Cal’s Commonplace Book

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a commonplace book is where “one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement.”

“To quote is to recognize another’s wisdom and to share it.”                                                                          – Morris Bishop (from Petrarch and His World)

“The best quotes…guide, motivate, validate, challenge, and comfort us in our own lives. They reiterate what we’ve figured out and remind us how much there is yet to learn. Pithily and succinctly, they lift us momentarily out of the confused and conflicted human muddle.”  – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

Updated April 16, 2017

*via “Bookish Quotations” at the Atlanta Booklover’s Blog

Aging

“To my deafness I’m accustomed, / To my dentures I’m resigned, / I can manage my bifocals, / But Oh how I miss my mind.” – Alec Douglas Home

“Extreme old age is as lonely as God. It has no one to talk to.” – Violet Trefusis, Don’t Look Round

“Aging calls us outdoors, after the adult indoors of work and love-life and keeping stylish, into the lovely simplicities that we thought we had outgrown as children. We come again to love the plain world, its stone and wood, its air and water….The act of seeing itself is glorious, and of hearing, and feeling and tasting….I now [am] in my amazed, insistent appreciation of the physical world, of this planet with its scenery and weather—that pathetic discovery which the old make that every day and season has its beauty and its uses, that even a walk to the mailbox is a precious experience, that all species of tree and weed have their signature and style and the day is a pageant of clouds.” – John Updike (Self-Consciousness, 1989)

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” –  Gabriel García Márquez

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” – Edith Wharton

“As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” – Zachary Scott

“Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.” – Jonathan Swift

“Age is a high price to pay for maturity.” – Tom Stoppard

“If the young knew – if the old could!” – Alois Verre

“Old people like to give good advice, since they can no longer set bad examples.” – La Rochefoucauld

“If you wish to live long you must be willing to grow old.” – George Lawton

“Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man.” – Leon Trotsky

“The woman who has a gift for old age is the woman who delights in comfort. If warmth is known as the blessing it is, if your bed, your bath, your best-liked food and drink are regarded as fresh delights, then you know how to thrive when old. If you get the things you like on the simplest possible terms, serve yourself lightly, efficiently and calmly, all is almost well. If you are truly calm you stand a chance of surviving much….Sensuous pleasure seems necessary to old age a s intellectual pleasure palls a little. At times music justifies living, but mere volume of sound can overwhelm, and I find silence exquisite. I have spent my whole life reading, only to find that most of it is lost, so books no longer have their former command. I live by rectitude or reverence, or courtesy, by being ready in case life calls, all lightly peppered with despair. This makes me rest on comfort. I could use the beauty and dignity of a cat but, denied that, I try for her quiet.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 88-89)

“One of the pleasures of age is reading books long forgotten, with only the enlargement they once brought remembered.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 99)

“Old people can seldom say ‘we’; not those who live alone, and even those who live with their families are alone in their experience of age, so the habit of thinking in terms of ‘we’ goes, and they become ‘I.’ It takes increasing courage to be ‘I’ as one’s frailty increases. There is so little strength left that one wants shelter, one seeks the small and natural, but where to find it? A garden, a cat, a wood fire, the country, to walk in woods and fields, even to look at them, but these would take strength I have not got, or a man whom also I have not got. So, here in a flat, I must make the round of the day pleasant, getting up, going to bed, meals, letters with my breakfast tray: can I make it total to a quiet heart? I have to be a miracle of quiet to make the flame in my heart burn low, and on some good days I am a miracle of quiet. But I cannot conceive how age and tranquility came to be synonymous.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 130-131)

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Satchel Paige

“Old age does not exist. At least we do not suffer from continuous old age at the end of our lives; like trees, we have, every year, our attack of age. We lose our leaves, our temper, our taste for life; then they come back.” ~ Jules Renard, Journals

“Life has become a round of simple pleasures and domestic delights.” – Edith Sitwell

Anger

“Think, when you are enraged at anyone, what would probably become your sentiments should he die during the dispute.” – Shenstone

“When the wise is angry he is wise no longer.” – Talmudic proverb

“Anger is never without an argument, but seldom with a good one.” – Halifax

“Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.” – Robert Ingersoll

“The best remedy for anger is delay.” – Seneca

“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.” – Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951); quoted by Patrick Kurp in his blog Anecdotal Evidence

Ageing

“The woman who has a gift for old age is the woman who delights in comfort. If warmth is known as the blessing it is, if your bed, your bath, your best-liked food and drink are regarded as fresh delights, then you know how to thrive when old. If you get the things you like on the simplest possible terms, serve yourself lightly, efficiently and calmly, all is almost well. If you are truly calm you stand a chance of surviving much….Sensuous pleasure seems necessary to old age a s intellectual pleasure palls a little. At times music justifies living, but mere volume of sound can overwhelm, and I find silence exquisite. I have spent my whole life reading, only to find that most of it is lost, so books no longer have their former command. I live by rectitude or reverence, or courtesy, by being ready in case life calls, all lightly peppered with despair. This makes me rest on comfort. I could use the beauty and dignity of a cat but, denied that, I try for her quiet.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 88-89)

“We old people are not in modern life. Our impressions of it are at second or third hand. It is something we cannot know. We do know its effect on us, and the impact is so great that it can alienate us from our past, making it seem unlikely and irrelevant. We live in a limbo of our own. Our world narrows, its steady narrowing is a constant pain. Friends die, others move away, some become too frail to receive us, and I become too frail to travel to them. Talk exhausts us, the expense of the telephone reduces us to a breathless rush of words, so that letters are our chief channel of friendship. Letters can be scarce so we tend to live in a world of our own making, citizens of Age, but otherwise stateless.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 137)

“I feel the solemnity of death, and the possibility of some form of continuity. Death feels a friend because it will release us from the deterioration of which we cannot see the end. It is waiting for death that wears us down, and the distaste for what we may become. These thought are with us always, and in our hearts we know ignominy as well as dignity. We are people to whom something important is about to happen. But before then, these endless years before the end, can we summon enough merit to warrant a place for ourselves? We got into the future not knowing the answer to our question.”  – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 138-139)

“But we also find that as we age we are more alive than seems likely, convenient, or even bearable. Too often our problem is the fervor of life within us. My dear fellow octogenarians, how are we to carry so much life, and what are we to do with it?…When truly old, too frail to use the vigor that pulses in us, and weary, sometimes even scornful of what can seem the pointless activity of mankind, we may sink down to some deeper level and find a new supply of life that amazes us. All uncharted and uncertain, we seem to lead the way into the unknown. It can feel as though all our lives we have been caught in absurdly small personalities and circumstances and beliefs. Our accustomed shell cracks here, cracks there, and that tiresomely rigid person we supposed to be ourselves stretches, expands, and with all inhibitions gone we realize that age is not failure, nor disgraces; though mortifying w did not invent it. Age forces us to deal with idleness, emptiness, not being needed, not able to do, helplessness just ahead perhaps. All this is true, but one has had one’s life, one could be full to the brim. Yet is the end of our procession through time, and our steps are uncertain. Here we come to a new place of which I knew nothing. We come to where age is boring, one’s interest in it by-passed; further on, go further on, one finds that one has arrived at a larger place still, the place of release. There one says, ‘Age can seem a debacle, a rout of all one most needs, but that is not the whole truth. What of the part of us, the nameless, boundless part who experienced the rout, the witness who saw so much go, who remains undaunted and knows with clear conviction that there is more to us than age? Part of that which is outside age has been created by age, so there is gain as well as loss. If we have suffered defeat we are somewhere, somehow beyond the battle.’ – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 140-141)

“…I am so busy being old that I dread interruptions. This sense of vigor and spaciousness may cease, and I must enjoy it while it is here.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968,  page 141)

“A long life makes me feel nearer truth, yet it won’t go into words, so how can I convey it? I can’t, and I want to. I want to tell people approaching and perhaps fearing age that it is a time of discovery.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 142)

“One cannot be honest even at the end of one’s life, for no one is wholly alone. We are bound to those we love, or to those who love us, and to those who need us to be brave, or content, or even happy enough to allow them not to worry about us. So we must refrain from giving pain, as our last gift to our fellows. For love of humanity consume as much of your travail as you can. Not all, never that terrible muteness that drives away human warmth. But when we are almost free of life we must retain guile that those still caught in life may not suffer more. The old must often try to be silent, if it is within their power, since silence may be like space, the intensely alive something that contains all.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 143)

Anxiety

“It is the dread of something happening, something unknown and dreadful, that makes us do anything to keep the flicker of talk from dying out.” – L.P. Smith

“Only threats are frightening; one soon comes to terms with facts.” – Oswald Spengler

“Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.” Hoffer

“I can finish what’s in front of me, or worry about everything else.” – Sy Safransky

“We are here to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” – Krishnamurti

“The main of life is, indeed, composed of small incidents and petty occurrences: of wishes for objects not remote, and grief for disappointments of no fatal consequence; of insect vexations, which sting us and fly away; impertinencies, which buzz a while about us, and are heard no more; of meteorous pleasures, which dance before us and are dissipated; of compliments, which glide off the soul like other music, and are forgotten by him that gave, and him that received them.” – Samuel Johnson (The Rambler #68)

 “If you want peace, stop fighting. If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.” – Peter McWilliams (Life 101)

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.” – Glenn Turner

“The man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.” –  Montaigne

“[Fear] is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”

– Yann Martel (Life of Pi)

“Hello, fear. Thank you for being here. You’re my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

“Desperation is unsustainable.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

“This is not the moment to wilt into the underbrush of your insecurities. You’ve earned the right to grow.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

“Mere living is not a good, but living well is. Accordingly, the wise man wil live as long as he ought, not as long as he can. …He always reflects concerning the quality, not the quantity, of his life….Dying well means escape from the danger of living ill.” – Seneca

“Every man desires to reach old age; in other words, a state of life of which it may be said ‘ It is bad today, and it will be worse tomorrow; and so on till the worst of all.'” – Arthur Schopenhauer (Studies in Pessimism)

Archetypes

“The Moon operates on a level of human consciousness that not even the most corrosive form of rationality can possibly reach.” – Mircea Eliade (Traite d’historie des religions, 1948)

Architecture

“I learnt at Oxford how of all the arts, architecture is the only one which cannot be ignored either by the philistine or the indifferent. It is there. It cannot be avoided, and has to be seen. It must shape the minds and thoughts of all men whether they dislike or like it. In which case it is to the public’s advantage to be good, and not bad. We cannot turn our backs upon it as we can upon painting, sculpture, and music, and pretend it does not concern or influence us – that we do not notice it. I also realized the terrible fragility of architecture. It is vulnerable to every insult, whether direct mutilation or indirect neglect, ignorant improvement, or environmental change.” James Lees-Milne, Another Self (Coward-McCann, 1970), p. 93

Art

“Great art is never produced for its own sake. It is too difficult to be worth the effort.” – George Bernard Shaw (Preface to Three Plays by Brienx)

“Science is spectrum analysis: art is photosynthesis.” – Kraus

“Art is to society as dreams are to the person.” – Alex Mogelon

“Being an artist is a commitment to preserving and expanding the province of the human soul.” – Ron Milestone

“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.” – Schopenhauer

“An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow.” – ascribed to both Barrett and to Booth

‘The artist feeds the public on his own bleeding insides.” – William James (Letter to Henry James, February 15, 1891)

“Art is not truth. Art is a lie that enables us to recognize truth.” – Pablo Picasso

“Art gives us the illusion of liberation from the sordid business of being.” – Fernando Pessoa

“That which, perhaps, hears more silly remarks than anything else in the world, is a picture in a museum.” – The Brothers Goncourt

“Art is the attention we pay to the wholeness of the world. Ancient intuition went foraging after consistency. Religion, science, and art are alike rooted in the faith that the world is of a piece, that something is common to all its diversity, and that if we knew enough we could see and give a name to its harmony.” – Guy Davenport, in his essay on the fiction of Eudora Welty, “That Faire Field of Enna,” in The Geography of the Imagination (1981); quoted by Patrick Kurp in his blog Anecdotal Evidence

Attention

“Nobody sees a flower, really – it is so small – we haven’t time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” – Georgia O’Keeffe [Quoted by Mary Ciofalo in Redemption Stories: Unwasted Pain (AuthorHouse, 2009)]

“Art is always the replacement of indifference by attention.” – Guy Davenport

“Drink a mindful cup of tea every day.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“I don’t think [a meaning for life is] what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

“To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” – Paul Valery

“This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.” – Marilynne Robinson (Gilead)

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow cycles of nature, is a help.” – May Sarton

“Seeing is in some respects an art, which must be learnt.” – William Herschel (1738-1822)

Beauty

“Beauty is dangerous–that’s why there’s so much energy put into making beauty seem shallow and something to be achieved by following some higher-ups rules. Real beauty makes a person in its presence feel “This moment here is enough,” or even “This life is enough because sometimes there’s beauty.” Many higher-ups are dependent on it seeming to many people that nothing is ever enough, on making people in general feel that they have to try to feel an unfillable hole of deficiency in themselves and the world. Actual beauty can make that deficiency seem wrong, silly, irrelevant. Here we all are, and sometimes, near us and sometimes through us, beauty happens. Higher ups are irrelevant then, as higher ups. As humans, they could join the awe.” – Ann Herbert (Blogpost: “Peace and Love and Noticing the Details,” July 13, 2010)

“Pure beauty drives those who are willing and able enough for its reception back into the depths of their inner self. It supercedes all their other interests and makes them feel sad. The badge of true beauty is sadness….The difficulty is not how to understand beauty, but how to be able to stand it.” –Hanns Sachs (a pupil of Freud’s)

“To feel beauty is a better thing than to understand how we come to feel it….Reflection is indeed a part of life, but the last part.” – George Santayana (The Sense of Beauty)

“…Beauty cannot be loved in a fruitful manner if one loves it simply for the pleasures it affords. And just as to seek for happiness for its own sake leads only to tedium, and to find it one must seek for something other than it, so aesthetic pleasure is given to us in addition if we love Beauty for its own sake, as something real existing outside of ourselves and infinitely more important than the joy it affords us.” – Marcel Proust (“John Ruskin,” Against Saint Beuve and Other Essays)

“Beauty must include three qualities: integrity, or completeness–since things that lack something are thereby ugly; right proportion or harmony; and brightness—we call things bright in colour beautiful.” – Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, translated by T.C. O’Brien)

“Let us enjoy, whenever we have an opportunity, the delight of admiration, and perform the duties of reverence.” – Walter Landor

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka

“Beauty transforms the beholder.” – David Stendl-Rast

“Over the Yorkshire Garden winter lies dark; in the autumnal desolation I can think of no more consoling task than to remember the bygone joys of summer. For beautiful things, perhaps, are never quite so perfectly beautiful as when they have passed beyond the untrustworthy criticism of eyesight into the safe guardianship of memory. This is a hard saying; but I fancy I detect a meaning in it. For, into the actual seeing and enjoying of a thing there always enters the personal element of the moment; and, with the personal element, incompleteness. One sees too much, or one is tired, or one is cross and hungry… A thousand different reasons combine to make the visual impression crowded and unsatisfactory; one cannot seize it and incorporate it; the whole thing is too big for us at the time. But distance and absence clarify the view, wipe out the confusing touches, and reduce the chaos to a composition of bare essential lines.” – Reginald Farrer, Among the Hills

Beginning

“The beginnings of all things are small.” – Cicero

“The only joy in the world is to begin.” – Pavese

“All beginnings are delightful, the threshold is the place to pause.” – Goethe

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Calligraphy

“A written letter is like a bowl filled with a certain content. The purer the content, the more delicate strings of the human soul it touches.” –  L. Pronenko

“A flourish is to be neat and glamorous and, at the same time, to be filled with motion, life energy, thought, and wit of the master.” –  H. Korger

“Perfection of handwriting needs proper education, regular exercises, and purity of the soul.” – Yakut Mustasimi

“There are five virtues: accuracy, literacy, a strong hand, industriousness, and the perfect writing utensils.”  -Mir-Ali Khoravi

“A good flourish is the mood and soul of an artist creating capricious and delicate beauty with a pen′ s nib.” – Yu Greschuk

“Calligraphy is a kind of music not for the ears, but for the eyes.” – (V. Lazursky

“Calligraphy is the most intimate, private, and spontaneous expressive means. Like a fingerprint or voice it is unique with every person.” – German Zapf

“For the largest part ill handwriting in the world is caused by hurry.” – Lewis Carroll

“What joy there is in hearing yourself think, and to make that thinking into ink.”    – John Olsen

“The advantage of drawing letters is that we can incorporate nuance. Nuance, rather than slavish precision, is what breathes life into our letters.”                           –  Peter Thornton

“The man who works with his hands is a laborer. The man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman. The man who works with his hands, his brain, and his heart is an artist.” – Louis Nizer

“Calligraphy is the ultimate synthesis of what I love: language, art and human connection.” – Joy Deneen

“Calligraphy frees emotions and abilities which are hidden in the depths of personality. It activates the power of the soul.” – Karlgeorg Hoefer

“It is the words that are read, but the calligraphy that is felt.” – Steven Skaggs

“The letters of our Roman alphabet are like people in their infinite variety. Some are short and squat, others tall and slender; some run and caper about joyfully, others refuse to budge from their appointed places. Letters have a life of their own.” – Paul Shaw

“Despite the hard work and frustration, the striving for excellence is part of the fun of lettering.” – Marsha Brady

“Lettering is my music.” – Peter Thornton

“Calligraphy is graphic music moving with rhythmic gesture across a field of silent space which surrounds it and gives it dimension.” — Robert J. Palladino

“Writing is the painting of the voice.” – Voltaire

“Calligraphy: the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand.” – Robert Bringhurst

Calligraphy: the art of excellence.

Calligraphy paints words.

Calligraphy is frozen poetry.

Calligraphy is a remedy and mental gymnastics.

A letter is a Word′s clothing.

The significance of calligraphy is spiritual harmony and the birth of motion.

Calligraphy is the art of putting the brush on paper properly and then accurately removing it.

When there are no words left, the meaning is still preserved.

Calligraphy requires perfect technical skills, naturalness, inspiration and spontaneous natural power.

Calligraphy structures the chaos by means of hieroglyphics.

Calligraphy is the art of deliberate hieroglyphic corruption and transformation in order to reach natural harmony.

A good flourish is sometime too jiggish, but in general the obedient child of a letter.

Preciseness, beauty, distinctness. Simplicity, originality, proportion. Unity, mastership, freedom.

Our task is clear: write fine letters and place them properly.

To write is to love again.

Excerpts from “The Material Artefact,” Chapter 12 of The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing by Ewan Clayton (Counterpoint, 2013):

Writing and dancing, movement and time

Writing is much more than a mere record of speech. Some script element – colors, changes of styles of lettering, from roman to italic or gothic – have no direct reference to speech, and there is much that writing of course can miss: intonation, speed, rising and falling volume, the way speech and facial expressions interact, as well as the alliance of speech with gesture, in an interplay of choreographed signals passing between speaker and listener. None of this writing captures.

But writing also does more than speech. It communicates through different senses – color, shape, heft, texture. It also has a different relationship to time. Its substrates can last for a long period, often way beyond the lifetime of the author. It can physically travel through great distances, it can be constructed collaboratively, its length can ‘go on’ for far longer than someone can talk without pause. It can be revisited. Writing can also be integrated with illustrations. It can arrange things visually, in tabular and radial and nested forms that are difficult to do in spoken language; …there is no aural equivalent to the index and contents page. Writing is implicated in the way we arrange our relationships and build and coordinate our institutions, precisely taking off at that point where things become too vast (as in the nineteenth-century factory) or too complex (the encyclopedia) for speech to work effectively. As…Mike Hales expressed it to me: ‘Writing and speech enjoy a partnership, our lives potentially unfolding through the choreography of now one, now the other,’ like two cranes dancing in an elaborate courtship.

The other aspect of the primitive materiality of writing that we should not forget is the writer’s own movement: the very act of writing itself, which swings through arcs of activity, and also slows and pauses whilst thoughts are gathered. When a pen finally falls into action, the joy of being a fluent writer and a calligrapher is released. It is as if you are a free-runner in a city of letterform, surmounting all the special problems in an instant: how do I make a W and an O appear harmonious. How do I flow from the bottom of a capital S up into and out of a capital H all in one movement? This delight in movement is shared by all traditions. The aim is to go beyond technique and feel the form in the entire body. When that point is reached, the whole world around one begins to speak in terms of form, movement and structure. And it is a two-way process, as you experienced the world differently so your awareness of your own aliveness is changed; and as your sense of your aliveness in your body alters, so you discover the world around you in yet another light. This cycle keeps repeating itself. This is why calligraphy offers a lifelong path of exploration and discovery. Though I am only moving the tip of a pen, it is as if my whole self in tumbling after it.

The practice of calligraphy can make us more aware of ourselves and heightens our appreciation of the movement of life in and around us – for writing is a gestural art. Jean Francois Billeter in his book The Chinese Art of Writing describes a particular feature of the process:

[When] the manner of perceiving external reality changes: it is no longer things in themselves that hold our attention, but the movement which quickens them and the expression which emanates from them. It is no longer a face, but the hint of a smile,; nor a woman, but a particular step and bearing; not the kitten, but his pranks. Observation becomes quicker and more nimble. It catches on the wing what we may can ‘expressive moments’: not fixed instants, such as a snapshot might record, but ‘moments’ of a quality which only a gesture can reproduce – a musical or calligraphic gesture for instance. It is these ‘moments’…which the calligrapher perceives with increasing keenness as he progresses, and which he puts into his calligraphy.

‘A word can be felt. A word can also be danced’ [Akim, quoted by M. Mai and A. Remke in Urban Calligraphy and Beyond]

[Calligraphy’s necessary preoccupation with maximum embodiment of the present moment results in something psychologist Daniel Stern calls the ‘vitality’ emotion.] …The present moment actually has a duration and it has a sense of dynamic event, almost a small story lying within it. This dynamic has a shape or ‘figure,’ best described in terms of adjectives or adverbs like exploding, surging, accelerating, gliding, pulsing, fluttering, tense, weak, fading. These are all different vitality affects, different patterns of intensity….

In the shapes of its strokes and letters and characters, calligraphy expresses temporal dynamic forms, through movements of the body that incorporate specific material objects and media. The elements that make up letters are expressing subtle combinations of affects – races of movements that produce shoulders, angles, curves, rising lines, falling lines, accelerating lines or ones that fade away; this is especially so when they are orchestrated into families of related forms. When combined together and allowed to expressively modulate letter structure in subtle ways, these dynamics put the art into writing, just as they do into musical phrasing, the precise articulation of a piece of choreography, or the way a movie is edited. This is why writing as an activity – expressive mark-making – can add an important dimension to the written word.

Perhaps writing at its very origins was a particular kind of focal activity that by partially separating a thought or experience out from ourselves (putting it out there) allowed us and others to approach it (and us) in another way. So the process was one of partial disassociation and then re-association or reincorporation in another modality…. No wonder the Chinese thought of writing as incorporating the very energy of life itself.

Changing

“One grows or dies. There is no third possibility.” – Oswald Spengler

“The experience of psychoanalytic treatment suggests that it is slow, painful, and difficult for an adult to reconstruct a radically different way of seeing life, however needlessly miserable his preconceptions make him.” – Peter Morris, Loss and Change (1974)

“No doubt every thing in human beings is changing all the time; and so, under the surface, is one’s feelings for them….But it’s so difficult to remember the change is going on, especially when one establishes what are called ‘permanent’ relationships in daily life.” – E.M. Forster (Letters)

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” – Anaïs Nin

“[People] think that they should always like what they do and that their lives should be trouble-free. Consequently, their mental energy is wasted by their impossible attempts to avoid feelings of displeasure or boredom. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect or a procrastinator or unhealthy or lazy or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself.” – Shoma Morita (quoted by Oliver Burkeman in “On Failed New Year’s Resolutions,” Newsweek, December 12, 2012:  http://www.newsweek.com/oliver-burkeman-failed-new-years-resolutions-63617)

“Many take hold of something and refuse to let go, even when they become stuck in one place, even if they can’t taste the sweetness they first reached for in life. Some hold onto another person and refuse to let go, even when each part of the relationship becomes a trap. Others take up an idea, a political belief or a religious notion that was supposed to set them free. After a time, they become trapped inside narrowing ideas or rigid rules. Next thing you know, they are caught in a trap made of their beliefs.

Change is hard because we hold onto what keeps us from changing; because freedom feels like losing something that we are used to clinging to; because real change means that we would no longer desire what others insist upon and no longer restrict ourselves to the game at hand. Fate may be what we wish to deny when claiming that we are free; but it is also what we unconsciously cling to in order to avoid letting go of who we think we are.”

– Michael Meade (Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul)

Character

“Never marry the only good one of a family.” – Jowett

Communicating

“When we want to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything, but one does not like to be mistaken….” Pascal (Pensees, #9)

“How difficult it is to submit anything to the judgment of another, without prejudicing his judgment by the manner in which we submit it!” – Pascal (Pensees, #105)

“If there is no listener, then there is no use talking. If there is someone who is willing to listen, then there is more desire to explain….When we shout loudly, it only makes our own voices hoarse.” – The Dalai Lama

“Something we see quite clearly, and which nonetheless is very difficult to express, is always worth the trouble of trying to put into words.” – Paul Valery

“The head cannot take in more than the seat can endure.” – Winston Churchill on long speeches

“The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

“A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” – Benjamin Franklin

“When you shoot an arrow of truth, dip its point in honey.” – Arab proverb

“Conversation must be near the top of human pleasures. Babies, even a few months old, have discovered this, and beguile themselves with what sounds like reflective conversation. They modulate sounds thoughtfully and subtly, in fact they enthrall themselves with the comfort of the human voice, as satisfying when alone as with a companion. If my youngest grandchild, at eight as months, pauses as though he had offered all his observations for the time being, I say something like, ‘But there must have been more to it than that,’ and he then continues as though he had indeed recalled another aspect of the subject.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 147-148)

Compassion

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than to avenge it?” – Eleanor Roosevelt [Quoted by Mary Ciofalo in Redemption Stories: Unwasted Pain (2009)]

“We are taught that the welfare of part of the human race is more important than that of the whole….Concern for the welfare of the human race is not within the tradition into which any of us was born and [it] has no conscience value. It must be learned intellectually against the pressures of many competing loyalties….” – Breck Chisholm

“It was a saying of Bion, that though the boys throw stones at frogs in sport, yet the frogs do not die in sport but in earnest.” – Plutarch

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don’t do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice.” – Schopenhauer

“Truly good-hearted is the man – how rare he is! – who never blames others for the ills that befall them. ” – Paul Valery

“Indifference to the world is not love of God.” – W.E. Gladstone

“You ask me what the human soul is? The soul is where God works compassion.” – Meister Eckhart

“Bread for myself is a material question; bread for my neighbor is a spiritual question.” – Jacques Maritain

“It is to the humanity in a man that we give, and not to his moral character.” – Julian the Apostate

“We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone could be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time.” – Tim Kreider

“Compassion isn’t abou solutions. It’s about giving all the love that you’ve got.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

Conforming

“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.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes – our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Do as everyone else does unless it is positively wrong.” – Jowett

“To do exactly the opposite is also a form of imitation.” – Lichtenberg

“By conforming to the norm, you perpetuate the norm.” – Alex Vasquez [quoted in The Sun]

“We begin with the children. It is imperative to catch them in time. Without the most thorough brainwashing, their minds would see through our dirty tricks. Children are not fools, but we shall turn them into imbeciles, with high IQ’s if possible. This condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being un-conscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the ‘normal man.’ Society highly values it’s normal man, it ‘educates’ its children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be ‘normal.’ Normal men have killed over 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years… – R.D. Laing (1967)

Confidence

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” —William G.T. Shedd

Creativity

“A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.” – Sir Barnett Cocks (born 1907; quoted in New Scientist, November 8, 1973)

“Nothing dies faster than a new idea in a committee meeting.” – H.V. Procknow

Deciding

“Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forgo an advantage.” – Disraeli

“Compromise is odious to passionate natures because it seems a surrender; and to intellectual natures because it seems a confusion.” – George Santayana

“All our final resolutions are made in a state of mind which is not going to last.” – Proust

“No rules can take the place of experience and good judgment, but some of the results of experience may be best indicated by rules.” – Charles Cutter (1904)

“No restraint is more irksome to a man than to be left to his own discretion.” – Archbishop Whately

“He that leaveth nothing to chance will do few things ill, but he will do very few things.” – Halifax

“A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.” – Emerson

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which has to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” – F.H. Bradley

“A man is his own best adviser – if he’s wise enough to ask for the advice.” – Jowett

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

“There is no right way to do a wrong thing.” (Leaves of Gold)

“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.” – Robert Brault

“When the path reveals itself, follow it.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

Denial

“The cat which isn’t let out of the bag often becomes a skeleton in the cupboard.” – Geoffrey Madan

Dreaming

“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” – Fisher

Education

“The surest way to corrupt a young man is to teach him to esteem more highly those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Nietzsche

“A true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.” – Alcott

“The indispensible and sufficient condition of anything’s being educative is that it shall arouse some subjective passion.” – William James

“Aways take out your watch when a child asks you the time.” – J.A. Spender

“Those who know the least obey the best.” – Farquhar

“Nothing is more terrible than to see ignorance in action.” – Goethe (Maxims and Reflections)

“To seek enlightenment is to seek annihilation, rebirth, and the taking up of burdens.” – Andrew Boyd (Daily Afflictions, 2002)

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” — Robert Frost

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.” – Christopher Hitchens (Letters to a Young Contrarian, 2001)

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again. – Andre Gide

“A teacher must walk a thin line, destroying complacency without destroying confidence.” – Jeremy Denk

Embodiment

“Illness is the most heeded of doctors; to goodness and wisdom we only make promises: pain we obey.” – Proust

“Only one who is in pain really senses nothing but himself; pleasure does not enjoy itself but something beside itself. Pain is the only inner sense found by introspection which can rival in independence from experienced objects the self-evident certainty of logical and arithmetical reasoning.” – Hannah Arendt

“Grace is to the body what clear thinking is to the mind.” – La Rochefoucauld

Essay-Writing

Excerpt from “On the Writing of Essays,” in Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country by Alexander Smith (1905)  [Cal has inserted most of the paragraph breaks]:

…The essay, as a literary form, resembles the lyric, in so far as it is moulded by some central mood—whimsical, serious, or satirical. Give the mood, and the essay, from the first sentence to the last, grows around it as the cocoon grows around the silkworm. The essay-writer is a chartered libertine, and a law unto himself. A quick ear and eye, an ability to discern the infinite suggestiveness of common things, a brooding meditative spirit, are all that the essayist requires to start business with….

It is not the essayist’s duty to inform, to build pathways through metaphysical morasses, to cancel abuses, any more than it is the duty of the poet to do these things. Incidentally he may do something in that way, just as the poet may, but it is not his duty, and should not be expected of him. Skylarks are primarily created to sing, although a whole choir of them may be baked in pies and brought to table; they were born to make music, although they may incidentally stay the pangs of vulgar hunger.

The essayist is a kind of poet in prose, and if questioned harshly as to his uses, he might be unable to render a better apology for his existence than a flower might.

The essay should be pure literature as the poem is pure literature. The essayist wears a lance, but he cares more for the sharpness of its point than for the pennon that flutters on it, than for the banner of the captain under whom he serves. He plays with death as Hamlet plays with Yorick’s skull, and he reads the morals—strangely stern, often, for such fragrant lodging—which are folded up in the bosoms of roses. He has no pride, and is deficient in a sense of the congruity and fitness of things. He lifts a pebble from the ground, and puts it aside more carefully than any gem; and on a nail in a cottage-door he will hang the mantle of his thought, heavily brocaded with the gold of rhetoric. He finds his way into the Elysian fields through portals the most shabby and commonplace.

The essayist plays with his subject, now whimsical, now in grave, now in melancholy mood. He lies upon the idle grassy bank, …letting the world flow past him, and from this thing and the other he extracts his mirth and his moralities. His main gift is an eye to discover the suggestiveness of common things; to find a sermon in the most unpromising texts.

Beyond the vital hint, the first step, his discourses are not beholden to their titles. Let him take up the most trivial subject, and it will lead him away to the great questions over which the serious imagination loves to brood,—fortune, mutability, death,—just as inevitably as the runnel, trickling among the summer hills, on which sheep are bleating, leads you to the sea; or as, turning down the first street you come to in the city, you are led finally, albeit by many an intricacy, out into the open country, with its waste places and its woods, where you are lost in a sense of strangeness and solitariness. The world is to the meditative man what the mulberry plant is to the silkworm.

The essay-writer has no lack of subject-matter. He has the day that is passing over his head; and, if unsatisfied with that, he has the world’s six thousand years to depasture his gay or serious humour upon. I idle away my time here, and I am finding new subjects every hour. Everything I see or hear is an essay in bud. The world is everywhere whispering essays, and one need only be the world’s amanuensis. The proverbial expression which last evening the clown dropped as he trudged homeward to supper, the light of the setting sun on his face, expands before me to a dozen pages. The coffin of the pauper, which to-day I saw carried carelessly along, is as good a subject as the funeral procession of an emperor. Craped drum and banner add nothing to death; penury and disrespect take nothing away. Incontinently my thought moves like a slow-paced hearse with sable nodding plumes. Two rustic lovers, whispering between the darkening hedges, is as potent to project my mind into the tender passion as if I had seen Romeo touch the cheek of Juliet in the moon-light garden. Seeing a curly-headed child asleep in the sunshine before a cottage door is sufficient excuse for a discourse on childhood; quite as good as if I had seen infant Cain asleep in the lap of Eve with Adam looking on. A lark cannot rise to heaven without raising as many thoughts as there are notes in its song. Dawn cannot pour its white light on my village without starting from their dim lair a hundred reminiscences; nor can sunset burn above yonder trees in the west without attracting to itself the melancholy of a lifetime. When spring unfolds her green leaves I would be provoked to indite an essay on hope and youth, were it not that it is already writ in the carols of the birds; and I might be tempted in autumn to improve the occasion, were it not for the rustle of the withered leaves as I walk through the woods. Compared with that simple music, the saddest-cadenced words have but a shallow meaning.

The essayist who feeds his thoughts upon the segment of the world which surrounds him cannot avoid being an egotist; but then his egotism is not unpleasing. If he be without taint of boastfulness, of self-sufficiency, of hungry vanity, the world will not press the charge home. If a man discourses continually of his wines, his plate, his titled acquaintances, the number and quality of his horses, his men-servants and maid-servants, he must discourse very skilfully indeed if he escapes being called a coxcomb. If a man speaks of death—tells you that the idea of it continually haunts him, that he has the most insatiable curiosity as to death and dying, that his thought mines in churchyards like a “demon-mole”—no one is specially offended, and that this is a dull fellow is the hardest thing likely to be said of him. Only, the egotism that overcrows you is offensive, that exalts trifles and takes pleasure in them, that suggests superiority in matters of equipage and furniture; and the egotism is offensive, because it runs counter to and jostles your self-complacency. The egotism which rises no higher than the grave is of a solitary and a hermit kind—it crosses no man’s path, it disturbs no man’s amour propre. You may offend a man if you say you are as rich as he, as wise as he, as handsome as he. You offend no man if you tell him that, like him, you have to die. The king, in his crown and coronation robes, will allow the beggar to claim that relationship with him. To have to die is a distinction of which no man is proud. The speaking about one’s self is not necessarily offensive. A modest, truthful man speaks better about himself than about anything else, and on that subject his speech is likely to be most profitable to his hearers. Certainly, there is no subject with which he is better acquainted, and on which he has a better title to be heard. And it is this egotism, this perpetual reference to self, in which the charm of the essayist resides.

If a man is worth knowing at all, he is worth knowing well. The essayist gives you his thoughts, and lets you know, in addition, how he came by them. He has nothing to conceal; he throws open his doors and windows, and lets him enter who will. You like to walk round peculiar or important men as you like to walk round a building, to view it from different points, and in different lights. Of the essayist, when his mood is communicative, you obtain a full picture. You are made his contemporary and familiar friend. You enter into his humours and his seriousness. You are made heir of his whims, prejudices, and playfulness. You walk through the whole nature of him, as you walk through the streets of Pompeii, looking into the interior of stately mansions, reading the satirical scribblings on the walls. And the essayist’s habit of not only giving you his thoughts, but telling you how he came by them, is interesting, because it shows you by what alchemy the ruder world becomes transmuted into the finer. We like to know the lineage of ideas, just as we like to know the lineage of great earls and swift race-horses. We like to know that the discovery of the law of gravitation was born of the fall of an apple in an English garden on a summer afternoon….

The essayist does not usually appear early in the literary history of a country: he comes naturally after the poet and the chronicler. His habit of mind is leisurely; he does not write from any special stress of passionate impulse; he does not create material so much as he comments upon material already existing. It is essential for him that books should have been written, and that they should, at least to some extent, have been read and digested. He is usually full of allusions and references, and these his reader must be able to follow and understand. And in this literary walk, as in most others, the giants came first: Montaigne and Lord Bacon were our earliest essayists, and, as yet, they are our best.

In point of style, these essays are different from anything that could now be produced. Not only is the thinking different—the manner of setting forth the thinking is different also. We despair of reaching the thought, we despair equally of reaching the language. We can no more bring back their turns of sentence than we can bring back their tournaments. Montaigne, in his serious moods, has a curiously rich and intricate eloquence; and Bacon’s sentence bends beneath the weight of his thought, like a branch beneath the weight of its fruit. Bacon seems to have written his essays with Shakspeare’s pen. There is a certain want of ease about the old writers which has an irresistible charm. The language flows like a stream over a pebbled bed, with propulsion, eddy, and sweet recoil—the pebbles, if retarding movement, giving ring and dimple to the surface, and breaking the whole into babbling music. There is a ceremoniousness in the mental habits of these ancients. Their intellectual garniture is picturesque, like the garniture of their bodies. Their thoughts are courtly and high mannered. A singular analogy exists between the personal attire of a period and its written style. The peaked beard, the starched collar, the quilted doublet, have their correspondences in the high sentence and elaborate ornament (worked upon the thought like figures upon tapestry) of Sidney and Spenser. In Pope’s day men wore rapiers, and their weapons they carried with them into literature, and frequently unsheathed them too. They knew how to stab to the heart with an epigram. Style went out with the men who wore knee-breeches and buckles in their shoes. We write more easily now; but in our easy writing there is ever a taint of flippancy: our writing is to theirs, what shooting-coat and wide-awake are to doublet and plumed hat.

Fame

“What decides whether a man will become immortal is not his character but his vitality. Nothing save intensity confers immortality.” – Stefan Zweig

“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.” – Kierkegaard

Forgiveness

“A decision not to forgive is a decision to suffer.” – Gerald Jampolski [Quoted by Mary Ciofalo in Redemption Stories: Unwasted Pain (2009)]

“It is a fine thing to forgive your enemies; but it is a finer thing not to be too eager to forgive yourself.” – G.K. Chesterton

“The Bible tells us to forgive our enemies; not our friends.” – G.K. Chesterton

Fortune

“I must complain the cards are ill-shuffled, till I have a good hand.” – Swift

“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on men unless they act.” – G.K. Chesterton

“You don’t have the right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

Friendship

“Only with those we love do we speak of those we love.” – Richter

“Kindness is in our power, but fondness is not.” – Samuel Johnson

“What a great blessing is a friend with a heart so trusty that you may safely bury all your secrets in it, whose conscience you may fear less than your own, who can relieve your cares by his conversation, your doubts by his counsels, your sadness by his good humor, and whose very looks give you comfort.” – Seneca

“Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds soon choke up the unused path.” – Scandinavian proverb

“When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.” – E.W. Howe

“A friend should bear a friend’s infirmities….” – Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)

“The more a man looks for his happiness within himself, and the more firmly he stands supported by true consciousness of his intrinsic merit, the more desirous he is to cultivate friendship, and the better friend he certainly proves.” – Cicero

“I might give my life for my friend, but he had better not ask me to do up a parcel.” – Logan Pearsall Smith

“Human society is founded on mutual deceit; few friendships would endure if each knew what his friend said of him in his absence, although he then spoke in sincerity and without passion.” – Pascal (Pensees, #100)

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” – Aristotle

“If friendship has continually to be analyzed, nursed, and cured, it will cause more anguish than love itself, without having love’s strengths and its remedies.” – Andre Maurois

“Respect the sleep of friendship.” – Chinese saying from 1100 B.C.

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” – George Eliot

“Hearts that are delicate and kind and tongues that are neither – these make the finest company in the world.” – L.P. Smith

Beautiful and rich is an old friendship, / Grateful to the touch as ancient ivory, / Smooth as aged wine, or sheen of tapestry / Where light has lingered, intimate and long.

Full of tears and warm is an old friendship, / That asks no longer deeds of gallantry, / Or any deed at all – save that the friends shall be / Alive and breathing somewhere, like a song. – Eunice Tietjens

“There is in friendship something of all relations, and something above them all. It is the golden thread that ties the heart of all the world.” – John Evelyn

“Friendships multiply joys, and divide griefs.” – Henry George Bohn (Handbook of Proverbs)

“Never be afraid to think yourself fit for anything for which your friends think you fit.” – Samuel Johnson

“Every friendship rests on some particular apotheosis of oneself.” – F.H. Bradley

“The tide of friendship does not ride high on the bank of perfection….It is from the roughnesses and imperfect breaks in a man that you are able to lay hold of him….My friends are not perfect – no more am I – and so we suit each other admirably. Their weaknesses keep mine in countenance, and so save me from humiliation and shame. We give and take, bear and forbear; the stupidity they utter today salves the recollection of the stupidity I uttered yesterday; in their want of it I see my own, and so feel satisfied and kindly disposed. It is one of the charitable dispensations of Providence that perfection is not essential to friendship.” – Alexander Smith

“Your friend is your needs answered.” – proverb

“It may be that two souls meet and it is not destined that they are to be together in this world. They touch each other and part. They have other work to do. Yet the meeting can never be forgotten; it is ingrained on the soul itself.” – The Invisible Way

Oh, I remember, and will ne’er forget / Our meeting spots, our chosen sacred hours / Our burning words that uttered all the soul, / Our faces beaming with unearthly love / Sorrow with sorrow sighing,  hope with hope / Exulting, heart embracing heart entire! – Robert Pollock

“Here I sit alone this chilly September morning, with the rain just beginning to rattle on the roof, and the writing of his name has sent my heart back to the happy hopeful past when one was capable of everything because one had not yet tried everything. The years have taught me some sharp sad some sweet lessons – none wiser than this, to keep the old friends. Every year adds its value to a friendship as to a tree, with no effort and no merit of ours. The lichens upon the bark, which the dandyfiers of Nature would scrape away, even the dead limbs here and there, are dear and sacred to us. Every year adds its compound interest of association and enlarges the circle of shelter and of shade. It is good to plant them early, for we have not the faith to do it when we are old. I write it sadly and with tears in my eyes. Later friends drink our lees, but the old ones drank the clear wine at the brim of our cups. Who knew us when we were witty? who when we were wise? who when we were green?” – J.R. Lowell

“Affection between human beings, however transitory, however qualified, is the closest we can come to paradise. That it loses its force does not invalidate it. Dante says that Adam and Eve’s paradise lasted only six hours, and Proust reminds us that the only true paradise is the one we have lost.” – Richard Ellman (Introduction to Ulysses: The Corrected Text, 1986)

“The world without friends would be intolerable.” – Bertrand Russell

“No man is the whole of himself. His friends are the rest of him.” – (The Good Life Almanac)

“What a great blessing is a friend with a heart so trusty that you may safely bury all your secrets in it, whose conscience you may fear less than your own, who can relieve your cares by his conversation, your doubts by his counsels, your sadness by his good humor, and whose very looks give you comfort.” – Seneca

“People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false: a gift confers no rights.” – Nietzsche

“Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.” – Geoffrey Madan

“Of all the preparations which wisdom makes for the blessedness of a complete life by far the most important is the acquisition of friendship.” – Epicurus

“One who looks for a friend without faults will have none.” – Hasidic saying

“Friendship will not stand the strain of very much good advice for very long.” – Robert Lynd

“A true friend is one who likes you despite your achievements.” – Arnold Bennett

“It is well, when judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality.” – Arnold Bennett

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

“Friendship either finds or makes equals.” – Publilius Syrus

“Friendship cannot live with ceremony, nor without civility.” – Lord Halifax

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Affection is created by habit, community of interests, convenience, and the desire of companionship. It is a comfort rather than an exhilaration.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“We have fewer friends than we imagine, but more than we know.” – Hugo von Hofmannsthal

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No man can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of his friend till he is unhappy.” –  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.” – Charles Caleb Colton

“Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.” – Epicurus

Gardens & Gardening

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” – Thomas Jefferson

“It is more important for the gardener to be enchanted than for critics to be pleased.” – Henry Mitchell

“A gardener’s work is never at an end.” – John Evelyn (1620-1706), from Kalendarium Hortense

Gay Liberation

“We’ve been good little boys and girls for so long that we’re allowing people to die – to drop dead around us while a government refuses to take action. That’s how far our so-called discretion has gotten us. How can we expect people to feel compassion for our suffering if they don’t know who we are?” – Armistead Maupin (quoted by Adam Block in “Tales of Armistead Maupin,” The Advocate, #475 (June 23, 1987), pages 28-33, 124-127)

“We’ve said for years that gay people are everywhere, as part of our own propaganda campaign, yet so many of us still refuse to believe it. Gay people are everywhere – in the Republican Party, in Jerry Falwell’s church – everywhere. …We run networks, head up corporations, hold seats in Congress.”  – Armistead Maupin (quoted by Adam Block in “Tales of Armistead Maupin,” The Advocate, #475 (June 23, 1987), pages 28-33, 124-127)

“Total honesty is still the most radical political act a gay person can commit – presenting yourself to the world exactly the way you are.” – Armistead Maupin (quoted by Adam Block in “Tales of Armistead Maupin,” The Advocate, #475 (June 23, 1987), pages 28-33, 124-127)

“If the Supreme Court is sniffing into people’s bedrooms in the matter of sodomy, obviously this is not a government that believes in minimal government interference in the personal lives of its citizens.” – Armistead Maupin (quoted by Adam Block in “Tales of Armistead Maupin,” The Advocate, #475 (June 23, 1987), pages 28-33, 124-127)

“[Some gay people donate]…money to closeted gay politicians on the grounds that they’ll ‘work for us on the inside.’ I don’t buy that. We’ve had fags on the inside since the dawn of time, and where has it gotten us?” – Armistead Maupin (quoted by Adam Block in “Tales of Armistead Maupin,” The Advocate, #475 (June 23, 1987), pages 28-33, 124-127)

“Human beings of the future will surely both ridicule and deplore the obsessive Western preoccupation with who puts what into which orifice of whom.” – Masters & Johnson

“I still shiver with a kind of astonished delight when a gay brother or sister tells of that narrow escape from the coffin world of the closet. Yes Yes Yes goes a voice in my head, it was just like that for me. When we laugh together then and dance in the giddy circle of freedom, we are children for real at last, because we have finally grown up. And every time we dance, our enemies writhe like the Witch in Oz, melting, melting – the Nazi popes and all their brocaded  minions, the rat-brained politicians, the wacko fundamentalists and their Book of Lies. …Why do they hate us? Why do they fear us? Why do they want us invisible? ” – Paul Monette, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, 1992)

“We gays are oppressed because we are in touch with feelings that serve no ‘useful’ purpose to the industrial system. In fact, the system perceives these feelings as a threat because the systematic repression of feeling is the very source of its power.” – Arthur Evans, quoted from the Advocate; cited in Mark Thompson’s Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay & Lesbian Movement, 1994)

“For that is the choice, it seems to me:  COLLABORATE OR RESIST.” –  Paul Monette

“More and more these days we hear the voices of Gay people who just want to be like everyone else. Egads, what a fate! The Jewish mother in me wrings her hands and says, “For this I raised a Gay son?” I believe absolutely in the importance of community, and I believe that the cult of individual genius may be our downfall. But our challenge — perhaps the very key to our survival — is the creation of communities in which everyone is not like everyone else—communities that celebrate and encourage diversity and difference, and where we expend our energies and resources in community celebrations of that diversity rather than in every house having three cars and a yacht.   To the extent that we aspire to be like everyone else we’re selling our birthright for a mess of pottage.” – Fenton Johnson (Interview with White Crane; posted at Gay Wisdom for Daily Living, November 12, 2010)

Gratitude

“Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and be ready always for new ones. For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive.” – Meister Eckhart

“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” – French proverb

“I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” –  Khalil Gibran

“The gift of the world is our first blessing.” – John O’Donahue (To Bless the Space Between Us)

“Take full account of what excellencies you possess and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them if you had them not.” – Marcus Aurelius

Happiness

“Happiness is and will always remain the unintended effect of meaningful activity.” – Victor Frankl [Quoted by Mary Ciofalo in Redemption Stories: Unwasted Pain (2009)]

“The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live….” – Richard Jeffries

“The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” – William James (Letter, November 13, 1900)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” – Charles Kingsley

“One can bear grief, but it takes two to be glad.” – E. Hubbard

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.” – Henry David Thoreau (Walden)

“Prosperity is living easily and happily in the real world, whether you have money or not.” – Jerry Gillies

“I prefer sitting here on the verandah…to ponder over nothing, and just be glad I am alive. The verandah at two o’clock on a summer’s afternoon is a place in which to be happy and not decide anything….The chairs are comfortable, there is a table to write on, and the shadows of young leaves flicker across the paper.” – Elizabeth Arnim

“There is no greater pleasure than sharing our enthusiasms.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

“Happiness in the ordinary sense is not what one needs in life, tough one is right to aim for it. The true satisfaction is to come through and see those whom one loves come through.” – E.M. Forster (Letters, Volume 2: 1921-1970)

“Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.” – George Eliot

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

“Ah, yet, e’er I descend to th’ grave / May I a small house/ and large garden have! / And a few friends, / and many books, both true / Both wise, and both delightful too!” – Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) (from “The Motto”)

“Learn to be happy.” – Anna Quindlen (A Short Guide to a Happy Life)

“Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what your dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune.” – Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago)

“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.” – Anna Quindlen (A Short Guide to a Happy Life)

“Did you find joy? Did you bring joy?” – Joyce McGreevy (Gardening by Heart, 2000)

“We are always preparing to be happy; it is inevitable we should never be so.” – Pascal (Pensees, #172)

“If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we always want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.” – Montesquieu

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.”  – Mary Oliver

“For the Epicurean, the proper attitude to be cultivated toward the present is…patience, which entails a serene acceptance of both what is given and what is withheld by life in the present…being prepared to endure privation without grievance and by the same token to receive blessings when they are granted. Integrally linked to patience is hope, which Epicurus defined as anticipation of the good to come. Hope is the proper disposition toward the future, just as gratitude is the proper disposition toward the past. Gratitude for the happiness of time past remains a source of happiness in the present and, by extension, a guarantor of happiness to come.” – Robert Pogue Harrison (Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, 2008, page 78)

“Happiness is not a state of being, but a mode of travelling.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck

“The need for devotion to something outside ourselves is even more profound than the need for companionship. If we are not to go to pieces or wither away, we all must have some purpose in life; for no man can live for himself alone.” – Ross Parmenter

“True contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it.” – G.K. Chesterton

“The way to be happy is to make others so.” – Robert Ingersoll

“No effort is required to define or even attain happiness, but enormous concentration is needed to abandon everything else.” – Quentin Crisp

“Nothing prevents happiness like the memory of happiness.” – Andre Gide

“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” — Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited, 1945)

“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: ‘It’s gonna go wrong.’ Or ‘She’s going to hurt me.’ Or, ’I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore …’ Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” — Einstein

[Credo:] “To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never – in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.”  – William Henry Channing

“Is happiness ever unmixed, a pure state like pain or terror? And doesn’t it tend to evaporate as we become conscious of its presence? It’s not synonymous with pleasure, though like some pleasures it seems dependent on self-forgetting.” – Patrick Krup (from an entry dated January 2, 2011, posted to his blog Anecdotal Evidence http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2011/01/weirdest-entry-in-our-lexicon.html )

“So long as the world is inexhaustibly interesting, we have reason to be cheerful.” -Theodore Dalrymple (“Reasons to Be Cheerful,” The Spectator, December 13, 2003)

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” – Rita Mae Brown

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.” – Mary Wilson Little

“Everything is a dangerous drug except reality, which is unendurable. Happiness is in the imagination. What we perform is always inferior to what we imagine; yet day-dreaming brings guilt; there is no happiness except through freedom from Angst, and only creative work, communion with nature and helping others are Angst-free.” – Cyril Connolly (The Unquiet Grave)

“No effort is required to define or even attain happiness, but enormous concentration is needed to abandon everything else.”– Quentin Crisp

“Life admits not of delays; when pleasure is to be had, it is fit to catch it. Every hour takes away part of the things that please us, and perhaps part of our disposition to be pleased.” – Samuel Johnson in Boswell’s Life of Johnson

“Stop asking yourself what you want, what you desire, what interests you. Ask yourself instead: What has been given to me? Ask: What do I have to give back? Then give it.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

“Put yourself in the way of beauty.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

“Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” – Epicurus

“Human felicity…is made up of many ingredients, each of which may be shewn to be very insignificant.” – Samuel Johnson (from Boswell’s Life of Johnson)

“Of the thousand forms of life, each of us can know but one. It is madness to envy other people’s happiness; one would not know what to do with it. Happiness won’t come to one ready-made; it has to be made to measure.” – André Gide, The Immoralist

“No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety.” – Publius Syrus

Honesty

“Honesty pays, but it doesn’t seem to pay enough to suit some people.” – F.M. Hubbard

House & Home

“Ah, there’s nothing like staying home for real comfort.”  – Jane Austen

“One cannot ask any person to meet another in one’s own house, without going through a sum of moral arithmetic.” – Disraeli

“The joy of a home is to be in it as much as possible.” – Francoise de la Renta

“A good laugh is sunshine in a house.” – Thackeray

“The closer you get your house to what you think you want it to be, the less power it has to pull you forward through your life.” – David Owen (Sheetrock and Shellac, 2006)

“Spend your money on the things money can buy. Spend your time on the things money can’t buy.” – Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends….” – Samuel Johnson (The Rambler #68)

“Older houses like ours have their own recurring cycles of birth and death. The process, however, is the inverse of what we describe when we talk about reincarnation. Rather than a single soul transmigrating from one body to the next, a home retains its physical form but exchanges one soul for another. These souls are the families and individuals that at one time or another lived there. As a new family settles in, the body of the house slowly forgets the other soul that animated it before.” Douglas Dalrymple, Afield Notes

“If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most longed for, I should answer a beautiful house.” – William Morris (1814-1896)

“If a house has character, the fact is obvious immediately.” – Claire Jones

Humility

“Taxes could be much higher – suppose we had to pay taxes on what we think we’re worth.” – [Anonymous]

“When the gods wish to punish us, they make us believe our own advertising.” – Daniel Boorstin (The Image)

“Prayer gives a man the opportunity of getting to know a gentleman he hardly ever meets. I do not mean his maker, but himself.” – Dean Inge

“The way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit of doing them.” – Jowett

“It is as hard to be humble as it is easy to despair.” – William Cory

“Real unselfishness consists in sharing the interests of others.” – Santayana

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” – Kierkegaard

“You will not become a saint through other people’s sins.” – Anton Chekhov

“Bear with the faults and frailties of others, for you, too, have many faults which others have to bear. If you cannot mold yourself as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking? For we require other people to be perfect, but do not correct our own faults.” – Thomas a Kempis (The Imitation of Christ)

“How much more real are people’s lives than all our criticisms of them!” – William James

“You have to be true to yourself, but you have to be true to your best self, not to the self that secretly thinks you are better than other people.” – Stephen Gaskin

“Always remember there are two types of people int he world. Those who come into a room and say, “Well, here I am!’ and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are!'” – Frederick L. Collins

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – J.M. Barrie

“Whatever else you are sure of, be sure of this: that you are dreadfully like other people.” – James Russell Lowell

“The wave is ignorant of the true nature of the sea: how can the temporal comprehend the eternal?” – Sa’ib of Tabriz

“Of all isms I think dogmatism the worst.” – George Jacob Holyoake

Humor

“Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not, and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.” – Christopher Morley

“Humor forgives. Satire despises. Wit is but an intellectual game.” – Oswald Spengler

Incompetence

“Incompetents invariably make trouble for people other than themselves.” – Larry McMurtry

Integrity

“You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.” – Anna Quindlen (A Short Guide to a Happy Life)

“…If you want to know who you are…you could do a lot worse than look to your feet for an answer. Introspection in the long run doesn’t get very far because…you are in your quest to see yourself whole, doomed always to see infinitely less than what there will always remain to see. Thus, when you wake up in the morning…if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.” – Frederick Buechner (The Alphabet of Grace)

“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Anonymous

“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.” – Aldous Huxley

“Only our concept of time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session.” – Kafka

“No great country was ever saved by good men, because good men will not go the length that may be necessary.” – Horace Walpole

“Virtue never dwells alone; it always has neighbors.” – Confucius

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

“He was not elevated to prosperity nor was he humbled by the attacks of his adversaries.” – from the inscription on the gravestone of Karl Ulrichs

“The task of being people is never finished.” – Douglas Sadownick (New York Native, March 10, 1985, page 23)

“He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.” – Walter Lippmann

Kindness

“Kindness can be a pleasure efficiently avoided, and one’s capacity or instinct for kindness can be actively and unconsciously sabotaged by that part of oneself that fears the intimacies it fosters….Acts of kindness demonstrate, in the clearest possible way, that we are vulnerable and dependent animals who have no better resource than each other….It comes from the part of ourselves that we are most disturbed by: the part that knows how much assurance and (genuine) reassurance is required to sustain our sense of viability. Our resistance to kindness is our resistance to encountering what kindness meets in us, and what we meet in other people by being kind to them. And, of course, our resistance to seeing the limits of what kindness can do for us.” – Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor (On Kindness, 2009)

Knowing

“Most people think first of all about what they know, not how and why they know it.” – Chet Raymo (When God is Gone, Everything is Holy)

“I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when looked at in the right way, did not become still more complicated.” – Poul Anderson (New Scientist, September 25, 1969)

“There is always an easy solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

“Faith is faith in the invisible. Knowledge is faith in the visible.” – Oswald Spengler

“History is not what happened, it’s what you can remember.” – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman (1066 and All That, 1930)

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” – J.B.S. Haldane

“Our quaint metaphysical opinions, in an hour of anguish, are like playthings by the bedside of a child deathly sick.” – Coleridge

“To be uncertain is uncomfortable; but to be certain is ridiculous.” – Goethe

“It is bad enough to know the past; it would be intolerable to know the future.” – Somerset Maugham (quoted in Richard Hughes’s Foreign Devil, 1972)

“The best qualification of a prophet is to have a good memory.” – Halifax

“In the case of highly complex realities…ignorance, if not bliss, is at least cheap.” – Kenneth Boulding (1976)

“Ignorance is not so damnable as humbug, but when it prescribes pills it may happen to do more harm.” – George Eliot

“There are well-dressed foolish ideas just as there are well-dressed fools.” – Nic0las Chamfort

“Never sacrifice truth to simplicity, and remember it usually contradicts common sense.” – Henry Ward

“Everyone at every moment is guided by what he sees most clearly – compounded by what he sees least clearly.” – Paul Valery

“Few and unimportant would the errors of men be, if they did but know, first what they themselves mean, and secondly, what the words mean by which they attempt to convey their meaning.” – Coleridge

“I care about truth not for truth’s sake but for my own.” – Samuel Butler

“If error is corrected whenever it is recognized as such, the path of error is the path of truth.” – Hans Reichenbach

“Seek simplicity and distrust it.” – Alfred Whitehead

“‘For example’ is not proof.” – Yiddish proverb

“People are usually more firmly convinced that their opinions are precious than that they are true.” – Santayana

“Language is philosophy. When the mind puts into words what it sees, by that very fact it unconsciously introduces metaphysics.” – Oswald Spengler

“‘Tis with our judgments as our watches – none go just alike, yet each believes his own.” – Alexander Pope (“Essay on Criticism”)

“It is not the knowing that is difficult, but the doing.” – Confucius

“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.” – Oscar Wilde

“Reason can ascertain the profound difficulties of our condition; it can not remove them.” – Newman

“Truth is a river that is always splitting up into arms that reunite. Islanded between the arms, the inhabitants argue for a lifetime as to which is the main river.” – Connolly

“Action is the proper fruit of knowledge.” – Thomas Fuller

“So, then, as darkness had no beginning, neither will it ever have an end. The light doth but hollow a mine out of the infinite extension of the darkness. And ever upon the steps of the light treadeth the darkness; yea, springeth in fountains and wells amidst it, from the secret channels of its mighty sea.” – George Macdonald (Phantastes)

“If she allowed herself always to consider everything she knew … well, she doubted if she would even bother to get out of bed in the morning.” – “Lily Scofield Butler” (from the novel Being Polite to Hitler by Robb Foreman Dew, 2011)

“Like a miscalibrated scale, it seems to me that we weigh the world unaware of the bias which leads us inevitably to idiosyncrasy, mistaking the subjective for the objective and the relative for the absolute. This is not to say that some persons may not possess more precise mechanisms for judgment than others, but none is perfectly reliable. Much as we like to believe that our judgments align with reality (and by happy coincidence they sometimes will), in one direction or another we are all out of tune.

One of the challenges of self-knowledge is to determine your own margin of error, and in which direction it falls, so that you can apply a proper corrective to your judgments. It’s an appealing thought – this possibility of enlightened self-correction – but is more difficult than it sounds, since your ability to calculate your degree of miscalibration is itself subject to that same fundamental miscalibration. And if forming judgments about the world around you is so difficult, it is perhaps even more difficult to weigh the accuracy of judgments made by others, since this requires accurately measuring the degree of miscalibration that others are subject to by utilizing your own broken machinery.” -Douglas Dalrymple, at his blog Afield Notes

“In some respects a clever man is more likely to be kind than a man who is not clever, because his mind is wider, and takes in a broader range, and is more capable of looking at things from different points of view. But there are other respects in which it is harder for a clever man to be kind, especially in his words. He has a temptation, and it is one of those temptations which appear sometimes to border on the irresistible, to say clever things; and, somehow, clever things are hardly ever kind things. There is a drop either of acid or of bitter in them, and it seems as if that drop was exactly what genius had insinuated. I believe, if we were to make an honest resolution never to say a clever thing, we should advance much more rapidly on the road to heaven.” – Frederick William Faber, Kindness (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1901), p. 77; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry (entry for September 17, 2016)

Letter-Writing

“It is easy to write people whom ou have been steadily writing to, for one letter seems to continue the previous ones. But to fire off a letter point-blank at a man once in six months has an arbitrary savor. There are so many things of about equal importance for you to tell him that there is no reason for you to begin with any particular one and leave off the rest. Consequently you don’t begin at all.” – William James (Letter, May 15, 1868)

Loneliness

“The port from which I set out was, I think, that of the essential loneliness of my life—and it seems to be the port also, in sooth to which my course again finally directs itself! This loneliness, (since I mention it!)–what is it still but the deepest thing about one? Deeper about me, at any rate, than anything else: deeper than my ‘genius,’ deeper than my ‘discipline,’ deeper than my pride, deeper, above all, than the deep countermining of art.” – Henry James (letter to Morton Fullerton, October 2, 1900)

“Loneliness is not the unhappiest state we’re susceptible to. Not living with enough spirit and attentiveness probably is. Most of us survive being lonely, only to know it again another day, and companionship is not the only or best antidote.” – Patrick Kurp (from his blog Anecdotal Evidence, September 22, 2010)

Loving

“Sexuality throws no light upon love, but only through love can we learn to understand sexuality.” – Rosenstock-Huessy

“The face is the focus of love and passion. One loves only someone whose face he cannot forget.” – Oswald Spengler

“Love is either the shrinking remnant of something which was once enormous; or else it is part of something which will grow in the future into something enormous. But in the present it does not satisfy. It gives much less than one expects.” – Chekov

“To love anything is to see it at once under lowering clouds of danger.” – G.K. Chesterton

“There is no greater folly than to seek to correct the natural infirmities of those we love.” – Fielding

“What Christ is saying always, what he never swerves from saying, what he says a thousand times and in a thousand different ways, is this: ‘I am my father’s son, and you are my brothers.’ And the unity that binds us all together, that makes this earth a family, and all men brothers and so the sons of God, is love.” – Thomas Wolfe

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new.” – Ursula LeGuin

“At the beginning of love and at its end the lovers are embarrassed to be left alone.” – La Bruyere

“Who, being loved, is poor?” – Oscar Wilde

“We can perhaps prepare for love. We can welcome its coming, we can learn to treasure and cherish it when it comes, but we cannot make it happen. We are elected into love.” – Irene Clarmont de Castillejo

“This is the true measure of love: When we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will ever love in the same way after us.” – Goethe

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.” – Toni Morrison (Beloved)

“We believe that unconditional love means not seeing anything negative about someone, when it really means pretty much the opposite: loving someone despite their infuriating flaws and essential absurdity.” – Tim Kreider

“We ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” – Thornton Wilder (The Bridge of San Luis Rey)

“Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hullabaloo.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

Manners

“It is almost a definition of a gentleman that he never inflicts pain.” – Cardinal Newman

Memory

“Do I roll several occasions into one, or amplify one beyond reason? – This last being ever…the waiting pitfall of a chronicler too memory-ridden.” – Henry James

“Because of the compound nature of human consciousness, which is in turn the source of our sense of self, we live in the present moment while also being aware, much of the time, of the past and the future, remembering the one and anticipating the other. This process grows more complex as we move forward in life. Sedimentary layers of experience accumulate in our memories, and they both burden us with recollection and made our sense of what is to come more elaborate and, often, more fearsome….The reality of memory seems to me as valid a part of the present as anything else….Memory can be a great burden,…but it is teacher, companion, album, and nest egg. The point is not to repudiate the present by means of nostalgia but to let memory inform what we see, do, taste, write, think, and, hopefully, understand. – David Young (Seasoning: A Poet’s Year, 1999)

“Memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they’re also what tear you apart.” – Haruki Murakami

“The preciousness of memory doesn’t make it less unreliable; the unreliability of memory doesn’t make it less precious.” – Alexandra Schwartz, “Two Step: Zadie Smith’s Swing Time,” The New Yorker, November 16, 2016, page 84

Mindfulness

“This day will never come again and anyone who fails to eat and drink and taste and smell it will never have it offered to him again in all eternity. The sun will never shine as it does today…But you must play your part and sing a song, one of your best.” – Herman Hesse

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” – Henry David Thoreau

“One must take control of one’s life or become nothing but a broken branch, drifting in the current.” – Martin Corrick (By Chance, 2008)

“This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.” – Marilynne Robinson (Gilead)

Mortality

“The loss of our friends and companions impresses hourly upon us the necessity of our own departure; we know that the schemes of man are quickly at an end, that we must soon lie down in the grave with the forgotten multitudes of former ages, and yield our place to others, who, like us, shall be driven awhile by hope or fear, about the surface of the earth, and then like us be lost in the shades of death.” – Samuel Johnson

“The last act is tragic, however happy all the rest of the play is; at the last a little earth is thrown upon our had,a nd that is the end forever.” – Pascal (Pensees, No. 210)

“Mist alters the rocks. What can I tell my bones?” – Theodore Roethke

1. You cannot win. 2. You cannot break even. 3. You cannot get out of the game. – Anonymous summary of the Laws of Thermodynamics

“There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.” – Oliver Sacks, “My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer,” New York Times, 2/19/2015

“I do not know what I believe about life after death; if it exists then I burn with interest, if not – well, I am tired.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page73)

Music

“Music alone has the power of restoring us to ourselves.” – James Gibbons Huneker

“To love music is to make sure of at least one fourth of one’s happiness.” – Jules Renard, Journal

Nature

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir [Quoted by Mary Ciofalo in Redemption Stories: Unwasted Pain (2009)]

“What I gain most from nature is beyond words. to try to capture it verbally immediately places me in the same boat as the namers and would-be owners of nature: that is, it exiles me from what I most need to learn….To enter upon such a description is like trying to capture the uncapturable. Its only purpose can be to flatter the vanity of the describer – a function painfully obvious in many of the more sentimental natural history writers.” – John Fowles (The Tree, 1979)

“Achieving a relationship with nature is both a science and an art, beyond mere knowledge or mere feeling alone; and I now think beyond oriental mysticism, transcendentalism, ‘meditation techniques’ and the rest – or at least as we in the West have converted them to our use, which seems increasingly in a narcissistic way: to make ourselves feel more positive, more meaningful, more dynamic,. I do not believe nature is to be reached tha way either, by turning it into a therapy, a free clinic for admirers of their own sensitivity. The subtlest of our alienations from it, the most difficult to comprehend, is our eternal need to use it in some way, to derive some personal yield. We shall never fully  understand nature (or ourselves), and certainly never respect it, until we dissociate the wild from the notion of useability – however innocent and harmless the use. For it is the general uselessness of so much of nature that lies at the root of our ancient hostility and indifference to it.” – John Fowles (The Tree, 1979)

“[Nature]…is beyond our science and our arts because its secret is being, not saying. Its greatest value to us is that it cannot be reproduced, that this being can be apprehended only by other present being, only by the living senses and consciousness. All experience of it through surrogate and replica, through selected image, gardened word, through other eyes and minds, betrays or banishes its reality. But this is nature’s consolation, its message…. It can be known and entered only by each, and in its now; not by you through me, by any you through any me; only by you through yourself, or me through myself. We still have this to learn: the inalienable otherness of each, human and non-human, which may seem the prison of each, but is at heart, in the deepest of those million metaphorical trees for which we cannot see the wood, both the justification and the redemption.” – John Fowles (The Tree, 1979)

“The curious world which we inhabit is more wonderful than it is convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.” – Gary Snyder

“What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn!” – Logan Persall Smith

“They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?” – Jeanette Winterson

“Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nature has some perfections, to show us that she is the image of God; and some imperfections to show us that she is only God’s image. . . .” – Pascal

“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion, or challenge the ideology of a violet.” – Hal Borland

“The enchantment of the sky, ever changing beauty almost ignored. Beyond words, without fixed form, not to be understood, or stated. It ravishes away dullness, worry, even pain. It graces life when nothing else does. It is the first marvel of the day. Even when leaden grey it is still a friend, withdrawn for a time.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 77)

“The day, water, sun, moon, night – I do not have to purchase these things with money.” – Plautus (c. 254-184 B.C.)

“Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.” – Juvenal (c. 55-127 A.D.)

Who has seen the wind? / Neither you nor I; / But when the trees bow down their heads / The wind is passing by. – Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), from “The Wind”

Patriarchy

“Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the…power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.” – Virginia Woolf

“Alas, it is not the child but the boy that generally survives in a man.” – Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875)

Poetry

“Poets aren’t very useful. Because they aren’t consumeful or very produceful.” – Ogden Nash

“The purpose of poetry is to guide us toward ‘right-living’.” – David Lee

“Among America’s 240 million people there aren’t 1,000 who want a book of poetry badly enough to pay the price of a small pizza for it.” – Beverly Jarrett (LSU Press, quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education)

“Poetry is not the assertion of truth, but the making of that truth more fully real to us.” – T.S. Eliot

“Man fixes some wonderful erection of his own between himself and the wild chaos, and gradually goes bleached and stifled under his parasol. Then comes a poet, enemy of convention, and makes a slit in the umbrella; and lo! The glimpse of chaos is a vision, a window to the sun.” – D. H. Lawrence

Politics

“Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory. Reform has no gratitude, no prudence, no husbandry.” – Emerson (“The Conservative”)

“Science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy.” – Bertrand Russell (Icarus, or The Future of Science, 1925)

“The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.” – Gibbon

“We shall have to learn to refrain from doing things merely because we know how to do them.” – Sir Theodore Fox (The Lancet, February 1965)

“It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.” – David Hume

“Severities should be dealt out all at once, that by their suddenness they may give less offense; benefits would be handed out drop by drop, that they may be relished the more.” – Machiavelli

“Whilst we have prisons, it matters little which of us occupy the cells.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Powerful men in particular suffer from the delusion that human beings have no memories…that people forget acts of infamy as easily as their parents’ birthdays.” – Stephen Vizinczey

“Cultivate a fine-grained hatred for the barbaric world your nemesis wishes to bring into being. Feel it seething around you, menacing  you, as you wonder why you should care.” – Andrew Boyd (Daily Afflictions, 2002)

“A man must swallow a toad every morning if he wishes to be sure of finding nothing still more disgusting before the day is over.” – Chamfort

“What dull barbarians are not proud of their dullness and barbarism?” – Thackeray

“Historic continuity with the past is not a duty, it is only a necessity.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“Nations are like men; they love that which flatters their passions even more than that which serves their interests.” – Tocqueville

“Young people are more sensitive to the future than oldsters, simply because they are going to live in it longer.” – Kenneth Boulding

“A great problem for the human race at the present moment is that the world is becoming a single ecosystem, but is not a single community.” – Kenneth Boulding

“There is nothing that fear or hope does not make men believe.” – Vauvenargues

“The most radical thing you can do is introduce people to each other.” – Glenn Hilke (organizer of Atlanta’s Art for the People’s Sake Festival; quoted by Michael Perri in Open City, August 1984, page 4)

“It is useless for sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism.” – Dean Inge [about the League of Nations]

“Tyranny is always better organized than freedom.” – Peguy

“Renunciation of world politics offers no protection from its consequences.” – Oswald Spengler

“History teaches that the individual ego does not matter; religion preaches the opposite. Therein lies the mutual lack of understanding between historical and religious powers.” – Oswald Spengler

“Every great thing perishes if its heirs are petty.” – Oswald Spengler

“A man may devote himself to death and destruction to save a nation; but no nation will devote itself to death and destruction to save mankind.” – Coleridge

“Asia will have a long deferred revenge on her arrogant younger sister.” – Dean Inge

“There is no scripture against putting old wine into new bottles.” – Dean Inge

“Because most of the saints were poor, it does not follow that most of the poor are saints.” – Dean Inge

“The notion of a farseeing and despotic statesman, who can lay down plans for ages yet unborn, is a fancy generated by the pride of the human intellect to which facts give no support.” – Bagehot

“Nothing is a problem until it becomes a crisis – that is, until all likelihood of effective, rational action has been lost.” – William Hines (1969)

“It is only in the large community, where the Lords of Things as They Are protect themselves from hunger by wealth, from public opinion by privacy and anonymity, from private criticism by the laws of libel and the possession of the means of communication, that ruthlessness can reach its most sublime levels. Of all these…the control of communication is the most effective and most important.” – Norbert Weiner (Cybernetics, 1948)

“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” [Nietzsche?]

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” – Reinhold Neibuhr

“Politics are not for people; they are for politicians — a medium in which a person can suspend his monstrous ego. In this respect, they fulfill exactly the same function as the stage or evangelism does for actors or preachers.” – Quentin Crisp

“Pretty soon, we should be able to get electoral politics down to a basic newspeak that contains perhaps ten keywords: Dream, Fear Hope, New People, We, Change, America, Future, Together.” – Christopher Hitchens (“Words Matter,” Slate, March 3, 2008)

[About Barak Obama:] “One might’ve hoped, in short, for a little more audacity.” – Christopher Hitchens (“The Democrats’ Rising Star,” Sunday Times, May 6, 2007)

“The sooner there is a Palestinian state with a share of Jerusalem as its capital, the safer Israel will be.” – Christopher Hitchens (Slate, May17, 2010)

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” — Alan Moore

“While democracy in the long run is the most stable form of government, in the short run, it is among the most fragile.” – Madeleine Albright

“Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”  – Thomas Jefferson

“I’m tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work. We are supposed to work it.” – Alexander Woollcott

“…the affairs controlled by the vote…[represent] only a small fractin of an interesting life….” – Lewis Mumford, The Golden Day (1926), page 55

“Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a braging point that ‘Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,’ as if that makes your somehow cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.” – Bill Haher

“It’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news.” – Joss Whedon

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.” – Ursula K. LeGuinn

Progress

“One has to resign oneself to being a nuisance if one wants to get anything done.” – Freya Stark

“Civilization has no force of its own beyond what is given it from within. It is under constant assault and it takes most of the energies of civilized man to keep going at all. There are criminal ideas and a criminal class in every nation and the first action of every revolution, figuratively and literally, is to open the prisons. Barbarism is never finally defeated; given propitious circumstances, men and women who seem quite orderly, will commit every conceivable atrocity. The danger does not come from merely habitual hooligans; we are all potential recruits for anarchy. Unremitting effort is needed to keep men living together at peace; there is only a margin of energy left over for experiment however beneficent. Once the prisons of the mind have been opened, the orgy is on.” – Evelyn Waugh, Robbery Under Law (1939)

“Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals.” – Margaret Mead

“The distinguishing trait of powerful men is the psychotic certainty that people forget acts of infamy as easily as they forget their parents’ birthdays.” – Stephen Vizinczey, Truth and Lies in Literature: Essays and Reviews (1986)

“A lot of activists expect that for every action there is an equal and opposite and punctual reaction. [They] regard the lack of one as failure . . . . But history is shaped by the groundswells and common dreams that single acts and moments only represent. It’s a landscape more complicated than commensurate cause and effect. Politics is a surface in which transformation comes about as much because of pervasive changes in the depths of the collective imagination as because of visible acts, though both are necessary . . . .Writers need to understand that action is seldom direct. You write your books. You scatter your seeds. Rats might eat them or they might just rot . . . . Some seeds lie dormant for decades because they only germinate after fire.” – Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark (2005); quoted by Robert Macfarlane in “Why We Need Nature Writing,” New Statesman, September 3, 2015

Propaganda

“Vilify! Vilify! Some of it will always stick.” – Beaumarchais

“The one thing that will insure that the ideas of others prevail is for us to say nothing.” – Edmund Burke

“Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get. Where there is no ventilation, fresh air is declared unwholesome.” – George Bernard Shaw

“There are people who believe everything is sane and sensible that is done with a solemn face.” – G.C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799)

“If you know nothing about people, you can believe anything about them.” – Devla Murphy (Tales of Two Cities)

“My first impressions are that there is much humbug therein.” – William James

“The trouble with half-truths…is the other half.” – Kenneth Boulding

“Let’s forget it never happened.” – Ray Kass

“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” -Arundhati Roy (War Talk)

“Man cannot live on Utopias alone.” – Christopher Hitchens (Vanity Fair, June 1998)

“A lot of activists expect that for every action there is an equal and opposite and punctual reaction. [They] regard the lack of one as failure . . . . But history is shaped by the groundswells and common dreams that single acts and moments only represent. It’s a landscape more complicated than commensurate cause and effect. Politics is a surface in which transformation comes about as much because of pervasive changes in the depths of the collective imagination as because of visible acts, though both are necessary . . . Writers need to understand that action is seldom direct. You write your books. You scatter your seeds. Rats might eat them or they might just rot . . . . Some seeds lie dormant for decades because they only germinate after fire.” – Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark (2005); quoted by Robert Macfarlane in “Why We Need Nature Writing,” New Statesman, September 2015

Religion

“What keeps religion going is something else than abstract definitions and systems of logically concatenated adjectives, and something different from faculties of theology and their professors. All these things are after-effects, secondary accretions upon a mass of concrete religious experiences, connecting themselves with feeling and conduct that renew themselves in saecula saeculorum in the lives of humble private men. If you ask what these experiences are, they are conversations with the unseen, voices and visions, responses to prayer, changes of heart, deliverances from fear, inflowings of help, assurances of support, whenever certain persons set their own internal attitude in certain appropriate ways.” – William James (Collected Essays and Reviews, 1920)

“A divine Person is not the…mystery seen through a glass darkly, but a reflection of one’s self in a mirror brightly.” – Chet Raymo (When God is Gone, Everything is Holy)

“When the Church neglects a duty, a sect springs up.” – Geoffrey Madan (1895-1947)

“The essence of a religion is perhaps most clearly recognized in what it does not tolerate.” – Oswald Spengler

“If a man has studied himself out of religion, he must study himself into it again.” – Jowett (1852)

“Religion is what a man does with his solitude.” – Alfred North Whitehead

“It is rating one’s conjectures at a very high price to roast a man on the strength of them.” – Montaigne

“Never make a god out of your religion.” – Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875)

“Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.” – Morley

“Burning stakes do not lighten the darkness.” – Lec

“A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Never apologize for showing feeling. Remember that when you do so you apologize for truth.” – Disraeli

“Christianity is good news, not good advice.” – Dean Inge

“Most men’s anger about religion is as if two men should quarrel for a lady they neither of them care for.” – Halifax

“If God is dead or at least irrelevant, ditto everything pertaining to the ‘Beyond’.'” – William James (Letter to Oliver Wendell Holmes, May 15, 1868)

“The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people , as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.” – Edward Gibbon

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires.” – Susan B. Anthony

“Dogma evaporates on contact with the mystery of true spirituality.” – Alexander Theroux

“Beyond the universe there is nothing and within the universe the supernatural does not and cannot exist. Of all deceivers who have plagued mankind, none are so deeply ruinous to human happiness as those impostors who pretend to lead by a light above nature. Science has never killed or persecuted a single person for doubting or denying its teachings, and most of these teachings have been true; but religion has murdered millions for doubting or denying her dogmas, and most of these dogmas have been false.” (Epitaph on the tombstone of George P. Spencer, who died in 1908 at age 83, buried in Lyndon Center, Vermont; cited by Charles L. Wallis in Stories on Stone, 1954)

“Evangelist, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Infidel, n. InNew York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; inConstantinople, one who does.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Puritanism, n. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Televangelists: the pro wrestlers of religion.” – Stephen Wright

“When you understand why you dismiss other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen F. Roberts

“Organized religion…tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business.” – Jesse Ventura

“Anyone who knows history…will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.” – Christopher Hitchens

“The Church has always been willing to swap off treasures in heaven for cash down.” – Robert Ingersoll

“There can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.” – Robert Ingersoll

“Christians are masters of selective observation – or ‘counting the hits and ignoring the misses.’” – David Mills

“What are now called ‘essential doctrines’ of the Christian religion [Christ] does not even mention.” –FlorenceNightingale

“When I hear…from people that [religion] doesn’t hurt anything, I say, ‘Really?’ Well, besides wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9/11, ethnic cleansing, the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches, and systematic sex with children, I have a few little quibbles. And I forgot blowing up girls schools inAfghanistan.” – Bill Maher

“The Jews are a nervous people. Nineteen centuries of Christian love have taken a toll.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“When the missionaries came toAfricathey had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” – Bishop Desmond Tutu

“Not only have the ‘followers’ of Christ made it their rule to hack to bits all those who do not accept their beliefs, they have also ferociously massacred each other, in the name of their common ‘religion of love,’ under banners proclaiming their faith in Him who had experessly commanded them to love one another.” – Georges Clemenceau

“Religious belief is a fine guide around which a person might organize his or her own life, but an awful instrument around which to organize someone else’s life.” – Richard D. Mohr

“So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.” – Bertrand Russell

“I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence.” – Doug McLeod

“Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell? Priest: No, not if you didn’t know. Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?” – Annie Dillard

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because it always coincides with their own desires.” – Susan B. Anthony

“I think piety is oppressive. It takes all the air out of thought.” – Norman Mailer

“If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“If God created us in His own image, we have more than returned the favor.” – Voltaire

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car.” – Dr. Laurence J. Peter

“There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages.” – Richard Lederer

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Acceptance without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western religion. Rejection without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western science.” – Gary Zukav

“…for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.” – Steven Weinburg

“My Bible-thumping cousin once claimed that Jesus must have risen from the dead since thousands of people saw him after the resurrection. I simply pointed out that if that was the case then Elvis should be deified because thousands of people have seen him in McDonald’s since 1977.” – Rand Race

“It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish.” – Zora Neale Hurston

“Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridg’ed: It is so. It is not so. It is so. It is not so.” – Benjamin Franklin

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” – Benjamin Franklin

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart.” – H.L. Mencken

“It is a curious thing that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste.” — Evelyn Waugh

“Although not a single leader of the Third Reich – not even Hitler himself – was ever excommunicated, Galileo was not absolved of heresy until 1992.” – Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, 2004)

“Secularism is the only guarantee of religious freedom.” – Christopher Hitchens (2010)

“Just as the Virgin Mary seems to appear only to believing Catholics, so miracles tend to occur only when a requirement for them is specified.” – Christopher Hitchens (“Less Than Miraculous,” Free Inquiry, February/March 2014)

“From a pluralityof prime movers, the monotheists have bargained it down to a single one. They are getting ever nearer to the true, round figure.” – Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great, 2007)

“If people got well by praying, we wouldn’t be in the case that we are, with so many people desperately sick.” – Christopher Hitchens (C-Span broadcast, 2007)

“If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, wwe would be living in a quite different world.” – Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great, 2007)

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” – Delos B. McKown

“Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.” – Pascal

“All true believers have good reasons for disbelieving in every god except their own,” said Birbal. “And so it is they who, between them, give me all the reasons for believing in none.” – Salman Rushdie (The Enchantress of Florence)

“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” – Thomas Jefferson (“Note on Virginia”)

“The day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” – Thomas Jefferson (Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823)

“In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty; he is always in allegiance to the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.” – Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814)

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he oes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people whoich declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free xercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” – Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Danbury [Connecticut] Baptist Association; cited in The Complete Jefferson, pp. 518-519)

“For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don’t have one, and I’d really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren’t any.” – Silas Sparkhammer

“We need not imagine there’s no heaven, we know that there is none, and we will search for angels forever in vain. A God can still be made in the face of all [the evidence of his] absence, but he will always be chairman of the board, holding an office of fine title and limited powers.” – Adam Gopnik (“Bigger Than Phil: When Did Faith Start to Fade?” The New Yorker, February 17 & 24, 2014, pp. 107-111)

“It is perfectly possible to believe that there are many things that will never be the subjects of science without thinking that they ar therefore subjects of faith. Human beings are unpredictable. We can’t know what songs they will sing, what new ideas they will come up with, how beautifully they will act or how badly. But their sujbective sensations do no supply them with souls. They just make them people.” – Adam Gopnik (“Bigger Than Phil: When Did Faith Start to Fade?” The New Yorker, February 17 & 24, 2014, pp. 107-111)

“Some people of great sensibility and intelligence…recoil at the idea of a univese set up as a game of blood sacrifice and eternal torture, or even with the promise of eternal bliss not easily distinguishable from eternal boredom. They find a universe of matter, pleasure, and community-made morality the only kind of life possible, and the only kind worth living.” – Adam Gopnik (“Bigger Than Phil: When Did Faith Start to Fade?” The New Yorker, February 17 & 24, 2014, pp. 107-111)

“The daily miseries of the Age of Faith scarcely exist in our Western age of Fatuity. The horrors of normal life in times past, enumerated, are now almost inconceivable…. If God became the opiate of the many, it was because so many were in need of a drug.” – Adam Gopnik (“Bigger Than Phil: When Did Faith Start to Fade?” The New Yorker, February 17 & 24, 2014, pp. 107-111)

“We never can be better for our religion if our neighbor is the worse for it.” – William Penn

“Tell people about your religion without the use of your tongue.” – Imam Ja’Far al-Sadiq

“”Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” – Napoleon

Science

“Science has promised us truth….It has never promised us either peace or happiness.” – Le Bon

“With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul?” – Henry David Thoreau

The Seasons

“I walk around, aware and unaware, seasoning the familiar with the unfamiliar….My knowledge of the world, a steadily enlarging store, is chastened again and again by revelation of my ignorance….I think I know each season, the years colossal quadrants, but every successive spring, summer, fall, and winter is a set of new discoveries….There are always new combinations, new thresholds, surprises. Time turns a corner, opens a new vista.” – David Young (Seasoning: A Poet’s Year, 1999)

Autumn

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

“I am so glad I live in a world with Octobers….” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“pumpkins lie like moons among the corn” – Loren Eisely (“October has the heart”)

Winter

“February is winter in earnest.” – Sarah Litsey

“There is a privacy about [winter] which no other season gives you . . . In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” – Ruth Stout

“In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half-concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.” – Thoreau

“The final days of the old year and the first days of the new make a magical interlude. The big holidays, with all their obligations, expenses, and stresses, are over. The regularly scheduled life is kept at bay a few days more. You can feel the air gently shift around you as the door of the old year swings shut and the door of the new year opens.” –  Douglas Dalrymple, at Afield Notes

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen
Snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter
Long ago
–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), A Christmas Carol

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.”
– Andrew Wyeth

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”
– Ruth Stout

“I’ve been a dweller on the plains,
have sighed when summer days were gone;
No more I’ll sigh; for winter here
Hath gladsome gardens of his own.”
– Dorothy Wordsworth, Peaceful Our Valley, Fair and Green

“Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered,
and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.”
– Plutarch, Moralia

“From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens –
the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.” – Katherine S. White

“Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring.
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with
The music of many leaves,
Which in due season fall and are blown away.
And this is the way of life.”
– Krishnamurti

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.” – Vita Sackville-West

“The name, given to the month of ‘January’, is derived from the ancient Roman name ‘Janus’ who presided over the gate to the new year. He was revered as the ‘God of Gateways’, ‘of Doorways’ and ‘of the Journey.’ Janus protected the ‘Gate of Heaven’, known as the ‘Lord of Beginnings’, is associated with the ‘Goddess Juno-Janus’,
and often symbolized by an image of a face that looks forwards and backwards at the same time. This symbolism can easily be associated with the month known by many as the start of a new year which brings new opportunities. We cast out the old and welcome in the new. It is the time when many reflect on events of the previous year and often resolve to redress or improve some aspect of daily life or personal philosophy.”
– Mystical World Wide Web

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

Spring

“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.” – Ellis Peters

Summer

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.” – Natalie Babbitt (Tuck Everlasting)

Shyness

From “How to Become Less Shy” by David Cain

“…A traditional safety-shield for the shy person is to dismiss small talk as insufferable or disingenuous. Why “make conversation” when it’s not happening naturally? Clearly if there was something interesting to talk about, we’d talk about that. Why do we pretend that we care about some twice-removed acquaintance’s work, or their plans for the summer, or the obvious fact that it is raining?

The old standards—What do you do? How do you know the host? Do you have plans for the weekend?—are standards for a reason. They’re low-risk and they get words moving. They warm the air between two people, and make deeper lines of conversation possible. They get you into the foyer of a possible human connection. From there, you can see into the drawing room, where stories, hobbies and aspirations are being shared.

Demonizing small talk is like avoiding the front door just because everything that happens there is so predictable. Being civilized means helping people to be comfortable by offering a bit of formality and predictability: knock on the door, enter graciously, shake hands and let them take your coat. Small talk earns you the right to make deeper connections. It’s like letting a dog sniff you before trying to pet it—maybe the little ritual does nothing for you directly, but that’s not the point….

Shy people are good at disappearing from parties and get-togethers.  To the timid, these events can feel fundamentally dangerous, and to leave feels like a huge relief.

But fleeing from social situations makes future get-togethers more difficult. Shyness begins to reinforce itself when you believe that the pain of embarrassment or self-consciousness can never be allowed to happen, that it’s damaging to you.

The truth is the opposite, however: what’s damaging is the refusal to ever experience those feelings. This is the crux of the shyness problem. By avoiding social discomfort like it’s poison, you end up making something unpleasant into something unbearable. Those feelings become a really big deal, a danger you have to plan your life around. You create your own kryptonite.

What shy people need, more than anything, is some experience allowing nervousness and self-consciousness happen to them, without fleeing the scene. They need to bear some of these feelings, to see that they dissipate when you resist the impulse to run from them.

Stay at the party. Let those feelings linger inside you, but don’t leave. Have some low-risk conversations, and let yourself feel however you feel during them. That’s the feeling of shyness going away. You need to demonstrate to your brain that nervousness is just a passing feeling. It’s not an emergency, and it’s not an identity.

You’re outsmarting the shyness here with an expert move, actually allowing it instead of running from it. This is yet another application for the practicing of mindfulness. You sit right in the nervousness and let it be there, and nothing comes crashing down.

When you do this, the shyness loses its ability to reinforce itself. If it can’t make you run, it can’t do anything.”

Silence

“Silence receives too little appreciation, silence being a higher, rarer than thing than sound. Silence implies inner riches, and a savoring of impressions. Babies value this too. They lie silent, and one can suppose them asleep, but look closer, and with eyes wide open they are sparkling like jewels in the dark.”  – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 148)

Solitude

“Silence is the only phenomenon today that is ‘useless’:  it cannot be exploited.” – Picard

“Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.” — Alice Koller

“Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich (The Eternal Now)

“…the liveliness of companionship and the liveliness of solitude differ, and the latter is never as exhausting as the former.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, page 14)

“I wonder if living alone makes one more alive. No precious energy goes in disagreement or compromise. No need to augment others, there is just yourself, just truth – a morsel – and you….Alone you have your own way all day long, and you become very natural.”  – Florida Scott-Maxwell (The Measure of My Days, 1968, pages 33-34)

Spirit

“Not until it aches does one notice one’s soul. Everyone should remember this from his childhood. This experience – together with the observation that at the death of another ‘life departs’ – has produced belief in the soul.” – Oswald Spengler

“It is hard to believe in God, it is no easier to believe in man. ” – Margot Asquith

Stories

“It is the function of poetry to harmonize the sorrows of the world.” – A.E. Housman

“The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it.” – Samuel Johnson

“Myths are public dreams….Dreams are private myths. Myths are vehicles of communication between the conscious and the unconscious, just as dreams are.” – Joseph Campbell (Myths to Live By)

“The besetting sin of most clever people is that is much easier to say clever things than true ones.” – Kenneth Boulding

“When we encounter a natural style we are always surprised and delighted, for we thought to see an author and found a man.” – Pascal

“To write simply is as difficult as to be good.” – Somerset Maugham

“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” – Jules Renard

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser

Superficiality

“It is always easier to get people to pursue the interesting than the important.” – Kenneth Boulding

“Americans go deeply into the surface of things.” – Henry Ward

Television

“Television is not a salesman with his foot in your door, it’s a salesman with his foot in your head.” – Mason Williams (The FCC Rapport)

“The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.”  – Ray Bradbury

Things

“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” – Stephen Wright

Time

“Every time we postpone some necessary event – whether we are putting off doing the dinner dishes till morning or defer an operation or some difficult labor or study – we do so with the implication that present time is more important than future time (for if we wished the future to be as free and comfortable as we wish the present to be, we would perform necessary actions as soon as they prove themselves necessary). There is nothing wrong with this, as long as we know what we are doing, and as long as the present indeed holds some opportunity more important than the task we delay….[H]abitual delays can clutter our lives, leave us in the annoying position of always having to do yesterday’s chores. Disrespect for the future is a subtly poisonous disrespect for self, and forces us, paradoxically enough, to live in the past.” – Robert Grudin (Time and the Art of Living, 1982)

“When one finally arrives at the point where schedules are forgotten, and becomes immersed in ancient rhythms, one begins to live.” –  Sigurd F. Olson

“You don’t realize how much of your sense of self is bound up in how you use your time until you have a lot of it.” – Max Read, quoted by Mark Larson at his Tumblr

“Take more time, cover less ground.” – Thomas Merton

Traveling

“Travel makes one modest.” – Flaubert

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – €“Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

Truth-Telling

“If you are going to tell people the truth, you had better make them laugh or they will kill you.” – Oscar Wilde

“He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.” – Charles Peguy

“One hides a truth not to protect a secret but to cultivate a weapon.” – Douglas Sadownick (New York Native, March 10, 1985, page 20)

“Why tell lies when one is going to die?” – Edward Dahlberg

“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.” – Coleridge

“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.” – Henry Wheeler Shaw

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

“A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie.”  – Robert Ingersoll

“Lying is done with words and also with silence.” – Adrienne Rich


Understanding

“Why does someone else’s life have to make sense to us? How can we understand something as mysterious as a life, even our own? The world rushes toward us whether we understand it or not. Our beating hearts depend on nothing we’ve figured out.” – Sy Safransky

“For all the communities available to us there is not one I would want to devote myself to, except for the society of the true searchers.” – Albert Einstein (Letter to Max Born, April 29, 1924)

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. ” – Albert Einstein

“The full circle of spiritual truth will be completed only when we realize that, but for a destiny not fully understood, we might actually have been born in the other person’s faith.” – Marcus Bach

“We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” — Milan Kundera (Laughable Loves)

“You need to be okay with not knowing stuff. Above all, you need to be capable of taking a slackjawed pleasure in the world, because if you can’t do that, then you’re living in your head first, and that’s where we worry. Love something, and fight for your love.” –“Richard,” a blogger at Book Addiction [http://boughtbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/david-gessner-my-green-manifesto.html]

Utopia

Excerpts from “Couldn’t Be Better: The Return of the Utopians” by Akash Kapur, The New Yorker, October 3, 2016:

“Not long ago, utopianism was a mark of naivete or fanaticicism, or even of solidarity with political coercion; today, anti-utopianism is denigrated as a form of political cynicism and complicity with the global forces of oppression.”

“Contradiction and hypocrisy have always hovered over the utopian projet, shadowing its promise of a better world with the sordid realities of human nature….’There is a tyranny in the womb of every utoptia,’ the French futurist Bernard de Jouvenal wrote.”

“For all the idealism, daily life in these ‘heavens on earth’…rarely managed to rise above the mundanities that mark most human settlements: financial shenanigans, nepotism, authoritarianism, envy, sexual exploitation.”

“One thing we can say about the seductive visionaries who led the utopian movement in America is that they did not lead the most self-examined lives.”

“Children, passive receptacles for their parents’ life choices, are always the worst victims of such communities.”

“Nearly every utopia…begins with a determination to create a new economy, usually through some amalgam of colletive ownership, central planning, and voluntary labor. Yet egotism, acquisitiveness, competitiveness, and all the other ills of human flesh bob repeatedly to the surface, like a cork thatwill not be submerged.”

“…Repeated tensions over sex, property, and labor, which [plague] nearly all these places, are reminders that their inhabitants, for all their efforts at transcendence, stubbornly remain status-seeking, gene-propagating, and, quite simply, selfish creatures. ‘Every serious student of social problems has discovered that possessiveness in sex and family relationships makes economic communism unattainable.”

“The circle of aspirations is not easily reconciled with the square of our human propensities. Over and over, optimistically and stubbornly, commendably but maybe also a bit foolishly, utopia just seems to take a long and circuitous route to the same, inevitable destination.”

“What if the real way forward weren’t a great leap but grinding, tedious, unglamorously incremental change – what George Eliot called ‘meliorism’?”

“The zealous conviction of utopians that the present must be erased, rather than built upon, fuels their denunciations of pragmatic incrementalism. It leads them to belittle the energies of reformism, and to obscure the truth that change and reform do occur, even if in a halting an often unfathomable manner. Few, if any, major improvements in recent decades – the spread of democracy, say, or the halving of extreme poverty, or the expansion of women’s and L.G.B.T. rights – can be attributed to utopianism….Aiming not at perfection but at improvement, accepting the vagaries of human nature as a premise that policy must accommodate, rather than wish away, meliorism forces a longer, more calibrated approach. It is not a path for the impatient, but it has the verdict of history on its side. The utopian has a better story to tell, the meliorist leaves us with a better world.”

Vanity

“Those who write against vanity want the glory of having written well, and their readers the glory of reading well, and I who write this have the same desire, as perhaps those who read this have also.” – Pascal

“We would rather run ourselves down than not speak of ourselves at all.” – La Rochefoucauld

“Self-love is often rather arrogant than blind; it does not hide our faults from ourselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of others.” – Samuel Johnson

“Talking about oneself is a feast that starves the guest.” – Menander

“The truth is, that no man is much regarded by the rest of the world. He that considers how little he dwells upon the condition of others will learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself. While we see multitudes passing before us, of whom perhaps not one appears to deserve our notice or excite our sympathy, we should remember, that we likewise are lost in the same throng, that the eye which happens to glance upon us is turned in a moment on him that follows us…” – Samuel Johnson, “The Rambler,” #159)

Walking

“Thinking while you sit, or while you kneel with the eyes closed or fixed upon vacancy, the mind lapses into dreams; images of things remote and miscellaneous are merged in the haze of memory, in which facts and fancies roll together almost indistinguishably, and you revert to the vegetative state, voluminous and helpless. Thinking while you walk, on the contrary, keeps you alert; your thoughts, though following some single path through the labyrinth, review real things in their real order; you are keen for discovery, ready for novelties, laughing at every little surprise, even if it is a mishap; you are careful to choose the right road, and if you take the wrong one, you are anxious and able to correct your error. Meantime, the fumes of digestion are dissipated by the fresh air; the head is cleared and kept aloft, where it may survey the scene; attention is stimulated by the novel objects constantly appearing; a thousand hypotheses run to meet them in an amiable competition which the event soon solves without ambiguity; and the scene as a whole is found to change with the changed station of the traveler, revealing to him his separate existence and his always limited scope, together with the distinction (which is all wisdom in a nutshell) between how things look and what they are.” – George Santayana, “The Philosophy of Travel,” Virginia Quarterly Review (Winter 1964), pp.  1-10 (at 4-5)

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and 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.” – Søren Kierkegaard, Writings, XXV = Letters and Documents (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), p. 214 (Letter 150, to Henriette Kierkegaard, 1847, tr. Henrik Rosenmeier)

“The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Maxims and Arrows 34 (tr. Walter Kaufmann)

War

“In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.” – Herodotus

“This only makes war lawful; that it is a struggle for law against force; for the life of a people as expressed in their laws, their language, their government against any effort to impose on them a law, a language, a government which is not theirs.” – Maurice

“In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers.” – Bebel

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

Wisdom

“He who is only wise lives a sad life.” – Voltaire

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” – Anaïs Nin

“Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.” – Juvenal

“The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened. It’s only the middle-aged who are really conscious of their limitations…” ~ Saki (Reginald)

“I have a great respect for orthodoxy; not for those orthodoxies which prevail in particular schools or nations, and which vary from age to age, but for a certain shrewd orthodoxy which the sentiment and practice of laymen maintain everywhere. I think that common sense, in a rough dogged way, is technically sounder than the special schools of philosophy, each of which squints and overlooks half the facts and half the difficulties in its eagerness to find in some detail the key to the whole. I am animated by distrust of all high guesses, and by sympathy with the old prejudices and workaday opinions of mankind: they are ill expressed, but they are well grounded.” – George Santayana, Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923), p. v

“Thinking while you sit, or while you kneel with the eyes closed or fixed upon vacancy, the mind lapses into dreams; images of things remote and miscellaneous are merged in the haze of memory, in which facts and fancies roll together almost indistinguishably, and you revert to the vegetative state, voluminous and helpless. Thinking while you walk, on the contrary, keeps you alert; your thoughts, though following some single path through the labyrinth, review real things in their real order; you are keen for discovery, ready for novelties, laughing at every little surprise, even if it is a mishap; you are careful to choose the right road, and if you take the wrong one, you are anxious and able to correct your error. Meantime, the fumes of digestion are dissipated by the fresh air; the head is cleared and kept aloft, where it may survey the scene; attention is stimulated by the novel objects constantly appearing; a thousand hypotheses run to meet them in an amiable competition which the event soon solves without ambiguity; and the scene as a whole is found to change with the changed station of the traveler, revealing to him his separate existence and his always limited scope, together with the distinction (which is all wisdom in a nutshell) between how things look and what they are.” –

“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” – Tao te Ching

Words

“Every sentence is a small act of sculpture.” – Patrick Kurp, Anecdotal Evidence (October 23, 2015)

Working

“Work is often the father of pleasure.” – Voltaire

“It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can’t eat for eight hours; he can’t drink for eight hours; he can’t make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work.” – William Faulkner

From Alain de Botton’s The News: A User’s Manual (2014):

“…For all its determined pursuit of the anomalous, the one thing the news skillfully avoids training its eye on is itself, and the predominant position it has achieved in our lives. ‘Half of Humanity Daily Spellbound by the News’ is a headline we are never likely to see from organizations otherwise devoted to the remarkable and the noteworthy, the corrupt and the shocking.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 10

“…The news doesn’t just follow a quasi-religious timetable. It also demands that we approach it with some of the same deferential expectations we would once have harbored for the faiths. Here, too, we hope to receive revelations, learn who is good and bad, fathom suffering and understand the unfolding logic of existence.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 11

“It is deemed more important [by our educators] for us to know how to make sense of the plot of Othello than how to decode the front page of the New York Post….We are never systematically inducted into the extraordinary capacity of news outlets to influence our sense of reality and to mold the state of what we might as well – with no supernatural associations – call our souls….Whatever happens in our classrooms, the more potent and ongoing kind of education takes place on the airwaves and on our screens….Once our formal education has finished, the news is the teacher….It is the prime creator of political and social reality. As revolutionaries well know, if you want to change the mentality of a country, you don’t head to the art gallery, the department of education or the homes of famous novelists: you drive the tanks straight to the nerve center of the body politic: the news HQ.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 12

“The news, however dire it may be and perhaps especially when it is at its worst, can come as a relief from the claustrophobic burden of living with ourselves, of forever trying to do justice to our own potential and of struggling to  persuade a few people in our limited orbit to take our ideas and needs seriously. To consult the news is to raise a seashell to our ears and to be overpowered by the roar of humanity…to allow…larger concerns to drown out our own self-focused apprehensions and doubts….We can [then] turn away from [these reports] and experience a new sense of relief at our predictable routines, at how tightly bound we have kept our more unusual desires and at our restraint in never having poisoned a colleague or entombed a relation under the patio.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), pages 13-14

“The hum and rush of the news have seeped into our deepest selves. What an achievement a moment of calm now is, what a minor miracle the ability to fall asleep or to talk undistracted with a friend – and what monastic discipline would be required to make us turn away from the maelstrom of news and listen for a day to nothing but the rain and our own thoughts.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 16

“Hegel’s argument that the news now occupies the same prestigious position in society as religion once did misses…an important difference…: religions have traditionally been particularly sensitive to how bad we are at focusing on anything….They sit us down in a solemn place, quieten our minds and then speak to us with dignified urgency rather than panic, understanding that we will have to return to their ideas over days and weeks if we are to stand any chance of being influenced in how we think and behave.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 31

“…There are dynamics far more insidious and cynical…than censorship in draining people of political will; these involve confusing, boring and distracting the majority away from politics by presenting events in such a disorganized, fractured and intermittent way that a majority of the audience is unable to hold on to the thread of the most important issues for any length of time.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 31-32

“In any nation at any given point there is a welter of conflicting evidence about what is going on in the land. There will be several paedophiliac murderers at work, but there will also be tens of millions who don’t favor abusing and bludgeoning children to death. Some people will be drawn to murdering partners who have been unfaithful…, but the majority will tearfully and angrily muddle along. There will be some depressed residents who have been worn down by economic hardships, but they will have their opposites in many others who remain resilient in the face of daunting odds. Some people will riot and vomit in the streets, break shop windows and run off with looted spirits, but most will be keener to trim back the flowers in the garden and keep things tidy in the kitchen. A few people will go to glamorous parties all the time, but many more will accept with grace the pleasures, dignity and freedom of an ordinary life….The more cheerful side of the coin never makes it into the news. There is a plethora of headlines that would be both true and yet impossible to run:

  • Grandmother, 87, helped three flights up the stairs at railway station by 15-year-old bystander she didn’t know
  • Teacher surmounts his [sexual] feelings for a young student
  • Man abandons rash plan to kill his wife…
  • 65 million people go to bed every night without murdering or hitting anyone

There are so many different versions of ‘reality’…[the media] merely selectively fashions reality through the choices it makes about which stories to cast its spotlight on and which ones to leave out.

Herein rests an enormous and largely uncomprehended power: the power to assemble the picture that citizens end up having of one another: the power to dictate what our idea of ‘other people’ will be like; the power to invent a nation in our imaginations….

Before we despair at the calamities that apparently surround us on all sides, we should remember that the news is ultimately only one set of stories about what is happening out there, no more and no less.

Our nation isn’t just a severed hand, a mutilated grandmother, three dead girls in a basement, embarrassment for a minister, trillions of debt, a double suicide at the railway station and a fatal five-car crash by the coast.

It is also the cloud floating right now unattended over the church spire, the gentle thought in the doctor’s mind as he approaches the patient’s bare arm with a needle, the field mice by the hedgerow, the small child tapping the surface of newly hardboiled egg while her mother looks on lovingly, the nuclear submarine patrolling the maritime borders with efficiency and courage, the factory producing the first prototypes of a new kind of engine and the spouse who, despite extraordinary provocations and unkind words, discovers fresh reserves of patience and forgiveness.

This, too is reality. The news we are given about the nation is not the nation. – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), pages 41-44

“…The news directs us to adopt a distinctive stance: one of timidity, panic and fragility. Our chances of surviving the difficulties facing humanity are deemed to be very slim – though slightly increased if we habitually keep up with the headlines….In its stoking of our fears, the news cruelly exploits our weak hold on a sense of perspective.”- Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 49

“…stoicism is of no interest whatsoever to the news, for it has sound commercial incentives for overemphasizing our vulnerability.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 51

“The news routinely tantalizes us with the promise of drastic change and improvement. It anoints certain politicians as visionaries and expresses confidence that they can fundamentally transform the nation within a few months of attaining office.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 53

“The most significant fact of political life, which almost no news organization will dare to acknowledge – because it would at a stroke exclude half of its speculations and disappointments – is that in some key areas of politics, nothing can be achieved very quickly by any one person or party; it would be impossible for anyone – not simply this fool or that group of cretins – to change matters at a pace that would flatter the expectations of the news cycle; and that in the case of certain problems, the only so-called ‘solutions’ will have to await a hundred years or more of incremental change, rather than a messianic leader, an international conference or a quick war….Refusing to square with human nature, [the news] allows our hopes to smash constantly against the same shoals; it greets every new day with faux cherubic innocence, only to stoke up rage and disillusionment at our condition by nightfall….It doesn’t do us the favor of conceding that in many respects we are a fundamentally – rather than incidentally – incorrigible species and that we would at key moments be wise to forego hysterical annoyance for deep and quiet melancholy.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 55-56

“…we forget the highly contingent and human dynamics underlying the choice of what ends up being picked as a [news] ‘story.’” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 71

“Whether a war in Africa should take priority over the launch of a shoe collection, a runaway tiger over a set of inflation figures, the rape of a pretty, white, middle-class schoolgirl over the decapitation of a homeless black man, the collapse of shares in mining companies over the first words spoken by a child depends on methods of classification that hint at society’s most peculiar and clandestine prejudices. We should…be somewhat suspicious of the way that news sources, which otherwise expend considerable energy advertising their originality and independence of mind, seem so often to be in complete agreement on the momentous question of what happened today.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 72-73

“On account of its scale and complexity, the world will always outstrip the capacity of any single body to ask fertile questions of it. News organizations will only ever be able to offer up sketchy and sometimes deeply mistaken maps of what will continue to be an infinitely elusive and varied reality.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 75

“We should remain at all times skeptically alert to the potentially gross idiocy that may lie concealed beneath the most beautiful fonts and the most authoritative and credible headlines.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 75

“…Most of what we now take for granted (a minimum wage, child protection, environmental legislation) started off by seeming entirely radical, if not insane, to ‘sensible’ opinion.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 138

“When does a job feel meaningful? When we can, at the end of the day, feel as if our work has in some way, however modestly, helped either to reduce the misery or to increase the contentment of others. We like to serve, and we like even more to experience the impact of our efforts on the lives of our fellow humans. Yet when labor is subdivided into ever smaller parts, when whole careers are devoted to turning out objects which will affect another’s well-being for only a second or not at all, then meaning suffers. Not that the stock markets would care; they would reply that meaning should be something reserved for the weekend.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 151

“Each person we envy possesses some piece of the jigsaw puzzle depicting our possible future condition. There is a portrait of our ‘true self’ waiting to be assembled out of the envious hints we receive when we flick through a magazine, turn the pages of a newspaper or hear updates on the radio about the latest career moves of our old schoolmates. Though we might at first experience envy as humiliating and a confirmation of our own failure, we should calmly ask one essential and redemptive question of all those we envy: ‘What could I learn here?’ It is a pity that envious reactions are so often confusingly vague and accompanied by panic. We start to envy certain individuals in their entirety, when, in fact, if we took a moment to analyze their lives calmly, we would realize that it is only a small part of what they have done that really resonate with, and should guide, our own next steps.”  – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page172

“In contrast to what the news suggests, most businesses in fact fail, most films don’t get made, most careers are not stellar, most people’s faces and bodies are less than perfectly beautiful and almost everyone is sad and worried a lot of the time. We shouldn’t lament our own condition just because it doesn’t measure up against a deeply unrealistic benchmark, or hate ourselves solely for our inability to defy some breathtaking odds.” — Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 174

“The wish to be famous is a bid to have our dignity fully respected in a world where it almost certainly won’t be unless we are prepared to take extreme measures. We may be equal before the law and at the ballot box, but there is no guarantee of dignity in the treatment we receive at the office, in our social life or between the wheels of governmental or commercial bureaucracies….Fame allows celebrities to leverage kindness and respect from others. A famous name alone can accomplish in an instant what its bearer might otherwise have had to beg for over years with his or her whole personality. This saves a lot of time….Fame staves off tendencies towards opportunistic meanness: it saves the famous person from being left at the mercy of strangers.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 177-178

“A decade of parental love can give a person strength enough to cope with fifty years of insignificance. The only childhood properly deserving of the epithet ‘privileged’ is one in which the child’s emotional needs were adequately met.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 180

“A society where everyone wants to be famous is…one where, for a variety of essentially political (in the broad sense) reasons, being ordinary has failed to deliver the degree of respect necessary to satisfy people’s natural appetite for dignity. Insofar as the modern world is celebrity-obsessed, we are living not so much in superficial times as in unkind ones. Fame has become a means to an end, the most direct route to a kind of respect that could otherwise have been found in different, less renown-dependent ways – through kindness rather than magazine covers. If we want to decrease the urge for fame, we should not begin by frowning upon or seeking to censor news about celebrities; we should start to think of ways of making kindness, patience and attention more widely available, especially to the young.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 181

“The reason why we need others to fail and why we delight in gossip about their missteps are in the end deeply sad; because we are furious about our own lack of attention – and so attempt to gain relief by punishing those who seem to have deprived us of our due. Our disappointed ambitions turn us into failures: people who need others to fail. The urge to gossip and the desire for fame spring from the very same ill: both are caused by a shortage of attention.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 185

“We may never actually fling our children off a bridge…or shoot our partner dead during an argument, but we are all, at times, emotionally in the same space where these sorts of things can happen. Tragedies remind us how badly we need to keep controlling ourselves by showing us what happens when people don’t.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 195

“Such are the limits of our own concentration and emotional resources, having a serious and appropriate concern for ourselves and the handful of people who deeply depend upon us must frequently involve a calculated restriction of sympathy for, and interest in, others – a due recognition, in other words, not at all psychopathic in nature, that whatever the news may suggest and however immediate, alarming and touching its tales can be, the problems it raises are not always our own.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 209

“Living is something of an emergency anyway, but our struggles must usually be strenuously concealed. Our anxieties churn away within us, yet on the outside we must smile and deliver upbeat answers to enquiries about how we’re doing. The [media-predicted or reported] storm calls a temporary end to this charade. With the wind howling outside, we’re allowed to be worried and, even more blessedly, we can direct our worries towards something large, objective and (however odd this might sound to the patrol crews who are out gritting the roads) relatively simple – for it is ultimately easier to dig, rescue, save and resuscitate than to meet the challenges of those quieter, more temperate days when we are left alone to bear the responsibilities of making a living, staying in love, raising sane children and not wasting our brief lives. The storm helps us to reconnect with other people too. At normal times, we can’t presume what is on their minds, but now we have a ready-made point of connection and communion with just about anyone.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 213-214

“Tidy modern technological society, marked by its constant competitive solipsism, has done most of us sufficient harm that we may not mind so very much when, for a time at least, it gets a little roughed up by nature’s awesomely indifferent hand.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 216

“Art is a tool to help us with a number of psychological frailties which we would otherwise have trouble handling: our inability to understand ourselves, to laugh sagely at our faults, to empathize with and forgive others, to accept the inevitability of suffering without falling prey to a sense of persecution, to remain tolerably hopeful, to appreciate the beauty of the everyday and to prepare adequately for death. In relation to such flaws and many others, art delivers its healing powers, offering us, for example, a poetry book that delineates an emotion we had long felt but never understood, a comedy that shakes us from self-righteous indignation, an album that gives us a soundtrack of hope, a play that turns horror into tragedy, a film that charts a saner path through the difficulties of love or a painting that invites us to a more gracious acceptance of age and disease.”  – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 236-237

“…The modern era [is] a time of disorientation and randomness in which, thanks to new technologies, we have surrendered our provincial attachments, abandoned the rhythms of nature and, within vast cities, become vividly aware of the simultaneous existence of millions of our demented fellow creatures, all burdened with their particular blend of misfortunes, ambitions, and peculiarities.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 252

“The pace of the news cycle is relentless. However momentous yesterday’s news – the landslides, the discovery of a young girl’s half-concealed body, the humiliation of a once-powerful politician – every morning, the whole cacophony begins afresh. The news hub has the institutional amnesia of a hospital’s accident and emergency department: nightly the bloodstains are wiped away and the memories of the dead erased….The overseers of the news need never fear [any] scarcity [of newsworthy incidents]….By the end of any twenty-four-hour period, 3,000 people will unwittingly have lost their lives on the world’s roads, forty-five people will have been murdered across the United States and 400 fires will have broken out in homes across southern Europe – quite aside from any new and unforeseen innovations in the fields of maiming, terrorizing, stealing and exploding.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 252-253

“We can’t find everything we need to round out our humanity in the present. There are attitudes, ideologies, modalities of feeling and philosophies of mind for which we must journey backwards across the centuries….We need to balance contact with the ever-changing pixels on our screens with the pages of heavy hardback books that proclaim, through their bindings and their typefaces, that they have something to say that will still deserve a place in our thoughts tomorrow.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 254

“A flourishing life requires a capacity to recognize the times when the news no longer has anything original or important to teach us; periods when we should refuse imaginative connection with strangers, when we must leave the business of governing, triumphing, failing, creating or killing to others, in the knowledge that we have our own objectives to honor in the brief time still allotted to us.” – Alain de Botton, The News: A User’s Manual (2014), page 255

[To be assigned categories:]

“Astrology fosters astronomy. Mankind plays its way up.” – Lichtenberg

“…moments big as years.” – John Keats

“At least be sure that you go to the author to get at his meaning, not find yours.” – Ruskin

“All books are either dreams or swords.” – Amy Lowell

“If anyone says “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.” – I John 4:20

“God has made of one blood all the peoples of the earth.” – Acts 17

“We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of his cause.” – William James (Letter to Godkin, December 24, 1895)

“It is difficult to leave a country before you have done something to prove you have felt and loved it.” (Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo)

“Some tell, some hear, some judge of news – some make it.” – Dryden

“To talk of atomic energy in terms of atomic bombs is like talking of electricity in terms of the electric chair.” – P.L. Kapitz

“It is much easier to repent of sins that we have committed than to repent of those we intend to commit.” – Billings

“An heir finds the title-deeds of his house. Will he say, ‘Perhaps they are forged?’ and neglect to examine them?” – Pascal (Pensees, #217)

“I regard reviews as a kind of infant’s disease to which newborn books are subject.” – Lichtenberg

“The weakness of pure individualism is that there are no pure individuals.” – Kenneth Boulding (“Man as a Community,” 1972, page 48)

“Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.” – Alex Mogelon

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true.” – James Branch Cabell

“The mystery of mysteries is to view machinery making machinery.” – Disraeli

“Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.” – Disraeli

“We must always be on the lookout for perverse dynamic processes which carry even good things to excess. It is precisely these excesses which become the most evil things in the world. The devil, after all, is a fallen angel.” – Kenneth Boulding (1972)

“No one ever praised two men equally, and pleased them both.” – Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875)

“Never put a man entirely in the wrong if you can help it.” – Dean Inge

“People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Work shapes the mind; leisure colors it.” – James Dolbear (1861)

“The freedom of the rose-tree is the rose.” – George Macdonald

“Two impressions remaining, after a life of scientific research: 1. The inexhaustible oddity of nature. 2. The capacity of the human system for recovery.” – J.B.S. Haldane

“…trying to change America into an understanding lover.” – Sy Safransky

“I keep trying to rearrange my life, as if the hours were furniture. Perhaps the wish to keep things peaceful and orderly is itself a cause of suffering.” – Sy Safransky

“The creation was an act of mercy.” – Blake

“Necessity is the constant scourge of the lower classes, ennui of the higher ones.” – Schopenhauer

“We have rudiments of reverence for the human body, but we consider as nothing the rape of the human mind.” – Hoffer

“You can force anything upon society in the way of entertainment except the persistent pursuit of a topic.” – Goethe

“He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” – St. Augustine

“Oaths are the fossils of piety.” – Santayana

“If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see fortune; for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.” – Francis Bacon

“Men are much more apt to agree in what they do than in what they think.” – Goethe

“Who lies for you will lie against you.” – Bosnian proverb

“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” – Emerson

“It is difficult to keep quiet if you have nothing to do.” – Schopenhauer

“Imagination is nature’s equal, sensuality her slave.” – Goethe

“We think in generalities, but we live in detail.” – Alfred Whitehead

“Great is the art of beginning.” – H.W. Longfellow

“[The South] is as sterile artistically, intellectually, culturally, as the Sahara Desert.” – H.L. Mencken (“The Sahara of the Bozart,” 1917)

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.” – Thoreau

“The map is not the territory.” – Alfred Korzybski

From Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (1968):

“The historian always oversimplifies, and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend.” – Will and Ariel Durant (The Age of Faith, p. 479)

“When the universe has crushed him man will still be n0bler than that which kills him, because he knows that he is dying, and of its victory the universe knows nothing.” – Pascal (quoted by Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 14)

“Cooperation is real, and increases with social development, but mostly because it is a toll and form of competition; we cooperate in our group – our family, community, club, church, party, ‘race,’ or nation – in order to strengthen our group in its competition with other groups. Competing groups have the qualities of competing individuals: acquisitiveness, pugnacity, partisanship, pride. Our states, being ourselves multiplied, are what we are; they write our natures in bolder type, and do our good and evil on an elephantine scale.”  – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 19)

“Since Nature (here meaning total reality and its processes) has not read very carefully the American Declaration of Independence or the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man, we are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character….Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies….Utopias of equality are biologically doomed, and the best that the amiable philosopher can hope for is an approximate equality of legal justice and educational opportunity. A society in which all potential abilities are allowed to develop and function will have a survival advantage in the competition of groups. This competition becomes more severe as the destruction of distance [via technology] intensifies the confrontation of states.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 19-20)

“…the labors of educators are apparently canceled in each generation by the fertility of the uninformed….Even the children of Ph.D.s must be educated and go through their adolescent measles of errors, dogmas, and isms; nor can we say how much potential ability and genius lurk in the chromosomes of the harassed and handicapped poor.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 23)

“Nothing is clearer in history than the adoption by successful rebels of the methods they were accustomed to condemn in the forces they deposed.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 34)

“It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be used; but it is also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection, opposition, and contumely; this is the trial heat which innovations must survive before being allowed to enter the human race.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 36)

“A little knowledge of history stresses the variability of moral codes, and concludes that they are negligible because they differ in time and place, and sometimes contradict each other. A larger knowledge stresses the universality of moral codes, and concludes to their necessity.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 37)

“Mans sins may be the relics of his rise than the stigmata of his fall.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 38)

“Behind the red facade of war and politics, misfortune and poverty, adultery and divorce, murder and suicide, were millions of orderly homes, devoted marriages, men and women kindly and affectionate, troubled and happy with children. Even in recorded history we find so many instances of goodness, even of nobility, that we can forgive, though not forget, the sins. The gifts of charity have almost equaled the cruelties of battlefields and jails. How many times, even in our sketchy narratives, we have seen men helping one another – Farinelli providing for the children of Domenico Scarlatti, divers people succoring young Haydn, Conte Litta paying for Johann Christian Bach’s studies at Bologna, Joseph Black advancing money repeatedly to James Watt, Puchberg patiently lending and lending to Mozart. Who will dare write a history of human goodness?” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 41)

“Individualism will diminish in America and England as geographical protection ceases….Meanwhile…it is pleasant to be relieved of theological terrors, to enjoy without qualm the pleasures that harm neither others nor ourselves, and to feel the tang of the open air upon our liberated flesh.” – Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 1968, page 41)

“Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent.” – Samuel Johnson

“To suppose, as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not behave the way the rich behave, is like supposing that we could drink all day and stay sober.” – L.P. Smith

“In a war of ideas it is people who get killed.” – Lec

“Nothing is more beautiful than cheerfulness in an old face.” – Richter

“His passions make man live, his wisdom merely makes him last.” – Chamfort

“When the rich assemble to concern themselves with the business of the poor, it is called charity. When the poor assemble to concern themselves with the business of the rich, it is called anarchy.” – Paul Richard (Scourge of Christ, 1929)

“The technical bias of any culture is revealed where there is the greatest multiplicity of terms for the same operations. For instance, the Eskimo has many words for snow. The Americans have many words for cars and dances.” – Marshall McLuhan (From Cliche to Archetype)

“We all tend to value highly what is scarce in our own particular part of the field. The sick make a religion of health, the violent make a religion of love, and the self-centered make a religion of objectivity.” – Kenneth Boulding (The Image, 1956, page 51)

“There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves we feel no one else has a right to blame us.” – Oscar Wilde

“There are many things that we would throw away, if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.” – Oscar Wilde

This reminds me of a passage…which conforms marvelously with my sentiments on this point.” – Leibnitz

“The reward of the general is not a bigger tent, but command.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“To be engaged in opposing wrong affords but a slender guarantee for being right.” – Gladstone

“Democracy is not self-executing…the work of self-government never ceases.” – Adlai Stevenson

“Repetition is reality, and it is the seriousness of life.” – Kierkegaard

“Men love only what may be useful to them.” – Pascal (Pensees, #194)

“When someone behaves like a beast, he says, ‘After all, one is only human.’ But when he is treated like a beast, he says, ‘After all, one is human.'” – Kraus

“People in distress never think that you feel enough.” – Samuel Johnson

“Alive, in the sense that he can’t legally be buried.” – Geoffrey Masdan

“All men wish to have truth on their side: but few to be on the side of truth.” Richard Whately (1787-1863), Archbishop of Dublin

“Pedantry is greater accuracy than the case requires.” – Geoffrey Masdan

“Treachery is the very essence of snobbery.” – Geoffrey Masdan

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” – G.K. Chesterton

“People sometimes talk as if in a future life they would have a sort of prescriptive right to our company. If so, the unseen would hold new terrors indeed.” – A.C. Benson

“Life is like playing a solo on the violin, and learning the instrument as you go along.” – Samuel Butler

“A man cannot become young by over-exerting himself.” – Jowett

“We have sought truth, and sometimes found it. But have we had any fun?” – Jowett

“The casual impurities of intellectual life: pedantry, hurry, irrelevance, pretentiousness, cleverness.” – H.W. Garrod

“Good people are not so good as they imagine and bad people are not so bad as the good suppose.” – Bishop Creighton

“The applause of all but very good men is no more than the precise measure of their possible hostility.” – Canon Liddon

“The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.” – Paul Erlich (Saturday Review, June 5, 1971)

“It is a law of nature that we defend ourselves from one affectation only by means of another.” – Valery

“Sunlight rushes through the house like wind. Yellow brooks defy gravity, flowing up the stairs and over the ceiling. Rooms glimmer with optimism. What joy to get out of the bed on such mornings….[I] walk careless and lively over the room through sunlight – blood of the day – soaking profligate into [the] rugs.” – Ned Rorem (from “Being Alone,” Gay Sunshine Journal #46 (1982); reprinted from The Ontario Review (1980))

“The bridge of a sinking ship, one feels, is scarcely the ideal place from which to deliver a lecture on the technique of keeping afloat.” – Kenneth Tynan

“He that fears you present will hate you absent.” – Thomas Fuller

“Reason cannot prevail where reason cannot penetrate.” – Peter Quennell

“It seems that every time we were beginning to form into a team we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” – Titus Petronius

“A house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.” – from a novel by Rose Macaulay

“Vituperation…redressed some of the forces of deference which bolster the conceit of the second-rate; it also prevents the first-rate from going mad with conceit.” – Auberon Waugh (Will This Do?, 1998)

“Almost everything is easier to get into than out of.” – Agnes Allen

“We must respect the living, but the truth is good enough for the dead.” – Voltaire (on biography)

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank [quoted in The Sun]

“Spiritual life is not about knowing much, but about loving much.” – Jack Kornfield (After the Ecstasy, the Laundry)

“No one could bear the load of his whole life: all that was given, undergone, desired, conceded, seen and known, all he shunned or sought for, loved or hated – and then (on the other hand) if one knew the total of all one has risked, missed by a hair’s breath, failed to achieve….” – Paul Valery

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

“When you see a snake, never mind where he came from.” – W.G. Benham

“Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue.” – Persian proverb

“Jesus promised those who would follow his leadings only three things: that they should be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble.” – Marty Babcock (quoted by Andrew Boyd in Daily Afflictions, 2002)

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

“Your life is shaped by the things you desire.” – Thomas Merton (quoted by Robert Benson in Home by Another Way, 2006)

“The cultivated often treat practical matters as the ignorant do books, quite without understanding.” – Joubert

“I have concluded to have nothing more to do with funerals till they improve.” – William James (Letter, March 1, 1892)

“A man may pass for being ‘strong-willed’ when all it amounts to is that he has a habit of being willful. Being willful comes easiest to him.” – Paul Valery

“The trouble with taxonomic boxes…is that they tend to be empty, however beautiful they are on the outside.” – Kenneth Boulding

“[The French] are sensitive to things which do not exist for us.” – William James (Letter to Henry James, August 26, 1868)

“I am he / As you are he / As you are me / And we are all / Together.” – John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“One does not wish to be paid for writing a love letter.” – A. Wainwright

“God does not ask anything else of you except that you let yourself go and let God be God in you.” – Meister Eckhart

“Everything that is to receive must and ought to be empty.” – Meister Eckhart

“Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact.” – Ken Wilber

“Religion is something men do, not something they believe.” [Source???]

“There is a danger in being persuaded before one understands.” – Bishop Wilson

“[I know] that I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.” – D.H. Lawrence

“What strange creatures we are when you come to think of it! We go inside special buildings to become conscious of what is all around us – churches to think of the creator and the creation, planetariums to think of the vast reaches of our universe, schoolrooms to become more sensitive to history, language, culture, and literature, laboratories to study the details of nature, computer rooms to ‘browse’ among complex simulacra of reality….Our country is full of people who go outside as little as possible and then only to get from one place to another, one building to the next. Meanwhile, existence itself is a church, a planetarium, a classroom, a laboratory. Being is a momentous gift, greater than any web site.” – David Young (Seasoning: A Poet’s Year, 1999)

“The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness [of the world, or of your life in particular], the more afraid you become of engaging with the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.” – [Source?]

“The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience….” – Flannery O’Connor (quoted by
Jonathan Franzen in “Why Bother?” in How to Be Sane; originally published as “Perchance to Dream,” Harper’s, April 1996)

“The necessary lie of every successful regime, including the upbeat techno-corporatism under which we now live, is that the regime has made the world a better place. Tragic realism preserves the recognition that improvement always comes at a cost; that nothing lasts forever; that if the good in the world outweighs the bad, it’s by the slimmest of margins.” – Jonathan Franzen in “Why Bother?” in How to Be Sane; originally published as “Perchance to Dream,” Harper’s, April 1996).

“A man wants to make an important confession; but the man to whom he wished to unbosom himself does not come at once, so he says something quite different.” – Kierkegaard

“Words signify man’s refusal to accept the world as it is.” – Kaufman

“Words do not change their meanings so drastically in the course of centuries as, in our minds, names do in the course of a year or two.” – Proust

“Ideas, as distinguished from events, are never unprecedented.” – Hannah Arendt

“The existence of forgetting has never been proved; we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.” – Nietzsche

“The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.” – T.H. Huxley

“World peace…means renunciation of war by the majority. But it entails the unstated willingness to become the booty of those who have not renounced war. It begins with a wish for universal reconciliation and ends with no one lifting a finger to help his neighbor.” – Spengler

“Knowledge enlarges the unknown.” – Spengler

“I enjoy an occasional thing when it comes my way…but a methodical pursuit of the picturesque – heaven remove me sooner!” – William James (Letter dated June 28, 1909)

“Happy is the man who can truly say, ‘Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today.'” – Tom Jones

“There is no patriotic art and no patriotic science.” – Goethe

“The hero is indifferent to death and the saint indifferent to life.” – Oswald Spengler

“There is only one proper way to wear a beautiful dress: to forget you are wearing it.” – Mme. de Girardin

“Sliding down the razor blade of life” – Tom Lehrer

“All the books extolling the simple life are written by men.” – Feather

“More people are flattered into virtue than bullied out of vice.” – Surtees

“We should probably comport ourselves with the masterpieces of art as with exalted personages – stand quietly before them and wait til they speak to us.” – Schopenhauer

“A wise man will live as much within his wit as his income.” – Chesterfield

“It is good for solemnity’s nose to be tweaked, for human pomposity to be made to look mean and ridiculous. A good dose of this mockery, administered twice a year at the equinoxes, should purge our minds of much waste matter, make nimble our spirits, and brighten the eye to look more clearly and truthfully on the world about us.” – Aldous Huxley (in an essay on Ben Jonson, quoted by Beverley Nichols in Are They the Same at Home?, 1927)

“What arouses the indignation of the honest satirist is not…the fact that people in positions of power or influence behave idiotically, or even that they behave wickedly. It is that they conspire successfully to impose upon the public a picture of themselves as so very sagacious, honest, and well-intentioned.” – Claud Cockburn (1904-1981)

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

“Everyone lives in expectation of a miracle – in his mind, in his body, in somebody else, or in the course of events.” – Paul Valery

“When you have omitted the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

they call me boy / when I was picking cotton / they call me boot / when i was shining shoes / they call me nigger / when i was marching peacefully / now they call me man / when i started shooting – Wayne Loftin (Catholic World, September 1969)

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.” – Goethe

“The mind cannot long act the role of the heart.” – La Rochefoucauld

We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time – T.S. Eliot

“All of us look at each other knowingly, for the feeling that we knew each other in that most distant past conceals something else – tacit, awesome, almost unmentionable – the realization that at the deep center of a time perpendicular to ordinary time we are, and always have been, one. We acknowledge the marvelously hidden plot, the master illusion, whereby we appear different.” – Alan Watts

“Do not unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Wishes won’t wash dishes.” [Source?]

“You cannot unscramble eggs.” [Source?]

“Would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason.” [Source?]

“What is truly indispensible for the conduct of life has been taught us by women – the small rules of courtesy, the actions that win us the warmth or deference of others; the words that assure us a welcome; the attitudes that must be varied to mesh with character or situation; all social strategy. It is listening to women that teaches us to speak to men.” – Gourmont

“Dreams have as much influence as actions.” – Mallarme

“The temptations of the wilderness are those of the flesh; the temptations of civilization those of the mind.” – Rosenstock-Huessy

“[The word] ‘Gay’ was first used in its modern sense in a published work in Donald Cory’s The Homosexual in America (1951).” – Sue Crutchfield (Synergy #29, September-October 1970)

“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.” – Marcus Aurelius

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they might have been.” – Hazlitt

“It seldom pays to be rude. It never pays to be half rude.” – Douglas

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Thoreau

“One can acquire everything in solitude except character.” – Stendhal

“Nobody ever forgets where he buried the hatchet.” – Kin Hubbard

“Grub first, then ethics.” – Brecht

“Almost all our faults are more pardonable than the methods we resort to to hide them.” La Rochefoucauld

“An idea isn’t responsible for the people who believe in it.” – Don Marquis

“There are few sorrows, however poignant, in which a good income is of no avail.” – L.P. Smith

“In the presence of fire, man never feels alone. The flames keep him company.” – Oswald Spengler

“There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science.” – Chekhov

“If science tends to thicken the crust of ice on which, as it were, we are skating, it is all right. If it tries to find, or professes to have found, the solid ground at the bottom of the water, it is all wrong. ” – Samuel Butler

“Behold the turtle: He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” – James Bryant Conant

“Nine-tenths of the letters in which people speak unreservedly of their inmost feelings are written after ten at night.” – Thomas Hardy

“It is never any good dwelling on goodbyes. It is not the being together that it prolongs, it is the parting.” – Elizabeth Bibesco

“Before thou fordeth the river, o brother, revile not unduly the crocodile’s mother.” – Hindu proverb

“I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.” – Carl Sandburg”

“Law is born from despair of human nature.” – Ortega y Gasset

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” – Oscar Wilde

“It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.” – H.L. Mencken

“Hope is generally a wrong guide, though it is very good company.” – Halifax

“Going away, I can generally bear the separation, but I don’t like the leave-taking.” – Samuel Butler

“It is a mistake to interpret the text ‘God so loved the world’ as implying that the world was not so bad after all.” – Hallock Hoffmann

“Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” –  John F. Kennedy

“[The inductive attitude] aims at adapting our beliefs to our experience as efficiently as possible.” – Polya (“Induction and Analogy in Mathematics,” quoted by Sidman in Tactics of Scientific Research)

“We have little experimental data bearing on…the definition of response.” – Sidman, Tactics of Scientific Research

“Instead of trying to manipulate extraneous variables directly, one can often override their effects by establishing baselines that are relatively insensitive to their influence.” – Sidman, Tactics of Scientific Research

“I do not greatly care whether I have been right or wrong on any point, but I care a good deal about knowing which of the two I have been.” – Samuel Butler

“If a child tells a lie, tell him that he has told a lie, but don’t call him a liar. If you define him as a liar, you break down his confidence in his own character.” – Richter

“No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.” – Charles Steinmetz

“Nothing is quite so annoying as to have someone go right on talking when you’re interrupting.” [Source?]

“The difference between the right work and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” – Mark Twain

“If he really does think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, sir, when he leaves the house, let us count our spoons.” – Samuel Johnson

“Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking.” – Samuel Johnson

“After all, we have to admit that it is always the troublesome people who force us to remedy the abuses that we lazily let slide.” – George Bernard Shaw

“There are people who take the heart out of you, and there are people who put it back.” – Elizabeth David

“Of all the days, the day on which one has not laughed is the one most surely wasted.” – Chamfort (1796)

“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular as long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had? I’m too old—too old at any rate for what I see. What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that.” (“Lambbert Strether,” from The Ambassadors by Henry James)

“Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power, but they will never look to anything but power for their relief. ” – Edmund Burke (1791)

“Repetition does not transform a lie into truth.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room. ” – Winston Churchill

“You should go to a pear tree for pears, not to an elm.” – Publius Syrus

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.” – Eric Hoffer

“Popular memory may be short, but it is nothing compared with the amnesia of experts.” – Adam Gopnik (Paris to the Moon, 2000)

“An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to be silent.” – Edmund Burke (1789)

“When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.” – Confucius

“It is very difficult to stop feeling.” – Raymond Moore

“When shit becomes valuable, the poor will be born without assholes.” – Brazilian proverb

“As Major Denis Blooknok exclaimed when told there were only two sexes: ‘It’s not enough, I say.'” – R. Albert Hall

“Food is never just something to eat.”  – Margaret Vissner (Much Depends on Dinner)

“It is one of the few consolations of this planet that houses cannot move.” – Robert Kelly

“Some speak of a return to nature – I wonder where they could have been?” – Frederick Sommer

“The path of which I have spoken is beautiful and pleasant and joyful and familiar.” – Meister Ekhart

“Had our perceptions no connections with our pleasures, we should soon close our eyes on this world.” – George Santayana (The Sense of Beauty)

“Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” – Susan Ertz

“Boulding’s first law is that anything that exists is possible. It is surprising how many people do not believe this.” – Kenneth Boulding

“Music is the healing force of the world…” [Source?]

“In order to act wisely it is not enough to be wise.” – Dostoevski

“The fear of death is the origin not only of all religion but of all philosophy and science as well.” – Oswald Spengler

“Better one bite, at forty, of Truth’s bitter rind,  Than the hot wine that gushed from the vintage of twenty.” – James Russell Lowell (Collected Poems, 1903)

“No one becomes forty without incredulity and a sense of outrage.” – Clifford Box (1925)

“At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; at forty, the judgement.” – Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1758)

“It was only in my forties that I started feeling young.” – Henry Miller (“On Turning Eighty,” 1977)

“Here’s what I’ve decided. The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it – under its roof. Hope involves giving a great deal of yourself away.” [Source?]

“…Looking at birds is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Looking at birds is a key: it opens doors, and if you choose to go through then you find you enjoy life more and understand life better.” – Simon Barnes (How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher, 2005)

“When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport: when the tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity. The distinction between crime and justice is no greater. ” – George Bernard Shaw

“Marx didn’t envision man as a perfected labor mechanism – he wanted to free man of subjugation to ‘alien forces’ – he wanted to eliminate ‘circumstances.'” [Source?]

“Not ony does speech unite two men, it also maintains distance between them.” – Oswald Spengler

“The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” – Ellen Glasgow

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

“May I express a hope that in this University, if nowhere else on the continent, we shall be patriotic enough not to remain passive whilst the destinies of our country are being settled by surprise….Let us refuse to be bound over night by proclamation, or hypnotized by sacramental phrases through the day. Let us consult our reason to what is best, and then exert ourselves as citizens with all our might.” – William James (Letter to the Harvard Crimson, January 7, 1896)

“Ownership is an extension of the personality.” – Oswald Spengler

“The stupidity of a theory has never impeded its influence.” – Oswald Spengler

“[Democracy] invites men to be troublesome. It can command their disciplined allegiance only if it can also convince them that they are being consulted, and that there is an effective way of making trouble within established arrangements and not despite them.” – Charles Frankel

“Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.” – Wellington

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. it can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy collapses over loose fiscal policy…always followed by a dictatorship.” – Alexander Fraser Tytler (Scottish historian)

“Some memories are like friends in common, they can effect reconciliations.” – Marcel Proust

“If you do not follow somebody you feel very lonely. Be lonely, then. Why are you frightened of being alone? Because you are faced with yourself as you are and you find that you are empty, dull, stupid, ugly, guilty and anxious – a petty, shoddy, secondhand entity. Face the fact; look at it, do not run away from it. The moment you run away fear begins.” – J. Krishnamurti

“If an ape looks into a mirror, no apostle will look out.” – Lichtenberg, quoted by Kierkegaard

“Ego and will go together. Ownership is will, judgment. He who interferes with the free disposition of my property attacks my ego.” – Oswald Spengler

“It is not the case that the principles of behavior are suspended because [one] is tired, angry, or otherwise involved in [one’s] own personal problems.” – J.L. Michael (Management of Behavioral Consequences in Education, 1967)

“It is no tragedy to do ungrateful people favors, but it is unbearable to be indebted to a scoundrel.” – La Rochfoucauld

“A thing is not truth til it is so strongly believed in that the believer is convinced that its existence does not depend upon him. ” – John Jay Chapman

“We play gladly and think gladly because in these activities we feel ourselves masters of the situation; the space of the play and the space of thought are the two theaters of freedom.” – Rosenstock-Huessy

“It is not true that the struggle for intellectual freedom dominated the eighteenth century; it merely dominated the souls of Voltaire and others. The French Revolution exploited this inner struggle to stir up the masses.” – Oswald Spengler

“…everything above a certain size has…a political aspect.” – Oswald Spengler

“The state is the internal regulation of a people for external aims.” – Oswald Spengler

“I cannot say I was hostile to him, nor friendly either: I have not dreamed of him.” – Lictenberg

“What is more enchanting that the voices of young people when you can’t hear what they say?” [Source?]

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as foreign land.” – Chesterton

“A host is like a general: it takes a mishap to reveal his genius.” – Horace

“Of all the vanities, when you come to look penetratingly at them, lectures on the philosophy of religion by mortal men may take the first prize.” – William James (Letter, November 13, 1899)

“Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.” – Oscar Wilde

“I saw clearly that art is only the ornament and charm of life.” – Tolstoy

“The crucial factor in evaluation of the effectiveness of a program is selection of the criteria.” –  Arthur Pearl (The Atrocity of Education)

“…the lack of precision [possible] does not justify renunciation of the activity.” – Arthur Pearl, The Atrocity of Education

“While the moon above us arches / And the poplar sheds disconsolate leaves, / Tell me again why love bewitches, / And what love gives.” – Conrad Aiken

“What was hard to endure is sweet to recall.” – Continental proverb

“There is a great difference between still believing something and believing it again.” – Lichtenberg

“There was the dark forest of truths, and I would walk though it all my days…” – Edward Dahlberg

“Ther’s only one thing that’s impossible. To love and to part.” – E.M. Forster (A Room with a View)

“To be someone’s friend is to learn their song, and when they forget it, sing it back to them.” – Gagaban

“Middle-aged people, like middle-class people, hate those on each side of them.” – Geoffrey Madan (1895-1947)

“Conservative: a man with an inborn conviction that he is right, without being able to prove it.” – The Reverend T. James (1844), quoted by Geoffrey Madan (1895-1947)

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” – Thomas Carlyle

“What is singing? A game for the voice. What is the dance? A game for the body. What is drawing? a game for the hand. What is a game? Activity, released from purpose.” – Oswald Spengler

“…When others discover…the imperfections and vices which we really have, it is plain they do us no wrong, since it is not they who cause them; they rather do us good, since they help us to free ourselves from an evil, namely, the ignorance of these imperfections. We ought not to be angry at their knowing our faults and despising us, it is but right that they should know us for what we are, and should despise us, if we are contemptible.” – Pascal (Pensees, #100)

“Each degree of good fortune which raises us in the world removes us farther from truth, because we are most afraid of wounding those whose affection is most useful and whose dislike is most dangerous. …To tell the truth is useful to those to whom it is spoken, but disadvantageous to those who tell it, because it makes them disliked.”  – Pascal (Pensees, #100)

“So much has already been written about everything that you can’t find out anything about it.” – James Thurber (“The New Vocabularianism,” in Lanterns and Lances, 1960; quoted by Martha L. Hackman in The Practical Bibliographer, 1970)

“Everything is a loan given against a pledge, and the net is cast over all the living so that none may forfeit paying by escaping. The shop is open, the shop-keeper extends credit; the ledger is spread out and the hand makes entries. Whoever wishes to borrow may come and borrow, but the collectors make their rounds daily and exact payment, whether or not one is aware of it. They go by an unfailing record, and the judgement is a judgement of truth. And everything is made ready for the final accounting. ” – Rabbi Akiba

“This earth, jealous of its nuances, will never be unified by a single ideal. Not the common good, nor a supreme master, nor an unimpeachable orthodoxy. Only the divided energy that it takes to watch for coming disasters, and sometimes to fight them together, will illuminate our darkness. ” – Andre Clucksmann

“In this Puritan sinkhole of a culture, we don’t teach children the uses of pleasure, and so they decide we are fools and go their own way, blindly. If we learned to drive as badly as we learn to make love, the roads would be nothing but wrecks. The erotic can be a window into the deepest core of feeling, but more and more doesn’t get you there. It’s a patch of ground that has to be reclaimed over and over, as much of a struggle for a ten years’ marriage as the fumbling grope of a second date. And with all that, you still have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.” – Paul Monette, Becominga Man: Half a Life Story, 1992)

“To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”  – Socrates

“One is inclined to laugh at the stupidity of men who suppose that the despotism of the present can actually efface the remembrances of the next generation. On the contrary, the persecution of geniuses fosters its influence; foreign tyrants, and all who have imitated their oppression, have merely procured infamy for themselves and glory for their victims.” – Tacitus (Annals)

“It is the obligation of a head librarian…to be unmistakably a librarian, to be a person who is recognizable by his acts and words as one whose business is books, who can answer questions about books, who will take a stand on issues involving books, all without referring the matter to a subordinate, or, worse, to a committee.” – Lawrence Clark Powell (Library Journal, 1957)

“Involvement in administration does not increase knowledge of a library’s contents or zeal to serve its users.” – Lawrence Clark Powell (Wilson Library Bulletin, 1970)

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” – W. H. Auden

“The man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.” – Montaigne

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” – Georgia Santayana

“No man can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of his friend till he is unhappy.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Taste every fruit of every tree in the garden at least once. It is an insult to creation not to experience it fully. Temperance is wickedness.” – Stephen Fry

“To live sanely in Los Angeles (or, I suppose, in any other large American city) you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be. They have planned a life for you – from the cradle to the grave and beyond – which it would be easy, fatally easy, to accept. The least wandering of the attention, the least relaxation of your awareness, and already the eyelids begin to droop, the eyes grow vacant, the body starts to move in obedience to the hypnotist’s command. Wake up, wake up – before you sign that seven-year contract, buy that house you don’t really want, marry that girl you secretly despise. Don’t reach for the whisky, that won’t help you. You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity.” – Christopher Isherwood (“Los Angeles” from Exhumations, 1966)

“It seems to me that the real clue to your sex orientation lies in your romantic feelings rather than in your sexual feelings. If you are really Gay, you are able to fall in love with a man, not just enjoy having sex with him.”  – Christopher Isherwood (Quoted in “Christopher Isherwood Interview” with Winston Leyland (1973), from Conversations with Christopher Isherwood, 2001)

“We don’t always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly—as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth—the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives.” – John Irving (Last Night in Twisted River)

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be crazy by those who could not hear the music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“I think we can’t go ‘round measuring our goodness by what we don’t do, what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.” – Chocolat

“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” – Albert Einstein

“Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.” – Henry Emerson Fosdick

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” – James Baldwin

“We lack more solid reasons to anticipate that there will be a tomorrow than to believe that there will be another life.” – Nicolas Gomez Davila (Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 286)

“Man does not find himself thrown only among objects. He is also immersed in religious experiences.” – Nicolas Gomez Davila (Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 239)

“‘Intuition’ is the perception of the invisible, just as ‘perception’ is the intuition of the visible.” – Nicolas Gomez Davila (Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 113)

“Of anything important there are no proofs, only testimonies.” – Nicolas Gomez Davila (Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 289)

“Behind every common noun arises the same common noun with a capital letter: behind love is Love, behind the encounter is the Encounter. The universe escapes its captivity when in the individual instance we perceive the essence.” – Nicolas Gomez Davila (Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 101)

“We all may have come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” – Buddhist proverb

“God kept trying to give 19th century religious people the gift of time, but a lot of them felt the gift as an attack. ‘This is a big part of how I did it. I did it with time, and lots of it.’ People paying attention to layers of rocks and the stone critters in them kept inferring more and more time. And that time gave room for animals to evolve and sometimes evolve differently and become different species. It is really a lot of time, impressive. God made a lot of time, and we happen in it. That would be one way to feel about it all, but the loudest reactors to the gift of time saw it as anti-God, rather God’s amazing way of working.” – Anne Herbert, 5/6/11 posting to her blog Peace and Love and Noticing the Details

“We never repent of having eaten too little.” – Thomas Jefferson

“A man cannot leave his wisdom or experience to his heirs.” – Italian proverb

[Credo:] “To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never – in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.”  – William Henry Channing

“If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.” – Henry David Thoreau

“It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can’t eat for eight hours; he can’t drink for eight hours; he can’t make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work.”William Faulkner

 “All true believers have good reasons for disbelieving in every god except their own,” said Birbal. “And so it is they who, between them, give me all the reasons for believing in none.” –  Salman Rushdie (The Enchantress of Florence)

“Once it perches on one’s shoulder, guilt is not easily shrugged off.” – Martin Corrick (By Chance, 2008)

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

“Scientists are in the strange position of being confronted daily by the indisputable fact of thier own consciousness, yet with no way of explaining it.” – Christian de Quincey

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” –  Ernest Hemingway

“No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.”  – Charles Lamb

Pliny the Younger, letter to Valerius Marcinius:

We are never so virtuous as when we are ill. Has a sick man ever been tempted by greed or lust? He is neither a slave to his passions nor ambitious for office; he cares nothing for wealth and is content with the little he has, knowing that he must leave it. It is then that he remembers the gods and realizes that he is mortal: he feels neither envy, admiration, nor contempt for any man: not even slanderous talk can win his attention or give him food for thought, and his dreams are all of baths and cool springs. These are his sole concern, the object of all his prayers; meanwhile he resolves that if he is lucky enough to recover he will lead a sober and easy life in future, that is, a life of happy innocence.

So here for our guidance is the rule, put shortly, which the philosophers seek to express in endless words and volumes: in health we should continue to be the men we vowed to become when sickness prompted our words.

“Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.” — Will Durant, Life, Oct. 18, 1963

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” –Edward Abbey

“You are what you eat, and what you won’t eat anymore.” – Julian Beck (quoted by Pierre Bine in The Living Theatre)

“Are french fries a food, or are they more like candy?” – Anne Herbert

“There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the earth as if it were a business in liquidation.” – Herman Daly (quoted by R.J. Berry in Ecology and the Environment)

Cataract that this world is, it is remarkable to consider what does abide in it.” – Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

“I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” –  Khalil Gibran

Victim describes a specific moment in time, not a permanent self-definition.” – Dusty Miller

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

“Male logic, or a man’s voice, tends to be based on terms of autonomy, justice, and rights; whereas women’s logic or voice tends to be based on terms of relationship, care, and responsibility. Men tend toward agency; women tend toward communion. Men follow rules; women follow connections. Men look; women touch. Men tend toward individualism, women toward relationship. One of [Carol] Gilligan’s favorite stories: A little boy and girl are playing. The boy says, “Let’s play pirates!” The girl says, “Let’s play like we live next door to each other.” Boy: “No, I want to play pirates!” “Okay, you play the pirate who lives next door.” … Gilligan says that the boys will hurt feelings in order to save the rules; the girls will break the rules in order to save the feelings.” – Ken Wilber, summarizing Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice

[Credo:] “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” –  Arundhati Roy (The Cost of Living)

“The Rules of Chaos”

  1. The future is a blinding mirage.
  2. If nothing is certain, nothing is impossible.
  3. Only the defeated survive.
  4. You cannot foresee, so you must look.
  5. You’re free and nobody belongs to you.

– Stephen Vizinczey (The Rules of Chaos, 1969)

“The unlived life is not worth examining.” – Christopher Hitchens (“Nixon: Maestro of Resentment,” Dissent, Fall 1990)

“It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one’s everyday life as if this were so.” – Christopher Hitchens (Hitch-22, 2010)

“…A teacher must walk a think line, destroying complacency without destroying confidence.” – Jeremey Denk (“Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Life in Piano Lessons,” The New Yorker, April 8, 2003, page 44)

“Outrage is not merely impotent, it is actively counterproductive, feeding the very enemy we claim to want to defeat. That’s because, firstly, outrage is part of the very currency of what Jodi Dean calls communicative capitalism, which depends not on content but on the sheer circulation of messages. Even when the Mail was vilified for its headline, such vilification only becomes the libidinal juice of the Mail’s communicative capitalism (there will be more messages, more posts, more tweets; we will read even if we don’t “want” to; we will read because we’re not supposed to). Secondly, since there is an infinite supply of things to be outraged about, the tendency towards outrage indefinitely locks us up in a series of reactive battles, fought on the enemy’s territory and on its terms. (How many of us on the left, faced with our social media timelines when we wake up in the morning, don’t feel a certain weariness, as we ask ourselves, what are we supposed to be outraged about today?).” – Mark Fisher (“The Happiness of Margaret Thatcher”, at Verso)

“…What a man had rather were true he more readily believes.” – Francis Bacon

“And who can doubt that it will lead to the worst disorder when…we are told to deny our senses and subject them to the whim of others? When people devoid of whatsoever compentence are made judges over experts and are granted authority to treat them as they please?” – Galileo

“To the grievance-monger there is nothing so objectionable as an explanation. It is putting out the fire beside which he nurses his wrath and keeps it warm. In the atmosphere of his discontent, his wrong has assumed gigantic proportions, and it is very disagreeable to see it melt away in the wholesome air of commonsense. When we see a play on the stage built up on some misunderstanding which three words would dissipate, we exclaim ‘How absurd! How unnatural!’ but these people weave a life-drama for themselves out of these very materials, and take their pleasure in a maze of feelings warranted of their own manufacture. They are always on the look-out for slights; a depreciatory observation, a glance which can be construed to imply contempt, is at once furnished with a personal application, and provides them with their desideratum; even silence has been known to furnish it. The ‘Hurt’ family, to which they belong, has many branches, but the type is the same throughout. If fortune, so far from being ‘outrageous,’ has neither strings nor arrows, there are at least nettles to be found, and they proceed to divest themselves of their last garment and roll in them.” – James Payn (“On Taking Offence,” The Backwater of Life; or, Essays of a Literary Veteran (London, 1899), pp. 101-110 , at pp. 103-104)

“I love those who yearn for the impossible.” – Goethe

“Committee: A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.” – Richard Harkness

“…Whenever historians seek to make their knowledge accessible to a wider world—whether in books, classrooms, museums, videos, websites, or blogs—they unfailingly abridge, simplify, analyze, synthesize, dramatize, and render judgments about why things happened as they did in the past, and why people should still care today. But they need not commit the worst sins of whiggishness when they do so. The characters in their stories need not wear white or black hats, and will feel more richly human for being understood on their own terms. Even when such characters are viewed as agents of progressive change, they need not be treated as if they were comrades in arms. The path they followed can honestly be seen as a winding one, with many an unexpected twist and turn, to serve as a reminder of the contingencies that prevent change from being inevitable. Finally, we can be scrupulous in trying not to judge them by standards that would feel unfair even to us if plucked from our own futures and applied to ourselves…. – William Cronon (“Two Cheers for the Whig Interpretation of History,” Perspectives on History, September 2012)

“Comparison is the death of joy.” — Mark Twain

“For the first day or two I felt stunned, overwhelmed. I could only apprehend my felicity; I was too confused to taste it sincerely. I wandered about, thinking I was happy, and knowing that I was not. I was in the condition of a prisoner in the old Bastille, suddenly let loose after a forty years’ confinement. I could scarce trust myself with myself. It was like passing out of Time into Eternity — for it is a sort of Eternity for a man to have his Time all to himself.” – Charles Lamb (describing his retirement after thirty-three years from the Accountant’s Department of the East India Company in “The Superannuated Man,” Last Essays of Elia) Source: http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2013/01/i-could-scarce-trust-myself-with-myself.html

“There is another world, but it is inside this one.” – Paul Eluard

“Oak trees come out of acorns, no matter how unlikely that seems. An acorn is just a tree’s way back into the ground. For another try. Another trip through. One life for another.” —Shirley Ann Grau

“One only dies once and if one does not die well, a good opportunity is lost and will not present itself again.” – José Rizal (Letter to Mariano Ponce, 1890)

“One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.” — G. K. Chesterton

“What do we know of somebody if we know nothing of the images passed to him by his imagination?” — Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

“If you would not be forgotten, / as soon as you are dead and rotten, / either write things worth reading, / or do things worth the writing.”  – Benjamin Franklin

“No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.”  – Charles Lamb

“We live in the attention of others. We turn to it as flowers to the sun.” – James Salter (Light Years, 1995)

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” – Hermann Hesse (Demian)

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.” – Jim Rohn

“Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds — all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.” – Edward Everett Hale

“We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.” – Bryan White

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” – Carrie Fisher

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Choices in life are rarely pure, but to understand the middle ground it is helpful to imagine the extremes.” – Peter Berger

“Perhaps God gives us a physical body so that every time we change our mind, we won’t be someone else.” – Robert Brault

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”- Henry Van Dyke

“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling, I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.” – Mitch Hedberg

“Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted than when we read it in the original author?”- Philip G. Hamerton (“The Intellectual Life”)

“The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life.” – Terry Pratchett

“Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.” – Andy Rooney

“There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” – Douglas Adams

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Bertha Calloway

“The question should be, is it worth trying to do, not can it be done.” – Allard Lowenstein

“Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Those who flee temptation generally leave a forwarding address.” – Lane Olinghouse

“Civilization has no force of its own beyond what is given it from within. It is under constant assault and it takes most of the energies of civilized man to keep going at all. There are criminal ideas and a criminal class in every nation and the first action of every revolution, figuratively and literally, is to open the prisons. Barbarism is never finally defeated; given propitious circumstances, men and women who seem quite orderly, will commit every conceivable atrocity. The danger does not come from merely habitual hooligans; we are all potential recruits for anarchy. Unremitting effort is needed to keep men living together at peace; there is only a margin of energy left over for experiment however beneficent. Once the prisons of the mind have been opened, the orgy is on.” – Evelyn Waugh (Robbery Under Law, 1939)

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” –  H. Auden

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” –  Santayana

“Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Philosophers ruin language, poets ruin logic, but with human reasoning alone man will never make it through life.” – Schiller

“Literary works cannot be taken over like factories, or literary forms of expression like industrial methods. Realist writing, of which history offers many widely varying examples, is likewise conditioned by the question of who how, when and for what class it is made use of.”  – Brecht

“He possesses art and science has religion; he who does not possess them, needs religion.” – Goethe

“Recognizing masterpieces is the job of the critic, not writing competent reviews of the unimportant.” – Jack Green

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain

“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” – Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited, 1945)

“The rain surrounded the cabin…with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside…Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.” – Thomas Merton

“I don’t know what happens when we die. I don’t know if we come back in a different body, or if we get to hover over time and space and view it in all its glory and splendor, or if our souls dissolve into the world-soul the way our bodies dissolve into the ground, or if, as seems very likely, we simply disappear. I have no idea. And I don’t know that it matters. What matters is that we get to be alive. We get to be conscious. We get to be connected with each other, and with the world, and we get to be aware of that connection and to spend a few years mucking about in its possibilities. We get to have a slice of time and space that’s ours. As it happened, we got the slice that has Beatles records and Thai restaurants and AIDS and the Internet. People who came before us got the slice that had horse-drawn carriages and whist and dysentery, or the one that had stone huts and Viking invasions and pigs in the yard. And the people who come after us will get the slice that has, I don’t know, flying cars and soybean pies and identity chips in their brains. But our slice is no less important because it comes when it does, and it’s no less important because we’ll leave it someday. The fact that time will continue after we die does not negate the time we were alive. We are alive now, and nothing can erase that.” – Greta Christina, from “Comforting Thoughts about Death That Have Nothing to Do with God.” Published in The Skeptical Inquirer (2005) and reprinted in Everything You Know about God is Wrong edited by Russ Kick (2007)

“Who seeded the ground is the historian’s easy question; what made the ground receive the seed is the hard one.” – Adam Gopnik (“Bigger Than Phil: When Did Faith Start to Fade?” The New Yorker, February 17 & 24, 2014, pp. 107-111)

“Our thoughts limit what we’re capable of doing. There are external forces arrayed against us, but there are also internal forces that sabotage us before we even get started. Our mind is good at setting us up for failure and getting us to think small. But I have found that we will do for love that which we don’t think is possible. So the question to ask ourselves is ‘What do I love?’” – Julia Butterfly Hill

SACRED SITES

People cannot maintain their spiritual roots and their connections to the past if the physical world they live in does not also sustain these roots. Informal experiments in our communities have led us to believe that people agree, to an astonishing extent, about the sites which do embody people’s relation to the land and to the past. It seems, in other words, as though “the” sacred sites for an area exist as objective communal realities. If this is so, it is then of course essential that these specific sites be preserved and made important. Destruction of sites which have come part of the communal consciousness, in an agreed and widespread sense, must inevitably create gaping wounds in the communal body.

Traditional societies have always recognized the importance of these sites. Mountains are marked as places of special pilgrimage; rivers and bridges become holy; a building or a tree, or rock or stone, takes on the power through which people can connect themselves to their own past. But modern society often ignores the psychological importance of these sites. They are bulldozed, developed, changed, for political and economic reasons, without regard for these simple but fundamenta emotional matters; or they are simply ignored.

We suggest the following two steps.

1. In any geographic area – large or small – ask a large number of people which sites and which places make them feel the most contact with the area; which sites stand most for the important values of the past, and which ones embody their connection to the land. Then insist that these sites be actively preserved.

2. Once the sites are chosen and preserved, embellish them in a way which intensifies their public meaning. We believe that the best way to intensify a site is through a progression of areas which people pass through as they approach the site. This is the principle of “nested precincts”….

A garden which can be reached only by passing through a series of outer gardens keeps its secrecy. A temple which can be reached only by passing through a sequence of approach courts is able to be a special thing in a man’s heart. The magnificence of a mountain peak is increased by the difficulty of reaching the upper valleys from which it can be seen; the beauty of a woman is intensified by the slowness of her unveiling; the great beauty of a river bank – its rushes, water rats, small fish, wild flowers – are violated by a too direct approach; even the ecology cannot stand up to the too direct approach – the thing will simply be devoured.

We must therefore build around a sacred site a series of spaces which gradually intensity and converge on the site. The site itself becomes a kind of inner sanctum, at the core. And if the site is very large – a mountain – the same approach can be taken with special places from which it can be seen – an inner sanctum, reached past many levels, which is not the mountain, but a garden, say, from which the mountain can be seen in special beauty…Give every sacred site a place, or a sequence of places, where people can relax, enjoy themselves, and feel the presence of the place…And above all, shield the approach to the site, so that it can only be approached on foot, and through a series of gateways and thresholds which reveal it gradually.

– Christopher Alexander et al. (A Pattern Language)

 “Humanity in the abstract will never inspire you in the same way as the human beings you meet. Poverty is not going to motivate you. But people will motivate you.” – Melinda Gates (2013 commencement address at Duke University)

ADVICE

My advice to you is as follows:

one, learn meditation practice;

two, empower yourself with your own emotions –

don’t be afraid of grief, or heartthrob;

three, be willing to expose yourself and be a fool,

to not be intimidated in the presence of presidents

and rock stars, but come on as a gentle, living,

flesh and blood human being.

Don’t treat people as icons.

If what you’re doing is considered by all your friends

as too far out, think thrice –

so you don’t go outside the bounds of sanity –

check it out.

Get a good education in reading the Eastern and Western classics. Avoid animal fat.

Be a slave to love.

Wear your heart on your sleeve.

Twenty rejections in a row are wiped out by one acceptance.

– Allen Ginsberg

“God gave us desire. Letting go of desire is not the way to peace or godliness. Rather desire is God’s way of making sure we join the parade rather than watching from the curb. It’s okay to want a bigger TV but no one ever made a movie about a man who finally bought a Volvo. So embrace your desire but ask yourself whether your desire saves lives or whether it all goes with you to the grave. The problem with your desires may be lack of meaning. Love is a common, but not the only, factor that adds meaning to otherwise boring desires.” – Don Miller

“Done is better than perfect.” – Sheryl Sandberg (Lean In)

“I run a non-profit that is anti-growth. I am not interested in the “building an empire” model of ever increasing productivity and annual income, but something that is sustainable . My definition of sustainable is a system where you put more resource in than you extract — the balance is always towards keeping energy and resource within the system. True abundance is always having a positive balance in the bank so to speak (debt, which runs the capitalist system is the opposite of this). Since I am a valuable resource within the system, to be sustainable it is important that my energy not be completely mined out. I experienced this in my first non-profit endeavor–I was expected as a person “doing good work for the good of society” to give every last bit of my personal resource. I find it amazing that those of us who are socially conscious expect that of ourselves at the cost of our mental and physical health. So if I treat myself as a valuable input into my work I recognize the important of self-care and nurturance–that once my energy and health are tapped my work can no longer happen.” – K Ruby Blume

“Expecting lifelong fidelity to one partner may be asking too much of certain people who are ill-suited to it, or who simply don’t believe monogamy is the best way to achieve emotional and sexual happiness. That’s surely up to them, isn’t it? Yet there’s an expectation, even a kind of demand, in our culture that one person will meet all of our needs – emotional and sexual. That can happen, and it’s great when it satisfies both parties, but those choices don’t work for everyone, and an organization seeking to pathologize “excessive” sexual activity needs to recognize that. We need broader public discussion of this complex issue rather than the kind of psychiatric judgment and ritualized shaming that goes on right now for those who prefer to remain non-monogamous.” – Christopher Lane

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” – Louise Erdrich

“In depression you have to follow William Stafford’s advice: asked how he managed to write a poem every day, he said, ‘Easy. I lowered my standards.’” – Parker Palmer

“It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” – Diane Ackerman

Victim describes a specific moment in time, not a permanent self-definition.” – Dusty Miller

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” – E.F. Schumacher

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.” – Rumi

“We do not walk into the Kingdom of Heaven one by one.” – Mary Parker Follett

“I wish there were shortcuts to wisdom and self-knowledge: cuter abysses or three-day spa wilderness experiences. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. I so resent this.” – Anne Lamott (Stitches, 2013)

“Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.” – Hafiz

“Everything we do is futile, but we must do it anyway.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“I don’t see therapy as fixing what is broken but rather tending to the whole of your psyche.” – Thomas Moore (A Religion of One’s Own, 2014, p. 89)

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” – Isak Deneson

“In all beginnings lies a magic force for guarding us and helping us to live.” – Herman Hesse

“If you can’t answer a man’s argument, all is not lost: you can still call him names.” – Elbert Hubbard

“Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” -Stephen Leacock

The church says this body is a sin
Science says this body is a machine
Business says this body is a product
The body says “I am a fiesta”
– Eduardo Galeano

“You have to go to the places that scare you so that you can see: What do you really believe? Who are you really?” – Alice Walker

“Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.” – Kahlil Gibran

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” – Freya Stark

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana

“We too often bind ourselves by authorities rather than by the truth.”  – Lucretia Mott

“In art as in love, instinct is enough.”  – Anatole France

“The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is ‘look underfoot.’ You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult i s deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.” – John Burroughs

“Inspiration more often comes during the work than before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you, and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear. What one fears one destroys.” – Chief Dan George

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” – The Dalai Lama

“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” – Albert Einstein

“May we look upon our treasure, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try to discover whether the seds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.” _ John Woolman

“The planet does not need more successful people.” – The Dalai Lama

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” – Millard Fuller

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” – Edith Wharton (A Backward Glance)

“Problems that remain persistently insoluable should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.” – Alan Watts

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sinsitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” – Elie Wiesel

“The moral man looks for injustice first of all in himself.” – Bayard Rustin

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’Mara

“Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.” – Iris Murdoch

“Expectations are the seeds of resentment.” – proverb

The kiss of the sun for pardon / The song of the birds for mirth, —        One is nearer God’s heart in a garden / Than anywhere else on earth. – Dorothy Frances Gurney (from “God’s Garden”)

“The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.” – Deepak Chopra

“The dead have at any rate endured a test to which the living have not yet been subjected. If a man, fifty or a hundred years after his death, is still remembered and accounted a great man, there is a presumption in his favour which no living man can claim; and experience has taught me that it is no mere presumption. It is the dead and not the living who have most advanced our learning and science; and though their knowledge may have been superseded, there is no supersession of reason and intelligence.” – A.E. Housman, in his 1911 inaugural lecture at Cambridge University (Collected Poems and Selected Prose, 1988, ed. Christopher Ricks); quoted by Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence

“Do not let us disregard our contemporaries, but let us regard our predecessors more; let us be most encouraged by their agreement, and most disquieted by their dissent.” – A.E. Housman, in his 1911 inaugural lecture at Cambridge University (Collected Poems and Selected Prose, 1988, ed. Christopher Ricks); quoted by Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence

“Because you have no heaven to look for, is that any reason that you should remain ignorant of this wonderful and infinite earth, which is firmly and instantly given you in possession? Although your days are numbered, and the following darkness sure, is it necessary that you should share the degradation of the brute, because you are condemned to its mortality; or live the life of the moth, and of the worm, because you are to companion them in the dust? Not so; we may have but a few thousands of days to spend, perhaps hundreds only — perhaps, tens; nay, the longest of our time and best, looked back on, will be but as a moment, as the twinkling of an eye; still, we are men, not insects; we are living spirits, not passing clouds. . . . Let us do the work of men while we bear the form of them; and, as we snatch our narrow portion of time out of Eternity, snatch also our narrow inheritance of passion out of Immortality — even though our lives be as a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – John Ruskin, The Mystery of Life (1907), pp. 38-39
Man is imprisoned in the external present; and what we call a man’s religion is, to a great extent, the thing that offers him a secret and permanent means of escape from that prison, a breaking of the prison walls which leaves him standing, of course, still in the present, but in a present so enlarged and enfranchised that it is become, not a prison, but a free world. Religion, even in the narrow sense, is always looking for Soteria, for escape, for some salvation from the terror to come, or some deliverance from the body of this death.

And men find it, of course, in a thousand ways, with different degrees of ease and of certainty. I am not wishing to praise my talisman at the expense of other talismans. Some find it in theology; some in art, in human affection, in the anodyne of constant work, in that permanent exercise of the inquiring intellect which is commonly called the search for truth; some find it in carefully cultivated illusions of one sort or another, in passionate faiths and undying pugnacities; some, I believe, find a substitute by simply rejoicing in their prison, and living furiously, for good or ill, in the actual moment.

And a scholar, I think, secures his freedom by keeping hold always of the past, and treasuring up the best out of the past, so that in a present that may be angry or sordid he can call back memories of calm or of high passion, in a present that requires resignation or courage he can call back the spirit with which brave men long ago faced the same evils. He draws out of the past high thoughts and great emotions; he also draws the strength that comes from communion or brotherhood…. And the student, as he realizes it, feels himself one of a long line of torch-bearers. He attains that which is the most compelling desire of every human being, a work in life which it is worth living for, and which is not cut short by the accident of his own death….

First, we may say, the chains of the mind are not broken by any form of ignorance. The chains of the mind are broken by understanding. And so far as men are unduly enslaved by the past, it is by understanding the past that they may hope to be freed. But, secondly, it is never really the past — the true past — that enslaves us; it is always the present. It is not the conventions of the seventeenth or eighteenth century that now make men conventional. It is the conventions of our own age, though, of course, I would not deny that in any age there are always fragments of the uncomprehended past still floating like dead things pretending to be alive. What one always needs for freedom is some sort of escape from the thing that now holds him. A man who is the slave of theories must get outside them and see facts; a man who is the slave of his own desires and prejudices must widen the range of his experience and imagination. But the thing that enslaves us most, narrows the range of our thought, cramps our capacities, and lowers our standards, is the mere present — the present that is all round us, accepted and taken for granted, as we in London accept the grit in the air and the dirt on our hands and faces. The material present, the thing that is omnipotent over us, not because it is either good or evil, but just because it happens to be here, is the great jailer and imprisoner of man’s mind; and the only true method of escape from him is the contemplation of things that are not present. Of the future? Yes; but you cannot study the future. You can only make conjectures about it, and the conjectures will not be much good unless you have in some way studied other places and other ages. There has been hardly any great forward movement of humanity which did not draw inspiration from the knowledge or the idealization of the past.

No: to search the past is not to go into prison. It is to escape out of prison, because it compels us to compare the ways of our own age with other ways.

– Gilbert Murray (1866-1957), Religio Grammatici. The Religion of a Man of Letters. Presidential Address to the Classical Association, January 8, 1918 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1918), pp. 6-8; 20-22; quoted by Michael Gilleland at Laudator Temporis Acti

“Ignorance is the necessary condition of life itself. If we knew everything, we could not endure existence for a single hour.” – Anatole France, The Garden of Epicurus

“Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.” ~ Pascal, Penseés

“A man should never be afraid to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” ~ Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects

“A man is not necessarily intelligent because he has plenty of ideas, any more than he is a good general because he has plenty of soldiers.” ~ Nicolas Chamfort, Maximes et penseés

“I discovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

“William Hunter (1718-1783), brother of the famous surgeon [John Hunter], was of the opinion that surgeons’ daily contact with bodies lying at their mercy ‘may render them less able to bear contradiction.’” ~ F. Gonzalez-Crussi, A Short History of Medicine

“Stupidity does not consist in being without ideas. Such stupidity would be the sweet, blissful stupidity of animals, molluscs and the gods. Human Stupidity consists in having lots of ideas, but stupid ones. Stupid ideas, with banners, hymns, loudspeakers and even tanks and flame-throwers as their instruments of persuasion, constitute the refined and the only really terrifying form of Stupidity.”  ~ Henry de Montherlant, Notebooks

“The present is a very small place, a place of diminished accomplishment and minimal expectations. Our wealth is in the past.” – Patrick Kurp of Anecdotal Evidence

“To anyone who has ever looked on the face of a dead child or parent the mere fact that matter could have taken for a time that precious form ought to make matter sacred ever after. It makes no difference what the principle of life may be, material or immaterial, matter at any rate cooperates, lends itself to all life’s purposes. That beloved incarnation was among matter’s possibilities.” – William James, Pragmatism

“The Internet was supposed to bring people together in a warm fraternal embrace of global dimensions. That’s what they told us back in the mid-’90s. Instead, it’s made it easier to hate, and be hated by, people on the other side of the world whom, in the old days, we never knew existed.” –  Douglas Dalrymple at his blog The New Psalmanazar

“It’s difficult sometimes to know which failings are fixable and which are permanent features of your character. Once your chronic short-comings are identified, however, it’s better (in most cases) to forgive yourself and take refuge in some high-hearted indifference. A perfectly earnest life is perfectly unlivable.” – Douglas Dalrymple at his blog The New Psalmanazar

“The human heart is apparently insatiable. I may be perfectly grateful for all that I have and all that I am, but I would like the opportunity to be more grateful still.” – Douglas Dalrymple at his blog The New Psalmanazar

“There are so many things to be tortured about. So many torturous things in this life. Don’t let someone who doesn’t love you be one of them.” – Cheryl Strayed (Brave Enough, 2015)

“We pass into mystical states from out of ordinary consciousness as from a less into a more, as from a smallness into a vastness, and at the same time as from an unrest to a rest. We feel them as reconciling, unifying states. They appeal to the yes-function more than to the no-function in us. In them the unlimited absorbs the limits and peacefully closes the account.” – William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)

“We must not expect more precision than the subject-matter admits.” – Aristotle

“What is divine in man is elusive and impalpable, and he is easily tempted to embody it in a collective form – a church, a country, a social system, a leader – so that he may realize it with less effort and serve it with more profit. Yet the attempt to externalise the kingdom of heaven in a temporal shape must end in disaster. It cannot be created by charters or constitutions, nor established by arms. Those who set out for it alone will reach it together and those who seek it in company will perish by themselves.” ~ Hugh Kingsmill, The Poisoned Crown

“One of the hardest things to look at is the life we didn’t lead, the path not taken, potential left unfulfilled. In stories, those who look back — Lot’s wife, Eurydice — are irrevocably lost. Looking to the side instead, to gauge how our companions are faring, is a way of glancing at a safer reflection of what we cannot directly bear, like Perseus seeing the Gorgon safely mirrored in his shield. It’s the closest we can get to a glimpse of the parallel universe in which we didn’t ruin that relationship years ago, or got that job we applied for, or made that plane at the last minute. So it’s tempting to read other people’s lives as cautionary fables or repudiations of our own, to covet or denigrate them instead of seeing them for what they are: other people’s lives, island universes, unknowable.” – Tim Kreider (We Learn Nothing (2012), p. 130); quoted by Andrew Rickard at his blog Graveyard Masonry

“You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.” – James Thurber, Fables for Our Time

“It is an absolute perfection and virtually divine to know how to enjoy our being rightfully. We seek other conditions because we do not understand the use of our own, and go outside of ourselves because we do not know what it is like inside. Yet there is no use our mounting on stilts, for on stilts we must still walk on our own legs. And on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting only on our own rump.” – Montaigne, Essays III, 13

“A slave has but one master; an ambitious man has as many masters as there are people who may be useful in bettering his position.” – La Bruyere, Characters

“Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess and to gain applause which he cannot keep.” – Samuel Johnson, The Rambler

From The Gentle Art of Tramping by Stephen Graham (London: Robert Holden & Co., 1927), pp. 73-74; quoted by Andrew Wickard at Graveyard Masonry (entry for November 7, 2016):

The artist’s notebook is free for sketches, notes, impressions of moments, bon mots, poems, things overheard, maps and plans, names of friends and records of their idiosyncrasies, paradoxes, musical notations, records of folk-songs and other songs which you copy in order that you may sing for years afterwards. But it should not contain too much banal detail, such as petty accounts, addresses, druggists’ prescriptions, number of season-ticket and fire-insurance policy, memos to send rent. These things are apt to clutter up your book, and when you come to Old Year’s Night, and sit waiting for the chime of bells which rings in another year — and you have your day book before you, and you go over its pages, you do not want to pause on a scrawled laundry list or some Falstaffian account of wine and bread consumed at such and such an inn.

The artist’s day-book is his own living gospel — something coming after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — and should be sacred to him, if he is not merely a flippant and cynical fellow seeing life in large part as a buffonade.

A thought recorded, one that is your own, written down the day when it occurred, is a mental snap-shot, and is at least as valuable as the photographs you may make on your journey. Yesterday’s thought is worth considering again, if only as the stepping-stone of your dead self.

The thoughts of some people are constant, but of others varying and contradictory. It is like landscape. Some live their lives in the sight of a great range of mountains — they live in the presence of certain ever-abiding thoughts; others change their mental scenery from day to day, in the shallows and flats of the low country. But we all have our epochal days, our epochal thoughts. We turn to a page in our note-book and say: “On this day the thought occurred to me in the light of which I have lived ever since.” You draw two candles there, with light rays, to show the thought of the year.

Ibid., pp. 215-216:

It is in the description that the keeping of a diary becomes artistic. All description is art, and in describing an event, an action or a being, you enter to some extent into the joy of art. You are more than the mere secretary of life, patiently taking down from dictation, more than life’s mere scribe; you become its singer, the expressor of the glory of it. With a verbal description goes also sketching, the thumb-nail sketch, the vague impression, the pictorial pointer. There is no reason for being afraid of bad drawing in one’s own personal travel diary; the main thing is that it be ours and have some relationship to our eyes and the thing seen.

I have seldom gone on a tramp, or a long vagabondage, without seeing things that made the heart ache with their beauty or pathos, and other things that set the mind a-tingle with intellectual curiosity. I do not refer to great episodes, glimpses of important shows and functions, but to little things, unexpected visions of life! Some were unforgettable in themselves and seemingly needed not tablets other than those of memory, and yet it was a great addition to inner content and happiness to describe them as they occurred in my day-book of travel.

It is good also, after describing something that has specially affected one, to add one’s observations, the one line perhaps that records one’s mind at the time.

For these, and for other reasons, the artists note-book, the diary, the common and uncommonplace book, the day-book of the soul are to be placed as part of the equipment of life, when faring forth, be it on pilgrimage, be it on tramp, or be it merely on the common round of daily life. Every entry is a shade of self-confession, and the whole when duly entered is a passage of self-knowledge.

“Study is not an end, but a means. I should blush to write down such a platitude, did I not know by experience that the majority of readers constantly ignore it. The man who pores over a manual of carpentry and does naught else is a fool. But every book is a manual of carpentry, and every man who pores over any book whatever and does naught else with it is deserving of an abusive epithet. What is the object of reading unless something definite comes of it? You would be better advised to play billiards. Where is the sense of reading history if you do not obtain from it a clearer insight into actual politics and render yourself less liable to be duped by the rhetoric of party propaganda? Where is the sense of reading philosophy if your own attitude towards the phenomena of the universe does not become more philosophical? Where is the sense of reading morals unless your own are improved? Where is the sense of reading biography unless it is going to affect what people will say about you after your funeral? Where is the sense of reading poetry or fiction unless you see more beauty, more passion, more scope for your sympathy, than you saw before?” – Arnold Bennett, Things That Have Interested Me (New York: George H. Doran, 1921), pp. 55-65; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry (entry for September 1, 2016)

From Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies by George Santayana (London: Constable and Company Ltd., 1922), pp. 62-63:

“What, then, is there left, if Dickens has all these limitations? In our romantic disgust we might be tempted to say, Nothing. But in fact almost everything is left, almost everything that counts in the daily life of mankind, or that by its presence or absence can determine whether life shall be worth living or not; because a simple good life is worth living, and an elaborate bad life is not. There remains in the first place eating and drinking; relished not bestially, but humanly, jovially, as the sane and exhilarating basis for everything else. This is a sound English beginning; but the immediate sequel, as the England of that day presented it to Dickens, is no less delightful. There is the ruddy glow of the hearth; the sparkle of glasses and brasses and well-scrubbed pewter; the savoury fumes of the hot punch, after the tingle of the wintry air; the coaching-scenes, the motley figures and absurd incidents of travel; the changing sights and joys of the road. And then, to balance this, the traffic of ports and cities, the hubbub of crowded streets, the luxury of shop-windows and of palaces not to be entered; the procession of the passers-by, shabby or ludicrously genteel; the dingy look and musty smell of their lodgings; the labyrinth of back-alleys, courts, and mews, with their crying children, and scolding old women, and listless, half-drunken loiterers. These sights, like fables, have a sort of moral in them to which Dickens was very sensitive; the important airs of nobodies on great occasions, the sadness and preoccupation of the great as they hasten by in their mourning or on their pressing affairs; the sadly comic characters of the tavern; the diligence of shopkeepers, like squirrels turning in their cages; the children peeping out everywhere like grass in an untrodden street; the charm of humble things, the nobleness of humble people, the horror of crime, the ghastliness of vice, the deft hand and shining face of virtue passing through the midst of it all; and finally a fresh wind of indifference and change blowing across our troubles and clearing the most lurid sky.”

“Money means power, not merely wealth. Money gives us power over others—to command their labor, their minds, even their souls. Even their behavior, conduct, attitudes. No wonder money possesses such glittering attraction for those who crave power. If all people were self-reliant—a nation of artisans, craftsmen, hunters, trappers, farmers, ranchers—the rich would have no means to dominate us. Their wealth would be useless.

Cities: The realm of masters and slaves.

Our dream is to escape the hierarchical order: neither to serve nor to rule. The classic American dream. A society of equals.”

– Edward Abbey, Journals (November 27, 1982), in Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey (Boulder: Johnson Books, 2003), p. 304

“What is a hobby anyway? Where is the line of demarcation between hobbies and ordinary normal pursuits? I have been unable to answer this question to my own satisfaction. At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant. Certainly many of our most satisfying avocations today consist of making something by hand which machines can usually make more quickly and cheaply, and sometimes better…. A hobby is a defiance of the contemporary. It is an assertion of those permanent values which the momentary eddies of social evolution have contravened or overlooked. If this is true, then we may also say that every hobbyist is inherently a radical, and that his tribe is inherently a minority.” – Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), Round River (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 4

“Suppose that our lives were spent in homes where the mysteries of birth and death had occurred, instead of being handed over to sterilized non-places called hospitals, and that our work was done near the hallowed ground where our dead lay. Suppose that we had to live according to the rhythms of day and night, the magic juice that disrupted those rhythms having long since been priced off the market by the utilities companies. Might not the symbolisms of the sacred which have withered in the regnum hominis start to take hold again? None of these changes is impossible to conceive, unless we are so mesmerized by the size and noise of the man-locked set all around us that we think it indestructible. Is it impossible or illicit to imagine the change of heart and mind which might in time go with these material changes?” – D.S. Carne-Ross (1921-2010), Instaurations: Essays in and out of Literature, Pindar to Pound (1979), pp. 240-24

“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

“Heroes are not giant statures framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsbility to make it better.” – Studs Terkel

“The main accomplishment of almost all organized protests is to annoy people who are not in them.” – Dave Barry

“Patience is also a form of action.” – Auguste Rodin

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” – Mhoandas K. Gandhi

“A sofa is a piece of furniture which affords a great source of comfort to its possessor.” – John Claudius Loudon (1765-1843)

“The landscape from an eating room is of less consequence than any other.” – John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843)

“What a blessing it would be if we could open and shut our ears a easily as we do our eyes.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

“Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster is a maniac?” – George Carlin

“To what end, O child of sorrow! wouldst thou live longer? To breathe, to eat, to see the world? All this thou hast done often already. Too frequent repetition, is it not monotonous? Or is it not superfluous? Wouldst thou improve thy wisdom and virtue? Alas! what are thou to know? Or who is it that shall teach thee? Badly thou employest the little thou hast; dare not therefore to complain that more is not given thee.” – Robert Dodsley, The Economy of Human Life (1910), page 79; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry

“Men who spend many solitary hours with nature — men whose calling is in the great waters or the open fields — cannot help feeling something of the ghostly side of nature. For them there are presences on the solitary hills; there are voices in the wind; and there is the sense of unseen life touching them on all sides, to which the imagination is sensitive and conscious. But when men come to live in cities, they are like little children who crowd round the bright fire in a little room, and do their best to forget the illimitable mystery of the wide night that reigns without. There is no solitude; there is no time for silent communing; there is no chance for nature to find us. The veil between us and the angel-world seemed very thin in the days when the rushing of the wind over the wide moor at night seemed like the passing of many wings, and when the shimmering of the moonlight in the shadow of the trees was like the white gliding of heavenly presences. But here it is a thick and stifling curtain, and the sense of wonder slowly perishes within us. We have no sense that we are passing away.” – William James Dawson, “What It Is That Endures,” The Threshold of Manhood (1889), pp. 87-88; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry 

“Four or five hours [walking] on the road is all you want in each day. Even resolute idlers, as it is to be hoped you all are on such occasions, can get eight miles a day out of that, and that is enough for a true walking party. Remember all along, that you are not running a race with the railway train. If you were, you would be beaten certainly; and the less you think you are the better. You are travelling in a method of which the merit is that it is not fast, and that you see every separate detail of the glory of the world. What a fool you are, then, if you tire yourself to death, merely that you may say that you did in ten hours what the locomotive would gladly have finished in one, if by that effort you have lost exactly the enjoyment of nature and society that you started for.” – Edward Everett Hale, “How to Travel,” How to Do It (1882), pp. 166-167; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry

“Why set my nerves quivering with rage, and spoil the calm of a whole day, when no good of any sort can come of it?” – George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1912); quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry

“What can be more unkind than to communicate our low spirits to others, to go about the world like demons, poisoning the fountains of joy? Have I more light because I have managed to involve those I love in the same gloom as myself? Is it not pleasant to see the sun shining on the mountains, even though we have none of it down in our valley? Oh the littleness and the meanness of that sickly appetite for sympathy which will not let us keep our tiny Lilliputian sorrows to ourselves! Why must we go sneaking about, like some dishonourable insect, and feed our darkness on other people’s light?” – Frederick William Faber, Kindness (1901), p. 104; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry

“The sea is a mirror, not only to the clouds, the sun, the moon, and the stars, but to all one’s dreams, to all one’s speculations. . . . The sea tells us that everything is changing and that nothing ever changes, that tides go out and return, that all existence is a rhythm; neither calm nor storm breaks the rhythm, only hastens or holds it back for a moment…. [A]s ecstasy is only possible to one who is conscious of the possibility of despair, so the sea, as it detaches us from the world and our safeguards and our happy forgetfulnesses, and sets us by ourselves, as momentary as the turn of a wave, and mattering hardly more to the universe, gives us, if we will take them, moments of almost elemental joy.” – Arthur Symons, “In a Northern Bay,” Cities and Sea-Coasts and Islands (1918), page 296 and 297; quoted by  Stephen Penze  at First Known When Lost

“All through the ages men tossed in the beating waves of circumstance have found more abundantly in the essays and letters of Seneca than in any other secular writer words of good counsel and comfort.” – John Morley, “Aphorisms,” Studies in Literature (1901), pp. 68-69; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry 

“A man writes an elaborate work upon a learned subject. In a few years’ time, another man writes an elaborate work upon the same learned subject, and is kind enough to allude to the former author in a foot-note. Twenty or thirty years afterwards, this second man’s work is also absorbed in a similar manner; and his labours, too, are chronicled in a foot-note. Now, the first man’s fame, if you come to look at it carefully, is but small. His labours are kindly alluded to in a foot-note of a work which is also kindly alluded to in a foot-note of a work published forty or fifty years hence. Surely this fame in a foot-note is not much worth having.” – Arthur Helps, Brevia (1871), pp. 77-78; quoted by Andrew Rickard at Graveyard Masonry

“The idea of autonomy denies that we are born into a world that existed prior to us. It posits an essential aloneness; an autonomous being is free in the sense that a being severed from all others is free. To regard oneself this way is to betray the natural debts we owe to the world, and commit the moral error of ingratitude. For in fact we are basically dependent beings: one upon another, and each on a world that is not of our making.” –  Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (2009); quoted by Andrew Rickhard at Graveyard Masonry

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2 thoughts on “Cal’s Commonplace Book

    1. Lord, if that happens, I’ll have to throw myself on the mercy of the Bankruptcy Court! Meanwhile, I have been wondering whether there’s some sort of word limit in the WordPress software that I’m going to crash into at some point!

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