Quote of the Week ArchivePosted: March 10, 2013
Quote of the week, September 6, 2010:
We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I have no idea.
—W. H. Auden 1907- 1973
Prolific Oxford educated poet and essayist who wrote on political, religious and moral themes. Later a naturalized American citizen, he was controversial for his liberal theology and his relationship with Christopher Isherwood.
Quote of the week, September 13, 2010:
You can only be young once, but it’s never too late to be immature.
— Dave Barry born 1947
New York native Pulitzer Prize winning journalist with the Miami Herald, Barry’s many books include Naked Came the Manatee in 1998, Dave Barry’s Guide to Marriage and/or Sex in 1987, and Dave Barry’s complete Guide to Guys, 1996.
Quote of the week, September 20, 2010:
Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.
—William James 1842-1910
Brother of novelist Henry James, Godson of Ralph Waldo Emerson, James taught at Harvard most of his adult life and was a leader in the Pragmatic School of Philosophy.
He wrote The Principles of Philosophy in 1890, The Will to Believe in 1897, and the influential Varieties of Religious Experience in 1902.
September 27, 2010
I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
Steven Wright 1955-
American comedian, actor and writer. He is known for his distinctly lethargic voice and slow, deadpan delivery of ironic, philosophical and sometimes nonsensical jokes and one-liners with contrived situations.
October 3, 2010
A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.
October 10, 2010
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
P. J. O’Rourke, 1947-
Patrick Jake “P. J.” O’Rourke (born November 14, 1947) is an American satirist and author. The Mencken Fellow at the Cato Institute, O’Rourke is a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and frequent panelist on National Public Radio‘s game show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
October 18, 2010
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
Samuel Langhorn Clemens,) 1835-1910
Best known by his pen name, Mark Twain, Clemens was a giant of American humor and letters. Often credited with writing the greatest of American novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The keenest wit of his age.
October 24, 2010
All religions are really the same religion, especially Buddhism.
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. George Bernard Shaw described him as a man of colossal genius. He had great influence on many of the writers and thinkers of the twentieth century.
November 3, 2010
Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.
Lawrence Peter Berra 1925-
Yogi Berra was one of the greatest catchers of all time, even if he was a Yankee. The three-time MVP also managed World Series winners in both leagues. Because of his extraordinary gift for malapropism and tautology he is often the target of misattribution. As he put it in his 1998 book, “I Didn’t Really Say Everything I Said.”
November 10, 2010
The trouble with being punctual is there’s nobody there to appreciate it.
Franklin P. Jones 1908-1980
Jones began as a reporter for the Philadelphia Record. He had a long-running column in the Saturday Evening Post and had later success as an ad man. In later life he devoted himself to short form humor and was a prolific producer of quips and quotes.
November 17, 2010
Economic forecasting exists to make astrology look good.
John Kenneth Galbraith 1908-2006
A Canadian by birth, Galbraith taught at Harvard for many years and wrote nearly fifty books on economics and social justice. A proponent of the work of John Maynard Keynes, he influenced the economic policy of presidents from Truman to Obama. He was US ambassador to India and received the Medal of Freedom twice.
November 24, 2010
By holding up a fancied golden era of yesteryear, we can devalue where we are and who we have become. Thanksgiving aims at gratitude not for what was, but for what is.
James Carroll 1943-
A former Catholic priest, Carroll is a syndicated columnist for the Boston Globe and other newspapers. He is the author of ten novels as well as several scholarly works on the the Pentagon, House of War, and the Catholic Church, Constantine’s Sword. Currently a Scholar-in-Residence at SuffolkUniversity.
December 1, 2010
God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971
A theologian claimed as an influence by Martin Luther King, Madeline Albright, John McCain, Hilary Clinton, and Barack Obama, Neibuhr was the principal proponent of Christian Realism and was alternately attacked and supported by both liberals and conservatives during his most active period of ministry between the First and Second World Wars. A major component of his work centers on the idea that pride is the root of much of the evil in the world. His books include The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944) and The Irony of American History, (1952). He was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1964.
December 7, 2010
I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
—Rita Rudner 1953-
Rita Rudner is a Miami native who has appeared on the Tonight Show, HBO, and the BBC. She is the winner of the Gracie Allen Award and cites Woody Allen and Jack Benny as early influences.
December 14, 2010
Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.
Robert Heinlein 1907-1988
Four-time Hugo Award winning writer of science fiction novels and short stories, Heinlein is perhaps best known for espousing a philosophy of self-reliance and societal duty in such works as Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers and Time Enough for Love. He is also recognized as the originator of the concept for the waterbed.
December 20, 2010
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
– Abraham Maslow 1908-1970
A professor at BrandeisUniversity during the 50’s and 60’s, Maslow created a humanistic school of psychology that advanced self-actualization as a path for personal growth, almost Taoist in its then revolutionary rejection of materialism. His books include Toward a Psychology of Being (1968) and The Farther Reaches of Human Nature (1971).
December 30, 2010
It is easier to act your way to right thinking than it is to think your way to right action.
Millard Fuller (1935-2009)
Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity, which has built more than 150,000 homes for those in need in more than 90 countries. Volunteers build houses with the recipients, who then repay the cost of materials at no interest, revolutionizing the way in which philanthropy works. The holder of 50 honorary degrees, Bill Clinton awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 1996.
January 6, 2011
I would not belong to any club that would have me as a member.
Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (1890-1977)
Groucho’s comedy career spanned vaudeville, radio, film and later television. He made 26 movies, half of them with his brothers, Harpo, Chico, Gummo, and Zeppo. Self deprecating and self-taught, he was a voracious reader who said his greatest achievement was to have one of his books listed as a cultural treasure by the Library of Congress. My second favorite quote among his many witticisms is “Outside of a dog, man’s best friend is a book. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
January 11, 2011
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Anais Nin (1903-1977)
Born in France to artistic parents of Cuban descent, Nin spent her entire life plumbing the depths of her own psyche and recording her explorations in detailed journals. From the thirties through the fifties, with literary luminaries Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Gore Vidal and others, she defined the open bohemian lifestyle. While perhaps best known for her female erotica, Delta of Venus and Little Birds, her seven volume Diary of Anais Nin contains extensive self study. “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”
January 18, 2011
“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away and you have their shoes.”
Jack Handey (1949- )
Although many people assumed he was an alter ego of Phil Hartman, who introduced his “Deep Thoughts” on Saturday Night Live for many years, Handey, a Texas native, got his start writing for Steve Martin. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker’s “Shouts and Murmurs” and the National Lampoon. His latest collection of absurdism is What I’d Say to the Martians, and Other Veiled Threats.
Eric Hoffer (1902 – 1983)
Known as the “Longshoreman Philosopher,” Hoffer’s first book, The True Believer, (1951) was a new perspective on the power and danger of fanaticism and mass movements, both political and religious. His background as a migrant farmhand, hobo, and ultimately a dock worker gave him an authority to speak of the working class as few academics could. His ideas on the power of meaningful labor to enhance self-esteem and therefore positive societal change are still controversial today. Hoffer won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.
Feb 24, 2011
“I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.”
— Pogo, comic strip by Walt Kelly (1913-1973)
Kelly grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut and began his newspaper career there before moving to California in pursuit of his future wife. He was one of more than 1500 animators working for Walt Disney in 1941 when that group went on strike. Kelly moved back east and began work for Dell Comics eventually creating the strip “Pogo.”
This strip was the forerunner of later politically barbed comics such as “Doonesbury” and Kelly is cited as an influence by cartoonists as diverse as Bill Watterson and R. Crumb.
Feb 11, 2011
There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.
Celia Thaxter (1835 – 1894)
The daughter of a lighthouse keeper, Thaxter (neé Laighton) grew up among the Isles of Shoals, eight miles offshore on the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. At age sixteen she married her tutor, Levi Thaxter, eleven years her senior, and moved briefly to Newtonville, but returned to AppledoreIsland for the birth of her first child. After her first poem “Land-locked” was published in The Atlantic Monthly, Thaxter’s fame as a poet drew literati such as Emerson, Hawthorn and Longfellow to the islands where her father was constructing the first resort hotel. As hostess, she began holding summer salons and was befriended by painters Childe Hassam and William Morris Hunt among others. Hassam famously painted her garden, which still thrives on the island thanks to the Portsmouth Garden Club.
March 3, 2011
“Most people don’t recognize opportunity when it comes because it wears overalls and it looks like work.”
—Thomas Alva Edison 1847-1931
Often praised as the pre-eminent inventor of the modern technological age, the “Wizard of Menlo Park” was home-schooled and a voracious reader. Beginning his working career as a telegraph operator, he built his own laboratory for the exploration of electrical power and went on to hold over a thousand patents. His inventions most famously include the electric light bulb, the stock ticker and the phonograph. His method of dogged trial and error, denigrated by his rival Tesla, is reflected in his best known remark, “Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
March 10, 2011
Seneca (1BC- 65AD)
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, also known as Seneca the Younger, was a Roman philosopher in the Stoic tradition, holding that one’s behavior is a better indication of one’s beliefs than one’s words. Of patrician birth, he lived during the tumultuous reigns of Caligula and Claudius. In later life Seneca was tutor and then advisor to the emperor Nero, ultimately losing favor and being ordered to commit suicide for supposed involvement in an assassination plot.
March 17, 2011
“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Often cited as the one of the most brilliant men of his time, Goethe excelled in literature, philosophy and science. Although best know for his seminal poem “Faust,” which tells the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil, Goethe made significant contributions to the theories of both evolution and the perception of color. Politically conservative in an age of revolution, he was a principal advisor to the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar. Goethe’s affect on early Romanticism and Humanism is hard to overstate.
March 24, 2011
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”
Declan Patrick McManus- aka Elvis Costello (1954- )
Born in England to parents of Irish descent, Costello is known for the intelligent wordplay in the lyrics of his many hit records in pop and punk genres, such as “Watching the Detectives” and “Pump It Up.” A musical omnivore, he has collaborated with other performers as diverse as Paul McCartney, George Jones and Burt Bachrach, acted in more than a dozen films, and scored several more.
March 31, 2011
“When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.”
April 7, 2011
“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”
Thomas Huxley (1825-1895)
A self-taught anatomist and comparative biologist, Huxley was ship’s surgeon on a very early voyage to New Guinea and Australia. He was a vociferous champion of Darwin and invented the word “agnostic” to describe his own thoughts about a supreme being. It was Huxley who first theorized that birds evolved from dinosaurs and who was the primary proponent of scientific education in 19th century Britain. A lifelong humanist and prolific essayist, Huxley’s grandsons include Sir Julian Huxley, first director of UNESCO, and Aldous Huxley, author of Doors of Perception and Brave New World.
April 14, 2011
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Suggested by Anne Robinson
Author of more than 60 plays, including “Pygmalion” on which “My Fair Lady” was based, Shaw also wrote literary and political criticism, novels, short stories and essays, many featuring his thoughtfully humorous outlook on life. An ardent and life-long Fabian socialist, he was a founder of the London School of Economics, as well as an early vegetarian, anti-vivisectionist, and a supporter of eugenics.
April 19, 2011
“April is the cruellest month” from The Wasteland, 1915
T. S. Eliot 1888-1965
Though born in St. Louis, Eliot’s family had New England roots reaching back to the Salem witch trials and deep into Harvard yard. He attended MiltonAcademy and spent summers on Cape Ann (see The Dry Salvages), later studying at Harvard, Oxford, and the Sorbonne. In later life he renounced both Unitarianism and his American citizenship in favor of Anglicanism and the United Kingdom. Eliot is often cited as the greatest modern poet, and The Wasteland as one of the most important poems of the 20th century.
April 26, 2011
There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
Born in Scotland, Carnegie came to the United States as a child. Starting as a messenger boy and then rising through the ranks of a telegraph company, Carnegie invested in steel, eventually building the company that came to be known as US Steel, which he sold to J. P. Morgan for 10 billion dollars in today’s money. He spent the rest of his life giving this money away, notably to create more than 3,000 public libraries, and to establish a model of library operations and administration followed by many others, including Samuel Sawyer. Carnegie Hall in New York and the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace are among the many other recipients of his largesse. He is thought to have been the second richest person in history, behind only J. D. Rockefeller, and to have been the inspiration for Disney’s Scrooge McDuck.
May 5, 2011
“I have never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.”
Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
A lawyer, civil libertarian, and agnostic, Darrow may be best known for his defense of John Scopes, dramatized in the film Inherit the Wind. Scopes had dared to teach evolution in 1920’s Tennessee. They lost the case, but the charge was later reversed by a higher court. Darrow opposed the death penalty his entire career, adding a further twist to the above.
May 26, 2011
“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”
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.
In fact, a sense of essence is, in essence, the essence of sense, in effect.
Douglas Hofstadter (1945- )
Best known for the 1980 Pulitzer Prize winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: the Eternal Golden Braid, Hofstadter is the Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Sciences at Indiana University at Bloomington and was for many years a columnist (Metamagical Themas) for Scientific American magazine. Much of his work centers on how the mind processes language and the interaction of form and content with frequent excursions into the philosophic nature of music. He is the son of Nobel Prize winner Robert Hofstadter.
“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow”
— Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
Rilke is often regarded as the most significant poet in the German language. Born in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rilke was sent to military school, but rebelled and studied the humanities at university. He became the protégé, and some say lover, of Lou Andreas-Salome, an older intellectual woman, and traveled extensively with her. He settled in Paris after the turn of the century writing much of his best work including his Requiem poems. He later lived in Trieste and then Zurich where he continued to examine the nature of life and death. In 1922 he finished his best known work, the Duino Elegies. He died of leukemia at 51.
“Sometimes we do a thing in order to find out the reason for it. Sometimes our actions are questions not answers.”
David John Moore Cornwell, (John Le Carre 1931 – ) Magnus Pym in “A Perfect Spy”
LeCarre’s espionage novels defined the moral ambiguity of the cold war for many readers. His best known work, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and many of his later novels are semi-autobiographical, exposing the difficulties of growing up with a con-man father, and LeCarre’s service in MI-5 and MI-6. His themes often revolve around the nature of secrets and the destructive force they wield on their holders. In recent years, Le Carre’s opposition to the Iraq War and the Bush administration has returned him to the public eye, although he is said to be writing still in his eightieth year.
June 18, 2011
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
George Carlin (1937-2008)
A five-time Grammy award winner, Carlin’s often dark humor can be heard on 20 albums, in six books, and appears in ten movies. A native New Yorker, he made his name on the Ed Sullivan Shoe and the Tonight Show, first with Jack Paar and later and even more frequently with Johnny Carson, for whom he often substituted as host. Carlin was the first host of Saturday Night Live. His best known routine was Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, for which he was arrested and fined on several occasions. Liberal, brilliant, thoughtful and reflective, he took stand-up to a new level while supporting free speech and free thinking. He was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2008.
June 25, 2011
“Self-importance is our greatest enemy. What weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.”
Carlos Castaneda (1925-1998)
Peruvian born anthropologist Castaneda wrote the highly controversial The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui way of Knowledge, and subsequent books, held by some to be insights into sorcery and shamanism and by others to be fiction. His affect on the thinking of the hippie generation is hard to dispute. He founded the Tensegrity movement to further teachings he attributed to centuries of Toltec warriors.
July 7, 2011
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Water Rat to Mole, The Wind in the Willows, 1908, by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932)
Born in Scotland, Grahame was raised by his grandmother in rural Berkshire. Although he began writing in his 20’s, his main career was with the Bank of England in which he rose to the rank of Managing Secretary. He retired from the Bank at the age of 49, and the same year published his masterwork featuring Rat, Mole, Badger, and the infamous Mr. Toad, for which he received the Lewis Carroll Award. It is a classic of children’s literature that has been reprinted dozens of times and can be seen as a play, heard as a recorded book, or listened to as a radio play. This is one of the great books to read aloud with a young person in your life.
July 15, 2011
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken (1880-1956)
Often referred to as the “Sage of Baltimore”, Mencken’s notoriety was solidified by his acerbic coverage of what he called the Scopes Monkey Trial and his widely read book The American Language (1919). He wrote essays and criticism for the Baltimore Sun, the New Yorker, and the New York Times and was a founding editor of the influential American Mercury. He was a follower of Nietzsche and counted Twain among his heroes. His support for Ayn Rand helped to launch her career.
July 20, 2011
“A dog doesn’t bark at a parked car.”
Broderick Steven Harvey (1957- )
A stand-up comedian and actor, Harvey is a West Virginia native with earlier careers as a boxer and mailman. Famously intolerant of atheism, he has written books of advice to the lovelorn, and is the current host of the game show Family Feud.
Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any Fate
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor, and to wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Born in Maine when it was still a province of Massachusetts, Longfellow became the best known of the lyric poets of the 19th century. His poems still form a core of the New England experience and include The Wreck of the Hesperus, Paul Revere’s Ride, The Song of Hiawatha and Evangeline. Longfellow taught for many years at HarvardCollege, and his pursuit of and eventual marriage to Frances Appleton still serves as an example of persistence to literary swains of Cambridge. Her accidental death in 1861 cast a dark pall over the last twenty years of his life. The bridge over the Charles River between Kendall Square and Beacon Hill is named in his honor.
August 4, 2011
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
A native of Baltimore whose father worked for the military, Zappa recorded more than 60 albums as a soloist and as the founder and leader of The Mothers of Invention. Often miscast as a novelty musician, he wrote complex, difficult to perform classical, jazz, rock, fusion and other music that can not be contained in any genre. His iconoclastic approach to life often put him at odds with the established order and organized religion, but he was an ardent supporter of free speech and auto-didacticism. Cited as an influence by such diverse musicians as Pierre Boulez, Paul McCartney and George Clinton, Zappa was a multiple Grammy Award winner and was invited to the newly independent Czechoslovakia by Vaclav Havel to advise on cultural matters.
At the time of his death it was rumored he was contemplating a move to Montana to raise dental floss.
August 13, 2011
“Insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result.”
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), (attributed)
Born in Germany of non-observant Jewish parents, Einstein is often cited as the most powerful scientific thinker since Isaac Newton, whose mechanical model of nature he replaced with nuclear, and later quantum, physics. His theories of general and special relativity, Brownian motion, and the photoelectric effect, for which he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, form the basis of the generally accepted perspective on the universe. He is credited with warning Franklin Roosevelt of Hitler’s plans to build atomic weapons, thus setting the Manhattan project into motion, although he was previously an ardent pacifist, having left Germany in the 1930’s for The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Einstein spent much of his later years searching for a Unified Field Theory, which would encompass gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. This unification has still not been achieved.
August 16, 2011
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) With thanks to Ruth Pino
Born in Dublin to intellectual parents, Wilde was a leading light of the Aesthetics Movement, which included Whistler, Pater, Swinburne and Waugh among others, and celebrated beauty for its own sake rather than the social uplift it might provide as championed by Ruskin et alia. Better known for his incomparable satiric plays such as The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde’s sole novel was the darkly Faustian The Picture of Dorian Gray. Although very successful as an essayist and lecturer, he died penniless in France after being jailed and then hounded from England for his sexual preferences. His last words, perhaps apocryphal, as he lay on his death bed surrounded by creditors: “Well gentlemen, I seem to be dying beyond my means.”
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.
September 7, 2012
“Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Lou Holtz (1937- )
Best known as a football coach and motivational speaker, Holtz is a West Virginia native who had a brief career as a player at Kent State. He held head coaching positions at six different academic institutions and compiled a 249-132-7 record. Although hired by Notre Dame with a lifetime contract, it is rumored that he was forced to retire before he broke Knute Rockne’s record of 105 wins with that team.
September 13, 2012
“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”
Jerome John (Jerry) Garcia (1942-1995)
Founder, lead guitarist and songwriter, Garcia led the Grateful Dead for thirty years, fusing blues, bluegrass and psychedelia to create one of the leading tour bands of all time. Throughout his career he was plagued by ill health, exacerbated by diabetes and heroin addiction. He died of a heart attack while in rehab at age 53. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cherry Garcia ice cream was named in his honor.
September 21, 2012
“Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
The 16th president of the United States was well known for his quick wit and aphorisms. His political accomplishments, the preservation of the Union and the ending of slavery, have become almost mythic parts of American history. Even a cursory look at the man behind the myths reveals a towering intellect coupled with an astute political sense. Lincoln, a moderate Republican, purposefully constructed his cabinet of men who most often disagreed with him, and each other, in order that he received perspectives different from his own, and steered a course between extremes toward the goals he believed were right for the country. Assassinated at the close of the Civil War, Lincoln left behind a rich legacy of thoughtful quotes including: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
September 27, 2012
“If you can’t make what you are doing fun, something is wrong with what you are doing.”
Waldo Howland (1909-1998)
As owners of the Concordia Company of Padanarum, Massachusetts, Howland and designer Ray Hunt created many of the great yachts of the twentieth century including the 39 and 41 foot Concordia yawls, of which more than one hundred were built, and which was considered by many to be the best cruiser ever made. Howland’s autobiographical trilogy, A Life in Boats, gives essential insight into the practice and recent history of American boatbuilding, and also covers his later years as a board member of Mystic Seaport, one of the best collections of historic boats anywhere. Full disclosure: my wife’s niece is married to Waldo Howland’s grandson.
October 4, 2012
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, within each of us.”
Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk) 1863-1950
Born into the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation, Black Elk had visions and claimed contact with the spirit world from an early age. He fought the US Army in the battles at Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, but later joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, touring the US and England re-enacting those same battles. In 1932 his life story was published as Black Elk Speaks, by John Neihardt, from which the above quote is taken. In the Lakota language Wakan Tanka is often translated into English as ‘Great Spirit’, but according to Native American activist Russell Means, its meaning is closer to ‘Great Mystery’.
October 12, 2012
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Born to an English nobleman in the line of the Dukes of Marlborough and an American heiress, Churchill, though a weak student, distinguished himself early as a writer, soldier and war correspondent. Covering the Boer War in South Africa he wrote home: “Nothing is so exhilarating as being shot at without result.” Rising through the ranks of government ministries he became a Member of Parliament at 26 and First Lord of the Admiralty at 37. He was among the first to recognize the threat that Adolf Hitler posed and was elected Prime Minister at the outbreak of the WWII, famously rallying his people in the Battle of Britain. Knighted for his service to the UK, Churchill was also the first person to be named an Honorary Citizen of the United States. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 for his six-volume masterpiece The Second World War, a chronicle of tenacity. “Success is going from failure to failure without losing one’s enthusiasm.”
October 19, 2012
“Advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer but wish you didn’t.”
Erica Jong (1942- )
A native New Yorker, Jong (née Mann) is best known for her 1973 novel Fear of Flying detailing the self-search of a young woman discovering her sexuality and power. A graduate of Barnard College with a Master’s degree in English Literature from Columbia University, Jong has written more than two dozen books including poetry, novels and non-fiction. She is an active campaigner for equal rights for the LGBT community, and continues to write and speak about the intimate lives of men and women of advancing age. She has been married four times.
October 25, 2012
Lois McMaster Bujold (1949- ) in A Civil Campaign, 1999
The author of more than two dozen books of which 2 million copies are in print, Bujold writes in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She has won the Hugo Award four times, equaling a record set by Robert Heinlein, as well as the Nebula and Mythopoetic Awards. The daughter of the highly respected materials engineer Robert Charles McMaster, best known for his monumental work The Non-Destructive Testing Handbook, Bujold’s heroes are often the progeny of famous fathers.
November 1, 2012
“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
Born Heinrich Carl Bukowski in Germany after the First World War, Bukowski’s American father moved the family to California in 1923. He studied writing and literature briefly at Los Angeles City College before moving to New York. Arrested for draft evasion in 1944, he failed a psychological evaluation and was listed 4F. His writing career did not flower until the mid-fifties, when he began to publish his hundreds of poems and short stories, and his six novels, of which Ham on Rye is the best known. He wrote the script for the semi-autobiographical film “Barfly” which detailed his nearly life-long alcoholism and depression and their effect on his writing. Bukowski was infamous for his confrontational literary readings, which bordered on performance art, described by some as uninhibited, but by others as drunken and boorish.