Charles Daney's Quotation Collection

What's here

I've tried to make some sense out of this collection with a few categories. However, the categories blend and flow into one another - it may be as useful to browse freely as to focus on only selected topics.

For a really good time with some of this stuff, imagine it as conversation at a slightly demented cocktail party, where some of the guests are perhaps a little tipsy (or, if you prefer, a pot party where some have had a brownie or two too many).

If you find something here interesting or useful, you might also have a look at my home page. Part of this site deals with photography, where you will find more quotes.

Philosophy Thought, language Problem solving and creativity
Science Psychology Art and literature
Nature Clothing and the lack thereof Freedom
Values Visualize whirled peas  


Of course, you may want to keep in mind these meta-quotes:

In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak: but for that one must have long legs. Aphorisms should be peaks.
Friedrich Nietzsche

There are two kinds of truth, small truth and great truth. You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth.
Niels Bohr

All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Philosophy

Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.
Heraclitus

The way up and the way down are one and the same.
Heraclitus

From out of all the many particulars comes oneness, and out of oneness come all the many particulars.
Heraclitus

A dry soul is wisest and best.
Heraclitus

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Albert Einstein

Modern man lives increasingly in the future and neglects the present.
Loren Eiseley, The Chresmologue

The future is neither ahead nor behind, on one side or another. Nor is it dark or light. It is contained within ourselves; its evil and good are perpetually within us.
Loren Eiseley, The Chresmologue

Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakeable Chuang Chou. But he didn't know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou.
Chaung Tzu

I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.
William Shakespeare

... We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
Ray Bradbury, "G.B.S. - Mark V"

Mind is locked in matter like the spirit Ariel in a cloven pine. Like Ariel, men struggle to escape the drag of the matter they inhabit, yet it is the spirit that they fear.
Loren Eiseley, Strangeness in the Proportion

A moment's halt - a momentary taste
Of being from the well amid the waste -
And lo - the phantom caravan has reached
The nothing it set out from - oh, make haste!
Omar Khayyam/Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubaiyat

Yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists

Around existence twine,
(Oh, bridge that hangs across the gorge!)
ropes of twisted vine.
Basho

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
William Blake

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
Theodore Roethke

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.
Alan Watts

I see my life go drifting like a river
From change to change; I have been many things -
A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
Upon a sword, a fir tree on a hill,
An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
A king sitting upon a chair of gold -
And all these things were wonderful and great;
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all.
Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
Lay hidden in that small slate-coloured thing!
William Butler Yeats, "Fergus and the Druid"

There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be.
John Fowles, The Magus

You think that way as you begin to get grayer and you see pretty plainly that the game is not going to end as you planned.
Loren Eiseley, Obituary of a Bone Hunter

The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.
John Fowles, The Magus

Content is a word unknown to life; it is also a word unknown to man.
Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One lives but once in the world.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, after Hippocrates

Time does not relinquish its rights, either over human beings or over mountains.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Man errs as long as he strives.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

I love those who yearn for the impossible.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
Robert Frost

We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course, there is then no question left, and just this is the answer. The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of this problem.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

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, Four Quartets

If you stop searching, you stop living, because then you're dwelling in the past. If you're not reaching forward to any growth or future, you might as well be dead.
Wynn Bullock

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.
Doris Lessing, The Four-Gated City


Thought, language

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

In order to draw a limit to thinking, we should have to think both sides of this limit.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
J. B. S. Haldane, Possible Worlds and Other Papers

We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way - an agreement that holds through our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language.
Benjamin Lee Whorf

The belief that words have a meaning of their own account is a relic of primitive word magic, and it is still a part of the air we breathe in nearly every discussion.
Charles K. Ogden, The Meaning of Meaning

Even the most scientific investigator in science, the most thoroughgoing Positivist, cannot dispense with fiction; he must at least make use of categories, and they are already fictions, analogical fictions, or labels, which give us the same pleasure as children receive when they are told the "name" of a thing.
Havelock Ellis

It is by discourse that men associate; and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar. And therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obsesses the understanding. Nor do the definitions or explanations, wherewith in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right. But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into innumerable and inane controversies and fancies.
Francis Bacon

But the idols of the Market Place are the most troublesome of all: idols which have crept into the understanding through their alliances with words and names. For men believe that their reason governs words. But words turn and twist the understanding. This it is that has rendered philosophy and the sciences inactive. Words are mostly cut to the common fashion and draw the distinctions which are most obvious to the common understanding. Whenever an understanding of greater acuteness or more diligent observation would alter those lines to suit the true distinctions of nature, words complain.
Francis Bacon

Intelligence is that faculty of mind, by which order is preceived in a situation previously considered disordered.
Haneef A. Fatmi

To understand is to perceive patterns.
Isaiah Berlin, Historical Inevitability

He who can properly define and divide is to be considered a god.
Plato

The simplicities of natural laws arise through the complexities of the language we use for their expression.
Eugene Wigner

It is the theory that decides what can be observed.
Albert Einstein

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Robertson Davies

People only see what they are prepared to see.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-up


Problem solving and creativity

Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Albert Einstein

It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.
William of Occam

Seek simplicity, and distrust it.
Alfred North Whitehead

The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
Bertrand Russell

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
Poul Anderson

In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

To get anywhere, or even to live a long time, a man has to guess, and guess right, over and over again, without enough data for a logical answer.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
Agnes de Mille

He that leaveth nothing to chance will do few things ill, but he will do very few things.
George Savile

One never goes so far as when one doesn't know where one is going.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One does not discover new continents without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Andre Gide

A man must have a certain amount of intelligent ignorance to get anywhere.
Charles Kettering

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
Thomas Edison

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
Albert Einstein

Belief gets in the way of learning.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

It is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so.
Josh Billings

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory; nothing can come of nothing.
Joshua Reynolds

The greatest poets are those with memories so great that they extend beyond their strongest experiences to their minutest observations of people and things far outside their own self-centeredness.
Stephen Spender

We can invent only with memory.
Alphonse Karr

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana

It seems safe to say that significant discovery, really creative thinking, does not occur with regard to problems about which the thinker is lukewarm.
Mary Henle

The true genius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction.
Samuel Johnson

Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Simone Weil

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
Abraham Maslow

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
Charles Dickens

If the individual is narrowly concentrated on the goal, to the exclusion of other relevant aspects of the problem situation, he is often unable to achieve a solution. The creative thinker must stand sufficiently detached from his work.
Mary Henle

The creator is both detached and committed, free and yet ensnared, concerned but not too much so. ... If motivation is too strong the person is blinded; if the objective situation is too tightly structured, the person sees none of its alternative possiblities.
Robert Macleod

The freedom to create is somehow linked with facility of access to those obscure regions below the conscious mind.
Loren Eiseley, The Mind as Nature

When you come right down to it, all you have is your self. Your self is a sun with a thousand rays in your belly. The rest is nothing.
Pablo Picasso

Some degree of withdrawal serves to nurture man's creative powers. The artist and the scientist bring out of the dark void, like the mysterious universe itself, the unique, the strange, the unexpected. Numerous observers have testified upon the lonliness of the process.
Loren Eiseley, The Mind as Nature

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
Albert Einstein

The first step is always to succeed in becoming surprised - to notice that there is something funny going on.
David Gelernter, The Muse in the Machine

A prudent question is one half of wisdom.
Francis Bacon

The "silly question" is the first intimation of some totally new development.
Alfred North Whitehead

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.
George Bernard Shaw

The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
Heraclitus

The obvious is always least understood.
Clemens Wenzel Lothar Metternich-Winneburg

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out, and difficult.
Heraclitus

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Albert Einstein

You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah

Life is not so bad if you have plenty of luck, a good physique and not too much imagination.
Christopher Isherwood

I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks. All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive.
Abraham Maslow, Eupsychian Management

There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.
Charles P. Steinmetz

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.
Edwin Land

Give me the fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself.
Vilfredo Pareto

Mistakes are at the very base of human thought, embedded there, feeding the structure like root nodules. If we were not provided with the knack for being wrong, we could never get anything useful done. We think our way along by choosing between right and wrong alternatives, and the wrong choices have to be made as often as the right ones. We get along in life this way.
Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail

Humans hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn - when they do, which isn't often - on their own, the hard way.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.
Igor Stravinsky

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Oscar Wilde

Some things cannot be spoken or discovered until we have been stuck, incapacitated, or blown off course for awhile. Plain sailing is pleasant, buy you are not going to explore many unknown realms that way.
David Whyte

Truth comes out of error more readily than out of confusion.
Francis Bacon

There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Skill is knowing how to do something; wisdom is knowing when and why to do it, or to refrain from doing it.
Scott Sanders, "The Most Human Art"


Science

I believe with Schopenhauer that one of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escpe from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness from the fetters of one's own everyday desires.... A finely tempered nature longs to escape from personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.
Albert Einstein

The scientist finds his reward in what Henri Poincare calls the joy of comprehension, and not in the possibility of application to which any discovery may lead.
Albert Einstein

To be sure, it is not the fruits of scientific research that elevate a man and enrich his nature, but the urge to understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive.
Albert Einstein

The whole of science is nothing more than the refinement of thinking.
Albert Einstein

One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have.
Albert Einstein

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
Albert Einstein

Some people seek meaning in life through personal gain, through personal relationships, or through personal experience. However, it seems to me that being blessed with the intellect to divine the ultimate secrets of nature gives meaning enough to life.
Michio Kaku, Hyperspace

My parents were not scientists. They knew almost nothing about science. But in introducing me simultaneously to skepticism and to wonder, they taught me the two uneasily cohabiting modes of thought that are central to the scientific method.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
Bertrand Russell, Skeptical_Essays

I hold that popularization of science is successful if, at first, it does no more than spark the sense of wonder.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World


Psychology

He who knows others is learned.
He who knows himself is wise.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan:
The proper study of mankind is man.
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Only the shallow know themselves.
Oscar Wilde, Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young

The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception
Friedrich Nietzsche

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The coward regards himself as cautious, the miser as thrifty.
Publilius Syrus

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see ourseles as others see us!
Robert Burns, "To a Louse"

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.
Demosthenes

Nature never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile

Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
Montaigne, "To The Reader"

If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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, Hamlet

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
H. P. Lovecraft

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavour after a worthy manner of life.
Bertrand Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

We invent what we love, and what we fear.
John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

He that feareth is a slave, were he never so rich, were he never so powerful. But he that is without fear is king of all the world.
E. R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros

You are like a porcupine. When the animal has its spines erect, it cannot eat. If you do not eat, you will starve. And your prickles will die with the rest of your body.
John Fowles, The Magus

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?
Theodore Roethke, "In a Dark Time"

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?
Ursula K. LeGuin

Reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays.
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

How small of all that human hearts endure
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!
Still to ourselves in every place ensigned
Our own felicity we make or find.
Samuel Johnson

The Ideal is in thyself, the impediments too is in thyself.
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven.
William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world's torrent.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.
John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

No matter where or what, there are makers, takers, and fakers.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

We must overact our part in some measure, in order to produce any effect at all.
William Hazlitt, "On Cant and Hypocrisy"

In civilized life, where the happiness, and indeed almost the existence, of man depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow men, he is constantly acting a studied part.
Washington Irving

Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Everybody has his own theater, in which he is manager, actor, prompter, playwrite, sceneshifter, boxkeeper, doorkeeper, all in one, and audience into the bargain.
Julius C. Hare, Augustus W. Hare, Guesses at Truth

Resolve to be thyself: and know that he
Who finds himself loses his misery.
Matthew Arnold, "Self Dependence"

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.
Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin

Choices, more choices than we like afterward to believe, are made far backward in the innocence of childhood.
Loren Eiseley, The Places Below

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
H.L. Mencken


Art and literature

Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.
Marcel Proust, Maxims

Art doesn't want to be familiar. It wants to astonish us. Or, in some cases, to enrage us. It wants to move us. To touch us. Not accommodate us, make us comfortable.
Jamake Highwater, The Language of Vision

Art is meant to disturb.
Georges Braque, Illustrated Notebooks

There are two kinds of taste, the taste for emotions of surprise and the taste for emotions of recognition.
Henry James, Partial Portraits

Art is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary.
Paul Gaugin

The great artist, whether he be musician, painter, or poet, is known for this absolute unexpectedness.
Loren Eiseley, Strangeness in the Proportion

With the pride of an artist, you must blow against the walls of every power that exists, the small trumpet of your defiance.
Norman Mailer

All art is a revolt against man's fate.
Andre Malraux, Voices of Silence

As an artist grows older, he has to fight disillusionment and learn to establish the same relation to nature as an adult as he had when a child.
Charles Burchfield

Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way all over again.
Eudora Welty

Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once he grows up.
Pablo Picasso

Life is serious, but art is fun.
John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

It is not in life but in art that self-fulfillment is to be found.
George Woodcock

It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious. Prostitutes know this too.
John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

The difference between the artist and the non-artist is that the artist never stops playing.
Alex Mozart

An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it.
Paul Valery

Sanity (in the everyday sense of the word) is not an essential quality of great art.
Gerald Abraham

In a dark time, the eye begins to see.
Theodore Roethke, "In a Dark Time"

What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Reminiscences

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
Francis Bacon

The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable.
H. L. Mencken, Prejudices, First Series

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

We live in a rainbow of chaos.
Paul Cezanne

Still, there is a calm, pure harmony, and music inside of me.
Vincent van Gogh

Every production must resemble its author.
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster's autobiography.
Federico Fellini

Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self. Jean-Luc Godard, Les Amis du Cinema

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

The object of art is to give life a shape.
Jean Anouilh, The Rehearsal

No great genius is without an admixture of madness.
Aristotle

The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person.
Frank Barron

A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.
Nikos Kazantzakis

All poets are mad.
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.
Pablo Picasso

Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.
Paul Klee, Creative Credo

The painter should not paint what he sees, but what will be seen.
Paul Valery, Mauvaises pensees et autres

Art-speech is the only truth. An artist is usually a damned liar, but his art, if it be art, will tell you the truth of his day.
D. H. Lawrence

Of all lies, art is the least untrue.
Gustave Flaubert

Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.
Pablo Picasso

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."
The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."
Wallace Stevens, "The Man with the Blue Guitar"

... denn da ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du musst dein Leben andern.
(... for there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.)
Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo"

In art, there are tears that do lie too deep for thought.
Louis Kronenberger

So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost

Art is the only thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting.
Elizabeth Bowen

See, when I paint, it is an experience that, at its best, is transcending reality. When it is working, you completely go into another place, you're tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That's what it's all about.
Keith Haring

It is my misfortune - and probably my delight - to use things as my passions tell me. What a miserable fate for a painter who adores blondes to have to stop himself putting them into a picture because they don't go with the basket of fruit! ... I put all the things I like into my pictures. The things - so much the worse for them. They just have to put up with it.
Pablo Picasso

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
Francis Bacon

Art is the objectification of feeling and the subjectification of nature.
Suzanne Langer, Mind

The act of painting is not a duplication of experience but the extension of experience on the plane of formal invention.
Stuart Davis

Art distills sensation and embodies it with enhanced meaning.
Jacques Barzun

Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling.
Susanne Langer, Feeling and Form

Art happens - no hovel is safe from it, no prince may depend upon it, the vastest intelligence cannot bring it about.
James Whistler, Ten O'Clock Lecture

A successful work of art is not one which resolves contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.
Theodore Adorno

Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.
Heraclitus

Two seemingly incompatible conceptions can each represent the truth. ... They may serve in turn to represent the facts without ever entering into direct conflict.
Louis de Broglie

All nature is but art unknown to thee,
All chance direction which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood.
Alexander Pope, Essay on Man

The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
Heraclitus

The notes I handle no better than many pianists, But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides!
Arthur Schnabel

It's not what you see that is art. Art is the gap.
Marcel Duchamp

Clay is moulded to make a vessel, but the utility of the vessel lies in the space where there is nothing. ... Thus, taking advantage of what is, we recognize the utility of what is not.
Lao Tze

Less is more.
Robert Browning, "Andrea del Sarto"

'Tis the gift to be simple.
Shaker hymn

Less disappointing than life, great works of art do not begin by giving us all their best.
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove

The cheap, no matter how charming, how immediate, does not wear so well. It has a way of telling its story the first time through.
William Littler

Artists are the antennae of the race, but the bullet-headed many will never learn to trust the great artists.
Ezra Pound

Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.
Marshall McLuhan

Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs.
Edgard Varese

Art has no other object than to set aside the symbols of practical utility, the generalities that are conventionally and socially accepted, everything in fact which masks reality from us, in order to set us face to face with reality itself.
Henri Bergson

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Pablo Picasso


Nature

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
William Butler Yeats, "The Stolen Child"

The great mountains of the world are a great remedy if men but did know it against our modern discontent and ambitions. In the hills is wisdom's fount. They are deep in time.
E. R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros

The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, and of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains.
John Muir

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
John Muir

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
John Muir

In wildness is the preservation of the World.
Henry David Thoreau, Walking

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
John Muir

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
John Muir

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
John Muir

Man is dragged hither and thither, at one moment by the blind instincts of the forest, at the next by the strange intuitions of a higher self whose rationale he doubts and does not understand.
Loren Eiseley, Strangeness in the Proportion

Most people are on the world, not in it. - have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them - undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.
John Muir

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.
John Muir

One impluse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
William Wordsworth, The Tables Turned

Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.
Juvenal, Satires

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say.
Wynn Bullock

The birds I heard today, which, fortunately, did not come within the scope of my science, sang as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation.
Henry David Thoreau

Dear friend, all theory is gray,
And green the golden tree of life.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains.
Walt Whitman

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venemous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It

The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in fairy books, "charm", "spell", "enchantment". They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery.
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

The ground we walk on, the plants and creatures, the clouds above constantly dissolving into new formations - each gift of nature possessing its own radiant energy, bound together by cosmic harmony.
Ruth Bernhard

I totally disagree with the belief that nature was only made for the use of people. Human beings are not the center of the universe, and, if they are to sustain themselves, it is vitally important for them to be awakened to how closely they are linked with the rest of nature.
Wynn Bullock

Nature is not human-hearted.
Lao Tzu

As well expect Nature to answer to your human values as to come into your house and sit in a chair.
Henry Beston, The Outermost House

To demand 'sense' is the hallmark of nonsense. Nature does not make sense. Nothing makes sense.
Ayn Rand

Two lights for guidance. The first, our little glowing atom of community, with all that it signifies. The second, the cold light of the stars, symbol of the hypercosmical reality, with its crystal ecstasy. Strange that in this light, in which even the dearest love is frostily asserted, and even the possible defeat of our half-waking world is contemplated without remission of praise, the human crisis does not lose but gains significance. Strange, that it seems more, not less, urgent to play some part in this struggle, this brief effort of animacules striving to win for their race some increase of lucidity before the ultimate darkness.
Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.
John Muir

A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.
Lord Dunsany, The Laughter of the Gods

The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.
Pascal, Pensees

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.
H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.
Aldous Huxley

The universe is not hostile, nor yet is it friendly. It is simply indifferent.
John Hughes Holmes

And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help - for It
As impotently rolls as you or I.
Omar Khayyam/Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubaiyat

Because a star explodes and a thousand worlds like ours die, we know this world is. That is the smile: that what might not be, is.
John Fowles, The Magus

A smile appears on the faces of most archaic figures, a happiness of expression seeming to transcend that of human beings.
Francis Henry Taylor

Man inhabits a realm half in and half out of nature, his mind reaching forever beyond the tool, the uniformity, the law, into some realm which is that of the mind alone.
Loren Eiseley, Strangeness in the Proportion

This song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all.... On a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over rimrocks, sit quietly and listen ... and think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand. Then you may hear it - a vast pulsing harmony - its score inscribed on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.
Aldo Leopold

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
William Butler Yeats, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"


Clothing and the lack thereof

What is outside yourself does not convey much worth; Clothes do not make the man, the saddle not the horse.
Angelius Silesius

Now, since everything else is furnished with the exact amount of needle and thread required to maintain its being, it is in truth incredible that we alone should be brought into the world in a defective and indigent state, in a state such that we cannot maintain ourselves without external aid.
Montaigne, "On the custom of wearing clothes"

Our skin is provided as adequately as theirs with endurance against the assaults of the weather: witness so many nations who have not yet tried the use of any clothes. Our ancient Gauls wore hardly any clothes; nor do the Irish, our neighbors, under so cold a sky.
Montaigne, "Apology for Raymond Sebonde"

For all parts of the body that we see fit to expose to the wind and air are found fit to endure it: face, feet, hands, legs, shoulders, head, according as custom invites us. For if there is a part of us that is tender and that seems as though it should fear the cold, it should be the stomach, where digestion takes place; our fathers left it uncovered, and our ladies, soft and delicate as they are, sometimes go half bare down to the navel.
Montaigne, "Apology for Raymond Sebonde"

Man is the sole animal whose nudities offend his own companions, and the only one who, in his natural actions, withdraws and hides himself from his own kind.
Montaigne, "Apology for Raymond Sebonde"

Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity - these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing. They are not ashamed.
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
(In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or woman's, well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of shame.)
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I suppose we acquire most of our feelings about our bodies too early, and in ways too complicated, to make them easy to account for.
Charis Wilson

Adam and Eve entered the world naked and unashamed - naked and pure-minded. And no descendant of theirs has ever entered it otherwise. All have entered it naked, unashamed, and clean in mind. They entered it modest. They had to acquire immodesty in the soiled mind, there was no other way to get it. ... The convention mis-called "modesty" has no standard, and cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and reason and is therefore an artificiality and subject to anyone's whim - anyone's diseased caprice.
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes. One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens. The zoologist now has to start making comparisons. Where else is nudity at a premium.
Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape

It is so basic. A human being is an innocent part of nature. Our civilization has distorted this universal quality that allows us to feel at home in our skin. Other animals have coats that they accept, but the human race has yet to come to terms with being nude.
Ruth Bernhard

How idiotic civilization is! Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case like a rare, rare fiddle?
Katherine Mansfield

Whatever the reasons, I enjoyed being nude; it felt natural to me. I got the same kind of pleasure from being free of clothing that many people get from being well dressed.
Charis Wilson

Under the continual contact with the pebbles my feet have become hardened and used to the ground. My body, almost constantly nude, no longer suffers from the sun. Civilization is falling from me little by little. I am beginning to think simply, to feel only very little hatred for my neighbor - rather, to love him.
Paul Gauguin, Noa, Noa: The Tahitian Journal

This was life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization held nothing like this in its narrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in by restrictions and conventionalities. Even clothes were a hindrance and a nuisance. At last he was free. He had not realized what a prisoner he had been.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

For a time Jack was angry; but when he had been without the jacket for a short while he began to realize that being half-clothed is infinitely more uncomfortable than being entirely naked. Soon he did not miss his clothing in the least, and from that he came to revel in the freedom of his unhampered state.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Son of Tarzan

By now I was utterly deprogrammed. I walked along naked usually, clothes being not only putrid but unnecessary. My skin had been baked a deep terra-cotta brown and was the constituency of harness leather. The sun no longer penetrated it. I retained my hat.
Robyn Davidson, Tracks

The best dress for walking is nakedness. But our sad though fascinating world rarely offers the right and necessary combinations of weather and privacy, and even when it does the Utopia never seems to last very long.
Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker III

Now, nakedness is a delightful condition. And it keeps you very pleasantly cool - especially, I suppose, if you happen to be a man. But as I walked on eastward that afternoon through my private, segregated, Tonto world (exercising due care at first for previously protected sectors of my anatomy) I found I had gained more than coolness. I felt a quite unexpected freedom from restraint. And after a while I found that I had moved on to a new kind of simplicity. A simplicity that had a fitting, Adam-like, in-the-beginning earliness about it.
Colin Fletcher, The Man Who Walked Through Time

By walking naked you gain far more than coolness. You feel an unexpected sense of freedom from restraint. An uplifting and almost delirious sense of simplicity. In this new simplicity you soon find that you have become, in a new and surer sense, and integral part of the simple, complex world you are walking through. And then you are really walking.
Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker III

Freed from the pressure of haste, the tyranny of film, and now the restraint of clothes, I found myself looking more closely at what went on around me.
Colin Fletcher, The Man Who Walked Through Time

At pains to define liberty, that most resolute of indefinables, our minds fall back on spatial images; on birds, sailboats, and mountains; the untethered balloon, the blue sky, the nude figure.
Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

With a little inner pirouette of excitement I realised just how much there was to look forward to tomorrow. The thought of being all day naked in the sun was delicious enough in itself, but there was the whole of our new world to explore.
Lucy Irvine, Castaway

In the first weeks I had occasionally worn clothes in the morning before the sun began its ascent, but very soon I abandoned this habit, and the only bit of material I ever wore was the strip of sari cloth around my hips, which was so useful for making into a bag to collect coconuts on walks.
Lucy Irvine, Castaway

Last night I had rinsed out my sari strip and briefs in the sea. I walked down naked to where they hung in the branches of the silvery leafed tree beside the creek. Underneath the lazy sensuality of a luxurious stretch from toes to nose I felt the strong unequivocal demand of my blood. I hugged myself for a moment watching the grey light yield to dawn through half-closed eyes.
Lucy Irvine, Castaway

She lives a sophisticate's life among worldly people. At the slightest excuse she steps out of civilization, naked and relieved, as I should step out of a soiled chemise.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek

Bare skin is the one and only right criterion for receiving water's gracious acceptance or any acceptance whatsoever from that element. But Pliny also seems to say something more: Stripping off not caution but the stale, crusty garments of preconception, peeling sensibly down to raw, new nakedness, is the only way to enter and be properly embraced by the world.
Janet Lembke, Skinny Dipping

Human beings to me are as much a part of nature as trees or birds, and the unclothed body expresses this belongingness directly and powerfully.
Wynn Bullock

I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked.
Walt Whitman

Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me... Nature was naked, and I was also... Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! - ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness the indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Perhaps indeed he or she to whom the free exhilarating extasy of nakedness in Nature has never been eligible (and how many thousands there are!) has not really known what purity is--nor what faith or art or health really is.
Walt Whitman, A Sun-bathed Nakedness

The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one's flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure glow not explainable.
John Muir

Every day I am aware of the flow and constant change; perhaps I am at the edge of discovering what more our bodies might be able to teach about the spirit of life. At least, I am always exploring and trying to understand our relationship to the whole universe.
Ruth Bernhard

The waves most washed me off the raft sometimes, but I hadn't any clothes on, and didn't mind.
Mark Twain, Huckelberry Finn

The convention missionaries call "modesty" has no standard, and cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and reason and is therefore an artificiality and subject to anybody's whim - anybody's diseased caprice.
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

The human body represents to me the same universal innocence, timelessness and purity of all seed pods, suggesting the mother as well as the child, the parental as well as the descendant, conceived according to nature's longings.
Ruth Bernhard

If anything is sacred the human body is sacred.
Walt Whitman, "I Sing The Body Electric"

To see you naked is to recall the Earth.
Federico Garcia Lorca

Significance is inherent in the human body.
Julia Kristeva

The body says what words cannot.
Martha Graham

Truth is, most of us contain a splashing, giggling, squealing child who knows without thinking that bare skin and water go together as wings go with air, roots with earth, and the phoenix with incendiary sun. And innocence belongs to us as it did to ancient Greek athletes, who never wore clothes for their footraces or boxing matches but rather oiled themselves until their nude bodies glistened in the sunlight.
Janet Lembke, Skinny Dipping

Full nakedness! All joyes are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be
To taste whole joyes.
John Donne, "Elegie XIX"

What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed?
Michelangelo

The noblest art is the nude. This truth is recognized by all, and followed by painters, sculptors and poets. Only the dancer has forgotten it, who should remember it, as the instrument of [the dance] art is the human body itself.
Isadora Duncan

'Tis well - but, Artists! who can paint or write,
To draw the naked is your true delight:
That robe of quality so struts and swells,
None see what parts of nature it conceals.
Th' exactest traits of body or of mind,
We owe to models of an humble kind.
Alexander Pope, "Epistle to a Lady"

The painter is not an intellectual if, when he has painted a nude woman, he gives us the idea that she is just about to put her clothes back on.
Odilon Redon

The Princess Borghese, Bonaparte's sister, who was no saint, sat to Canova as a reclining Venus, and being asked if she did not feel a little uncomfortable, replied, "No. There was a fire in the room."
William Hazlitt, Conversations of James Northcote Esq.R.A.

Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful. And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy, you may find in them a harness and a chain. Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your body and less of your raiment.
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Beauty is not diminished by being shared.
Robert Heinlein, Job, A Comedy of Justice

In nakedness I behold the majesty of the essential instead of the trappings of pretension.
Horatio Greenough

Men are even lazier than they are timorous, and what they fear most is the troubles with which any unconditional honesty and nudity would burden them.
Friedrich Nietzsche

To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude. (The sight of it as an object stimulates the use of it as an object.) Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. To be naked is to be without disguises.
John Berger, Ways of Seeing

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.
Robert Graves, The Naked and the Nude


Values

I value kindness to human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and old men and women warmer in the winter, and happier in the summer.
Brendan Behan

She answered, "Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man, they alotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping. As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man."
The Epic of Gilgamesh

If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you were bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, but satisfied to live now according to nature, speaking heroic truth in every word which you utter, you will live happy. And there is no man able to prevent this.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


Freedom

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
George Bernard Shaw

To be free one needs constant and unrelenting vigilance over one's weaknesses. A vigilance which requires a moral energy most of us are incapable of manufacturing. We relax back into the moulds of habit. They are secure, they bind us and keep us contained at the expense of freedom. To break the moulds, to be heedless of the seductions of security is an impossible struggle, but one of the few that count. To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble.
Robyn Davidson, Tracks

Intellect annuls fate. So far as a man thinks, he is free.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Men believe themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.
Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Rudyard Kipling

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
E. E. Cummings

Most people want security in this world, not liberty.
H. L. Mencken


Visualize whirled peas

Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain.
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.
Benjamin Franklin

At the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing, with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for second and third place.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate government action.
Bertrand Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

The highest virtue is always against the law.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals

That which has been believed by everyone, always and everywhere, has every chance of being false.
Paul Valéry

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical_Essays"

We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove. We have two opinions: one private, which we are afraid to express; and another one - the one we use - which we force ourselves to wear to please Mrs. Grundy, until habit makes us comfortable in it, and the custom of defending it presently makes us love it, adore it, and forget how pitifully we came by it. Look at it in politics.
Mark Twain, Mark Twain in Eruption

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.
H. L. Mencken

Man no longer dreams over a book in which a soft voice, a constant companion, observes, exhorts, or sighs with him through the pangs of youth and age. Today he is more likely to sit before a screen and dream the mass dream which comes from outside.
Loren Eiseley, Strangeness in the Proportion

Madness is rare in individuals--but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?
Mark Twain, Huckelberry Finn

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that the cat has only nine lives.
Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson

All that I care to know is that a man is a human being - that is enough for me; he can't be any worse.
Mark Twain

Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
Mark Twain, Puddn'head Wilson

Although it is a gloomy view to suppose that life will die out, sometimes when I contemplate the things that people do with their lives I think it is almost a consolation.
Bertrand Russell

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Bertrand Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
James Harvey Robinson, The Mind in the Making

What men really want is not knowledge but certainty.
Bertrand Russell

Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons - that's philosophy.
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.
Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man. If he is more than a popular story-teller it may take humanity a generation to absorb and grow accustomed to the new geography with which the scientist or artist presents us. Even then, perhaps only the more imaginative and literate may accept him. Subconsciously the genius is feared as an image breaker; frequently he does not accept the opinions of the mass, or man's opinion of himself.
Loren Eiseley, The Mind as Nature

Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.
Bertrand Russell

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thoughts in clear form.
Albert Einstein

Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish. Euripides

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
Winston Churchill

Like the herd animals we are, we sniff warily at the strange one among us.
Loren Eiseley, The Mind as Nature

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Nothing is as terrible to see as ignorance in action.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is the business of small minds to shrink.
Carl Sandburg

I am going to explain to you why we went to war. Why mankind always goes to war. It is not social or political. It is not countries that go to war, but men. It is like salt. Once one has been to war, one has salt for the rest of one's life.
John Fowles, The Magus

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: 'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair.' In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.
Bertrand Russell, Education and the Social Order

All perfect republics are perfect nonsense. The craving to risk death is our last great perversion. We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?
John Fowles, The Magus

It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won't go.
Bertrand Russell

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

No one would talk much in society, if he knew how often he misunderstands others.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.
Eric Hoffer

Conceit causes more conversation than wit.
LaRouchefoucauld

There is much that is appropriate and correct in the writings of these philosophers. Their remarks, when they denounce other philosophers are appropriate and correct. But when it comes to their own contributions, they are usually not so.
Ludwig Boltzman


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