WIST is my personal and ever-growing collection of quotations. Please feel free to browse and borrow. More info and contact information is available under "About WIST."
Quotes13197 quotes and counting ...
As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.
“Why ideas no longer matter,” The Guardian (22 Mar 2004)
Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world.
The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.
“Ack!” I said. Fearless master of the witty dialogue, that’s me.
When a man feels that he cannot leave his work, it is a sure sign of an impending collapse. … When men are so tired, they cannot be trusted in their business judgment and cannot properly tend to their affairs.
Letter to Alfred Brandeis (8 Mar 1897)
The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.
In The Congressional Register (8 Jun 1789)
Motion made by Madison which became the "freedom of religion" clause in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it naturally happens.
The worst things:
To try to sleep and sleep not.
To wait for one who comes not.
To try to please and please not.
The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use — of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.
Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.
But, yes, people have asked why I don’t put people into my pictures of the natural scene. I respond, “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” That usually doesn’t go over at all.
Interview with David Sheff, Playboy (1 May 1983)
To make another person hold his tongue, be you first silent.
[Alium silere quod voles, primus sile.]
Phaedra [Hippolytus], l. 867 (c. AD 50)
Sometimes given as "Alium silere quod valeas, primus sile." Alt. trans.: "Where thou wouldst have another silence keep, keep silence first thyself." [tr. F Miller (1907)]
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
A politician, for example, is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation.
“Wanted, a Statesman!”, Old and New Magazine (Dec 1870)
Often paraphrased: "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation."
My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers.
It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly.
Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less chary of the latter than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never.
If you don’t say anything you won’t be asked to repeat yourself.
Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself. Basically, it’s made up of two separate words — “mank” and “ind.” What do these words mean? It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind.
As nothing is more provoking to some tempers than raillery, a prudent person will not always be satirically witty where he can, but only where he may without offence. For he will consider the that the finest stroke of raillery is but a witticism; and that there is hardly any person so mean, whose good will is not preferable to the pleasure of a horse-laugh.
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.
Comment to author, David Pryce-Jones, Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir (1983)
Sometimes I wrestle with my inner demons. Sometimes we just cuddle.Sig Lines
We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
Just deeds are the best answer to injurious words.
Teenagers can be idiotic and stupid, but teenagers also model their behavior from the signals they get from adults.
Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.
“How the Church will change,” interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica (1 Oct 2013) [tr. K. Wallace]
I believe that the gods themselves are frightened of the world which they have fashioned.
We take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something.
PURITANISM: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
See, that’s the tragedy of the human condition. No one wants to be corrupted by power when they set out to get it. They have good, even noble reasons for doing whatever it is they do. They don’t want to misuse it, they don’t want to abuse it, and they don’t want to become vicious monsters. Good people, decent people, set out to take the high road, to pick up power without letting it change them or push them away from their ideals. But it keeps happening anyway.
A free press stands as one of the great interpreters between the government and the people. To allow it to be fettered is to fetter ourselves.
The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Carve not upon a stone when I am dead,
The praises which remorseful mourners give
To women’s graves — a tardy recompense,
But speak them while I live.
The free way of life proposes ends, but it does not prescribe means.
Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.
The only thing I really can’t tolerate is intolerance. I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending — if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism. Mutual respect and tolerance is great, but it doesn’t work without the mutuality.
“Multiculturalism or Liberalism?” Charlie’s Blog (30 May 2002)
It’s hard for a fellow to keep a chip on his shoulder if you allow him to take a bow.
Whatever may be the success of my stories, I shall be resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation.
Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.
Making Light, “Commonplaces”
Since we cannot hope for order let us withdraw with style from the chaos.
The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.
You will usually find that the enemy has three courses open to him, and of these he will adopt the fourth.
I will begin to speak, when I have that to say which had not better be unsaid.
If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let ‘em go, because man, they’re gone.
Be sure of the fact before you lose time in searching for a cause.
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
1 Kings 19:11-12 (KJV)
- "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (NIV)
- "Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence." (NRSV)
And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
Declaration of Independence (1776)
Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.
She was temptable — which, if you believe in an all-powerful God, means God intentionally put temptation into Eve. Which seems like a dirty trick, if you ask me.
Faith is not fearful of reason; on the contrary, it seeks and trusts reason, since “the light of reason and the light of faith both come from God” and cannot contradict each other.
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 203 (24 Nov 2013)
Quoted section is Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles, I, 7.
“There are no atheists in foxholes” isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.
Towing Jehovah, Part 2, “Famine” (1994)
Paraphrase of this passage: "'There are no atheists in foxholes, people say, and it's so true, it's so fucking true.' Cassie swallowed, savoring the aftertaste of the Cheerios. 'No ... no, I'm being too hard on myself. That maxim, it's not an argument against atheism -- it's an argument against foxholes.'"
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
- "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (NIV)
- For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (NRSV)
- For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. (GNT)
Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power. Consequently those who live under the dominion of Puritanism become exceedingly desirous of power.