Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.

Carl Sandburg

And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.

PG posted an item yesterday titled, “Coordinating vs. Subordinating Conjunctions,” which triggered some comments that he appreciated, including one that asserted, “English punctuation is a mess.”

So PG was moved to hunt a bit in search of some excellent quotes about conjunctions for inclusion in today’s crop of blog posts.

His favorite conjunction quote is this one, which, as a bonus, also counsels the avoidance of “trendy locutions that sound flaky.”

Do not put statements in the negative form. And don’t start sentences with a conjunction. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. De-accession euphemisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

William Safire

PG is certain that visitors to The Passive Voice will warn him if he strays into unqualified superlatives and trendy locutions or fails to de-accesion euphisms and choose diminutive words in the future.

I could be content that we might procreate like trees

I could be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that we were any way to perpetuate the world without this trivial and vulgar way of coition; it is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life.

Thomas Browne

He has willed – He wills incessantly

He has willed – He wills incessantly – that the modifications of the mind and those of the body shall be reciprocal. This is the conjunction and the natural dependence of the two parts of which we are constituted.

Nicolas Malebranche

Sometimes, you read a book

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

John Green

A Reader

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

Before I came here

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

Enrico Fermi

What we observe

What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.

Werner Heisenberg

The Desolate Wilderness

From The Wall Street Journal:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

This editorial has run annually since 1961.

In a meat-eating world

In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and even clothes, the discussion of fur is childish.

Karl Lagerfeld

Fiction has been maligned for centuries

Fiction has been maligned for centuries as being “false,” “untrue,” yet good fiction provides more truth about the world, about life, and even about the reader, than can be found in non-fiction.

Clark Zlotchew

A short story is

A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.

Lorrie Moore

Science fiction is any idea

Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.

Ray Bradbury


Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.

Nancy Pearcey

Learning and innovation go hand in hand

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

William Pollard

Influential people

Influential people are never satisfied with the status quo. They’re the ones who constantly ask, ‘What if?’ and ‘Why not?’ They’re not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and they don’t disrupt things for the sake of being disruptive; they do it to make things better.

Travis Bradberry

In Europe

In Europe, we would congratulate anyone who is successful. But congratulations stop if we find that you start to misuse a dominant position.

Margrethe Vestager

For those unfamiliar with Ms. Vestager, among other roles, she is the Commissioner for Competition in the EU, holding a position similar to the Assistant Attorney General which manages the Antitrust Division in the US Justice Department.


Competition is one of the most important drivers of innovation because you have to stay in the race. You have to think of something new, and if you don’t, well, of course you should leave the market.

Margrethe Vestager

The dead

The dead have never bothered me. It’s the living that I fear.

Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem

What’s going on in Washington

Whenever you’re faced with an explanation of what’s going on in Washington, the choice between incompetence and conspiracy, always choose incompetence.

Charles Krauthammer

The way I understand it

The way I understand it, the Russians are sort of a combination of evil and incompetence… sort of like the Post Office with tanks.

Emo Philips

Arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence

Arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence. Not a pretty cocktail of personality traits in the best of situations. No sirree. Not a pretty cocktail in an office-mate and not a pretty cocktail in a head of state. In fact, in a leader, it’s a lethal cocktail.

Graydon Carter

As a child

As a child, I felt that books were holy objects, to be caressed, rapturously sniffed, and devotedly provided for. I gave my life to them. I still do. I continue to do what I did as a child; dream of books, make books and collect books.

Maurice Sendak

Bookstores are lonely forts

Bookstores are lonely forts, spilling light onto the sidewalk. They civilize their neighborhoods.

John Updike

Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment

Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality – the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life…. Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be.

Emily Post


Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.

Emily Post

Presidents come and go

Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.

Justice William Howard Taft

As nightfall does not come at once

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such a twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of darkness.

Justice William O. Douglas

Republics are created

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.

Justice Joseph Story

Artificial intelligence will reach human levels

Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.

Ray Kurzweil

It’s best to reframe thinking

It’s best to reframe thinking about sharing from “Who needs to know?” – which is hard to define — to “Who’s not permitted to know this information?” This way, people eligible to know certain information can access it, even if we didn’t know they need it.

Shelley Drabik, Information Management, Honeywell

(No, this quote didn’t make a lot of sense to PG either.)

You forget

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

You go to litfests

You go to litfests not because you’re a book lover but because you want to show that you’re a book lover.

Nitya Prakash

There is something about wills

There is something about wills which brings out the worst side of human nature. People who under ordinary circumstances are perfectly upright and amiable, go as curly as corkscrews and foam at the mouth, whenever they hear the words ‘I devise and bequeath.’

Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Sayings of Latvian origin

From Latvian Proverbs:

Even the horse is tired on the way to church.

The young ones dance as the old ones whistle.

A smiling face is half the meal.

On the hook of truth only small carp will bite; in the net of falsehood the big salmon are caught.

You must not run after two birds at the same time.

A good backside will easily find a bench to sit on.

The master sleeps — the woods grow.

Link to the rest at Latvian Proverbs


Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill