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Quotes Collection

by Ken Manheimer last modified Nov 29, 2013 06:51 AM
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Pithy quotes appeal to my yearning for clarity. Here are some of my favorites, organized around themes.

As if

  • our words fly off like arrows, as if we knew what was right and wrong
    -- Chuang Tsu, The Inner Chapters

But, first...

... some very favorites, to be found again scattered among the subsequent thematic sections

  • Affability keeps the boat from rocking, but truth keeps it from sinking.
    -- ?
  • Laughter is the closest distance between two people.
    -- Victor Borge
  • The only permanent rule in Calvin ball is that you can't play the same way twice.
    -- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
  • A finite game is played for the purpose of winning. An infinite game is played for the purpose of continuing the play. ... Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries. ... Surprise causes finite play to end; it is the reason for infinite play to continue.
    -- Excerpts from James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games - A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility:
  • Those at the center can imagine what it is to be outside. The strong can imagine what it is to be weak. Illuminated lives can imagine the dark. Poets in their twilight can imagine the borders of stellar fire. We strangers can imagine the familiar hearts of strangers.
    -- Cynthia Ozick, The Moral Necessity of Metaphor, Harpers 5/86
  • Warning
    ... proves to warn
    that he not busy being born is busy dying.
    -- Bob Dylan, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
  • Replace ambition with curiosity.
    -- Nancy Stark Smith
  • All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can't get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.
    -- IBM maintenance manual, 1925
  • Kindness:
  • Kindness in thought leads to wisdom.
    Kindness in speech leads to eloquence.
    Kindness in action leads to love.
    

    -- Lao-Tsu

  • We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.
    -- Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man
  • We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.
    -- La Rochefoucauld
  • A neurosis is a secret that you don't know you are keeping.
    -- Kenneth Tynan
  • Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion - all in one.
    -- John Ruskin
  • The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.
    -- George Orwell
  • A person looking for god is like a man on an ox riding around looking for an ox to ride.
    -- ?
  • It's often said that life is strange, oh yes, but compared to what?
    -- Steve Forbert
  • The seems to be no agent more effective than another person in bringing a world for onself alive, or, by a glance, a gesture, or a remark, shriveling up the reality in which one is [...] lodged.
    -- R.D.Laing, The Politics of Experience
  • Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
    -- Andre Gide
  • Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.
    -- Andre Gide
  • Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.
    -- Isaac Asimov
  • One likely symptom of a personal blind spot is a resentful urge to blame someone else.
    -- klm
  • Music is the cup that holds the wine of silence. Sound is that cup, but empty. Noise is that cup, broken.
    -- Robert Fripp
  • The sage steers by the torch of chaos and doubt.
    -- Chuang Tsu
    (Sometimes translated as, "The sage seeks insight from chaos and doubt.")
  • Simplicity is the natural result of profound thought.
    -- ?
  • Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.
    -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.
    -- Pablo Picasso

  • The best artist has that thought alone
    Which is contained within the marble shell;
    The sculptor's hand can only break the spell
    To free the figures slumbering in the stone.
    

    -- Michelangelo

  • The poet Ira Cohen defines this poetic moment [of epiphany] as "temporary sanity".
    -- jon hassell
  • Life as a Child
  • Do you remember life as a child?
    When you woke up in the morning,
    and the morning smiled?
    

    -- Taj Mahal

  • You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.
    You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
    -- Naquib Mahfouz
  • Problems that remain persistently insolvable should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.
    -- Alan Watts
  • If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.
    -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
  • Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
    -- Volatire
  • bones:
  • To live in this world you must be able to do three things:
    to love what is mortal,
    to hold it against your bones knowing that your life depends on it,
    and, when the time comes to let it go,
    to let it go.
    

    -- Mary Oliver, exerpted end of the poem In Blackwater Woods

  • I know where weapons of mass destruction are.
    Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction.
    Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction.
    Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction.
    Poor health care is a weapon of mass destruction.
    And when the government lies to the American people,
    that is a weapon of mass destruction.
    -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich
  • Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
    -- Mark Twain
  • Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.
    -- Wendell Berry
  • But she didn't try to speak to him again, nor did she follow them. She just took off running to the old Perkins place. He couldn't help turning to watch. She ran as though it was her nature. It reminded him of the flight of wild ducks in the autumn. So smooth. The word "beautiful" came to his mind, but he shook it away and hurried up toward the house.
    -- Katherin Patterson, Bridge To Terabithia
  • I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
    -- Theodore Giesel, aka Dr. Seuss
  • please stare
    please stare
    worship a thousand tiny gardens
    swim some luscious summer lake
    & drive shadow's frantic storm
    away
    

    -- klm

  • Everything in the world is wonderfully and magnificently mixed up. It is exactly like a woven tapestry. A tapestry to bring tears to your eyes...

    True, it is very easy to get into a muddle, but there is one magic formula for keeping out of muddles. I'll sell you that formula, oh dreamer. There, take it. Here it is: look.. Look. Look. That's all there is to it. Look - and that's all. Look, even when you want to screw up your eyes. Look, even when you don't like what you see. Look, even when it's not what you expected. Remember, the world is never wrong. What is - is. Even if you hate something in the world and want to destroy it - look. Otherwise you will destroy the wrong thing. Get me?
    -- Yevgeny Shwartz
  • Everything's perfect, but there's a lot of room for improvement.
    -- Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
  • Perfection is never a good recipe.
    -- klm
  • Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. that's how the light gets in.
    -- Leonard Cohen
  • Even in the grimmest of circumstances, a shift in perspective can create startling change.
    -- Susan Griffin, http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0127-21.htm
  • There are ways of looking, but staring only takes. 
    -- Robert Fripp, from a 1979 indie interview [YouTube]
  • The master was slipping from his official position momentarily, and it was just possible, if Phineas pressed hard enough, that there might be a flow of simple, unregulated friendliness between them, and such flows were one of Finny's reasons for living.
    -- John Knowles, A Separate Peace
  • The real treasure in this corrupt world is the stuff you share when you're being uncool.
    -- Cameron Crowe/Phillip Seymour Hoffman/Lester Bangs, Almost Famous
  • Gayety of the Cronopio

    An encounter between a cronopio and a fama at a liquidation sale in a shop called La Mondiale.

    -Gray day, cronopio cronopio.
    -Grade A, fama. Respite catalan hopeful.
    -Cronopio cronopio?
    -Thread?
    -Two, but one blue one.

    The fama considers the cronopio. He will not utter a sound until he's certain the words are precisely correct. Fearful that the always alert esperanzas, those sparkling microbes, will simply slip into the air, and through one mistaken word invade the cronopio's good-natured heart.

    -Raining outside, the cronopio says. The whole sky.
    -Don't let it bother you, says the fama. We'll go in my automobile. To keep the thread dry.

    He puts his head out the door and looks up and down the street. Not an esperanza in sight. He allows a sigh of satisfaction to escape. Furthermore, it pleases him to observe the touching gayety of the cronpio, who clutches against his chest the two threads--one blue one--and hopes anxiously that the fama is going to invite him to get into his car.
    -- Julio Cortezar, Cronpios and Famas

Creation, Ambition, and The Whole Shebang

  • Replace ambition with curiosity.
    -- nancy stark smith
  • I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
    -- Robert Frost
  • In painting, waiting is a very big part of the effort... Painting is not so much about decision. It's more about acceptance - of the fact that certain structures and orders and narratives really have their own saying, and all you have to do is listen.
    [...]
    Vulnerability - the ideal state of a painter. You have to cultivate it.
    -- Francesco Clemente, in this Charlie Rose interview
  • You put yourself in a trance in order to receive certain songs. It's like setting a trap. It's like fishing or anything else. You have to be real quiet to catch the big ones.
    -- Tom Waits
  • Excerpts from James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games - A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility:
    • A finite game is played for the purpose of winning. An infinite game is played for the purpose of continuing the play.
    • To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility, whatever the cost to oneself.
    • Although the rules of an infinite game change by agreement at any point in the course of play, it does not follow that any rule will do.  It is not in this sense that the game is infinite.  The rules are always designed to deal with specific threats to the continuation of play.
    • Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.
    • Surprise causes finite play to end; it is the reason for infinite play to continue.
    • It is, in fact, seriousness that closes itself to consequences, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility, whatever the cost to oneself.
    • Because infinite players prepare themselves to be surprised by the future, they play in complete openness. It is not an openness as in candor, but an openness as in vulnerability. It is not a matter of exposing one's unchanging identity, the true self that has always been, but a way of exposing one's ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that is yet to be. The infinite player does not expect to only be amused by surprise, but to be transformed by it, for surprise does not alter some abstract past, but [ - by discovery - ] one's own personal past.
    • Infinite players are not serious actors in any story, but the joyful poets of a story that continues to originate what they cannot finish.
  • The only permanent rule in Calvin ball is that you can't play the same way twice.
    -- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
  • I see something, find it marvelous, and want to try and do it. Whether it fails or whether it comes off in the end becomes secondary.
    -- Alberto Giacometti
  • If
      If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master
      If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim
      If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
      And treat those two imposters just the same.
    
    -- Rudyard Kipling
    
  • The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.
    -- John Ruskin
  • I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
    -- Pablo Picasso
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
    -- Thomas Edison
  • Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, and delighted.
    -- Theodore Giesel / Dr. Seuss
  • Work is not repugnant to human nature. Overwork is.
    -- ?
  • Everything in the world is wonderfully and magnificently mixed up. It is exactly like a woven tapestry. A tapestry to bring tears to your eyes...
    True, it is very easy to get into a muddle, but there is one magic formula for keeping out of muddles. I'll sell you that formula, oh dreamer. There, take it. Here it is: look.. Look. Look. That's all there is to it. Look - and that's all. Look, even when you want to screw up your eyes. Look, even when you don't like what you see. Look, even when it's not what you expected. Remember, the world is never wrong. What is - is. Even if you hate something in the world and want to destroy it - look. Otherwise you will destroy the wrong thing. Get me?
    -- Yevgeny Shwartz
  • All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can't get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.
    -- IBM maintenance manual, 1925
  • And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
    -- Gandalf the Grey
  • These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.
    -- Vernon Cooper
  • The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.
    -- Lily Tomlin
  • If you don't know what your program is supposed to do, you'd better not start writing it.
    -- Dijkstra
  • "Bother," said the Borg, "We've assimilated Pooh."
    -- seen on the python-dev mailing list
  • formula
    If A equals success, then the formula is:   A = X + Y + Z
    
    X is work.
    Y is play.
    Z is keep your mouth shut.
    

    -- Albert Einstein

  • Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
    -- Plato
  • I'm defeated and I know it, if I meet any human being from whom I find myself unable to learn anything.
    -- George Herbert Palmer
  • Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Seek, above all, for a game worth playing.
    -- Robert S. de Ropp
  • Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
    -- ?
  • A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.
    -- Thomas Carruthers
  • People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.
    -- Samuel Johnson
  • Often you learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.
    -- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
  • We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.
    -- Blaise Pascal
  • You don't sway people by showing them how well you can do a thing; you seduce them by showing them how they could do as well themselves.
    earnestly y'rs -- tim
    -- tim peters, python developer (not the "excellence guru" tim peters), on some python programming language mailing list
  • One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.
    -- John W. Gardener
  • Talent develops in tranquility, character in the full current of human life.
    -- Goethe
  • Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
    -- Arthur Schopenhauer
  • I thought i had a sense of humor, but it turned out to be a really bad sense of smell.
    -- Jeffrey Shell
  • She wrote simple declarative sentences with a freshly-sharpened pencil.
    -- C J Silverio
  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • Simplicity is the natural result of profound thought.
    -- Who?
  • Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
    -- William Strunk Jr., 1919, "The Elements of Style"
  • In 1946, George Orwell published 'Politics and the English Language,' an essay in which he criticizes the bad habits of many writers and promotes the use of clear, unfussy language wherever possible. Towards the end of the essay, Orwell provides the following list of rules for writers.

    1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
  • If you've nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn't get it then, let it not be your fault.
    -- Niven's Laws for Writers, #5
  • Brevity is the soul of wit.
    -- William Shakespeare, 1603 - Hamlet
  • The poet Ira Cohen defines this poetic moment [of epiphany] as "temporary sanity".
    -- Jon Hassell
  • 58. Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.
    -- alan perlis' programming epigrams, #58
  • Increasingly, people seem to misinterpret complexity as sophistication, which is baffling -- the incomprehensible should cause suspicion rather than admiration. Possibly this trend results from a mistaken belief that using a somewhat mysterious device confers an aura of power on the user.
    -- Niklaus Wirth
  • Bicycles seem to me to be at a pinnacle among things that extend our ability without compromising our humanity.
    -- klm
  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
    -- E.F. Schumacker
  • There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult.
    -- C.A.R. Hoare
  • hairy thundering:
    > But IMO, this does not suggest that the current
    > situation is "correct" - it just "is" :-)
    

    To say that the Win32 FindFile protocol was designed by chimps would be a grave insult to our simian friends -- yet it is because it was, and will be because it is, and if that which endures forever is not "correct", God Himself would intervene to repair so egregious a flaw in His universe. So until God Himself does some Hairy Thundering on this issue, I'm with his Chosen Representative on this one.
    nothing-clarifies-like-logic-ly y'rs -- tim [peters, python-dev]

  • Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.
    -- Brian Kernighan
  • Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.
    -- Elie Wiesel
  • I gained nothing at all from Supreme Enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called Supreme Enlightenment.
    -- Gotama Buddha
  • Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it
    -- Richard Feynman
  • I'll play it first and tell you what it is later.
    -- Miles Davis
  • Keep on beating and sharpening a sword and its edge cannot be preserved.
    -- Lao Tzu
  • It's said that 'power corrupts', but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable.
    -- David Brin, The Postman
  • Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
    -- Mark Twain
  • We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.
    -- La Rochefoucauld
  • In the years since, Alice, too, has seen the ones who shake and scream and roll their eyes back as if snakebit, but she has always doubted the sincerity of this. Anybody can get worked up if they have the intention. It's peacefulness that is hard to come by on purpose.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees
  • Just a personal note: I want you to know that I create nice things like this because it pleases the Author of my story. If this bothers you, then your notion of Authorship needs some revision. But you can use perl anyway. :-)
    -- From the end of larry wall's perl5 README
  • The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.
    -- John Ruskin
  • Work to become, not to acquire.
    -- Elbert Hubbard
  • It is the assumption of this book that a work of art is a gift, not a commodity. Or, to state the modern case with more precision, that works of art exist simultaneously in two "economies," a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art.
    -- Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property
  • May I not sacrifice a hasty and petty completeness here to entireness there? If my curve is large, why bend it into a smaller circle? ... If life is a waiting, so be it. I will not be shipwrecked on a vain reality.
    -- Henry David Thoreau, 7/19/1851
  • True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way.
    It can't be gained by interfering.
    -- Lao-tzu
  • I try, also, to be patient, but it's hard.
    -- James Clavell, Shogun, Mariko
  • Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that.
    -- Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.
    -- Seneca
  • This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
    -- Dalai Lama
  • kindness
  • Kindness in thought leads to wisdom.
    Kindness in speech leads to eloquence.
    Kindness in action leads to love.
    

    -- Lao-Tsu

The morning smiled

  • Life as a Child
  • Do you remember life as a child?
    When you woke up in the morning,
    and the morning smiled?
    

    -- Taj Mahal

  • Christopher Robin came down from the forest to the bridge feeling all sunny and careless and just as if twice nineteen didn't matter a bit which it didn't on such a happy afternoon - and he thought that if he stood on the bottom rail of the bridge and leant over and watched the river slipping slowly away beneath him then he would suddenly know everything that there was to be known, and he would be able to tell pooh, who wasn't quite sure about some of it ...
    -- A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
  • You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.
    -- James M. Barrie
  • My life changed the day I realized that there was time for the important things.
    -- ?
  • unbridled generosity
    time
    in finite mercy
    is left handed.
    it complements
    with
    obligation, liberty;
    reverie, loss.
    
    time
    spins in mute splendor
    as vacant gods
    give and take
    with unbridled generosity
    everything
    and nothing at all.
    

    -- klm

  • time flies like an arrow. fruit flies like a banana.
    -- anon.
  • Time

    Time is the school in which we learn,
    Time is the fire in which we burn.
    

    -- Delmore Schwartz

  • (Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.)
    -- J.D. Salinger
  • Sometimes it seems like we're all living in some kind of prison, and the crime is how much we all hate ourselves. It's good to get really dressed up once in a while and admit the truth -- that when you really look closely, people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually beautiful. Possibly even me.
    -- from My So-Called Life TV episode
  • Hum
    Maybe it's the hum
    Of a calm refrigerator
    Cooling on a big night
    Maybe it's the hum
    Of our parents' voices
    Long ago in a soft light
    Long ago in a dim light
    Mmmm

    -- Excerpt from Changing Opinion by Paul Simon

  • In the years since, Alice, too, has seen the ones who shake and scream and roll their eyes back as if snakebit, but she has always doubted the sincerity of this. Anybody can get worked up if they have the intention. It's peacefulness that is hard to come by on purpose.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees
  • Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
    -- Philip K. Dick (particularly poignant coming from a self-professed "schizoid personality")
  • The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool.
    -- Cameron Crowe/Phillip Seymour Hoffman/Lester Bangs, Almost Famous
  • The master was slipping from his official position momentarily, and it was just possible, if Phineas pressed hard enough, that there might be a flow of simple, unregulated friendliness between them, and such flows were one of Finny's reasons for living.
    -- John Knowles, A Separate Peace

...And then again...

  • I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
    -- Bill Cosby
  • People will always be tempted to wipe their feet on anything that's got "Welcome" written all over it.
    -- Andy Partridge, English Settlement, "Snowman"
  • A neurosis is a secret that you don't know you are keeping.
    -- Kenneth Tynan
  • Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
    -- Carl Jung
  • to see ourselves - Verse 8 of Poem to a Louse:
    O wad some poer the giftie gie us
    To see oursl's as others see us.
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
    An' foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
    An' ev'n devotion
    

    translated from old english:

    O would some power the gift to give us
    to see ourselves as others see us.
    It would from many a blunder free us,
    And foolish notion:
    What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
    And even devotion
    

    -- Robert Burns

...And then again, again...

  • The problem is not to resist falling in love. The problem is to fall in love and be the wiser thereby...
    -- Mary Catherine Bateson, Daddy, Can a Scientist Be Wise?
  • ... to suggest that maybe love doesn't always tear us apart - that, in fact, it just might bind us together, though at great risk.
    -- Katherin Paterson
  • costs:
    biding my time, i do because i must
     - i don't even know how to imagine my castle
      much less set it loose in the sky
    
    even just knowing someone
    costs
    but the price is knowledge
    gained.
    

    -- klm

  • My parent's secret to making a relationship work: you both give 75%, and take only 50.
    -- paraphrase of scott paisley
  • Love finds us when we are not looking. Relax. Be aware.
    -- Rogers Howard
  • I expect that the welcome of love is more than that of any single passing fancy. Alliance, passion, companionship, glamour, comfort, these kinds of things contribute to the form, as building materials constitute a house - but it is how you dwell together within them that makes it a home.
    -- klm
  • If love remains
    Though everything is lost
    We will pay the price
    But we will not count the cost
    -- Neil Peart

Death and life

  • warning:
    ... proves to warn
    that he not busy being born
    is busy dying.
    

    -- Bob Dylan, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

  • Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.
    -- Corita Kent, American Painter and Muralist, 1918 - 1986
  • time:
    A friend asked, "Are you the second coming of Christ?  The Messiah?"
    "Of course not", I said.
    "How did you acquire the knowledge that you are not Him?"
    I wondered.  And I realized that I did not know.
    The friend said, "You might be the Messiah.  The Son of God.
    So why do you waste your time with things that don't matter?"
    

    -- Who?

  • A person looking for god is like a man on an ox riding around looking for an ox to ride.
    -- Who?
  • According to legend, a visitor to the White House during the Civil War said to Lincoln, "God is on our side." Lincoln was said to have replied:
    We trust, sir, that God is on our side.
    It is more important to know that we are on God's side.
    
  • Things are rarely just crazy enough to work, but frequently just crazy enough to fail hilariously.
    -- Randall Munroe, xkcd 580 mouseover text (but if you like the defunct tv series, firefly, you'll probably want to start at xkcd 577)
  • It's often said that life is strange, oh yes, but compared to what?
    -- Steve Forbert
  • When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.
    -- Lily Tomlin
  • You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live.
    -- Joan Baez
  • The fear of death is the shadow of the fear of life.
    -- Kung Fu (1970's tv show)
  • stacks and stacks:
    You spend your whole life just piling it up there.
    You got stacks and stacks and stacks.
    Then Gabriel comes and taps you on the shoulder,
    but you don't see any hearses with luggage racks.
    

    -- Don Henley

  • lonely games:
    I'm afraid sometimes you'll play lonely games too.
    Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you.
    

    -- Theodore Driesell (Dr. Seuss)

  • (To be completely safe is to be completely dead.)
  • I shall tell you a secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.
    -- Camus
  • All my life I said I wanted to be someone... I can see now that I should have been more specific.
    -- Lily Tomlin
  • Trying to be happy is like trying to build a machine for which the only specification is that it should run noiselessly.
    -- ? - probably some kind of engineer...

The Harder The Wind Blows

  • I relish tackling disorientation. It's dangerous, though, and I don't crave being destroyed. I suspect that this is part of the reason that learning is both appealing and uncomfortable.
    -- klm
  • Becoming self is never safe or secure, especially if we're dependent on a reflected sense of self. We don't get to stop when we're scared or uncomfortable, because we grow by going into the unknown, including the Great Unknown.
    -- David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage
  • Man must exist in a state of balance between risk and safety. Pure risk leads to self-destruction. Pure safety leads to stagnation. In between lies survival and progress.
    -- Unknown
  • Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: You think she'll hold together?
    Zoe: She's torn up plenty, but she'll fly true.
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Could be bumpy.
    Zoe: Always is.
    -- excerpt from movie Serenity, Joss Whedon & co
  • Play for more than you can afford to lose and you will learn the game.
    -- Winston Churchill.
  • It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.
    -- Desiderius Erasmus
  • I yam what I yam.
    -- Popeye the sailor man
  • (who wanders through only white darkness:
    (who wanders through only white darkness
    who moves in black light
    dancing isn'ts on why digging bridges with mirrors
    from whispers to stars
    climbing silence for ifs
    diving under because)
             only who'll say
    "and this be my fame,
    the harder the wind blows
    the taller i am"
    

    -- ee cummings

  • With excitement like this, who is needing enemas?
    -- Jim Cathey, the net.

Freedom

  • I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.
    -- Malcolm X
  • I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.
    -- Harry S Truman
  • Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner. Being here in America doesn't make you an American.
    -- Malcolm X
  • True peace is not the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.
    -- Martin Luther King, Jr
  • We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.
    -- Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man
  • poems:
  • ``I want you to write me a poem.
    Write something 'bout nature, or cities,
    Or write about love; something simple
    With feeling and colour.
                                           Begin''
    
    So I sat at my desk.  And I waited.
    I listened to students pretending
    To think while they waited for lunch hour,
    To Eric who tapped out some song.
    
    The walls didn't speak: only concrete.
    The sun didn't glow, didn't shimmer.
    It just hung there, impassioned as always.
    I looked at my notebook and wrote:
    
           Love = Joy x 100
           And then some.
    
    The teacher walked by like a sergeant
    And frowned when he saw what I'd
                                      done.
    ``Just listen what Bruce here has written'',
    He sneered as he slapped out my words,
    One by one ...
    
    Oh Lord, how they laughed pins and needles;
    A roar when they saw I was blushing!
    But the walls didn't speak as I
                                     stiffened.
    And I waited
                   in silence
                                for lunch hour.
    

    -- Bruce, 03/1988

  • I'd only told them the truth. Was that so selfish? Our integrity sells for so little, but it's all that we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free.
    -- alan moore, v for vendetta
  • Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.
    -- Wendell Berry
  • It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.
    -- Peter Ustinov
  • I do not have a city, a state, or a country that I will die for, but a world that I will fight for, that it might live.
    -- Joan Baez?
  • Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much of life. So aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
    -- H.D. Thoreau
  • For a wise solution reconcile interests, not positions.
    -- Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton,http://law.cua.edu/faculty/barry/Articles/fisher19.htm
  • Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
    -- Andre Gide
  • Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.
    -- Andre Gide
  • Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.
    -- Isaac Asimov
  • One likely symptom of a personal blind spot is an urge to blame someone else.
    -- klm
  • Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half of the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • Boredom is a mask frustration wears.
    -- Neal Stephenson, Anathem
  • Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.
    -- Thomas Szasz
  • The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
    -- Dorothy Parker
  • What he wanted to get was a small bomb, a neat package of a bomb which could be carried by any kind of aircraft anywhere. What he had put together for the President was something as big and as clumsy as a packing case. His professional training, calling for the most scrupulous tidiness and nicety, was offended by it, and demanded something immeasurably neater. The work was intensely interesting to him as a perfectionist. The ultimate result of the work - the widespread devastation which it could cause, the frightful carbon fourteen it might release to roll like the very breath of death over vast areas, sterilizing the air and ground - horrified him as a human being. But the perfectionist in him had received more training than the human being, and so he had continued with the task.
    -- Leonard Wibberly, The Mouse that Roared
  • One World War II Quaker conscientious objector had been a professional wrestler. Once when he and some other inmates of the Coshocton CPS camp in Ohio made a trip into town, they were hassled about their pacifism by some local youths, who insisted that only force could change the German's views.
    In response, the ex-wrestler took off his coat, challenged one of the local boys to a match, and promptly threw the townie across the room. He then asked the youth, "Now do you believe that force won't change people's views?"
    "Heck no!" the local boy hollered back.
    "That's exactly my point," said the CO, who put on his coat and left.
    -- Chuck Fager, Quakers Are Funny!
    [I have to add, sometimes the purpose is not to change someone's views, but to stop something horrific. Using violence may beget other horrible consequences - power is always tricky that way - but one answer usually doesn't suffice for all situations.]
  • roll away:
    Whichever way your pleasure leads,
    if you plant ice, you're gonna harvest wind.
    Roll away the dew...
    

    -- The Grateful Dead

Laughter and forgetfulness

  • Laughter is the closest distance between two people.
    -- Victor Borge
  • The wise person is told about Tao and follows it. The average person is told about Tao and searches for it. The foolish person is told about Tao and laughs at it.
    If it were not for laughter there would be no Tao.
    -- ?
  • Being "tao" is being. You can't avoid it.
    Trying to be "not tao" is fighting yourself/the world unnecessarily.
    That's all.
    -- klm
  • Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you.
    -- Andre Gide
  • paradiso:
    Our selves are shaped by where we dwell,
    and some part of the shaping is irrevocable.
    Yet much is transient, and will fade
    with time and lack of exercise.
    How do i decide where to head, to foster what i need,
    and let go of what i would?
    Do i decide, at all?  Could i, even?
    
    As one who sees within a dream, and, later
    the passion that had been imprinted stays,
    but nothing of the rest returns to mind,
    such am I - for my my vision almost fades
    completely, yet it distills within
    my heart the sweetness that was born of it.
    

    -- Dante/Paradiso, XXXIII 58-63

Kisses

  • But she didn't try to speak to him again, nor did she follow them. She just took off running to the old Perkins place. He couldn't help turning to watch. She ran as though it was her nature. It reminded him of the flight of wild ducks in the autumn. So smooth. The word "beautiful" came to his mind, but he shook it away and hurried up toward the house.
    -- Katherin Patterson, Bridge To Terabithia
  • ... [she was] inspired by an emotion like mischief, but fiercer by far...
    -- John Crowley, i think from Little, Big
  • that one:
    Christ, who's that one?
    Who...?
    That one ... she looks like ... a kind of ... a stressed goddess, oh.
    

    -- Charles Bukowski, Barfly

  • She said, "Let's have a fire...", but you know, we had a storm instead.
    -- george dewitt
  • if you were in an accident:
    josh: i'm just sayin, if you were in an accident, i wouldn't stop for a beer.
    donna: if you were in an accident, i wouldn't stop for red lights.
    

    -- The West Wing, episode 218 "17 People"

  • now i am only beginning to process the sneaky miracles that crept up on me this weekend.
    -- lindsay sworski
  • I've loved you all my life, even before we met; even when it was just the promise of you. You've kept your promise. How could you lose me?
    -- abby mcdeere, from the movie The Firm
  • In the history of kissing there have been five kisses that have been rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.
    -- William Goldman, The Princess Bride
  • all that you can do:
    true as you can be, you have taught, love.
    and, that truth isn't all -
     to love you must brave
     doubts and fears, and even loss -
      because love is what you do
      when you let each other close
      and even closer, still.
    a kiss; and truth, is all that you can do
     and even that is not always
     (but, i hope, not always not)
     enough.
    

    -- klm

Ideas have consequences...

  • Ideas have consequences.
    -- Richard M. Weaver's publisher
  • Intelligence without character is a dangerous thing.
    -- G. Steinem
  • Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
    -- Samuel Johnson
  • One thing about intellectuals; they proved that they can be absolutely brilliant and have no idea what's going on.
    -- Woody Allen, Annie Hall
  • Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again.
    -- Johann W. von Goethe
  • Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion - all in one.
    -- John Ruskin
  • The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.
    -- George Orwell
  • Even in the grimmest of circumstances, a shift in perspective can create startling change.
    -- Susan Griffin, http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0127-21.htm
  • INVESTIGATE your point of view, don't just dogmatize it! Reflect on it and re-evaluate it. You may want to change your mind someday.
    -- Tom Reingold, from alt.flame
  • A liberal is someone who won't take his own side in a quarrel.
    -- Robert Frost
  • Who is not liberal when young, does not have a heart.
    Who is not conservative when old, does not have a brain.
    -- Winston Churchill
  • It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.
    -- Robert Anton Wilson
  • Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.
    -- Niels Bohr
  • The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
    or
    One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • The greatest good is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of nature.
    -- Spinoza De Emendatione
  • Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.
    -- Who?
  • The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
    -- Niels Bohr
  • Affability keeps the boat from rocking, but truth keeps it from sinking.
    -- ?
  • Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.
    -- Aaron Levenstein
  • We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.
    -- Iris Murdoch, Irish Author
  • Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
    -- Philip K. Dick (particularly poignant coming from a self-professed "schizoid personality")
  • Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.
    -- Jane Wagner
  • The persistence of illusion:
    Memory, I protest, is a promise in bad faith.
    Like the residue of fading dreams in morning's light,
    divorced from the wisdom of their discovery,
    memory fades and shifts and yields to the highest bidder.
    
    And still, I hope
    to sometimes stumble
    on simple truth
    and have it be familiar.
    

    -- klm

  • Thomas Henry Huxley, in 1860, debated the cause of evolution with Bishop Wilberforce. The good Bishop concluded his attack on evolution by asking Huxley whether his descent from the ape was on his father's or his mother's side. Huxley's reply was as follows:
    "If the the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessing great means and influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion - I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape."
    -- thomas huxley, via ?
  • gravity, too, is just a theory.
    -- paraphrasing a slashdot signature
  • Don't just adopt opinions, develop them.
    -- Charles Isbell, from the net
  • The truth is more important than the facts.
    -- Frank Lloyd Wright
  • knowledge
    Knowledge is not the mother of evil,
    and virtue is not the daughter of ignorance...
    

    -- Who?

  • kung fu
    Caine: Master, our bodies are prey to many needs: hunger, thirst, the
           need for love.
    Kan: In one lifetime a man knows many pleasures: a mother's smile in
         waking hours, a young woman's intimate, searing touch, and the
         laughter of grandchildren in the twilight years. To deny these in
         ourselves is to deny that which makes us one with nature.
    Caine: Shall we then seek to satisfy these needs?
    Kan: Only acknowledge them and satisfaction will follow. To suppress a
         truth is to give it force beyond endurance.
    

    -- Kung Fu (1970's tv show)

  • To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell
    -- Thomas Merton
  • An idea is something you have, an ideology is something that has you.
    -- Morris Berman
  • Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
    -- George Santayana
  • Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one's own despised and unwanted feelings.
    -- Alice Miller
  • Even as a youngster, though, I could never bring myself to believe that when knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance. To me, it always seemed the answer had to be wisdom. You did not refuse to look at the danger, rather you learned to handle it safely.
    -- Isaac Asimov
  • I still have to experience it, recognize it, and name it (anxiety, in this case), but my feelings don’t own me in the same way that they used to, when I thought that banishing certain feelings from my life would solve my problems, when doing so resulted in the opposite (more rigidity, more problems).
    -- emma de los nardos, http://emmadelosnardos.tumblr.com/post/40861964356/on-being-and-having-feelings
  • I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
    -- Wilson Mizner
  • more knowledge
    They say that one must cast unspeakable things
    Into the pit of forgetfulness, into sealed tombs,
    That by the written word, evil, raised up again,
    Will infect the customs of later generations;
    But knowledge is not the mother of evil,
    And virtue is not the daughter of ignorance.
    

    -- Baudelaire, from the Tragiques of Agrippa d'Aubigne

  • A human being is a part of the whole called by us "the universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • ish ka
    ish ka bibble
    fit and fiddle
    momraths outgrabe.
    
    tu ra lura
    whine and cheese
    celery and marmalade.
    

    -- klm

  • Everything in the world is wonderfully and magnificently mixed up. It is exactly like a woven tapestry. A tapestry to bring tears to your eyes...
    True, it is very easy to get into a muddle, but there is one magic formula for keeping out of muddles. I'll sell you that formula, oh dreamer. There, take it. Here it is: look.. Look. Look. That's all there is to it. Look - and that's all. Look, even when you want to screw up your eyes. Look, even when you don't like what you see. Look, even when it's not what you expected. Remember, the world is never wrong. What is - is. Even if you hate something in the world and want to destroy it - look. Otherwise you will destroy the wrong thing. Get me?
    -- Yevgeny Shwartz

... as does their absence

  • In this case, the trouble with 'the people's right to know' is that it strongly resembles the 'right' of someone to be a concert pianist, without practice.
    -- S.LukeJones?
  • The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny, however, is alleviated by their lack of consistency.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
    -- Bill Watterson
  • Reporter: Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization?
    Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea.
    -- (Apocryphal?)
  • Among us Europeans who were traveling together in America ... there rose up repeatedly this pharisaical feeling: we all have something that you lack; we admire your strength but we do not envy you. Your instrument of civilization and progress, your big cities and your perfect organization, only make us nostalgic for what is old and quiet, and sometimes your life seems hardly to be worth living, not to speak of your future.
    -- Rob Kroes, American Studies International, Vol. 28, "The reception of American films in the Netherlands: The interwar years"
  • I am perpetually pinned against the rock of my perfectionism. Luckily, Contact is anything but a hard place.
    -- Jess Humphrey
  • Change is inevitable, progress is optional.
    -- Somebody's sig.
  • Amateurs practice until they get it right.  Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.
    -- unknown
  • Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea; massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it.
    -- Elliot Lee
  • driving with your eyes closed:
    Driving with your eyes closed
    Driving with your eyes closed
    Driving with your eyes closed
    You're gonna hit something, but that's how it goes
    

    -- Don Henley

  • Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • a mind:
         a mind is a terrible thing
                 to waste
    it gives man his greatest pleasure
    

    [this has been prominently used in arrangments such that the ironic alternative parsings are absent.]
    -- ee cummings

Ideas Aren't Property

  • If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. 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.

    That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

    Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
    -- Thomas Jefferson
  • Many candles can be kindled from one candle without diminishing it.
    -- The Midrash
  • Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free.
    -- Richard Stallman
  • Software Patents

    Abridged by SW at Miami without permission

    To picture the effect [software patents], imagine that each square of pavement on the sidewalk has an owner and that pedestrians must obtain individual licenses to step on particular squares. Think of the negotiations necessary to walk an entire block under this system. That is what writing a program will be like in the near future if software patents continue. [...]
    -- The League for Programming Freedom, Dr. Dobb's Journal, 11/90
  • Just to clarify the difference between copyright and patents, copyright allows you to protect how you did something. Patents allow you to say no-one else can try. Nor can anyone else do something that follows on or builds on the patented idea. Nor does the idea necessarily even need to have been acted upon by the patent holder. Patents turn creativity into a territory that you need to pay for.
    -- excerpted from Slashdot posting by h4rm0ny at tarddell.net in patents discussionhttp://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/03/1436225

Questions and the Ineffable

  • A snakes path is not too crooked to lead to snake heaven.
    -- via Susan Schell
  • In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
    -- Bertrand Russell
  • What color is god?
    God doesn't have a color - god is the color of water.
    -- From an inteview with the author of The Color Of Water
  • We are afraid to approach the fathomless and bottomless groundlessness of everything.
    -- R.D.Laing, The Politics of Experience
  • ... Completely un-selfconsciously, without purpose, [the infant] turns from one to the other, and we would say that it was playing with the things, were it not equally true that the things are playing with the child.
    -- Zen in the Art of Archery, attributed to Awa Kenzo / Eugen Herrigel / Komachiya Sozo, but that was debunked in a 2001 japanese article, The Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery
  • If you're really present, there's always something interesting to play with near by. And if you're really present, it's hard to tell whether you're playing with it or it's playing with you.
    -- klm
  • "Selflessness - the central concept of Buddhism," he explained, "doesn't mean that you don't have a self, but that you understand the self is a constantly changing, interdependent process, that you don't have a fixed, rigid identity. Selflessness erodes racism, sexual and nationalistic differentiation..."
    -- Attributed to Robert Thurman by his daughter, Uma, in a Vanity Fair article
  • Becoming self is never safe or secure, especially if we're dependent on a reflected sense of self. We don't get to stop when we're scared or uncomfortable, because we grow by going into the unknown, including the Great Unknown.
    -- David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage
  • When you're through changing, you're through.
    -- Bruce Barton
  • know ing:
    Sometimes he thought      __------------_ _   which?" --
    sadly to himself,       _-               \ \   and sometimes
    "Why?" and sometimes   - \                |||   he didn't
    he thought "Where-  //: | |               | ||   quite know
    fore?" and some-   //v:v \ \  )     __(   |  ||   _what_ he
    times he thought,  || :   | | |----- | |  |   ||  was think-
    "Inasmuch as      /_/|:__-\_\_)     (_(_ _/   MM   ing about.
    

    -- A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

  • It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.
  • There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we may meet the enemy, and he may not only be ours, he may be us.
    -- Walt Kelly
  • Sagehood is nothing but sincerity.
    -- Chou Tun-I
  • You can be sincere and still be stupid.
    -- Charles F. Kettering
  • He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
    -- Old Chinese proverb?
  • Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
    -- Mark Twain
  • While not a master of intellect, the blatantly obvious things WE often take for granted never escape HIS keen eye!
    -- Horse
  • When we try to pick up anything by itself we find it is attached to everything in the universe.
    -- John Muir
  • everything leaks.
    -- klm
  • The sage steers by the torch of chaos and doubt.
    -- Chuang Tsu
    (Also, "The sage seeks insight from chaos and doubt.")
  • You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
    -- ?
  • You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.
    You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
    -- Naquib Mahfouz
  • Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
    -- Andre Gide
  • Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting.
    -- Alan Dean Foster
  • The Canadian rock singer, Ronnie Hawkins, has it all figured out. 'Believe in God?' he says, 'Man, I believe in God like nobody else. It's the fucking ground crew I don't trust.'
    -- Angela Issajenko, Running Risks
  • Basic research is what I do when I don't know what I'm doing.
    -- Niels Bohr
  • Where you are when you don't know where you are is one of the most precious spots offered by improvisation. It is a place from which more directions are possible than anywhere else. I call this place the Gap. The more I improvise, the more I'm convinced that it is through the medium of these gaps - this momentary suspension of reference point - that comes the unexpected and much sought after "original" material. It's "original" because its origin is the current moment and because it comes from outside our usual frame of reference.
    -- Nancy Stark Smith
  • Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
  • A man must have chaos within him to give birth to a dancing star.
    -- Nietzsche
  • You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wonderous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop -- the Twilight Zone!
    -- Popular tv show
  • firelight:
    While the firelight's aglow, strange shadows in the flames will grow Till things we've never seen, will seem familiar...
    -- Robert Hunter/The Grateful Dead, Terrapin Station
  • You know, people are always extolling "truth" and "real life" and "truth is beauty". I don't think that; I don't think that that's beauty. You can't really come face to face with reality too frequently or for too long a time because it'll wipe you out. It's too brutal; it's too terrible a thing.
    -- Woody Allen, in Rolling Stone
  • My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what's really going on to be scared.
    -- P. J. Plauger
  • Necessity can be the mother of all fuckers.
    -- klm
  • From the point of view of a man alienated from its source creation arises from despair and ends in failure. But such a man has not trodden the path to the end of time, the end of space, the end of darkness, and the end of light. He does not know that where it all ends, there it all begins.
    -- R.D.Laing, The Politics of Experience
  • You have to be willing to go into the chaos to bring back the beauties.
    -- Tess Gallagher
  • Sometimes you have to go a long way out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.
    -- Edward Albee, Zoo Story
  • You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.
    -- Robin Williams
  • On Thinking Inside the Box

    This discussion reminds me of a former co-worker of mine (in a school). Whenever she would argue with anyone, she would eventually say, 'A mind is like a parachute--it only functions when open.' Of course, it was the other person's mind that was always closed.

    What I told her, though, was: A mind is like a parachute--you should open it only in certain very specific life-threatening situations. And of course that's true--if every aviator walked around with an open parachute, then flying would be as much of a mess as ... well, as it currently is.

    Same's true with the box. Why is there a box? Because it holds things together. It has a function. If you never think inside the box, cut up the box. Think outside the box when the box is too confining, when it's not doing its useful job of keeping things organized.

    Also, just like the question of who has an open mind, the interesting question is who gets to decide what 'in the box' means in a particular instance. That tells you more than the comment itself does.

    Maybe I'm sensitive to this issue because O'Reilly & Associates has lots of people thinking outside the box, and part of my job is to package things. I'm always running around, saying, "Hey! You! Where do you think you're going? Get back in that box!"
    -- Frank Willison memorium (a wonderous testimonial site, very worth visiting)
  • If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
    -- Blake
  • The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions.
    -- Claude Levi-Strauss
  • As John Dewey observed, "[A] problem well put is half-solved." "The way in which the problem is conceived," Dewey explained, "decides what specific suggestions are entertained and which are dismissed; what data are selected and which rejected; it is the criterion for relevancy and irrelevancy of hypotheses and conceptual structures."
    -- John Dewey, 1938; Logic: The Theory Of Inquiry 112 (Jo Ann Boydston ed. 1991)
  • If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.
    -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
  • The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
    -- Eden Phillpotts
  • I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
    -- Theodore Giesel, aka Dr. Seuss
  • The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
    -- Ralph W. Stockman (1889-1970), American clergyman
  • A new koan:
    if you have some ice cream, i will give it to you.
    if you have no ice cream, i will take it away from you.
    

    It is an ice cream koan.
    -- ?

Science, Art, and Ends vs Means

  • Thought is the labour of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.
    -- Victor Hugo
  • Which Way
    "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
    "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
    "I don't know where... .", said Alice.
    "Then it doesn't matter which way you go." said the Cat.
    

    -- Lewis Carroll

  • That way looks nice. But then again, so does that way. I guess it depends on where your're trying to go.
    -- Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz
  • In flying I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks.
    -- Wilbur Wright in a letter to his father, September 1900
  • It is not because things are dangerous that we do not dare. It is because we do dare not that things are dangerous.
    -- Seneca
  • This is the philosophy-101-student phenomena: "I can't explain it with words".
    -- Marcus Daniels
  • Over-torqued visionaries spout Internet glories, but only the lonely write sensible instructions on the use of the heart. That goat studied me unblinkingly. She knew all she needed.
    I asked her, "How shall I proceed?"
    She requested that I first feed her a choice morsel of corn, which I did. Then her wise eyes answered, "I am goat who knows what I need to know. You are something much uglier and should proceed with modesty."
    We fed her more corn and walked among the live oak.
    -- Pithy bit from the Netscape handbook: Heartwarming Introduction
  • It's encouraging to know
    that the gentle breeze
    modestly threading
    through the traffic's frenzy
    and its roar
    can be far more fierce
    than man-made engines
    ever could.
    -- klm
  • Let us say, then, to summarize, that a mythology is an organization of images conceived as a rendition of the sense of life, and that this sense is to be apprehended in two ways, namely: 1) the way of thought, and 2) the way of experience. As thought mythology approaches - or is a primitive prelude to - science; and as experience it is precisely art.
    -- Joseph Campbell
  • Aesthetics is for the artists as ornithology is for the birds.
    -- Barnett Newman
  • Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or a tree cannot make good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they say something. For me that is the very basis of painting. The abstraction is the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can only clarify in paint.
    -- georgia o'keefe
  • The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
    -- Orson Welles (See Art From Limitations)
  • I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
    -- Robert Frost
  • Writing, when properly managed, (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation.
    -- Laurence Sterne, novelist and clergyman (1713-1768)
  • It is the assumption of this book that a work of art is a gift, not a commodity. Or, to state the modern case with more precision, that works of art exist simultaneously in two "economies," a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art.
    -- Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property
  • What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
    -- Herbert Simon
  • The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
    -- Ralph W. Stockman (1889-1970), American clergyman
  • Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself.
    -- Richard Feynman
  • Science [...] means a form of knowledge adequate to its subject
    -- R. D. Laing
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'
    -- Isaac Asimov
  • If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.
    -- Lyall Watson
  • Alan Turing thought about criteria to settle the question of whether machines can think, a question of which we now know that it is about as relevant as the question of whether submarines can swim.
    -- Edgser Dijkstra
  • The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.
    -- Frank Zappa commenting on the Synclavier vs. human musicians
  • The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
    -- Albert Einstein
  • "Faith can cut in so many ways," he said. "If you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it's designed to certify our righteousness -- that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There's no reflection.
    "Where people often get lost is on this very point," he said after a moment of thought. "Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not -- not ever -- to the thing we as humans so very much want."
    And what is that?
    "Easy certainty."
    -- Jim Wallis, from Ron Suskind NYT Magazine article of Oct 17, 2004: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W.Bush
  • One can acquire certainty only by amputating inquiry.
    -- Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind
  • Inquiry is fatal to certainty.
    -- Will Durant, historian
  • do you see a pattern here?-)
  • There are things that are known and things that are unknown; in between is exploration.
    -- ?
  • You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about...
    -- Richard Feynman
  • No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.
    -- Lily Tomlin
  • Confusion is always the most honest response.
    -- Marty Indik
  • Son, life is a shitstorm. And when the shit is coming down on you, the best umbrella you can have is Art.
    -- Pedro Carmichael
  • Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh, now you tell me what you know.
    -- Groucho Marx, Animal Crackers
  • An artist of genius has painted a figure on his canvas. We can imitate his picture with many-coloured squares of mosiac. And we shall reproduce the curves and shades of the model so much better as our squares are smaller, more numerous and more varied in tone. But an infinity of elements infinitely small, presenting an infinity of shades, would be necessary to obtain the exact equivalent of the figure which the artist has conceived as a simple thing, which he has wished to transport as a whole to the canvas, and which is the more complete the more it strikes us as the projection of an indivisible intuition.
    -- Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution
  • There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium. It will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

    You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.
    -- Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille
  • Music is the cup that holds the wine of silence. Sound is that cup, but empty. Noise is that cup, broken.
    -- Robert Fripp
  • In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way.
    -- alan perlis' programming epigrams, #60
  • a small-farmer friend planted a field of sunflowers, and responded when asked why he would pursue such an impossibly unprofitable crop: "i can't afford a van gogh."
    -- kevin kling
  • please stare:
    please stare
    worship a thousand tiny gardens
    swim some luscious summer lake
    & drive shadow's frantic storm
    away
    

    -- klm

Take up the song

  • questions:
    always the beautiful answer
    who asks a more beautiful question
    

    -- ee cummings, excerpt

  • ... which someone paraphrased as:
    poetry is the art of asking the more beautiful questions.
    

    -- ee cummings, paraphrased

  • When you meet a master swordsman, show him your sword. When you meet a man who is not a poet, do not show him your poem.
    -- Rinzai, ninth century zen master
  • The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sing the best.
    -- Thoreau
  • dance
    Smooth ice
                  Is paradise
                                  For those who dance with expertise.
    

    -- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

  • choreography:
    Find me a dead cloud and a sharp piece of science
    I want to see the skeleton of weather
    And let me map all maps we have mistaken for the world
    And learn by heart the timetable of dice
    And in our clutching, self-invented steps see
    An accidental grace... A choreography
    

    -- Alan Moore, Big Numbers #1

  • ... Take up the song, forget the epitaph.
    -- Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours.
    -- Bach
  • throwing stones or living
    Krazy Kat: Take that old proverb for instinct, ignatz.
    Ignatz Mouse: What old proverb, "impossible"?
    K: Why the one what says pipples what live in gless houses shouldn't throw rocks.
    I: Yes
    K: Do you know any body whats immodest enough to live in a glass house?
    I: No
    K: That's why they's so many pipples throwing rocks.
    I: Or, not all.
    

    -- George Herrimann, Krazy Kat

  • "Damn" braces / "Bless" relaxes
    -- William Blake
  • sing out
    Those who know the words sing out,
    so your neighbors will take courage.
    

    -- Pete Seeger

  • to be nobody but yourself
    to be nobody but yourself
    in a world which is doing its best night and day
    to make you like everybody else
    means to fight the hardest battle
    any human being can fight
    and never stop fighting.
    

    -- e e cummings

  • And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
    -- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
  • hope
    "Peopling
                   my dreams
     will come.
    
    Infesting my illusions,
    vague half-fillments."
    
    "But what now?",
    I say,
    
    "I hope, a poem."
    

    -- klm

  • One and one
                   One and one
    
                 I try to get as
               far  away from  you
             as I can, so we can talk
           like diplomats  of  warring
         countries.  If  I  can keep you
       away  from  me,  you  against  your
      wall  and  me against mine, there may
     just  be  a chance for us, a chance  to
    announce  to  one  another  just  how  we
    do  feel,  as opposed  to  how  I think  I
    ought  to  feel,  or you think  you  ought
    to  feel,  or  as  we  think  others  want
     us  to  feel.  This  space  may help us.
      Way  over there you  tell  me  you are
       not  me.  You  become,  by this dis-
        tance, dear to me.  I can see that
         without you I am an  object.  I
           can see that you are not me,
            that I am not you.  I can
             see that if you go away
               I will be destroyed.
    

    -- George Chambers, The Bonnyclabber

Brief interlude

(so site searches for "quotes" deliver this page more prominently: quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes rutabaga quotes quotes quotes quotes quotes.)

What you can

  • at least:
    If you can, help others.
    If you can't, at least don't hurt others.
    

    -- the Dalai Lama

  • Do what you can.
    -- many
  • [...] The other three percent - the people who get the vast majority of things in the world done - are the people who do what they say they will do.
    -- Steven King

Experience

  • time
    Time is the school in which we learn,
    Time is the fire in which we burn.
    

    -- Delmore Schwartz

  • Time is experience.
    -- Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics: The Geometry of Thinking
  • Experience used to be called the soul. [...]

    Certain actions lead to greater estrangement [from our inner illumination, our experience of inspiration]; certain others help one not to be so far removed. The former used to be called sinful. [...]

    Science [...] means a form of knowledge adequate to its subject [...]

    The seems to be no agent more effective than another person in bringing a world for onself alive, or, by a glance, a gesture, or a remark, shriveling up the reality in which one is [...] lodged.

    The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds. [...]

    For without the inner the outer loses its meaning; and without the outer, the inner loses its substance. [...]
    -- R.D.Laing, The Politics of Experience
  • Those at the center can imagine what it is to be outside. The strong can imagine what it is to be weak. Illuminated lives can imagine the dark. Poets in their twilight can imagine the borders of stellar fire. We strangers can imagine the familiar hearts of strangers.
    -- Cynthia Ozick, The Moral Necessity of Metaphor, Harpers 5/86
  • And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
    -- The fox in chapter 21 of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupéry
  • Exploring:
    Andrew: Hey, Albert?
    Albert: Yeah?
    Andrew: Good luck on exploring the infinite abyss.
    Albert: Thanks.  Hey.  You, too.
    

    -- Garden State

As If (A Reminder)

  • Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
    -- Kipling
  • I remember Alan Watts asked me one day, 'Joe, what kind of meditation do you do?' I said, 'I underline sentences.'
    -- Joseph Cambell
  • An epigram often flashes light into regions where reason shines but dimly.
    -- Edwin P. Whipple
  • A witty saying proves nothing.
    -- Voltaire

Ken (dot) Manheimer (at gmail dot com)

Nupastels on quality paper, you can see the watermark in lower center as part of the design. I digitally increased the contrast a little.

From: unknown Wed Jan 3 23:55:34 -0500 2007
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2007 23:55:34 -0500
Subject: another variation on Lily Tomlin quote
Message-ID: <20070103235534-0500@myriadicity.net>

I love the quote Ken, but have also appreciated this one along the same lines addressing the Superwoman syndrome "If I had known having it all would have been like this, perhaps I would have settled for less"

[tnx!]

From: unknown Thu Jun 7 22:04:28 -0400 2007 Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2007 22:04:28 -0400 Subject: Chuang Tsu Message-ID: <20070607220428-0400@myriadicity.net>

...

From unknown Tue Mar 29 17:10:37 -0500 2011
From: Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2011 17:10:37 -0500
Subject: bottled wit
Message-ID: <20110329171037-0500-71.163.186.115@myriadicity.net>

You say there's a "risk of deluding oneself into believing in bottled wit"--I wonder if you mean "bottled wisdom"--which sounds like something to guard against, since wisdom sort of has to be gained by each on her/his own. Isn't wit kind of bottled anyway? Or at least it doesn't matter to me whether it happens on the fly (which I'm guessing is the unbottled kind and certainly is fun) or bottled to be uncorked in your email:-)

From klm Fri Apr 1 14:53:25 -0500 2011
From: klm
Date: Fri, 01 Apr 2011 14:53:25 -0500
Subject: bottled wit
Message-ID: <20110401145325-0500-68.50.5.10@myriadicity.net>
In-Reply-To: <20110329171037-0500-71.163.186.115@myriadicity.net>

i was thinking of "wit" more along the lines of "navigating by their wits", rather than "witty", which sounds more superficial. perhaps i should change that to bottled wisdom - will think about it.

either way, i actually do find quotes useful as mnemonics, helping to remind me of discoveries in the course of my life, and ultimately as signposts in the map of my understanding of how the personal world works.

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