Liberal Arts (2012)
Zibby: [about vampire novel] I liked it. It was fun and stupid. And it passed the time. And it's not Tolstoy, but it's also not television. And it made me happy. Now you...
Jesse Fisher: Thank you... This - is the worst book - ever - written - in English.
Zibby: So there are worse books written in other languages?
Jesse Fisher: Probably not. Unless this book is translated into other languages.
Nat: Want some good news?
Jesse Fisher: Yes, please.
Nat: Caterpillars... give me my hat... they're just scooping along, right? Being caterpillars. At some point, these cells show up, called imaginal cells. Scientists don't know where they come from or why they appear. These imaginal cells show up inside the caterpillar and say: "Get psyched, caterpillar! It's butterfly-turning-into time!" And what do all the other caterpillars do once these imaginal cells show up?
Jesse Fisher: I have no idea.
Nat: They attack 'em! Try to kill 'em! They're, like: "Screw you, imaginal cells. We're happy being a caterpillar. Get lost!" But eventually, the imaginal cells keep growing and overtake the destiny of the caterpillar. They will be in this cocoon! And then guess what happens next?
Jesse Fisher: The caterpillar turns into a butterfly.
Nat: [repeats him excitedly] The caterpillar turns into a butterfly!
Jesse Fisher: That's awesome.
Nat: I know it is!
Jesse Fisher: Yeah, that's good.
Nat: And that is why there is no reason to be afraid. Because everything is okay.
Jesse Fisher: Yeah, I don't know if I believe that.
Nat: It has to be true. There can be no other way.
Prof. Peter Hoberg: Any place you don't leave is a prison.
Prof. Peter Hoberg: You know how old I am?
Jesse Fisher: No, how old are you?
Prof. Peter Hoberg: It's none of your goddamn business. Do you know how old I feel like I am?
Jesse Fisher: [shrugs]
Prof. Peter Hoberg: 19. Since I was 19, I have never felt not 19. But I shave my face, and I look in the mirror, and I'm forced to say, "This is not a 19-year-old staring back at me."
Prof. Peter Hoberg: Teaching here all these years, I've had to be very clear with myself, that even when I'm surrounded by 19-year-olds, and I may have felt 19, I'm not 19 anymore. You follow me?
Jesse Fisher: Yeah.
Prof. Peter Hoberg: Nobody feels like an adult. It's the world's dirty secret.
Zibby: So, what was your major?
Jesse Fisher: I was English, with a minor in history, just to make sure I was fully unemployable.
Jesse Fisher: I believe in consequences.
Zibby: No, you believe in guilt.
Jesse Fisher: Maybe. But guilt before we act is called morality.
Jesse Fisher: I think one of the things I loved the most about being here was the feeling that anything was possible. It's just infinite choices ahead of you. You'd get out of school, and anything could happen. And then you do get out, and... life happens, you know'? Decisions get made. And then all those many choices you had in front of you are no longer really there. At a certain point, you just got to go, "Oh, I guess this is new its going down." And there's just something a little depressing about that.
Jesse Fisher: [in his letter] Grace, I realized, is neither time- nor place-dependent. All we need is the right soundtrack.
Jesse Fisher: Don't be a genius who dies young. Be one who dies old. Being old is cool. Grow old, and die old. It's a better arc.
Ana: I love books. I do in, like, the dorkiest way possible.
Jesse Fisher: Oh, me too. It's a problem.
Ana: Like, I love trees cause they give us books.
Jesse Fisher: super cool of the trees to do that, Right?
Ana: I'm actually... this is weird. I'm actually trying to read less.
Jesse Fisher: Why?
Ana: I felt like I wasn't watching enough television. No, l just started to feel like reading about life was taking time away from actually living life, so I'm trying to, like, accept invitations to things,say "hi" to the world a little more.
Jesse Fisher: That sounds scary. It's going well?
Ana: It's... okay. I keep thinking I'd be so much happier in bed with a book, and that makes me feel not super cool. I still read tons. I just feel like I'm more aware of a book's limitations. Does that make sense?
Jesse Fisher: Yeah, totally.
Jesse Fisher: You know, he said the purpose of fiction was to combat loneliness.
Dean: That's good. I never heard that.
Jesse Fisher: Yeah. Well, on the other hand, spending most of your time with an 1,100-page book tends to put a dent in your social life.
Dean: Yeah. Loneliness simultaneously increased and decreased.
Zibby: Try not to over-think things, okay?
Jesse Fisher: Ah, you're talking to the wrong guy.
Zibby: Well, look. We connect really well, don't you think?
Jesse Fisher: We do, yeah. I just can't figure out if it's because you're advanced, or because I'm stunted.
Zibby: It's because I'm advanced.
Jesse Fisher: Maybe. But I'm also a little stunted.
Jesse Fisher: Dear Zibby. Even after all these months, I'm still half expecting a letter from you to be sitting in my mailbox. I'm sure you have little left to say to me at this point, but your letters are very much missed. I know I hurt you, and I'm sorry. Any bone headed moves that may have lead to confusion were not malice. That said, I've been feeling lately the stirrings of something I can only call growth. It's a tribute of sorts to say that someone sixteen years my junior helped me to finally start acting my age. A wise man in a red hat once told me: "Everything is okay." I didn't believe him then, but for some reason I'm starting to.
Nat: Is your name... Ethan?
Jesse Fisher: No, why?
Nat: You look like an Ethan to me.
Jesse Fisher: My name's not Ethan.
Nat: How cool would that be, if that was your name and I just, like, knew it?
Nat: Are you a student here?
Jesse Fisher: Uh, no, but thank you for thinking that. You?
Nat: Nah, man. Just here visiting a buddy of mine. It's not a bad place to kill a little time, huh? I'm Nat.
Jesse Fisher: I'm Jesse.
Nat: Do you hear that music, Ethan?
Jesse Fisher: The other day I was crossing the street, lost in my head about something - a not uncommon state of affairs. I was listening to the overture and as the music began to swell I suddenly realized that: I had hands. And legs, and a torso, and that I was surrounded by people and cars. It's hard to explain exactly what happened, but I felt in that moment that the divine - however we may choose to define such a thing - surely dwells as much in the concrete and taxi cabs as it does in the rivers, lakes, and mountains. Grace, I realized, is neither time nor place dependent. All we need is the right soundtrack.
Zibby: I sometimes feel like I'm looking down on myself. Like there's this older, wiser me watching over this 19-year-old rough draft, who's full of all this potential, but has to live more to catch up with that other self somehow. And, uh, I know I'll get there. It's just sometimes I think I want to rush the process, you know? And I don't know, maybe, um - maybe I thought you were some sort of shortcut. Does that make any sense?
Jesse Fisher: If I wrote you, I would be like, "This is the best rough draft ever."
Dean: I just can't get around the fact that I'm, like, aggressively unhappy here.
Jesse Fisher: What is that? What are you drinking?
Nat: H to the 2 to the O. You should have some. Gotta stay hydrated.
Jesse Fisher: [drinks some from his bottle] Thanks.
[Nat starts to do weird rituals while he touches Jesse's body. Jesse initially looks freaked]
Nat: You with me, bro?
[there is a change in Jesse's facial look as he realizes that he likes Nat]
Jesse Fisher: I like you, Nat. Thanks for being my friend.
Nat: Easiest thing in the world.
Jesse Fisher: I enjoyed this. I'm off.
Nat: You go get her, man.
Jesse Fisher: Huh... Okay.
Nat: Be love, man. Be love!
Zibby: How can you hate something if you've never read it? I mean, isn't that like what repressive regimes do? You want to burn books you don't like?
Jesse Fisher: I feel different now than I felt when I was here, and I hate to break this to you, but so will you.
Zibby: So you're saying things suck? I should prepare myself for suckiness?
Jesse Fisher: No, a liberal arts education solves all your problems.
Zibby: Thank God!
Jesse Fisher: So maybe you want to get away from these books and walk somewhere?
Ana: Yeah, okay.
Jesse Fisher: Really?
Ana: Sure let's do it.
Jesse Fisher: Great.
Jesse Fisher: And feel free to invite your husband or boyfriend.
Ana: They're both pretty busy right now, so...
Jesse Fisher: Probably just be us, then.
Nat: Do you drink coffee?
Nat: What? That's crazy! So does my friend here. You two, tomorrow. Schhp... coffee.
Zibby: Yeah, I could do that. Are you in too?
Jesse Fisher: Um, I...
[Nat gives him a boost]
Jesse Fisher: Uh, yeah, that'd be... that's great. Nine o'clock okay?
Zibby: [laughs, then realizes] Oh, you're serious? Is, uh, 11:30 okay...?
Jesse Fisher: Uh, yeah... yeah, that works...
Zibby: It doesn't bother me.
Jesse Fisher: Well, it bothers me.
Zibby: Well, it shouldn't. Age is a stupid thing to obsess over. What if reincarnation is real, huh? Think about that, What if I am like thousands of years older than you?
Jesse Fisher: Okay, that's not really a sound argument.
Zibby: Why not?
Jesse Fisher: Because it's like saying what if reality is all an illusion, then there are no consequences to anything, we're completely off the hook... and I believe in consequences.
Zibby: No, you believe in guilt.
Jesse Fisher: Maybe, but guilt before we act is called morality.
Ana: I want to be an old lady with long, gray hair in a ponytail.
Jesse Fisher: I can see it. You're still foxy. You still got it. That's what they're gonna say about you. "She's still got it."
Ana: They're saying it now. And I want a really, really wrinkly face.
Ana: And a small house, maybe by some water. I think getting old could be really nice.
Jesse Fisher: You know, high school to college, it can be a big transition, especially if you're not from the city, so - so we try yo help out with that transition, in a number of ways.
Jesse Fisher: You *are* the same Judith Fairfield I took British Romantic literature from?
Prof. Judith Fairfield: From *whom* I took British Romantic literature literature.