This is a collection of quotes, excerpts, and memorable credos I have encountered in film, television, books, and in person. Some of these are well-known, and indeed included in many similar compilations: I apologize. However, there are also a good number of quotes here that you probably don’t know, and a few that are completely original. Pretty good range, so maybe you’ll find it interesting.
Click the name on each quote to get some more info on its origin, why I dig it, that sort of thing. In an effort to combat the rampant mis-attribution or total fabrication of quotes in the world, I’ve done everything I can to fully and accurately cite each source; when I cannot do so, I have made it clear what’s not certain.
There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.
Seek safety at the heart of danger.
One way to determine if a view is inadequate is to check its consequences in particular cases, sometimes extreme ones, but if someone always decided what the result should be in any case by applying the given view itself, this would preclude discovering it did not correctly fit the case. Readers who hold they would plug in to the machine should notice whether their first impulse was not to do so, followed later by the thought that since only experiences could matter, the machine would be all right after all.
Each of us is the sum of our scars.
If my memory ever gets wiped I hope the recollection of my former self doesn’t depend on you people.
C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre
Ultima ratio regum
NT is a weak form of unix like a doughnut is a weak form of a particle accelerator.
(Once, in a market in Robunde, he had brought her a caged bird because it sang so beautifully. He took it to the room they were hiring while she completed her thesis paper on temple acoustics.
She thanked him graciously, walked to the window, opened the cage’s door and shooed the little bird out; it flew away over the square, singing. She watched the bird for a moment until it disappeared, then looked around to him with an expression that was at once apologetic, defiant and concerned. He was leaning against the door frame, smiling at her.)
DEMPSTER: We have hardly a right to abuse this tragedy; for bad as it is, how vain should either of us be to write one not near so good.
JOHNSON: Why no, Sir; this is not just reasoning. You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.
Depression is an indicator that your life sucks.
All the armed prophets conquered; all the unarmed ones perished.
“The City. Can’t you hear it? People. Machines. Even thoughts so thick your bones feel it and your ear almost catches it.”
It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and he pushed,
and they flew.
He surprises me with beauty.
And to flash from the forge for a moment, and perish, is all our desire.
The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
There’s a parable about a woman who goes to a psychiatrist. The shrink says, “What’s the problem?” The woman says, “I’m dead.” The shrink tries to explain to her: no, you can’t be dead, you’re walking around, talking, you’re obviously alive. But he can’t convince her. Finally, he gets her to agree that dead people don’t bleed. He whips out a pin and jabs her in the hand. She looks at the blood welling up from the wound and says, “Son of a bitch! Dead people do bleed!”
Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.
“All there is to thinking,” he said, “is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.”
No sé. No hice el mundo.
This, too, shall pass away.
There is chaos behind the civility, of course.
Let Justice be done, though the world perish.
In a sense a child does not long for fairy land as a boy longs to be the hero of the first eleven. Does anyone suppose that he really and prosaically longs for all the dangers and discomforts of a fairy tale?—really wants dragons in contemporary England? It is not so. It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted. This is a special kind of longing.
“He’s the best of us. The best of our best, the best that each of us will ever build or ever love. So pray for this Guardian of our growth and choose him well, for if he be not truly blessed, then our designs are surely frivolous and our future but a tragic waste of hope. Bless our best and adore for he doth bear our measure to the Cosmos.”
It is not down in any map; true places never are.
God keep me from ever completing anything.
Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!
FOOL: If thou wert my Fool, nuncle, I’d have thee beaten for being old before thy time.
LEAR: How’s that?
FOOL: Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
“ . . . she obeys me, but only because she wants to.”
“It’s the only justification for obedience,” Ged observed.
I haven’t gotten to the point of wanting to jump off a building, but there have been a few days where it sounded pretty interesting. At least then I’d know if I could fly.
If you are losing at a game, change the game.
Dyson spheres need great big walls
To keep the world from spilling out
They make them out of buckyballs
And use gravitons for grout
and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world.
When we wish to correct with advantage and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true.
Bright gifts and festal crowns to him they bore.
The brave, the wise, the mighty and the fair
Acclaimed him lord of the unconquered air.
But he who, thanks to more than mortal lore,
The albatross, the eagle could outsoar
Now stripped of his large wings, and unaware
Of the loud jubilee, in mute despair,
Withdrew to weep alone on Cumae’s shore.
To one who asked he spoke: “My son to-day
Was drowned; he flew too near the burning ray,
That struck his wings, and from the empty sky
He was hurled headlong to the envying sea:
He nevermore shall climb the skies with me,
And I no more shall have the heart to fly.”
I am blind: I have never seen
Sun gold nor silver moon,
Nor the fairy faces of flowers,
Nor the radiant noon.
They speak of the dawn and the dusk,
And the smile of a child,
Of the deep red heart of a rose,
As of God, undefiled.
But I learnt from the air to-day
(On a bird’s wings I flew)
That the earth could never contain
All of the God I knew.
I felt the blue mantle of space,
And kissed the cloud's white hem,
I heard the stars’ majestic choir,
And sang my praise with them.
Now joy is mine through my long night,
I do not feel the rod,
For I have danced the streets of heaven,
And touched the face of God.
Gods: I have flown!
All my young body is broken on the rocks
And all the red cliffs swim before my eyes—
The summer haze, perhaps—or my sight fails—
Dim world, these eyes of mine shall open soon
On great Olympus. Hah! I shall tell Jove
That I have flown—I, Icarus, a mortal!
Oh, the sun burns down pitiless upon me
And on my crushed white wings—my wings—my wings—
Why did I fly so high? I might by now
Be safe, if only—only—Ah, but FLYING
High and yet higher into the burning blue
Above the ochre crags and jade green sea!
How could I help it—how do otherwise?
And when the softening wax upon my shoulders
Let the great plumes slip sideways and I fell
Hardly was terror there. I saw the rocks
Rush up to meet me, and I knew that never
Never would Icarus rise again.
But I have flown—have flown. These are my wings,
All crushed and torn and dabbled—they are wings,
And this day on Olympus Jove shall know. . . .
How the cliffs shudder . . . and the sun is scorching . . .
Pain stabs my broken body so—I die—
Gods: I have flown!
Bird of the fierce delight,
Brother of foam as white
And winged as foam is,
Wheeling again from flight
To some unfooted height
Where your blithe home is:
Bird of the wind and spray,
Crying by night and day
How shall man’s thought survey
Your will or your wings’ way,
Or follow after?
What pride is man’s, and why,
Angel of air, should I
Joy to be human?
You walk and swim and fly,
Laugh like a man and cry
Like any woman.
I would your spirit were mine
When your wings dip and shine,
I drink a breathless wine
Of speed in your divine
How can they know that joy to be alive
Who have not flown?
To loop and spin and roll and climb and dive,
The very sky one’s own,
The urge of power while engines race,
The sting of speed,
The rude winds’ buffet on one’s face,
To live indeed.
How can they know the grandeur of the sky,
The earth below,
The restless sea, and waves that break and die
With ceaseless ebb and flow;
The morning sun on drifting clouds
And rolling downs—
And valley mist that shrouds
The chimneyed towns?
So long has puny man to earth been chained
Who now is free,
And with the conquest of the air has gained
A glorious liberty.
How splendid is this gift He gave
On high to roam,
The sun a friend, the earth a slave,
The heavens home.
With the wings of a bird and the heart of a man he compass’d his flight,
And the cities and seas, as he flew, were like smoke at his feet.
He lived a great life while we slept, in the dark of the night,
And went home by the mariners’ road, down the stars’ empty street.
The men who billow down the sea in ships
Have earned these ages tributes justly high;
But now is newly told on peoples’s lips
Of men in airy craft who seek the sky.
Flung freely through their newer kingdom won,
Clean wings describe the geometric arc,
And hurtle down the starlight to the dark
Or gambol with the spear-shafts of the sun.
A newer kingdom and a newer race—
They spurn with pride the lowly creed of earth,
And glory in the boundlessness of space,
Where worlds through aeons past have leapt to birth.
Though mortal span is told in numbered weeks
They brush eternity with youthful cheeks.
It seems to me not only that absolute greatness will never be great and small at once, but also that greatness in us never admits smallness, and will not be exceeded. One of two things must happen: either the greater will give way and fly at the approach of its opposite, the less, or it will perish. It will not stand its ground, and receive smallness, and be other than it was, just as I stand my ground, and receive smallness, and remain the very same small man that I was. But greatness cannot endure to be small, being great. Just in the same way again smallness in us will never become nor be great; nor will any opposite, while it remains what it was, become or be at the same time the opposite of what it was. Either it goes away or it perishes in the change.
We are just in that state; we dwell in a hollow of the earth, and think that we are dwelling on its surface; and we call the air heaven, and think it to be the heaven wherein the stars run their courses. But the truth is that we are too weak and slow to pass through to the surface of the air. For if any man could reach the surface, or take wings and fly upward, he would look up and see a world beyond, just as the fishes look forth from the sea, and behold our world. And he would know that that was the real heaven, and the real light, and the real earth, if his nature were able to endure the sight.
 First of all the gods she devised Love.
 Shining by night with a light not her own, wandering round the earth.
waeron hleahtorsmithum handa belocene
[the hands of the laughter-smiths were clasped shut]
[it is finished]
O lente, lente currite noctis equi
[slowly, slowly run, oh horses of the night]
[oh man, fly]
So the nature required to make a really noble Guardian of our commonwealth will be swift and strong, spirited, and philosophic.
He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.
Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it’s going to come in handy all the time.