Quotations about   repetition

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There is a role for bureaucracy; it’s very useful for certain tasks. In particular, it facilitates standardization and interchangeability. Bureaucracies excel at performing tasks that must be done consistently whether the people assigned to them are brilliant performers or bumbling fools. You can’t always count on having Albert Einstein in the patent office, so you design its procedures to work even if you hire Mr. Bean by mistake.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
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Added on 11-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-17
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If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.

Jackie "Moms" Mabley (1894-1975) American standup comedian [stage name of Loretta Mary Aiken]
(Attributed)

Also attributed to a number of other comics of the era.
Added on 8-Dec-16 | Last updated 8-Dec-16
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Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, ch. 1. (1852) [tr. Padover]
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Often paraphrased: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce."
Added on 29-Mar-16 | Last updated 29-Mar-16
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Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

Charles Reade (1814-1884) English novelist and dramatist
(Attributed)

Attributed in Notes and Queries, 9th series, vol. 12 (7 Nov 1903). Not found in any of his works, but attributed to many other authors over time. See here for more discussion.
Added on 7-Sep-15 | Last updated 10-Aug-16
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If an idiot were to tell you the same story every day for a year, you would end by believing it.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
(Attributed)

Cited in J.F. Boyes, Lacon in Council (1865). Also attributed to Horace Mann.
Added on 6-Feb-15 | Last updated 6-Feb-15
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The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“The Myth of Sisyphus”, The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)
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Added on 10-Nov-14 | Last updated 10-Nov-14
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The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Pope” (1781)
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Added on 1-Aug-14 | Last updated 1-Aug-14
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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

[Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.]

Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) French journalist and novelist
Les Guêpes, vi (Jan 1849)
Added on 18-Feb-14 | Last updated 18-Feb-14
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When we are convinced of some great truths, and feel our convictions keenly, we must not fear to express it, although others have said it before us. Every thought is new when an author expresses it in a manner peculiar to himself.

Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues (1715-1747) French moralist, essayist, soldier
Reflections and Maxims [Réflexions et maximes] (1746) [tr. Lee (1903)]
Added on 12-Dec-13 | Last updated 12-Dec-13
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Cato said the best way to keep good acts in memory was to refresh them with new.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Apothegms, #247 (1624)
Added on 24-Jun-10 | Last updated 16-May-16
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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics (c. 350 BC) (paraphrase)

Variants: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." "We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit."

Not actually Aristotle, but a summary by  Will Durant,  The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926), ch. II "Aristotle and Greek Science," Part VII "Ethics and the Nature of Happiness" (1926):
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.'"
The quoted phrases are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, ch. 4; Book 1, ch. 7.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jun-17
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Marriage must continually vanquish the monster that devours everything, the monster of habit.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) French novelist, playwright
Physiology of Marriage (1829)

Alt. trans.: "Marriage must constantly fight against a monster which devours everything: routine."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Sep-17
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