Quoth the writer evermore . . .

THERE are a handful of things in this world that both impress and perplex me at the same time.

The Rolling Stones are one. The songs are great but do they not realise how ridiculous they look tottering across the stage in their late 60s?

The Chinese Government is another. What on earth are they doing with all that iron ore?

But number one on my list are a group of people who are both highly literate and possess an excellent memory.

Like a fish who has evolved to only survive in a particular reef, they inhabit the rarefied world of newspapers, radio programs and television shows.

I’m talking about those unique, and sometimes annoying individuals who, have a clever literary quotation for every situation.

Writing about Tom and Katie’s divorce for Fairfax this week, Warwick McFadyen felt the need to quote Wooster and Jeeves author P.G. Wodehouse.

Did he have that quote on his desk calendar and thought “that’s clever, I should use that one day?” Or did the mere subject of wacky Hollywood cults  remind him of a twee 20th Century British humourist. How does he make that connection?

Or writer Naomi Wolf who mentioned poem by 19th century novelist Virginia Woolf in an article in the Guardian newspaper in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Now I had to read Virginia in university and I can safely say I have forgotten most of it. And the last thing that would make me cry “Woolf!” was some slighly creepy computer hacker from Brisbane.

While I am stunned at their level of recall, I also envy that ability, like a more lucid version of Dustin Hoffman is Rain Man.

I can’t reel off pithy Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde witticisms to impress people at the dinner parties I don’t have because I live with my in-laws.

If I want to seem clever, I have to bloody work at it. Occassionally when  writing I half remember a line by Banjo Patterson that seems vaguely relevant and I consider using like a literary version of a silicon implants to augment my work.

So then I have to spend ages flicking through books and googling what I think the quote is, only to find it was actually from those Australian tourism ads Paul Hogan did in the 1980s.

And what is filling up my brain if it’s not the complete works of William Shakespeare? Unfortunately for my delusions of grandeur, it’s mostly TV shows and pop song lyrics.

Every episode of Friends and the Simpsons dating back to 1996 is stored on the hard drive of my mind. I can also quote the works of Jacksons both Peter and Michael verbatim. I know who put the bomp in the bomp, bomp, bomp as well as what love has got to do with it.

Maybe it’s because I have spent half my life with the internet, mobile phones and Foxtel that my capacity to retain information has waned due to too much stimulation.

Perhaps these quotation savants simply come from a different era with so little to do they had to read books over and over until they carried them in their head.

Or they may just be cleverer than me. Actually, that sounds right. Sorry to have wasted your time. I’ll go back to my Family Guy DVDs.


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