Classic Quotes "All along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand". Sir Boyle Roche Irish Politician "The new Irish flag would be Orange and Green, and would be known as the Irish tricolour." Smith O'Brien Irish Revolutionary "I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous." Brian W. Kernighan Irish Citizen Bejeezus! "You're working hard to put food on your family." George W. Bush "Redefining the role of the United States from enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment." George W. Bush "You Frenchmen are a thoroughly servile nation, thoroughly sold to tyranny, thoroughly cruel and relentless in persecuting the unhappy. If they knew of a freeman at the other end of the world, I believe they would go thither for the mere pleasure of extirpating him." Jean Jacques Rousseau, in "Life of Nelson", by Robert Southey (1813) "The people of England are never so happy as when you tell them they are ruined". (Arthur Murray - 1758) "...astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror". Edmund Burke "He may be dead, but he's still our guest" The Manager HOTEL 07/Feb/96 "There are only three numbers in the world: 0, 1, and Infinity. In fact there are only two numbers because 0=1/Inf. So if it is not 0, then it is 1. " Dr. Zlatko Tesanovic "One should not get emotional with methods of steepest descent, but somehow I do. It will be like a light to you in dark rooms in the middle of the night, when you are despairing and everything else has failed you… and you will realize, the Method of Steepest Descents is your only true friend." Dr. Zlatko Tesanovic "Yeah, we got some serious cloudage going on out there". Blue Line - Close to Genius 1999-03-12 "I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one." Inspector Clouseau, A Shot in the Dark
Movies and Music "As there was no script, we would just improvise it. Kubrick would say, 'You guys go away and make up a scene, come back and we'll take a look at it.' It was absolutely incredible. I kind of blew up with Mr. Kubrick, I didn't know what the hell he was talking about! I'm the kind of actor who has to have an open relationship with a director. He would start playing games with you. He'd say one thing one day and completely reverse it the next. By about day six when he said, 'Good morning, Ed,' I didn't know what he meant by that!" Ed Bishop, actor in 2001 "I watched "Vanishing Point" as a rebellious teenager growing up in Asia, before I got my driver's license or had a chance to travel to America. I skipped school so that I could catch the matinee show. The year was '72. (I guess it took a while for movies to be distributed to Asia back then). One thing I got out of the movie was, "Wow, so that's the kind of cool stuff you could do in the US." I fell in love with so many things at once. Cars. Driving on an open road. The US. The open desert scenery. Above all, the freedom. I never looked back. Now, whenever given the chance, I'm out west on the open road. Since that movie, I've traveled to 42 US states, and still counting. In fact, I'll be off to the Death Valley and other parts of the Mojave next week." Review of Vanishing Point by Sierra-11 on imdb, 24 March 1999. "It was a midnight show at the Knitting Factory, and needless to say I was extraordinarily excited. It's hard to describe the gig. It was more or less all new material, as per Fall custom. The band plays with their heads down while their hunched, dour, polished Italian shoe-wearing Kapitan fucks with their amp settings, steals their microphones, shoves them out of the way, and otherwise stalks around them disapprovingly. Kind of like a pissed off owner of a British rooming house, all geared up to collect the rent from his tenants (who he hates). Over the course of the show, Smith dismantled all of the microphones on the stage. I never saw anything like it. He threw backup mics in the kick drum, sang into two at once, dropped them on the ground, and took one backstage in order to sing unmolested. By the end, the stage was a tangle of knocked over mic stands and cable. Blindness was the last song before they headed off the stage, and Smith did this unsettling thing where he kept creeping closer to the edge of the stage. As in, I'd glance at the bass player for a second or something, and when I looked back he'd just be closer. By the end, he was just yelling into the air, sans amplification. Then he stumbled through the detritus littering the stage and sang a few lines from the dressing room." Description of a The Fall concert http://thelittleblackegg.blogspot.com "Then you just think, you know, he can't play, he's too drunk, he hasn't got a band, he's forgotten his lyrics, who the hell is he? ..... he'll end up putting together a set that is utterly mesmerizing." Another quote about Fall from BBC. "They nearly all do that," Smith says. "They talk about it like they fought in Vietnam. They suffer from what's that thing the Americans get?" (interviewer) "Post-traumatic stress disorder?" "No. What's it called... selective memory. After a while they'll say, 'Oh he was great, Mark.' At the time all I heard was: 'You're a thief. You drink. I will kill you.'" Mark. E. Smith The Independent, 2011 Nov 13
Writing Something visceral by Ray Bradbury
Something by The MasterA vulture was hacking at my feet. It had already torn my boots and stockings to shreds, now it was hacking at the feet themselves. Again and again it struck at them, then circled several times restlessly round me, then returned to continue its work. A gentleman passed by, looked on for a while, then asked me why I suffered the vulture. "I'm helpless," I said. "When it came and began to attack me, I of course tried to drive it away, even to strangle it, but these animals are very strong, it was about to spring at my face, but I preferred to sacrifice my feet. Now they are almost torn to bits." "Fancy letting yourself be tortured like this!" said the gentleman. "One shot and that's the end of the vulture." "Really ?" I said. "And would you do that?" "With pleasure," said the gentleman, "I've only got to go home and get my gun. Could you wait another half hour?" "I'm not sure about that," said I, and stood for a moment rigid with pain. Then I said: "Do try it in any case, please." "Very well," said the gentleman, "I'll be as quick as I can." During this conversation the vulture had been calmly listening, letting its eye rove between me and the gentleman. Now I realized that it had understood everything; it took wing, leaned far back to gain impetus, and then, like a javelin thrower, thrust its beak through my mouth, deep into me. Falling back, I was relieved to feel him drowning irretrievably in my blood, which was filling every depth, flooding every shore. The Vulture Franz KafkaThis quote shows rational people overwhelmed by the irrational. The matter-of-factness of the writing is striking.
China "In the afternoon of August 5, 1966, some tenth-grade students at the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University started beating the black gang, a group comprised of three vice-principals and two deans (there was no principal). Many students came to join in. The students splashed ink on the clothes of these five, forced them to wear high hats, hung boards with their names crossed out by red Xs on their necks, forced them to kneel on the ground, hit them with nail-spiked clubs, scalded them with boiling water, and so on. After three hours of torture, the first vice-principal, Bian Zhongyun, lost consciousness and was put into a garbage cart. Two hours later she was sent to the hospital across the street. There, she was later found to have been dead for some time. Another vice-principal, Hu Zhitao, suffered bone fractures. The others were also severely injured. Bian Zhongyun, fifty years old, who had been working for this middle school for seventeen years, was the first educator to be beaten to death by students in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution." -Youqin Wang
The French capitulation to the Germans on June 22 1940 left Britain alarmed that the French navy might be used against it. In combination with the ships of Germany and Italy, and aided by the USSR, this would be an unbeatable force. On Churchill's personal order, the following ultimatum was handed to French Admiral Gensoul, whose ships were docked in the Algerian port of Mers-el-Kabir. The writing is absolutely brilliant and very chilling. It is a masterpiece of concentrated writing, basically a formal death threat by people who did not want to make it, or go through with it. This letter represents the pivotal moment of the 20th century in Europe, since the continuation and entire course of the war was set by it. The result? Following instructions from his Vichy commanders, Gensoul refused to hand over his ships, the Royal Navy opened fire and, after vicious shelling for several hours, destroyed the ships, killing about 1300 French with no British losses. Churchill harshly (and uncharacteristically, since he was a great admirer of France) noted that the French "finally fought with all their vigour for the first time since war broke out". The Germans mounted a propaganda campaign painting the British as duplicitous for attacking their (former) ally. The French launched a retaliatory aerial attack on British forces on Gibraltar. The Americans changed their position (which was to let Britain sink with the rest of Europe) and began to sell it weapons to fight the war.
"Concentration is one of the happiest things in my life. If you cannot concentrate, you are not so happy. I'm not a fast thinker, but once I am interested in something, I am doing it for many years. I don't get bored. I'm kind of a big kettle. It takes time to get boiled, but then I'm always hot." Haruki Murakami, quoted in NYT 2011 Oct 22
A lot of hard work goes into making it look easy. The fact is: the act of weaving words together to look as if they drifted effortlessly onto the page is tough work, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Graydon Carter, Editor of Vanity Fair, Feb 2001
"Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself." The Prisoner
Honors "Listen, I don't need honours. Your real honours are your achievements. What you give, what you leave for ever. I do things with care, with compassion, with love, with history. Harrods is my pyramid. The Ritz is my pyramid. My charities are my pyramids. I grew up with 7,000 years of history behind me. Why would I want honours from people who were wearing animal skins and carrying sticks when my people were the greatest civilisation in the world?" Mohammed Fayed, commenting in The Independent (2005-03-22) on his lack of acceptance by the British establishment.
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall". Confucius
A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." "A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees." "He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence." "Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius." "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." William Blake"There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott." William Wordsworth's comment upon the death of William Blake
"Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible." Miguel de Unamuno
"A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel." John Ruskin
"Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things." Edgar Degas
"No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer" Stigler's Law
I was in a job interview and I opened a book and started reading. Then I said to the guy, "Let me ask you a question. If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "I don't want your job." Steven Wright
"Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein." Joe Theismann Former quarterback
"Writing to the woman who would become his third wife, Hermann Hesse complained:Life for me now holds almost no pleasures any more, in fact I am living in Hell. The event that had reduced Hesse to this state of near-despair was that his wife-to-be, Ninon Dolbin, had moved some of his books without his permission." - John Gray, New Statesman 2018 Dec 5
a) In Sheep's Clothing"The rose opens her petals, And embraces the violet. The lily too has awakened. They bare their heads to the zephyrs."
Iosif Dzhugashvili (aka "Stalin")
b) In Wolf's Clothing
1. "Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China's 600 million people is that they are "poor and blank.".....On a blank sheet of paper free from any mark, the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted." 2. "He buried 460 scholars alive; we have buried forty-six thousand scholars alive.... You [intellectuals] revile us for being Qin Shi Huangs. You are wrong. We have surpassed Qin Shi Huang a hundredfold." (bragging in a 1969 speech that he had out-done China's first emperor, Qin, in his campaign of murder against educated people).
c) How Many Wolves Here?
"0225: The detainee arrives at the interrogation booth at Camp X-Ray. His hood is removed and he is bolted to the floor." Interrogation of Mohammad al-Qahtani
Words of Wisdom
A kite flies highest against the wind.
"Civilisation means a society based upon the opinion of civilians. It means that violence, the rule of warriors and despotic chiefs, the condition of camps and warfare, of riot and tyranny, give place to parliaments where laws are made, and independent courts of justice in which over long periods those laws are maintained." -Winston Churchill
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm". -Winston Churchill
"Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be built like that?" -Winston Churchill, writing to his wife in 1914
"I had not realised what a horrid little fellow he was - like some sort of maggot. His head is big, he stoops. He has thin nervous limp sort of hands. He looks like a drug-taker, or at least as if there was something wrong to be ashamed of... -A. C. Benson (upon meeting Churchill in 1915: clearly not a fan.)
Never stop. One stops as soon as something is about to happen.
"The task is, not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees." Erwin Schrodinger
"Everything of importance has already been seen by someone who did not discover it." Whitehead
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." George Orwell
The power of accurate observation is called cynicism by those who have not got it. - G. B. Shaw
"It takes effort to inspire people to appreciate the violations they're suffering and to fight with dignity. So it was humbling for us to go to the back of the bus, but we'd been conditioned to go to the back of the bus, to not vote, to assume we couldn't vote because we weren't qualified, because we'd done something wrong. We had to be taught to fight. We had to be taught dignity over surrender." -Jesse Jackson Observer interview with Elizabeth Day, 2010 June 20
"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim." -Eli Wiesel
"It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact." -Edmund Burke
"No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot." - G. B. Shaw
"If knowledge hangs around your neck Like pearls instead of chains, You are a lucky man". -Alan Price
"I have that in me that can convert poverty into riches, adversity into prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me." -Sir Thomas Browne in Religio Medici - 1643
"The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself". -Rita Mae Brown
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -G. B. Shaw
"In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue." -Sayre's Law (often mis-attributed to Henry Kissinger)
"If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out, and difficult". Heraclitus
"We are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of the child at play. " Heraclitus again.
No endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect. Edward Teller
"You can't be a sweet cucumber in a vinegar barrel" Phillip Zimbardo
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take a lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new". Nicolo Machivelli
"Many cultures have considered the shadow world; the Aboriginal's dreamtime, the imaginal realm, even more "real" than this dimension, everything must happen there first. As Robert Anton Wilson notes at the end of Prometheus Rising, "The future exists first in imagination, then in will, and then in reality". Howlin' Magic (from The Dreaming 2007)
"Reading makes a full man; speaking makes a ready man; writing makes an exact man." Francis Bacon
"Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue." Francis Bacon
"Every battle of ideas is fought on the terrain of language." Zia Haider Rahman (NYT 2016 Apr9)
"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." Niels Bohr.
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." - Yogi Berra
"life is pretty simple: you do some stuff. most fails. some works. you do more of what works. if it works big, others quickly copy it. then you do something else. the trick is the doing something else." Phillip Torrone
"The Pointlessness of art is not the pointlessness of a game; it is the pointlessness of human life itself, and form in art is properly the simulation of the self-contained aimlessness of the universe. Good art reveals what we are usually too selfish and too timid to recognize, the minute and absolutely random detail of the world, and reveals it together with a sense of unity and form. This form often seems to us mysterious because it resists the easy patterns of the fantasy, whereas there is nothing mysterious about the forms of bad art since they are recognizable and familiar rat-runs of selfish day-dream. Good art shows us how difficult it is to be objective by showing us how differently the world looks to an objective vision." -- Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good
"If we had never before looked upon the earth, but suddenly came to it man or woman grown, set down in the midst of a summer mead, would it not seem to us a radiant vision? The hues, the shapes, the song and life of birds, above all the sunlight, the breath of heaven, resting on it; the mind would be filled with its glory, unable to grasp it, hardly believing that such things could be mere matter and no more. Like a dream of some spirit-land it would appear, scarce fit to be touched lest it should fall to pieces, too beautiful to be long watched lest it should fade away. So it seemed to me as a boy, sweet and new like this each morning; and even now, after the years that have passed, and the lines they have worn in the forehead, the summer mead shines as bright and fresh as when my foot first touched the grass." Richard Jefferies The Open Air (1885) http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/thpnr10h.htm
"I don't take the attitude of the following caricature piece: that Nigel comes and says 'We got tritium again - 10**6'. I don't say 'I am going to get in there and check your bloody, and on and on.' I say, 'Mmmm Hmmm.' I put this in my mind, and then I hear bongo has got tritium and bingo has tritium, etc. All have tritium, and I say, 'Gee, probably there.'" John O'Mara Bockris Irish Cold Fusion Researcher
"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion". Francis Bacon
"They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea." More Bacon
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." H.P. Lovecraft"....if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you". -Friedrich Nietzsche
The Overly Confident
"I won't be jailed because they can't prove anything. My biggest problem is avoiding being put into a madhouse.... That's the real problem. Everything else is no big deal." Count Grishnacht, shortly before being jailed for 21 yrs for the murder of Euronymous.
Education "Once I hit junior high in Ann Arbor, I began going to school with the son of the president of Ford Motor Company, with kids of wealth and distinction. But I had a wealth that beat them all. I had the tremendous investment my parents made in me. I got a lot of care. They helped me explore anything I was interested in. This culminated in their evacuation from the master bedroom in the trailer, because that was the only room big enough for my drum kit. They gave me their bedroom." Iggy PopNinety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual. William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906.
"Don't let school get in the way of your education." Mark Twain
Harvard University: Genuine rigor would, of course, challenge the prerogatives and sift the career options of privileged students - it isn't what Harvard wanted. Such teaching would hamper the real institutional mission: instilling in the elite a conviction of innate superiority and a corresponding contempt for people with technical knowledge, culture, talent or professional experience. -Francine Prose, The Guardian, 2017Sep22
Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! George Carlin
If indeed the world in which we live has been produced in accordance with a Plan, we shall have to reckon Nero a saint in comparison with the Author of that Plan. Fortunately, however, the evidence of Divine Purpose is non-existent; so at least one must infer from the fact that no evidence is adduced by those who believe in it. We are, therefore, spared the necessity for that attitude of impotent hatred which every brave and humane man would otherwise be called upon to adopt toward the Almighty Tyrant. -- BERTRAND RUSSELL [The Scientific Outlook, p. 130.]
"Forget a super-race, this royal selective breeding with the very best education and top university tutors has produced the least intellectually curious, least artistic, dullest bunch of polo-playing, hunting, shooting, fishing dullards you could hope not to meet." Polly Townbee, Guardian 2015 March 26 about the royal family, but it applies to most of my neighbors, too.
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