Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Question for English 1B—and Anyone Else

Manhattan, written and directed by Woody Allen, is one of the great films in the history of American cinema. Its primary concern is the love affair between Isaac and Tracy, which runs into numerous obstacles, for a variety of reasons I won't bother to outline here, and appears, when we arrive at the scene below, doomed to fail.

The clip I've embedded is the famous scene near the end of the movie in which Isaac, confused by the emotional turmoil of his life, reclines on a couch and, speaking into a tape recorder, asks, "Why is life worth living?"

Consider the scene and his answer(s). Then I'd like you answer the same question, as if into your own microphone, in a comment below. Please model your response after Isaac's: Give your answer as a specific list, as he does, to what he correctly calls "a very good question."


  1. Erik Satie originally, but also through Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Moog Synthesizer with The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, the Jacques Loussier Trio, the Short Circuit 2 soundtrack and the unknown musicians on the 1960's recording I stole from my father.

    Citrus fruits.

    Octavio Paz's poem featuring a line about 'the tattoo of the church' and maybe a 'sulfur bull'

    Wind whipping the surface of a river upstream

    a short, brilliant man with an intermittent beard

    The Internet

    Tea and candles on the bedside suitcase, with nude solitude playing the guitar in the near dark.

    the camera (a camera, any camera, or eyes that have looked through a camera)

    postcards and college papers from my favourite surfer-poet

    Anna Verlet's photographs

    Emmylou Harris' cover of Woody Guthrie's "Go to Sleep You Weary Hobo"

    Imagining California as it was 500 years ago, and believing it beautiful enough to return to it in the present.

    Bauhaus furniture

    Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (a book that helped to nearly kill me)

    Josh Pyke

    Punch Brothers (and all Chris-Thile related projects)

    the poems of Derek Wallcott

    being less depressed than Franz Kafka


    seven or eight dried, gutted fish on a fence in San Gregorio, California

    the work of Jonathan Harris

    Gaiberg, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

    Gregorian Chants

    the cliche of the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence' and similar songs like Baroness' 'Grad' and Steel Train's 'For You, My Dear'

    the notion of possibility.

  2. whys life worth living??? It those nights u stay up tlkn t ur best friend, walkin on the beach just to clear your mind...those pazzookoies at BJ's :) to come home to your dog who is so happy to see when youv only been outside for a min., to act like a bitch and use your period as an excuse, to hoping the one you have a crush on finally looks your way, check FML.COM just to remind yourself your life is better than someone elses, to blast your music in your car and sing to the random person in the car next to go out of your way to make someone happy even if they never notice, to see your ex and think "man, i was the best hes ever gonna get", to smell freshly baked cookies, to return home and have a home cooked meal again after being a poor college student. -diane lennon

  3. Well let's see
    maybe the days when you are rushing to school and you find the best parking spot
    the times when you cross the golden gate bridge and pay the toll for the person behind you
    finding that perfect movie to watch alone in your room
    getting an A on an exam that you studied for while your friends were out all night
    solving an impossible math problem that takes you hours to figure out
    making cupcakes for people on their birthdays
    spending time with friends, the type of friends you laugh with for hours about nothing
    radom acts of kindness
    waking up every morning and not knowing what is going to happen at any given moment of the day
    L. Reid

  4. Doing thousand of Math problems
    Overthrow the whole concept of Calculus
    Overthrow the whole concept of Physics
    Overthrow the whole concept of Economics
    Enjoy the happiness after bearing the responsibilities
    Getting great achievements in order to get approve by others
    Share the happiness and sadness with your family and friends
    Learn more different kinds of knowledge
    Play music
    Visit the shopping mall but buy nothing
    Read different kinds of books
    Waste time and money
    Play video games

  5. whys life worth living?
    ummm, I guess for me it will be the life with your boyfriend/ girl friend, husband/ wife, family. You will be happy but lonely if there is no one to share that happiness with you! The word love is more than words can say!
    The other thing is the life with our computers, macs, pcs, all of them makes us more lazy, and a more enjoyable life.
    The internet, google, yahoo, the search engines bring all the knowledge from every corner of the world in front of you!

  6. Why is life worth living?

    It's the rush from risking rejection and looking like an idiot just to tell the truth about how you feel for someone

    and even if you get rejected, feeling the lightness of finally getting it off your chest and knowing that you tried



    running on a beautiful day

    Lindt chocolate

    the "shuffle" feature on ipods



    driving around for no reason with your friends on a sunny day with all the windows down blasting your favorite song

    finding that person and never knowing why they were different from the rest

    and them finding you

    the exact moment you realize you CAN live without the person you foolishly thought you couldn't live without, and moving on

    deciding to risk it all just to learn the hard makes a better story looking back anyways

    constantly wondering that, if my life was a book, would anyone want to read it? and living it as if the answer was yes, as long as my parents never got a hold of it...!!


    the beach

    getting into the college of your dreams

    new friends

    old friends that know you too well

    new clothes

    new songs

    seeing how much you've matured from your freshman year of high school

    being young and proudly using it as an excuse

    working out for weeks to get a beach-worthy body and actually getting one!


    college and learning something new everyday -- Jessie Mesirov

  7. Tiffany said.....

    Why life is worth living?
    I think it's about the life we have with our family and friends

    wake up with a wonderful whether

    doing something meaningful


    spending money

    dating boyfriend/girlfriend

    To have someone to talk to, no matter what we chat about

    find a good movie or episode to watch when i'm free

    knowing tomorrow I'll have something exciting to do

    receiving an A, or at least a good result, for my exams

    knowing the people we care about are happy

    everyday adventures with friends


    learning something everyday


    internet, labtop, ipod......

    different feelings that we have

    things that make me regret, such as not studying hard enough for the test, so that I would know how to be better the next time

    friends that would send me gifts, letters, or postcard wherever they are, and vise versa=]

    people, things or moments that make you crazy

  8. What makes life worth living?
    Doing something for someone else, just to see the smile on their face. Driving to the beach at 11:30pm with you best friends just to have a bonfire in the middle of winter pretending its summer. Spending money on somone you care about just cause. Spending time with family and friends on any occasion. Going to the beach. Listening to music. Dancing and singing songs in your car while random people stare at you funny passing by. Hanging out with your favorite little kid just to make him/her smile. Catching up with an old friend over lunch. Sharks Hockey. Cheering against your boyfriends team at the Superbowl, and your team winning![= Talking to my grandma who is 92, and her telling me she stayed up to watch the whole opening for the 2010 Olympics, when I couldn't. Dessert before dinner.. Pretty much Everything. -N.Darang

  9. Carmen said...

    Why is life worth living??

    It's all about love. Love is the most precious thing in our life. Love should be something that makes our life worth living.

    Love, families' love, time spent with family, happiness that family has provided me, interpersonal relationships.....

    Romantic Love, boyfriends, time spent with our true love, precious moment and things that romantic relationship has provided.

    There are also something else that makes my life worth living. The technology we have in these days,computer, internet, cell phone, etc. etc. Having a nice living environment, trees, the natural environment.

    Freedom, another important thing that makes my life worth living...Freedom to talk, freedom to talk to whoever I want, whatever I want. Freedom to buy whatever I want, choose whatever I want.

    Life is filled with challenges, and these challenges make my life worthy.

  10. Why is life worth living?

    you can change people's lives and make their lives be worthwhile by giving insipiration to others

    discover the origin of life

    find out the mystery of life such as exploring the universe

    experience the different situations of life, like the old saying of chinese proverb, life contains "sweet, sour, bitter, spicy". In other words, life may not be something we can enjoy sometimse, we need to experience the uptime and downtime of life in order to find out why "life is worth living"

    To show/prove your existance in the world, such as writing books, having babies, invent new technology

  11. What makes life worth living:

    That just-after-rain smell, scented candles, warm quilts, reading by the fireplace, sunsets, sunrises, laughter, playing, untrodden snow, rain dashing against my window pane, Mom's cookies, warm sunlight on a cold day, fluffy clouds, my childhood blanket, river rapids, roses, lilacs, wood sorrel, fuzzy things, silence and love.

  12. Why is life worth living?
    Well, it is worth living for questions like this. It's worth living for the answers we come up with.
    It's worth living for the curiosity of it.
    For the exploration.
    Maybe the exploration of the littlest things, but the discovery is nevertheless worthwhile.
    Little things like skyline vista points.
    Or Stella over a book being reread for the fifth time.
    Maybe the tenth.
    For me, it is often worth living for the luxury of laziness; instead of a book it may be a movie being rewatched for the tenth... or twentieth time. It's worth living for those days when there is nothing to do except exactly that.
    It's also worth living for the moment of realization that turns laziness into productivity, and the cycle of procrastination that ventures back into laziness once again.
    It's worth living for those professors that give the opportunity to sound as pretentious as desired via a blog comment.
    It's worth living for other people in general. To surround oneself with the most pleasant people and to have the satisfaction of being able to please them merely with one's existence.
    Life is worth living to sift through emotions with the help of these close people. Analyzing and being analyzed, all the while trying to not give into being read like a Stella-accompanied book.
    Life is worth living to challenge one's weaknesses, such as being easily readable or, vice versa, over analytical.
    Life is worth living for being able to post all this stuck at a DMV using a fancy, overpriced phone. And it's worth living for the payoff of the labor that purchased the damn device.
    It's worth living for the sweet feeling of success and accomplishment, in any amount.
    It is worth living to die happy.
    Life is worth living until the end when you have convinced yourself that you will, in fact, be able to die happy.


    P.S. Life is worth living for the feeling of wanting and being able to write so much more to answer this question.

  13. Michael said..
    Why is life worth living?

    Mum and Dad
    My pet
    Love, Eros
    osyter,salmon,sumptuous food
    Chinese new year
    Playing clarinet with mum and friends
    Becoming a clarinetist in a orchestra
    Watching the favorite sport team
    Meeting with old friends after 10,20,30 years
    Encontering people from all over the world
    Doing execrise in the gym while listening to music
    Finding a good job and earn a lot!
    Fresh air, warm sunshine, tranquil
    Wedding, having a family..maybe having a son or daughter..
    Good Health
    smiling face everywhere.......

  14. Why is life worth living?
    Repeatingly hitting the snooze button early in the morning when you don't want to wake up.
    Telling a joke that puts a smile on somebody's face.
    Blasting a song on the radio with your friends in the car.
    Eating a big plate of food to fulfill your hunger.
    Playing a round of golf with your friends on a warm summer afternoon.
    Helping someone get through a tough period or time.
    Watching a Will Ferrell movie laughing non stop.
    Anticipating the next big sports game.
    Yelling at the TV wondering how the refs could have missed the call.
    Seeing a smile on somebody's face when they first look at you.
    Listening to the rain as you fall asleep.
    Getting an A on a test you studied all night for.
    Making a mistake but learning from it.
    Having a barbeque on a warm summer night.
    Remembering a distant memory like it had happened yesterday.
    Screaming for your team when they win the game.
    Doing something for someone that makes them happy.

    -Stephen H

  15. What makes life worth living?

    Having a miserable weekend, then waking up to a brand new week.
    Spending 8 hours to produce 10 seconds of music.
    Getting all of your friends to like your favorite band.
    Making plans and having them actually work out.
    Having a song come up on shuffle that is relevant to your life, and is synced to the beat of your windshield wipers.
    Not studying for a test and being able to figure out and reason every single answer.
    Convincing people to change their mind
    Following your intuition and being right.
    Folding a hand of poker and saving yourself the game, and then sticking with your bets and winning everything.
    Grabbing the last pack of your favorite gum.
    Creating inside jokes with your friends
    Looking over at someone and knowing they're thinking the exact same thing as you are.
    And probably most importantly, the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

  16. Andriy said...
    Why is life worth living?

    spend time with family and share the feelings with them
    talking with best friends over the night with any topics we like
    some crazy things or moments my friends and I own
    travelling over the world and take photographs
    play basketball and soccer
    watch the favorite soccer team
    internet, ipod
    my mum's food
    the beach
    learn something new
    overcome every challenges

  17. My answer to this universal question is people around me. I find the most joy in being around people that are happy. I especially enjoy it when I'm the reason they are happy for that particular moment. Though I live for myself and I strive to be the best that I can, I find the most pleasure in talking to people. One of the biggest reasons I enjoy my job is because I like people, I can handle people and put a smile on their face when they have had a bad day. I don't believe we are all here for a reason, but if we are each individually a part of something then I'm the part that makes others feel good. Life is worth living when other people enjoy it with you. I have family that's always there for me, I have friends that will be there for me as well, and all the people that I get to meet makes me feel like life is worth living.
    I could post a list of all the things I enjoy in list, but honestly as long as a have the bare essentials I am content in just living life with others.

  18. Why is life worth living?
    I think life is worth living since we have the opportunity to experience the following..
    Share all your happiness and sadness with your family and friends and be with them whenever they need you
    Experience love, find the one you really love and spend the rest of your life with him/her
    Set goals and make plans and work hard to achieve them
    listen to, play or even create music
    Learn different kinds of knowledge from different books
    Listen to the story of the others and give them a piece of tissue when they need
    Buy your first car and drive your friends back to school
    Receive an email saying that your class is cancelled
    Hang out with friends during sunny day
    Spend an evening on a beach
    Travel around the world and discover things that you have never seen and thought of
    Do some shopping and buy something to decorate your house
    Sleep well and make nice dreams
    Access to internet and play video games
    Win a fight when you are playing street fighters
    Keep yourself young even when you are physically old
    Love to people around you and let them love you
    and the most important
    Create a special life that you will never regret!

  19. Why is life worth living?

    Playing the beautiful game of soccer
    Hanging out with friends
    Being able to do what others would say is impossible to do
    Going out to the beach on a nice sunny day
    Hanging out with your girlfriend and having a good time
    Going out to clubs
    Going out to bars
    Having fun at parties once in a while
    Watching good movies
    Working out at the gym
    Enjoying surprises that life is full of
    Living every minute of life to the fullest and not regreting any of it

  20. Why is life worth living?
    spending time with friends
    relaxing at a beach for the whole day
    eating delicious foods
    going clubbing in the summer with friends that you haven't seen all year


  21. Why life is worth living?

    Enjoying movies, magazines, fashion, food

    spending time with our loved ones

    doing sports like swimming, soccer, badminton, basketball, tennis, volleyball

    to learn new things

    to laugh at jokes

    attending parties

    dancing and singing with your friends when your drunk

    earning some money

    meeting new tons of people every year

    enjoying all the chitchats with close friends

    getting good grades (I hope so)

  22. Why is life worth living?
    There are lots of things we can do in our lives.

    Watch Iron Man 2
    play World of Warcraft
    play Xbox 360
    watch NBA
    Date with a girl
    try to meet Jennifer Aniston in Beverly Hills
    live beside the beach
    own an Audi car
    travel all around the world
    try to drink some 100% alcohol
    eat lots of delicious food!!!
    pay a 100 bucks for tips
    skip classes

  23. Life is worth living..
    To experience love from your family
    Your friends
    Spending a beautiful day out in the sun
    Walking on the beach
    Enjoying the little things in life we all take for granted
    Playing soccer
    Being able to do nothing because you can
    Travel to exotic places you can't experience at home
    Your freewill and freedom to do what ever you want to make this list unique to anyone else's

    Karina Cavanna

  24. the smile you put on those you love.
    being with your friends and knowing that they value the time that they spend with you.
    the mysteries of life, nature, and being.
    curiosity for the next day.
    being able to dance without feeling absolutely ridiculous.
    the physical touch.
    reminders of your importance and value.

  25. Things that make life worthwhile:

    Music, all the different melodies that your mind associates with each feeling. Songs you immediately want to share with as many people as possible, because you're absolutely sure they'll enjoy it just as much as you do.

    Song by Modjo - Lady. It's still amazing even after you listen to it for a 1000th time.

    Good Movies, that you want to watch all over again right after you'd just seen it.

    Eddie Murphy

    Airports. Leaving home to go somewhere far away and absolutely different, just to come back again and feel like you feel no where else.

    That feeling when you start to feel a little drunk after your fifth shot. When everybody's already drunk and talks to each other and it feels like all the people divided into small groups, where each one is dedicated to it's own topic and people just keep migrating from one group to another, because they know that WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY IS SO IMPORTANT THAT IT WILL MAKE THE CONVERSATION WAAY MORE INTERESTING. And then leaving the party for a little bit to have a cigarette with a girl, where it's only you two and you can talk about everything in the world.

    Staying in a hotel with friends somewhere abroad. Spending all the money in clubs during the first week and then spend the last week just drinking cheap liquor in a hotel room.


    Seeing your family after a year without them.

    Getting real mail from friends, reading their hand-writing...

    Waking up before a girl and sneaking out of the room without noise to go and make her breakfast.

    Making people laugh.

    It's all these great things that you do without thinking, because it feels so right. Without thinking about the consequences. Things that wipe all the worries and problems out of your head make you stop being and old fart and just realaaaax.


  26. missing your family only to be meet with a giant hug once you see them

    reconnecting with a friend that you rarely talk to anymore

    seeing your friends and family move on and grow up

    figuring out that everyone has won some type of competition in their life time

    friday nights that plans fade away yet you still somehow manage to make the most memorial memorys when you do nothing

    and the simple ones
    video games(MW2!!!!)

  27. why is life worth living?

    blue sky
    fresh air
    romantic love
    warm hugs
    receive red roses at valentine's day
    sun bathing
    playing basketball with teammates
    happiness and sadness
    being touched by a movie or song
    travel around the world
    sweet dreams
    see the one you love in a deep sleep
    summer vocation
    good food
    afternoon nap

  28. Why is life worth living?

    Life is worth living because...
    Of our curiosity.
    You know nothing when you are born. While you keep learning new things, you find out that more new things are in front of you.
    You know nothing about what will happen next, but you can choose your next step.
    You know nothing about music, but you can listen to and enjoy it.
    You know nothing about love, but you can experience it.
    You know nothing about the world, but you can explore it.
    So when people think life is not worth living, they are already too old. They lose their curiosity, or they lose their courage to try the new things.

    Kelvin Cheng

  29. Life is worth living because of
    Revolver by the Beatles, especially Tomorrow Never Knows
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    Anything by David Sedaris
    Hedwig and the Angy Inch
    Lady Gaga
    Hot chocolate, coupled with cheesy holiday movies.
    Scrabble & Apples to Apples
    Soul Suckers by Amos Lee
    Lobster Raviolli in a Lemon-Butter sauce
    Starry Starry Night
    The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris
    The Harry Potter Series
    Realize by Colbie Callait
    Jason Mraz
    Movies like What the Bleep do we Know?
    Falling In Love
    Falling Out of Love
    Falling back in Love
    And Life is worth living because of warm blankets, and my kitten.


  30. Life is worth living becasue...

    True Love
    Family, Realtives
    Delicious Food


  31. Life is worth living because we have the chance, in every moment, to awaken.
    That's all.

  32. The two most influential books that I will hold for the rest of my life, for they saved my life:

    Touching Spirit Bear

    The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior

  33. Life is worth living because...



    A significant other (girlfriend/boyfriend)

    Laughs and Smiles


    Bohemian Rapsody by Queen

    Viva la Vida by Coldplay

    Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

    and of course,
    Star Wars

    - Ashwin Mathur