"Fancy what a game
of chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more
or less small and cunning; if you were not only uncertain about your adversary's
men, but a little uncertain also about your own...
You would be especially likely to be beaten, if you depended arrogantly on your mathematical imagination, and regarded your passionate pieces with contempt. Yet this imaginary chess is easy compared with a game a man has to play against his fellow-men with other fellow-men for instruments."
- George Eliot, "Felix Holt, the Radical"
"Imagining what it
is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity.
It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality."
- Ian McEwan
"Who am I? I
am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all that I have
been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose
being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am everything that
happens after I've gone that would not have happened if I had not come....
to understand me you must swallow a world."
- Salman Rushdie, "Midnight's Children"
"You're saying humans
need fantasies to make life bearable."
"No. Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape... Show me one atom of justice. One molecule of mercy. And yet you act like there was some sort of rightness in the universe by which it may be judged. You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?"
- Susan and Death, in Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather"
"There may be more
poetry than justice in poetic justice."
- George Will
"If only there were
evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary
only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line
dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And
who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"Human life is everywhere
a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed."
- Imlac, in Samuel Johnson's "Rasselas" (1759)
Out of the crooked
timber of humanity no straight thing can ever be made.
- Immanuel Kant
I have found the world
kinder than I expected, but less just.
- Samuel Johnson, reflecting in old age
Most of the change
we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour.
- Robert Frost
The question of common
sense is 'what is it good for?' A question which would abolish the rose
and be answered triumphantly by the cabbage.
- James Russell Lowell
There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin, are more interesting than the text. The world is one of those books.
- Isaac Asimov, "Foundation and Empire"
The ultimate evil is the weakness, cowardice, that is one of the constituents of so much human nature. When, rarely, unalloyed nobility does occur, its chances of prevailing are slim. Yet it exists, and its mere existence is reason enough for not wiping the name of mankind off the slate.
Imagination is a quality
given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour
was provided to console him for what he is.
- Oscar Wilde
Solitude is as needful
to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.
- James Russell Lowell
Everybody needs his
memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.
- Saul Bellow
Common sense and a
sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense
of humor is just common sense, dancing.
- Clive James
Art is a lie that tells
Don’t wish me happiness
- I don’t expect to be happy… it’s gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me
courage and strength and a sense of humor - I will need them all.
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"He who fights with
monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...
when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil"
"We're our own dragons
as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves."
- Tom Robbins
"Ten percent of the
human race are always going to be boors or horrors. You can't make everybody
- Maureen Charlton
"All the world's a
stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed."
- Sean O'Casey
What we imagine is order is merely the prevailing form of chaos.
- Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus"
Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred of something.
"Don't it always seem
to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"
- Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi"
The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.
- Benjamin Disraeli
Two often mentioned motivations for travels are to see another world and to disappear. In that sense, a journey in the footsteps of someone who disappeared in search of another world was the perfect journey.
- Nicholas Jubber, "The Prester Quest"
If we lived forever, if the dews of Adashino never vanished, if the crematory smoke on Toribeyama never faded, men would hardly feel the pity of things. The beauty of life is in its impermanence. Man lives the longest of all living things... and even one year lived peacefully seems very long. Yet for such as love the world, a thousand years would fade like the dream of one night.
- Robert Burns
"I have ever hated
all nations, professions and communities, and all my love is toward individuals...
principally I hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily
love John, Peter, Thomas and so forth."
- Jonathan Swift
The sympathies of a
well-adjusted person can easily be aroused by the plight of strangers.
Indeed, the skillful writer of a novel, a play, or an opera can engage
our emotions on behalf of people who are not only strangers to us, but
who do not even exist! And a person whose emotions cannot be so aroused
is not behaving normally.
- John Derbyshire
One of the oldest human
needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don't come home
- Margaret Mead
"The people you care
about you never really say goodbye to."
- MTV's "The Real World"
Oh the tangled webs we weave when we practice to deceive
- Mark Twain
Always tell the truth; then you don't have to remember anything.
- Mark Twain
No character, however upright, is a match for constantly reiterated attacks, however false.
- Alexander Hamilton
It is double the pleasure to deceive the deceiver.
- Jean de la Fontaine, "Fables"
Basically, I have this theory that there are five kinds of truth. There is the truth you tell to casual strangers and acquaintances. There is the truth you tell to your general circle of friends and family members. There is the truth you tell to only one or two people in your entire life. There is the truth you tell to yourself. And finally, there is the truth that you do not admit even to yourself.
Men seldom give pleasure where they are not pleased themselves.
- from Samantha Daniels's advice column for "Yahoo"
I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better
There is no better
antidote to snobbery and racism than genealogy.
- Leader from "The Telegraph"
I've always thought
that the most extraordinary special effect you could do is to buy a child
at the moment of its birth, sit it on a little chair and say, "You'll have
three score years and ten," and take a photograph every minute. "And we'll
watch you and photograph you for ten years after you die, then we'll run
the film." Wouldn't that be extraordinary? We'd watch this thing get bigger
and bigger, and flower to become extraordinary and beautiful, then watch
it crumble, decay, and rot.
- Clive Barker
I acknowledge with
truth that I am not so dotingly fond of very young infants, as some are...
but when the dawn of reason begins to make its beautiful appearance...
I think them the most engaging little creatures in the world.
- Hannah Pemberton (1780)
From the earliest times
the old have rubbed it into the young that they are wiser than they, and
before the young had discovered what nonsense this was they were old too,
and it profited them to carry on the imposture.
~ W. Somerset Maughan
The film argues to
the young that the old were young once, too, and contain within them all
that the young know, and more.
~ Roger Ebert, from his review of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp"
"We have heard the
chimes at midnight."
"That we have, that we have, that we have... the days that we have seen!"
- Falstaff and Shallow, reaching the end of their days, Shakespeare's "Henry IV Part II"
Families with babies
and families without babies are sorry for each other.
- EW Howe
Having a family is
like having a bowling alley installed in your head.
- Martin Mull
Don't have kids. It's
your parents revenge on you.
- Brendan Dempsey
By the time a man realises
that his father was usually right, he has a son who thinks he's usually
Childhood: The time
of life when one makes faces in a mirror. Middle age is when the mirror
- Mickey Mansfield
Your son at five is
your master, at ten your slave, at fifteen your double, and after that,
your friend or foe, depending on his bringing up.
- Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, (900AD)
It takes a child to
teach an adult how to be a parent.
A parent can only be
as happy as their least happy child.
"The older you get
the shorter the summer gets."
"To lose one parent
may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
- Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"
"My mother protected
me from the world and my father threatened me with it."
- Quentin Crisp
"The young always have
the same problem — how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have
now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another."
- Quentin Crisp
"Keep on your toes
— no one likes a complacent parent."
- Julian to his father at graduation, "Less Than Zero"
Thomas Gordon, founder
of "P.E.T." (Parent Effectiveness Training), observed that when children
are behaving in a way that "interferes with your ability to meet your needs,"
shouting direct orders to them doesn't work very well. So, he advised sending
"I messages." That is, a better alternative to, "Your room is a disaster
area—clean it up this minute," would be something like, "I get embarrassed
when Mrs. Johnson is visiting and sees your room looking this messy, so
I need you to clean it up."
- Ben Yagoda, "Slate Magazine"
Let no one say that
working in politics leaves you without useful skills when you leave it.
At the weekend my five-year-old son looked at me earnestly and said: “Daddy,
why is water wet?” Now I’ve since put this question to all manner of scientists
and moral philosophers and, I have to say, their answers wouldn’t have
helped. Fortunately, I was able to draw on years of political experience.
I avoided the question. Well, what would you have said?
My youngest (3 years old) then asked me whether Tony Blair is a baddie or a superhero. Far more difficult, that one.
- Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"
I've just returned
from my daughter's Halloween parade at grade school. She was supergirl
— and she was perfect. And, even better, she still considers boys to be
made of kryptonite.
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
In these days of high-tech
video games, it's remarkable that kids once got incredibly thrilled while
pushing little metal racing cars around a cardboard track: The toy car
was yours, and you invested it with importance and enhanced it with fantasy
and pitied it because it was small, like you were. Such games were weapons
against the ennui of endless Saturdays.
- Roger Ebert, from his review of "Zathura", "Chicago Sun Times"
Will Robinson was a
character in the 1960s TV series "Lost in Space" and I utterly idolized
him. Like any sensible 6-year-old boy, I wanted to live in a spaceship
and hang out with a robot all day.
- Sean Moncrief, interviewed in "The Irish Independent"
Given the choice, would
you like to be able to fly, or to become invisible? Fly or invisible, invisible
or fly? That was always the important question, the big debate - when I
was a bit younger. There were only ever two choices. It was a really tough
one. Flying would obviously be more enjoyable. But being invisible could
be more useful, for finding out stuff. And for spying.
- Sam Wollaston, "The Guardian"
I think I grew up with
a belief that when I was older, while I might not be famous, I would be
very well respected within my field or I might even be asked to become
the king of a small country somewhere. The first time I realised that things
might not be panning out as I expected was when Michael owen got into the
Liverpool team. He was the first person to do something that I would like
to, like being a professional footballer.
- Evan Fanning, "The Irish Independent"
Every boy and girl
goes through the phase where they want to solve a mystery, become embroiled
in an adventure or build a rocket ship in the backyard shed. Mostly they
just want something to happen, something that is bigger than they are,
more interesting; something that matters. Everything is just so boring
when you're ten. So here comes the exciting world of the girl detective
(or boy detective). They gather the clues, tail the bad buys and figure
out the mystery before anyone else catches on. They act, sometimes without
thinking, sometimes a little foolishly, but at least they act. They aren't
stuck in front of the television all summer, that's for sure.
- Colleen Mondor
understand the concept of history and can appreciate that the Famous Five
stories are of a time and place. The time is the middle of the last century
and the place is rural England. Will the stories be the same if Aunt Fanny
drives a 4X4, Joanna the cook is replaced with an au pair and the children
are always losing their mobile phones?"
- Spokesman for a campaign opposing plans to update the Famous Five
In their Rethinking
Schools article, teachers Ann Pelo and Kendra Pelojoaquin describe how
the kids at Hilltop built “a massive series of Lego structures we named
Legotown.” I sensed that something was rotten in the state of Legotown
when I read this description of it: “a collection of homes, shops, public
facilities, and community meeting places.” My children have spent a large
portion of their young lives playing with Legos. They have never, to my
knowledge, constructed “community meeting places.” Instead, they make monster
trucks, space ships, and war machines. These little creations are usually
loaded with ion guns, nuclear missiles, bunker-busting bombs, force-field
projectors, and death-ray cannons. Alien empires have risen and fallen
in epic conflicts waged in the upstairs bedrooms of my home.
- John J. Miller, from an article on the banning of Lego in a US school, "National Review"
Some parents say it
is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he
will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout "Bang!"
- George Will
This is a funny, perceptive
book about men and their ineradicable love of war. In describing the male
psyche so accurately, with its absurdly aggressive streak a mile wide,
utterly redundant these days yet still demanding to be satisfied, Harry
Pearson has you laughing throughout with guilty recognition. In Britain
since 1945, males have largely satisfied their love of war by fantasy:
toy soldiers, films and computer games... It’s no good banning boys from
playing with toy guns in the hope that it will make them prefer dollies,
since "an inventive lad can make a very passable one out of Lego in the
time it takes to say 'phallocentric aggression'." Tellingly, Pearson reminds
us of Saki’s cruelly truthful story, The Toys of Peace, in which a bien-pensant
uncle tries to wean his nephews off toy soldiers with substitutes in the
form of John Stuart Mill and Mrs Felicia Hemans, along with a scale model
of the Young Women’s Christian Association. A while later he returns to
see how his experiment is going. Not well. The YWCA has been violently
stormed by Mill, and Hemans has stabbed him through the heart. "He bleeds
dreadfully," exclaimed Bertie, splashing red ink liberally." The uncle
creeps away disconsolate. "We have begun too late." It will always be too
- Christopher Hart, reviewing "A Boy's Own Story", "The Times"
Conradin was ten years
old, and the doctor had pronounced his professional opinion that the boy
would not live another five years. The doctor was silky and effete, and
counted for little, but his opinion was endorsed by Mrs. De Ropp, who counted
for nearly everything. Mrs. De Ropp was Conradin's cousin and guardian,
and in his eyes she represented those three-fifths of the world that are
necessary and disagreeable and real; the other two-fifths, in perpetual
antagonism to the foregoing, were summed up in himself and his imagination.
One of these days Conradin supposed he would succumb to the mastering pressure
of wearisome necessary things---such as illnesses and coddling restrictions
and drawn-out dulness. Without his imagination, which was rampant under
the spur of loneliness, he would have succumbed long ago. Mrs. De Ropp
would never, in her honestest moments, have confessed to herself that she
disliked Conradin, though she might have been dimly aware that thwarting
him "for his good" was a duty which she did not find particularly irksome.
Conradin hated her with a desperate sincerity which he was perfectly able
to mask. Such few pleasures as he could contrive for himself gained an
added relish from the likelihood that they would be displeasing to his
guardian, and from the realm of his imagination she was locked out.
- the opening of "Sredni Vashtar" by Saki
Apparently, men in
their late thirties and early forties are the most miserable of all. This
comes as pretty bad news to anyone who has had a pretty depressing time
in their twenties, but according to new research, men who are, "struggling
to cope with the demands of a job and young family, those aged 35-44 invariably
hit a mid-life crisis when their happiness level plunges lower than at
any other age." This sense of moody ennui is largely down to the fact that
this is the age when men finally accept that they will never play professional
football, will never get to sleep with a supermodel and when they finally
accept that their kids are actually hugely disappointing and their career
has gone down the toilet.
- Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"
There used to be four
common life phases: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Now,
there are at least six: childhood, adolescence, odyssey, adulthood, active
retirement and old age. Of the new ones, the least understood is odyssey,
the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and
adulthood. During this decade, 20-somethings go to school and take breaks
from school. They live with friends and they live at home. They fall in
and out of love. They try one career and then try another... Someday people
will look back and wonder at the vast social changes wrought by the emerging
social group that saw their situations first captured by “Friends” and
later by “Knocked Up.”
- David Brooks, "The Odyssey Years", "The New York Times"
It is well, when judging
a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and
- Arnold Bennett
True friendship comes
when the silence between two people is comfortable.
- Dave Tyson Gentry
What is a friend? I
will tell you . . . it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.
- Frank Crane
A friend is a second
Friendship is unnecessary,
like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one
of those things that give value to survival.
- C.S. Lewis
If you can't return a favor, pass it on.
Contrary to general
belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like
best, they are merely the people who got there first.
- Peter Ustinov
Nine-tenths of the
people were created so you would want to be with the other tenth.
- Horace Walpole
"It is easy to know
an enemy, but not as easy as it is to mistake a friend. An enemy can prove
himself by a single deed. A friend must prove himself over and over again."
- from "The Dragonlance Saga"
There's no avoiding
it any longer. I don't like any of my friends. I've just flicked through
my address book, a thin volume, and was filled with irritation, distaste
and an overwhelming sense of boredom. One of the great boons of living
in a city is that you don't need friends. There are 11 million people within
walking distance, a thousand new people every day for the rest of my life
and no need to repeat anyone. Friends are only necessary in the ghastly
country, where you have to have them. No, I like acquaintances: a wide
circle of faintly familiar people who smile and wave but whose names escape
me. An acquaintance has all the expectation, desire to please and vivacity
of a first date. They flash wit and compliments and don't expect you to
call or go to their children's weddings.
- A.A. Gill, "The Spectator"
>> Read more friendship quotes at Friendship Day Online [external site]
Any kiddie in school can love like a fool, But Hating, my boy, is an Art.
How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes!
- HL Mencken
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