Favourite Quotes

‘There are those who cling to life as if shipwrecked in some great storm, anxious only about clinging to a thin rope of existence which may at any moment break. Others are full of the ‘joie de vivre’ with every step and every breath a thrill radiating throughout their being and questioning nothing in a world of sheer delight in existence’.
Charles Merriam (Political Scientist - Chicago Business School) 'Systematic Politics' 1945, Page 3.

'[My journal is written] by myself and for myself - an author and audience of one'. Rolf Potts 'Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel' 2002.

'Nurturing people's capacity to enter media space as critical participants rather than as passive recipients is one of the most pressing educational tasks of this complex media age'. Stephen Coleman 'Just hit the big red button' 2007.

'[I]n the best days of art there were no art critics'. Ernest in Oscar Wilde's "The Critic as Artist", Everyman's Oscar Wilde: Plays, Prose, Writings & Poems, p. 8.

'Great paintings shouldn't be in museums. Museums are cemeteries'. Bob Dylan, 1965. Shelton's "No Direction Home", p. 210.

'The coward within me is momentarily resurrected, then dies one of his ten thousand deaths'. Ernest K. Gann's "The Flying Circus", Macmillan, 1974.

'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants'. Sir Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke, 5 February 1676.

'Sublime eloquence, it is said, belongs only to liberty ; it consists in telling bold truths, in displaying strong reasons, and representations. A man [sic] often dislikes truth, fears reason, and likes a well-turned compliment better than the sublimest eloquence.' Voltaire "Dictionnaire philosophique" 1764 published in English 1824, J. and H.L. Hunt, p. 63.

'Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day' (Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize speech 1954).

"Any path to knowledge is a path to God—or Reality, whichever word one prefers to use" (Arthur C. Clarke wrote in response to Pope Pius XII’s statement that exploring space is simply to fulfil mankind’s God-given potential).

"We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence." (Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's "Paris at Midnight").

"No doubt adversity is a great teacher, but its lessons are dearly bought, and often the profit we gain from them is not worth the price they cost us. What is more, these lessons come so late in the day that by the time we master them they are of no use to us. Youth is the time to study wisdom, age the time to practise it. Experience is always instructive, I admit, but it is only useful in the time we have left to live. When death is already at the door, is it worth learning how we should have lived?" (Jean Jacques Rousseau's 1782 "Reveries of a Solitary Walker").

Sir Thomas More in "A Man for All Seasons" (Bolt 1967:147):
MORE: And go he should if he was the devil himself until he broke the law!
ROPER: So now you’d give the Devil the benefit of law?
MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?
ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?… Yes, I’d give the devil the benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

From Archer, J. (2008). "A Prisoner of Birth". London: Macmillan: Munro: "But I have discovered with advancing years that few things are entirely black or white, but more often shades of grey. I can best sum it up, my lord, by saying that it was an honour to have served Sir Nicholas Moncrieff and it has been a privilege to work with Mr Cartwright. They are both oaks, even if they were planted in different forests. But then, m'lord, we all suffer in our different ways from being prisoners of birth".

From "Tombstone" (1993):
Wyatt Earp: "What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?"
Doc Holliday: "A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it".
Wyatt Earp: "What does he need?"
Doc Holliday: "Revenge".
Wyatt Earp: "For what?"
Doc Holliday: "Bein' born".

Apparently an old Soviet joke:
Comrade 1: --Comrade, what's the difference between Capitalism and Communism?
Comrade 2: --In Capitalism, man oppresses man. In Communism, it's the other way around.

Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood) in Heartbreak Ridge (1986): "You can rob me, you can starve me...and you can beat me and you can kill me. Just don't bore me".

Gérard Depardieu to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, cited in Hong Kong's "The Standard", Monday 7 December 2012: "I give you back my passport and my social security that I have never used. We no longer have the same country. I am a real European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me".

Steve Biddulph "Manhood: An Acton Plan for Changing Men's Lives" (2002: 41): "The problem is not the different outcome but the refusal to grieve and then move on - to love what you have got instead of what you wanted. It might be one of the biggest stretches imaginable for our souls on this Earth  - to abandon our shallow, egotistical dreams and to realise how much better our real children could be".

Art of Manliness (2012): "Honor is the moral imperative of men; obedience is the moral imperative of boys".

"The young like short cuts, formulas which give the answers, and they hasten after a teacher who provides the key to life's mysteries" (p. 70) and "In the structure of Marxian theory economics is the determining factor in the changes of society. When, however, we turn to practice, politics, which in the original briefing belonged to the accidental superstructure, begins to take first place, until now politics seems to have absorbed everything else" (p. 100). D'arcy, M. (1956). Communism and Christianity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1847). from Self-Reliance: "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist".

Jill Lepore (2015). Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and the hold of time. The New Yorker, 20 April: "History is nothing so much as that act of emendation—amendment upon amendment upon amendment".

From Alfred Barron's (1875: 11-12) "Foot Notes: Or, Walking as a Fine Art". "It would be strange if such a territory did not have enough beauties of scenery, and wonders of geology, botany, history and zoology to content anyone but a superficial man. I say, therefore, let us do our duty where we are, think where we are, observe where we are, and let us be happy where we are, and not tormented by the lust for foreign roaming. Stand in your appointed circle, is the word: and when God wants you in another, you will get a hint in season".

Søren Kierkegaard - not sure which book or the year: “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right".

Ernest Hemingway (1939: 225) in "Death in the Afternoon": "If qualities have odors the odor of courage to me is the smell of smoked leather or the smell of a frozen road or the smell of the sea when the wind rips the top from a wave..."

H.G. Wells (1897). The Invisible Man, pp. 32-33: "The Anglo-Saxon genius for parliamentary government asserted itself; there was a great deal of talk and no decisive action".

I am interested in thought versus action. Here's what Maxime Rodinson (1966:242) has to say about it, translated from French in 1974: 'There is no coexistence of "man (sic) feeding himself" with "man clothing himself", "man producing", "man thinking", etc., with each activity proceeding in accordance with rules of isomorphic codes. One and the same man is engaged in all of those activities. It cannot be that in this total man these diffferent activities of the same subject do not affect each other. "Man thinking" thinks also as man engaged (in one way or another, in one place or another) in production... The converse is true, of course, "man producing" is also "man thinking". And his thought influences the way in which he engages in production.'

Or, as Hemingway (in The New Yorker, 1950) put it: ‘Benny is an awfully smart boxer. All the time he’s boxing, he’s thinking. All the time he was thinking, I was hitting him.’ You never saw this line in "Fifty Grand" because Scott Fitzgerald persuaded him to take it out of the original draft. More's the pity!


"[D]elightful as the pastime of measuring may be, it is the most futile of all occupations, and to submit to the decrees of the measurers the most servile of attitudes. So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite by comparison". Virginia Woolf [1928]/(2004). A Room of One's Own. London: Penguin, p. 123.

"This business of conversation is a very serious matter. There are men that it weakens one to talk with an hour more than a day's fasting would do. Mark this that I am going to say, for it is as good a working professional man's advice, and costs you nothing : It is better to lose a pint of blood from your veins than to have a nerve tapped. Nobody measures your nervous force as it runs away, nor bandages your brain and marrow after the operation". Oliver Wendell Holmes (1952) The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, p. 9.

"Wise men who want to speak to the vulgar in their own language instead of in a popular way will not be understood. Now, there are a thousand kinds of ideas which it is impossible to translate into the language of the people". Rousseau, J-J. [1762]/(1998). The Social Contract. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, p. 42.

"He who has conquered weakness, and has put away all selfish thoughts, belongs neither to oppressor or oppressed. He is free". Allen, James ([1921]/(2007). As a Man Thinketh. Mineola, NY: Dover, p. 21.


"Little ms. flabdablet (six) is a sixth of my weight but she's a heel walker and on our wooden floors she does indeed drum like a buffalo herd". flabdablet, AskMetaFilter, on the interesting topic of heel walking, 23 August 2011.

"To gain your own voice, forget about having it heard. Become a saint of your own province and your own consciousness". Allen Ginsberg.