Billy Wilder, “Double Indemnity”

P: Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He’ll be in then.

N: Who?

P: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him, weren’t you?

N: Sure, only I’m getting over it a little. If you know what I mean.

P: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.

N: How fast was I going, officer?

P: I’d say about ninety.

N: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.

P: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.

N: Suppose it doesn’t take.

P: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.

N: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.

P: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder.

N: That tears it. Eight-thirty tomorrow evening then, Mrs. Deitrichson.

P: That’s what I suggested.

N: Will you be here, too?

P: I guess so. I usually am.

N: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?

P: I wonder if I know what you mean.

N: I wonder if you wonder.



“This,” I thought, “is a mundane world. Now that the world has ended, people are being driven about under that light by evil thoughts. Innumerable couples are gazing at each other under that light, and in their nostrils is the smell of the deed that is like death, which already is pressing directly on them. At the thought that these countless lights are all obstructive lights, my heart is comforted. Please let the evil that is in my heart increase and multiply indefinitely, so that it may correspond in every particular with the vast light before my eyes! Let the darkness of my heart, in which that evil is enclosed, equal the darkness of the night, which encloses those countless lights.”

From “The Nietzsche of Recanti,” David Bentley Hart’s review of Giacomo Leopardi’s “Zibaldone”

“The modern pursuit of truth in the abstract, no matter what the moral or cultural consequences, was for Leopardi an essentially inhumane and remorselessly destructive fanaticism. Since this kind of rationalism is thoroughly unnatural, he predicted (correctly, as it turned out) that it would ultimately lead to acts of utter barbarity; in abstraction from familial, autocthonous, and ritual allegiances, reason can and will find motives and justifications for anything, no matter how depraved, violent, or pitiliess. And, inasmuch as modernity involves a deracination of men and women from the world of the senses, it has supplanted antiquity’s healthy devotion to the flesh with the withering interiority of modern individualism and its attendant obsession with that pallid ghost, the self; and this has made modern men at once sicklier than their ancient forbears and possessed of a far larger capacity for cruelty.”

In First Things May 2014 issue.