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History, like perspective, needs distance. Facts that are too abundantly attested cease, in some degree, to be malleable.

[L’histoire a besoin de lointain, comme la perspective. Les faits et les événements trop attestés ont, en quelque sorte, cessé d’être malléables.]

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées [Thoughts], ch. 23 “Des Qualités de l’Écrivain et des Compositions Littéraires [On Writers and Literature],” ¶ 119 (1850 ed.) [tr. Lyttelton (1899), ch. 22, ¶ 52]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

History needs distance, perspective. Facts and events which are too well attested, cease, in some sort, to be malleable.
[tr. Attwell (1896), ¶ 356]

History, like perspective, has need of distance.
[tr. Auster (1983), 1801]

Added on 7-Aug-23 | Last updated 7-Aug-23
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If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 15, verse 12 (15.12) (6th C. BC – 3rd C. AD) [tr. Legge (1861), 15.11]

In modern arrangements, this is 15.12; older ones use Legge's verse numberings (15.11). (Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

They who care not for the morrow will the sooner have their sorrow.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 15.11]

If a man takes no thought for the morrow, he will be sorry before today is out.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 15.11]

Who heeds not the future will find sorrow at hand.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 15.11]

Men who don't think of the far, will have trouble near.
[tr. Pound (1933), 15.11]

He who will not worry about what is far off will soon find something worse than worry close at hand.
[tr. Waley (1938), 15.11]

If a man does not give thought to problems which are still distant, he will be worried by them when they get nearer
[tr. Ware (1950), 15.12]

He who gives no thought to difficulties in the future is sure to be best by worries much closer at hand.
[tr. Lau (1979), 15.12]

If a man avoids thinking about distant matters he will certainly have worries close at hand.
[tr. Dawson (1993), 15.12]

A man with no concern for the future is bound to worry about the present.
[tr. Leys (1997), 15.12]

If a man does not have long-range considerations, he will surely incur imminent afflictions.
[tr. Huang (1997), 15.12]

If one has no any consideration for the future, might have some anxiety in near.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), 15.12]

The person who does not consider what is still far off will not escape being alarmed at what is near at hand.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998), 15.12]

If a man has no worries about what is far off, he will assuredly have troubles that are near at hand.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 15.12]

If things far away don't concern you, you'll soon mourn things close at hand.
[tr. Hinton (1998), 15.12]

The person who fails to take far-reaching precautions is sure to encounter near-at-hand woes.
[tr. Watson (2007) 15.12]

The person who does not think ahead about the distant future is sure to be troubled by worries close at hand.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

If a person does not plan and prepare for the future, he must be beset by worries and troubles very soon.
[tr. Li (2020), 15.12]

Added on 12-Jul-22 | Last updated 8-May-23
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Persons of today praise the things of yesterday, and those here the things there. Everything past seems best and everything distant is more valued.

[También alaban los de hoy las cosas de ayer, y los de acá las de allende. Todo lo pasado parece mejor, y todo lo distante es más estimado.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 209 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

Modern men praise ancient things, and those that are here, things that are there. All that's past seems best, and all that's remote is most esteemed.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

People of today praise things of yesterday, and those who are here, the things that are there. The past seems better, and everything distant is held more dear.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

They of today glorify only things of yesterday, and those from here only the things from afar. Or that all that is past is better, and everything that is distant, more valuable.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

Added on 11-Jul-22 | Last updated 19-Dec-22
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The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate.

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Bernard J. "Bern" Williams (1913-2004) American columnist radio host, aphorist
Added on 27-Dec-21 | Last updated 27-Dec-21
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You ask me how my farm can pay,
Since little it will bear;
It pays me thus — ‘Tis far away
And you are never there.

[Quid mini reddat ager quaeris, Line, Nomentanus?
Hoc mini reddit ager: te, Line, non video.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 38 (2.38) (AD 86) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Linus, dost ask what my field yields to me?
Even this profit, that I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

What my farm yields me, doest thou urge to know?
This, that I see not thee, when there I go.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Do you ask what profit my Nomentan estate brings me, Linus? My estate brings me this profit, that I do not see you, Linus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1860)]

Ask you what my Nomentane fields
Can yield me, Linus, bleak and few?
For me my farm this, Linus, yields;--
That, when I'm there, I'm rid of you.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ask what I grow on my Sabine estate.
A reliable answer is due.
I grow on that soil --
Far from urban turmoil --
Very happy at not seeing you.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Do you ask, Linus, what my Nomentan farm returns me? This my land returns me: I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You ask of my Nomentan farm
How such a barren waste can charm.
One reason is, I find no trace
There, Linus, of your ugly face.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #83]

Linus, you mock my distant farm,
And ask what good it is to me?
Well, it has got at least one charm --
When there, from Linus I am free!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You don't see what I see, you say,
In living here so far away?
What I see, Linus, is a view
In which I see no sign of you.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

What return on my real estate at Nomentum?
Up there i get out of seeing you, Linus.
That's what I get out of it.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You ask me what I get
Out of my country place.
The profit, gross or net,
Is never seeing your face.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Linus, you ask me what I get out of my land near Nomentum. This is what I get out of the land: I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You ask what my estate at Nomentum produces for me? It produces this: that I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Williams (2003)]

You ask me why I like the country air.
I never meet you there.
[tr. Kennelly (2004), "The Reason"]

You ask what I see in my farm near Nomentum, Linus?
What I see in it, Linus, is: from there I can’t see you.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

What, Linus, can my farm be minus
When it successfully lacks Linus?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You ask me why I like the country air.
I never meet you there.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

What yield does my Nomentan farmstead bear?
Linus, I don’t see you when I am there.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You're wondering what the yield is from my farm at Nomentum, Linus? Here's the yield form my farm: Linus, I don't have to look at you.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

You ask me why I love fresh country air?
You’re not befouling it there.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere? You're not there.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

Ask you what my Nomentane field brings me?
This, Linus, 'mongst the rest, I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Wright]

You wonder if my farm pays me its share?
It pays me this: I do not see you there.
[tr. Oliver]

You ask me, Roger, what I gain
By living on this barren plain.
This credit to the spot is due,
I live there without seeing you.
[tr. Cowper]

Added on 2-Jul-21 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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Most air crew take for granted the spurious moral absolution conferred upon those who escape eye contact with the people whom they kill.

Max Hastings
Max Hastings (b. 1945) British journalist and military historian
Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy (2018)
Added on 29-Jun-21 | Last updated 29-Jun-21
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Short absence quickens love; long absence kills it.

Victor de Riqueti, Marquis de Mirabeau (1715-1786) French economist

Attributed in J. De Finod (ed. and tr.), A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness (1881)
Added on 7-Jul-20 | Last updated 7-Jul-20
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Everything is funnier in retrospect, funnier and prettier and cooler. You can laugh at anything from far enough away.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories, “Consolation Prizes” (2004)
Added on 23-Jun-20 | Last updated 23-Jun-20
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It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
Fables [Aesopica], “The Wolf and the Kid” (6th C BC) [tr. Jacobs (1894)]

Alternate translation: "Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong." [tr. Townsend (1887), "The Kid and the Wolf"]
Added on 20-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens, “Wednesday” (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
Added on 24-Jun-15 | Last updated 23-Dec-22
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The contemporary has no perspective; everything is in the foreground and appears the same size. Little matters loom big, and great matters are sometimes missed because their outlines cannot be seen. Viet­nam and Panama are given four-column headlines today, but the historian 50 or 100 years hence will put them in a chap­ter under a general heading we have not yet thought of.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
“Can History Be Served Up Hot?” New York Times (8 Mar 1964)
Added on 12-May-15 | Last updated 12-May-15
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You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois (25 Sep 1956)
Added on 30-Apr-15 | Last updated 30-Apr-15
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Great minds are related to the short span of time wherein they live as are large buildings to the narrow plot of ground on which they stand. Thus large buildings are not seen to their full extent because we are too close to them.

[Zu der kurzen Spanne Zeit, in der sie leben, verhalten sich die großen Geister wie große Gebäude zu einem engen Plage, auf dem sie stehn. Man sieht nämlich diese nicht in ihrer Größe, weil man zu nahe davor steht.]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 2, ch. 20 “On Judgement, Criticism, Approbation, and Fame [Über Urtheil, Kritik, Beifall und Ruhm],” § 242 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

Compared with the short span of time they live, men of great intellect are like huge buildings, standing on a small plot of ground. The size of the building cannot be seen by anyone, just in front of it.
[tr. Saunders (1890)]

Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.
[tr. Hollingdale (1970)]

Added on 27-Aug-08 | Last updated 21-Dec-22
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Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Alexander [Ἀλέξανδρος], Frag. 44 (TGF) [Chorus?] (415 BC) [tr. Morgan]

Alternate translations:

Shed not fresh tears for ills of ancient date.
[Fragment: Barnes 47, Musgrave 20]

You must not mourn for old things with fresh tears.
[tr. Yalouris]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Aug-22
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