The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

bible
The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 26:41
    (Source)
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Do not imagine you can exorcise what oppresses you in life by giving vent to it in art.

Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Letter to Louise Colet (25 Nov 1853)
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Mankind are apt to be strongly prejudiced in favor of whatever is countenanced by antiquity, enforced by authority, and recommended by custom. The pleasure of acquiescing in the decision of others is by most men so preferred to the toil and hazard of inquiry, and so few are either able or disposed to examine for themselves, that the voice of law will generally be taken for the dictates of justice.

Robert Hall
Robert Hall (1764-1831) English Baptist minister
“Fragment on Village Preaching,” sec. 2
    (Source)
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No one is an unjust villain in his own mind. Even — perhaps even especially — those who are the worst of us. Some of the cruelest tyrants in history were motivated by noble ideals, or made choices that they would call “hard but necessary steps” for the good of their nation. We’re all the hero of our own story.

jim_butcher
Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Turn Coat (2009)
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The original writer is not he who refrains from imitating others, but he who can be imitated by none.

[L’écrivain original n’est pas celui qui n’imite personne, mais celui que personne ne peut imiter.]

Francois Chateaubriand
François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
The Genius of Christianity [Le génie du Christianisme], Part 2, Book 1, ch. 3 (1802)
    (Source)

Alternate translations:
  • "The original style is not the style which never borrows of any one, but that which no other person is capable of reproducing." [tr. White (1856)]
  • "An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate."
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Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.

Ben Franklin
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Alamanack (Apr 1758)
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A long apology is a hideous thing.

Samuel_Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Letter to Dr. Charles Burney (18 Mar 1782)
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Art is a jealous mistress, and, if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.

Ralph_Waldo_Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
The Conduct of Life, “Wealth” (1860)
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Undoubtedly the highest function of statesmanship is by degrees to accommodate the conduct of communities to ethical laws, and to subordinate the conflicting self-interests of the day to higher and more permanent concerns.

James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“Abraham Lincoln” (1864)
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To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged.

Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer (1923-2007) American novelist, journalist, playwright, activist
(Attributed)
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Think before thou speakest.

Miguel Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish novelist
Don Quixote, 1.4.3 (1615) [tr. Motteux and Ozell (1743)]
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What the object of senile avarice may be I cannot conceive. For can there be anything more absurd than to seek more journey money, the less there remains of the journey?

Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“On Old Age” [tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]
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I believe in an America where the rights that I have described are enjoyed by all, regardless of their race or their creed or their national origin — where every citizen is free to think and speak as he pleases and write and worship as he pleases — and where every citizen is free to vote as he pleases, without instructions from anyone, his employer, the union leader or his clergyman.

John Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Philadelphia (31 Oct 1960)
    (Source)
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For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture.

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury (b. 1920) American writer, futurist, fabulist
Fahrenheit 451, “Coda” Afterword (1979 ed.)
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Statistics are like alienists — they will testify for either side.

Fiorello LaGuardia
Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1947) American lawyer, politician, Mayor of New York (1934-45).
“The Banking Investigations,” Liberty (13 May 1933)

("Alienists" means psychiatrists.)
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Better shun the bait, than struggle in the snare.

John Dryden
John Dryden (1631-1700) English poet, dramatist, critic
Epistle 13 “To My Honored Kinsman, John Dryden of Chesterton”
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Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
The Demon-Haunted World, ch. 2 (1995)
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I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances.

Confucius
Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
(Attributed)

In The Best of Confucius [tr. James R. Ware (1950)].
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Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.

Samuel_Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (28 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Administrivia: WIST Goes Facebook!

I’m not a Facebook kind of guy, but a huge number of folks in the world are. So WIST now has a feed into Facebook. Just like the Twitter feed, this will give a platform-limited view of all the quotes I post on any given day, with a link to bring you to the original WIST post (which will include all the cool stuff like the full quotation, supplemental info, and author biography / picture).

So, if you think it would be convenient for you to follow WIST via Facebook, then Like us and Follow us and all that good FBish stuff, and tell your friends! Enjoy!


Added on 17-Apr-14; last updated 17-Apr-14
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As you receive the stranger, so you receive your God.

Johann Kaspar Lavater
Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) Swiss poet, theologian, physiognomist.
Aphorisms on Man, #340 (1788)

See Numbers 13:2.
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No one was ever ruined by taking a profit.

~generic
Other Authors and Sources
American proverb (Wall Street)
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Reading Lenin or Mao or Stalin, one is struck by the emphasis on the relationship between political, military, psychological, and economic factors … and on the need for dominating a situation by flexible tactics and inflexible purpose.

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
“Reflections on American Diplomacy” (5), Foreign Affairs (Oct 1956)
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October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are: July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.

Mark Twain
Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 13, epigraph (1894)
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Take a drink because you pity yourself, and then the drink pities you and has a drink, and then two good drinks get together and that calls for drinks all around. No; he’d have one drink, maybe a little bigger than usual, before he went to bed.

H Beam Piper
H. Beam Piper (1904-1964) American author
Little Fuzzy (1962)
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Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle (b. 1958) Irish novelist, dramatist, screenwriter
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
    (Source)
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Those who enslave other peoples enslave themselves.

Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) English philosopher, naturalist
Letter to Sir Robert Giffin (17 May 1901)
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Yet many men, being slaves to appetite and sleep, have passed through life untaught and untrained, like mere wayfarers. In these men we see, contrary to Nature’s intent, the body a source of pleasure, the soul a burden.

[Sed multi mortales dediti ventri atque somno, indocti incultique vitam sicuti peregrinantes transiere.]

Sallust
Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Catiline’s War [Bellum Catilinae], pt. 2 (42 BC) [tr. Loeb (1921)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Yet many human beings, resigned to sensuality and indolence, un-instructed and unimproved, have passed through life like travelers in a strange country."
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I had first noticed her in the lobby of the Churchill, because she rated a glance as a matter of principle — the principle that a man owes it to his eyes to let them rest on attractive objects when there are any around.

Rex Stout2
Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
“Frame-Up for Murder,” ch. 1 [Archie] (1958)
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Unless someone like you
Cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.

Theodor Geisel
Dr. Seuss (1904-1991) American author, illustrator [pseud. of Theodor Geisel]
The Lorax (1971)
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It is an advantage to all narrow wisdom and narrow morals that their maxims have a plausible air; and, on a cursory view, appear equal to first principles. They are light and portable. They are as current as copper coin; and about as valuable. They serve equally the first capacities and the lowest; and they are, at least, as useful to the worst men as to the best. Of this stamp is the cant of not man, but measures; a sort of charm by which many people get loose from every honourable engagement.

Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” (1770)
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Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

winston churchill
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Speech, House of Commons (11 Nov 1947)
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Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — and in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways in which life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid, or evil, or it’s all been done before? Make good art.

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Commencement address, University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2012)
    (Source)
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“Are you lost, daddy?” I asked tenderly.
“Shut up,” he explained.

Ring Lardner
Ring Lardner (1885-1933) American sports columnist and writer [Ringgold Wilmer Lardner]
The Young Immigrants, ch. 10 (1920)
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Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind. They believe in the future as if it were a religion; they believe that there is nothing they cannot accomplish, that solutions wait somewhere for all problems, like brides.

Frances FitzGerald
Frances FitzGerald (b. 1940) American journalist and author
Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (1972)
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Physical courage is never in short supply in a fighting army. Moral courage sometimes is.

Matthew Ridgway
Matthew Ridgway (1895-1993) American general
The Korean War (1967)
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I had become a new person; and those who knew the old person laughed at me. The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.

George Bernard Shaw 2
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, ch. 1 (1903)
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In familiar surroundings our manners are cheerful and easy, but only transport us to places where we know no one and no one knows us, and Lord! how uncomfortable we become!

Susanna Clarke
Susanna Clarke (b. 1949) British author
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004)
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It is no good reason for a man’s religion that he was born and brought up in it; for then a Turk would have as much reason to be a Turk as a Christian to be a Christian.

William Chillingworth
William Chillingworth (1602-1644) English churchman and theologian
Religion of Protestants, ch. 2, sec. 113 (1687)
    (Source)
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CLAUDIUS: When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 4, sc. 5, l. 78 (1600)
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Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find critics subversive.

Commager in the 1940s
Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
Freedom and Order (1966)
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Regardless of what I think about Islam or Wicca or any other religion, the fact is that it’s a group of people. Every faith has its ceremonies. And since it’s made up of people, every faith also has its assholes.

jim_butcher
Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
White Night (2008)
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Every institution goes through three stages — utility, privilege, and abuse.

Francois Chateaubriand
François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
(Attributed)
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Any fool can paint a picture but it takes a wise man to be able to sell it.

Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1883-1887)
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There comes a moment in everybody’s life when he must decide whether he’ll live among human beings or not — a fool among fools or a fool alone.

Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) American novelist and playwright
The Matchmaker, 4 (1954)
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If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him.

francis bacon
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, author, politician [1st Baron Verulam and Viscount St Albans]
(Attributed)

Attributed to Bacon in Alexander Anderson, Laconics: or Instructive Miscellanies, (1827). Attributed to French moralist Pierre Charron (1541-1603) in John Timbs, Laconics: Or, The Best Words of the Best Authors (1829). See also French saying.
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If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad — if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

John Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Accepting the New York Liberal Party nomination (14 Sep 1960)
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If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury (b. 1920) American writer, futurist, fabulist
Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
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Destiny doesn’t always come when it’s convenient or when you think it should. It comes when you’re ready, whether you know it or not.

Kelly Thompson
Kelly Thompson (contemp.) American writer
The Girl Who Would Be King (2012)
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How often could things be remedied by a word. How often is it left unspoken.

Norman Douglas
Norman Douglas (1868-1952) Austro-British writer
An Almanac (1945)
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You are certainly right in insisting on the strong metaphysical needs of mankind; but religion appears to me to be not so much a satisfaction as an abuse of those needs. At any rate we have seen that in regard to the furtherance of morality, its utility is, for the most part, problematical, its disadvantages, and especially the atrocities which have followed in its train, are patent to the light of day.

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Religion and Other Essays: A Dialogue,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
    (Source)
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Behavior which appears superficially correct, but is intrinsically corrupt, always irritates those who see below the surface.

James Bryant Conant
James Bryant Conant (1893-1978) American chemist, academic, diplomat
Baccalaureate Address, Harvard University (1934)
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Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel_Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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In America, it is sport that is the opiate of the masses.

Russell Baker
Russell Baker (b. 1925) American journalist, author, humorist
“The Muscular Opiate,” New York Times (3 Oct 1967)
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And yet there is a degree to which [...] all literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction. [...] Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving — amateurs — we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers — should we be lucky enough to find any — some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff we love: to get in the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.

Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon (b. 1963) American author
“Fan Fictions: On Sherlock Holmes,” Maps and Legends (2008)
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