If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire must be not to write.

Hugh Prather (1938-2010) American minister, writer, counselor
Notes to Myself (1970)
    (Source)
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Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He’s immaculately tax free

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” Joni Mitchell (1985)
    (Source)
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You ask me why I have no verses sent?
For fear you should return the compliment.

[Cur non mitto meos tibi, Pontiliane, libellos?
Ne mihi tu mittas, Pontiliane, tuos.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 3 [tr. Hay (1755)]
    (Source)

(Souce (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Why I send thee, Pontilian, not one of my writings?
It is lest thou, too gen'rous, return thine enditings.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.10]

Why, sir, I don't my verses send you,
Pray, would you have the reason known?
The reason is -- for fear, my friend, you
Should send me, in return, your own.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Why do I not send you my books, Pontilianus? Lest you should send me yours, Pontilianus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Why do I not send you my works, Pontilianus? That you, Pontilianus, may not send yours to me.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You ask me why my books were never sent?
For fear you might return the compliment.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Pontilianus asks why I omit
To send him all the poetry that is mine;
The reason is that in return for it,
Pontilianus, thou might'st send me thine.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You ask me why I send you not my book?
For fear you'll say, "Here's my work -- take a look."
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Why send I not to thee these books of mine?
'Cause I, Pontilian, would be free from thine.
[tr. Wright]

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The great thing about civility is that it does not require you to agree with or approve of anything. You don’t even have to love your neighbor to be civil. You just have to treat your neighbor the same way you would like your neighbor to treat your grandmother, or your child.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
(Attributed)
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No man knows his true character until he has run out of gas, purchased something on the installment plan, and raised an adolescent.

Marcelene Cox (contemp.) American writer
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal
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Debt is the sort of Bedfellow who is forever pulling all the Covers his way.

Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Don’ts for Bachelors and Old Maids (1908)
    (Source)
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When vision fails
Direction is lost.

When direction is lost
Purpose may be forgotten.

When purpose is forgotten
Emotion rules alone.

When emotion rules alone,
Destruction … destruction.

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) American writer
Parable of the Talents, ch. 13, epigram (1998)
    (Source)
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[Fascism] imagines the masses not as a pluralistic citizenry but as a primal horde whose power can be awakened by playing upon atavistic feelings of hatred and belonging. Its chosen leader must exhibit strength: his refusal to compromise and readiness to attack are seen as signs of tough-mindedness, while any concern for constitutionality or the rule of law are disdained as signs of weakness. The most powerful myth, however, is that of the embattled collective. Critics are branded as traitors, while those who do not fit the criteria for inclusion are vilified as outsiders, terrorists, and criminals.

Peter E Gordon
Peter E, Gordon (b. 1966) American intellectual historian
“Why Historical Analogy Matters,” New York Review of Books (7 Jan 2020)
    (Source)
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The worst thing about war was the sitting around and wondering what you were doing morally.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
Times of London (28 Nov 1991)
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Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Spurious)

Sometimes quoted without the initial "Those".

The citationless attribution of this quip to Asimov cannot be traced back further than 2001, several years after his death. The earliest version found is a filler item in The Saturday Evening Post (6 May 1961), attributed to humor columnist Harold Coffin: "The fellow who thinks he knows it all is especially annoying to those of us who do."

More discussion here: The Fellow Who Thinks He Knows It All Is Especially Annoying To Those of Us Who Do – Quote Investigator.
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It is never until one realizes that one means something to others that one feels there is any point or purpose in one’s own existence.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Beware of Pity (1939)
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A tradition has now for long been established that cooking and cleaning are woman’s work. As these occupations are among the most tiresome which humanity has to endure, this tradition is very unfortunate for women. But there it is; and the problem is how to get what is needful done as rapidly as possible, so that one can go and do something else, more lucrative, interesting, or amusing.

The general rule is that there must be something to eat at stated intervals, and the house or the flat must be about as clean as the houses and flats of one’s acquaintances. It sounds simple, but actually to secure both these results will often be found to take the entire time. All the time that there is. And that is so tragically little. None left over for reading, writing, walking, sitting in woods, playing games, making love, merely existing without effort. And ever at your back you hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near…and so the grave yawns, and at the end you will be able to say, not “I have warmed both hands before the fire of life,” but “I have kept house.”

The only solution of this problem which I can suggest — and I almost hesitate to do in these pages — is, Do not keep house. Let the house, or flat, go unkept. Let it go to the devil, and see what happens when it has gone there. At the worst, a house unkempt cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.

Rose Macaulay
Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) English writer
“Some Problems of a Woman’s Life,” Good Housekeeping (Aug 1923)
    (Source)
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All other knowledge is hurtful to him who has not the science of goodness.

[Toute autre science, est dommageable à celuy qui n’a la science de la bonté.]

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 1, ch. 24 “Of Pedantry” (1580) [tr. Cotton (1686), rev Hazlitt (1877)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

  • "Each other science is prejudciall unto him that hath not the science of goodnesse." [tr. Florio (1603)]
  • "All other knowledge is detrimental to him who has not the science of becoming a good man." [tr. Friswell (1868)]
  • "All other learning is hurtful to him who has not the knowledge of honesty and goodness." [tr. Rector (1899)]
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It seems to me that if there is some infinite being who wants us to think alike, he would have made us alike.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
    (Source)
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But the great hero himself tossed and turned.
It was like a man roasting a paunch
Stuffed with fat and blood over a fire.
He can’t wait for it to be done
And so keeps turning it over and over.

[ἀτὰρ αὐτὸς ἑλίσσετο ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα.
ὡς δ᾽ ὅτε γαστέρ᾽ ἀνὴρ πολέος πυρὸς αἰθομένοιο,
ἐμπλείην κνίσης τε καὶ αἵματος, ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα
αἰόλλῃ, μάλα δ᾽ ὦκα λιλαίεται ὀπτηθῆναι,
ὣς ἄρ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα ἑλίσσετο]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 20, l. 24ff (c. 700 BC) [tr. Lombardo (2000)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But from side to side
It made him toss apace. You have not tried
A fellow roasting of a pig before
A hasty fire, his belly yielding store
Of fat and blood, turn faster, labour more
To have it roast, and would not have it burn,
Than this and that way his unrest made turn
His thoughts and body ....
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

He lay restlessly.
As one that has raw flesh upon the fire,
And hungry is, is ever turning it;
So turneth he himself ....
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 20ff]

Restless his body rolls, to rage resign'd
As one who long with pale-eyed famine pined,
The savoury cates on glowing embers cast
Incessant turns, impatient for repast.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Yet he turn’d from side to side.
As when some hungry swain turns oft a maw
Unctuous and sav’ry on the burning coals,
Quick expediting his desired repast ....
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 26ff]

But ever he rolled tossing to and fro.
As when a man beside a blazing fire
Turneth a rich fat goat-paunch to and fro,
Over and over, with intense desire
Quickly to roast it ....
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 4]

But himself tossed to and fro.
As when a wight a'front a blazing fire
A savoury haggis full of fat and gravy
Restlessly turns and tumbles to and fro --
In hope right well and quickly for to roast it.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869), l. 24ff]

But, ev'n as when a man at some fierce fire
A savoury paunch with fat and blood replete
From side to side turns oft, intent with speed
Most prompt to roast it; -- so, from right to left
Ulysses swaying lay.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 36ff]

But Odysseus himself lay tossing this way and that. And as when a man by a great fire burning takes a paunch full of fat and blood, and turns it this way and that and longs to have it roasted most speedily, so Odysseus tossed from side to side.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But he himself in meanwhile was tossing here and there.
As when a man hath gotten by a great fire blazing out
A paunch of fat and of blood, and turneth it oft about
Hither and thither, all eager to roast it speedily.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Yet he himself kept tossing to and fro. As when a man near a great glowing fire turns to and fro a sausage, full of fat and blood, anxious to have it quickly roast.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

He tossed about as one who turns a paunch full of blood and fat in front of a hot fire, doing it first on one side and then on the other, that he may get it cooked as soon as possible, even so did he turn himself about from side to side ....
[tr. Butler (1898)]

But he himself lay tossing this way and that. And as when a man before a great blazing fire turns swiftly this way and that a paunch full of fat and blood, and is very eager to have it roasted quickly, so Odysseus tossed from side to side ....
[tr. Murray (1919)]

But the strain tossed his body about, like the basting paunch stuffed with blood and fat that a man who wants it immediately cooked will turn over and over before a blazing fire. In such fashion did Odysseus roll to this side and to that ....
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

Odysseus nevertheless could not help tossing to and fro on his bed, just as a paunch stuffed with fat and blood is tossed this way and that in the blaze of the fire by a cook who wants to get it quickly roasted, twisting and turning thus to one side and the other ....
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

He himself rocked, rolling from side to side, as a cook turns a sausage, big with blood and fat, at a scorching blaze, without a pause, to broil it quick.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

Yet Odysseus' own self thrashed this way and that. Just as a man before a blazing fire who's skewered a paunch that's stuffed with blood and fat will swiftly turn ths spit this way and that, eager to have it roasted fast.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

But he himself kept tossing, turning,
intent as a cook before some white-hot blazing fire
who rolls his sizzling sausage back and forth,
packed with fat and blood -- keen to broil it quickly,
tossing, turning it, this way, that way.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Nevertheless, he could not help twisting and turning, just as a paunch stuffed with fat and blood is turned this way and that in the blaze of the roaring fire by a man who wants to get it quickly roasted.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

But Odysseus himself kept tossing back and forth. As when a man has stuffed a paunch full of fat and blood, and keeps turning it back and forth on a blazing-hot fire, because he wants it to be cooked as soon as possible, so Odysseus kept turning back and forth ....
[tr. Verity (2016)]

He writhed around, as when a man rotates a sausage full of fat and blood; the huge fire blazes, and he longs to have the roasting finished.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

He still tossed and turned, back and forth. Just as a man
eager to roast a stomach stuffed with fat and blood
turns it quickly round and round on a blazing fire,
that is how lord Odysseus tossed and turned ....
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 25ff]

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The nation faces forward. It is made and remade every day. If we believe that the nation resides in the orderly recitations of history given to us by our leaders, then our story is over.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
The Red Prince, “Orange: European Revolutions” (2008)
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… and we are in bed
together
laughing
and we don’t care
about anything …

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“a pleasant afternoon in bed,” It Catches My Heart In Its Hands (1963)
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No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.

Nye Bevan
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan (1897-1960) Welsh politician
In Place of Fear (1952)

Bevan was the key politician responsible for the 1946 founding of the UK's National Health Service.
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Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Franklin, but not found in his writing (and the word "lunch" dates only back to the 1820s). The phrase is only found in sources dating back to the early 1990s, e.g.,

  • "Democracy is like two wolves and a lamb deciding on what they want for dinner." [Shelby Foote in Ken Burns, Civil War (1990)]
  • "Democracy has been described as four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." [Los Angeles Times (25 Nov 1990)]
  • "Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote." [Marvin Simkin, Los Angeles Times (1992)]
  • "Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." [James Bovard, Lost Rights, "Conclusion" (1994)]
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To a talkative fellow, who poured out a torrent of words and then said, “Let’s hope I haven’t been boring you with my chatter!” he replied, “No, by Zeus, I haven’t been listening.”

[πρὸς τὸν εἰπόντα ἀδολέσχην, ἐπειδὴ αὐτοῦ πολλὰ κατήντλησε, “μήτι σου κατεφλυάρησα;” “μὰ Δί᾽,” εἶπεν: “οὐ γάρ σοι προσεῖχον.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Mensch (2018)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

A chattering fellow, who had been abusing him, said to him, “Have not I been jeering you properly?” “Not that I know of,” said he, “for I have not been listening to you.”
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

To the chatterbox who poured out a flood of talk upon him and then inquired, "Have I bored you to death with my chatter?" he replied, "No, indeed; for I was not attending to you."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 20]

To the man talking endlessly when he assailed him with words and asked “Have I worn you out with nonsense”, he said “By Zeus, no! I wasn’t listening to you.”
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

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Our lives get complicated because complexity is so much simpler than simplicity.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, # 7 (Spring 1999)
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In the middle of the night, things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing — the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, give me food for thought, food to grow on.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American author
At Seventy (1984)
    (Source)
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Lord, there’s danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” (1985)
    (Source)
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We asked a passenger who belonged there what sort of place it was. “Well,” said he, after considering, and with the air of one who wishes to take time and be accurate, “It’s a hell of a place.” A description which was photographic for exactness.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Life on the Mississippi, ch. 30 (1883)
    (Source)

Describing Arkansas City, Arkansas.
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All things are tolerable which others have borne and are bearing.

[Sed significat tolerabilia esse, quae et tulerint et ferant ceteri.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 3, ch. 23 / sec. 57 (45 BC) [tr. Yonge (1853)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

  • "Those things are in themselves tolerable, which others have born, and do bear." [tr. Wase (1643)]
  • "All things are tolerable which others have borne and can bear." [tr. Main (1824)]
  • "What others have endured and endure must be tolerable." [tr. Otis (1839)]
  • "Things are tolerable which others have borne and are bearing." [tr. Peabody (1886)]
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History is not a catalogue but a version of events … a convincing version of events. If an historian is any good, he is convinced by his own version of events and then tries to put this conviction across.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The view from Twisden Rd.”, interview by Duncan Fallowell, The Spectator (28 May 1983)
    (Source)
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It may be confidently asserted that no man chooses evil, because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Wollstonecraft - No man chooses evil because it is evil - wist.info quote

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)
    (Source)
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The parliamentary battle of the NSDAP [Nazi Party] had the single purpose of destroying the parliamentary system from within through its own methods. It was necessary above all to make formal use of the possibilities of the party-state system but to refuse real cooperation and thereby to render the parliamentary system, which is by nature dependent upon the responsible cooperation of the opposition, incapable of action.

Ernst Rudolf Huber
Ernst Rudolf Huber (1903-1990), German jurist and constitutional historian
Constitutional Law of the Greater German Reich [Verfassungsrecht des Grossdeutschen Reiches] (1939)
    (Source)

Reprinted in National Socialism, US State Department (1943).
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Religious freedom should work two ways: we should be free to practice the religion of our choice, but we must also be free from having someone else’s religion practiced on us.

John Irving
John Irving (b. 1942) American-Canadian novelist and screenwriter [b. John Wallace Blunt Jr.]
My Movie Business, ch. 8 (1999)
    (Source)
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When I would send such trifles as I can;
You stop me short; you arbitrary man!
But I submit. Both may our orders give;
And do what both like best: let me receive.

[Natali tibi, Quinte, tuo dare parva volebam
Munera; tu prohibes: inperiosus homo es.
Parendum est monitis, fiat quod uterque volemus
Et quod utrumque iuvat: tu mihi, Quinte, dato.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 53 [tr. Hay (1755), Ep. 54]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

On your birth-day, Quintus, I wished to make you a small present: you forbade me; you are imperious. I must obey your injunction: let that be done which we both desire, and which will please us both. Do you, Quintus, make me a present.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Your birthday I wished to observe with a gift;
Your forbade and your firmness is known.
Every man to his taste:
I remark with some haste,
May the Third is the date of my own.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

On your birthday, Quintus, I was wishing to give you a small present; you must forbid me; you are an imperious person! I must obey your monition. Let be done what both of us wish, and what pleases both. Do you, Quintus, make me a present!
[tr. Ker (1919), Ep. 53]

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The problem is, many of the people in need of saving are in churches, and at least part of what they need saving from is the idea that God sees the world the same way they do.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
An Altar in the World, ch. 2 (2009)
    (Source)
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We repeat: strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still function like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 3 “On Military Genius” (1832) [tr. Howard/Paret (1976)]
    (Source)

Alternate translation:

We, therefore, say once more a strong mind is not one that is merely susceptible of strong excitement, but one which can maintain its serenity under the most powerful excitement; so that, in spite of the storm in the breast, the perception and judgment can act with perfect freedom, like the needle of the compass in the storm-tossed ship.
[tr. Graham (1873), "The Genius for War"]
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The very women who object to the morals of a notoriously beautiful actress, grow big with pride when an admirer suggests their marked resemblance to this stage beauty in physique.

Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Naked Truth and Veiled Allusions (1901)
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The biographer does not trust his witnesses, living or dead. He may drip with the milk of human kindness, believe everything that his wife and his friends and his children tell him, enjoy his neighbors and embrace the universe — but in the workshop he must be as ruthless as a board meeting smelling out embezzlement, as suspicious as a secret agent riding the Simplon-Orient Express, as cold-eyed as a pawnbroker viewing a leaky concertina. With no respect for human dignity, he plays off his witnesses one against the other, snoops for additional information to confront them with, probes their prejudices and their pride, checks their reliability against their self-interest, thinks the worst until he is permitted to think better.

Paul Murray Kendall
Paul Murray Kendall (1911-1973) American academic and historian
“Walking the Boundaries,” The Art of Biography (1965)
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The mocking bird is music-mad to-night,
He thinks the stars are notes;
That he must sing each spattered star, and be
A choir of many throats.

The earth is his cathedral, and its dome
Is all the light-pricked sky;
The pear-tree is his choir loft, and there
He flings his mad songs high.

Grace Noll Crowell
Grace Noll Crowell (1877-1969) American poet
“Music-Mad,” Good Housekeeping (Jun 1923)
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Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) English social reformer, statistician, founder of modern nursing
Cassandra (1860)
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More quotes by Nightingale, Florence

The past, which as always did not know the future, acted in ways that ask to be imagined before they are condemned. Or even simplified.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
“Thank God for the Atom Bomb,” The New Republic (26 Aug 1981)
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Reprinted in Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (1988).
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Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. The only function of a school is to make self-education easier; failing that, it does nothing.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Science Past, Science Future (1975)
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It always demands a far greater degree of courage for an individual to oppose an organized movement than to let himself be carried along with the stream — individual courage, that is, a variety of courage that is dying out in these times of progressive organization and mechanization. During the war practically the only courage I ran across was mass courage, the courage that comes of being one of a herd, and anyone who examines this phenomenon more closely will find it to be compounded of some very strange elements: a great deal of vanity, a great deal of fear — yes, fear of staying behind, fear of being sneered at fear of independent action, and fear, above all, of taking up a stand against the mass enthusiasm of one’s fellows.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Beware of Pity (1939)
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A good rule for discussion is to use hard facts and a soft voice.

Dorothy Sarnoff
Dorothy Sarnoff (1914-2008) American opera singer, actress, image consultant
Speech Can Change Your Life (1970)
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After nine months of familiarity with this panorama, I still think, as I thought in the beginning, that this is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Autobiography, “Chapters Added in Florence (1904)” (1924) [ed. Bigelow]
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Recounting his previous stay in, and view of, Florence, Italy, starting in 26 September 1892; written while again staying there in 1904.
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Our worst foes are not belligerent circumstances, but wavering spirits.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“My Future As I See It,” Ladies Home Journal (Nov 1903)
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Reprinted as an additional chapter in revised editions of The Story of My Life (1904 ed.)
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You can stand with the lash over a man, or you can stand by the prison door, or beneath the gallows, or by the stake, and say to this man: “Recant, or the lash descends, the prison door is locked upon you, the rope is put about your neck, or the torch is given to the fagot.” And so the man recants. Is he convinced? Not at all. Have you produced a new argument? Not the slightest. And yet the ignorant bigots of this world have been trying for thousands of years to rule the minds of men by brute force. They have endeavored to improve the mind by torturing the flesh — to spread religion with the sword and torch. They have tried to convince their brothers by putting their feet in iron boots, by putting fathers, mothers, patriots, philosophers and philanthropists in dungeons. And what has been the result? Are we any nearer thinking alike to-day than we were then?

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
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The very presence of a weapon provokes a man to use it.

[αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 16, l. 294 [Odysseus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)]
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(Greek (Source)), repeated in 19.13.

In Book 16, Odysseus offers this as part of the argument Telemachus can use to the suitors to explain why he has stripped the hall of weapons -- that, should the weapons remain, they might tempt drunken people to violence. Book 19, back at the hall, Odysseus repeats almost the same instructions to Telemachus. The same Greek is used for this phrase in both passages; some translators use the same language, others make changes to it.

Epigram (and title inspiration) in Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself (2006) -- "The blade itself incites to deeds of violence." Abercrombie was a fan of the Rome: Total War game, which included in its load pages the translation, "The blade itself incites to violence.

BOOK 16, l. 294

  • "Steel itself, ready, draws a man to blows." [tr. Chapman (1616)]
  • "One drawn sword draws another." [tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 276]
  • "Oft ready swords in luckless hour incite / The hand of wrath, and arm it for the fight." [tr. Pope (1725)]
  • "For the view / Itself of arms incites to their abuse." [tr. Cowper (1792), l. 348]
  • "Steel itself oft lures a man to fight." [tr. Worsley (1861), st. 37]
  • "Steel itself wooes men to battle!" [tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]
  • "For the steel blade itself lures men to blood." [tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 462]
  • "For iron of itself draws a man thereto." [tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]
  • "For this is said aright, / That e'en of himself the iron draws on a man to smite." [tr. Morris (1887)]
  • "Steel itself draws men on." [tr. Palmer (1891)]
  • "For the sight of arms sometimes tempts people to use them." [tr. Butler (1898)]
  • "For of itself does the iron draw a man to it." [tr. Murray (1919)]
  • "Iron of itself tempts man's frailty." [tr. Lawrence (1932)]
  • "Tempered iron can magnetize a man." [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
  • "For iron of itself can tempt a man." [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
  • "Iron has powers to draw a man to ruin." [tr. Fagles (1996)]
  • "There's a force in iron that lures men on." [tr. D. C. H. Rieu (2002)]
  • "Iron of itself draws a man on." [tr. Verity (2016)]
  • "Weapons themselves can tempt a man to fight." [tr. Wilson (2017)]
  • "Iron attracts a man all on its own." [tr. Johnston (2019)]
  • "And beckoning, the iron itself drags the man." [Source]

BOOK 19, l. 13 -- items in italics are the same as their Book 16 counterparts.

  • "As loadstones draw the steel, so steel draws man." [tr. Chapman (1616)]
  • "One drawn sword draws another." [tr. Hobbes (1675)]
  • "By sight of swords to fury fired." [tr. Pope (1725)]
  • "For the view / Itself of arms incites to their abuse." [tr. Cowper (1792)]
  • "Steel itself oft lures a man to fight." [tr. Worsley (1861), st. 2]
  • "The sight of iron tempts to use it!" [tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]
  • "For the steel blade itself / Lures men to blood." [tr. Musgrave (1869)]
  • "For iron of itself draws a man thereto." [tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]
  • "For e'en of himself the Iron to battle draweth men." [tr. Morris (1887)]
  • "Steel itself draws men on." [tr. Palmer (1891)]
  • "For the sight of arms sometimes tempts people to use them." [tr. Butler (1898)]
  • "For of itself does the iron draw a man towards it." [tr. Murray (1919)]
  • "Iron has that attraction for men." [tr. Lawrence (1932)]
  • "The very presence of a weapon provokes a man to use it." [tr. Rieu (1946)]
  • "Iron itself can draw men's hands." [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
  • "For iron of itself can tempt a man." [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
  • "Iron has powers to draw a man to ruin." [tr. Fagles (1996)]
  • "Steel has a way of drawing a man to it." [tr. Lombardo (2000)]
  • "There's a force in iron that lures men on." [tr. D. C. H. Rieu (2002)]
  • "For iron of itself draws a man on." [tr. Verity (2016)]
  • "For iron by itself / can draw a man to use it." [tr. Johnston (2019)]
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All citizens do have a measure of control, at least in democracies where their votes are counted, of how they belong to their nations. Perhaps they will have more confidence in unconventional choices if they see that each nation’s founders were disobedient and unpredictable, men and women of imagination and ambition. The steel of every national monument was once molten.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
The Red Prince, “Orange: European Revolutions” (2008)
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some people never go crazy.
what truly horrible lives
they must lead.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“Some People”
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I have no objection to churches so long as they do not interfere with God’s work.

Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984) American drama critic and journalist
Once Around the Sun, “Number 10” (1951)
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As Master Bludtharst once put it: “Kill a man today, and all you get are spare parts — but conquer his village, and you get spare parts plus people who can cook your breakfast tomorrow!”

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American cartoonist
Girl Genius, 22.039 (4 Aug 2021)
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People who wish to salute the free and independent side of their evolutionary character acquire cats. People who wish to pay homage to their servile and salivating roots own dogs.

Anna Quindlen (b. 1953) American journalist, novelist
“Mr. Smith Goes to Heaven,” New York Times (7 Apr 1991)
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Part of an obituary for her dog, Jason Oliver C. Smith. Reprinted in Thinking Out Loud (1993).
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When a man boasted in his presence that he was a native of an illustrious city, he said, “That is not what one ought to look at, but whether one is worthy of a great city.”

[πρὸς τὸν καυχώμενον ὡς ἀπὸ μεγάλης πόλεως εἴη, “οὐ τοῦτο,” ἔφη, “δεῖ σκοπεῖν, ἀλλ᾽ ὅστις μεγάλης πατρίδος ἄξιός ἐστιν.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1853)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

To one who boasted that he belonged to a great city his reply was, "That is not the point to consider, but who it is that is worthy of a great country."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 19]

To a man boasting that he was from a great city, he said “Don’t look at this, but instead who is worthy of a great country.”
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

To someone who boasted that he came from a great city, he said, "That is not what one should consider, but who it is that is worthy of a great country."
[tr. Mensch (2018)]

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All stones are broken stones.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 23 (2001)
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I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
Solitude exposes the nerve,
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American author
“Gestalt at Sixty,” sec. 1 (1972)
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I think we’d like life to be a train. And you get on and pick a destination and get off. And it turns out to be a sailboat. And everyday, you have to see where the wind is and check the currents and see if there’s anybody else on the boat you can help out. But it is a sailboat ride. And the weather changes, and the currents change, and the wind changes. It’s not a train ride. That’s the hardest thing I’ve had to accept in my life. I just thought I had to pick the right train.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Super Soul Sunday, s. 5, ep. 522, “Why Life Is Like a Sailboat Ride,” Oprah Winfrey Network (9 Nov 2014)
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Starts at 0:48 in the source video. Usually just rendered down as "I think we'd like life to be a train ... but it turns out to be a sailboat."
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Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Discourses on the Beatitudes, ch. 2 “The Blessing of the the Mourners” (1853)
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Preaching on Matthew 5:4. Frequently misattributed to Kahlil Gibran, after it was incorrectly included in The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran (1995).
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Man forgives woman anything save the wit to outwit him.

Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Naked Truth and Veiled Allusions (1901)
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