Entries Tagged 'quotes' ↓

“Suppose there were an iron room with no windows or doors, a room
it would be virtually impossible to break out of. And suppose
you had some people inside that room who were sound asleep.
Before long they would all suffocate. In other words, they would
slip peacefully from a deep slumber into oblivion, spared the
anguish of being conscious of their impending doom. Now let’s
say that you came along and stirred up a big racket that awakened
some of the lighter sleepers. In that case, they would go to a
certain death fully conscious of what was going to happen to
them. Would you say that you had done those people a favor?”

– Lu Xun (1881-1936), Chinese writer, from Diary of a Madman and
Other Stories, translated by William A. Lyell.

“We work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have.”

– Henry James

That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.

– Emily Dickinson

“Perhaps this is where we have sinned, in always refusing to
think of our wars as wars of religion, in the illusion that we
would thus have greater liberty to compromise when it suited us.”

– Italo Calvino

“The most frequent complaint against this book is: Why don’t they make a run for it? Opening onto the larger: Why don’t we all?”

– Calvin Baker, on Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

“Culture, which we put on like an overcoat, is the collectivized consensus about what sort of neurotic behaviors are acceptable.”

Terence McKenna

My concern with the use of the term “atheism” is both philosophical and strategic. I’m speaking from a somewhat unusual and perhaps paradoxical position because, while I am now one of the public voices of atheism, I never thought of myself as an atheist before being inducted to speak as one. I didn’t even use the term in The End of Faith, which remains my most substantial criticism of religion. And, as I argued briefly in Letter to a Christian Nation, I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.” All we need are words like “reason” and “evidence” and “common sense” and “bullshit” to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion.

– Sam Harris


“This coffee falls into your stomach . . . sparks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink—for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.”

–Honore de Balzac

on religion

“We do not believe in heaven or hell, yet no statistic will ever
find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more
crimes of greed or violence than the faithful.”

– Christopher Hitchens, “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons

“We rushed into the business with our usual disregard for a
comprehensive political scheme. We treated Mesop[otamia] as if
it were an isolated unit, instead of which it is part of
Arabia…. When people talk of our muddling through it throws me
into a passion. Muddle through! why yes, so we do–wading
through blood and tears that need never have been shed.”

– Gertrude Bell, scholar and diplomat, from a 1916 letter on