Woody Allen Telling Us Who He Is

A post by Raya Sarkar got me thinking about Louis CK again, and how comedians often let us know what their preoccupations are, who they are, via their jokes. Been thinking about Woody Allen’s two famous quotes that I remember (about his favorite organ and about sex without love). So I went to Goodreads quotes section to review the extensive library of Mr. Allens’s quotes. There were rather more than two that I find relevant to the current discussion. They are mostly pretty funny. But, in retrospect, nothing we have learned about him should have been a surprise. (For further study: interview with his son, and Why I Stopped Watching Woody Allen Movies by Olivia Collette for observations about “asshole geniuses” in general, and What Is to Be Done With the Art of Monstrous Men by Claire Referer in The Paris Review).


“What people who don’t write don’t understand is that they think you make up the line consciously—but you don’t. It proceeds from your unconscious. So it’s the same surprise to you when it emerges as it is to the audience when the comic says it. I don’t think of the joke and then say it. I say it and then realize what I’ve said. And I laugh at it, because I’m hearing it for the first time myself.”


“My brain? That’s my second favorite organ.”
“You rely too much on brain. The brain is the most overrated organ.”

“Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good.” // for whom?


“I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.”

“The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it.”

“Is sex dirty? Only when it’s being done right.” // How could you even know it’s being done right if you can’t pay attention to a living human person and gain a clue about what anything means?

“Men learn to love the woman they are attracted to. Women learn to become attracted to the man they fall in love with.”

“Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.”

“Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing.”

‘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.’

“She wore a short skirt and a tight sweater and her figure described a set of parabolas that could cause cardiac arrest in a yak.”

“So then, what do you believe in?
Sex and death. Two things that come once in my lifetime. But at least
after death you’re not nauseous.”

“The most expensive sex is free sex”

“If she were lying on a plate with a herring, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”

“The only time that my wife and I had a simultaneous orgasm was when the judge signed the divorce papers.”

“To be loved, certainly, is different from being admired, as one can be admired from afar but to really love someone it is essential to be in the same room with the person, crouching behind the drapes.”


“No, no, because she’s a mental adolescent, and being romantic,
she has a death wish. So, for a brief moment of passion,she completely abandons all responsibilities.”

“Pale, nervous girls with black-rimmed glasses and blunt-cut hair lolled around on sofas, riffling Penguin Classics provocatively… But it wasn’t just intellectual experiences. They were peddling emotional ones, too. For fifty bucks, I learned, you could ‘relate without getting close.’ For a hundred, a girl would lend you her Bartok records, have dinner, and then let you watch while she had an anxiety attack.”

“Beautiful, funny, smart, sexual, and also neurotic? It’s like filling an inside straight.”


“The last woman I was in was the Statue of Liberty.”

“I took a puff of the wrong cigarette at a fraternity dance once, and the cops had to get me, y’know. I broke two teeth trying to give a hickie to the Statue of Liberty.”



“I’m such a good lover because I practice a lot on my own.”

“The difference between sex and death is that with death you can do it alone and no one is going to make fun of you.”

“Having sex is like bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.”


“Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.” // should be chances for rejection

“Sex between a man and a woman can be wonderful, provided you can get between the right man and the right woman.”

“There’s a snake in my butt!”


“I want to tell you a terrific story about oral contraception. I asked this girl to sleep with me and she said ‘No.”

“We’re all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, human happiness does not seem to be included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even try to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.”

“Honey, you’re the one who stopped sleeping with me, OK? It’ll be a year come April 20th. I remember the date exactly, because it was Hitler’s birthday”

“In my next life I want to live backwards. Start out dead and finish off as an orgasm.”

“You’re so good looking I can barely keep my eyes on the meter.”

“Arlene and I have to get a divorce. She thinks I’m a pervert because I drank our water bed.”

Hue and Cry

There is a current controversy in India around The List which concerns a public list of sexual aggressors in Academia. There are similar events underway elsewhere, and one can view much of what has taken place since the revival of #metoo as a type of global “list.” Part of the Indian discussion is an argument against the list on the grounds that it does not respect “due process” [statement]. A detailed and sophisticated discussion of these arguments is in another Kafila article. There are certainly many valid criticisms of this list, of any mechanism of anonymous accusation, with or without accompanying evidence. But put very simply and generally, as I see it, calls for due process may conflate the final step with the first step of a certain process . There is a concept in Common Law of “Hue and Cry” [Wikipedia]. The first person to see a crime in progress raises the hue and cry and then “all able-bodied men are obliged” to assist in the pursuit and apprehension of the alleged perpetrator. The due process part comes later, when an unjustly accused person has the opportunity to prove his innocence. In this process there are also substantial penalties for raising a false alarm, for “crying wolf.”

This precursor to modern law I see as related to the idea of a Commons. The flaw with the “Tragedy of the Commons” argument so often used to justify the privatisation of just about everything is that it does not in fact describe a functional Commons, it describes what happens when a Commons is broken down, when the means a community has of protecting itself from thieves of various sorts is itself stolen. I recommend Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics as an excellent introduction to the Commons, besides being a complete re-invention of Economics. Just to be clear, the Commons I am discussing is emphatically not “Women” (that natural resource that men must learn to share and distribute fairly)! The Commons in question is our shared humanity, morality, ethics, that which permits us to have anything like a civilisation to begin with. When a pervasive silence is imposed on women, on men, then the Hue and Cry is never raised to begin with, and real criminals run free with impunity, which is of course the purpose of the silence. And, yes, there must always be some “false positives” in Hue and Cry, perhaps the unknown man seen driving off a herd of sheep from the pasture is in reality a relative of the owner of the herd, sent to move them to another location. Perhaps the accuser has a personal grudge or is just “crying wolf.” In this case (and, of course, assuming that the community is not so degraded as to resort to mob lynching) this fact will emerge in “due process.” That’s a risk. But the risk of permitting a far larger number of “missed positives,” real thieves, real sexual predators, to escape apprehension and punishment is a greater risk, and missing enough of them will itself destroy the Commons.