a life of cheerful simplicity
This is my page of quotations. Constantly added to. And reflected upon.
What are the ten crucial things for a happy expedition? Here’s Freya Stark’s personal list from A Winter In Arabia :
“First of all, a temper as serene at the end as the beginning of the day. Then … the capacity to accept values and to judge by standards other than our own. The rapid judgement of character; and a love of nature which must include human nature also. The power to dissociate oneself from one’s own bodily sensations. A knowledge of the local history and language. A leisurely and uncensorious mind. A tolerable constitution and the capacity to eat and sleep at any moment. And lastly, and especially here, a ready quickness in repartee.“ — via Kayarchy, 14 November, 2015
To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature. -Auguste Rodin, sculptor (12 Nov 1840-1917)
Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one—Voltaire (20 October, 2015)
Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones. — Anacharsis, the Scythian (13 October, 2015)
Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain
Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit. — Oscar Wilde (I wish I’d said that…)
The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snugly. -Ogden Nash, poet (19 Aug 1902-1971)
The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. — Peter Drucker
It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars. -Garrison Keillor, radio host and author (b. 7 Aug 1942)
Insanity doesn’t run in my family. It strolls through, taking its time getting to know everyone personally. — Anon, 24 July, 2015
Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize. — Robert Hughes
There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art, science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science, art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous. — Raymond Thornton Chandler, writer (23 Jul 1888-1959)
‘Only one man ever understood me, and he didn’t understand me.‘ – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
“One should always have one’s boots on and be ready to leave.” -Michel de Montaigne, 1580
“Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand, remember that the sole life which a man can lose is that which he is living at the moment; and furthermore, that he can have no other life except the one he loses. This means that the longest life and the shortest amount to the same thing. For the passing minute is every man’s equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours. Our loss, therefore, is limited to that one fleeting instant, since no one can lose what is already past, nor yet what is still to come–for how can he be deprived of what he does not possess? So two things should be borne in mind. First, that all the cycles of creation since the beginning of time exhibit the same recurring pattern, so that it can make no difference whether you watch the identical spectacle for a hundred years, or for two hundred, or for ever. Secondly, that when the longest-and the shortest-lived of us come to die, their loss is precisely equal. For the sole thing of which any man can be deprived is the present; since this is all he owns, and nobody can lose what is not his.” — Marcus Aurelius via Farnam Street
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. – Aristotle
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” — Socrates
I decided only to write when I was writing, and to apply the same approach to other things to. Don’t think about something if you can actually DO it. This has saved me an awful lot of time, and made me very productive. I have also, since then, been better able to a) enjoy my cup of tea as a cup of tea and b) get up at the same time as everybody else, and have breakfast together. — J-P Flintoff, via Robert Twigger
Pessimists desire the things they fear, to prove that they are right—Robert Mallet (via The Browser)
“Let us so live, that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry!” — Mark Twain
“Don’t think of it as dying,” said Death. “Just think of it as leaving early to avoid the rush.” -Terry Pratchett, novelist (Apr 28 1948-2015)
Every detail added to a claim makes it less probable. — Chris Hallquist (via The Browser)
I have always distrusted applying the concept of greatness, which is hard to dissociate from the idea of power, to define a writer. Largeness, which embraces breadth and height as well as profundity, seems to me a much more valid criterion – George Woodcock on Kenneth Rexroth, via the LRB: added 21 March, 2015
Do not, Leúconoé, seek to inquire what is forbidden, what
End the gods have assigned to you or to me; nor do you meddle with
Astrological numbers. What shall arise count to your balance if
God marks down to you more winters—or perhaps this very one is the
Last which now on the rocks wears out the fierce Mediterranean
Sea; but be wise and have wine, wine on the board, prune to a minimum
Long-drawn hopes. While we chat, envious time threatens to give us the
Slip; so gather the day, never an inch trusting futurity.
—Louis Macneice’s translation Horace Ode 1.11 (‘carpe diem’)
Tū nē quaesieris (scīre nefās) quem mihi quem tibi
fīnem dī dederint, Leuconoē, nec Babylōniōs
temptāris numerōs. Ut melius, quidquid erit, patī!
Seu plūrēs hiemēs, seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositīs dēbilitat pūmicibus mare
Tyrrhēnum: sapiās, vīna liquēs et spatiō brevī
spem longam resecēs. Dum loquimur, fūgerit invida
aetās: carpe diem, quam minimum crēdula posterō.
—Horace, Ode 1.11
Running around accusing others is not as good as laughing. — Chuang Tzu
Not being able to govern events, I govern myself. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)
Money- well- there’s never enough and then you’re approaching the later stages of your life and you realise that hey, you don’t need that much, and actually time is rather more attractive as a commodity, and health isn’t bad too… — Robert Twigger noted 15 February, 2015
“Don’t act faster, just look further ahead.” — Robert Twigger; noted 14 February, 2015
“The world is not to be put in order, the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.” ~Henry Miller; noted 14 February, 2015
‘Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them; sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.‘ — Tom Waits; noted 1 February, 2015
“I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force–the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected I was part of a racket all the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service.” — USMC General Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940)
“Most things in life are both good and bad at the same time. What changes is our perspective.” — Mark Manson
“That’s what you get for giving a fuck when it wasn’t your turn to give a fuck.”— Bunk Moreland to McNulty in ‘The Wire’ (via Mark Manson)
“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.” — HG Wells (21 January, 2015)
“May I become the person my dog thinks I am.”
“We’re here to bring beauty to the world and make a difference in this planet. That’s what art forms are about.” – Charlie Haden, jazz legend (added 15 January, 2015): via the Charlie Haden website
The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. That is possible for him who never argues and strives with men and facts, but in all experience retires upon himself, and looks for the ultimate cause of things in himself. – Albert Schweitzer (14 Jan 1875-1965) via AWAD 14 January, 2015
“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”
– William James
“Even if people know that names aren’t reality,
They don’t see that reality itself has no root.
Name … reality … both are beside the point.
Find joy in the ever-shifting flow.”
— Ryokan: http://darrylbailey.net/quotes/
“I’m afraid this is going to be an understandable mistake.” Sir Henry Rawlinson; added 05-12-2014: 12.36.57
“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need—a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink, for thirst is a dangerous thing.” – Jerome Klapka Jerome via Simplify Your Life | Farnam Street
“A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.” Lana Turner; added 30-11-2014: 12.51.15
“If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, — quieter, warmer.” -Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, Nobel laureate (1905-1961) ; added 29-10-2014: 10.24.13
“In the middle of life, death comes to take your measurements. The visit is forgotten and life goes on. But the suit is being sewn on the sly.” ― Tomas Tranströmer, The Deleted World
One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather. Paul Valéry (11 October, 2014)
Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) added Thursday, October 2 2014 – 9:54:09am
Money is like seawater: the more we drink the thirstier we become…” Schopenhauer, added 2014-09-26
“Never go full retard.” Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr) in Tropic Thunder, added Tuesday, September 30 2014 – 7:58:26 pm
“When someone beats a rug, the blows are not against the rug, but against the dust in it.” Rumi (13 September, 2014)
You are standing in a river and something is coming to kill you. You will welcome it with open arms and a booming laugh when it comes.—From “Are you in a Hemingway novel” via the-toast.net; added 2014-07-28
Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences. -Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, essayist, and poet (1850-1894)
A goal is a dream with legs.
No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same. -Viktor Frankl
[Rabelais’s] own social role was that of the critic involved with, but never possessing, power: alert, forceful, undogmatic, ironic, unafraid of orthodoxies and dogmas, respectful of settled uncoercive community. . . . —Edward Said, The World, The Text and the Critic
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and, if it were possible, speak a few reasonable words. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)
Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way around.—David Lodge
Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. -Robert Fulghum, author (b. 1937)
Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence. ~ Spanish Proverb
The world is full of horrible things that will eventually get you and everything you care about. Laughter is a universal way to lift your head up and say: “Not today, you bastards.” – Anthony Jeselnik
“You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.” – Picasso
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. — EL Doctorow
I’m not young enough to know everything. – Oscar Wilde
If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.\~Chinese Proverb
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha
It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us. -Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)
Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. — Heraclitus, philosopher (500 BCE)
Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: It’s good to be silly at the right moment. —Horace (saved 26 March 2013 23:44)
Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.— Horace (saved 26 March 2013 23:51)
If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.—Dorothy Parker (saved 26 March 2013 23:59)
“The foolish reject what they see. The wise reject what they think.”* ~ Zen Proverbs
I always tell students to try not to write. Very bad things happen when you try to write. It becomes too forced. You need to say what you have to say, and tell the story. It is the literary equivalent of what some people do in the plastic arts. They advise people not to think. You can’t write without thinking, but don’t think about writing. —Mark Kurlansky (author of ‘Salt’ and ‘Cod’) (saved 29 March 2013 22:01)
“Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is.” ~Winston Churchill
Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.” -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)
“The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.”— George Orwell
A Stoic is a Buddhist with attitude . . .—NN Taleb, Antifragile
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”~ Joseph Campbell
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. -Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)
‘Estis, ergo sum’, ‘You are, therefore I am.’ — Indian writer and activist Satish Kumar (b. 1936)
Every increased possession loads us with new weariness. -John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)
“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.” – Swedish proverb
“When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”| Saved: 9 June 2013 22:25 —Black Hawk Down
“comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comforted” Saved: 10 June 2013 15:07 —Low End Mac
“A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter — or to others — is not a nice person. (This rule never fails.) “ Saved: 14 June 2013 00:01 — Farnam Street
“When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a communist. -Helder Camara, archbishop (1909-1999) “ Saved: 18 June 2013 17:43
“I’d rather not deal with such questions, because anyway it’s like shearing a pig—lots of screams but little wool.” — Vladimir Putin, on the Snowden saga, 26 June, 2013
The arrow has to draw back to fly ahead. —Proverb
The Lord of Light wants his enemies burnt. The Drowned God wants his enemies drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cnuts? Where is the god of tits and wine?— Tyrion Lannister (saved 6 July 2013 12:04)
‘What is it that goes round and round the house’
The riddle began.
A wolf, we thought, or a ghost?
Our cold backs turned to the chink in the kitchen shutter,
The range made our small scared faces warm as toast.
But now the cook is dead and the cooking, no doubt, electric,
No room for draught or dream, for child or mouse,
Though we, in another place, still put ourselves the question:
What is it that goes round and round the house?
—Louis MacNeice, Solstices (1961) — (saved 11 July 2013 23:19)
One day will be the last day for you and everyone you love. Act accordingly.*— (saved 14 July 2013 22:18)
Create your life story the way they write movies. Decide how you would like it to end and then create every scene that would lead up to it.*— (saved 14 July 2013 22:19)
Leave him: he’s quiet enough: and what matter
Out of his body or in, you can scatter
The frozen breath of his silenced soul, of his outraged soul to the winds that rave:
Quieter now than he used to be, but listening still to the magpie chatter
Over his grave.
—Charlotte Mew, Complete Poems (edited by John Newton) (Penguin 2000).— (saved 14 July 2013 23:10); First Known When Lost
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — (saved 15 July 2013 09:20)
Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is
to watch the year repeat its days.
It is as if I could dip my hand down
into time and scoop up blue and green lozenges of April heat
a year ago in another country.
— (saved 15 July 2013 22:59); Anne Carson’s ‘The Glass Essay’
Bueno es nada hacer y luego descansar—Spanish proverb
try to be fiscally responsible so you can be creatively reckless— (saved 17 August 2013 20:13)
It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy. -George H. Lorimer, editor (1868-1937) — (saved 18 August 2013 22:18)
“If your ship hasn’t come in, swim out to it.”— (saved 18 August 2013 22:22)
Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule. -Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)
Self-defense is about not being there when the other guy wants to fight. — (saved 22 August 2013 21:29)
“Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstance, to choose one’s own way.” —Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning.— (saved 23 August 2013 17:19)
You can out-distance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you. -Rwandan proverb
A thinking man is never lost for long. He knows that…he must remain where he is or push on to some definite objective, but not to the point of exhaustion…that someone will be looking for him, and strength in that knowledge makes hardships easier.— (saved 10 September 2013 18:57)
The best things in life aren’t things. — Art Buchwald
Inside, a tiny anteroom is dominated by a sculpture: two nymphets in diaphanous veils kicking the crap out of a scurrying hag, entitled Fortitude and Adaptability Driving Out Adversity.—saved 12 September 2013 16:03); from Cyryptonomicon
The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with. -Bruce Springsteen, musician (b. 1949)
Lo, there do I see my father.
Lo, there do I see my mother, and my sisters, and my brothers.
Lo, there do I see the line of my people, Back to the beginning!
Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla!
Where the brave may live forever!
― The Viking Prayer from The Thirteenth Warrior
you have to live on the border and be audacious.*— (saved 29 September 2013 22:30); Pope Francis I
When does a formulation of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself. — Pope Francis I (saved 29 September 2013 22:33)
Ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἥν παρὰ θάμνῳ ἔντος ἀμώμητον κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων· αὐτὸν δ’ ἔκ μ’ ἐσάωσα· τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκείνη; Ἐρρέτω· ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίω.
One of the Saiôn in Thrace now delights in the shield I discarded
Unwillingly near a bush, for it was perfectly good,
But at least I got myself safely out.
Why should I care for that shield? Let it go.
Some other time I’ll find another no worse.
— (saved 14 October 2013 22:16); Archilochus
θυμέ, θύμ᾽ ἀμηχάνοισι κήδεσιν κυκώμενε, ἄνα δέ, δυσμενέων δ᾽ ἀλέξευ προσβαλὼν
ἐναντίον στέρνον, ἐν δοκοῖσιν ἐχθρῶν πλησίον κατασταθείς ἀσφαλέως· καὶ μήτε
νικῶν ἀμφαδὴν ἀγάλλεο μηδὲ νικηθεὶς ἐν οἴκωι καταπεσὼν ὀδύρεο. ἀλλὰ χαρτοῖσίν τε
χαῖρε καὶ κακοῖσιν ἀσχάλα μὴ λίην· γίνωσκε δ᾽ οἷος ῥυσμὸς ἀνθρώπους ἔχει.
My Soul, my Soul, all disturbed by sorrows inconsolable,
Bear up, hold out, meet front-on the many foes that rush on you
Now from this side and now that, enduring all such strife up close,
Never wavering; and should you win, don’t openly exult,
Nor, defeated, throw yourself lamenting in a heap at home,
But delight in things that are delightful and, in hard times, grieve
Not too much—appreciate the rhythm that controls men’s lives.
— (saved 14 October 2013 22:22); Archilochus
Those from whom we were born have long since departed, and those with whom we grew up exist only in memory. We, too, through the approach of death, become, as it were, trees growing on the sandy bank of a river. —Bhartrihari, c. 400— (saved 16 October 2013 18:16); Laphams
Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is. — Margaret Mitchell, novelist (1900-1949)
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”— (saved 24 November 2013 16:17); [Oscar Wilde via Farnam Street]
Your whole life passes in front of your eyes before you die. This is called living. — Terry Pratchett
Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment — the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is. -Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986)
This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes. – Hannah Arendt
Give praise in public, criticize in private— (saved 21 July 2014 22:39)
If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint. -Edward Hopper, painter (1882-1967)
“Mediocre candidates answer the exam paper; brilliant ones question it” — Alex Harrowell (The Yorkshire Ranter)
“Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.” —Thomas Paine— (saved 11 August 2014 05:25)
The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. — Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish
“If at eighty you’re not a cripple or an invalid, if you have your health, if you still enjoy a good walk, a good meal (with all the trimmings), if you can sleep without first taking a pill, if birds and flowers, mountains and sea still inspire you, you are a most fortunate individual and you should get down on your knees morning and night and thank the good Lord for his savin’ and keepin’ power. If you are young in years but already weary in spirit, already on the way to becoming an automaton, it may do you good to say to your boss — under your breath, of course — “Fuck you, Jack! You don’t own me!” … If you can fall in love again and again, if you can forgive your parents for the crime of bringing you into the world, if you are content to get nowhere, just take each day as it comes, if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical, man you’ve got it half licked. It’s the little things that matter, not fame, success, wealth.” — Henry Miller, via Farnam Street
(4) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.*— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8New King James Version (NKJV) (saved 26 October 2014 07:06)
“Detachment is not that you should own nothing; It’s that nothing should own you”—Imam Ali (saved 14 November 2014 06:27)