Food For Thought

A Collection of Heretical Notions and Wretched Adages
compiled by Jack Tourette

author index



The mind unlearns but slowly what it has learned for long.

Seneca (4 BC - AD 65)
Line 633
Seneca's Tragedies, 1917
Translated by Frank Justus Miller

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Paraphrase of next quotation?
See caveat

It was the peculiar artifice of Habit not to suffer her power to be felt at first. Those whom she led, she had the address of appearing only to attend, but was continually doubling her chains upon her companions; which were so slender in themselves, and so silently fastened, that while the attention was engaged by other objects, they were not easily perceived. Each link grew tighter as it had been longer worn; and when by continual additions they became so heavy as to be felt, they were very frequently too strong to be broken.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
"The Vision of Theodore, the Hermit of Teneriffe,
found in his cell", 1748

Habit with him was all the test of truth,
It must be right: I've done it from my youth.

George Crabbe (1754-1832)
"The Vicar", letter 3
The Borough, 1810

Chaos often breeds life when order breeds habit.

Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
The Education of Henry Adams, 1907
Chapter 16

Habit, n. A shackle for the free.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)
The Tragic Sense of Life, 1913
Chapter 9

I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
The Summing Up, 1938
Chapter 15

Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)
The Passionate State of Mind, 1955
Aphorism 264


[see also: LIMERICKS]

goddamn these haikus
I'm so sick of seeing them
when will it all end?

Curtis Galloway (


How do human beings usually announce an altered identity? By changing the way they wear their hair. Men who wanted to be ruthlessly modern shaved their skulls, like the Russian revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky or Johannes Itten, an instructor at the Bauhaus in Weimar. In the hirsute nineteenth century, sages -- aspiring to the shagginess of Old Testament prophets -- grew beards. For the glowering, bullet-headed Mayakovsky, the cranium was a projectile, made more aerodynamic by being rid of hair. For Itten, shaving announced his priestly dedication to the new world which the designers at the Bauhaus intended to build....

Peter Conrad (b.1948)
Modern Times, Modern Places: Life and Art in the Twentieth Century, 1999

I remember the day I saw my hair was thinning. I don't remember caring much. I don't care. It's just hair. It never bothered me much. I was pretty young, too. And it happened and is happening veeery slowly. I have a feeling dead people get really mad when we complain about losing hair.

Louis C.K. (b.1967)
16:07:28 UTC Monday, 14 May 2012


[see also: FUN, UNHAPPINESS]

It is impossible to live pleasurably without living wisely, well, and justly, and impossible to live wisely, well, and justly without living pleasurably.

Epicurus (341-270 BC)
from Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Book X, section 140
Diogenes Laertius (fl. 2nd century)

No man is happy who does not think himself so.

Publilius Syrus (1st century BC)
The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, A Roman Slave
Maxim 584
Translated by Darius Lyman, 1856

In every adversity of fortune, to have been happy is the most unhappy kind of misfortune.

Boethius (480-524)
De Consolatione Philosophiae
Book II, 4, 4

True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
The Spectator, Number 15
17 March 1711

Si on ne voulait qu'Ítre heureux, cela serait bientŰt fait; mais on veut Ítre plus heureux que les autres, et cela est presque toujours difficile, parce que nous croyons les autres plus heureux qu'ils ne sont.
(If people just wanted to be happy, that would be easily done. But they want to be happier than others, and that is almost always difficult because we take the others for happier than they are.)

Montesquieu (1689-1755)
Pensees Diverses
Chapter VIII "Varietes"
In Oeuvres de Montesquieu, 1799

[H]appiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, 1785
Second section - Transistion from Popular Moral Philosophy
to the Metaphysic of Morals

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds, wherever we go.

Martha Custis Washington (1732-1802)
Letter to Mercy Otis Warren
Quoted in Mary and Martha Washington, 1886
by Benson John Lossing (1813-1891)

It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquillity and occupation, which give happiness.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Letter to Mrs. A.S. Marks
Paris, 1788

Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame....

William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
"On the Pleasure of Painting"
Table Talk, Essays on Men and Manners, 1822

There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness, revelry, high life.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
"Our Relation to Ourselves"
Essays, section 24

Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)
Lothair, 1870
Chapter 3

Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
quoted in A Countryman's Journal
by Roy Barrette (page 29)

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Autobiography, 1873
Chapter 5

Joy and grief are never far apart. In the same street the shutters of one house are closed, while the curtains of the next are brushed by shadows of the dance. A wedding-party returns from church; and a funeral winds to its door. The smiles and the sadnesses of life are the tragi-comedy of Shakespeare. Gladness and sighs brighten and dim the mirror he beholds.

Robert Eldridge Willmott (1809-1863)
Pleasures, Objects, and Advantages, of Literature, 1855
Chapter XVII "The Drama, It's Character and Entertainment"

We are never happy; we can only remember that we were so once.

Alexander Smith (1830-1867)
"On Death and the Fear of Dying"
Dreamthorp, 1863

Happiness ain't a thing in itself -- it's only a contrast with something that ain't pleasant.... And so, as soon as the novelty is over and the force of the contrast dulled, it ain't happiness any longer, and you have to get something fresh.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven", 1907
Chapter 1
The Complete Short Stories, 1957
Edited by Charles Neider

Those who have given themselves the most concern about the happiness of peoples have made their neighbors very miserable.

Anatole France (1844-1924)
The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, 1881
Part II, Chapter 4

Life teaches us that we are never happy except at the price of some ignorance.

Anatole France (1844-1924)
On Life & Letters, 1914
Translated by A.W. Evans

Unhappiness is the hunger to get; happiness is the hunger to give.

William George Jordan (1864-1928)
Majesty of Calmness, 1900
Chapter VII "The Royal Road to Happiness"

Happiness Makes Up in Height for What it Lacks in Length.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
title of poem
A Witness Tree, 1942

Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness.

Don Marquis (1878-1937)
"Notes and Comment" (unsigned column)
New York Sun
Sometime between 1912-1922

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities. This "hedonistic paradox" may be generalized to cover our whole life in time. Temporal conditions will be accepted as satisfactory only by those whose first convern is not with time, but with eternal Reality and with that state of virtually timeless consciousness, in which alone the awareness of Reality is possible.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
"Religion and Time", 1943
Huxley and God, 1992
Edited by Jacqueline Hazard Bridgeman

No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness.

Graham Greene (1904-1991)
The Heart of the Matter, 1948
Part III, Chapter 1, section i

Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly often attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults.

Thomas Szasz (b.1920)
The Second Sin, 1973

Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.

Milan Kundera (b.1929)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984
Part 7 "Karenin's Smile", Chapter 4

Happiness is not simply the absence of despair. It is an affirmative state in which our lives have both meaning and pleasure....

The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.

Gordon Livingston (b.1938)
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, 2004
Chapter 2 "We Are What We Do"

Happiness lies outside yourself, is achieved through interacting with others. Self-forgetfulness should be one's goal, not self-absorption. The male, capable of only the latter, makes a virtue of an irremediable fault and sets up self-absorption, not only as a good, but as a Philosophical Good.

Valerie Solanas (b.1940)
The SCUM Manifesto, 1968


[see also: ALCOHOL]

Hash House Harriers: A drinking club with a running problem.

Hash slogan

If you have half a mind to hash, that's all you need!

Hash motto

What is the use of running when we are not on the right road?

The Salt-Cellars: Being a Collection of Proverbs,
Together with Homely Notes Theron
, 1889
Volume II "M to Z"
Edited by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

Bible, Proverbs 1:15-16

A good name is better than precious ointment.

Bible, Ecclesiastes 7:1

Some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last.

Bible, Luke 13:30

A hound started a hare from his lair, but after a long run, gave up the chase. A goat-herd seeing him stop, mocked him, saying "The little one is the best runner of the two." The hound replied, "You do not see the difference between us: I was only running for a dinner, but he for his life."

Aesop (620-560 BC)
The Hare and the Hound

Nulla placere diu nec vivere carmina possunt
Quae scribuntur aquae potoribus.
(No verse can give pleasure for long, nor last,
that is written by drinkers of water.)

Horace (65-8 BC)
Epistles, Book 1, number 19, line 1

Now is the time for drinking, now the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot.

Horace (65-8 BC)
Odes, Book I, 23 BC
Ode xxxvii, line 1

Wer nicht liebt Weib, Wein und Gesang,
A Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang.
(Who loves not wine, women, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long.)

Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Inscribed in the Luther room in Wartburg,
but with no proof of authorship
See caveat

Why do you lead me a wild-goose chase.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Don Quixote de la Mancha
Part I, Book 3, Chapter 6, 1605

You may go whistle for the rest.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Don Quixote de la Mancha
Part I, Book 3, Chapter 6, 1605

Though last not least.

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
Colin Clouts Come Home Again, 1595
line 144

The woods shall to me answer, and my Echo ring.

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
Epithalamion, 1595
line 18

I mean not to run with the Hare and holde with the Hounde.

John Lyly (c.1553-1601)
Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit, 1579

...the lame man who keeps the right road outstrips the runner who takes a wrong one. Nay it is obvious that when a man runs the wrong way, the more active and swift he is the further he will go astray.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Novum Organum: Aphorisms Concerning The Interpretation of Nature
and The Kingdom of Man
, 1620
Aphorism LXI
Translated by James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and
Douglas Denon Heath, 1863

Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Romeo and Juliet, 1595-1596
Act II, scene iii, line 94

We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Hamlet, 1600-1601
Act I, scene ii

Show me the steep and thorny way....

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Hamlet, 1600-1601
Act I, scene iii, line 47

Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfew sound
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging low with sullen roar.

John Milton (1608-1674)
Il Penseroso, 1631, line 73

I am free as Nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began,
When wild in woods the noble savage ran.

John Dryden (1631-1700)
The Conquest of Granada, 1669-1670
Part I, act I, scene i

As pants the hart for cooling streams
When heated in the chase.

Nahum Tate (1652-1715)
and Nicholas Brady (1659-1726)
New Version of the Psalms, 1696
Psalm 42

If we do not find anything very pleasant, at least we shall find something new.

Voltaire (1694-1778)
Candide, 1759
Chapter 17

Poor is the triumph o'er the timid hare!

James Thomson (1700-1748)
"Autumn", line 401
The Seasons, 1728

He has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
"The Whistle"
November 1779

The dusky night rides down the sky,
And ushers in the morn;
The hounds all join in glorious cry,
The huntsman winds his horn:
And a-[hashing] we will go.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
"A-[Hashing] We Will Go"

A man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
24 April 1779
Life of Johnson, 1791
by James Boswell (1740-1795)

Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.

Thomas Gray (1716-1771)
On a Distant Prospect of Eton College, 1742
Stanza 1

A good name will wear out; a bad one may be turn'd; a nick-name lasts for ever.

Johann Georg Zimmermann (1728-1795)
"Reflections of Zimmermann: Reflection the First"
Aphorisms and Reflections on Men, Morals and Things, 1800
Translated from mss. of J.G. Zimmerman [sic]
Page 16

Zu viel kann man wohl trinken, Doch trinkt man nie genug. (One may well drink too much, but yet one never drinks enough.)

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781)
"Antwort eines trunknen Dichters" ("Response of a drunken poet")
Lieder (Songs), Book I, 1771

When the wine goes in, strange things come out.

Johann von Schiller (1759-1805)
The Piccolomini, 1799
Act II, scene xii

The woods are full of them.

Alexander Wilson (1766-1813)
American Ornithology, 1808-1814

They who drink beer will think beer.

Washington Irving (1783-1859)
The Sketch Book, 1819-1820

Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.

Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865)
Sam Slick's Wise Saws and Modern Instances, Or,
What He Said, Did, Or Invented
, 1853
Chapter XVIII "Jericho Beyond Jordan"

I love the sound of the horn, at night, in the depth of the woods.

Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863)
Le Cor, 1826

Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.

Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883)
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1859
Stanza 80

The hare sits snug in leaves and grass,
And laughs to see the green man pass.

Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894)
Struwwelpeter, 1848
"The Man Who Went Out Shooting"

It's a long lane that knows no turnings.

Robert Browning (1812-1889)
The Flight of the Duchess, 1845
Stanza 17

Experience, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.

To one who, journeying through night and fog,
Is mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog,
Experience, like the rising of the dawn,
Reveals the path that he should not have gone.
[Joel Frad Bink]
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Hash, n. There is no definition for this word -- nobody knows what hash is.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Stay with the procession or you will never catch up.

George Ade (1866-1944)
"The Old-Time Pedagogue"
Forty Modern Fables, 1901

But, R-e-m-o-r-s-e!
The water-wagon is the place for me; ...
It is no time for mirth and laughter,
The cold, gray dawn of the morning after.

George Ade (1866-1944)
The Sultan of Sulu, 1902

I get my exercise being a pallbearer for those of my friends who believed in regular running.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Attributed; see Norman McGowen (b.1925?)

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
"The Road Not Taken", 1916
Stanza 4

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 (1888-1965)
"Little Gidding", Part 5
Four Quartets, 1942

The humorist runs with the hare; the satirist hunts with the hounds.

Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957)
Essays in Satire, 1928

Like a small pack of hounds the Rangers cast around; you almost expected to hear them whimper with excitement and break into baying when they struck the scent.

Herbert Best (1894-1980)
The Long Portage, 1948
Chapter VIII

When we are lost in the woods the sight of a [hashmark] is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, "On On!" The whole [pack] gathers round and stares. But when we have found the [trail] and are passing [hashmarks] every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the [hare who] set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are silver and their lettering of gold. We would be at [on apres].

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Surprised by Joy, 1955
Chapter 15 "The Beginning"

I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.

Muriel Strode (1900-1930)
My Little Book of Prayer, 1904

On! On!

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Waiting for Godot, 1952
Act I, Pozzo

Why don't you just go ahead and do it? Remember, "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission".

Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
Advice to trespassing hares
"Only the Limits of Our Imagination: An Exclusive
Interview with Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper, Amazing Grace"
By Diane Hamblen
Chips Ahoy, Volume 6, Number 16 (July 1986)

Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain't restful. Avoid running at all times. Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you.

Satchel Paige (c.1906-1982)
How to Stay Young, 1953

I learn by going where I have to go.

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
"The Waking"
The Waking, 1953

It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.

Rollo Reece May (1909-1994)
Love and Will, 1969
Chapter 1 "Introduction: Our Schizoid World"

I think he [Winston Churchill] had much sympathy with the man who said "the only exercise I get is acting as pall bearer to men who took exercise.

Norman McGowen (b.1925?)
My Years with Churchill, 1958
"In Relaxation"

Our suicidal poets (Plath, Berryman, Lowell, Jarrell, et al.) spent too much of their lives inside rooms and classrooms when they should have been trudging up mountains, slogging through swamps, rowing down rivers. The indoor life is the next best thing to premature burial.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto), 1989
Chapter 5 "On Witing and Writers, Books and Art"

We're running the gauntlet and filling our socks with debris.

Les Claypool (b.1963)
"Running the Gauntlet"
Les Claypool & the Holy Mackerel
Highball With the Devil, 1996

The difficulty of finding any given trail marker is directly proportional to the importance of the consequences of failing to find it.

Milt Barber

No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.

Turkish proverb

But the greatest love -- the love of all loves,
Even greater than that of a mother...
Is the tender, passionate, undying love,
Of one beer drunken slob for another.

Irish Love Ballad


[see also: TIME]

Even when pursued the butterfly is never in a hurry.

Japanese saying

Make haste slowly.

Gaius Octavius Augustus (63 BC-AD 14)
Lives of the Caesars, c.121
by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus

Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Romeo and Juliet, 1595-1596
Act II, scene iii, line 94

The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else - we are the busiest people in the world.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)
Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973
Aphorism 156


Let them hate, so long as they fear.

Lucius Accius (170-86 BC)
in Atreus
Seneca (4 BC - AD 65)

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Bible, Luke 14:26 (Jesus)

Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)
The Prince, 1532
Chapter IXX "That We Must Avoid Being Despised and Hated"
Translated by Luigi Ricci, 1903

Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

When posterity recounts the achievements of Europe, shall we let men say that three centuries of painstaking cultural effort carried us no farther than from the religious fanaticism to the insanity of nationalism? In both camps today even scholars behave as though eight months ago they suddenly lost their heads.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Letter to Romain Rolland
March 1915

When posterity recounts the achievements of Europe, shall we let men say that three centuries of painstaking cultural effort carried us no further than from the fanaticism of religion to the insanity of nationalism? It would seem that men always seek some idiotic fiction in the name of which they can hate one another. Once it was religion; now it is the State.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Einstein: A Centenary Volume, 1979

The work of the world is done on hate. All work done well is well done only when persons hate work done shoddily. Justice can exist only when injustice is hated, laws only when lawlessness is hated, and education only when ignorance is hated. Every improvement this world has ever known was brought about because someone hated intolerable conditions.

Jane Dunlap (1904-1974)
Exploring Inner Space: Personal Experiences Under LSD-25, 1961
Chapter 7, "Among the Blest"


[see also: MEDICINE]

Health is my expected heaven.

John Keats (1795-1821)
Letter, circa 01 March 1820
To his fiancee Fanny Brawne
(Keats suffered from, and died of tuberculosis)

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
Illness as Metaphor, 1978
Opening words


[see also: AFTERLIFE, HELL]

To everyone is given the key to heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.

Ancient Proverb

Jesus said, "If those who lead you say, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

Coptic Gospel of Thomas
verse 3

His disciples said to Him, "When will the Kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'Here it is' or 'There it is.' Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."

Coptic Gospel of Thomas
verse 113

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

Bible, Luke 17:20-21

Heaven-gates are not so highly arch'd
As princes' palaces; they that enter there
Must go upon their knees.

John Webster (c.1580-c.1625)
Duchess of Malfi, 1623
Act IV, scene ii

Paradise is where I am.

Voltaire (1694-1778)
Le Mondain, 1736

Of all the inventions of man I doubt whether any was more easily accomplished than that of a Heaven.

G.C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799)
"Notebook L", Aphorism 34
Aphorisms, 1765-1799

Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed & governed their passions or have no passions, but because they have cultivated their understandings. The treasures of Heaven are not negations of passion, but realities of intellect, from which all the passions emanate uncurbed in their eternal glory. The fool shall not enter into Heaven let him be ever so holy.

William Blake (1757-1827)
A Vision of the Last Judgement, 1810
Complete Writings, 1957
Edited by Geoffrey Keynes

Did thee ever think what a dull place Heaven must be if the popular notion of it is correct? A state of sheer spiritual laziness -- nothing to do because everything is done -- nobody to help -- nobody to pity -- nobody to pray for -- no employment but to sing hymns!

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Letter to Elisabeth Lloyd, 1860

There are glimpses of Heaven granted to us by every act, or thought, or word, which raises us above ourselves -- which makes us think less of ourselves and more of others -- which has taught us of something higher and truer than we have in our own hearts -- which has aroused within us the feelings of gratefulness, and admiration, and love -- which has taught us, or may teach us, in any sense, to remember and to imitate "whatever things are just and true, pure and honest, lovely and of good report."

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881)
Sermon XVIII "The Apostle's Farewell"
Preached at the Anniversary Meeting of the King's School
Canterbury, 05 August 1858

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Walden, 1854
Chapter 16 "The Pond in Winter"

The "kingdom of heaven" is a state of the heart -- not something to come "beyond the world" or "after death."

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
The Anti-Christ, 1895
Aphorism 34
translated by H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) have feverishly conceived a heaven only to find it insipid, and a hell to find it ridiculous.

George Santayana (1863-1952)
The Life of Reason; or the Phases of Human Progress, 1905
Volume Four "Reason in Art"
Chapter IX "Justification of Art"
[See full quotation in TASTE]

[No one blames a man for believing that his wife is beautiful, but] it is impossible to avoid disgust in the presence of one who believes that he has an immortal soul of some vaguely gaseous nature and that it will continue to exist four hundred million years after he has been shoveled away...

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Treatise on the Gods, 1930

No one blames a man for believing that his wife is beautiful, but it is impossible to avoid disgust in the presence of one who believes that he has an immortal soul of some vaguely gaseous nature, and that it will continue to exist four hundred million years after he has been shoveled away...

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Minority Report, 1956
Number 84

The doors of heaven and hell are adjacent, and identical: both green, both beautiful. Take care, Adam! Take care! Take care!

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957)
The Last Temptation of Christ, 1960
Chapter 18

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

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
Put Out More Flags, 1942
Chapter 1, Section 7

Do not ask God the way to heaven; he will show you the hardest one.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (1909-1966)
Unkempt Thoughts, 1962
Translated by Jacek Galazka
page 27

Pity that the only way to paradise is in a hearse.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (1909-1966)
Unkempt Thoughts, 1962
Translated by Jacek Galazka
page 131

Is exactly like
Where you are right now
Only much much better.

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)
"Language is a Virus"
Home of the Brave: A Film by Laurie Anderson, 1986
by Laurie Anderson (b.1947)

I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

The heaven that many people desire is actually hell. Heaven is here on earth; it is achieved through acceptance. To yearn for a pain-free, eternal existence guarantees suffering. Rather, accept the uncertainty and pain of the here and now. Joy cannot exist without suffering; good requires evil. Live in the moment, for that is all one ever has.

Ellis Praecox (b.1943)

The Baptists believe in The Right to Life before you're born. They also believe in Life After Death, but that is a privilege and you have to earn it by spending the interim in guilt-ridden misery. At an early age I decided that living a life of pious misery in the hope of going to heaven when it's over is a lot like keeping your eyes shut all through a movie in the hope of getting your money back at the end.

A. Whitney Brown (b.1952)
The Big Picture: An American Commentary, 1991



Each of us bears his own hell.

Virgil (70-19 BC)
Aeneid, Book 6, line 743

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames." But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us." He said, "Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house - for I have five brothers - that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment." Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them." He said, "No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

Bible, Luke 16:19-31

Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Bible, Matthew 25:41-46

Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Bible, Revelation 20:11-15

Hell is paved with priests' skulls.

Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407)
De Sacerdotio, c.390

Hell is full of good intentions or desires.

Saint Bernard (1091-1153)
From Saint Francis de Sales
Letter 74

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of god more abundantly, they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in Hell.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
On the Geneology of Morals, 1887
by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed In one self place; for where we are is hell, And where hell is there must we ever be. And to be short, when all the world dissolves, And every creature shall be purified, All places shall be hell that are not heaven.

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, 1604
Act II, scene i

It is indeed, sad to think, that hell should be paved with the skulls of any of our children....

Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)
Art of Divine Contentment, 1653
page 27

...if they are out of Christ, they are not so in Godís sight, but are young vipers, and are infinitely more hateful than vipers.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
"Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival", 1742
The Great Awakening, 1972
Edited by C.C. Goen

As innocent as children seem to be to us, yet if they are out of Christ, they are not so in Godís sight, but are young vipers, and are infinitely more hateful than vipers, and are in a most miserable condition, as well as grown persons; and they are naturally very senseless and stupid...and need much to awaken them. Why should we conceal the truth from them?

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
"The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards"

Sir, Hell is paved with good intentions.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Life Of Johnson, 1791
Volume I, page 555
by James Boswell (1740-1795)

To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
"Journal", 20 December 1822

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Book I "The Process of Production of Capital"
Part 3 "The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value"
Chapter 7 "The Labour Process and the Valorization Process"
Section 2 "The Valorization Process"
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 1967
Translated be Ben Fowkes

The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.

Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs -- the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man's best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.

In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be contrived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb.

The Deity pondered this matter during four thousand years unsuccessfully, but as soon as he came down to earth and became a Christian his mind cleared and he knew what to do. He invented hell, and proclaimed it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"Letters from the Earth"
Letters From the Earth, 1962
Edited by Bernardo DeVoto

Man is the cruelest animal. At tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions he has so far felt best on earth; and when he invented hell for himself, behold, that was his very heaven.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1883-85
Third Part, Chapter 13 "The Convalescent"

Life in hell is extremely attenuated; we feel neither pleasure nor pain; we are as if we were not. The dead have no existence here except such as the living lend them.

Anatole France (1844-1924)
Penguin Island, 1909
Book III, Chapter VI, "Marbodius"

Any body of men who believe in hell will persecute whenever they have the power.

Joseph McCabe (1867-1955)
What God Cost Men, 1933

There is one very serious defect in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
"Why I Am Not a Christian", "The Moral Problem"
Why I Am Not a Christian, 1957

...the infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
"Introduction: On the Value of Scepticism"
Sceptical Essays, 1928

Why shouldn't they be unhappy? Perhaps it's what they're here for. How do you know that the earth isn't some other planet's hell.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
Point Counter Point, 1928
page 222

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
The Screwtape Letters, 1941
Letter XII

That's what hell will be like, small chat to the babbling of Lethe about the good old days when we wished we were dead.

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Embers, 1959

Well, it extends into the afterlife, as far as I am concerned. I mean the fact that everything I see has significance for me is an indication to me of a much larger perspective not afforded of this life.

I feel that this life is sort of a penal colony, people have goofed or we wouldn't be here.

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)
Interview by Eldon Garnet
Impulse, Volume 15, Number 4, March 1990


[see also: PAST]

In fact, nothing is said that has not been said before.

Terence (c.185-159 BC)
Ennuchus, line 41

And tomorrow will be like today, only more so.

Bible, Isaiah 56:12

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.

Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9

Omnia quae nunc vetustissima creduntur, nova fuere; et quod hodie exemplis tuemur, inter exempla erit.
(All those things which are now held to be of the greatest antiquity, were at one time new; and what we today hold up by example, will rank hereafter as precedent.)

Cornelius Tacitus (c.56-c.120)
Annals, Book 11, Number 24

It is well to know something of the manners of various peoples, in order more sanely to judge our own, and that we do not think that everything against our modes is ridiculous, and against reason, as those who have seen nothing are accustomed to think.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Le Discours de la Methode, 1637, I, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776-1788
Volume I, Chapter 3

Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history. But what experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone.

Georg Hegel (1770-1831)
Philosophy of History
Volume 10, Introduction, 1832

Those who compare the age in which their lot has fallen with a golden age which exists only in imagination, may talk of degeneracy and decay; but no man who is correctly informed as to the past will be disposed to take a morose or desponding view of the present.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)
History of England, 1849-1861
Volume I, Chapter 1

I have no expectation that any man will read history aright who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose names have resounded far, has any deeper sense than what he is doing today.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Essays: First Series, 1841

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgets to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, 1852
Part 1

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness.... Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it.

George Santayana (1863-1952)
"Reason in Common Sense"
The Life of Reason, 1905-1906
Volume 1, Chapter 12

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

H.G. Wells (1866-1946)
The Outline of History, 1920
Chapter 41

...we are at times too ready to believe that the present is the only possible state of things.

Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
The Guermantes Way, 1925
Chapter 2 "A Visit From Albertine"

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.

Harry S Truman (1884-1972)
Mr. President, 1952
by William Hillman
Part 2, Chapter 1

Nothing worth doing is ever completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
The Irony of American History, 1952

If the day should ever come when we [the Nazis] must go, if some day we are compelled to leave the scene of history, we will slam the door so hard that the universe will shake and mankind will stand back in stupefaction.

Joseph Paul Goebbels (1897-1945)
Das Reich newspaper
Quoted in "The Jew of Europe. II. Seven Ways to Help Them Now"
by Philip S. Bernstein
The Nation, 09 January 1943
Volume 156, Number 2

But is power a means or an end, Mr. W.? Many consider it a means with which to serve society, or a part of society. But you talk of it as an end in itself, as the polician's only goal. Is money a means or an end? Many consider it a means, but for the miser it is an end. Even the means of production, as the expression itself indicates, should only be a means, though in fact it exercises a tyrannical domination over society. In other words, Mr. W., the relations between ends and means are less simple than you think. After all, they themselves change, and there is no greater condemnation of our civilization than the fact that it results in means becoming ends, while the true end, which is man himself, has become a means -- no doubt a more expensive one than a dog, but cheaper than a cow or a machine-gun. Speaking generally, one may say that every means tends to become an end. To understand the tragedy of human history it is necessary to grasp that fact. Machines, which ought to be man's instrument, enslave him, the state enslaves society, the bureaucracy enslaves the state, the church enslaves religion, parliament enslaves democracy, institutions enslave justice, academies enslave art, the army enslaves the nation, the party enslaves the cause, the dictatorship of the proletariat enslaves Socialism. The choice and the control of the instruments of political action are thus at least as important as the choice of the ends themselves, and as time goes on the instruments must be expected to become an end for those who use them. Hence the saying that the end justifies the means is not only immoral; it is stupid. An inhuman means remains inhuman even if it is employed for the purpose of assuring human felicity. A lie is always a lie, murder is always murder. A lie always ends by enslaving those who use it, just as violence always enslaves those who use it as well as their victims. What is the story of Fascism but that of an instrument that becomes an end in itself and imposed itself upon those who wanted to use it?

Ignazio Silone (1900-1978)
The School for Dictators, 1938
Dialogue XI
Translated by Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher

As of a certain age it would be nice to grow smaller again from year to year and go backwards over the same steps that we once so proudly climbed. The ranks and honors of old age would still have to be the same as today; so that very small people, the size of six- or eight-year-old boys, would be considered the wisest and most experienced. The oldest kings would be the shortest; there would only be very tiny popes; the bishops would look down on cardinals, the cardinals on the pope. No child could wish to become something great. History, because of its age, would lose significance; we would feel as if the events of three hundred years ago had taken place among insect-like creatures, and the past would have the good fortune to be overlooked.

Elias Canetti (1905-1994)
The Human Province, 1978
Translated by Joachim Neugroschel

In the age when life on earth was full, no one paid any special attention to worthy men, nor did they single out the man of ability. Rulers were simply the highest branches on the tree, and the people were like deer in the woods. They were honest and righteous without realizing that they were "doing their duty." They loved each other and did not know that this was "love of neighbor." They deceived no one yet they did not know that they were "men to be trusted." They were reliable and did not know that this was "good faith." They live freely together giving and taking, and did not know that they were generous. For this reason their deeds have not been narrated. They made no history.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
The Way of Chuang Tzu, 1965
"When Life Was Full There Was No History"

An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted....

Arthur Miller (1915-2005)
"The Year it Came Apart"
New York magazine
30 December 1974/06 January 1975

The final lesson of Viet Nam is that no great nation can long afford to be sundered by a memory.

George Bush (b.1924)
Inaugural Address
20 January 1989

Try to keep things in perspective. Fifty years from now, kids in history classes will be yawning over what panics us today.

Robert "Bob" Orben (b.1927)
Current Comedy

They say there is nothing new under any sun. But if each life is not new, each single life, then why are we born?

Ursula K. LeGuin (b.1929)
The Dispossessed, 1974

Life cannot be destroyed for good, neither...can history be brought entirely to a halt. A secret streamlet trickles on beneath the heavy lid of inertia and pseudo-events, slowly and inconspicuously undercutting it. It may be a long process, but one day it must happen: the lid will no longer hold and will start to crack. This is the moment when something once more begins visibly to happen, something truly new and unique...something truly historical, in the sense that history again demands to be heard.

Vaclav Havel (b.1936)
"Letter to Dr. Gustav Husak"
08 April 1975
Living in Truth, 1986, Part 1

Does history repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce? No, that's too grand, too considered a process. History just burps, and we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago.

Julian Barnes (b.1946)
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, 1990

I was born in 1964; I grew up watching Captain Kangaroo, moon landings, zillions of TV ads, the Banana Splits, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I was born with words in my mouth -- "Band-Aid," "Q-tip," "Xerox" -- object-names as fixed and eternal in my logosphere as "taxicab" and "toothbrush". The world is a home littered with pop-culture products and their emblems. I also came of age swamped by parodies that stood for originals yet mysterious to me -- I knew Monkees before Beatles, Belmondo before Bogart, and "remember" the movie Summer of '42 from a Mad magazine satire, though I've still never seen the film itself. I'm not alone in having been born backward into an incoherent realm of texts, products, and images, the commercial and cultural environment with which we've both supplemented and blotted out our natural world. I can no more claim it as "mine" than the sidewalks and forests of the world, yet I do dwell in it, and for me to stand a chance as either artist or citizen, I'd probably better be permitted to name it.

Jonathan Lethem (b.1964)
"The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism"
Harpers, February 2007

I am trying to bear in mind the words of Marcus Aurelius, who reminded us that, by the time we're forty, we've pretty much seen everything that's ever happened or is ever going to happen, so a.) please stop pretending to be shocked or outraged by anything when the world produces its usual happenings and b.) quit imagining that there would be any advantage to living another thousand years instead of one more day. Of course, if he had lived another two thousand years he would have seen some unprecedented and qualitative changes in human technology and society...but I have my doubts as to whether anything he would've seen of human behavior in all those centuries would have given him occasion for surprise, or cause to reconsider his philosophy. Now that the Russians are invading adjacent nations and the rest of the world community is dithering in helpless indignation, I'm starting to get that feeling you get when you've arrived at the movie late so you stay to see the beginning of the next showing and you're coming back round to the part that starts to look familiar: like, okay, well, this is where I came in.

Tim Kreider (b.1967)
The Pain -- When Will It End?
Artist's Statement
27 August 2008


Truly, to tell lies is not honorable;
But when the truth entails tremendous ruin,
To speak dishonorably is pardonable.

Sophocles (c.495-406 BC)
Creusa, fragment 323

Honesty is generally less profitable than dishonesty.

Plato (c.428-348 BC)

The rulers of the State are the only ones who should have the privilege of lying, whether at home or abroad; they may be allowed to lie for the good of the State.

Plato (c.428-348 BC)

Pain forces even the innocent to lie.

Publilius Syrus (1st century BC)
Sententiae, Number 171

It is annoying to be honest to no purpose.

Ovid (43 BC-AD 18)
Ex Ponto, II, iii, 14

He who conceals a useful truth is equally guilty with the propagator of an injurious falsehood.

Saint Augustine (340-430)

Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Hamlet, 1600-1601
Act I, scene iii, line 65

A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.

William Shenstone (1714-1763)
"Of Men and Manners"
Essays on Men and Manners, 1868

The more honesty a man has the less he affects the air of a saint -- the affectation of sanctity is a blotch on the face of piety.

Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801)
Aphorisms on Man, 1789
Number 190

A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.

William Blake (1757-1827)
"Auguries of Innocence", line 53
Poems from the Pickering Manuscript, c.1805

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Marmion, 1808
Canto VI, Introduction, stanza 17

Honesty is the best policy; but he who is governed by that maxim is not an honest man.

Richard Whately (1787-1863)
Apophthegms, 1854

A commercial, and in some respects a social, doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether or not it is right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that the discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by showing others how to be dishonest. This is a fallacy. Rogues are very keen in their profession, and already know much more than we can teach them respecting their several kinds of roguery. Rogues knew a good deal about lockpicking long before locksmiths discussed it among themselves, as they have lately done. If a lock -- let it have been made in whatever country, or by whatever maker -- is not so inviolable as it has hitherto been deemed to be, surely it is in the interest of honest persons to know this fact, because the dishonest are tolerably certain to be the first to apply the knowledge practically; and the spread of knowledge is necessary to give fair play to those who might suffer by ignorance. It cannot be too earnestly urged, that an acquaintance with real facts will, in the end, be better for all parties.

Charles Tomlinson (1808-1897)
"Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Locks", 1853

Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, 1858
Chapter 6

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
The Brothers Karamazov, 1880
Part I, Book II "An Unfortunate Gathering"
Chapter II "The Old Buffoon"
Translated by Constance Garnett, 1912

Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
Paraphrase of previous quotation?

Young as he was, his instinct told him that the best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
The Way of All Flesh, 1903
Chapter 39

That is English as she is wrote at the Colonial Office. Eleven syllables, many of them of Latin or Greek derivation, when one good English word, a Saxon word of a single syllable, would do! But it is quite sufficient.

Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914)
23 February 1906
Former colonial secretary, of Churchillís speech

"Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe you - that is what has distressed me-."

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Part 4 "Maxims and Interludes", Number 183
Beyond Good and Evil, 1885-1886
Translated by R.J. Hollingdale, 1972

The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1890
Chapter 4

A labour contract into which men enter voluntarily for a limited and for a brief period, under which they are paid wages which they consider adequate, under which they are not bought or sold, and under which they can obtain relief, may not be a desirable contract, may not be a healthy or proper contract, but it cannot in the opinion of His Majestyís Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without some risk of terminological inexactitude.

Winston Churchill (1874Ė1965)
Speech to the House of Commons on the position of indented Chinese
laborers working in the Rand mines in the Transvaal, South Africa
22 February 1906

Hitler had said that if you tell a big enough lie, people will believe it, but he rather overlooked the fact that once the lie is exposed, everything else you've said is also disbelieved.

Paul Brickhill (1916-1991)
The Great Escape, 1950
Chapter 5

When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty.

Stirling Silliphant (1918-1996)
"The Lineup", 1958
Directed by Don Siegel (1912-1991)

You don't tell deliberate lies, but sometimes you have to be evasive.

Margaret Thatcher (b.1925), 1976

Take, for example, the act of lying. We hold the telling of truth as a value; we are not supposed to lie. Yet if everyone told the truth all the time so that one could have complete trust in what one is told, then the advantage that would accrue to a single liar in society would be immense. This is not a stable social situation. On the other hand, in a society of individuals in which everyone lied all the time, society would be unworkable. The equilibrium state seems to be one in which people tell the truth most of the time but occasionally lie, which is how the world really seems to be. In a sense, then, it is the liars among (and within) us that keep us both honest and on our guard. This kind of scientific analysis of lying can help us understand why we do it.

Heinz Rudolph Pagels (1939-1988)
The Dreams of Reason:
The Computer and the Rise of the Sciences of Complexity
, 1988
page 330

To live outside the law you must be honest.

Bob Dylan (b.1941)
"Absolutely Sweet Marie"
Blonde on Blonde, 1966

We lie to you by not telling you things. We don't lie by telling you things that aren't true.

U.S. official
Washington Post
11 January 1991

And it does matter. An honest man or woman is an honest man or woman more because he or she is honest in the small, everyday things that "don't matter" individually, but which make up a well-lived life, than because of some single great temptation that was passed. A person who is concerned about individual rights or about individual dignity makes his or her difference not because of any sweeping great statement or action, but because of the accretion of small, individually seemingly insignificant acts that spread that dignity and confirm those rights through every action they take. It matters because every action you take, and every action I take is an expression of the human spirit.

William Oliver
Internet newsgroups misc.misc, news.admin, news.groups
15 January 1990


Hope is a waking dream.

Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Book V, section 18
Diogenes Laertius (fl. 2nd century)

While there's life, there's hope.

Terence (c.185-159 BC)
Heauton Timoroumenos, line 981
(The Self-Tormentor)

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate.
(All hope abandon, ye who enter here.)

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
The Divine Comedy, c.1310-14
"The Inferno", canto III, line 9

Without hope we live in desire.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
The Divine Comedy, 1310-14
"The Inferno", Canto IV, line 42

For where no hope is left, is left no fear.

John Milton (1608-1674)
Paradise Regained, 1671
Book 3, line 206

[God's] promises are as cork to the net, to bear up the heart from sinking in the deep waters of distress. [...] Faith keeps the heart from sinking in despair, fear keeps it from floating in presumption.

Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686)
A Divine Cordial, 1663

The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
The Rambler, Number 2
London, 24 March 1750

...all human wisdom is contained in the words "Wait and hope!"

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)
The Count of Monte Cristo, 1844-45
Chapter LXXI "The Fifth of October"

The setting of a great hope is like the setting of the sun. The brightness of our life is gone. Shadows of evening fall around us, and the world seems but a dim reflection, -- itself a broader shadow. We look forward into the coming lonely night. The soul withdraws into itself. Then stars arise, and the night is holy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Hyperion: A Romance, 1839
Book I, Chapter I "The Hero"

He who has never hoped can never despair.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Caesar and Cleopatra, 1898
Act IV

"We are nihilistic thoughts that come into Godís head." I quoted in support the doctrine of the Gnostics concerning the Demiurge, the evil creator of the world, the doctrine of the world as a sin of God's. "No." said Kafka. "I believe we are not such a radical relapse of God's, only one of his bad moods. He had a bad day." "So there would be hope outside our world?" He smiled. Plenty of hope -- for God -- no end of hope -- only not for us."

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
In coversation with Max Brod, 28 February 1920
Franz Kafka: A Biography, 1960
Chapter II "The University"
by Max Brod (1884-1968)
Translated by G. Humphreus Roberts

It is amazing how the strictures of the old teleologies infect our observation, causal thinking warped by hope. It was said earlier that hope is a diagnostic human trait, and this simple cortex symptom seems to be a prime factor in our inspection of our universe. For hope implies a change from a present bad condition to a future better one. The slave hopes for freedom, the weary man for rest, the hungry for food. And the feeders of hope, economic and religious, have from these simple strivings of dissatisfaction managed to create a world picture which is very hard to escape. Man grows toward perfection; animals grow toward man; bad grows toward good; and down toward up, until our little mechanism, hope, achieved in ourselves probably to cushion the shock of thought, manages to warp our whole world. Probably when our species developed the trick of memory and with it the counterbalancing projection called "the future", this shock-absorber, hope, had to be included in the series, else the species would have destroyed itself in despair.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
and Edward Flanders Ricketts (1897-1948)
The Log from the Sea of Cortez, 1951
Chapter 10 "March 18"

Hope is the leash of submission.

Raoul Vaneigem (b.1934)
The Revolution of Everyday Life, 1967
Chapter 6 "Decompression and the Third Force"
Translated by John Fullerton and Paul Sieveking


[see also: MANKIND]

Unfortunately, human beings do not lend themselves to savage treatment, when one is writing about them. I do not say that they are all lovable, but most of them are quite likeable if you do not see too much of them. They are so good-natured, so obliging, and, in nine cases out of ten, they work so very hard for so small a return. Precipitated, without being consulted so far as one knows, on to an exceedingly dangerous and unsteady planet, they find themselves almost as soon as they have left school confronted with problems that are as far beyond their powers of solution as the squaring of the circle. They do not know why they are here or where they will be next. They do not know whether they are at the beginnig of things or at the end of things -- whether the world in which they and their children are passengers is on the road to ruin or is rapidly approaching the delightful gates of Paradise. They have no security of health or life or money. To-morrow is an unknown country, and all that they know is that, if they live they will visit it, and that after that they will never visit it again. They practise a heroic make-believe that all is well and even that all is permanently well, and the head of a great business or a host at a dinner-party behaves as though he were an immortal. Time stands still in presence of his happiness and success; and death, if it is mentioned, is only a theme for a jest -- a fabulous hypothesis.

Robert Lynd (1879-1949)
The Peal of Bells, 1924
Chapter XIV "On Being Cruel"

But I have to say this in defense of humankind: In no matter what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got here. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these games going on that could make you act crazy, even if you weren't crazy to begin with. Some of the crazymaking games going on today are love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf, and girls' basketball.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
A Man Without a Country, 2005
Chapter 2 "Do you know what a twerp is?"

I cannot claim that I speak for any organization, nor do I wish to. I do not "belong" to any organization, and I have put no institution in charge of my opinions. However, I do belong in the fullest sense of the word to a large group that is having a vast and ever-increasing effect on the world. It is known as the human race. I am aware that as a member of that group I am in the worst possible company: communists, fascists and totalitarians of all sorts, militarists and tyrants, exploiters, vandals, gluttons, ignoramuses, murderers, thieves, and liars, men for whose birth the creation is worse off and for whose lives other men will still be suffering a hundred years from now. The price of admission to this group is great, and until death not fully known. The cost of getting out is extreme. I find, therefore, no reasonable alternative to membership. But since I am a member on such exacting terms, I will not allow my involvement with this group to remain accidental, but will give my whole allegiance to it and work for its betterment.

Wendell Berry (b.1934)
"A Statement Against the War in Vietnam"
Speech delivered to the Kentucky Conference on the War and the Draft
University of Kentucky, 10 February 1968
The Long-Legged House, 1969


[see also: MANKIND]

...why is it that one can look at a lion or a planet or an owl or at someone's finger as long as one pleases, but looking into the eyes of another person is, if prolonged past a second, a perilous affair?

Walker Percy (1916-1990)
Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, 2000
Section 1

The line between good and evil, hope and despair, does not divide the world between "us" and "them." It runs down the middle of every one of us.

Robert Fulghum (b.1937)
It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It, 1990

...Cool is the way of describing from certain exterior viewpoints what registers as loneliness from the inside.

Ann Marlowe (b.1958?)
How to Stop Time: Heroin From A to Z, 1999


[see also: VANITY]

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

Bible, Numbers 12:3

They are proud in humility; proud in that they are not proud.

Robert Burton (1577-1640)
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621-1651
Part I, section 2, member 3, subsec.14

There is nothing you can say in answer to a compliment. I have been complimented myself a great many times, and they always embarrass me - I always feel that they have not said enough.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"Fulton Day, Jamestown" speech
23 September 1907

Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
"The Hammer of God"
The Innocence of Father Brown, 1911

Humility does not thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom of thinking of yourself one way or the other at all.

William Temple (1881-1944)
"Christ in his Church. A charge delivered", 1925

In the matter of humility she feared competition with none.

Francois Mauriac (1885-1970)
Woman of the Pharisees, 1946
Chapter 12

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
"East Coker", 1940, Part I
Four Quartets, 1942


[see also: JOKES, PUNS, WIT]

He deserves paradise who makes his companions laugh.

Koran (c.610-632)

If all else fails, the character of a man can be recognized by nothing so surely as by a jest which he takes badly.

G.C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799)
"Notebook K", Aphorism 46
Aphorisms, 1765-1799

Never say a humorous thing to a man who does not possess humour. He will always use it in evidence against you.

Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1853-1917)
Beerbohm-Tree, 1956
Chapter 12
by Hesketh Pearson

Laughter has no greater foe than emotion.... To produce the whole of its effect, then, the comic demands something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart.

Henri Bergson (1859-1941)
Laughter; an essay on the meaning of the comic, 1900
Chapter 1

Once you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

...we are always secretly ashamed of laughter. We enjoy it somewhat slyly and cautiously, as we enjoy the vices which make life one grand, sweet song. It rather astonishes us to find that it is not forbidden by any of the Commandments. We have even carried this notion so far as that we refuse to grant the Creator of the universe the one quality that would explain four-fifths of its mysteries -- to wit, the quality of humor. Proceeding from the sound premise that the fall of a sparrow is noted in Heaven, we reach the ridiculously unwarranted conclusion that the fall of a Sunday-school superintendent causes a painful and prolonged sensation there. Nothing, I believe, could be more unlikely. On the contrary, it seems to me that the angels must be as much amused by such a public collapse of a fraud as we are ourselves, if not actually more so. If they have a keener sense of pity than we have, why shouldn't they have at least as keen a sense of humor? If they feel substantially as we do in one direction, why shouldn't they feel as we do in another direction?

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Written as William Fink
"Thoughts on Mortality"
The Smart Set: A Magazine of Cleverness, November 1914

I cannot say that I don't disagree with you.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969)
Attributed by John Kriegsman, Dirksen confidant

A signature always reveals a man's character -- and sometimes his name.

Evan Esar (1899-1995)
The Comic Encyclopedia: A Library of the Literature and History
of Humor Containing Thousands of Gags, Sayings, and Stories
, 1978
Cacography, Number 4

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 (1907-1973)
"Notes on the Comic"
The Dyer's Hand, 1962
Part 7

If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: PRESIDENT CAN'T SWIM.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973)

They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. They're not laughing now.

Bob Monkhouse (1928-2003)
"Star profile: Bob Monkhouse"
[Glasgow] Evening Times
17 September 2001

When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they're not laughing now, are they?

Bob Monkhouse (1928-2003)
"Obituary: Bob Monkhouse"
BBC News
29 December 2003

I'd call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.

Woody Allen (b.1935)
What's Up, Tiger Lily?, 1966

...[C]ommon sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humour are without judgment and should be trusted with nothing.

Clive James (b.1939)
"Exploring the medium", 04 February 1979
The Crystal Bucket: Television Criticism from the Observer, 1976-79, 1981
page 168

Scariest sentence in the English language: "We'll be in the air momentarily".

Pieter Hazewindus (b.1963)
Posted to soc.motss
28 May 1992

It's a control freak thing. I wouldn't let you understand.

Stephen Hale Underwood (b.1970) post
26 August 1993

I think all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired.

Monty Python
"Right Thinking People"
The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief
(Charisma CAS 1080, 1973)

An Academic speculated whether a bather is beautiful if there is none in the forest to admire her. He hid in the bushes to find out, which vitiated his premise but made him happy. Moral: Empiricism is more fun than speculation.

Sam Weber

See the happy moron,
He doesn't give a damn.
I wish I were a moron,
My God! Perhaps I am!

Eugenics Review
July 1929, 86/2

I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not, and I'm sick and tired of being told that I am.

Monty Python

Mr. Spock succumbs to a powerful mating urge and nearly kills Captain Kirk.

TV Guide describing the Star Trek episode "Amok Time"

Entropy isn't what it used to be.


Illiterate? Write for help!


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.


Non sequiturs make me eat lampshades.



Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.

La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)
Sentences and Moral Maxims, 1678
Maxim 218
Translated from 1678 and 1827 editions by
J.W. Willis Bund and J. Hain Friswell, 1871

No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
19 June 1784
Life of Johnson, 1791
by James Boswell (1740-1795)

Men in war-time become saints of prejudice and heroes of hypocrisy; and so it is in times of revolution.

Max Eastman (1883-1969)
Part I "Art and the Life of Action"
Chapter X "The Artist and the Social Engineer"
Art and the Life of Action: with other essays, 1934

The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)
On Revolution, 1963
Chapter 2 "The Social Question"

Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritcal. He pretends to be polite and then, eventually, he becomes polite.

Jean Kerr (b.1923)
Finishing Touches, 1973
Act 1

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