Oh, wow!

File:Pieter Claesz 002b.jpgQuotes I find striking. All comments welcome, especially quotes you like. New quotes go at the top.

The nonviolent resisters can summarize their message in the following simple terms: we will take direct action against injustice despite the failure of governmental and other official agencies to act first. We will not obey unjust laws or submit to unjust practices. We will do this peacefully, openly, cheerfully because our aim is to persuade. We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts. We will always be willing to talk and seek fair compromise, but we are ready to suffer when necessary and even risk our lives to become witnesses to truth as we see it.

-Martin Luther King, Nobel Lecture: The Quest for Peace and Justice


St Augustine would have accepted the theory of evolution. I copied the quote from Conservapedia.

Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances… It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do what we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, lest the unbeliever see only ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.

June 2013: Anatol Rapoport’s Rules for writing a critical commentary are:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.


December 2012

A free press can of course be good or bad, but most certainly without freedom it will never be anything but bad.- Albert Camus.

File:Francis Bacon artist.jpg

3 November: The seekers’ prayer:

I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

26 October: Francis Bacon: I have tried to be as realistic in my way as I can be after all You only have to think about life, or have experience in any way or think about the meat on your plate to think how disturbing whats called reality is and we are nearly everybody lives their lives screened from it and if my pictures seem to give over a kind of sense of violence or mortality it’s only in my attempt to be as realistic as I canmindyou you talk about realism I can only paint for myself … you try to bring the thing back onto your own nervous system in its most poignant form.
-Archive on The Shock of the New, speaking with lowered eyelashes.

2 October: Desmond Tutu:
I know the space is very small between “I am doing it in response to love” and “I am doing it to be loved”. But in that space resides the difference between joy-filled peace and anxious despair. In short, we don’t have to “act” like a holy man or holy woman. We need to simply live out of the joy and generosity of our goodness.
When we slide across the threshold from living our goodness to “doing good” in order to “be good”, we work in the mistaken conviction that what we are doing will enable us to merit God’s love or that it will, perhaps, increase God’s love for us. But God already loves us perfectly. There is no task we must complete to earn God’s love. God already loves us perfectly; God cannot love us one iota more. –Made for Goodness, p24.

21 September: If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise- Goethe.

14 September: from Facebook, and here: A Love letter to the World

7 September: John Lennon, on Facebook: “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

4 September: Thich Nhat Hanh, on Facebook: Continue until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child starving, in the political prisoner. practice until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your store consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.

Ismael Nery - Nu no Cabide

28 August: Alfred North Whitehead:

The misconception which has haunted philosophic literature throughout the centuries is the notion of independent existence. There is no such mode of existence. Every entity is only to be understood in terms of the way in which it is interwoven with the rest of the Universe.

In The Shock of the New, Robert Hughes explains that this is a foundation of cubism: rather than imagining that a picture can represent a thing, divorced from the viewer, Cubism illustrates the process of seeing.

16 August: Chuang Tzu: “Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”

10 August: Nietzsche, again, from here: Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; – history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!

And Malraux, from here: There’s no such thing as a grown up person.

File:Gregory of Nyssa.jpg

19 July:

Doctrines create idols only wonder comprehends anything People kill one another over idols Wonder makes us fall to our knees.

-Gregory of Nyssa


15 July, from Facebook, but authenticated:

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

-Richard Buckminster Fuller

13 June, from the blog Kylling Sara:

Being able to locate my issues as separate from me helped me to feel less shame and humiliation about them.

File:Einstein Albert Elsa LOC 32096u.jpg10 June- I am chary of “Albert Einstein” quotes, but I like this anyway:

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us…Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

8 June Theodore Dalrymple: Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

18 May: Dietrich Bonhöffer: “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him… Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either.”

12 May: Talmudic quote, “You are not expected to complete the task (of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world) but neither are you free to desist from trying.” I found this on a blog comment.John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais

4 April:

A man would do nothing 
if he waited until he could do it so well 
that no one could find fault.

JH Newman

14 March:

In spite of our varying degrees of emphasis on how our Peace Testimony should be expressed, there are many ways to peace. There are:

Those who feel that we must seek inward peace first, as self purification.

Those who are moved to radical personal and group action, and need the support of Meetings.

Those who feel that as citizens of governments we still have opportunities to influence events. We support Friends who are led to walk in any of these ways to peace…. We differ, yet we love each other.

– Pacific Yearly Meeting, 1959

7 March:

Are we driven by fear or by joy? Are we driven by a terror of the magnitude of life and an attempt to make our lives small enough that we feel safe? Or are we driven by a longing to become big enough and strong enough to endure the larger life that is possible for us?

 ~ Donna Farhi

 A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:

“As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.”

― Joseph Campbell

25 February: Nietzsche? Really?

 those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music

This attribution is pretty vague, and contains the most inane comment I have ever seen. The quote is “Art without a frame”- the question is, is it true?


What I want is to be accepted by other people without bevelling down my individuality to please them- because if I do that, all the friendship, all the hospitality that I receive is really for somebody else of the same name. I want Love on my own terms.

-Quentin Crisp

Would you like to liberate yourself from the lower realms of life? Would you like to save the world from the degradation and destruction it seems destined for? Then step away from shallow mass movements and quietly go to work on your own self-awareness. If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation. So find a teacher who is an integral being, a beacon who extends his light and virtue with equal ease to those who appreciate him and those who don’t. Shape yourself in his mold, bathe in his nourishing radiance, and reflect it out to the rest of the world. You will come to understand an eternal truth: there is always a peaceful home for a virtuous being.

Hua Hu Ching, 75. But when I read on facebook the bit in italics was Lau Tzu, I thought, yeah, yeah.

File:Young Bach2.jpg

24 February: Brahms, on the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita no. 2 in D minor:

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

21 February:

Most pieces of writing will be improved by being cut by 25 to 50%.

Naomi Cunningham.

I started on 4 February 2012 with these:

Certain forms of perplexity—for example, about freedom, knowledge, and the meaning of life—seem to me to embody more insight than any of the supposed solutions to those problems.

Quoted here.

 I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

quoted here, but I found it in a TED talk which I can’t find again.

The brain moves incognito beneath our conscious deliberations, like a great ocean liner on the deck of which we walk up and down, imagining that we move it with our feet.

Source. Professor Scruton is summarising another’s view, perhaps with his own metaphor.

Walking is bipedal locomotion.
Movement of the body, achieved by bearing weight,
first on one leg, then on the other.

The guide for medical practitioners to incapacity benefit, 1994.

9 February:
I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may.
But what is your final goal, you may ask. That goal will become clearer, will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough draught turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it, through the elaboration of the original vague idea and through the consolidation of the first fleeting and passing thought.
…………………….Vincent van Gogh, letter to Theo van Gogh, 1880

11 February:

go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

I like this. Is it really Kurt Vonnegut? I don’t know. Would it be worth less if it was not?

16 February: Owen Jones quotes an off the record “extremely prominent Tory grandee from the moderate wing of the party” in Chavs- The Demonisation of the Working Class:

What you have to realise about the Conservative Party is that it is a coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people.

All comments are welcome, particularly adding quotes you like.

5 thoughts on “Oh, wow!

    • I remember that one time Carl [Sagan] was giving a talk, and he spelled out, in a kind of withering succession, these great theories of demotion that science has dealt us, all of the ways in which science is telling us we are not who we would like to believe we are. At the end of it, a young man came up to him and he said: “What do you give us in return? Now that you’ve taken everything from us? What meaning is left, if everything that I’ve been taught since I was a child turns out to be untrue?” Carl looked at him and said, “Do something meaningful.”
      Author: Ann Druyan


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.