Today’s quote from Tony Gilroy‘s masterful screenplay, Michael Clayton. This is the second half of Arthur Edens’ voiceover monologue that opens the film.
ARTHUR EDENS (V.O.)
— Two weeks ago I came out of the building — I’m running across Sixth Avenue — there’s a car waiting — I have exactly thirty-eight minutes to get to Laguardia, and I’m dictating — there’s this frantic associate running to keep up — we’re in the middle of the street — the light changes — the traffic — unleashed — it’s coming — serious traffic — but there I am — I’m babbling — my mouth — I can’t stop — some ridiculous, involuntary part of my brain just keeps going — I’m standing there dictating this trade secret, Motion to Suppress… and there, Michael, in the middle of Sixth Avenue — as I stood there jabbering — and this poor young woman is screaming — traffic speeding toward us — I looked at my hands and my suit — my briefcase — and it came to me — came over me — through me — the overwhelming sensation — the feeling — the fact — that I was covered with some sort of film — an oil — an ooze — my hair — my face — like a glaze — a coating — and at first I thought, “My God, I know what this is, this is some sort of amniotic, embryonic fluid — I’m drenched in afterbirth — I’ve breached the chrysalis — I’ve been reborn.” — but the traffic — this stampede — cars — trucks — the horns — the screaming associate — I’m thinking, “No — reset — this cannot be rebirth. If anything, this must be some giddy illusion of renewal that happens in the final instant before death.” — and then — in the fraction of a moment it took for that idea to form — I realized all of that was wrong, because I looked back at the building and had the most stunning moment of clarity…I realized, Michael, at that moment, that I had emerged — as I have done nearly every day for the past twenty eight years of my life — not through doors of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen — not through the portals of our huge and powerful law firm, but rather from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the poison — the ammo — the defoliant — necessary for even larger and more dangerous organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity — and that I have been coated with this patina of shit for the better part of my life and that the stink and stain might in all likelihood take the rest of my days to undo — and do you know what I did next? I took a deep, cleansing breath. I set that notion aside. I tabled it. I said to myself, “As clear as this may be — as potent as this may feel — as true a thing as I believe I have witnessed here — I must wait. It must stand the test of time.” And, Michael, the time is now.