George Burns (born Nathan Birnbaum; Yiddish: נתן בירנבוים; January 20, 1896 – March 9, 1996) was an American comedian, actor, singer, and writer. He was one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, radio, film and television. His arched eyebrow and cigar-smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century. He and his wife, Gracie Allen, appeared on radio, television, and film as the comedy duo Burns and Allen.
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Our noses too, and our eyes and ears, are political instruments, protesters. An aesthetic response is a political action. . . . We know instinctively, aesthetically, when a fish stinks, when the sense of beauty is offended. Standing for these moments — and these moments occur each day, within every airless office building, seated in each crippling chair, inundated by senseless noise and fattened on industrial food — standing for our responses, these aesthetic reverberations of truth in the soul, may be the primary civic act of the citizen, the origin of caution and of the precautionary principle itself, with its warnings to stop, look, and listen.
What does a man need — really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in, and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all — in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, and preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The most solid advice . . . for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.