One of the pleasures of winter break was a lunch out at Aroma Café with two well-read and well-reading friends. Friend #1 was spending break immersed in a Dickens novel (I can’t remember which one except that I know I haven’t read it, maybe Our Mutual Friend?), but Friend #2 was, as usual, full of recommendations, including Mohsin Hamid’s novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia; An Officer and a Spy, a historical novel about the Dreyfus Affair by Robert Harris, and Life Itself, a memoir by the late film critic Roger Ebert.
A few days later, I was trawling through my commonplace book and found a brief quotation from Ebert’s New York Times obituary, which is both very plain and very memorable:
Mr. Ebert believed a great film should seem new at every watching; he said he had seen “Citizen Kane,” his favorite, scores of times. His credo in judging a film’s value was a simple one: “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you.”
And really, isn’t this true? Other people can tell you that what you respond to isn’t worth responding to, that it’s cheap or cheesy or sentimental. Maybe your intellect agrees with them or is at least willing to go along. Maybe it even convinces you not to listen to your heart for once. But don’t let it tell you your heart is lying.