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A dramatist is one who believes that the pure event, an action involving human beings, is more arresting than any comment that can be made upon it. On the stage it is always now; the personages are standing on that razor edge, between the past and the future, which is the essential character of conscious being; the words are rising to their lips in immediate spontaneity. […] The theater is supremely fitted to say: “Behold! These things are.”

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) American novelist and playwright
“The Art of Fiction No. 16,” interview by Richard H. Goldstone, The Paris Review (1956, Winter)
    (Source)

Collected in Jackson Bryer, ed., Conversations with Thornton Wilder (1992).
 
Added on 24-May-24 | Last updated 25-May-24
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But in the days that are now passing over us, even fools are arrested to ask the meaning of them; few of the generations of men have seen more impressive days. Days of endless calamity, disruption, dislocation, confusion worse confounded: if they are not days of endless hope too, then they are days of utter despair. For it is not a small hope that will suffice, the ruin being clearly, either in action or in prospect, universal. There must be a new world, if there is to be any world at all!

Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
Latter-Day Pamphlets, # 1 “The Present Time” (1850-02-01)
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Added on 16-May-24 | Last updated 13-May-24
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Pleasing for a moment is of some consequence; for, if we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves, you know.

Maria Edgeworth
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) Anglo-Irish writer, novelist
Mademoiselle Panache, Part 2 [Helen] (1795)
    (Source)
 
Added on 31-Jan-24 | Last updated 31-Jan-24
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It’s not about knowin where you are. It’s about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody’s. You dont start over. That’s what it’s about. Every step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it.

Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
No Country for Old Men (2005)
    (Source)
 
Added on 3-Jan-24 | Last updated 3-Jan-24
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Economists are surgeons who have an excellent scalpel but a jagged lancet — they operate exquisitely on the dead but torture the living.

[Les économistes sont des chirugiens qui on un excellent scalpel et un bistouri ébréché, opérant à merveille sur le mort et martyrisant le vif.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 7, ¶ 457 (1795) [tr. Dusinberre (1992)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Political Economists are surgeons with excellent scalpels and blunted bistouries; they work on the dead to a marvel and torture the living.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

An economist is a surgeon with an excellent scalpel and a rough-edged lancet, who operates beautifully on the dead and tortures the living.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

Economists are surgeons who wield an excellent scalpel and a chipped bistoury, and operate wonderfully on the dead flesh and agonize the living.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]

Economists are surgeons who have an excellent scalpel and chipped scissors, who operate marvelously on the dead and who make martyrs of the living.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

 
Added on 19-Nov-23 | Last updated 19-Nov-23
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Just as you drifted through an entire day without a plan and accomplished nothing, some people drift through their entire lives. They do it one day at a time, one week at a time, and one month at a time. The months run into years and span a life. It happens so gradually that they are unaware of how their lives are slipping by them until it’s too late.

Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash (1918-2001) American entrepreneur
Mary Kay, You Can Have it All, ch. 4 (1995)
    (Source)
 
Added on 8-Sep-23 | Last updated 8-Sep-23
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As the Swiss inscription says: Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden — “Speech is silvern, Silence is golden”; or, as I might rather express it: speech is of time, silence is of eternity.

Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
Sartor Resartus, Book 3, ch. 3 (1831)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Sep-23 | Last updated 1-Sep-23
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The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
Requiem for a Nun, Act 1, sc. 3 [Stevens] (1951)
    (Source)

Sometimes misquoted as "The past isn't over. It isn't even past."
 
Added on 10-Jul-23 | Last updated 10-Jul-23
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When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973) American author
The Name of the Wind, ch. 12 “Puzzle Pieces Fitting” (2007)
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Added on 26-Jan-23 | Last updated 26-Jan-23
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We should not forget that our tradition is one of protest and revolt, and it is stultifying to celebrate the rebels of the past — Jefferson and Paine, Emerson and Thoreau — while we silence the rebels of the present.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
“Who Is Loyal to America?” Harper’s Magazine #1168 (Sep 1947)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent (1954).
 
Added on 16-Feb-22 | Last updated 16-Feb-22
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Count heads. That is what matters in all things. When you must, follow the common taste, and make your way toward eminence. The wise should adapt themselves to the present, even when the past seems more attractive, both in the clothes of the soul and of the body. This rule for living holds for everything but goodness, for one must always practice virtue.

[El gusto de las cabeças haze voto en cada orden de cosas. Ésse se ha de seguir por entonces, y adelantar a eminencia. Acomódese el cuerdo a lo presente, aunque le parezca mejor lo pasado, así en los arreos del alma como del cuerpo. Sólo en la bondad no vale esta regla de vivir, que siempre se ha de practicar la virtud.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 120 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

Let a prudent man accommodate himself to the present, whether as to body, or mind, though the past may even seem better unto him. In manners onely that rule is not to be observed, seeing vertue is at all times to be practised.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

In everything the taste of the many carries the votes; for the time being one must follow it in the hope of leading it to higher things. In the adornment of the body as of the mind adapt yourself to the present, even though the past appear better. But this rule does not apply to kindness, for goodness is for all time.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

The choice of the many carries the vote in every field. For the time being, therefore, it must be bowed to, in order to bring it to higher level: the man of wisdom accommodates himself to the present, even though the past seems better, alike in the dress of his spirit, as in the dress of his body. Only in the matter of being decent does this rule of life not apply, for virtue should be practiced eternally.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 11-Feb-22 | Last updated 21-Aug-23
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If one were to write a book called “The Best Remedy against Self-Torment,” it would be very brief: “Let each day have trouble enough of its own.”

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Christian Discourses (Christelige Taler), Part 1 “The Cares of the Pagans,” ch. 6 (1848) [tr. Hong (1997)]
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Added on 27-Oct-21 | Last updated 27-Oct-21
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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)
    (Source)
 
Added on 15-Sep-21 | Last updated 15-Sep-21
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The present enables us to understand the past, not the other way round.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The Radical Tradition: Fox, Paine, and Cobbett,” The Trouble Makers: Dissent over Foreign Policy, 1792-1939 (1969)
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Added on 24-May-21 | Last updated 24-May-21
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That’s what history is. It’s a conversation between the past and the present.

Lewis H. Lapham (b. 1935) American writer and editor
“The Art of Editing No. 4,” The Paris Review (Summer 2019)
    (Source)
 
Added on 8-Mar-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-21
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Why should I change with the times, when the times are obviously wrong?

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American epigramist, aphorist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #5712
 
Added on 20-Nov-20 | Last updated 20-Nov-20
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So oft as I with state of present time
The image of the antique world compare,
Whereas man’s age was in his freshest prime,
And the first blossom of faire vertue bare,
Such oddes I find twixt those and these which arc,
As that, through long continuance of his course,
Me seemes the world is runne quite out of square
From the first point of his appointed source;
And being once amiss, grows daily worse and worse: […]

For that which all men then did vertue call,
Is now cald vice; and that which vice was hight,
Is now hight vertue, and so us’d of all;
Right now is wrong, and wrong that was is right.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Proem, st. 1, 4 (1589-96)
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Added on 20-Jul-20 | Last updated 20-Jul-20
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Every great work of art has two faces: one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity.

Daniel Barenboim (b. 1942) Argentine-Israeli pianist and conductor
Quoted in the International Herald Tribune (20 Jan 1989)

The above is sometimes cited to his collaborative dialog with Edward Said, Parallels and Paradoxes (2002), but the passage there is slightly different: "I think that every great work of art has two faces: one toward its own time and one toward eternity."
 
Added on 14-May-20 | Last updated 15-May-20
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The greatest skill in cards is to know when to discard; the smallest of current trumps is worth more than the ace of trumps of the last game.

[La mejor treta del juego es saberse descartar: más importa la menor carta del triunfo que corre que la mayor del que pasó.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 31 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

The true skill at play, is to know how to discard. The lowest Card that turns up, is better than the highest of the former dealing.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

The great trick in cards lies in knowing what to discard: and the deuce of a suit that is trump, is more valuable than the ace of a suit that was.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

The trick is to know what cards to get rid of. The least card in the winning hand in front of you is more important than the best card in the losing hand you just laid down.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

 
Added on 31-Jan-20 | Last updated 26-Jun-23
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To you and me
Life is not full; we see
The good days fly
And, ah, how grievously
Their sum doth mount,
Set all to our account;
Why dally we
Who know what life should be?

[Nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque
Soles effugere atque abire sentit,
Qui nobis pereunt et inputantur.
Quisquam vivere cum sciat, moratur?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 20 (5.20.11-14) (AD 90) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

The phrase pereunt et imputantur (they [the days] pass by, and are put to our account) is often found on sundials.

"To Julius Martialis." (Source (Latin)).

Alternate translations:

Now, to himself, alas! Does neither live,
But sees good suns, of which we are to give
A strict account, set, and march quick away:
Know a man how to live, and does he stay?
[tr. Cowley (1656)]

We behold the good suns shine, and pass away; lost are they for ever, yet, nevertheless, they are counted in our reckoning. Is it possible that anyone who knows how to live delays to live accordingly?
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, #14; identified as ep. 21]

As it is, neither of us lives for himself, but sees his good days flee from him and vanish; days which are ever being lost to us, and set down to our account. Should any one, then, delay to live, when he knows how?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Now neither lives unto himself, alas!
And the good suns we see, that flash and pass
And perish; and the bell that knells them cries,
"Another gone: O when will ye arise?"
[tr. Stevenson (1884)]

Today neither lives for himself, and he feels the good days are flitting and passing away, our days that perish and are cored to our account. Does any man, when he knows how to live, delay?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Now neither of us truly lives at all.
Suns rise and set and swell the reckoning. Say,
Does life mean anything? Then live today.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #230, "To His Cousin"]

Now neither lives his life, but he
Marks precious days that pass and flee.
These days are lost, but their amount
Is surely set to our account.
Knowledge the clue to life can give;
Then wherefore hesitate to live?
[tr. Duff (1929)]

But as things are now, neither one of us
Lives for himself, while ever glorious
Days slip by unlived, never to come
Again, deducted always from that sum
Allotted us. Why then do we not live,
We who know the joys that life can give?
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

But as it is, we, both and each,
Miss the rich life within our reach,
We watch the good sun speed and set
And the lost day goes down as debt.
Would any man, if he knew how
To live, not do it here and now?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Now, twin lives are not our own.
Our good suns flee & disappear,
Debited, as they die, to us.
Who hesitates that's learned to live?
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

We toil too much for others. Days
flicker by and then are billed,
one by one, to our accounts. Since we know
how, let's start really living now.
[tr. Matthews (1992)]

We feel our good days slip away and leave us; they are wasted, and put to our account. Does any man, knowing the way to live, defer it?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Now neither lives
his life. We feel our good days flee,
Numbered and spent. Knowing the way
to live, why should a man delay.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

As it is now, neither of us lives for his own benefit, each of us can feel his best days slipping away and leaving us behind. They're gone, they've been debited from our account. What kind of person knows how to live, but keeps putting it off?
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

 
Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
(Attributed)
 
Added on 14-May-18 | Last updated 14-May-18
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If you would understand your own age, read the works of fiction produced in it. People in disguise speak freely.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Cloud(1835)
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now.

Hugh Laurie (b. 1959) English actor, writer, musician, singer
Interview with Sophie Harris, Time Out: New York (1 Sep 2012)
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Added on 5-Dec-16 | Last updated 5-Dec-16
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To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

zinn-itself-a-marvelous-victory-wist_info-quote

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) American historian, academic, author, social activist
“The Optimism of Uncertainty,” The Nation (2 Sep 2004)
    (Source)

Adopted from Zinn's essay of the same name in Paul Loeb (ed.), The Impossible Will Take a Little While (2004). See also Zinn, "A Marvelous Victory" (23 Feb 2004).
 
Added on 28-Nov-16 | Last updated 11-Dec-16
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Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility and reverence.

johnson-growing-depravity-of-the-world-wist_info-quote

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #50 (8 Sep 1750)
    (Source)
 
Added on 6-Oct-16 | Last updated 26-Jun-22
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Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae, l. 943
 
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Live now, believe me, wait not till tomorrow;
Gather the roses of life today.

[Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain;
Cueillez dés aujourd’huy les roses de la vie.]

De Ronsard - roses of life - wist_info quote

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) French poet
“Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,” l. 13, Sonnets pour Hélène (1578)
    (Source)
 
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Our deeds still travel with us from afar.
And what we have been makes us what we are.

Eliot - deeds still travel with us - wist_info quote

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch (1871-72)
 
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Remember that man’s life lies all within this present, as ’twere but a hair’s-breadth of time: as for the rest, the past is gone, the future yet unseen.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 3, #10
 
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We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Speech (1963-12-13), Consumer Advisory Council, Washington, D.C.
    (Source)
 
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There are many fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtless friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of some less fortunate fellow traveler. Today you can make your life big, broad, significant and worthwhile. The present is yours to do with it as you will.

Kleiser - today is the day - wist_info quote

Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953) Canadian-American self-help author
Inspiration And Ideals: Thoughts For Every Day, “August Twenty-Eighth” (1918 ed.)
 
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Cease to inquire what the future has in store, and to take as a gift whatever the day brings forth.

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Odes [Carmina], Book 1, Ode 9, l. 13 (c. 23 BC)
 
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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.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
(Attributed)

In The Teaching of Buddha [The Buddhist Bible] (1934) by the Federation of All Young Buddhist Associations of Japan.
 
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Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.

Buchwald - only time weve got - wist_info quote

Art Buchwald (1925-2007) American humorist, columnist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 13-Apr-16 | Last updated 13-Apr-16
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The whole lesson of my life has been that no ‘methods of stimulation’ are of any lasting use. They are indeed like drugs — a stronger dose is needed each time and soon no possible dose is effective. We must not bother about thrills at all. Do the present duty — bear the present pain — enjoy the present pleasure — and leave emotions and ‘experiences’ to look after themselves.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer, literary scholar, lay theologian [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter to Mrs. Ray Garrett (12 Sep 1960)
 
Added on 14-Oct-15 | Last updated 14-Oct-15
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Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy.

[La philosophie triomphe aisément des maux passés et des maux à venir; mais les maux présents triomphent d’elle.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶22 (1665-1678) [tr Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). French variants:

La philosophie triomphe aisément des maux passés et de ceux qu’un ne sont pas prêts d’arriver; mais les maux présents triomphent d'elle.
(1665)]

La philosophie ne fait des merveilles que contre les maux passés ou contre ceux qui ne sont pas prêts d’arriver, mais elle n’a pas grande vertu contre les maux présents.
[Manuscript]

Alternate English translations:

Philosophy may easily triumph over Evils past, as also over those not yet ready to assault a man; but the present triumph over it.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶87]

Philosophy finds it an easie matter to vanquish past and future Evils, but the present are commonly too hard for it.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶23]

Philosophy easily triumphs over past and future ills; but present ills triumph over philosophy.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), "Ills" ¶242]

Philosophy easily triumphs over ills both past and future; but present ills triumph over philosophy.
[ed. Carville (1835), "Ills" ¶211]

Philosophy easily triumphs over past and future ills: but religion only triumphs over the present ones.
[ed. Carville (1835), "Philosophers" ¶303]

Philosophy triumphs easily over past, and over future evils, but present evils triumph over philosophy.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶23]

Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and future evils; but present evils triumph over it.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Philosophy easily masters past and future ills, but the sorrow of the moment is the master of philosophy.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

Philosophy easily conquers both past and future misfortunes, but is conquered by the misfortunes of the moment.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Philosophy can easily triumph over past misfortunes and over those that lie ahead: but the misfortunes of the present will triumph over our philosophy.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Philosophy triumphs with ease over misfortunes past and to come, but present misfortunes triumph over it.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

Philosophy triumphs easily over past and future evils; but present evils triumph over it.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
Added on 30-Jul-15 | Last updated 19-Jan-24
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Mary, my sweet, carpe that old diem! — it’s the only game in town.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Methuselah’s Children [Lazarus Long] (1958)
 
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Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; — one step enough for me.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
“Lead, Kindly Light” (16 Jun 1833)
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What a day-to-day affair life is.

Jules Laforgue (1860-1887) Franco-Uruguayan Symbolist poet
“Complainte sur certains ennuis,” Les Complaintes (1885)
 
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Great as our differences are, all of us — professors, politicians, preachers — would no doubt find that we had much in common after all if it were possible to meet in the flesh some distinguished representatives from a former age.

Carl L. Becker (1873-1945) American historian
The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-century Philosophers (1932)
 
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But we live through the fine days without noticing them; only when we fall on evil ones do we wish to have back the former. With sour faces we let a thousand bright and pleasant hours slip by unenjoyed and afterwards vainly sigh for their return when times are trying and depressing. Instead of this, we should cherish every present moment that is bearable, even the most ordinary, which with such indifference we now let slip by, and even with impatience push on.

[Aber wir verleben unsre schönen Tage, ohne sie zu bemerken: erst wann die schlimmen kommen, wünschen wir jene zurück. Tausend heitere, angenehme Stunden lassen wir, mit verdrießlichem Gesicht, ungenossen an uns vorüberziehn, um nachher, zur trüben Zeit, mit vergeblicher Sehnsucht ihnen nachzuseufzen. Statt dessen sollten wir jede erträgliche Gegenwart, auch die alltägliche, welche wir jetzt so gleichgültig vorüberziehn lassen, und wohl gar noch ungeduldig nachschieben.]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” ch. 5 “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” § 2.5 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

But we live through our days of happiness without noticing them; it is only when evil comes upon us that we wish them back. A thousand gay and pleasant hours are wasted in ill-humor; we let them slip by unenjoyed, and sigh for them in vain when the sky is overcast. Those present moments that are bearable, be they never so trite and common, -- passed by in indifference, or, it may be, impatiently pushed away.
[tr. Saunders (1890)]

 
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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.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
In Bukkyõ Dendõ Kyõkai, The Teaching of Buddha (1966)

Likely a paraphrase of a variety of the Buddha's teachings.
 
Added on 15-Sep-14 | Last updated 15-Sep-14
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The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
 
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TURHAN: The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast, terrible in-between.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 2×09 “The Coming of Shadows” (1 Feb 1995)
 
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Therefore, two bad habits must be forbidden, both the fear of the future and the memory of by-gone trouble; the latter no longer belongs to me, the former, not yet.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], letter 78, sec. 14
 
Added on 10-Sep-13 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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We cannot overstate our debt to the Past, but the moment has the supreme claim.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Quotation and Originality,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
 
Added on 16-May-12 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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Happiness is the only good.
The place to be happy is here.
The time to be happy is now.
The way to be happy is to make others so.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Note to a fan (26 Mar 1897)
 
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Ask counsel of both times — of the ancienter time what is best, and of the latter time what is fittest.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Great Place,” Essays, No. 11 (1625)
    (Source)
 
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Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?

I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.

Open your doors and look abroad.

From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.

In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across a hundred years.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Bengali poet, philosopher [a.k.a. Rabi Thakur, Kabiguru]
The Gardener, #85 (1915)
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I am old, but I certainly have not that sign of old-age, extolling the past at the expense of the present.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith, by His Daughter, Lady Holland, Vol. 1, ch. 11 (1855)
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ULYSSES: Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devoured
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done. Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honor bright. To have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion like a rusty mail
In monumental mock’ry.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, sc. 3, l. 153ff (3.3.153-158) (1602)
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We know nothing of tomorrow; our business is to be good and happy today.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith, by His Daughter, Lady Holland, Vol. 1, ch. 12 (1855)
    (Source)
 
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To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament for the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” (23 Apr 1770)
 
Added on 6-May-08 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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These times of ours are serious and full of calamity, but all times are essentially alike. As soon as there is life there is danger.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Public and Private Education,” lecture, Boston (1864-11-27)
 
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The mind is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity …. The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #2 (24 Mar 1750)
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Added on 27-Dec-07 | Last updated 25-Jun-22
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