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Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) American writer
“Agnostic’s Prayer,” Creatures of Light and Darkness (1969)
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Used by a character to shrive a person about to commit a public suicide. Also called the "Possibly Proper Death Litany."
Added on 11-May-22 | Last updated 11-May-22
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Nostalgia for what we have lost is more bearable than nostalgia for what we have never had, for the first involves knowledge and pleasure, the second only ignorance and pain.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1963)
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Added on 24-Feb-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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The neurotic circles ceaselessly above a fogged-in airport.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1963)
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Added on 10-Feb-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Nothing is so firmly believed, as what we least know.

[Qu’il faut sobrement se mêler de juger des ordonnances divines.]

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 1, ch. 31, “That a Man must not be too hasty in judging of Divine Ordinances” (1580) [tr. Cotton (1686), Hazlitt (1877)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Nothing is so firmly believed, as that which a man knoweth least." [tr. Florio (1603)]
  • "Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known."
Added on 9-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-Nov-20
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I like handling newborn animals. Fallen into life from an unmappable world, they are the ultimate immigrants, full of wonder and confusion.

Diane Ackerman (b. 1948) American poet, author, naturalist
The Moon by Whale Light, ch. 4 “White Lanterns” (1991)
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Added on 14-Apr-20 | Last updated 14-Apr-20
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A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Culture,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 4 (1860)
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Added on 17-Mar-20 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Reaper Man (1991)
Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 31-May-19
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Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 18 (2016)
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A variant of Clarke's Third Law.
Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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Don’t express your ideas too clearly. Most people think little of what they understand, and venerate what they do not.

[No allanarse sobrado en el concepto. Los más no estiman lo que entienden, lo que no perciben lo veneran. Las cosas, para que se estiman, han de costar; será celebrado cuando no fuese entendido.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 253 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1982)]

Alt. trans.: "Do not Explain overmuch. Most men do not esteem what they understand, and venerate what they do not see. ... Many praise a thing without being able to tell why, if asked. The reason is that they venerate the unknown as a mystery, and praise it because they hear it praised." [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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God only knows, God makes his plan,
The information’s unavailable to the mortal man.
We’re working our jobs, collect our pay,
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away.

Paul Simon (b. 1941) American musician, singer-songwriter.
“Slip Slidin’ Away” (1977)
Added on 13-Feb-17 | Last updated 13-Feb-17
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True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world!

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #216 (1665-1678)
Added on 11-Dec-15 | Last updated 11-Dec-15
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Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.

Reade - of no note - wist_info

Charles Reade (1814-1884) English novelist and dramatist
The Cloister and the Hearth, ch. 1 (1861)
Added on 25-Nov-15 | Last updated 25-Nov-15
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     More to the point, nameless hideous monsters are freaking terrifying. You always fear what you don’t know, what you don’t understand, and the first step to having understanding of something is to know what to call it. It’s a habit of mine to give names to anything I wind up interacting with if it doesn’t have one readily available. Names have power — magically, sure, but far more important, they have psychological power. Something horrible with a name holds less power over you, less terror, than something horrible without one.
     “Octokongs,” I pronounced grimly. “Why did it have to be octokongs?”

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Skin Game (2014)
Added on 16-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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It is the business of the future to be dangerous.

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) English mathematician and philosopher
Science and the Modern World (1925)
Added on 21-Apr-15 | Last updated 21-Apr-15
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It needs inordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Ordeal of Change (1963)
Added on 17-Apr-15 | Last updated 17-Apr-15
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WASH: Little River gets more colorful by the moment. What’ll she do next?

ZOE: Either blow us all up or rub soup in our hair. It’s a toss-up.

WASH: I hope she does the soup thing. It’s always a hoot and we don’t all die from it.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×14 “Objects in Space” (13 Dec 2002)
Added on 9-Apr-15 | Last updated 9-Apr-15
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How small man is on this little atom where he dies! But how great his intelligence! He knows when the face of the stars must be masked in darkness, when the comets will return after thousands of years, he who lasts only an instant! A microscopic insect lost in a fold of the heavenly robe, the orbs cannot hide from him a single one of their movements in the depth of space. What destinies will those stars, new to us, light? Is their revelation bound up with some new phase of humanity? You will know, race to be born; I know not, and I am departing.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave [Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe], Book 42, ch. 18 (1848-1850) [tr. Kline]
Added on 13-May-14 | Last updated 13-May-14
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Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Death,” Essays, No. 2 (1625)
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Added on 28-May-10 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
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Death, like life, is an affair of being more frightened than hurt.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Erewhon (1872)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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When you want to test the depths of a stream, don’t use both feet.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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But the iniquity of oblivion blindely scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. […] Who knows whether the best of men be known? or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot, then any that stand remembred in the known account of time?

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Buriall, ch. 5 (1658)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Aug-21
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Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.

Eric Jong
Erica Jong (b. 1942) American writer, poet
“The Artist as Housewife,” The First Ms. Reader, ed. Francine Kragbrun (1972)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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