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We're Not Getting Any Younger


Wisdom and Intelligence



We're Not Getting Any Younger


Middle age occurs when you are too young to take up golf and too old to rush up to the net.
     Franklin Pierce Adams


You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.
     Woody Allen


I love being a great grandparent, but what I hate is being the mother of a grandparent.
     Janet Anderson


Old age comes at a bad time.
     Sue Banducci


I am not young enough to know everything.
     J. M. Barrie


As I grow old, I find myself less and less inclined to take the stairs two at a time.
     Bernard Baruch


I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.
     Jack Benny


He's so old that when he orders a three-minute egg, they ask for the money up front.
     Milton Berle


... the London show's master of ceremonies noted that "he's fifty-two now but so fears old age that he prefers to think of himself as eleven centigrade."
     Jeremy Bernstein, Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos (1993)
     "Having Fun with Tom Lehrer"


Age, n. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the enterprise to commit.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Youth, n. The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


The older you get, the more important it is not to act your age.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Time misspent in youth is sometimes all the freedom one ever has.
     Anita Brookner


As far as I am concerned, there are three good things about getting older.  I can sleep sitting up, I can watch “Seinfeld” reruns over and over without being able to say definitively whether I have seen them already, and I can’t remember the third thing.  That’s the problem with getting older, of course — you can’t remember anything.
    Bill Bryson, I’m a Stranger Here Myself:  Notes on Returning To
     America After Twenty Years Away
     “Old News”


The young do not know enough to be prudent; and, therefore, they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.
     Pearl S. Buck


Youth, n. A novice in the art of misspending one's life.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)


“At 88, how do you feel when getting up in the morning?” Amazed.
     George Burns


I look better, feel better, make love better, and I’ll tell you something else . . . I never lied better.
     George Burns


It's nice to be here. When you're ninety-nine years old, it's nice to be anyplace.
     George Burns


You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.
     George Burns


Retire? I'm going to stay in show business until I'm the only one left.
     George Burns, at age 90


Youth is like spring, an overpraised season.
     Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh (1903)


As grown-ups, we never get to "wave bye-bye." I think it would be fun. "Steve, the boss is sailing for Europe; we're all going down to the dock to wave bye-bye."
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


When you're young, you don't know, but you don't know you don't know, so you take some chances. In your twenties and thirties you don't know, and you know you don't know, and that tends to freeze you; less risk taking. In your forties you know, but you don't know you know, so you may still be a little tentative. But then, as you pass fifty, if you've been paying attention, you know, and you know you know. Time for some fun.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


So far, this is the oldest I've been.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


You know what you rarely see? A ninety-three-year old guy workin' on his résumé.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative.
     Maurice Chevalier, New York Times (October 9, 1960)


The young always have the same problem — how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their elders and copying one another.
     Quentin Crisp


I am turned into a sort of machine for observing facts & grinding out conclusions.
     Charles Darwin (1880) quoted in Adrian Desmond & 
     James Moore, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented 


I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseates me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically of what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. On the other hand, novels, which are works of the imagination, though not of a very high order, have been for years a wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A surprising number have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily — against which a law ought to be passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if a pretty woman all the better.
     This curious and lamentable loss of the higher aesthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as they ever did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding out general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind more highly organized or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.
     Charles Darwin, "Autobiography" in Francis Darwin (ed.), 
     Life and Letters of Charles Darwin


He's so old his blood type was discontinued.
     Bill Dana


The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge you’ll grow out of it.
     Doris Day


The answer to old age is to keep one's mind busy and to go on with one's life as if it were interminable. I always admired Chekhov for building a new house when he was dying of tuberculosis.
     Leon Edel


As a child, a library card takes you to exotic, faraway places. When you're grown up, a credit card does it.
     Sam Ewing


Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young Ones; the Difference is only in the price.
     Benjamin Franklin


You know you're growing old when almost everything hurts, and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.
     Hy Gardner


It is familiarity with life that makes time speed quickly. When every day is a step in the unknown, as for children, the days are long with gathering of experience.
     George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1903)


For all the advances in medicine, there is still no cure for the common birthday.
     Sen. John Glenn


I am in the prime of senility.
     Joel Chandler Harris


It's time for everyone to get in touch with his or her inner grown-up.
     Tony Hendra, The Book of Bad Virtues: 
     A Treasury of Immorality


Very few people do anything creative after the age of thirty-five. The reason is that very few people do anything creative before the age of thirty-five.
     Joel Hildebrand


The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully.
     Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)


Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.
     Oliver Wendell Holmes


Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men.
     Kin Hubbard


Fun is like life insurance: the older you get, the more it costs.
     Kin Hubbard


No one is ever old enough to know better.
     Holbrook Jackson


I am exploring for the first time in my life the amazing wonderland known as senility.
     Timothy Leary


Thirty-five is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart.
     Caryn Leschen


Sicker I become, old and weak. When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmm?
    Yoda (voice of Frank Oz) in George Lucas, Star Wars:
     Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
(movie, 1983)


Childhood is the time of life when you make faces in a mirror. Middle age is when the mirror gets even.
     Mickey Mansfield


I wouldn’t mind being called middle-aged if only I knew a few more 100-year-old people.
     Dean Martin


I've reached that age when a good day is one when you get up and nothing hurts.
     H. Martin


It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.
     W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage (1915)


The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquillity of the evening. Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
     W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (1938)


After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead.
     Tommy Mein


The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series (1917)


The idea is to die young as late as possible.
     Ashley Montague


What have I done to achieve longevity? Woken up each morning and tried to remember not to wear my hearing aid in the bath.
     Robert Morley


Middle age is when you've met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.
     Ogden Nash


A person's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1885-1886)


Old people shouldn't eat health foods. They need all the preservatives they can get.
     Robert Orben


Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
     Satchel Paige


For herself, she declared that she paid no attention to her birthdays — didn't give a hoot about them; and it is true that when you have amassed several dozen of the same sort of thing, it loses that rarity which is the excitement of collectors.
     Dorothy Parker, "Lolita"


Middle age is when anything new in the way you feel is most likely a symptom.
     Laurence J. Peter


Middle age is when it takes longer to rest than to get tired.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


Middle age is when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


Middle age is when you stop criticizing the older generation and start criticizing the younger one.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


Old age is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


That's the problem with old age — there's not much future in it.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


The modern class of youngsters are alike in many disrespects.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


It takes a very long time to become young.
     Pablo Picasso


There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age. I missed it coming and going.
     J. B. Priestley


You don't stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop laughing.
     Michael Pritchard


A mark was on him from the day's delight, so that all his life, when April was a thin green and the flavor of rain was on his tongue, an old wound would throb and a nostalgia would fill him for something he could not quite remember.
     Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling (1938)


Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.
     George Bernard Shaw, attributed


It's all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.
     George Bernard Shaw, Fanny's First Play (1912)


People tell me, "Gee, you look good." There are three ages of man: youth, middle age, and "Gee, you look good." But I don't let old age bother me. There are three signs of old age. Loss of memory ... I forget the other two ... My doctor said I look like a million dollars-green and wrinkled.
     Red Skelton


The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of the blood.
     Logan Pearsall Smith


When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.
     John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley: 
     In Search of America


The trick is growing up without growing old.
     Casey Stengel


Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old.
     Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects (1711)


The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.
     Henry David Thoreau, Journal (1906)


Well enough for old folks to rise early, because they have done so many mean things all their lives they can't sleep anyhow.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1866


It takes some little time to accept and realize the fact that while you have been growing old, your friends have not been standing still, in that matter.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Consider well the proportions of things. It is better to be a young June-bug than an old bird of Paradise.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"


For at that time I thought old age valuable. I do not know why, but I thought so. All young people think it, I believe, they being ignorant and full of superstitions.
     Mark Twain, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)


Seventy is old enough — after that, there is too much risk. Youth and gaiety might vanish, any day — and then, what is left? Death in life; death without its privileges, death without its benefits.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


The heart is the real Fountain of Youth. While that remains young the Waterbury of Time must stand still.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898


It's an epitome of life. The first half of it consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance. The last half consists of the chance without the capacity.
     Mark Twain, letter to Edward L. Dimmitt (July 19, 1901)


I am admonished in many ways that time is pushing me inexorably along. I am approaching the threshold of age. In 1977 I shall be 142. This is no time to be flitting about the earth. I must cease from the activities proper to youth and begin to take on the dignities and gravities and inertia proper to that season of honorable senility which is on its way and imminent as indicated above.
     Mark Twain, letter to Edward L. Dimmitt ( July 19, 1901)


We are of that age when men who are smoking away their time in chat do not talk quite so much about the pleasantnesses of life as about its exasperations.
     Mark Twain, "Two Little Tales" (1901)


I am used to swan songs; I have sung them several times.
     Mark Twain, "Seventieth Birthday Dinner Speech" (speech, 1905)


The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach — unrebuked. You can tell the world how you got there. It is what they all do. You shall never get tired of telling by what delicate arts and deep moralities you climb up to that great place. You will explain the process and dwell on the particulars with senile rapture. I have been anxious to explain my own system this long time, and now at last I have the right.
     Mark Twain, "Seventieth Birthday Dinner Speech" (speech, 1905)


I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. It sounds like an exaggeration, but that is really the common rule for attaining old age.
     Mark Twain, "Seventieth Birthday Dinner Speech" (speech, 1905)


... if you find you can't make seventy by any but an uncomfortable road, don't you go. When they take off the Pullman and retire you to the rancid smoker, put on your things, count your checks, and get out at the first way station where there's a cemetery.
     Mark Twain, "Seventieth Birthday Dinner Speech" (speech, 1905)


I desire now to repeat and emphasize that maxim: We can't reach old age by another man's road. My habits protect my life, but they would assassinate you.
     Mark Twain, "Seventieth Birthday Dinner Speech" (speech, 1905)


I wrote the rest of "The Innocents Abroad" in sixty days, and I could have added a fortnight's labor with the pen and gotten along without the letters altogether. I was very young in those days, exceedingly young, marvellously young, younger than I am now, younger than I shall ever be again, by hundreds of years.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
     (North American Review, 1906-1907)


I am old. I recognize it but I don't realize it. I wonder if a person ever really ceases to feel young — I mean, for a whole day at a time.
     Mark Twain, letter to Mr. and Mrs. Gordon (January 24, 1906)


I am just as young now as I was 40 years ago.
     Mark Twain, Baltimore News (1909)


If I had been helping the Almighty when He created man I would have had Him begin at the other end, and start human beings with old age. How much better it would have been to start old and have all the bitterness and blindness of age in the beginning! One would not mind then if he were looking forward to a joyful youth. Think of the joyous prospect of growing young instead of old! Think of looking forward to eighteen instead of eighty! Yes, the Almighty made a poor job of it. I wish He had invited my assistance.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


At the end of this year I shall be sixty-three — if alive — and about the same if dead.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


They say the first thing to go when you're old is your legs or your eyesight. It isn't true. The first thing to go is parallel parking.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake (1997)


It seems like once people grow up, they have no idea what's cool.
     Calvin in Bill Watterson, Attack of the Deranged Mutant 
     Killer Monster Snow Goons
("Calvin and Hobbes," 1992)


You're never too old to become younger.
     Mae West


In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.
     Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance (1934)


I am not young enough to know everything.
     Oscar Wilde


An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young.
     Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (1887)


Young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot.
     Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)


The old believe everything : the middle-aged suspect everything : the young know everything.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies 
     for the Use of the Young" (1894)


Thirty-five is a very attractive age; London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.
     Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)


I'd quit the job of being me, but I have accumulated so much seniority.
     Tom Wilson


She was 102. She didn't have wrinkles, she had pleats ... There's one advantage to being 102. There's no peer pressure.
     Dennis Wolfberg


How young can you die of old age?
     Steven Wright


When I turned two I was really anxious, because I'd doubled my age in a year. I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I'm six I'll be ninety.
     Steven Wright


When I was little my grandfather asked me how old I was. I said, "Five." He said, "When I was your age, I was six."
     Steven Wright





What does the word 'meteorologist' mean in English? It means 'liar.'
     Lewis Black


There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting.
     George Carlin


Tonight's forecast: Dark. Continued mostly dark, with scattered light by midmorning.
     George Carlin


If you do a rain dance, wouldn't you have to do a rain dance practice first? . . . [But] if you have rain dance practice, does it rain during practice? If it doesn't how do you know you have it right? And if it does, why bother with the dance in the first place?
     George Carlin, "Carlin on Campus" (HBO, 1984)


I do something about the weather. I stay home.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Thanks to the sharp eyes of a Minnesota man, it is possible that two identical snowflakes may finally have been observed. While out snowmobiling, Oley Skotchgaard noticed a snowflake that looked familiar to him. Searching his memory, he realized it was identical to a snowflake he had seen as a child in Vermont. Weather experts, while excited, caution that the match-up will be difficult to verify.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.
     Kin Hubbard


don t cuss the climate
it probably doesn t like you
any better
than you like it
     Don Marquis, archy and mehitabel (1927)


This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.
     Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in Danny Rubin (story and screenplay),
     Harold Ramis (screenplay), Groundhog Day (movie, 1993)


Well, it's Groundhog Day... again... and that must mean we're up here at Gobbler's Knob waiting for the forecast from the world's most-famous groundhog weatherman, Punxsutawney Phil, who's just about to tell us how much more winter we can expect.
     Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in Danny Rubin (story and screenplay),
     Harold Ramis (screenplay), Groundhog Day (movie, 1993)


You want a prediction about the weather, you're asking the wrong Phil. I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.
     Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in Danny Rubin (story and screenplay),
     Harold Ramis (screenplay), Groundhog Day (movie, 1993)


When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.
     Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in Danny Rubin (story and screenplay),
     Harold Ramis (screenplay), Groundhog Day (movie, 1993)


Thank heavens, the sun has gone in, and I don't have to go out and enjoy it.
     Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931)


It is mighty regular about not raining, though, William. It will start in here in November and rain about four, and sometimes as much as seven days on a stretch; after that, you may loan out your umbrella for twelve months, with the serene confidence which a Christian feels in four aces.
     Mark Twain, "Washoe — Information Wanted" (1864)


Gentlemen: I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all, makes everything in New England — but the weather. .... There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on the people to see how they will go.
     Mark Twain, "The Oldest Inhabitant — The 
     Weather of New England" (speech, 1876)

Yes, one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it. There is only one thing certain about it, you are certain there is going to be plenty of weather — a perfect grand review; but you never can tell which end of the procession is going to move first. You fix up for the drought; you leave your umbrella in the house and sally out with your sprinkling pot, and ten to one you get drowned. You make up your mind that the earthquake is due; you stand from under, and take hold of something to steady yourself, and the first thing you know, you get struck by lightning. These are great disappointments.
     Mark Twain, "The Oldest Inhabitant — The 
     Weather of New England" (speech, 1876)


The lightning there is peculiar; it is so convincing! When it strikes a thing, it doesn't leave enough of that thing behind for you to tell whether — well, you'd think it was something valuable, and a Congressman had been there.
     Mark Twain, "The Oldest Inhabitant — The 
     Weather of New England" (speech, 1876)


I could speak volumes about the inhuman perversity of the New England weather, but I will give but a single specimen. I like to hear rain on a tin roof, so I covered part of my roof with tin, with an eye to that luxury. Well, sir, do you think it ever rains on the tin? No, sir; skips it every time.
     Mark Twain, "The Oldest Inhabitant — The 
     Weather of New England" (speech, 1876)


When a person is accustomed to 138 in the shade, his ideas about cold weather are not valuable.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


I believe that in India "cold weather" is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


The rain ... falls upon the just and the unjust alike; a thing which would not happen if I were superintending the rain's affairs. No, I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust outdoors I would drown him.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


It is best to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.
     Mark Twain attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.), 
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)


The reason lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn't there the second time.
     Willie Tyler


And here is the weather forecast. Tomorrow will be muggy. Followed by Toogy, Weggy, Thurgy and Frigy.


I put my air conditioner in backwards. It got cold outside. The weatherman on TV was confused. "It was supposed to be hot today."
     Steven Wright


The sky already fell. Now what?
     Steven Wright


The sky is falling . . . no, I'm tipping over backwards.
     Steven Wright


The sun got confused about daylight savings time. It rose twice. Everything had two shadows.
     Steven Wright



Wisdom and Intelligence


There is no such thing as an underestimate of average intelligence.
     Henry Brooks Adams


I don't know enough to be incompetent.
     Woody Allen, Shadows and Fog (movie, 1992)


The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom no clock can measure.
     William Blake


By using your intelligence, you can sometimes make your problems twice as complicated.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Be wiser than other people if you can, but do not tell them so.
     Lord Chesterfield (Philip Dormer Stanhope)


A large section of the intelligentsia seems wholly devoid of intelligence.
     G. K. Chesterton


A bee can find a nectar-bearing patch of flowers from the polarization of skylight and information communicated to it in the hive. A bat can detect and capture a flying moth in complete darkness, using echo-locating high-frequency sound. A bird can navigate over thousands of miles of open water, using the position of the sun and stars and the earth's magnetic field. It would surely be egotistic of us to deny the term intelligent to these creatures while retaining it for a creature that until quite recently built its wells in back of its outhouses.
     Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The 
     Heretical Nature of Science


If an animal does something, they call it instinct. If we do exactly the same thing for the same reason, they call it intelligence. Entomologists say that ants, for example, are guided entirely by instinct and not by intelligence. They say the ants do not know what they are doing. And do the entomologists know what they are doing? Besides watching ants, I mean. I'm only asking. I guess what they mean is that we all make mistakes, but intelligence enables us to do it on purpose.
     Will Cuppy


We know the human brain is a device to keep the ears from grating on one another.
     Peter De Vries, Comfort Me With Apples (1956)


"I confess that I have been as blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
     The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
     "The Man with the Twisted Lip"


Every great thinker is someone else's moron.
     Umberto Eco


"... learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do."
     Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (1980)


The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.
     Harlan Ellison


In fact — and this is the core of all my wisdom about love — whenever we try to explain why we have done any particular thing, whether it's buying T-bills or why we wound up living in a house in the mountains or why we took the trip to Lake Ronkonkoma, or whatever it was, the only rationale that ever rings with honesty is: "It seemed like a good idea at the time." We're really no smarter than cactus or wolverines or plankton; and the things we do, we always like to justify them, find logical reasons for them; and then you go to court later and the judge says, "Well, didn't you know that is was doomed from the start?" I'm waiting for someone to say to the judge, "Because, schmuck, I'm no smarter than you."
     Harlan Ellison, interview in Jon Winokur (ed.), 
     A Curmudgeon's Garden of Love (1989)


Wise men are not wise at all times.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life (1860)


The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
     F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack-Up" (1936)


He was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on.
     Benjamin Franklin


Some are weatherwise, some are otherwise.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac


What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.
     Sigmund Freud


The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing. Ultimately, after endless rebuffs, it succeeds. This is one of the few points in which one may be optimistic about the future of mankind.
     Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion


Pared of sociological baggage, the real lesson of the research [on measuring intelligence] is that people who do well on psychologists' tests do well on psychologists' tests.
     James Gleick, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything (1999)


... But if we laugh with derision, we will never understand. Human intellectual capacity has not altered for thousands of years so far as we can tell. If intelligent people invested intense energy in issues that now seem foolish to us, then the failure lies in our understanding of their world, not in their distorted perceptions. Even the standard example of ancient nonsense — the debate about angels on pinheads — makes sense once you realize that theologians were not discussing whether five or eighteen would fit, but whether a pin could house a finite or an infinite number.
     Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb (1980)
     "Wide Hats and Narrow Minds"


The essence of wisdom is to remain suspicious of what you want to be true.
     Jon K. Hart


Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.
     Samuel Johnson


Age doesn't always bring wisdom; sometimes age comes alone.
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
     "Guy Noir, Private Eye" (October 27, 2001)


It doesn't take a scientist to realize that a chimpanzee or a dog is an intelligent animal. Instead, it takes a bigoted human to suggest that it's not.
     Richard Leakey


There's no underestimating the intelligence of the American public. [Attributed to Mencken by George Seldes, in reference to the success of Reader's Digest]
     H. L. Mencken


Is intelligence a liability nowadays? I think we can answer that with one word: "Duh!"
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live (June 16, 1995)


Pop culture has turned the brain into the body new appendix; no real function and it could quite possible blow up and kill you. As organs go, you just don't need your brain anymore. As a matter of fact, I'm certain in the very near future people will go to the hospital, or should I say, turn on the hospital channel, and get their brain taken out just as a precaution.
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live (June 16, 1995)


The only universal message in science fiction: There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently. Niven's corollary: The gene-tampered turkey you're talking to isn't necessarily one of them.
     Larry Niven, "Niven's Laws" in N-Space (1990)


There are some things only intellectuals are crazy enough to believe.
     George Orwell


The more intelligence one has the more people one finds original. Commonplace people see no difference between men.
     Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670)


The path to wisdom does, in fact, begin with a single step.
     Where people go wrong is in ignoring all the thousands of other steps that come after it.  They make the single step of deciding to become one with the universe, and for some reason forget to take the logical next step of living for seventy years on a mountain and a daily bowl of rice and yak-butter tea that would give it any kind of meaning.  While evidence says that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, they’re probably all on first steps.
    Terry Pratchett, Hogfather (1996)


The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
     Chinese Proverb


The wise man has long ears and a short tongue.
     German Proverb


To question a wise man is the beginning of wisdom.
     German Proverb


From listening comes wisdom, and from speaking repentance.
     Italian Proverb


The history of IQ is not uplifting. Few debates in the history of science have been conducted with such stupidity as the one about intelligence.
     Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography
     of a Species in 23 Chapters


The desire to seem clever often keeps us from being so.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, The Maxims
     (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


The man who lives free from folly is not so wise as he thinks.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, The Maxims
     (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Most of the increase in our brain size and the improvements in our brain architecture occurred very quickly — in only the last few million years. There might be some bugs still to be worked out.
     Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten
     Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are


Intellect is invisible to the person who hasn't any.
     Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays


Questions are the beginning of wisdom — the mark of a true warrior.
     Worf, "Rightful Heir"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Via ovicipitum dura est. The way of the egghead is hard.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson, attributed


Some people take more care to hide their wisdom than their folly.
     Jonathan Swift


I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


A man is wise with the wisdom of his time only, and ignorant with its ignorance. Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age.
     Henry David Thoreau, Journal (1906)


Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.
     Edward Thorndike


"... he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."
     Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)


A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom that he can no longer be led by the nose.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1866


Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped: information appears to stew out of me naturally, like the precious ottar of roses out of the otter. Sometimes it has seemed to me that I would give worlds if I could retain my facts; but it cannot be. The more I calk up the sources, and the tighter I get, the more I leak wisdom.
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872), "Prefatory"


The lowest intellect, like the highest, possesses a skill of some kind a takes a keen pleasure in testing it, proving it, perfecting it.
     Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth" (1909)


To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious. But the stupid have an answer for every question.


... people today are so accustomed to pretentious nonsense that they see nothing amiss in reading without understanding, and many of them at length discover that they can without difficulty write in like manner themselves and win applause for it. And so it perpetuates itself.
     G. A. Wells


[Intelligence] ... Quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is the capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.
     Alfred North Whitehead, Dialogues of
     Alfred North Whitehead


Intellect is to emotion as our clothes are to our bodies; we could not very well have civilized life without clothes, but we would be in a poor way if we had only clothes without bodies.
     Alfred North Whitehead, Dialogues of
     Alfred North Whitehead


The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies
     for the Use of the Young" (1894)


     "I haven't got a brain, only straw."
     "How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?"
     "I don't know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?"
          The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) and Dorothy (Judy Garland)
          Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf,
          The Wizard of Oz
(movie, 1939)


Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got — a diploma.
     The Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan)
     to The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger)
     Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf,
     The Wizard of Oz
(movie, 1939)





"It's nice to be retired.  I'll do a-a-anything I want to all day long.  I guess you'll be banging your head against a wall today, trying to earn money for the social infrastructure."
"Do you ever feel guilty?"
"Is it a warm, tingly sensation that makes you wag?"
    Dogbert and Dilbert in Scott Adams, Don’t Stand Where the
        Comet is Assumed To Strike Oil
(“Dilbert,” 2004)


"I got a bad case of ergophobia.  It's an abnormal and persistent fear of work."
"Isn't everything about you a little abnormal and persistent?"
"Yeah, but I'm still delighted when I discover new words for me."
    Wally and Dilbert in Scott Adams, The Fluorescent Light
        Glistens Off Your Head
(“Dilbert,” 2005)


It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
     Muhammad Ali, New York Times (April 6, 1977)


It is already possible to imagine a society in which the majority of the population, that is to say, its laborers, will have almost as much leisure as in earlier times was enjoyed by the aristocracy. When one recalls how aristocracies in the past actually behaved, the prospect is not cheerful.
     W. H. Auden, A Certain World (1970)


The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
     James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name (1961)


Nothing is really work unless you’d rather be doing something else.
     J. M. Barrie


We have to work, if not from inclination, then from desperation since, [everything considered], work is less boring than amusing oneself.
     Charles Baudelaire, Mon Coeur mis a nu (1862)


Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing.
     Robert Benchley, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.),
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)


I do most of my work sitting down. That's where I shine.
     Robert Benchley, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.),
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)


"Y'know, I'm just old enough to be flattered by the term 'early retirement.'"
"That's wonderful. What a lovely line. Now if there's anything I can do for you."
"Well, I certainly hope you'll die soon."
     James L. Brooks, Broadcast News (movie, 1987)


Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.
     Aaron Burr


Doing a thing well is often a waste of time.
     Robert Byrne, The 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1988)


In labor news, longshoremen walked off the piers today; rescue operations are continuing ...
     George Carlin


We're all amateurs; it's just that some of us are more professional about it than others.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


I thought it would be nice to get a job at a duty-free shop, but it doesn't sound like there's a whole lot to do in a place like that.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


A day off is always more welcome when it is unexpected.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.
     G. K. Chesterton


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, Heart of Darkness (1902)


"I have a curious constitution. I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)


... here at last there was a fitting object for those remarkable powers which, like all special gifts, become irksome to their owner when they are not in use. That razor brain blunted and rusted with inaction.
     Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear (1915)


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
     Thomas Alva Edison


Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.
     Sam Ewing


By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work 12 hours a day.
     Robert Frost


Almost everything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
     Mahatma Gandhi


I lost my job. No, I didn't really lose my job. I know where my job is, still. It's just when I go there, there's this new guy doing it.
     Bobcat Goldthwaite


Deep down all workers understand that most work is make-work. Its only beneficiaries are those who don't work: the very rich and the very poor. Idleness is everyone's goal. (The failure of socialism wasn't due to the Soviets' corruption or the Pentagon's courage in outspending them; it lay in Marx's idiotic assumption that workers actually like working.)
     Tony Hendra, The Book of Bad Virtues: A Treasury of Immorality (1994)


I don't know anybody who would be willing to work for what he's really worth.
     Kin Hubbard


I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.
     Jerome K. Jerome


[Bud said] "I'll tell you this, they don't pay me enough to get away with treating me like a servant."
[Eloise] said, "But servants always get paid less."
He said, "Well, there's the problem, isn't it."
     Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days (1985)


"Where The Door Is Always Open," the motto of WLT, appeared on the elevator doors, with the smiling face tipping the hat, and the point was not lost on the employees: no matter what, you were always welcome to leave.
     Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance (1991)


Syzygy, inexorable, pancreatic, phantasmagoria — anyone who can use those four words in one sentence will never have to do manual labor.
     William P. Kinsella


If we except those miraculous and isolated moments fate can bestow on a man, loving your work (unfortunately, the privilege of a few) represents the best, most concrete approximation of happiness on earth.
     Primo Levi, The Monkey's Wrench (1978)
     "Beating Copper"


If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.
     Vince Lombardi


Hard work is damn near as overrated as monogamy.
     Huey P. Long


Why do men delight in work? Fundamentally, I suppose, because there is a sense of relief and pleasure in getting something done — a kind of satisfaction not unlike that which a hen enjoys on laying an egg. Also, work offers an escape from boredom — a curse not only to men, but also to most of the other higher animals. There is nothing harder to do than nothing.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)


Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work.
     Robert Orben


There's a lot of rot talked about the sufferings of the working class. I'm not so sorry for the proles myself. ... The prole suffers physically, but he's a free man when he isn't working. But in every one of those little stucco boxes there's some poor bastard who's never free except when he's fast asleep and dreaming that he's got the boss down the bottom of a well and is bunging lumps of coal at him.
     George Orwell, Coming up for Air (1939)


The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work superbly well.
     Sir William Osler


Parkinson's First Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
     Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson's Law, or the Pursuit of Progress (1957)


The Peter Principle: In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. [Whence two sub-principles] — In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties. — Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.
     Laurence Johnston Peter, The Peter Principle (1969)


Never do anything standing that you can do sitting, or anything sitting that you can do lying down.
     Chinese Proverb


If work were good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor.
     Haitian Proverb


Our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humor, tedious company, and irrepressibly drab and awful; and whereas in most professions, these would be considerable drawbacks, in chartered accountancy, they're a positive boon!
     Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974)


First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other 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, "In Praise of Idleness" (1932)


If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considers his work important.
     Bertrand Russell, Autobiography (1967)


One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
     Bertrand Russell, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1968)


If you cannot — in the long run — tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.
     Erwin Schrödinger


I want to share something with you — the three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1, "Cover for me." Number 2, "Oh, good idea, boss." Number 3, "It was like that when I got here."
     Homer Simpson in The Simpsons


The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.
     Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931)


If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well enough for the purpose at hand — and it is surely silly and probably wrong to do it any better. ["Remember that physics is not necessarily the science of precision; it is preeminently the science of common sense. To do a thing well enough for the purpose at hand may well require a lifetime of skilled and devoted work."]
     Clifford E. Swartz (ed., The Physics Teacher)


There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.
     Terence, Heauton Timoroumenos


Some are "industrious," and appear to love labor for its own sake, or perhaps because it keeps them out of worse mischief; to such I have at present nothing to say. Those who would not know what to do with more leisure than they now enjoy, I might advise to work twice as hard as they do, — work till they pay for themselves, and get their free papers.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; as the pursuits of the simpler nations are still the sports of the more artificial. It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow unless he sweats easier than I do.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Life Without Principle"
     (1862, first published 1863)


I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Life Without Principle"
     (1862, first published 1863)


There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Life Without Principle"
     (1862, first published 1863)


A man who doesn't respect his own work shouldn't be allowed to do it.
     Kelvin Throop III


It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all.
     James Thurber, Fables For Our Time &
     Famous Poems Illustrated (1940)
     "The Courtship of Arthur and Al"


The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.
     Lily Tomlin


If you don't do it excellently, don't do it at all. Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun, and if you're not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?
     Robert Townsend


To be busy is man's only happiness.
     Mark Twain, letter to Orion Clemens (February 21, 1868)


I have seen slower people than I am — and more deliberate ... and even quieter, and more listless, and lazier people than I am. But they were dead.
     Mark Twain, "Memoranda", The Galaxy (December 1870)


I had been a bookseller's clerk for a while, but the customers bothered me so much I could not read with any comfort, and so the proprietor gave me a furlough and forgot to put a limit to it. I had clerked in a drug store part of a summer, but my prescriptions were unlucky, and we appeared to sell more stomach pumps than soda water. So I had to go.
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)


MORAL. If the reader thinks he is done, now, and that this book has no moral to it, he is in error. The moral of it is this: If you are of any account, stay at home and make your way by faithful diligence; but if you are "no account," go away from home, and then you will have to work, whether you want to or not. Thus you become a blessing to your friends by ceasing to be a nuisance to them — if the people you go among suffer by the operation.
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)


Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence, nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)


Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)


Intellectual "work" is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation, and is its own highest reward. ... The law of work does seem utterly unfair — but there it is: and nothing can change it: the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker gets out of it, the higher shall be his pay in cash, also.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


Let us be grateful to Adam our benefactor. He cut us out of the "blessing" of idleness and won for us the "curse" of labor.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it.
     Mark Twain, "A Humorist's Confession," New York Times (1905)


When we talk about the great workers of the world we really mean the great players of the world.
     Mark Twain, "A Humorist's Confession," New York Times (1905)


It takes me longer to get started than most people. I guess I was born at slow speed.
     Mark Twain, "The Educational Theatre" (speech, November 19, 1907)


I love work. Why, sir, when I have a piece of work to perform, I go away to myself, sit down in the shade, and muse over the coming enjoyment. Sometimes I am so industrious that I muse too long.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine,
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


I have seen tireder men than I am, and lazier men, but they were dead men.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine,
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


It was fearful drudgery — soulless drudgery — and almost destitute of interest. It was an awful slavery for a lazy man.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine,
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


I do not like work even when another person does it.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine,
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


Do not put off till tomorrow what can be put off till day-after-tomorrow just as well.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Let us save the to-morrows for work.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Never learn to do anything: if you don't learn, you'll always find someone else to do it for you.
     Mark Twain, Wagenknecht, Mark Twain, the Man and His Work (1935)


It was awful slavery for a lazy man, and I was born lazy. I am no lazier now than I was forty years ago, but that is because I reached the limit forty years ago. You can't go beyond possibility.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.),
     Mark Twain in Eruption


From the beginning of my sojourn in this world there was a persistent vacancy in me where the industry ought to be.
     Mark Twain, Charles Neider (ed.),
     The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959)


Work keeps us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and poverty.
     Voltaire, Candide (1759)


It's only work if somebody makes you do it.
     Calvin in Bill Watterson, The Indispensable Calvin 
     and Hobbes
("Calvin and Hobbes," 1992)


The secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse.
     Calvin's Dad in Bill Watterson, It's A Magical 
("Calvin and Hobbes," 1996)


The best career advice to give the young is "Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it."
     Katharine Whitehorn


To do nothing is the most difficult thing in the world-the most difficult and the most intellectual.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist" (1890)


Every man must be left quite free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion must be exercised over him. If there is, his work will not be good for him, will not be good in itself, and will not be good for others. And by work I simply mean activity of any kind.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" (1891)


Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.
     H. H. Williams


I saw a sign at a gas station. It said "Help Wanted." There was another sign below it that said "Self Service." So I hired myself. Then I made myself the boss. I gave myself a raise. I paid myself. Then I quit.
     Steven Wright


I was in a job interview and I opened a book and started reading. Then I said to the guy, "Let me ask you a question. If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "I don't want your job."
     Steven Wright


You can always get a job in international affairs because 90% of everything happens in a foreign country.
     Steven Wright