Hubris

Hubris, arrogance, is just one step ahead of loss of integrity, because if you think you’re better than other people, you know more, then you’re going to think, as many leaders have, that the rules don’t apply to them – so they lose their integrity.

Charles Koch

Advertising doesn’t cause addictions

Advertising doesn’t cause addictions. But it does create a climate of denial and it contributes mightily to a belief in the quick fix, instant gratification, the dreamworld, and escape from all pain and boredom. All of this is part of what addicts believe and what we hope for when we reach for our particular substance…. Addiction begins with the hope that something “out there” can instantly fill up the emptiness inside. Advertising is all about this false hope.

Jean Kilbourne

Now I will tell you

Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. 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. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

George Orwell, 1984

Tourists traveling in their comfortable rail coaches

Of course, tourists traveling in their comfortable rail coaches could only glean the vaguest idea of the conditions in which the Indians live, from the fast glimpses they catch as they speed past our train, which has stopped to let them pass. The fact that it was the U.S. archaeologist Bingham who discovered the ruins and expounded his findings in easily accessible articles for the general public, means that Machu Picchu is by now very famous in that country to the north and the majority of North Americans visiting Peru come here. In general they fly direct to Lima, tour Cuzco, visit the ruins and return straight home, not believing that anything else is worth seeing.

Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries

You swallow hard

You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, ”It happened overnight.” But of course it didn’t. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can’t remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people’s other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing.

Colson Whitehead

I must still have hope

Many people seem to think it foolish, even superstitious, to believe that the world could still change for the better. And it is true that in winter it is sometimes so bitingly cold that one is tempted to say, ‘What do I care if there is a summer; its warmth is no help to me now.’ Yes, evil often seems to surpass good. But then, in spite of us, and without our permission, there comes at last an end to the bitter frosts. One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw. And so I must still have hope.

Vincent van Gogh

There is no hunting

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.

Ernest Hemingway

There is nothing noble

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.

Ernest Hemingway

Cunningham’s Law

The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.

Ward Cunningham, American computer programmer who developed the first wiki

We can destroy ourselves

We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs.

Kenneth Clark

Life is not an easy matter

Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.

Leon Trotsky

Life

Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.

Edith Wharton

Men feared witches

Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.

Justice Justice Louis Brandeis, Whitney v. California, Concurring Opinion

If you are lucky enough

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

Ernest Hemingway

I love sleep

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?

Ernest Hemingway

He who receives an idea from me

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

Thomas Jefferson

The Dream

The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.

Unknown

Substitute Damn

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Mark Twain

The parents are the worst!

The parents are the worst! They completely lose their minds, like academic bridezillas, focused on getting their precious mini-me into college and never for a minute thinking about what happens when the poor b*****s actually get there, not to mention when they get out! God forbid they learn to fend for themselves or trust their own judgment or fail and struggle and succeed on their own terms. No! Everything has to be smoothed out and landscaped for Tiffany and Kody and Jasmine and Joshua, and if regular people get run over in the process, then that’s how the cookie crumbles!

Abbi Waxman

We fluff them and fold them

We fluff them and fold them and nudge them and enhance them and bind them and break them and embellish them beyond measure; then, as we drive them up to the college interviews that they’ve heard since birth are the gateway to the lives they were destined to lead based on nothing more than our own need for it to be true, we tell them, with a smile so tight it would crack nuts, “Just be yourself.”

Heather Choate Davis

Let the past be content

Let the past be content with itself, for man needs forgetfulness as well as memory.

James Stephens

Buying and Selling

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

P. J. O’Rourke

A literary agent

A literary agent is nothing but a cheap salesman (or woman); while a writer is a cheap salesman (or woman) who also has to actually write the books.

John Hodgman

Old Lawyers

Old lawyers would rather tell war stories than eat lunch.

John Grisham, The Guardians

Revision

Some people say revision is like cleaning up after the party. I say revision is the party.

Billy Collins

It takes a lot of neurosis

It takes a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you’d do something else.

Lawrence Durrell

You are always new

You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was fill’d with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time…Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you.

John Keats, letter to Fanny Brawne

You want accuracy, but not representation

You want accuracy, but not representation. If you know how to make the figuration, it doesn’t work. Anything you can make, you make by accident. In painting, you have to know what you do, not how, when you do it.

. . . .

I want a very ordered image, but I want it to come about by chance.

Francis Bacon

All painting… is an accident

In my case all painting… is an accident. I foresee it and yet I hardly ever carry it out as I foresee it. It transforms itself by the actual paint. I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things which are very much better than I could make it do.

Francis Bacon

Time, unfortunately

Time, unfortunately, though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality, has no such simple effect upon the mind of man. The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time. An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography

To me

To me, murder seems to be the ultimate form of social distancing.

J. P. Pulkkinen, Finnish crime novelist

So now do you see why books are hated and feared?

So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.

Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451

The Johnstown Flood

A locomotive whistle was a matter of some personal importance to a railroad engineer. It was tuned and worked (even “played”) according to his own personal choosing. The whistle was part of the make-up of the man; he was known for it as much as he was known for the engine he drove. And aside from its utilitarian functions, it could also be an instrument of no little amusement. Many an engineer could get a simple tune out of his whistle, and for those less musical it could be used to aggravate a cranky preacher in the middle of his Sunday sermon or to signal hello through the night to a wife or lady friend. But there was no horseplay about tying down the cord. A locomotive whistle going without letup meant one thing on the railroad, and to everyone who lived near the railroad. It meant there was something very wrong.
The whistle of John Hess’ engine had been going now for maybe five minutes at most. It was not on long, but it was the only warning anyone was to hear, and nearly everyone in East Conemaugh heard it and understood almost instantly what it meant.

David McCullough, The Johnstown Flood

There is only one place to write

There is only one place to write and that is alone at a typewriter. The writer who has to go into the streets is a writer who does not know the streets. . . when you leave your typewriter you leave your machine gun and the rats come pouring through.

Charles Bukowski

Most cynics

Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they’ve been hurt, they’re sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that’s protecting this tiny, dear part in them that’s still alive.

Jeff Bridges