A commonplace book

--perpetually in progress--

I have a habit of storing quotations I like. You never know when they might some in handy. I also like the idea of attributing wise things to the people who came up with them, not pretending they're my own. It's a lot easier if I have them all in one place, so this is the place.

Some may ask: what's a commonplace book? Here's one description; here's another; here's another. It strikes me as a reasonable precursor to hypertext, but your mileage may differ.

Please yell at me, by the way, if I've misquoted anybody. These are from eight kazillion different sources, including assorted cyberculture sources that don't observe rigorous scholarly citation protocols, and it's possible some of them aren't entirely accurate. I have no idea whether anyone at all will read this page, let alone read this page and find something that's off and think it's worth bothering to fix... but if anyone does, sees a quotation that needs fixing, and has reliable backup indicating I've made (or perpetuated) a mistake, by all means let me know about it. People attribute things to Twain or Voltaire or Orwell or Jefferson all the time that these guys never actually said or wrote. I don't want to contribute to that. I'm open to correction. (Not to flaming about the content -- if you don't like these lines, go elsewhere and post some of your own -- but to factual correction.)

The purpose for collecting these and posting them here isn't to use the words of wiser people to sketch out my own beliefs (who would really care about those?); the only purpose that makes any sense is to help these ideas reach more people and circulate more widely. Commonplace books in the Renaissance sense were memory-enhancing devices for individual writers and students; this one is also an exercise in collective meme dispersal. I agree with most of these remarks and find all of them interesting in some way; these are memes I'd like to see more people quote, think about, use in their own work, and spread around as widely as possible (except for one anomalous category, labeled clearly as "preposterous or evil" and often deserving both those terms).

Many of these came my way through a mailing list called A Word A Day, run by the programmer, writer, and language maven Anu Garg. (He's also the guy who devised the Anagram Server. His name isn't an anagram itself, just a normal Indian name of Sanskrit derivation, though it does yield a few quirky ones like "Gun Raga" or "Run A Gag" through his program, and "Name is Anu Garg" appropriately becomes "Anagram Genius.") A Word A Day includes a daily quotation as well as a word with etymology and examples; Anu deserves credit for, among other things, circulating a lot of the material I've posted here.

I've loosely grouped these as politics, culture, science, supernaturalism, preposterousness/evil, and unclassifiable general wisdom, but there's obviously some overlap, except with that preposterous 'n' evil part.

About politics, history, economics, jurisprudence, etc.:

Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. -- Mark Twain

We can either have a democratic society, or we can have the concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few. We can't have both. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny. --Thomas Jefferson

In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. -- Sen. J. William Fulbright

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government. -- Edward Abbey

If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and the fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. -- Louis Brandeis

I love my country and I love the truth and I always thought the best thing about being an American is that you don't have to choose. -- Richard Cohen, Washington Post, 11/24/03

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -- Theodore Roosevelt

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. -- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (1950), quoted in the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations (1997)

The tax which will be paid for the purpose of education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance. -- Thomas Jefferson

If we are to advertise ourselves like boxes of cereal democracy will die, for you could not win the Presidency without proving you were unworthy of the job. -- Adlai Stevenson

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. -- Frederick Douglass

If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable. -- John F. Kennedy

"What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label `Liberal?' If by `Liberal' they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of `Liberal.' But if by a `Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a `Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a `Liberal.'" -- John Fitzgerald Kennedy accepting the New York Liberal Party Nomination, September 14, 1960

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

I am not one of those who believe that a great army is the means of maintaining peace, because if you build up a great profession those who form parts of it want to exercise their profession. -- Woodrow Wilson

To be against the war is not to be partisan, it's to be sensible. -- Ray McGovern, ex-CIA agent, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

The essence of liberty has always lain in the ability to choose as you wish to choose, because you wish so to choose, uncoerced, unbullied, not swallowed up in some vast system; and in the right to resist, to be unpopular, to stand up for your convictions merely because they are your convictions. That is true freedom, and without it there is neither freedom of any kind, nor even the illusion of it.-- Isaiah Berlin, "Freedom and Its Betrayal"

The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defence against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers from abroad. -- James Madison

He who would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. -- Thomas Paine

The most important political office is that of private citizen. -- Louis Brandeis

Personally, whenever I see one of those "Question Authority" bumper stickers, I always write "Why?" on it. -- Wanda Tinasky

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens. -- Thomas Jefferson

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair

The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself. -- Robert Green Ingersoll

I firmly believed that we should not march into Baghdad. To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter day Arab hero. Assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a secretly entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight what would be an unwinnable urban guerilla war. -- George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president, A World Transformed

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. --Pericles

The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves. -- Plato

It is up to the rest of us to make sure this fool of a President doesn't take us all down with him. -- Hunter S. Thompson, ESPN column 10/14/03

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. -- Paulo Freire

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. -- Thomas Jefferson

Youth is the first victim of war -- the first fruit of peace. It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him. -- Boudewijn I, King of Belgium (1934-1993)

Guns don't kill people; bullets kill people. Guns just make bullets go really, really fast. -- anonymous bumper sticker

It is characteristic of the freedoms of expression in general that they are vulnerable to gravely damaging yet barely visible encroachments. -- Justice William Brennan

And we all lived happily. . . at any rate, even without the traditional last-sentence fiction of fairy-tales, my story does inded end in fantasy; because when Basic Democrats had done their duty, the newspapers -- Jang, Dawn, Pakistan Times -- announced a crushing victory for the President's Muslim League over the Mader-i-Millat's Combined Opposition Party; thus proving to me that I have been only the humblest of jugglers-with-facts; and that, in a country where the truth is what it is instructed to be, reality quite literally ceases to exist, so that everything becomes possible except what we are told is the case; and maybe this was the difference between my Indian childhood and Pakistani adolescence -- that in the first I was beset by an infinity of alternative realities, while in the second I was adrift, disorientated, amid an equally infinite number of falsenesses, unrealities and lies. -- Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children, p. 389 (1991 Penguin ed.), end of Jamila Singer chapter

The rumors that Cheney is alive are somewhat exaggerated. It's Mark Twain in reverse. -- Hans Blix

Those who would trade liberty for temporary security deserve neither. -- Benjamin Franklin

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. -- Tacitus

Some people think they are worth a lot of money just because they have it. -- Fannie Hurst

When nations grow old, the arts grow cold and commerce settles on every tree. -- Blake

When money speaks, the truth keeps silent. -- Russian proverb

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative. -- John Stuart Mill

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
-- Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, 1912

About culture:

Frankly, I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. -- Thomas Mann

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. -- Frank Lloyd Wright

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. -- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. -- Orwell, same

Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. -- Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. -- Edwin Schlossberg

I don't need time. What I need is a deadline. -- Duke Ellington

A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return. -- Salman Rushdie

The truth is, Kansas sucks. Kansas is black and white. Oz is fantastic, and it's in Technicolor, and anybody with any brains who'd spent some time in Oz, when offered the chance to go back to Kansas, might not think that that was such a hot ticket. -- Salman Rushdie, interviewed by Mary Karr, Chronicle of Higher Education

The Metropolis strives to reach a mythical point where the world is completely fabricated by man, so that it absolutely coincides with his desires. -- Rem Koolhaas

People who are easily offended need to be offended more often. -- Mae West

He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of tosh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. -- H. L. Mencken, on Warren G. Harding, in the Baltimore Evening Sun (1921); quoted in the Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations (2001)

The deconstructionists have made the binary oscillation of Western decorum a desperate affair. It is not a desperate affair; it is an error-checking operation. It represents...a way in which style can control content, formal pleasure balance conceptual thought, self-consciousness satirically ventilate out hierarchical urges. -- Richard Lanham, The Electronic Word

There is no surer way to misread any document than to read it literally. -- Learned Hand

Why do we care about singers? Wherein lies the power of songs? Maybe it derives from the sheer strangeness of there being singing in the world. The note, the scale, the chord; melodies, harmonies, arrangements, symphonies, ragas, Chinese operas, jazz, the blues: that such things should exist, that we should have discovered the magical intervals and distances that yield the poor cluster of notes, all within the span of a human hand, from which we can build our cathedrals of sound, is as alchemical a mystery as mathematics, or wine, or love. Maybe the birds taught us. Maybe not. Maybe we are just creatures in search of exaltation. We don't have much of it. Our lives are not what we deserve; they are, let us agree, in many painful ways deficient. Song turns them into something else. Song shows us a world that is worthy of our yearning, it shows us our selves as they might be, if we were worthy of the world.
Five mysteries hold the keys to the unseen: the act of love, and the birth of a baby, and the contemplation of great art, and being in the presence of death or disaster, and hearing the human voice lifted in song. -- Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice. -- Robert Fripp

In a sense, music is the cup that holds the wine of silence. Normally, we fill it with Coca Cola. -- Fripp

You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive. -- James Baldwin

It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play. -- Dizzy Gillespie

I don't know what the lost chord is. A minor 7th with the 5th augmented, I expect -- and it's probably a good thing that it's lost. -- Pete Townshend

Today's dissonance in painting and music is merely the consonance of tomorrow. -- Kandinsky, writing to Schoenberg

Let us not confuse it with music. -- Walter (later Wendy) Carlos on disco

"Alternative" has famously been defined as meaning that at least one of the musicians in the band can't play. -- Ben Ratliff, Slate, reviewing various alt-country bands

There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. -- Mark Twain

For those who do not know the world is burning, we have nothing to say -- Bertholt Brecht

The bourgeois novel is the greatest enemy of truth and honesty that was ever invented. -- J. G. Ballard on Burroughs

When women love us, they forgive us everything, even our crimes; when they do not love us, they give us credit for nothing, not even our virtues. -- Honoré de Balzac

Rewards and punishments are the lowest form of education. -- Chuang-Tzu

Enlightenment is on the side of those who turn their spotlight on our blinkers. -- Pierre Bourdieu

Living as he does much of the time in a world of metaphor, the poet is always acutely conscious that metaphor has no value apart from its function; that it is a device, an artifice. So that while others may look on the laws of physics as legislation and God as a human form with beard measured in light-years and nebulae for sandals, Fausto's kind are alone with the task of living in a universe of things which simply are, and cloaking that innate mindlessness with comfortable and pious metaphor so that the "practical" half of humanity may continue in the Great Lie, confident that their machines, dwellings, streets and weather share the same human motives, personal traits and fits of contrariness as they. Poets have been at this for centuries. It is the only useful purpose they do serve in society; and if every poet were to vanish tomorrow, society would live no longer than the quick memories and dead books of their poetry. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Confessions of Fausto Maijstral" from V.

Postmodern theorists are useful, like salt added to the academy. A pinch of Lyotard, a pinch of Baudrillard might be good, but a whole meal of salt? -- Bruno Latour (interview in Configurations, date unknown)

Men make counterfeit money; in many more cases, money makes counterfeit men. -- Sydney J. Harris

Once you have decided to keep a certain pile, it is no longer yours; for you can't spend it. -- Montaigne

A traveller wandering on an island inhabited entirely by cannibals comes upon a butcher shop. This shop specialised in human brains differentiated according to source. The sign in the shop read:

  • Artists' Brains $9/lb
  • Philosophers' Brains $12/lb
  • Scientists' Brains $15/lb
  • Economists' Brains $19/lb
  • Upon reading the sign, the traveller noted, "My those economists' brains must be popular!" To which the butcher replied, "Are you kidding! Do you have any idea how many economists you have to kill to get a pound of brains?" -- anonymous supply-side humor, said to be a folktale among economists

    The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert

    Why is it, one wonders, that the Beauty Myth is oppressive, while the Superbly Rendered Sonata Myth or the Brilliant But Also Commercially Successful Book Myth is not? -- Larissa MacFarquhar, review of Richard Klein, Eat Fat

    I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse. -- Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor

    If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play. -- John Cleese

    Everything is folk music; you've never seen a horse playing music. -- Louis Armstrong

    He who opens a school door, closes a prison. -- Victor Hugo

    About science and technology:

    In science it often happens that scientists say, You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken, and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. -- Carl Sagan

    For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. -- Richard Feynman

    I wrote my parody not to defend science against the supposed barbarian hordes of sociology, but to defend the American academic left against irrationalist tendencies which, though fashionable, are nevertheless suicidal. -- Alan Sokal

    The work that leads to a doctor's degree is a constant temptation to sacrifice one's growth as a man to one's growth as a specialist. -- William James (1903, railing against the "Doctor-Monopoly" in US university teaching)

    Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. -- biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, quoted by Richard Dawkins

    In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. -- Stephen Jay Gould

    I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true. -- Carl Sagan, The Burden Of Skepticism

    I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone. -- Bjarne Stroustrup, designer of C++ language

    The difference between genius and ignorance is that genius has its limits. -- Nick Turro

    Only the mediocre are always at their best. -- Nick Turro

    I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo

    About supernaturalism:

    Whatever you do, crush the infamy. -- Voltaire, letter (1762)

    Religion is a thought disorder, and something from which one can get better, perhaps with the help of some pills. -- Jonathan Miller

    Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. -- Jefferson, to his nephew

    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. -- Jonathan Swift

    I see religion really as more metaphor than something reflective of a literally true condition. We're in a bit of a bind in terms of the idea of God. In a way we want one, and in a way we're damn glad there isn't one. And probably damn lucky. -- Robert Stone in Salon, 1997

    "Do you believe in the supernatural?"
    "Er . . . I once saw Al Green. That was pretty close to it."
    -- Elvis Costello, unattributed interview

    Modern society without organized religion is like a crazed maniac without a chainsaw. -- anonymous

    Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. -- Eric Hoffer

    You have not converted a man because you have silenced him. -- John Morley

    It is the true believer's ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts which in his own mind deserve never to be seen nor heard which is the source of his unequalled fortitude and consistency. -- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (1951)

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it. -- Voltaire, letter (1767)

    The source of the mystery lies in our cognitive limitations, not in a supernatural dimension of the universe. -- Colin McGinn

    If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. -- Voltaire, "Epitre a l'auteur du livre des trois imposteurs"

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated. -- Voltaire, Le Sottisier

    God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. -- Voltaire

    The fact that astronomies change while the stars abide is a true analogy of every realm of human life and thought, religion not least of all. No existent theology can be a final formulation of spiritual truth. -- Harry Emerson Fosdick

    It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us. -- Peter De Vries

    When a religion has become an orthodoxy, its days of inwardness are over; the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn. -- William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (Penguin, 1982), p. 337

    But how can a necessary being exist totally polluted with the possible? What difference is there, then, between God and primigenial chaos? Isn't affirming God's absolute omnipotence and His absolute freedom with regard to His own choices tantamount to demonstrating that God does not exist? -- Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

    Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on I am not too sure. -- H.L. Mencken

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one. -- Voltaire, letter to Frederick the Great, 1767

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

    Quotes from preposterous or evil people, whose ideas I absolutely DO NOT endorse (a caveat for anyone with a poor sense of context):

    If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
    The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. -- Joseph Goebbels

    Naturally the common people don't want war...But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.--Hermann Goering

    Too many textbooks and discussions leave students free to make up their minds about things. -- Mel Gabler, Texas textbook critic and bible-thumping imbecile

    Assorted general nonspecific wit, wisdom, or both:

    The fact that I'm not dead is sort of puzzling to me. -- Hunter S. Thompson, Atlantic Monthly 8/26/97

    The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. -- Mark Twain

    There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokeable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get out of it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry. -- Mark Twain, Autobiographical Dictations

    None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. -- Goethe

    It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. -- Arthur Conan Doyle

    Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. -- Buddha

    Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

    The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. -- Samuel Johnson

    If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. -- Thomas Jefferson

    If God were to humiliate a human being, He would deny him knowledge. -- Imam Ali bin abi Taleb, sixth century, quoted in The Economist

    The world does carry on. It doesn't hinge on anybody's record or anything anybody says, even politicians. It has an enormous capacity for absorbing everything we do. -- Elvis Costello, Creem interview, 1991

    In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. -- Eric Hoffer

    Of course, it's possible to love a human being, if you don't know them too well. -- Charles Bukowski

    We use up too much artistry in our dreams, and therefore often are impoverished during the day. -- Nietzsche

    A gauge for wisdom: The growth of wisdom may be gauged exactly by the diminution of ill-temper. -- Nietzsche

    The Ten Stages of Drunkenness:

    1. Witty and Charming
    2. Rich and Powerful
    3. Benevolent
    4. Clairvoyant
    5. Fuck Dinner
    6. Patriotic
    7. Crank Up the Enola Gay
    8. Witty and Charming, Part II
    9. Invisible
    10. Bulletproof
    -- Dan Jenkins, Baja Oklahoma

    The secret of being a bore is to tell everything. -- Voltaire, Sept discours en vers sur l'homme

    Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

    The decent moderation of today will be the least of human things tomorrow. At the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the opinion of good sense and of the good medium was certainly that people ought not to burn too large a number of heretics; extreme and unreasonable opinion obviously demanded that they should burn none at all. -- Maurice Maeterlinck

    Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly. -- Voltaire

    If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe the military, nothing is safe. -- Lord Salisbury, British prime minister

    Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends. -- Tom Waits