Quotations about:
    defiance


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Death is an endless night so awful to contemplate that it can make us love life and value it with such passion that it may be the ultimate cause of all joy and all art.

Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux (b. 1941) American novelist and travel writer
“D is for Death,” Hockney’s Alphabet (1991) [ed. Stephen Spender]
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Added on 24-Oct-22 | Last updated 24-Oct-22
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Tears are sometimes an inappropriate response to death. When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death’s perfect punctuation mark is a smile.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill (b. 1959) English novelist, columnist, broadcaster
Quoted in The Independent (5 Dec 1989)
 
Added on 22-Aug-22 | Last updated 22-Aug-22
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If you stay alive for no other reason at all, please do it for spite.

Maria Bamford
Maria Bamford (b. 1970) American actress and stand-up comedian
“The Special Special Special!” (2012)
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Added on 1-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Apr-22
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The instinct for self-deception in human beings makes them try to banish from their minds dangers of which at bottom they are perfectly aware by declaring them non-existent.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Beware of Pity (1939)
 
Added on 19-Aug-21 | Last updated 19-Aug-21
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Only ambition is fired by the coincidences of success and easy accomplishment but nothing is quite as splendidly uplifting to the heart as the defeat of a human being who battles against the invincible superiority of fate. This is always the most grandiose of all tragedies, one sometimes created by a dramatist but created thousands of times by life.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Stellar Moments in Human History [Sternstunden der Menschheit] (1953) [tr. Sonnenfeld]
 
Added on 5-Aug-21 | Last updated 5-Aug-21
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If fate means you to lose, give him a good fight anyhow.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
Casuals of the Sea, Book 2, ch. 2 (1916)
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Added on 28-May-21 | Last updated 28-May-21
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And what is an authentic lunatic? He is a man who has preferred to become what is socially understood as mad rather than forfeit a certain superior idea of human honor. In its asylums, society has managed to strangle all those it has wished to rid itself of or defend itself from, because they refused to make themselves accomplices to various flagrant dishonesties. For a lunatic is also a man whom society has not wished to listen to, and whom it is determined to prevent from uttering unbearable truths.

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) French playwright, actor, director
Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society [Le Suicidé de la Société] (1947) [tr. Watson]
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Alternate translation:

And what is an authentic madman? It is a man who preferred to become mad, in the socially accepted sense of the word, rather than forfeit a certain superior idea of human honor. So society has strangled in its asylums all those it wanted to get rid of or protect itself from, because they refused to become its accomplices in certain great nastinesses. For a madman is also a man whom society did not want to hear and whom it wanted to prevent from uttering certain intolerable truths.
 
Added on 3-Mar-21 | Last updated 3-Mar-21
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If I commit suicide, it will not be to destroy myself but to put myself back together again. Suicide will be for me only one means of violently reconquering myself, of brutally invading my being, of anticipating the unpredictable approaches of God. By suicide, I reintroduce my design in nature, I shall for the first time give things the shape of my will.

[Si je me tue ce ne sera pas pour me détruire, mais pour me reconstituer, le suicide ne sera pour moi qu’un moyen de me reconquérir violemment, de faire brutalement irruption dans mon être, de devancer l’avance incertaine de Dieu. Par le suicide, je réintroduis mon dessin dans la nature, je donne pour la première fois aux choses la forme de ma volonté.]

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) French playwright, actor, director
“On Suicide” #1, Le Disque Vert (1925)
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Original French. After being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1948, Artaud died of poisoning, possibly a suicide.
 
Added on 27-Jan-21 | Last updated 27-Jan-21
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For I have promised to do the battle to the uttermost, by faith of my body, while me lasteth the life, and therefore I had liefer to die with honour than to live with shame; and if it were possible for me to die an hundred times, I had liefer to die oft than yield me to thee; for though I lack weapon, I shall lack no worship, and if thou slay me weaponless that shall be thy shame.”

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Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 4, ch. 10 (1485)
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Added on 10-Nov-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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I intend to do what little one man can do to awaken the public conscience, and in the meantime I am not frightened by your menaces. I am not a giant physically; I shrink from pain and filth and vermin and foul air, like any other man of refinement; also, I freely admit, when I see a line of a hundred policemen with drawn revolvers flung across a street to keep anyone from coming onto private property to hear my feeble voice, I am somewhat disturbed in my nerves. But I have a conscience and a religious faith, and I know that our liberties were not won without suffering, and may be lost again through our cowardice. I intend to do my duty to my country.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
Letter to the Louis D. Oaks, Los Angeles Chief of Police (17 May 1923)
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Reprinted in his Autobiography (1962).
 
Added on 11-Jun-20 | Last updated 11-Jun-20
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For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“The Meaning of Life: The Big Picture,” Life Magazine (Dec 1988)
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Added on 17-Jan-20 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.

Claude McKay (1889-1948) Jamaican-American writer, poet, journalist
“If We Must Die,” The Liberator (Jul 1919)
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Added on 8-Jan-20 | Last updated 8-Jan-20
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And remember, your critics want you to be as unhappy, unfulfilled and unimportant as they are. Let your happiness eat them up from inside.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (15 Nov 2011)
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Added on 11-Aug-16 | Last updated 11-Aug-16
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There are circumstances which have to do with simple human honor. No matter the risk. To resist and not surrender.

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) French playwright, actor, director
Letter to André Breton (28 Feb 1947)
 
Added on 2-Aug-16 | Last updated 2-Aug-16
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If you can’t joke about the most horrendous things in the world, what’s the point of jokes? What’s the point in having humor? Humor is to get us over terrible things. That’s all it’s for. That’s why you should laugh at funerals. Of course it’s the wrong thing to say. That’s why it’s funny.

Gervais - humor terrible things - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Interview with Chris Heath, GQ (15 May 2013)
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Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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Villainy, when detected, never gives up, but boldly adds impudence to imposture.

Goldsmith - impudence to imposture - wist_info quote

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
“A City Night-Piece,” The Bee, #4 (27 Oct 1759)
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Added on 3-Jun-16 | Last updated 3-Jun-16
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Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He, who can call to-day his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

John Dryden (1631-1700) English poet, dramatist, critic
Imitation of Horace, Book 3, ode 29, l. 65 (1685)
 
Added on 11-May-16 | Last updated 11-May-16
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We who think we are about to die will laugh at anything.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Night Watch (2002)
 
Added on 1-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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I may stand alone,
But would not change my free thoughts for a throne.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, 11.90 (1819-1824)
 
Added on 13-May-14 | Last updated 13-May-14
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What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
White Night (2008)
 
Added on 25-Mar-14 | Last updated 25-Mar-14
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There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“Journalism and the Higher Law,” Liberty and the News (1920)
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See Rabelais.
 
Added on 6-Apr-11 | Last updated 22-Nov-21
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I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Speech, House of Commons (13 May 1940)
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Churchill's first speech in the House after becoming prime minister. Often paraphrased, "I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears..."  Audio records of the speech omit the "It is" in the beginning of the "Victory" section.
 
Added on 31-May-10 | Last updated 9-Dec-21
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In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

Camus - invincible summer - wist_info quote

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Return to Tipasa,” Summer (1954)
 
Added on 13-Oct-09 | Last updated 15-Dec-15
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Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: “Do not drink,” answer him: “I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” One must always do what Satan forbids.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Letter to Jerome Weller (Jul 1530)
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Alt. trans.: "We are soon defeated if we try too hard not to sin. So when the devil says ‘Do not drink’ answer him: ‘I shall drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to!’"
 
Added on 17-Jul-09 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Speech before the Diet of Worms (18 Apr 1521)
 
Added on 25-Mar-09 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Cato, Act 5, sc. 1 (1713)
 
Added on 13-Jan-09 | Last updated 14-Jun-21
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The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
“In the Valley of the Shadow,” Parade (10 Mar 1996)
 
Added on 9-Jun-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Humor is just another defense against the universe.

Mel Brooks (b. 1926) American comedic actor, writer, producer [b. Melvyn Kaminsky]
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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There comes a time in every normal man’s life when he must be tempted to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Prejudices: First Series (1919)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Nov-13
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And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
‘Tis that I may not weep.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, Canto 4, st. 4 (1820)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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