RODMAN EDWARD SERLING: HIS GREAT PITHY QUOTES by Dane Youssef
by Dane Youssef
Rod Serling was perhaps one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Not merely to his chosen major field of television, but in general. A man who defined a lot of whst television stood for, even today.
When you see a program of real weight and depth, social commentary and insight, that Rod's inspiration you're seeing. Like Elvis, James Brown and even Shakesphere, he had a rippling effect, touching every other aspect of the medium of TV around him.
One of the few precious men who made it so "the idiot box" didn't have to entirely live up to its name. Television was mostly just saccharinely sweet light fluff with no weight or real meaning. Serling thought the small screen could do bigger, better things. And so he set out to prove it. The self-righteous stubborn little bastard set to raise the bar with scripts like "Patterns" and "Requiem For A Heavyweight."
And with his incarnation of "The Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery," he started playing the keys on his typewriter like Beethoven at a grand piano, and he changed all that.
Not to mention the lesser-known "A Storm in Summer." Damn it. The little bastard He just had to go out and make writing for TV a respectable profession and pursuit. He demanded quality. He made quality.
Week after week after week after... well, that's usually where he skipped a week or so. He was the first to admit that writing on a deadline for a serial TV show forced him to crank out a few stinkers. But he was a true wordsmith. A craftsman like Woody Allen or Raymond Chandler. Little Roddy knew how to make one single sentence really sing.
He had as many powerful proverbs as the Bible. I put down a brief re-cap of some of his all-time greatest hits.
Which is your favorite?
"I don't enjoy any of the process of writing. I enjoy it when it goes on if it zings and it has great warmth and import and it's successful. Yeah, that's when I enjoy it. But during the desperate, tough time of creating it, there's not much I enjoy about it. It tires me and lays me out, which is sort of the way I feel now. Tired."
"Some people possess talent, others are possessed by it. When that happens, a talent becomes a curse."
"There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on."
"Everybody has to have a hometown, Binghamton's mine. In the strangely brittle, terribly sensitive make-up of a human being, there is a need for a place to hang a hat or a kind of geographical womb to crawl back into, or maybe just a place that's familiar because that's where you grew up. When I dig back through memory cells, I get one particularly distinctive feeling—and that's one of warmth, comfort and well-being. For whatever else I may have had, or lost, or will find—I've still got a hometown. This, nobody's gonna take away from me."
"I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I've written there is a thread of this: a man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself."
"Imagination... its limits are only those of the mind itself."
"I think the destiny of all men is not to sit in the rubble of their own making but to reach out for an ultimate perfection which is to be had. At the moment, it is a dream. But as of the moment we clasp hands with our neighbor, we build the first span to bridge the gap between the young and the old. At this hour, it’s a wish. But we have it within our power to make it a reality. If you want to prove that God is not dead, first prove that man is alive."
"If you need drugs to be a good writer, you're not a good writer."
"Hollywood's a great place to live... if you're a grapefruit."
(on being born on Christmas Day, 1924) "I was a Christmas present that was delivered unwrapped."
"Fantasy is the impossible made probable; science fiction is the improbable made possible."
"Writing is a demanding profession and a selfish one. And because it is selfish and demanding, because it is compulsive and exacting, I didn't embrace it. I succumbed to it."
"I don't want to fight anymore. I don't want to have to battle sponsors and agencies. I don't want to have to push for something that I want and have to settle for second best. I don't want to have to compromise all the time, which in essence is what a television writer does if he wants to put on controversial themes."
(On the decision to cancel the "Twilight Zone"): "We had some real turkeys, some fair ones, and some shows I'm really proud to have been a part of. I can walk away from this series unbowed."
"You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination--next stop, the Twilight Zone!"
(during the third): "I've never felt quite so drained of ideas as I do at this moment. You can't retain quality. You start borrowing from yourself, making your own clichés. I notice that more and more."
(His reasons for less involvement on "The Twilight Zone" by the third year): "First is extreme fatigue. Second, I'm desperate for a change of scene, and third is a chance to exhale, with the opportunity for picking up a little knowledge instead of trying to spew it out."
"Coming up with an idea is the easiest thing in the world... writing it down, that's the hard part. I put the paper in the typewriter, I put my hands on the keys.. and I bleed."
Words to live by. To die by. And to write by.
He once told the world that all he ever wanted was to be remembered as a writer...
Well... I remember.
Now... what's your favorite?
Even as a child, little Roddy was the most popular in school. Everyone looked at him as a bright shining star, shining brightly... right here on Earth. Now... the star beams proudly right in Hollywood. Where it will 'til the end of time.
Now Rod's greatness... is written in stone.
FOR THE RODMAN
--Eternal Love for God Serling, Dane Youssef