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Archive for the ‘quote for the week’ Category

Living on the edge

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

(Read all “quote for the week” posts on this blog)

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I find this passage from Arianna Huffington’s old article “Bernard Levin remembered” rather poignant for several  reasons. The italics are mine.

We started a relationship which was to last until the end of 1980, when I left London to move to New York. And he was, in many ways, the reason I left London. I was by then 30, still deeply in love with him, but longing to have children. He, on the other hand, never wanted to get married or have children. What was touching is that he saw this not as a badge of independence and freedom but as a character flaw, almost a handicap. As he wrote in 1983 in his book “Enthusiasms”, which he movingly dedicated to me even though we were no longer together: “What fear of revealing, of vulnerability, of being human, grips us so fiercely, and above all why? What is it that, down there in the darkness of the psyche, cries its silent No to the longing for Yes?” It was a No that often coincided with retreating into depression — the “black dog” that he described as “that dark lair where the sick soul’s desire for solitude turns into misanthropy.”

The whole article is in fact extremely touching, as I suspect such things often are. Read it.

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“That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”

P.C. Hodgell

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“The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law; for nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.”

Albert Einstein, on prohibition in the US.

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“A child becomes an adult when he realizes that he has a right not only to be right but also to be wrong.”

Thomas Szasz.

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“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”

Dante Alighieri

[Edit: A reader points out that this quote is actually due to JFK, who (incorrectly) attributed it to Dante]

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“Many philosophers of the present day are convinced that every existing thing and event is logically unconnected with any other and could disappear from the world without necessarily affecting anything else. Such a rubbish-heap view of the world I cannot accept.”

Brand Blanshard.

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“The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism. It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism.”

Nicolas Sarkozy

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“India’s redemption lies in the inherent anarchy and factiousness of its people, and in the legendary inefficiency of the Indian state…”

Arundhati Roy.

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“May you find what you are looking for;
May you come to the attention of those in authority;
May you live in interesting times.”

Ancient Chinese curses.

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“There are no atheists in foxholes and no idealogues in financial crises.”

Ben Bernanke

“There are no atheists in foxholes isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.”

James Morrow

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“The fact that we can become accustomed to anything, however disgusting at first, makes it necessary to examine carefully everything we have become accustomed to.”

George Bernard Shaw

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Frenchmen and math

Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them, they translate it into their own language, and forthwith it means something entirely different.

Goethe

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“Once upon a time, there was a man who was convinced that he possessed a Great Idea.  Indeed, as the man thought upon the Great Idea more and more, he realized that it was not just a great idea, but the most wonderful idea ever. The Great Idea would unravel the mysteries of the universe, supersede the authority of the corrupt and error-ridden Establishment, confer nigh-magical powers upon its wielders, feed the hungry, heal the sick, make the whole world a better place, etc. etc. etc.

The man was Francis Bacon, his Great Idea was the scientific method, and he was the only crackpot in all history to claim that level of benefit to humanity and turn out to be completely right.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky

(Hat Tip: Sudeep Kamath)

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“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

Thomas Jefferson.

(Hat Tip: Aristotle The Geek)

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