Thursday, October 29, 2015

All the Money You'll Ever Need

The noted playwright Robert Anderson once wrote, "You can make a killing as a playwright in America, but you can't make a living" (for that, he stooped to screenwriting).

While crowdfunding could put an end to "starving artists," no amount of money will spare us sniveling ones.

At grad school, I worked for a professor who counted among his friends many renowned intellectuals.

One day, he invited me to join him and a neighbor for lunch in his home. 

The neighbor turned out to be best-selling novelist Herman Wouk

I thought our lunch conversation might revolve around love and war. But Wouk spent most of the 90 minutes kvetching about the sum ABC had just paid him for the rights to make The Winds of War into a TV epic. (Wouk lived in a stately townhouse in Georgetown, but still resented the fact that stars Robert Mitchum and Ali McGraw received more money than he.)

On another day, my professor recounted a visit he'd made to the posh Left Bank apartment of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Instead of discussing his Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sartre spent the whole hour griping about his royalties.

When it comes to money, even giants in the humanities can feel discontent. 

"Money isn't everything," novelist Lillian Day wrote. "Your health is the other ten percent."

Or as comedian Henny Youngman said, "I've got all the money I'll ever need. If I die by four o'clock."
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