O poor, unthinking human heart

O poor, unthinking human heart! Error will not go away, logic and reason are slow to penetrate. We cling with both arms to false hope, refusing to believe in the weightiest proofs against it, embracing it with all our strength. In the end it escapes, ripping our veins and draining our heart’s blood; until, regaining consciousness, we rush to fall into snares of delusion all over again

Rabindranath Tagore

Power is not a means

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

George Orwell

Evil

Those to whom evil is done, do evil in re­turn.

W.H. Au­den

Hypocrisy

For neither man nor angel can discern Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks Invisible, except to God alone.

John Milton

It is impossible

It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools can be so ingenious.

Attributed to Murphy’s Law

I ushered at the Shubert

I ushered at the Shubert in New Haven during graduate school when plays en route to Broadway still went out of town to try out. I worked backstage at summer stock doing jobs from garbage man to strapping on Herbert Marshall’s wooden leg to fixing Gloria Swanson’s broken plumbing in her dressing room with her yelling at me as I worked the plunger.

John Guare

The society which scorns excellence in plumbing

The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

John W. Gardner

Imagine

Imagine that you hold in one hand an oddly shaped stone. You keep this hand closed into a fist, but still you can feel the stone’s curvature and the pointed edges, the roughness—of course, you know the relative size and weight and might even have a mental image of the color of this stone, even if you have not yet laid eyes upon it. Imagine that stone in your hand. Imagine what it is like to know everything about the way it feels, but nothing of how it looks. Hold that in mind for a moment.

Now, imagine that there is a person standing next to you who tells you that she also holds a stone in her hand. You look down and see the clenched fist and she sees yours and you confess the same. Neither of you, it seems, has yet opened the hand and seen the stone. Still, you can only trust each other’s proclamations. Standing together with your stones in hand, the two of you theorize about whether or not your respective stones are similar to one another. You discuss mundane details about your stones (not the special ones—you hesitate to make mention of the sharp point in the northern hemisphere or the flat area on the bottom). Your neighbor finally notes similarities between her stone and yours and you nod with relief and acknowledge that your stones indeed share reasonable commonalities. Over the course of your discussion, you and your neighbor finally conclude, without bothering to open your hands, that the stones you hold must indeed be quite similar.

Are they? It is only suitable to say that they are.

At the same time, and in spite of your desire not to offend, there is no doubt in your mind that the stone you hold bespeaks a greater prominence than that of your neighbor. You are not sure how you know this to be true, but it must be so! And I do not mean that this stone simply holds a greater subjective prominence. It has something of the universal, for it is, indeed, an auspicious stone! Silently, you hypothesize in what ways it must be special. It is possibly different in shape, color, weight, size and texture from the other, but you cannot confirm this. Perhaps, it is special by substance? Still, you are unsure. The very fact of your uncertainty begins to bother you and unleashes within you a deep insecurity. What if you are wrong and your stone is actually inferior to the other…or inferior even to some third stone not yet encountered?

Meanwhile, your neighbor is silently suffering in the same agony. Both of you tacitly understand that, without comparing the two visually, it is absurd to proclaim the two stones similar. Yet, your fist remains clenched, as does your neighbor’s and so you find yourselves unable to hold out the stones before you and compare them side-by-side. Of course, this is possible, but the mutual curiosity is outstripped by an inveterate pride, and so you both become afraid of showing (and even seeing) what you have, for fear that your respective stones will be different in appearance from the model that you have each conceptualized in mind. Meekly your eyes meet and you smile to one another at your new comradeship, but, all the while, remain paralyzed by a simultaneous shame and vanity.

Ashim Shanker

We find the Mayan pantheon peculiar

We find the Mayan pantheon peculiar. By our standards, suicide and human sacrifice are unacceptable. We tend not to notice the peculiarities of our own culture. We accept the thousands of children who wear braces to correct their teeth, yet we consider the Maya odd for filing teeth to beautify them. Each culture defines its own idiosyncrasies and then forgets that it has done so.

Pat Murphy

We of the Sabotage Bureau remain legalists

We of the Sabotage Bureau remain legalists of a special category. We know that too much law injures a society; it is the same with too little law. One seeks a balance. We are like the balancing force among the Gowachin: without hope of achieving heaven in the society of mortals, we seek the unattainable. Each agent knows his own conscience and why he serves such a master. That is the key to us. We serve a mortal conscience for immortal reasons. We do it without hope of praise or the sureness of success.

The early writings of Bildoon, PanSpechi Chief of BuSab

Frank Herbert, The Dosadi Experiment

From the very beginning

It is…highly probable that from the very beginning, apart from death, the only ironclad rule of human experience has been the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Ian Tattersall

All history

All history is the history of unintended consequences.

T. J. Jackson Lears

We envy people

We envy people who are extremely old because we wish to live that long, not because we want to be that old.

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

It is pardonable

It is pardonable for children to yell that they believe in fairies, but it is somehow sinister when the piping note shifts from the puerile to the senile.

Christopher Hitchens

I’ve been imitated

I’ve been imitated so well I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.

Jimmi Hendrix

There is a Providence

There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.

Otto von Bismarck

Love

Love is evil – it will make you fall in love with a goat

Russian Proverb

Russia Needs

Russia needs a strong state power and must have it. But I am not calling for totalitarianism.

Vladimir Putin

For a while, Criticism travels side by side with the Work

For a while, Criticism travels side by side with the Work, then Criticism vanishes and it’s the Readers who keep pace. The journey may be long or short. Then the Readers die one by one and the Work continues on alone, although a new Criticism and new Readers gradually fall into step with it along its path. Then Criticism dies again and the Readers die again and the Work passes over a trail of bones on its journey toward solitude. To come near the work, to sail in her wake, is a sign of certain death, but new Criticism and new Readers approach her tirelessly and relentlessly and are devoured by time and speed. Finally the Work journeys irremediably alone in the Great Vastness. And one day the Work dies, as all things must die and come to an end: the Sun and the Earth and the Solar System and the Galaxy and the farthest reaches of man’s memory. Everything that begins as comedy ends in tragedy.

Roberto Bolaño

The simple truth

The simple truth is that balding African-American men look cool when they shave their heads, whereas balding white men look like giant thumbs.

Dave Barry

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a very rich man today… and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions.

Dave Barry

The Internet

The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.

Dave Barry

I believe it was Shakespeare

I believe it was Shakespeare, or possibly Howard Cosell, who first observed that marriage is very much like a birthday candle, in that ‘the flames of passion burn brightest when the wick of intimacy is first ignited by the disposable butane lighter of physical attraction, but sooner or later the heat of familiarity causes the wax of boredom to drip all over the vanilla frosting of novelty and the shredded coconut of romance.’ I could not have phrased it better myself.

Dave Barry

Send me 300 francs

Send me 300 francs; that sum will enable me to go to Paris. There, at least, one can cut a figure and surmount obstacles. Everything tells me I shall succeed. Will you prevent me from doing so for the want of 100 crowns?

Napolean in a letter to his uncle, Joseph Fesch (June 1791)

Imagination

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

– Albert Einstein

How can I miss you?

I’ve talked to your mother and I’ve talked to your dad
They say they’ve tried, but it’s all in vain
I’ve begged and I’ve pleaded
I even got mad
Now we must face it, you give me a pain

How can I miss you when you won’t go away?
Keep telling you day after day
But you won’t listen, you always stay and stay
How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

Dan Hicks, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks

Money

Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.

Kinky Friedman

Gripping his hand

Gripping his hand, she shook. “The name’s Neve, not damsel in distress.”

Katherine McIntyre

The next time

The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.

Thomas Sowell

Most people like to read about intrigue and spies

Most people like to read about intrigue and spies. I hope to provide a metaphor for the average reader’s daily life. Most of us live in a slightly conspiratorial relationship with our employer and perhaps with our marriage.

John le Carré

The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me

The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.

Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Will Smith

The dangers of not thinking clearly

The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It’s not that there’s something new in our way of thinking – it’s that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before.

Carl Sagan

When you find a writer who really is saying something to you

When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous.

Joseph Campbell

Thanks to R for the tip.

Sometimes I lie awake at night

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’

Charles M. Schulz