Entries Tagged 'quotes' ↓

in praise of idleness

“First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first,
altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface
relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to
do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is
pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of
indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders,
but those who give advice as to what orders should be given.
Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by
two organized bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill
required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects
as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of
persuasive speaking and writing, i.e. of advertising.”

– Bertrand Russell, from In Praise of Idleness [1932].

scoops of jelly

“He saw that even in an age of science and unbelief our ideas are dreams, styles, superstitions, mere animal noises intended to repel or attract. He looked around the ring of munching females and saw their bodies as a Martian or a mollusc might see them, as pulpy stalks of bundled nerves oddly pinched to a bud of concentration in the head, a hairy bone knob holding some pounds of jelly in which a trillion circuits, mostly dead, kept records, coded motor operations, and generated an excess of electricity that pressed into the hairless side of the head and leaked through orifices, in the form of pained, hopeful noises and a simian dance of wrinkles.

Impossible mirage! A blot on nothingness. And to think that all the efforts of his life – his preening, his lovemaking, his typing – boiled down to the attempt to displace a few sparks, to bias a few circuits, within some random other scoops of jelly that would, in less time than it takes the Andreas Fault to shrug or the tail-tip star of Scorpio to crawl an inch across the map of Heaven, be utterly dissolved.”

– John Updike, in his story Bech Panics.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.

– Harrison Ford

“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple
of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the
ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the
extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere
monetary profit.

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in
the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The
joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in
the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be
worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is
not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our
fellow men.

“Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of
success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false
belief that public office and high political position are to be
valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal
profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in
business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness
of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence
languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the
sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish
performance; without them it cannot live.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President, from his first Inaugural
Address, 1933.

“There ought to be behind the door of every happy, contented man
some one standing with a hammer continually reminding him with a
tap that there are unhappy people; that however happy he may be,
life will show him her laws sooner or later, trouble will come
for him — disease, poverty, losses, and no one will see or hear,
just as now he neither sees nor hears others.”

– Anton Chekhov, in “Gooseberries”.

“I don’t like work…
But I like what is in work — the chance
to find yourself. Your own reality — for yourself, not for
others — which no other man can ever know.”

– Joseph Conrad

the slaughter of human beings temporarily regarded as enemies

“There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or
controlled; it cannot be disciplined into decency or codified
into common sense, for war is the slaughter of human beings,
temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as

– Jeannette Rankin, first woman elected to the United States
House of Representatives and the first female member of
Congress, lifelong pacifist.

Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. We leave our homes for work, acting and even believing that we will reach our destinations with no unusual event startling us out of our set expectations. The truth is we know nothing, not where our cars will fail or when buses will stall, whether our places of employment will be there when we arrive, or whether, in fact, we ourselves will arrive whole and alive at the end of our journeys. Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.

– Maya Angelou

“When you consider something like death, after which (there being
no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle
flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are
awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are
excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience,
enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life
intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while
trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles,
we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or
reveal our ignorance or say the wrong think or light up with
wonder like the children we all are. It probably doesn’t matter
if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of
dozens of lady’s slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into
them, and thinks us a bit eccentric. Or a neighbor, fetching her
mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one
hand and a seismically red autumn leaf in the other, its color
hitting our sense like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a
huge grin, too paralyzed by the intricately veined gaudiness of
the leaf to move.”

– Diane Ackerman, from A Natural History of the Senses.