Isaac Davis: My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful 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 can't express anger. That's one of the problems I have. I grow a tumor instead.
Isaac Davis: I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.
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."
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."
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: 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.
Yale: It's just gossip, you know. Gossip is the new pornography.
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: 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: 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: Years ago I wrote this short story about my Mother called "The Castrating Zionist"
[Looking at old meat]
Isaac Davis: Corn beef should not be blue
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.
Isaac Davis: No, I didn't read the piece on China's faceless masses, I was, I was checking out the lingerie ads.
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: 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: This is shaping up like a Noel Coward play. You know, somebody should go out and make some martinis.
Isaac Davis: When it comes to relationships with women, I'm the winner of the August Strindberg Award.
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: 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: It's brown water! I'm paying seven-hundred dollars a month, I got rats with bongos and a, and a frog and I got brown water here.
Isaac Davis: They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism.
Jeremiah: I'm going to a synposium on semantics.
Isaac Davis: Hit the lights. Go ahead, turn 'em out again. We'll trade fours.
Isaac Davis: My ex-wife left me for another woman.
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.