: Let's fool around. Let's do it some strange way that you've always wanted to, but nobody would do with you.
Isaac Davis: This is so antiseptic. It's empty. Why do you think this is funny? You're going by audience reaction? This is an audience that's raised on television, their standards have been systematically lowered over the years. These guys sit in front of their sets and the gamma rays eat the white cells of their brains out!
Isaac Davis: She's 17. I'm 42 and she's 17. I'm older than her father, can you believe that? I'm dating a girl, wherein, I can beat up her father.
Isaac Davis: So what does, what does your analyst say? I mean, did you speak to him?
Mary Wilke: Well, Donny's in a coma, he had a very bad acid experience.
Pizzeria Waiter: Who ordered the green peppers? Was that you? Must've been. Anchovies, sausage, mushrooms, garlic and green peppers.
Isaac Davis: Forgot the coconut.
Mary Wilke: Don't psychoanalyze me. I pay a doctor for that.
Isaac Davis: Hey, you call that guy that you talk to a doctor? I mean, you don't get suspicious when your analyst calls you at home at three in the morning and weeps into the telephone?
Mary Wilke: All right, so he's unorthodox. He's a highly qualified doctor.
Isaac Davis: He's done a great job on you, y'know. Your self esteem is like a notch below Kafka's.
Isaac Davis: This is shaping up like a Noel Coward play. You know, somebody should go out and make some martinis.
Yale: You know we have to stop seeing each other, don't you.
Mary Wilke: Oh, yeah. Right. Right. I understand. I could tell by the sound of your voice on the phone. Very authoritative, y'know. Like the pope, or the computer in 2001.
Isaac Davis: I give the whole thing... four weeks. That's it.
Mary Wilke: I, I can't plan that far in advance.
Isaac Davis: You can't plan four weeks in advance?
Mary Wilke: No!
Isaac Davis: What kind of foresight is that?
Isaac Davis: The steel cube was brilliant?
Mary Wilke: Yes. To me it was very textual, you know what I mean? It was perfectly integrated, and it had a marvelous kind of negative capability. The rest of the stuff downstairs was bullshit.
Mary Wilke: Isn't it beautiful out?
Isaac Davis: Yeah, it's really so pretty when the light starts to come up.
Mary Wilke: Yeah, I know. I love it.
Isaac Davis: Boy, this is really a great city, I don't care what anybody s-s - it's really a knock-out, you know?
Mary Wilke: What are you thinking?
Isaac Davis: I dunno, I was just thinking. There must be something wrong with me, because I've never had a relationship with a woman that's lasted longer than the one between Hitler and Eva Braun.
Isaac Davis: Don't stare at me with those big eyes. Geez, you look like one of those barefoot kids from Boliva who needs foster parents.
Isaac Davis: Look at this. It's brown water. I'm paying $700 a month. I got rats with bongos and a frog. And I got brown water here. Look at this.
Isaac Davis: I think that, under my personal vibrations, I could put her life in some kind of good order.
Yale: Yeah, that's what you said about Jill, and under your personal vibrations she went from bisexuality to homosexuality.
Isaac Davis: Yeah, but I gave her the old college try.
Isaac Davis: They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism.
Mary Wilke: I guess I should straighten my life out, huh? I mean, Donnie my analyst is always telling me...
Isaac Davis: You call your analyst Donnie?
Mary Wilke: Yeah, I call him Donnie.
Isaac Davis: Donnie, your analyst? I call mine Dr. Chomsky, y'know, he hits me with a ruler.
Isaac Davis: [after reading his Jill's book about their relationship] I came here to strangle you!
Jill: Nothing I wrote was untrue.
Isaac Davis: You make me out to be Lee Harvey Oswald!
Jill: It's an honest account.
Isaac Davis: Hit the lights. Go ahead, turn 'em out again. We'll trade fours.
Yale: You just can't live the way you do, you know? It's all so perfect.
Isaac: What are future generations gonna say about us? My god, you know someday we're gonna
[Isaac points to a hanging skeleton]
Isaac: we're gonna be like him! I mean, he was probably one of the BEAUTIFUL people. He was probably dancing and playing tennis and everything. And now look: this is what happens to us. You know, it's very important to have some kind of personal integrity, you know? I'll be hanging in a classroom one day, and I want to make sure when I thin out, that I'm... well-thought of.
Mary Wilke: [reading aloud from Issac's wife's memoir] He was given to fits of rage, Jewish liberal paranoia, male chauvinism, self-righteous misanthropy, and nihilistic moods of despair. He had complaints about life but never any solutions. He longed to be an artist but balked at the necessary sacrifices. In his most private moments, he spoke of his fear of death, which he elevated to tragic heights when in fact it was mere narcissism.
Mary Wilke: [reading aloud from Issac's wife's memoir] 'He was given to fits of rage, Jewish liberal paranoia, male chauvinism, self-righteous misanthropy, and nihilistic moods of despair. He had complaints about life but never any solutions. He longed to be an artist but balked at the necessary sacrifices. In his most private moments, he spoke of his fear of death, which he elevated to tragic heights when in fact it was mere narcissism.'
Isaac Davis: You shouldn't ask me for advice. I - when it comes to relationships with women, I'm the winner of the August Strindberg Award.
Yale: I think the essence of art is to provide a kind of working through the situation for people, you know, so that you can get in touch with feelings that you didn't know you had.
Isaac Davis: Talent is luck.
Yale: What about Isaac? We can't abandon him, you know? He can't function anywhere other than New York, you know that. Very Freudian.
Isaac Davis: Don't write this book. It's a humiliating experience.
Jill: It's an honest account of our break-up.
Isaac Davis: Jesus, everybody that knows us is gonna know everything.
Jill: Look at you. You're so threatened.
Isaac Davis: Hey, I'm not threatened. Because, of the two of us, I was not the immoral, psychotic, promiscuous one. I hope I didn't leave out anything.
Isaac Davis: You don't wanna get hung up with one person at your age. It's - charming, you know. Erotic. No question about that. As long as the cops don't burst in, we're - I think we're gonna break a couple of records.
Isaac Davis: We're having a great time and all that, but you're a kid and I never want you to forget that. You know, you're gonna meet a lot of terrific men in your life and, you know, I want you to enjoy me. My - my wry sense of humor and astonishing sexual technique, but never forget that, you know, you've got your whole life ahead of you.
Isaac Davis: How's Willie?
Isaac Davis: Well, give me some details, will you. What do you mean "fine"? Does he play baseball? Wear dresses? What?
Isaac Davis: Tomorrow we'll go to the Bleeker Street Cinema and I'll show you the Veronica Lake movie. Okay?
Tracy: Veronica Lake's the pin-up with the red hair?
Isaac Davis: No, that's Rita Hayworth. How many - do we have to go over this all the time?
Tracy: Rita who?
Isaac Davis: Rita Hayworth. Are you joking with me? I mean, I don't know when you're teasing.
Tracy: Of course I'm joking! You think I'm unaware of any event pre-Paul McCartney or something.
Mary Wilke: Don't you see? Don't you guys see? That it is the dignifying of one's psychological and sexual hang-ups by attaching them to these grandiose, philosophical issues? That's what it is.
Isaac Davis: Bergman's the only genius in cinema today, I think.
Yale: He's a big Bergman fan.
Mary Wilke: God, you're so the opposite! I mean, you write that absolutely fabulous television show. It's brilliantly funny and his view is so Scandinavian. It's bleak, my God! I mean, all that Kierkegaard, right? Real adolescent, you know, fashionable pessimism. I mean, the silence. God's silence. Okay, okay, okay. I mean, I loved it when I was at Radcliffe, but, I mean, all right, you outgrow it. You absolutely outgrow it.
Isaac Davis: You should think of me sort of as a detour on the highway of life.
Mary Wilke: They're such schmucks up there. Really mired in Thirties radicalism. What do you do, Tracy?
Tracy: I go to high school.
Mary Wilke: Oh, really. Really. Somewhere Nabokov is smiling, if you know what I mean.
Yale: I think LeWitt's overrated. In fact, he may be a candidate for the Overrated Academy.
Mary Wilke: Oh, that's right.
Yale: Mary and I have invented the Academy of the Overrated.
Mary Wilke: For such people as...
Yale: For such notables as - Gustav Mahler.
Mary Wilke: And Isak Dinesen and Carl Jung.
Yale: F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Mary Wilke: Lenny Bruce. We can't forget Lenny Bruce, now, can we? How about Norman Mailer?
Isaac Davis: I think those people are all terrific. Everyone that you mentioned.
Tracy: Is she Yale's mistress?
Isaac Davis: That will never cease to mystify me. I mean, he's got a wonderful wife and he prefers to - to diddle this yo-yo. You know, but he was always a sucker for those kind of women. You know, the kind that would involve him in discussions of existential reality, you know. They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce "allegorical" and "didacticism".
Mary Wilke: Listen, I gotta get my dog. You wanna wait? I gotta walk it. Or, are you in rush or something like that?
Isaac Davis: Oh, no, sure. What kind of dog you got?
Mary Wilke: The worst. It's a dachshund. You know, it's a penis substitute for me.
Isaac Davis: Oh, I would have thought that in your case a Great Dane.
Mary Wilke: Oh, what is pretty anyway? I mean, I hate being pretty. It's all so subjective anyway. I mean, the brightest men just drop dead in front of a beautiful face. And the minute you climb into the sack, if you're the least bit giving, they're so grateful.
Isaac Davis: Yeah, I know I am.
Isaac Davis: What a creep! Could you believe her? I mean she was really...
Tracy: She seemed real nervous.
Isaac Davis: Nervous? She was overbearing. She was, you know, terrible! She was all cerebral. You know, where the hell does a little Radcliffe tootsie come off rating F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gustav Mahler and then Heinrich Böll?
Tracy: I don't understand why you're getting so mad?
Isaac Davis: I'm mad because I don't like that pseudo-intellectual garbage. "Van Goch!" Did you hear that? She said "Van Goch." Like an Arab she spoke. If she had made one more remark about Bergman, I would have knocked her other contact lens out.
Mary Wilke: Hey, listen, I don't even wanna have this conversation. I'm really, I'm just from Philadelphia, you know. I mean, we believe in God so... okay?
Isaac Davis: What the hell does that mean?
Mary Wilke: Can't you hold me? Does your love for me always have to express itself sexually? What about other values like warmth and spiritual contact? Hotel, right? Jesus, I'm a pushover!
Mary Wilke: You think I have no feelings? Is that it?
Isaac Davis: Hey, what? You're so sensitive, Jesus! I never said that. I think you're - I think you're terrific. Really, you know. I - I - you're very insecure. I think you're wonderful, really.
Mary Wilke: Where would we be without rational thought?
Isaac Davis: I don't know. You - you - you - you rely too much on your brain. The brain is the most overrated organ, I think.
Mary Wilke: I know. You probably think I'm too cerebral.
Isaac Davis: Well, you are, you know, kind of on the brainy side.
Mary Wilke: Oh, God, was he brilliant. I was so crazy about him. Really opened me up sexually. Taught me everything. Women found him devastating!
Isaac Davis: Really? You married your - your teacher?
Mary Wilke: Yeah, of course.
Isaac Davis: That's very, very...
Mary Wilke: Well, I listen to that, he failed me and I fell in love with him.
Isaac Davis: Oh, that's perfect.
Mary Wilke: Perfect, right? Yeah, I was sleeping with him and he had the nerve to give me an F !
Tracy: I'm not hung up on you. I'm in love with you.
Isaac Davis: You *can't* be in love with me. We've been over this. You're a kid. You don't know what love means. I don't know what it means. Nobody out there knows what the hell's going on.
Isaac Davis: You see, to me a great movie is with W.C. Fields. That's what I like. Or "Grand Illusion". That's - I see that every time it's on television, if I'm aware of it.
Tracy: I like it when you get an uncontrollable urge.
Isaac Davis: Yeah, I know, it's my best feature. My boyish impetuosity.
Mary Wilke: I've got too many problems. I'm just really not the person to get involved with. I'm trouble!
Isaac Davis: Hey, honey, Trouble is my middle name.
Mary Wilke: [laughs] What are you saying?
Isaac Davis: It is. Actually, my middle name is Mortimer.
Mary Wilke: My problem is I'm both attracted and repelled by the male organ. So, you know, it doesn't make for very good relationships with men.
Mary Wilke: What the hell am I doing in this relationship anyway? My phone never stops ringing. I could go to bed with the entire faculty of M.I.T., if I wanted to. It's just - I don't know. I'm wasting myself on a married man, so I don't know.
Tracy: We have laughs together. I care about you. Your concerns are my concerns. We have great sex!
Isaac Davis: You're - you're - But, you're 17 years old.
Emily: Is this true? Did you make love with Jill and a woman?
Isaac Davis: She put that in? Christ! She wanted to, I think. You know, I didn't wanna be a bad sport.
Mary Wilke: Jeremiah, my ex-husband, he was just this oversexed, brilliant kind of animal.
Isaac Davis: Hey, what am I? Grandma Moses?
Jill: I wrote some nice things about you.
Isaac Davis: Like what? What?
Jill: Like what? Like you cry when you see "Gone With The Wind".
Isaac Davis: An idea for a short story about, um, people in Manhattan who are constantly creating these real, unnecessary, neurotic problems for themselves because it keeps them from dealing with more unsolvable, terrifying problems about - the universe.
Emily: Well, I don't think 17 is too young. Beside that, she's a bright girl.
Yale: You'll get no argument from me. I think she's terrific. He could do a lot worse. He has done a lot worse. I just think he's wasting his life. You know, he writes that crap for television.
Isaac Davis: She's got homework. I'm dating a girl who does homework.
Mary Wilke: It's a no-win situation. It's just - I'm beautiful and I'm bright and I deserve better!
Mary Wilke: I'm a beautiful woman. I'm - I'm young. I'm highly intelligent. I got everything going for me. The point - the point is that - I don't know, I'm all fucked up. I'm just - shit!