Quote of the Week Archive September 2011 – August 2012Posted: March 10, 2013
September 7, 2011
“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.”
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
Orphaned at 10, Maugham spent his childhood at British boarding schools and under the guardianship of an uncle who showed little warmth. He studied medicine, which he said gave him an appreciation of suffering, but left university as soon as he reached his majority to devote himself to writing. His first literary successes were plays, but his masterwork, Of Human Bondage, was written during the First World War, in which he served as an ambulance driver. Although he continued to write, notably his Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin, he was recruited by the British Secret Service and spent time in Russia during the revolution. Although controversy over his bisexuality followed him to the United States, he was very successful in Hollywood and spent many of his later years at his grand villa at Cap Ferrat on the Riviera.
With this entry the Quote of the Week has now been on Good Morning Gloucester for an entire year. Counting vacation, that’s 50 weeks of different authors from Auden to Zappa, without a repeat. Now I’ll give myself the luxury of going back to some of my favorites, like Chesterton and Maslow, but I’ll still be adding new ones as I run into them.
Just so you know, I write the bios based on my research to give the quote context, and one can click on the name or the picture that Joey adds to be connected to a Wikipedia entry for that particular author. Sometimes the adages are only attributed when I can’t find evidence of the direct quote; famous quipsters like Abraham Lincoln and Yogi Berra are often credited with things others actually said first.
I am always encouraged by your comments, and your suggestions are welcome too, but because I try to choose quotes that have some relationship to what is happening in my world each week, don’t be hurt if I don’t use them right away.
I find it astonishing how much wisdom there is in the world, and how the thoughts of famous men and women can apply to my own life. I hope you do too.
September 15, 2011
“Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you…..”
Orolo to Erasmus in Anathem, 2008 by Neal Stephenson (1959- )
Born into a family of academic scientists, Stephenson attended BostonUniversity, graduating with a degree in geography. His third novel, Snow Crash, was widely recognized as the next step in the cyberpunk tradition of William Gibson. Subsequent works such as Cryptonomicon explore a fusion of cryptography, computer science and memetics, while his Diamond Age describes a steampunk world of nanotechnology and interactive literature.
September 23, 2011
“Not all those who wander are lost.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) from The Fellowship of the Ring
Tolkien was born to English parents in the Orange Free State (now part of the Union of South Africa). His father died when John was three and his mother when he was eleven. Subsequently raised by a guardian, he attended ExeterCollege at Oxford, served as a signals officer in World War One, and worked as an etymologist on the Oxford English Dictionary, later spending 34 years as a professor at OxfordUniversity, first of Anglo-Saxon and later of English. Although he first gained academic recognition as a translator and interpreter of the epic Beowulf, his book The Hobbit, originally written in the 1930’s for the enjoyment of his children, became one of the most popular books of the 20th century. The sequel trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, made Tolkien first a cult figure and finally a reluctant celebrity. In 1971 he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.
September 29, 2011
“What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.” – John Ruskin 1819-1900
Longtime professor of art at OxfordCollege, Ruskin’s influence on 19th and early 20th century art and architecture was profound. His popular books The Stones of Venice and The Seven Lamps of Architecture had their effect on Le Corbusier, Wright and Gropius, among others. He championed of the works of JWM Turner and the Pre-RaphaeliteSchool setting the tone for a return to natural forms that prefigured the Arts and Crafts Movement. Proust, Tolstoy, and Gandhi round out an international assemblage who admired Ruskin for his poetry and Christian Socialist philosophy.
October 6, 2011
“The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealised past.”
W. Robertson Davies (1913-1995)
The son of a Canadian senator and media mogul, Davies received a degree in literature from Oxford University, then returned to Canada to a career of writing essays, plays, criticism, and especially novels, including his widely celebrated The Fifth Business, a Jungian exploration of magical realism and the world of the spirit, which he followed with The Manticore and World of Wonders, forming his much admired Deptford Trilogy. His stylish literary output continued with the Toronto Trilogy, (The Rebel Angels, What’s Bred in the Bone, and The Lyre of Orpheus.) Davies was also a sought-after speaker and won awards for his literate humor. He was a finalist for the Booker Prize in 1991, but died before he could complete the last book of a third trilogy.
October 13, 2011
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but instead remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Epicurus(341 BC – 270 BC)
Born on the Greek island of Samos, Epicurus believed that the goal of one’s life should be happiness, peace and freedom from fear. Often misunderstood as a sort of hedonism because of similarities in a pursuit of pleasure, Epicureanism teaches instead that overindulgence likely brings pain. The greatest pleasure is to be gained in the enjoyment of friends, the simple blessings of food, and the living of the quiet, useful life.
(I decided to quote Epicurus this week because I was struck by the similarity to what Donna wrote earlier. Has anyone ever seen them in the same place at the same time? Hmm.)
October 22, 2011
“There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.” William Boyd (Bill) Watterson (1958- )
A graduate of KenyonCollege with a degree in political science, Watterson was a political cartoonist and ad designer before creating his award winning strip Calvin and Hobbes in 1985. Named for the Protestant reformer John Calvin and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the strip was hugely popular until 1995 when he stopped drawing it having said all he wanted to say. Famously reclusive, (hence no picture), he refused to allow the strip to be merchandised, and grants no interviews.
October 27, 2011
“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.” Honoré de Balzac (1799 – 1850)
Balzac is often considered the founder of European Realist Literature. His attention to detail and his multi-faceted characters have served as an inspiration to generations of writers, including Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Proust, Poe, Faulkner, Kerouac, and Calvino. His masterwork, Le Comédie Humaine, or The Human Comedy, is a series of sketches of all aspects of life, often presented minute by minute. Although a conservative royalist in his politics, Balzac understood the frustrations of the down-trodden and the revolutionaries in the great social upheavals of his later life.
November 3, 2011
“There are two ways to handle a woman, and nobody knows either of them.”
Frank McKinney (Kin) Hubbard (1868-1930)
Midwestern humorist, cartoonist, and writer known best for his political commentary, Hubbard was a high school dropout who said his goal in life was to own a circus. He worked briefly as a silhouette artist and attended art school for a short time before beginning cartoon work for the Indianapolis News. For 25 years he drew the acclaimed cartoon “Abe Martin of BrownCounty” which went into syndication and made him nationally known. Will Rogers cited Hubbard as an influence and called him the greatest humorist of his time. Another Hubbard comment on sexual dimorphism: “Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men.”
November 10, 2011
“Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.”
G. K. Chesterton 1874-1936
Often called “The Prince of Paradox,” Chesterton wrote about 80 books, several hundred poems, 200 short stories, 4000 essays and several plays. His 1905 biography of Charles Dickens is often credited for reviving interest in Dickens’ then largely overlooked work. Though they differed strongly in their respective world views, George Bernard Shaw described him as a man of colossal genius. His life-long study of religion and theology culminated in his 1922 conversion to Roman Catholicism. Diverse writers and thinkers including Mohandas Gandhi, Ingmar Bergman, Jorge Luis Borges, Neil Gaiman and Hilaire Belloc cited Chesterton as an influence on their work.
November 17, 2011
“Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.” Steven Wright 1955-
Although born in New York, comedian, actor and writer Steven Wright is a rabid Sox fan. Known for his lethargic voice and deadpan delivery of ironic, philosophical and sometimes nonsensical jokes and one-liners, Wright grew up in Burlington, (as did Amy Poehler). He attended EmersonCollege, (with Dennis Leary) and began his stand up career around Harvard Square.
November 24, 2011
“Holding on to a resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Carrie Fisher (1956- )
Born to one of Hollywood’s golden postwar couples, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, who messily divorced when she was two, the actress, novelist, lecturer, and screenwriter is perhaps best know for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the early Star Wars movies. She is thought of as one of the smartest people in the film industry and has had a less well-known career as a script doctor and writer. Her novel Postcards from the Edge and her memoir Wishful Drinking detail her battles with substance abuse and eating disorders. The Emmy Award winning Fisher continues to tour as a lecturer and appears frequently on television (30 Rock, Sex in the City, etc.)
December 2, 2011
“I’m all for restraint, as long as it doesn’t go too far.”
Mary Jane (Mae) West (1893- 1980)
From her beginnings in vaudeville, West moved on to Broadway, writing, directing and starring in the 1920’s hit Sex for which she was arrested and jailed on morals charges, launching a life-long battle with censorship. Her film career began in the thirties with memorable roles in Night after Night, I’m No Angel, and Diamond Lil. West often wrote or rewrote her own dialogue featuring her penchant for double entendre while up-staging
a long string of leading men including Cary Grant, Randoph Scott, and W.C. Fields. She made no films from the Second World War until 1970 when she appeared in Gore Vidal’s camp hit Myra Breckenridge. Inflatable life jackets are still referred to by her name for their resemblance to her statuesque form.
December 8, 2011
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same….”
From If- 1895
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Best known hereabouts for his 1897 novel Captains Courageous, Kipling was the quintessential apologist and proponent of British imperialism. He was born in Mumbai, then called Bombay, to English parents, and became famous for his poems and short stories set in India, (Gunga Din, The Jungle Book, etc). Henry James referred to him as a man of “complete genius.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, the youngest recipient of that honor. He and his young family lived in Brattleboro, Vermont from 1892 to 1896, and it was during this period that he visited Gloucester to write about fishing from the dory schooners. Kipling’s unquestioning support of the Empire was cooled by the death of his son in the First World War. He continued to write, but with less success, until his own death in 1936.
December 15, 2011
“If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?”
Mary Jean (Lily) Tomlin (1939- )
Detroit born comedian and actress Tomlin got her first big break in 1969 as a member of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In where she developed long-running characters such as Ernestine, the telephone operator, and Edith Ann, the wise and plain spoken five-year-old. She went on to create memorable roles in movies including “All of Me”, “Nine to Five” and “Short Cuts.” She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Altman’s “Nashville”, and has received numerous awards including four Emmys, a Tony, and a Grammy for her Broadway and recorded work.
December 29, 2011
“… a man may do an immense deal of good if he does not care who gets the credit for it.”
Attributed to “Father Strickland, an English Jesuit” mid- 19th century.
This quote has been attributed to many people from Edward Everett Hale to Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan, but according to The Quote Investigator, and others, the first reference in print was as above in the 1873 diary of Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. Further research has not revealed any details of Father Strickland’s life, not even his given name. However, the concept of altruism coupled with anonymity continues to appear down the years in the words of many who recognize that removing the ego from acts for the common good gives those acts a special power.
January 5, 2012
“The statistics on sanity are that one American in four suffers from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, it’s you.”
Rita Mae Brown (1944- )
After obtaining degrees in cinematography, classics and English, Brown went on to doctorates in literature and political science. She began her writing career as a poet but gained much notoriety for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle in 1973, which dealt with lesbian themes in an unusually frank manner for the time. Since the sixties she has been active in the fight for racial and gender equality, and was an administrator in the National Organization for Women for several years. She continues to write in the mystery genre, rides to the hounds, and plays polo.
January 12, 2012
“Time is the fire in which we burn.”
Delmore Schwartz 1913-1966
Born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, NY, Schwartz attended Columbia and the University of Wisconsin before receiving a degree from New YorkUniversity. He studied philosophy as a graduate student under the great Alfred North Whitehead at Harvard while he roomed with the poet Robert Lowell. His first book, In Dreams Responsibilities Begin, based on his parents failed marriage, gained him widespread notice. He went on to teach writing at a number of schools including Syracuse and Kenyon. Among his many students and protégés was Saul Bellow whose Humboldt’s Gift is based on their relationship. Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground also studied with Schwartz, wrote at least two songs in his memory and named him the “first great man I ever met.” Schwartz died at 52, alone and isolated from the world, from complications of alcoholism and mental illness.
January 19, 2012
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus (1913-1960)
Born to poverty in Algeria, then a French colony, Camus lost his father the following year in the First World War. His precocious brilliance was recognized with scholarships to the University of Algiers where he studied philosophy. During the 1930’s he was active in the French Communist Party and the Algerian People’s Party and began the WWII as a pacifist, later joining the fight against the Axis. He gained prominence for his books The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus and is often linked to the existentialism of Sartre, although Camus himself referred to his philosophy as Absurdist, which posits that we ourselves must create meaning in our lives. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, but was killed in an automobile accident two years later.
January 26, 2012
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”
G. K. Chesterton 1874-1936
Often called “The Prince of Paradox,” Chesterton wrote 80 books, several hundred poems, 200 short stories, 4000 essays and several plays. His 1905 biography of Charles Dickens is often credited for reviving interest in Dickens’ then largely overlooked work. Though they differed strongly in their respective world views, George Bernard Shaw described him as a man of colossal genius. His life-long study of religion and theology culminated in his 1922 conversion to Roman Catholicism. Diverse writers and thinkers including Mohandas Gandhi, Ingmar Bergman, Jorge Luis Borges, Neil Gaiman and Hilaire Belloc cited Chesterton as an influence on their work.
Feb 2 2012
“Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture…Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”
Norman Vincent Peale (1898 – 1993)
Author of the popular book The Power of Positive Thinking, in 1952, Peale was pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church in New York for more than fifty years. In his long running radio and television program, The Art of Living, and his many books, magazine articles, and sermons he tirelessly preached that the development of right thinking was the key to a good life. Though his opposition to John Kennedy’s candidacy on the grounds of Kennedy’s Catholicism sullied his own reputation, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 by Ronald Reagan.
February 9, 2012
“Nothing is exactly as it seems, nor is it otherwise”
Alan Watts (1915-1973)
Born in Britain, philosopher and theologian Alan Watts moved to the US in the thirties, attending Episcopal seminary while at the same time receiving training in Zen Buddhism. He served briefly as a priest but left the church to pursue a career as a teacher and lecturer. His bestselling 1957 book The Way of Zen was one of more than two dozen he wrote on spirituality, religion and consciousness. Many of his brilliant lectures are available on the web and as an Iphone app. This seemingly nonsensical quote is in the nature of a koan or parable, perhaps the best known of which is “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” These thought provoking sayings are meant to encourage lateral thinking. The origins of the Watts quote go back to the Surangama Sutra, probably written 1,400 years ago, and may refer to our inability to truly comprehend reality.
February 16, 2012
“Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.”
Cyril Connolly (1903-1974)
An Eton educated literary critic, Connolly was for many years the editor of Horizon, the influential English magazine on prose. He was well traveled, thrice married, and hobnobbed with many of the great literary lights of his generation, but never attained the success as a fiction writer that he desired.
February 23, 2012
“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”
Mary Anne Evans, aka George Eliot (1819-1880)
Among the finest novelists of the Victorian Age, Evans chose a masculine pen name in order that her work would be taken more seriously by the male-dominated literati, and to keep her private life, including a twenty year relationship with a married man, private. Her novels Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, and especially Middlemarch, are regarded as masterful descriptions of life in provincial England with great insight into the psychological drama of everyday life.
March 15, 2012
“We are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind or whether to act, and in acting, to live”
General Omar Nelson Bradley (1891-1983)
Among the most intellectual men ever to command the United States Armed Forces, Bradley graduated from West Point just before WWI, in the same class as Dwight Eisenhower. He returned there to teach mathematics between the wars, and then worked at the War Department for George Marshall, eventually rising to command the 82nd Airborne at the outbreak of WWII. Sent to North Africa in overall command by Eisenhower, he moved to London in 1943 to help plan the Normandy Invasion. Later in the war he became embroiled in the political tussle between Montgomery and Patton and was blamed for reverses associated with the Battle of the Bulge.
After the war Bradley was promoted to Army Chief of Staff and then the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Truman, and later NATO Commander. He was influential in the dismissal of Douglas MacArthur as the head of the United States forces in Korea, and in the policies that resulted in the Korean stalemate. Active in industry during his retired life, Bradley was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ford in 1971.
“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”
Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, (1948 – )
Knighted in 2009 for his contributions to literature, English fantasy and science fiction writer Pratchett is among the most widely read authors in western popular culture. Known primarily for his Discworld series, he has a long history of collaborations with other authors including Neil Gaiman (Good Omens) and Larry Niven, (Rainbow Mars). His erudite and witty style is flavored by a solid knowledge of astronomy and physics. In 2009 Pratchett announced that he was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and has been active in the search for a cure.
March 29, 2012
“God gave men both a penis and a brain, but only enough blood to run one at a time.”
Robin Williams (1952- )
A Chicago native, Williams attended ClaremontMcKennaCollege and the JuilliardSchool, breaking into television as the alien Mork on Happy Days. Mork was such a popular character that the spin-off Mork and Mindy ran four years providing Williams with the perfect vehicle for his unparalleled mimicry and improvisational impersonations.
A veteran of dozens of film roles from Peter Pan to the deranged killer in Insomnia, Williams received an Academy award for his portrayal of a Harvard professor in Good Will Hunting, as well as several Emmys, Golden Globes and other awards.
Williams continues to perform stand-up comedy and is active in support of myriads of charities, some connected to his battles with substance abuse. Thrice married, the quote may reflect self-awareness of his own tendencies toward promiscuity.
April 5, 2012
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
Søren Kierkegaard (1813- 1855)
Often described as the Father of Existentialism, Kierkegaard, a Dane, was highly critical of the established church in his native country, finding it more concerned with politics than with the divine. During his short life he kept a 7,000 page journal in which his philosophy and theology are minutely explained. Kierkegaard observed that self-examination is the only road to self-awareness. His insistence that one should tirelessly question for oneself how best to live influenced philosophers from Camus to Heidegger, Sartre, and Niebuhr.
April 12, 2012
“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito” – Anonymous
April 26, 2012
“Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.”
Warren Buffet (1930- )
Among the three or four richest people in the world, Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, had a net worth of $62 Billion in 2011. He is often described as the Sage of Omaha, for his hometown and investing acumen. He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and has pledged to give away almost all of his wealth through the Gates Foundation. When he found that he paid a lower tax rate than his employees who made far less money he proposed the “Buffet Rule” increasing the tax rate for the wealthiest individuals. He is an avid player of bridge and funds a yearly competition between American and European players.
May 4, 2012
“What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?”
Robert Schuller (1926- )
Founder of the Hour of Power television show, Schuller was one of the most widely heard preachers of the televangelist movement of the late 20th century. After having established his church in a drive-in theater, he engaged Richard Neutra to design the Garden GroveCommunityChurch in California in the late fifties, and Phillip Johnson to design the Crystal Cathedral in the seventies. His congregation eventually reached 10,000 members. He stressed the power of positive thinking and the possibility of oneness with the divine through right action. In 2008 he attempted to pass on his ministry to his children, but the Crystal Cathedral declared bankruptcy in 2010, and none of the Schuller family is currently in its leadership.
May 11, 2012
“Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
Earl Mac Rauch, from “The Adventures of Buckaroo Bansai Across the 8th Dimension”
Not much biographic information is available for Rauch, a novelist and screenwriter who, in addition to the 1984 sci-fi farce Buckaroo Bansai (sic), also wrote New York, New York and A Stranger is Watching. With this quote he reminds us that it is not possible to escape from one’s self.
May 17, 2012
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Theodore Roosevelt, (1858 – 1919)
The 26th President of the United States, TR was born wealthy, but also sickly, suffering from asthma his entire life. To compensate, he embraced “the strenuous life” and was famed for his exuberance and activism. He was elected to the New York State Assembly one year after graduating from HarvardUniversity, and became a force for reform in the Republican Party. He was Vice President to William McKinley and at 42 became the youngest person to hold the office of President when McKinley was assassinated in 1901. He is widely credited as the prime mover behind the completion of the Panama Canal, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. A life-long naturalist, Roosevelt was essential in the creation of our National Park System. His refusal to shoot an American black bear that had been tied to a tree created a meme that lives on today in the stuffed Teddy Bear.
May 25, 2012
“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
Muhammad Ali (1942- )
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Kentucky, Ali won the Olympic gold medal for light heavyweight boxing in 1960. He worked his way up to a title fight by 1964 and was the youngest challenger to take a title from a champ (Sonny Liston). A follower of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, Ali was arrested and stripped of his title in 1967 for his refusal, as a conscientious objector, to be drafted during the Vietnam War. His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court four years later. He went on to take the title twice more from Joe Frazier and George Foreman. He retired from the ring in 1981 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, likely caused by repeated head trauma. Since then he has traveled extensively as a UN ambassador of peace and is active in promoting education and the defense of the Bill of Rights. George Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.
May 31, 2012
“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (1866-1946)
Born in the county of Kent in England, Welles is primarily known for his speculative fiction successes, The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, although he wrote a great deal of non-fiction history and novels in other genres. His early training as a biologist is reflected in the Darwinian nature of many of his plot lines, though he was a prominent member of the socialist Fabian Society. A controversial figure in English literary circles, Welles supported eugenics and spoke against Zionism until his horror at the actions of the Nazis caused him to reverse both stands. He had several lovers of note, including early contraception proponent Margaret Sanger and Rebecca Sackville-West, with whom he fathered a son, Anthony. Welles was the founder of an organization to promote better industrial design in Britain, as well as another to combat diabetes, from which he suffered. Along with Hugo Gernsback and Jules Verne he is often called the “Father of Science Fiction.” It is reported that he wished his epitaph to read “I told you so, you damned fools,” but he was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.
June 11, 2012
|“Popularity is a crime from the moment it is sought; it is only a virtue where men have it whether they will or no.”|
Sir George Savile, First Marques of Halifax (1633-1695)
Among the foremost intellectuals of his era, Halifax was the son of minor nobility. He served in the House of Commons, and later, the House of Lords, after being raised to the peerage in recognition of his service to the King. A centrist in an age of extremists, he navigated between Catholic and Protestant interests, eventually siding with William and Mary during the revolution of 1688, and urged them to follow a path of toleration. During their reign he was elected Speaker of the House of Lords and eventually rose to Lord Privy Seal. An early advocate of publicly funded education, Halifax is among the most quotable of English statesmen, having written numerous essays on the moral and ethical place of the state in the everyday lives of men and women.
June 21, 2012
“When one door closes another one opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Born in Scotland, Bell spent a lifetime researching the acoustical properties of the human voice, perhaps influenced by his mother’s increasing deafness. His family moved to Ontario, he then moved to Massachusetts as a professor of speech pathology at BostonUniversity, where his research eventually led him to the invention of the “acoustical telegraph”. Initially dismissed as a toy, the success of the telephone made him very wealthy and funded what he considered his real scientific work, further research on aircraft and hydrofoil boats. He founded the journal Science, was a charter member and president of the National Geographic Society and a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution. The bel and decibel, units of sound energy, were named in his honor by Bell Laboratories, which he established. He steadfastly refused to have a telephone in his study, saying it interrupted his thinking.
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” E.B. White (1899-1985)
A graduate of Cornell University, White joined the staff of the New Yorker magazine in 1927 and spent the rest of his working life there writing almost innumerable essays, short features and the humorous “Block that metaphor!” fillers for what is often described, in literary circles at least, as the best magazine in the world. White also wrote children’s books in the forties and fifties, including Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, and the much beloved Charlotte’s Web, some of the best reading aloud material ever published. White’s 1959 update of William Strunk’s Elements of Style continues to be must reading for anyone who hopes to write clearly. E. B. White was step-father to the baseball writer Roger Angell and the father of famed wooden boat designer Joel White. E.B. won the Pulitzer Prize, the Wilder Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)
Born into an aristocratic family, the Comte Saint-Exupéry studied at the FrenchNavalAcademy and architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts before joining the army in his early twenties and learning to fly. He became a celebrated airmail pilot on the route between Toulouse and Dakar (Senegal), and wrote movingly in high French style about his life as a pilot. During the Second World War, exiled to New York from Nazi-occupied France, Saint-Exupéry wrote his best known work, The Little Prince, a work of philosophical reflection masquerading as a children’s story. Returning to Europe to fight with the Free French, late in the war, Saint-Exupéry was lost at sea during a reconnaissance flight. He was the recipient of the Légion d’honneur.
July 11 2012
From the deck of SV Linnet in Casco Bay, heading home to Gloucester. “Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.” Shari Barr (no dates or Wikipedia article available) See www.Sharibarr.com A self described country girl from southern Iowa, Barr is a mother and wife who writes children’s literature from a Christian perspective. Her books include those of the Camp Club Girls series.
July 20, 2012
To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)
Born to a Scots family of lighthouse builders and the product of a strict Presbyterian upbringing, Stevenson suffered ill health his entire life. After a desultory attempt at an engineering degree, he devoted himself to his art, first as a travel writer and later, a poet. In his early twenties, he moved to the south of France for his health and wrote much of his best known work, including Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He married an American woman, Fanny Osbourne, and moved to Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. With the financial success of his novels he continued to search for a climate that would improve his health, traveling widely in the South Pacific, befriending the King of Hawaii, and eventually settling in Samoa. He spent much of his few remaining years working against the European missionaries and colonialists who dominated the politics of the islands, taking the name Tusitala (Story-teller). He died of cerebral hemorrhage at 44. During much of the twentieth century he was dismissed by academics as a writer of children’s adventure tales, even though Hemmingway, Kipling, Borges, Nabokov and Chesterton all cite his influence on their work.
July 26, 2012
“An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth.”
Bonnie Friedman (dates not available)
Born in the Bronx and educated at Wesleyan University and the University of Iowa, Friedman writes about writers writing and the spiritual and emotional challenges of the craft. Her first book, Writing Past Dark, was widely praised, and her frequently anthologized essays often appear in the New York Times, Oprah Magazine, and others. She has been on the faculty at Dartmouth and NYU, and currently teaches at the University of North Texas at Denton.
“My friends are my estate.”
Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)
Born to an Amherst Massachusetts family with deep Puritan roots, Dickinson was better known in her lifetime as a gardener than as a poet. Famously reclusive, she spent decades brooding on the mysteries of life and death, and became more and more preoccupied with the latter. A few of her poems were published in the The Atlantic Monthly, but the vast majority of the more than 800 she wrote were not known to the public until after her death. A complete collection did not appear until the 1950’s.
Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just ourselves-
August 9, 2012
“In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
Born in rural India during the British raj, Krishnamurti was discovered, nurtured, educated and promoted by Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant of the Theosophical Society as a “World Teacher” whose coming they had foretold. As the leader of the Order of the Star in the East he spoke widely in Britain and the US on Theosophic teachings, but in the late 1920’s, renounced his assigned role and dissolved the Order. Krishnamurti spent the rest of his long life as an independent speaker on spiritual matters, expounding the view that ritual and dogma are not necessary for the pursuit of self-knowledge. Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell, Depak Chopra, Bruce Lee, Indira Gahndi and Jackson Pollock all cite him as an influence on their thinking. He died at his long-time retreat in Ojai, California. “Truth is a pathless land.”
August 16, 2012
“Many men go fishing their whole lives without realizing that it is not the fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Sometimes called the first environmentalist, Thoreau, born and raised in Concord, Massachusetts, was mentored by the Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott, his neighbors. His book Walden, about the two years he spent living in a hut he had built himself on Emerson’s woodlot at Walden Pond, has become a classic of American literature for its introspection blended with natural history. His Civil Disobedience, written as an explanation of his non-payment of taxes as a protest against the Mexican-American war, is still influential, and his books on his journeys to Maine, Canada and Cape Cod go much deeper than mere travelogues. Thoreau is also credited with the invention of raisin bread.
August 30, 2012
William Penn Adair (Will) Rogers (1879 – 1935)
Born into the Cherokee Nation in what was then called Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, Rogers was a cowboy with a penchant for travel, working in Argentina, Australia and South Africa before turning to a career in vaudeville as a trick roper. It was his social commentary while roping that made him the best known star of his time. He appeared in scores of movies, wrote thousands of newspaper columns, and became a friend of the famous of the day. Although a patriot and supporter of the democratic process, it was that process and the foibles of politicians that gave him his best material: “A fool and his money are soon elected.” An early proponent of air travel, Rogers and aviator Wiley Post were killed in a plane crash in Alaska.
With this post the Quote of the Week celebrates two years with Good Morning Gloucester, one hundred entries. Just so you know, I write the bios based on my research to give the quote context, and one can click on the name or the picture that Joey adds to be connected to a Wikipedia entry for that particular author. Sometimes the adages are only attributed when I can’t find evidence of the direct quote; famous quipsters like Abraham Lincoln and Yogi Berra are often credited with things others actually said first.
I am always encouraged by your comments, and your suggestions are welcome too.
Many thanks to Joey and the GMG team for creating a forum where these lines can be shared. I find it astonishing how much wisdom there is in the world, and how the thoughts of famous men and women can apply to my own life. I hope you do too.