Food For Thought

A Collection of Heretical Notions and Wretched Adages
compiled by Jack Tourette

author index



[see also: TALENT]

...all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
"The Poet"
Essays: Second Series, 1844

Our chief want in life, is, somebody who shall make us do what we can.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The Conduct of Life, 1860
Chapter VII "Considerations by the Way"


I hear and I forget.
I see and I believe.
I do and I understand.

Confucius (551-479 BC)

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.

Terence (c.185-159 BC)
Heauton Timoroumenos, line 805
(The Self-Tormentor)

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero!
(Seize the day, put no trust in the morrow!)

Horace (65-8 BC)
Odes, book I, 23 BC
ode xi, last line

Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
The Notebooks, 1508-1518
Volume 1, Chapter 2

It is not enough in a situation of trust in the commonwealth, that a man means well to his country; it is not enough that in his single person he never did an evil act, but always voted according to his conscience, and even harangued against every design which he apprehended to be prejudicial to the interests of his country. This innoxious and ineffectual character, that seems formed upon a plan of apology and disculpation, falls miserably short of the mark of public duty. That duty demands and requires, that what is right should not only be made known, but made prevalent; that what is evil should not only be detected, but defeated. When the public man omits to put himself in a situation of doing his duty with effect, it is an omission that frustrates the purposes of his trust almost as much as if he had formally betrayed it. It is surely no very rational account of a man's life, that he has always acted right; but has taken special care, to act in such a manner that his endeavours could not possibly be productive of any consequence.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 23 April 1770

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Paraphrase of previous quotation?

Action and passion is as absent in the present age as peril is absent from swimming in shallow waters....

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and The Present Age, 1846

What we think, or what we know, or what we believe, is in the end, of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do....

John Ruskin (1819-1900)
"The Future of England"
Delivered at the Royal Artillery Institution, Woolwich
14 December 1869

The great end of life is not knowledge but action.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)
"Technical Education"
Address delivered to the Working Men's Club and Institute
01 December 1877

The sovereign source of melancholy is repletion. Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void.

William James (1842-1910)
"Is Life Worth Living"
The Will to Believe, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, 1896

One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Human, All Too Human, 1878, 74

No matter how insignificant the thing you have to do, do it as well as you can, give it as much of your care and attention as you would give to the thing you regard as most important, For it will be by those small things that you shall be judged.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Selections From Gandhi, 1948
Chapter 16 "The Life Of The Satyagrahi"
compiled by N.K. Bose

The most decisive actions of our life -- I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future -- are, more often than not, unconsidered.

Andre Gide (1869-1951)
The Counterfeiters, 1925
Part 3, Chapter 16

The curse of me & my nation is that we always think things can be bettered by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort.

Ezra Loomis Pound (1885-1972)
Letter to James Joyce
07-08 June 1920

I become aware of the old Buddhist axiom of not striving. It seems clear that if I pour my energy into creating beauty and euphoria, this simultaneously creates an empty hole which I will subsequently experience as the opposite. The answer is equanimity -- let things be as they are.

Myron J. Stolaroff (b.1920)
Thanatos to Eros, 1994


Cum fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; cum fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi. (When you are in Rome, live in the Roman style; when you are elsewhere, live as they live there.)

Saint Ambrose (339-397)
Advice to Saint Augustine
Quoted by Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)
in Ductor Dubitantium, 1660
Part I, Book 1, Chapter 5

Complete adaptation to environment means death. The essential point in all response is the desire to control the environment.

John Dewey (1859-1953)
Class lectures on "Psychological Ethics"
29 September 1924

Man adjusts to what he should not; he is unable to adjust to what he should.

Jean Toomer (1894-1967)
Essentials: Definitions and Aphorisms, 1931

Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Economic and Industrial Life and Relations, 1959

Abroad in the world today is a monstrous falsehood, a consummate fabrication, to which all social agencies have loaned themselves and into which most men, women, and children have been seduced. In previous writings, I have called this forgery "the Eleventh Commandment"; for such, indeed, has become the injunction: You Must Adjust!

Robert Mitchell Lindner (1914-1956)
Must You Conform?, 1956


Dependence syndrome

A cluster of physiological, behavioural, and cognitive phenomena in which the use of a substance or a class of substances takes on a much higher priority for a given individual than other behaviours that once had greater value. A central descriptive characteristic of the dependence syndrome is the desire (often strong, sometimes overpowering) to take psychoactive drugs (which may or may not have been medically prescribed), alcohol, or tobacco. There may be evidence that return to substance use after a period of abstinence leads to a more rapid reappearance of other features of the syndrome than occurs with nondependent individuals.

Diagnostic guidelines

A definite diagnosis of dependence should usually be made only if three or more of the following have been present together at some time during the previous year:

(a) a strong desire or sense of compulsion to take the substance;

(b) difficulties in controlling substance-taking behaviour in terms of its onset, termination, or levels of use;

(c) a physiological withdrawal state when substance use has ceased or been reduced, as evidenced by the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance; or use of the same (or a closely related) substance with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms;

(d) evidence of tolerance, such that increased doses of the psychoactive substances are required in order to achieve effects originally produced by lower doses (clear examples of this are found in alcohol- and opiate-dependent individuals who may take daily doses sufficient to incapacitate or kill nontolerant users);

(e) progressive neglect of alternative pleasures or interests because of psychoactive substance use, increased amount of time necessary to obtain or take the substance or to recover from its effects;

(f) persisting with substance use despite clear evidence of overtly harmful consequences, such as harm to the liver through excessive drinking, depressive mood states consequent to periods of heavy substance use, or drug-related impairment of cognitive functioning; efforts should be made to determine that the user was actually, or could be expected to be, aware of the nature and extent of the harm.

Narrowing of the personal repertoire of patterns of psychoactive substance use has also been described as a characteristic feature (e.g., a tendency to drink alcoholic drinks in the same way on weekdays and weekends, regardless of social constraints that determine appropriate drinking behaviour).

"The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural
disorders: clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines"
Geneva, World Health Organization, 1992
[ICD-10 == Tenth Revision of the International Statistical
Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems]

Dependence syndrome

Three or more of the following manifestations should have occurred together for at least 1 month or, if persisting for periods of less than 1 month, should have occurred together repeatedly within a 12-month period:

(1) a strong desire or sense of compulsion to take the substance;

(2) impaired capacity to control substance-taking behaviour in terms of its onset, termination, or levels of use, as evidenced by the substance being often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended; or by a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control substance use;

(3) a physiological withdrawal state when substance use is reduced or ceased, as evidenced by the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance, or by use of the same (or closely related) substance with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms;

(4) evidence of tolerance to the effects of the substance, such that there is a need for significantly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance;

(5) preoccupation with substance use, as manifested by important alternative pleasures or interests being given up or reduced because of substance use; or a great deal of time being spent in activities necessary to obtain, take, or recover from the effects of the substance;

(6) persistent substance use despite clear evidence of harmful consequences, as evidenced by continued use when the individual is actually aware, or may be expected to be aware, of the nature and extent of harm.

"The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural
Disorders: Diagnostic criteria for research"
Geneva, World Health Organization, 1992
[ICD-10 == Tenth Revision of the International Statistical
Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems]


Admiration is a very short-lived passion that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object, unless it be still fed with fresh discoveries, and kept alive by a new perpetual succession of miracles rising up to its view.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
The Spectator, Number 256
24 December 1711

Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

There is an innocence in admiration: he has it to whom it has not yet occurred that he too could one day be admired.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, 1886
Part Four: Maxims and Interludes
Number 118

You always admire what you really don't understand.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
"Meet the Press", NBC TV
16 September 1956



Men often bear little grievances with less courage than they do large misfortunes.

Aesop (620-560 BC)
The Ass and the Frogs

Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180)
Meditations, V, 18

Ingenium res adversae nudare solent, celare secundae.
(Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.)

Horace (65-8 BC)
Sermones: The Satires of Horace, c.31 BC
Book II, Satire 8, line 73

Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.

Horace (65-8 BC)
Sermones: The Satires of Horace, c.31 BC
Book II, Satire 8, line 73
(Another translation)

It is a consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery.

Publilius Syrus (1st century BC)
Maxim 995

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Bible, Matthew 6:34

Common and vulgar people ascribe all ill that they feel to others; people of little wisdom ascribe it to themselves; people of much wisdom to no one.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135)
Quoted by Henry Augustus Dillon in
The Life and Opinions of Sir Richard Maltravers, 1822
Volume I, Chapter XIV

To accuse others for one's own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135)
Epictetus: The discourses and manual,
together with fragments of his writings
, 1916
Translated by P.E. Matheson

Do you think that you shall enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as came to those who passed before you?

Koran (c.610-632)

I had never complained of the vicissitudes of fortune, nor murmured at the ordinances of heaven, excepting on one occasion, that my feet were bare, and I had not wherewithal to shoe them. In this desponding state I entered the metropolitan mosque at Cufah, and there I beheld a man that had no feet.

Sadi (1184-1291)
Gulistan, or Rose Garden of Beauties, 1258
Chapter III "On the Preciousness of Contentment"
Section XIX
Translated by James Ross

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.

Friedrich von Logau (1604-1655)
Poetic Aphorisms (Sinngedichten), 1654

Observe nature, follow the route that it traces for you. Nature exercises children continually, it hardens their temperament by all kinds of difficulties, it teaches them early the meaning of pain and sorrow. Teething gives them fevers, sharp colics bring on convulsions, long coughing suffocates them, worms torment them, plethora corrupts their blood, various leavens ferment it and cause dangerous eruptions. Almost all of the first age is sickness and danger: one half of the children who are born die before their eighth year. The tests passed, the infant has gained strength, and as soon as he can make use of his life its principle becomes more secure.

This is the law of nature. Why would you contradict it? Do you not see that in your efforts to improve upon its work you are destroying it, that you impede the effect of its aims? To do from without what she does within is according to you to increase the danger twofold. On the contrary, it is the way to avert it. Experience shows that children delicately raised are more likely to die. Provided we do not overdo it, there is less risk in using their strength than in sparing it . Accustom them therefore to the hardships they will have to face; train them to endure extremes of temperature, climate, and condition, hunger, thirst, and weariness. Dip them in the waters of Styx. Before bodily habits are acquired you may teach what habits you will without danger. But once habits are established any change becomes perilous. A child will bear changes which a man cannot bear. The muscles of the one are soft and flexible and take whatever direction you give them without any effort. The muscles of the grown man are harder and they only change their accustomed mode of action when subjected to violence. One can thus make a child robust without risking his life or health; and even if there were some risk, one should not hesitate. Since risks are inseperable from human life, can we do better than face them at a time when they can do the least harm?

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Emile; or, On Education, 1762
Book 1

Far from trying to prevent Emile from hurting himself, I would be worried if he never hurt himself, if he grew up not knowing pain. To suffer is the first thing that he must learn and the one that he will have the greatest need to know. It seems that children are small and weak only in order to learn these important lessons without any danger. The child has such a little way to fall he will not break his leg; if he knocks himself with a stick he will not break his arm; if he grabs a sharp knife he will not grasp it tight enough to make a deep wound. So far as I know, no child left to himself has ever been known to kill or maim himself or even to do himself any serious harm, unless he has been foolishly left on a high place or alone near the fire or within reach of dangerous weapons. What is there to be said for all the paraphernalia which surrounds the child to protect him on every side against pain until, having grown up, he remains at its mercy without courage and without experience, and believes himself dead at the first pinprick and faints at the sight of blood?

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Emile; or, On Education, 1762
Book II

Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
The Declaration of Independence
04 July 1776

The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
The Pirate, 1821
Chapter 36

The path to perfection is difficult to men in every lot; there is no royal road for rich or poor. But difficulties are meant to rouse not discourage.

William Ellery Channing (1780-1842)
"Self-Culture: An Address Introductory to the Franklin Lectures"
Boston, September 1938

Adversity is the first path to truth.

Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Don Juan, 1821
Canto the Twelfth

Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
"The Hero as Man of Letters"
On Heroes and Hero Worship, 1841
Lecture 5

One can resist adversity better than prosperity. We get out of ill luck in more entire condition than out of good luck. Charybdis is misery, but wealth is Scylla.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
The Laughing Man, 1894
Volume III, Book V "The Sea and Fate Move Under by the Same Breath"
Chapter V "We Think We Remember, We Forget"
Translated by Bellina Phillips

L'Adversite fait l'homme, & le bonheur les Monstres. Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.

A Dictionary of Quotations, 1809
David Evans Macdonnel

"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble." It comes to us all: not to make us sad, but to make us sober; not to make us sorry, but to make us wise; not to make us despondent, but by its darkness to refresh us, as the night refreshes the day; not to impoverish us, but to enrich us, as the plough enriches the field, -- to multiply our joy, as the seed is multiplied a hundred-fold by planting. Our conception of life is not Divine, and our thought of garden-making is not inspired. Our earthly flowers are quickly planted, and they quickly bloom, and then they are gone; while God would plant those flowers which, by transplantation, shall live forever.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)
Royal Truths, 1866

One way of getting an idea of our fellow-countrymen's miseries is to go and look at their pleasures.

George Eliot (1819-1880)
Felix Holt, the Radical, 1866
Chapter 28

Let us be of good cheer, however, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never happen.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)
"On Democracy"
Speech, Birmingham, England
06 October 1884
Democracy and Other Addresses, 1886

Humanity either makes or breeds or tolerates all its afflictions, great and small.

H.G. Wells (1866-1946)
Joan and Peter, 1918
Chapter 13 "Joan and Peter Graduate"
Section 15

The true way goes over a rope which is not stretched at any great height but just above the ground. It seems more designed to make people stumble than to be walked upon.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
The Great Wall of China, 1917

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Harry S Truman (1884-1972)
Mr. Citizen, 1960
Chapter 15

The actual tragedies of life bear no relation to one's preconceived ideas. In the event, one is always bewildered by their simplicity, their grandeur of design, and by that element of the bizarre which seems inherent in them.

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)
Les Enfants Terribles, 1929

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
A Farewell to Arms, 1929
Chapter 34

The obvious lesson of all of which is that the first step to the knowledge of the highest divine symbol of the wonder and mystery of life is in the recognition of the monstrous nature of life and its glory in that character: the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think -- and their name is legion -- that they know how the universe could have been better than it is, how it would have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without life, are unfit for illumination. Or those who think -- as do many -- "Let me first correct society, then get around to myself" are barred from even the outer gate of the mansion of God's peace. All societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable; and so they will always be. So if you really want to help this world, what you will have to teach is how to live in it. And that no one can do who has not himself learned how to live in it in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
Myths to Live By, 1972
Chapter V "The Confrontation of East and West in Religion", 1970

If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders -- what would you tell him to do?

I...don't know. What...could he do? What would you tell him?

To shrug.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
Atlas Shrugged, 1957
Part Two "Either-Or"
Chapter III "White Blackmail"

...I can no longer forget that loss and illness and trouble, however a person may exploit them, cannot be exploited without being suffered.

Wendell Berry (b.1934)
A World Lost, 1996
Chapter VIII

The Earth is God's pinball machine and each quake, tidal wave, flash flood and volcanic eruption is the result of a TILT that occurs when God, cheating, tries to win free games.

Tom Robbins (b.1936)
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, 1976
Part IV, Chapter 66

Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty-five years and you pay it back and then -- one day -- you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then -- one day -- you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe.

Denis Leary (b.1958)


Advertising is legalized lying.

H.G. Wells (1866-1946)
Crown's Book of Political Quotations, 1982
page 2

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.

Norman Douglas (1868-1952)
South Wind, 1917
Chapter 7

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Stephen Butler Leacock (1869-1944)
"The Perfect Salesman"
The Garden of Folly, 1924

What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962)
Discovery, 1964

Advertising promotes that divine discontent which makes people strive to improve their economic status.

Ralph Starr Butler (1882-1971)
Radio broadcast, quoted in Fantastic Interim, 1943
by Henry Morton Robinson

...Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particular if the goods are worthless.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)
Gideon Planish, 1943
Chapter 26

The authors of the book have no quarrel with the technique of advertising as such. It is a magnificent technique. Sanely applied it could remake the world.

Stuart Chase (1888-1985)
and Frederick John Schlink (1891-1995)
Your Money's Worth: A Study in the Waste of the Consumer's Dollar, 1930
Chapter II "The New Competition"

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

George Orwell (1903-1950)
Keep the Aspidistra Flying, 1936
Chapter 3

The trouble with us in America isn't that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.

Louis Kronenberger (1904-1980)
"The Spirit of the Age"
Company Manners, 1954

The real danger from advertising is that it helps to shatter and ultimately destroy our most precious non-material possessions: the confidence in the existence of meaningful purposes of human activity and the respect for the integrity of man.

Paul Baran (1910-1964)
and Paul Sweezy (2004)
"Theses on Advertising"
Science and Society, Volume 28, Winter 1964

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs.

Banksy (b.1974)
Cut It Out, 2004

Next to Christianity, advertising is the greatest force in the world. And I say that without sacrilege or disrespect. Advertising makes people discontented. It makes them want things they don't have. Without discontent, there is no progress, no achievement.

Ray Locke
Quoted in Adman: Morris Hite's Methods for Winning the Ad Game, 1988
by Morris Hite (1910-1983)


Old people like to give good advice, as solace for no longer being able to provide bad examples.

La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)
Sentences and Moral Maxims, 1678
Maxim 93

It is a little embarrassing that, after forty-five years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
This Timeless Moment, 1968
Chapter 10, "One Never Loves Enough"
by Laura Archera Huxley

Nous nous confions rarement...ceux qui sont meilleurs que nous.
(We seldom confide in those who are better than ourselves.)

Albert Camus (1913-1960)
La Chute, 1956


[see also: HEAVEN, HELL]

To put it in one word, the whole creation is recurrent. Whatsoever you are to meet with has been: whatsoever you are to lose will be. Nothing exists for the first time. All things return to their estate after having departed: all things begin when they have ceased. They come to an end simply that they may come to be: nothing perishes except with a view to salvation. Therefore this whole revolving scheme of things is an attestation of the resurrection of the dead.

Tertullian (c.160-c.240)
De Resurrectione Carnis, Section 12
Translated by Ernest Evans, 1960

...the interval between death & the resurrection is to them that sleep & perceive it not, a moment.

Isaac Newton
Paradoxical Questions concerning the morals &
actions of Athanasius & his followers
, c. early 1690s
"Quest. Whether Athanasius did not set on foot the
invocation of saints"

There is a perpetual equilibrium between heaven and hell; for from hell there continually exspires and ascends an effort to do evil, and from heaven there continually exspires and descends an endeavor to do good: the world of spirits is in this equilibrium, which world is in the midst between heaven and hell, as may be seen above, n. 421-431. That the world of spirits is in that equilibrium, is because every man after death first enters into the world of spirits, and is there kept in a similar state to that in which he was in in the world, which could not be the case unless the most exact equilibrium were there. For by means of this all are explored as to their quality, being left there to their freedom, such as they lived in during their abode in the world: spiritual equilibrium is the freedom appertaining to man and spirit, as was said above, n. 589). The quality of every one's freedom is there discovered by the angels in heaven, through communication of affections and thoughts from heaven; and it appears visible to the sight before angelic spirits by the ways in which they go: they who are good spirits go in the ways which tend to heaven, but evil spirits go in the ways which tend to hell. Ways actually appear in that world; which also is the reason that ways, in the Word, signify truths which lead to good, and in the opposite sense falses which lead to evil; and hence also it is, that to go, to walk, and to journey, in the Word, signify progressions of life [62.1]. Such ways it has often been granted me to see, and likewise the spirits going and walking upon them freely according to their affections and thoughts thence derived.

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)
Paragraph number 590
Concerning Heaven and Its Wonders and Concerning Hell:
From Things Heard and Seen
, 1758
Published by The General Convention of the New Jerusalem in
the United States of America, 1865

Like the caterpillar, man crawls for a while on the earth; he is then received by it, in the wooden chrysalis, the coffin, where he rests throughout the winter; in the spring he breaks through the shell and rises out of the cold earth, with new and unsullied beauty.

Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825)
Greenland Lawsuits, 1783-1784
Volume II

It must be so -- Plato, thou reasonest well!
Elsewhence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heaven itself, that points out a hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Cato, 1713
Act V, scene i

What is our life but a succession of preludes to that unknown song whose first solemn note is sounded by death.

Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)
Meditations Poetiques, 1820
Second series, Sermon 15

Some say that gleams of a remoter world
Visit the soul in sleep -- that death is slumber,
And that its shapes the busy thoughts outnumber
Of those who wake and live.

Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822)
Mont Blanc, 1816, stanza 3

We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream; it may be so the moment after death.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Passages from the American
, c.1868
25 October 1836 entry

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another!

Anatole France (1844-1924)
The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, 1920
Part II, The Little Saint-George
Translated by Lafcadio Hearn

My poor friend, we don't know what to do with this short life, and do you want another which shall be eternal!

Anatole France (1844-1924)
The Red Lily, 1894
Chapter II "One Can See That You Are Young!"

Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
The Great Divorce, 1946

If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.

Albert Camus (1913-1960)
"Summer in Algiers", 1936
The Myth of Sisyphus and
Other Essays
, 1955

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.

Richard Bach (b.1936)
Illusions, 1977
Chapter 19 emphasize the afterlife is to deny life. To concentrate on Heaven is to create hell. In their desperate longing to transcend the disorderliness, friction, and unpredictability that pesters life; in their desire for a fresh start in a tidy habitat, germ-free and secured by angels, religious multitudes are gambling the only life they may ever have on a dark horse in a race that has no finish line.

Tom Robbins (b.1936)
Skinny Legs and All, 1990, p.305.


[see also: MATURITY, YOUTH]

What the object of senile avarice may be I cannot conceive. For can there be anything more absurd than to seek more journey money, the less there remains of the journey?

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)
On Old Age
Translated by Evelyn Shirley Shuckburgh (1843–1906)
The Harvard Classics, 1909–1914
Edited by Charles William Eliot (1834–1926)
Volume IX, Part 2

The nearer people approach old age the closer they return to a semblance of childhood, until the time comes for them to depart this life, again like children, neither tired of living or aware of death.

Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536)
Praise of Folly, 1509
Chapter 14

Most men make use of the first part of their life to render the last part miserable.

Jean de La Bruyere (1654-1696)
"De l'Homme"
Les Caracteres, 1688

Every man desires to live long, but no one would be old.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
"Miscelanies", 1711
Thoughts on Various Subjects

The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Parerga and Paralipomena
Volume I, 1851

We do not count a man's years until he has nothing else to count.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
"Old Age"
Society and Solitude, 1870

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

Every man who has lived for fifty years has buried a whole world or even two; he has grown used to its disappearance and accustomed to the new scenery of another act: but suddenly the names and faces of a time long dead appear more and more often on his way, calling up series of shades and pictures kept somewhere, "just in case," in the endless catacombs of the memory, making him smile or sigh, and sometimes almost weep.

Alexander Herzen (1812-1870)
"Miscellaneous Pieces: From the Other World and from This"
My Past and Thoughts, 1921
Volume 3, Part 8

That vague, crepuscular time, the time of regrets that resemble hopes, of hopes that resemble regrets, when youth has passed, but old age has not yet arrived.

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenov (1818-1883)
Fathers and Sons, 1862
Chapter 7

To know how to grow old is the masterwork of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.

Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881)
Journal Intime, 1883

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Chapter 19

An individual human existence should be like a river – small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
"How to Grow Old"
Portraits from memory: and other essays, 1956

The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquillity of the evening. Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
The Summing Up, 1938
Chapter 73

Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man.

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
Diary in Exile, 1959
08 May 1935

If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.

Eubie Blake (1883-1983)
On reaching the age of 100
Observer, 13 February 1983

I want to tell people approaching and perhaps fearing age that it is a time of discovery. If they say "Of whay?" I can only answer "We must find out for ourselves, otherwise it won't be discovery.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979)
The Measure of My Days, 1968

A man's liberal and conservative phases seem to follow each other in a succession of waves from the time he is born. Children are radicals. Youths are conservatives, with a dash of criminal negligence. Men in their prime are liberals (as long as their digestion keeps pace with their intellect). The middle to shelter; they insure their life, draft a will, accumulate momentos and occasional tables, and hope for security. And then comes old age, which repeats childhood -- a time full of humors and sadness, but often full of courage and even prophesy.

E.B. White (1899-1985)
"Life Phases"
New Yorker
20 February 1937

There is a Japanese saying I recall once having heard, of the five stages of man's growth. "At ten, an animal; at twenty, a lunatic; at thirty, a failure; at forty, a fraud; at fifty, a criminal." And at sixty, I would add (since by that time one will have gone through all this), one begins advising one's friends; and at seventy (realizing that everything said has been misunderstood) one keeps quiet and is taken for a sage. "At eighty," then said Confucius, "I knew my ground and stood firm."

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
Myths to Live By, 1993
Chapter X "Schizophrenia -- the Inward Journey", 1970

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 (b.1952)

When I turned two I was really anxious, because I'd doubled my age in a year. I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I'm six I'll be ninety.

Steven Wright (b.1955)

"I know I'm going to get old and be one of those crazy women who sit on balconies and spit on people and scream, 'Get a haircut!'" Lucy said. "I know this, and I don't really fear it. I'd just like to move toward it with as much grace and dignity as possible."

Carrie Fisher (b.1956)
Postcards From the Edge, 1987


[see also: ATHEISM, GOD]

There is only one greater folly than that of the fool who says in his heart there is no God, and that is the folly of the people that says with its head that it does not know whether there is a God or not.

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure that they had attained a certain "gnosis" -- had more or less successfully solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion.


So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic". It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant; and I took the earliest opportunity of parading it at our Society, to show that I, too, had a tail, like the other foxes.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)
in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 1908
edited by James Hastings

Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle. Positively, the principle may be expressed as in matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it can take you without other considerations. And negatively, in matters of the intellect, do not pretend that matters are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)
Agnosticism, 1889

That it is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can provide evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what agnosticism asserts and in my opinion, is all that is essential to agnosticism.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)
Agnosticism and Christianity, 1889

Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)
Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley
Volume 3, Chapter 3.5 "1889"
by Leonard Huxley (1860-1933)

Till then we shall be content to admit openly, what you (religionists) whisper under your breath or hide in technical jargon, that the ancient secret is a secret still; that man knows nothing of the Infinite and Absolute; and that, knowing nothing, he had better not be dogmatic about his ignorance. And, meanwhile, we will endeavour to be as charitable as possible, and whilst you trumpet forth officially your contempt for our skepticism, we will at least try to believe that you are imposed upon by your own bluster.

Leslie Stephen (1832-1904)
"An agnostic's Apology"
Fortnightly Review, 1876

Why, when no honest man will deny in private that every ultimate problem is wrapped in the profoundest mystery, do honest men proclaim in pulpits that unhesitating certainty is the duty of the most foolish and ignorant? Is it not a spectacle to make the angels laugh? We are a company of ignorant beings, feeling our way through mists and darkness, learning only be incessantly repeated blunders, obtaining a glimmering of truth by falling into every conceivable error, dimly discerning light enough for our daily needs, but hopelessly differing whenever we attempt to describe the ultimate origin or end of our paths; and yet, when one of us ventures to declare that we don't know the map of the universe as well as the map of our infinitesimal parish, he is hooted, reviled, and perhaps told that he will be damned to all eternity for his faithlessness....

Leslie Stephen (1832-1904)
"An agnostic's Apology",
Fortnightly Review, 1876

Agnosticism is the philosophical, ethical, and religious dry-rot of the modern world; it owes its existence solely to the absence of a genuinely modern philosophy founded on the scientific method, and the absence of such a philosophy is due to the failure of the universities to discharge their highest duty to human society.

Francis Ellingwood Abbot (1836-1903)
"The Future of Philosophy at Harvard"
Harvard Monthly, 5 (November 1887)

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means.

Clarence Seward Darrow (1857-1938)
Scopes Monkey Trial
Dayton, Tennessee
13 July 1925

Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God.

Heywood Hale Broun (1888-1939)
"A New Preface to an Old Story", 1916
Collected Edition, 1941


[see also: FOOD]

The primary function of Eastern agriculture is to supply the cultivators and their cattle with food. This automatically follows because of the pressure of the population on the land: the main hunger the soil has to appease is that of the stomach. A subsidiary hunger is that of the machine which needs raw materials for manufacture. This extra hunger is new but has developed considerably since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 (by which the small fields of the cultivator have been brought into effective contact with the markets of the West) and the establishment of local industries like cotton and jute. To both these hungers soil fertility has to respond. We know from long experience that the fields of India can respond to the hunger of the stomach. Whether they can fulfil the added demands of the machine remains to be seen.

Albert Howard (1873-1947)
An Agricultural Testament, 1943
Chapter 1 "Introduction: The Practices of the Orient"


[see also: BEER, DRUGS, WINE]

Be sparing of the middle of a cask,
But when you open it, and at the end,
Drink all you want; it's not worth saving dregs.

Hesiod (c.700 BC)
Works and Days
Translated by Dorothea Schmidt Wender
In Hesiod and Theognis, 1973

Give strong drink to one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty,
and remember their misery no more.

Bible, Proverbs 31:6-7

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

Bible, 1 Timothy 5:23

It sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it cutteth phlegm, it abandoneth melancholy, it reliseth the heart, it lighteneth the mind, it quickeneth the spirits, it cureth the hydropsy, it healeth the strangulary, it pounceth the stone, it expelleth gravel, it puffeth away all ventosity, it keepeth and preserveth the head from whirling, the eyes from dazzling, the tongue from lisping, the mouth from maffling, the teeth from chattering, and the throat from rattling; it keepeth the weason from stifling, the stomach from wambling, and the heart from swelling; the belly from wirtching, the guts from rumbling, the hands from shivering, the veins from crampling, the bones from aching, and the marrow from soaking.

Theoricus Episcopus Hermenensis
Romanula juxta Bononiam
On brandy
13th Century prelate
Quoted in Chronicles of England, 1577
by Raphael Hollinshed (d.1580)

Porter: Drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.
Macduff: What three things does drink especially provoke?
Porter: Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Macbeth, 1605-1606
Act II, scene iii, line 28

Tis not the drinking that is to be blamed, but the excess.

John Selden (1584-1654)
Table Talk, 1689

A night of good drinking
Is worth a year's thinking.

Charles Cotton (1630-1687)
Chanson a' Boire, 1665

If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink:
Good wine - a friend - or being dry -
Or lest we should be by and by -
Or any other reason why.

Henry Aldrich (1647-1710)
"Five Reasons for Drinking", 1705

There are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as there are fruits that are not good until they are rotten.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
12 April 1776
Life of Johnson, 1791
by James Boswell (1740-1795)

Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.... This is one of the disadvantages of wine, it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
28 April 1778
Life of Johnson, 1791
by James Boswell (1740-1795)

So, at last we walk away from the racket and uproar of Bacchus, when Death calls out: neighbour, come! now your hourglass is filled up. Old man, put away your crutch, and you, young man, obey my law: take the arm of the prettiest nymph that smiles at you. Do you feel that the grave is too deep? Well, then get yourself a drink, then have another, have a second, have a third, and you will die more content.

Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795)
"Mealtime Song"

Going to the opera, like getting drunk, is a sin that carries its own punishment with it, and that a very severe one.

Hannah More (1745-1833)
Letter to her sister, 1775
The Letters of Hannah More, 1925

Man, being reasonable, must get drunk;
The best of life is but intoxication.

Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Don Juan, Canto II, 1819
Stanza 179

What's drinking?
A mere pause from thinking!

Lord Byron (1788-1824)
The Deformed Transformed, 1824
Act III, scene i

Upon the first goblet he read this inscription, monkey wine; upon the second, lion wine; upon the third, sheep wine; upon the fourth, swine wine. These four inscriptions expressed the four descending degrees of drunkenness: the first, that which enlivens; the second, that which irritates; the third, that which stupefies; finally the last, that which brutalizes.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
Les Miserables, 1862
Cosette, book VI, Chapter 9

O Beer! O Hodgson, Guinness, Allsopp, Bass!
Names that should be on every infant's tongue!

C.S. Calverley (1831-1884)
"Beer", 1861

Teetotaler, n. One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Rum, n. Generically, fiery liquors that produce madness in total abstainers.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkeness expands, unites, and says yes. Not through mere perversity do men run after it.

William James (1842-1910)
The Varieties of Religious Experience
Lectures 16-17, 1902 (1961 translation)

Why, if 'tis dancing you would be,
There's brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world's not.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
"Hughley Steeple", LXII
A Shropshire Lad, 1896

During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. Compelled to live on food and water, for several days.

W.C. Fields (1880-1946)
"My Little Chickadee", 1940

I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for.

W.C. Fields (1880-1946)
"Never Give a Sucker an Even Break", 1941

Alcohol is like love: the first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.

Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)
The Long Goodbye, 1953

If you stick a stock of liquor in your locker,
It is slick to stick a lock upon your stock,
Or some joker who is slicker's going to trick you of your liquor;
Though you snicker you'll feel sicker from the shock.
Be a piker though your clubmates mock and bicker,
For like brokers round a ticker they will flock
To your locker full of liquor, and your stock will vanish quicker,
If you fail to lock your liquor with a lock.

Newman Levy (1888-1966)
"If You Stick a Stock of Liquor"
An Anthology of Light Verse, 1935
by Louis Kronenberger (1904-1980)

Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
"Reflections on Ice-breaking"
Hard Lines, 1931

The use of euphemism in national advertising is giving the hangover a bad name. "Over-indulgence" it is called. There is a curious nastiness about over-indulgence. We would not consider overindulging. The name is unpleasant, and the word "over" indicates that one shouldn't have done it. Our celebration had no such implication. We did not drink too much. We drank just enough, and we refuse to profane a good little time of mild inebriety with that slurring phrase "over-indulgence".

John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
and Edward Flanders Ricketts (1897-1948)
The Log from the Sea of Cortez, 1951
Chapter 19 "March 29"

My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.

Henny Youngman (1906-1998)

There is nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation.

John Ciardi (1916-1986)
"Manner of Speaking"
The Saturday Review, 24 September 1966

Fermentation and Civilization are inseparable.

John Ciardi (1916-1986)

Even though a number of people have tried, no one has yet found a way to drink for a living.

Jean Kerr (b.1923)
Poor Richard, 1965
Act I

The awe with which man has regarded this natural process finds spontaneous expression in the fact that the animating essence produced by fermentation is identified in language with the essence of human life, both being designated by the term "spirit."

J.P. Arnold

Five stages of drunkness: Verbose, jocose, lachrymose, bellicose, comatose.



[see also: CYCLES, INFINITY]

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Bible, Revelation 22:13

Begin at the beginning...and go on until you come to the end: then stop.

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865
Chapter 12 "Alice's Evidence"


[see also: GOALS]

No ascent is too steep for mortals. Heaven itself we seek in our folly.

Horace (65-8 BC)
Odes, book I, 23 BC
ode iii, line 8

Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

John Anster (1793-1867)
Faust: A Dramatic Mystery, 1835
(A very free translation of Goethe's Faust)

So many worlds, so much to do,
So little done, such things to be.

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)
"In Memoriam", 1850
Canto 73, stanza 1

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?

Robert Browning (1812-1889)
"Andrea del Sarto", 1855
line 97

I suspect that what makes hedonists so angry when they think about overachievers is that the overachievers, without drugs or orgies, have more fun.

Wallace Earle Stegner (1909-1993)
Crossing to Safety, 1987
Part I, Chapter 7


[see also: LIBERTY]

A state may be ruled by correction, and weapons of war may be used with crafty dexterity, but the kingdom is made one's own only by freedom from action and purpose.

How do I know that this is so? By these facts: multiple taboos increase the poverty of the people; the more sharp tools the people have to add to their profit, the greater disorder in the state and clan; the more acts of crafty dexterity, the more strange contrivances appear; the more display there is of laws and edicts, the greater the number of thieves and robbers.

Therefore, a sage has said, "I will do nothing, and the people will be transformed of themselves; I will keep still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no trouble, and the people will of themselves become rich; I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity."

Lao-tzu (c.604-c.531 BC)
Tao Te Ching, Part 2, Number 57

Freedom and not servitude is the cure of anarchy; as religion, and not atheism, is the true remedy for superstition.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
"Second Speech on Conciliation with America"
The Thirteen Resolutions
22 March 1775

I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe, - 'That government is best which governs not at all;` and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties, blind faith the one unpardonable sin.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)
On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge, 1866

Chaos often breeds life when order breeds habit.

Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
The Education of Henry Adams, 1907
Chapter 13

"Anarchy," Tucker insisted, "means a slow growth of the principles of liberty and justice; the gradual dropping of the 'thou shalts' and the 'thou shalt nots' of laws and constitutions as men slowly learn that it is better to be governed by reasonable and intelligent conviction from within than by compulsion from without..." And the first step in this procedure, he held, is to disabuse oneself of the idea that government, even when that government takes the form of parliamentary democracy functioning after the principle of majority rule and minority rights, is capable of assuring the individual freedom or of bringing about a condition of harmonious relations among people. If mankind is ever to realize justice in its actual social relations, the notion that the individual citizen has a moral obligation to the State must be completely abandoned. We anarchists, Tucker proclaimed, "look upon all obligations, not as moral, but as social, and even then not really as obligations except as these have been consciously and voluntarily assumed." And this means nothing less than that the State, which is to say formal government itself, must be discarded as an instrument of social control.

Benjamin R. Tucker (1854-1939)
Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty, 1986
Anthology edited by Michael E. Coughlin (pp.170-171)

People sometimes inquire what form of government is most suitable for an artist to live under. To this question there is only one answer. The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
"The Soul of Man Under Socialism"
Fortnightly Review
London, February 1891

If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941)
dissenting, Olmstead et al. vs. United States
277 U.S. 485 (1928)

The ordinary man is an anarchist. He wants to do as he likes. He may want his neighbor to be governed, but he himself doesn't want to be governed. He is mortally afraid of government officials and policemen.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Speech, New York City
11 April 1933

Limitation is the essence of liberty, for as soon as liberty is complete, it dies in anarchy.

Will Durant (1885-1981)
Rousseau and Revolution, 1967
The Story of Civilization
Volume X

Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto), 1989
Chapter 3, "Government and Politics"

To those who think that the law of gravity interferes with their freedom, there is nothing to say.

Lionel Tiger (b.1937)
The Imperial Animal, 1971
co-written with Robin Fox

Inside every working anarchy, there's an Old Boy Network.

Mitchell David Kapor (b.1950)
Quoted by John Perry Barlow
"The Best of All Possible Worlds"
25 November 1996
Posted to 05 December 1996


[see also: MAXIMS]

How is it that we remember the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not remember how often we have recounted it to the same person.

La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)
Sentences and Moral Maxims, 1678
Maxim 313


Anger is a momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.

Horace (65-8 BC)
Book I, epistle ii, line 62

I know of no more disagreeable situation than to be left feeling generally angry without anybody in particular to be angry at.

Frank Moore Colby (1865-1925)
"The Literature of Malicious Exposure"
The Colby Essays, Volume 1, 1926

...usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

Malcolm X (1925-1965)
Malcolm X Speaks, 1965
Chapter IX "With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer"
December 20, 1964, New York City's more interesting to live
when you're furious!

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (b.1933)
Bratsk Station and Other New Poems, 1966


[see also: BIRDS, CATS, DOGS, ZOO]

The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognised, that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate? What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or, perhaps, the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1780
Chapter XIX "Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence"
1. "Limits Between Private Ethics and the Art of Legislation"
Part IV, footnote

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd,
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition.
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
"Song of Myself" part 32
Leaves of Grass, 1855

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
"Mind and Matter"
Notebooks, 1912

I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. It is so distinctly a matter of feeling with me, and is so strong and so deeply-rooted in my make and constitution, that I am sure I could not even see a vivisector vivisected with anything more than a sort of qualified satisfaction. I do not say I should not go and look on; I only mean that I should almost surely fail to get out of it the degree of contentment which it ought, of course, to be expected to furnish.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Letter to Mr. Sidney G. Trist, editor
Animals' Friend, April 1900

Cats and monkeys, monkeys and cats -- all human life is there.

Henry James (1843-1916)
The Madonna of the Future, 1879

I fear animals regard man as a creature of their own kind which has in a highly dangerous fashion lost its healthy animal reason -- as the mad animal, as the laughing animal, as the weeping animal, as the unhappy animal.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
The Gay Science, 1887
Aphorism 224

Shall we never have done with that cliche, so stupid that it could only be human, about the sympathy of animals for man when he is unhappy? Animals love happiness almost as much as we do. A fit of crying disturbs them, they'll sometimes imitate sobbing, and for a moment they'll reflect our sadness. But they flee unhappiness as they flee fever, and I believe that in the long run they are capable of boycotting it.

Colette (1873-1954)
Break of Day, 1961

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

Henry Beston (1888-1968)
The Outermost House, 1928
Chapter II, "Autumn, Ocean, and Birds", Part I

Once, when camped on a rocky point along the Canadian border with the moon at full and my tent pitched in the light of it, I was laying in my bag, tent flaps open, studying the effect of pine needles etched against the sky. Suddenly I was aware of a slight rustle, as though some small animal was trying to climb the silken roof of the tent. Then I saw that it was a mouse scrambling desperately up the edge of the side wall. For a moment it hesitated, then slipped backward, and I thought it surely must fall. Another wild scramble and it was on the ridge rope itself, tottering uncertainly back and forth. Then, to my amazement, the mouse launched itself out into space and slid down the smooth and shining surface of the tent to the ground below.

The action was repeated many times until the little animal became expert and reckless and lost no time between the climb back and the sheer abandon of its slide. Faster and faster it ran, intoxicated now by its new and thrilling experience; up along the edge, straight toward the center of the ridge rope, a swift leap, belly down, legs spread wide to get the full effect of the exhilarating toboggan it had found, a slide of balloon silk straight to the needle-strewn ground below.

I watched the game for a long time. Eventually I stopped trying to count the slides and wondered at last how the mouse could possibly keep up its pace. As I lay there, I became convinced that it was enjoying itself hugely, that I was witnessing an activity which had no purpose but pleasure. I had seen many animals play in the moonlight -- had watched a family of otters enjoying a slide into a deep pool, beaver playing a game of tag in a pond, squirrels chasing one another wildly through the silver-splashed tops of the pines. Under the magic spell of the moon, the mouse had acted no differently than the rest.

Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982)
Wilderness Days, 1972
"Autumn: Hunter's Moon"

Nothing is more humbling than to look with a strong magnifying glass at an insect so tiny that the naked eye sees only the barest speck and to discover that nevertheless it is sculpted and articulated and striped with the same care and imagination as a zebra. Apparently it does not matter to nature whether or not a creature is within our range of vision, and the suspicion arises that even the zebra was not designed for our benefit.

Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007)
Parables of Sun Light:
Observations on Psychology, the Arts, and the Rest
, 1989
19 July 1972

Whenever you observe an animal closely, you feel as if a human being sitting inside were making fun of you.

Elias Canetti (1905-1994)
The Human Province, 1978
Translated by Joachim Neugroschel

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted....

Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
The Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, 1979

Elephants are considered an endangered species and as such should not be used by U.S. military personnel. There are about 600,000 African elephants and between 30,000 and 50,000 Asian elephants. Approximately 20 percent are in captivity, so it is difficult to estimate their numbers exactly. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species regards both species as threatened. Elephants are not the easygoing, kind, loving creatures that people believe them to be. They are, of course, not evil either. They simply follow their biological pattern, shaped by evolution.

Special Forces Use of Pack Animals
U.S. Army Field Manual Number 3-05.213
Chapter 10, Section 41 "Elephants"


We can stand only a certain amount of unhappiness; anything beyond that annihilates us or passes us by, leaving us apathetic.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Elective Affinities, 1809
Chapter 4

Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.

Horace Greeley (1811-1872)

Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie--
Dust unto dust--
The calm, sweet earth that mothers all who die
As all men must;

Mourn not your captive comrades who must dwell--
Too strong to strive--
Within each steel-bound coffin of a cell,
Buried alive;

But rather mourn the apathetic throng--
The cowed and the meek--
Who see the world's great anguish and its wrong
And dare not speak!

Ralph Chaplin (1887-1961)
"Mourn Not the Dead"
Bars and Shadows: The Prison Poems of Ralph Chaplin, 1922

Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy.

Richard Linklater (b.1965)
"Slacker", 1991


This generation may be the one that will face Armageddon.

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
People magazine
26 December 1985


[see also: MUSIC]

I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like.

American Proverb
First recorded by Gellett Burgess
Are You a Bromide?, 1907

The highest problem in every art is, by means of appearances, to produce the illusion of a loftier reality.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Truth and Poetry, Book XI, 1846-47

Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, 1786-1830
Book VII, Chapter 9

I call architecture frozen music.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Letter to Eckermann
23 March 1829

Nature is a revelation of God;
Art a revelation of man.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Hyperion, Book III, Chapter 5, 1839

Life without industry is guilt, industry without art is brutality.

John Ruskin (1819-1900)
"The Relation of Art to Morals"
Lectures on Art
23 February 1870

Art us vice. One does not wed it, one rapes it.

Edgar Degas (1834-1900)
Saturday Review, 28 May 1966

Art is nothing more than the shadow of humanity.

Henry James (1843-1916)
Lectures and Miscellanies, 1852
Lecture III "The Principle of Universality in Art"

Art and nothing but art! It is the great means of making life possible, the great seduction to life, the great stimulant of life.

Art as the only superior counterforce to all will to denial of life, as that which is anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, antinilhilist par excellance.

Art as the redemption of the man of knowledge -- of those who see the terrifying and questionable character of existence, who want to see it, the men of tragic knowledge.

Art as the redemption of the man of action -- of those who not only see the terrifying and questionable character of existence but live it, want to live it, the tragic-warlike men, then hero.

Art as the redemption of the sufferer -- as the way to states in which suffering is willed, transfigured, deified, where suffering is a form of great delight.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Philosophical Writings, 1995
Part II "On Tragedy"
from Will to Power, Summer 1883-Spring/Summer 1888
(Compiled posthumously from his notebooks by his sister, et al.)
"Art in 'The Birth of Tragedy'", 1888
Translated by Walter Kaufmann
Paraphrased by Camus (below)

What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907)
The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1913

Thinking directly in terms of colors, tones, images, is a different operation technically from thinking in words...if all meanings could be adequately expressed by words, the arts of painting and music would not exist. There are values and meaning that can be expressed only by immediately visible and audible qualities, and to ask what they mean in the sense of something that can be put into words is to deny their distinctive existence.

John Dewey (1859-1952)
Art As Experience, 1934
Chapter 4 "The Act Of Expression"

If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, then it is science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively, then it is art.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
letter to the editor of the German magazine Menschen
January 1921

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
"Picasso Speaks"
The Arts, May 1923

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
in conversation with Christian Zervos, 1935
Picasso on Art: a Selection of Views, 1972
edited by Dore Ashton

Great art is a irrational as great music. It is mad with its own loveliness.

George Jean Nathan (1882-1958)
House of Satan, 1926

He knows all about art, but he doesn't know what he likes.

James Thurber (1894-1961)
Cartoon caption
The New Yorker

Art for art's sake is a philosophy of the well-fed.

Cao Yu (1910-1996)
Observer, London
13 April 1980

There is a metaphysical honour in ending the world's absurdity. Conquest or play-acting, multiple loves, absurd revolt are tributes that man pays to his dignity in a campaign in which he is defeated in advance.... War cannot be negated. One must live it or die of it. So it is with the absurd: it is a question of breathing with it, of recognizing its lessons and recovering their flesh. In this regard the absurd joy par excellence is creation. "Art and nothing but art", said Nietzsche, "we have art in order not to die of the truth."

Albert Camus (1913-1960)
The Myth of Sisyphus, 1955
"Absurd Creation"
Nietzsche quotation paraphrase of above?
See caveat

The demand of readers for brand new material which is just like what they've already read is a publishing reality, and it can be found behind virtually every best seller. (The same principle applies - even more strongly - to the less literate media: television, movies, popular music.)

Ted White (b.1926)

Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.

Roy Adzak (b.1927)
Quoted in Contemporary Artists, 1977
Edited by Colin Naylor and
Genesis P-Orridge (b.1950)

I want to arrive at a direct apprehension of reality without the intermediary of a concept. I often end up in darkness and failure because of the impossibility but I prefer it all to all of the other so-called marvels of the visionary world. Good art is not what it looks like but what it does to us. Its value lies in its power to modify and not merely to modify but reorganize our sensibility. For to submit to a new mode of seeing, to enter a world where we can be liberated from our stereotyped ways of seeing and feeling -- now that is more important to aim for all of one's life and perhaps never achieve than to aim for less and know that in the end you've made a bad investment with your life.

Roy Adzak (b.1927)
Quoted in Contemporary Artists, 1977
Edited by Colin Naylor and Genesis P-Orridge

...interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
Against Interpretation, 1966
Part I, "Against Interpretation"

When one lives in a society where people can no longer rely on the institutions to tell them the truth, the truth must come from culture and art.

John Trudell (b.1946)
"Indian Rights Activist Finds Outlet In Rock"
Los Angeles Times, 27 December 1986

Most of us, when all is said and done, like what we like and make up reasons for it afterwards.

Soren F. Petersen

People don't know what they like, but they like what they know.

Quoted in Solid Gold: The Popular Record Industry, 1975
by R. Serge Denisoff


...for a good work of art can, and will indeed, have moral consequences; but to require moral ends of the artist, is to destroy his profession.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
The Autobiography of Goethe, 1881
Volume I, Part 3, Book 12
Translated by John Oxenford

The man who never in his mind and thought travelled to heaven, is no artist.... Mere enthusiasm is the all in all.... Passion and expression are beauty itself.

William Blake (1757-1827)
Life of Blake, 1863, i. 310
by Alexander Gilchrist (1828-1861)

Art is a jealous mistress, and, if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The Conduct of Life, 1860

A true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Man and Superman, 1903
Act I

The notion of making money by popular work, and then retiring to do good work, is the most familiar of all the devil's traps for artists.

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946)
"Arts and Letters"
Afterthoughts, 1931

The stamping out of the one of the blind goals of every civilization. When a civilization becomes so standardized that the individual can no longer make an imprint on it, then that civilization is dying. The "mass mind" has taken over and, said Faure, another set of national glories is heading for history's scrap heap.

Elie Faure (1875-1937)
Paraphrased by Ben Hecht in A Child of the Century, 1985
Book Four: "I Was a Reporter"

The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.

Max Eastman (1883-1969)
Part I "Art and the Life of Action"
Chapter X "The Artist and the Social Engineer"
Art and the Life of Action: with other essays, 1934

An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don't know why they chose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.

William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Interview in Writers at Work
1958, First Series
Edited by Malcolm Cowley

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)
"In Praise of Robert Frost"
Amherst College, 27 October 1963

An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he -- for some reason -- thinks it would be a good idea to give them. Business Art is a much better thing to be making than Art Art, because Art Art doesn't support the space it takes up, whereas Business Art does. If Business Art doesn't support its own space it goes out-of-business.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), 1975
Chapter 10

In a civilisation or culture where the political institutions lack credibility, where the process of law is clearly neither concerned with the provision of natural justice nor the establishment of truth, where our financial institutions are clearly not particularly interested in the financial best interests of little people, it places a particularly great responsibility on the culture's artists to speak in words which are true.

Robert Fripp (b.1946)
Interview online in the CompuServe Convention Center
23 March 1985


Astrology is a disease, not a science.

Maimonides (1135-1204)
Laws of Repentance, 1170-1180


[see also: AGNOSTICISM, GOD]

To be an atheist requires an infinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
The Spectator, 08 March 1711

The atheist has no hope.

James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888)
Steps of Belief: Or, Rational Christianity Maintained Against
Atheism, Free Religion, and Romanism
, 1870
First Step "From Atheism to Theism"
Chapter III "The Atheist's Theory of the Universe"

...if atheism be used to express the state of mind in which God is identified with the unknowable, and theology is pronounced to be a collection of meaningless words about unintelligible chimeras, then I have no doubt, and I think few people doubt, that atheists are as plentiful as blackberries.

Leslie Stephen (1832-1904)
"Mr. Bradlaugh and His Opponents"
The Fortnightly Review
Volume XXVIII, July 1 to December 1, 1880
Edited by John Morley

My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.

George Santayana (1863-1952)
"On My Friendly Critics"
Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies, 1922

We find the most terrible form of atheism, not in the militant and passionate struggle against the idea of God himself, but in the practical atheism of everyday living, in indifference and torpor. We often encounter these forms of atheism among those who are formally Christians.

Nicolai A. Berdyaev (1874-1948)
Truth and Revelation, 1953

I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

George Bush (b.1924)
27 August 1988
Free Inquiry, Fall 1988

Belief in God? An afterlife? I believe in rock: this apodictic rock beneath my feet.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto), 1989
Chapter 1 "Philosophy, Religion, and so Forth"



What the object of senile avarice may be I cannot conceive. For can there be anything more absurd than to seek more journey money, the less there remains of the journey?

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)
On Old Age
Translated by Evelyn Shirley Shuckburgh (1843–1906)
The Harvard Classics, 1909–1914
Edited by Charles William Eliot (1834–1926)
Volume IX, Part 2

If you would abolish avarice, you must abolish the parent of it, luxury.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC)
De Oratore, c.55 BC
Book II, Chapter XL
Oratory and Orators, 1855
Translated or Edited by J.S. Watson

Because men believe not Providence, therefore they do so greedily scrape and hoard.

They do not believe any reward for charity, therefore they will part with nothing.

Isaac Barrow (1630-1677)
The Theological Works of Isaac Barrow, Volume IV, 1830
Sermons on the Creed
Sermon I "Of the Evil and Unreasonableness of Infidelity"

Mankind, by the perverse depravity of their nature, esteem that which they have most desired as of no value the moment it is possessed, and torment themselves with fruitless wishes for that which is beyond their reach.

Francois de Salignac de la Mothe Fenelon (1651-1715)
Telemaque, 1699, Book XVIII

Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Life Of Johnson, 1791
May 1776

Avarice is the vice of declining years.

George Bancroft (1800-1891)
In Many Thoughts of Many Minds: A Treasury of Quotations from the
Literature of Every Land and Every Age
, 1896
Compiled by Louis Klopsch

Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The Conduct of Life, 1860

He had never questioned the Ten Commandments, nor had he knowingly disobeyed them. Like many another before him, he attributed the sad state of the world and the sin of its inhabitants to their refusal to heed those Rules. But in his ponderings, God Himself, he at last devoutly concluded, had underestimated the stupidity of mankind. So he undertook to amend the Decalogue himself, by adding "...or cause..." to each Commandment, just to make it easier for a man to work with:

"...or cause the Name of the Lord to be taken in vain."

"...or cause stealing to be done."

"...or cause dishonor to thy father and thy mother."

"...or cause the commission of adultery."

"...or cause a killing to be done."

But his revelation came to him when he came to the last one. It was suddenly clear to him that all mankind's folly -- all greed, lust, war, all dishonor, sprang from humanity's almost total disregard for this edict and its amendment: "Thou shalt not covet...nor cause covetousness!"

It came to him that to arouse covetousness in another is just as deadly a sin as to kill him or to cause his murder. Yet all around the world empires rose, great yachts and castles and hanging gardens came into being, tombs and trusts and college grants, all for the purpose of arousing the envy or covetousness of the less endowed -- or having that effect no matter what the motive.

Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985)
"When You Care, When You Love", 1962
Case and the Dreamer, 1974

If an emergency strikes, a man should be able to leave his home with nothing more than the clothes on his back without feeling that he has left something behind.

Attributed to Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),
but not found in his works

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Last update: 03-July-2015
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