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Madness, Sanity, and Other Psychological Disorders

Mark Twain

     Huckleberry Finn

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Myths and Legends


Madness, Sanity, and Other 
Psychological Disorders


"... I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks [said Ford]. I kept myself amused all that time jumping in and out of a gin and tonic."
     Arthur cleared his throat, and then did it again. "Where," he said, "did you . . .?"
     "Find a gin and tonic?" said Ford brightly. "I found a small lake that thought it was a gin and tonic, and jumped in and out of that. At least, I think it thought it was a gin and tonic.
     "I may," he added with a grin that would have sent sane men scampering into trees, "have been imagining it."
     He waited for a reaction from Arthur, but Arthur knew better than that.
     Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, and Everything (1982)


The definition of insanity is:  doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
    Scott Adams, Don’t Stand Where the Comet is
        Assumed To Strike Oil
(“Dilbert,” 2004)


You don't have to see a shrink. There's nothing wrong with you that can't be cured with a little Prozac and a polo mallet.
     Woody Allen, Manhattan Murder Mystery 
     (with Marshall Brickman, movie, 1993)


We are all born crazy. Some remain that way.
     Samuel Beckett


Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Take heart! Many great things have been done by people in poor mental health.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you.
     Rita Mae Brown


Sometimes a little brain damage can help.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


A crazy person doesn't really lose his mind. It just becomes something more entertaining.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Regarding "safe and sound": I've often been safe, but seldom have I been thought of as sound.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


If I ever lose my mind I hope some honest person will find it and take it to Lost and Found.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


What exactly is wrong with inmates running the asylum? It seems to me they're in an ideal position to know just what's needed.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


     'What sort of people live about here?'
     'In that direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round, 'lives a Hatter: and in that direction,' waving the other paw, 'lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad.'
     'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
     'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'
     Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)


The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.
     Salvador Dali


"But there are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
     The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)
     "The Adventure of the Three Gables"


Insane people are always sure they're just fine. It's only the sane people who are willing to admit they're crazy.
     Nora Ephron, Heartburn (1983)


What's the difference between a psychotic and a neurotic? ... A psychotic ... thinks that two plus two is five. A neurotic knows that it's four, but it makes him nervous.
     Martin Gardner, The Night is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995 (1996)
      "Mr. Apollinax Visits New York" (1961)


Anybody who goes to see a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.
     Sam Goldwyn


There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.
     Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1955)


When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane.
     Herman Hesse


... he [Randle Patrick McMurphy] knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy. He knows there's a painful side ... but he won't let the pain blot out the humor no more'n he'll let the humor blot out the pain.
     Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next (1962)


I don't buy temporary insanity as a murder defense. 'Cause people kill people. That's an animal instinct. I think breaking into someone's home and ironing all their clothes is temporary insanity.
     Sue Kolinsky


Psychoanalysis is that mental illness for which it regards itself a therapy.
     Karl Kraus


Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.
     Steve Landesberg


What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?
     Ursula K. Le Guin


I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients.
     Oscar Levant


In my short stay here, I have seen textbook examples of neuroses, psychoses — I have seen voyeurism, fetishism, and a few "isms" I've never even heard of. And let me tell you this, General: these impossible people are in an impossible place doing totally impossible work. They're mad, quite mad, all of them. And the only act that I can think of that would be madder still, would be breaking them up.
     Captain Hildebrand in "Divided We Stand"
     M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


As you pointed out, Sigmund, there is a link between anger and wit. Anger turned inward is depression. Anger turned sideways is Hawkeye.
     Sidney Freidman (Allan Arbus), "Dear Sigmund"
     M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


Anyone who needs psychiatry is sick in the head.
     Frank Burns (Larry Linville), "Mad Dogs and Servicemen"
     M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


Now, in his heart, Ahab had some glimpse of this, namely: all my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.
     Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851)


Psychotherapy — The theory that the patient will probably get well anyhow, and is certainly a damned ijjit.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — This and That"


Barring sociology (which is yet, of course, scarcely a science at all, but rather a monkeyshine which happens to pay, like play-acting or theology), psychology is the youngest of the sciences, and hence chiefly guesswork, empiricism, hocus-pocus, poppycock.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: A Selection (1958)
     "The Genealogy of Etiquette"


Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer?
     George Price


There is a pinch of the madman in every great man.
     French Proverb


Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.
     Indian Proverb


Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts.
     Leo Calvin Rosten


There's an old saying ... Neurotics build castles in the air and psychotics lives in them — my mother cleans them.
     Rita Rudner


Sanity is a madness put to good uses.
     George Santayana


I am but mad north-northwest. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.
     William Shakespeare, Hamlet


Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.
     William Shakespeare, Hamlet


If other worlds are inhabited, this world must be their lunatic asylum.
     George Bernard Shaw


Sanity is a cozy lie.
     Susan Sontag


One should only see a psychiatrist out of boredom.
     Muriel Spark


Jim, madness has no purpose or reason, but it may have a goal.
     Spock, "The Alternative Factor"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


We will start with the assumption that I am not crazy. If I am, it won't matter one way or another.
     Dr. Crusher, "Remember Me"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


I may be surrounded by insanity, but I am not insane!
     William T. Riker, "Frame of Mind"
     STAR TREK: The Next Generation


Don't be afraid of your darker side. Have fun with it.
     Deanna Troi, "Frame of Mind"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Feelings aren't positive and negative — they simply exist. It's what we do with those feelings that becomes good or bad.
     Deanna Troi, "Descent"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Spare me your insipid psychobabble. I'm not some quivering neurotic who feels sorry for himself because his daddy wasn't nice. You couldn't begin to understand me. … Now get out of here, before I say something unkind.
     Garak to Ezri Dax, "Afterimage"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


I want you to take a good look around: you have just agreed to take responsibility for the mental health of everyone in this room. You have your work cut out for you.
     Sisko to Ezri Dax, "Afterimage"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"He talks to himself, which might be madness." "If he didn't talk sense, which he does." "Which suggests the opposite." ... "I think I have it. A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself." "Or just as mad." "Or just as mad." "And he does both." "So there you are." "Stark raving sane."
     Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard, 
     Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (play, 1967)


For business reasons, I must preserve the outward signs of sanity.
     Mark Twain, letter to William T. Stead (1890)


When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898


... there's an idea born of God knows what kind of specialized insanity, but not softening of the brain — you cannot soften a thing that doesn't exist ...
     Mark Twain, "Welcome Home" (speech, November 10, 1900)


I realize that from the cradle up I have been like the rest of the race — never quite sane in the night.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)



Mark Twain


"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835," Mark Twain told his biographer Albert Bigelow Paine in 1909. "It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.' Oh! I am looking forward to that."
     As fate would have it, it happened just that way, just as Mark Twain wanted it. He was born on November 30, 1835, only two weeks after the perihelion of Halley's Comet on its only visit of the nineteenth century. He died on April 21, 1910, the day after the perihelion of Halley's Comet on its first visit of the twentieth century.
     Alex Ayres, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)


All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.
     Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa (1935)


I am impatient with those critics who castigate Mark Twain for his pessimism as if it were some rare disease. It is a disease that infects us all. The thing to remember and admire is that Mark Twain left so much laughter behind. How many pessimists have done that?
     Hal Holbrook, Mark Twain Tonight! An Actor's Portrait (1959)


George Bernard Shaw met Mark Twain in England in 1907; later he wrote a note to Twain saying: "I am persuaded that the future historian of America will find your works as indispensable to him as a French historian finds the political tracts of Voltaire. I tell you so because I am the author of a play in which a priest says, 'Telling the truth's the funniest joke in the world,' a piece of wisdom which you helped to teach me."
     Milton Meltzer (ed.), Mark Twain Himself (1960)


Neither is Mark Twain — bold as the assertion may seem — a great humorist or a great wit. ... Mark Twain has shaken the sides of the round world with laughter; but after all, has he, in the mass of his writings, uttered any witticism which touches intimately, much less radiantly expresses, some eternal truth of life? Has he ever created any character bearing so plainly a lasting relationship to human nature that it will live on to be hailed brother by future men? Unless indeed some of the clever sayings of Pudd'nhead Wilson have greater depth and reach of meaning than they now seem to have, the answer to the first question is plainly "No." Not many of Mark Twain's witticisms will appear in the Familiar Quotations of the coming century.
     Charles Miner Thompson, "Mark Twain as an Interpreter 
     of American Character" (Atlantic Monthly, April 1897)
          [It's a safe bet to say that falser words were never spoken!]



I said that my reputation was really a wonder; that there was not another boy there whose morals were anywhere near up to mine; that whenever I passed by, the citizens stood in reverent admiration, and said: "There goes the model boy." She was silent a while, then she said, musingly: "Well, I wonder what the rest are like."
     Mark Twain, "Jane Lampton Clemens" (1890)


From his earliest childhood young Clemens had been of an adventurous disposition. Before he was thirteen, he had been extracted three times from the Mississippi, and six times from Bear Creek, in a substantially drowned condition, but his mother, with the high confidence in his future that never deserted her, merely remarked: "People who are born to be hanged are safe in the water."
     Mark Twain, Literary Essays (1899)
     "Mark Twain: A Biographical Sketch" by Samuel E. Moffett 


Although I cannot be at the Fair, I am going to be represented there anyway, by a portrait by Professor Gelli. You will find it excellent. Good judges here say it is better than the original. They say it has all the merits of the original and keeps still, besides. It sounds like flattery but it is just true.
     Mark Twain, letter to Governor Francis 
     of Missouri (Firenze, May 26, 1904)


[My wife] and Clara went aboard the steamer at once and sailed for America, to nurse Susy. I remained behind to search for a larger house in Guildford. That was the 15th of August, 1896. Three days later, when my wife and Clara were about halfway across the ocean, I was standing in our dining room, thinking of nothing in particular, when a cablegram was put into my hand. It said, "Susy was peacefully released today." It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
(North American Review, 1906-1907)


I was always told that I was a sickly and precarious and tiresome and uncertain child, and lived mainly on allopathic medicines during the first seven years of my life. I asked my mother about this, in her old age — she was in her 88th year — and said: "I suppose that during all that time you were uneasy about me?" "Yes, the whole time." "Afraid I wouldn't live?" After a reflective pause — ostensibly to think out the facts — "No — afraid you would." It sounds like a plagiarism, but it probably wasn't.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
(North American Review, 1906-1907)


[After receiving an invitation to dinner with the Emperor of Germany: ] The imperial card was passed from hand to hand, around the table, and examined with interest; when it reached Jean she exhibited excitement and emotion, but for a time was quite speechless; then she said,
     "Why, papa, if it keeps going on like this, pretty soon there won't be anybody left for you to get acquainted with but God."
     It was not complimentary to think I was not acquainted in that quarter, but she was young, and the young jump to conclusions without reflection.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
(North American Review, 1906-1907)


Another riverman of those days has recalled a story he heard Sam Clemens tell: 'We were speaking of presence of mind in accidents — we were always talking of such things; then he said: "Boys, I had great presence of mind once. It was at a fire. An old man leaned out of a four-story building calling for help. Everybody in the crowd below looked up, but nobody did anything. The ladders weren't long enough. Nobody had any presence of mind — nobody but me. I came to the rescue. I yelled for a rope. When it came I threw the old man the end of it. He caught it and I told him to tie it around his waist. He did so, and I pulled him down."'
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


It happens that one of the oftenest-told anecdotes has been the least elaborated. It is the one about his call on Mrs. Stowe. Twichell's journal entry, set down at the time, verifies it:
Mrs. Stowe was leaving for Florida one morning, and Clemens ran over early to say good-by. On his return Mrs. Clemens regarded him disapprovingly:
     "Why, Youth," she said, "you haven't on any collar and tie."
     He said nothing, but went up to his room, did up these items in a neat package, and sent it over by a servant, with a line:
     "Herewith receive a call from the rest of me."
     Mrs. Stowe returned a witty note, in which she said that he had discovered a new principle, the principle of making calls by installments, and asked whether, in extreme cases, a man might not send his hat, coat, and boots and be otherwise excused.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


Yet Clemens seems never to have been openly violent with Paige [inventor of a type-setting device that Twain invested a fortune in — and lost — over a period of years]. In the memorandum which he completed about this time [1890] he wrote: "Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms, and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had him in a steel trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap until he died."
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


[Mark Twain sent the following letter to Andrew Carnegie ]:
You seem to be in prosperity. Could you lend an admirer $1.50 to buy a hymn-book with? God will bless you. I feel it; I know it. ..
P.S.—Don't send the hymn-book; send the money; I want to make the selection myself.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


Recently some one in Missouri has sent me a picture of the house I was born in. Heretofore I have always stated that is was a palace, but I shall be more guarded now.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


[Introduction given at one of Twain's speeches (1867?): ] "I don't know anything about this man. At least I know only two things; one is, he hasn't been in the penitentiary, and the other is [after a pause, and almost sadly], I don't know why."
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


"Well, one day Wheeler was a-meditating and dreaming around in the carpet factory and the machinery made a snatch at him and first you know he was a-meandering all over that factory, from the garret to the cellar, and everywhere, at such another gait as — why, you couldn't even see him; you could only hear him whiz when he went by. Well, you know a person can't go through an experience like that and arrive back home the way he was when he went. No, Wheeler got wove up into thirty-nine yards of best three-ply carpeting. The widder was sorry, she was uncommon sorry, and loved him and done the best she could fur him in the circumstances, which was unusual. She took the whole piece — thirty-nine yards — and she wanted to give him proper and honorable burial, but she couldn't bear to roll him up; she took and spread him out full length, and said she wouldn't have it any other way. She wanted to buy a tunnel for him but there wasn't any tunnel for sale, so she boxed him in a beautiful box and stood it on the hill on a pedestal twenty-one foot high, and so it was monument and grave together, and economical — sixty foot high — you could see it from everywhere — and she painted on it 'To the loving memory of thirty-nine yards best three-ply carpeting containing the mortal remainders of Millington G. Wheeler go thou and do likewise." [From the oral version of "Jim Blaine and his Grandfather's Old Ram"]
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)


When he [Rudyard Kipling] was gone, Mrs. Langdon wanted to know about my visitor. I said, "He is a stranger to me but he is a most remarkable man — and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest."
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)


Mark Twain related a story told by a fellow humorist, Billy Nye, about his brother, who was "the baldest human being I ever saw. His whole skull was brilliantly shining. It was like a dome with the sun flashing upon it. ... One day he fell overboard from a ferry boat and when he came up a woman's voice broke high over the tumult of frightened and anxious exclamations and said,
     "'You shameless thing! And ladies present! Go down and come up the other way.'"
     Mark Twain, Charles Neider (ed.), 
     The Autobiography of Mark Twain


Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to present to you a man whose great learning and veneration for truth are only exceeded by his high moral character and majestic presence. I refer in these vague, general terms to myself. I consider introductions unnecessary but if it is the custom to have them, I prefer to do the act myself, so that I can rely on getting in all the facts. I was born modest but it wore off.
     Mark Twain, Hal Holbrook (ed.), 
     Mark Twain Tonight! An Actor's Portrait (1959)


Mark Twain was once a guest of honor at an opera box party put on by a prominent member of New York society. The hostess felt at home at the opera and proceeded to talk throughout the performance — to Mark Twain's increasing annoyance.
     After the opera was over, she turned to Twain and gushed, "Oh, my dear Mr. Clemens, I do hope you will be with us next Saturday. I just know you will enjoy it — the opera will be 'Tosca.'"
     "How tantalizing," replied Mark Twain. "I've never heard you in that."
     Mark Twain, Alex Ayres (ed.), The Wit 
     and Wisdom of Mark Twain


Mark Twain was reported to earn a dollar a word for his writing. Alluding to this, a prankster once enclosed a dollar bill with a note to Mark Twain, saying, "Please send me a word."
     A prompt reply arrived from Mark Twain. It contained one word: "Thanks."
     Mark Twain, Alex Ayres (ed.), The Wit 
     and Wisdom of Mark Twain



Huckleberry Finn

Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard. Huckleberry was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town, because he was idle, and lawless, and vulgar and bad — and because all their children admired him so, and delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like him. Tom was like the rest of the respectable boys, in that he envied Huckleberry his gaudy outcast condition, and was under strict orders not to play with him. So he played with him every time he got a chance.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)


Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
                                                  By order of the Author
                                                  Per G. G., Chief of Ordnance
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied, one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom's Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas, is all told about in that book — which is mostly a true book; with some stretchers, as I said before.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


The widow she cried over me and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweat and sweat and feel all cramped up. ... Pretty soon I wanted to smoke and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she was a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her and no use to anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


Then she [Miss Watson] told me all about the bad place and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said, said she wouldn't say it for the whole world, she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so because it would only make trouble and wouldn't do no good.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


"Thar's more money in missionarying than the others; folks will plank out cash for the heathen mighty free, if you only locate your heathen fur enough off."
     The 'Dauphin' in Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
     "All right, then, I'll go to hell" — and tore it up.
     It was awful thoughts and awful words but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


Tom's most well now, and got his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard for a watch, and is always seeing what time it is, and so there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd 'a' knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't 'a' tackled it, and ain't a-going to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had. His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent person — boy or man — in the community, and by consequence he was tranquilly and continuously happy and was envied by all the rest of us. We like him; we enjoyed his society. And as his society was forbidden us by our parents, the prohibition trebled and quadrupled its value, and therefore we sought and got more of his society than of any other boy's.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography
     (North American Review, 1906-1907)



A Pilot's Life For Me

The Mississippi is well worth reading about. It is not a commonplace river, but on the contrary is in all ways remarkable.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboat-man. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left us all burning to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that came to our section left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


He would speak of the "labboard" side of a horse in an easy, natural way that would make one wish he was dead.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Your true pilot cares nothing about anything on earth but the river, and his pride in his occupation surpasses the pride of kings.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Two things seemed pretty apparent to me. One was, that in order to be a pilot a man had got to learn more than any one man ought to be allowed to know; and the other was, that he must learn it all over again in a different way every twenty-four hours.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


[Mr. Bixby informed young Sam that he would have to memorize all of the river depths where the river was shallowest — information the leadsmen sing out for long stretches of time.]  When I came to myself again, I said,—
     "When I get so that I can do that, I'll be able to raise the dead, and then I won't have to pilot a steamboat to make a living. I want to retire from this business. I want a slush-bucket and a brush; I'm only fit for a roustabout. I haven't got brains enough to be a pilot; and if I had I wouldn't have strength to carry them around, unless I went on crutches."
     "Now drop that! When I say I'll learn [“Teach” is not in the river vocabulary.] a man the river, I mean it. And you can depend on it, I'll learn him or kill him."
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book — a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


If I have seemed to love my subject, it is no surprising thing, for I loved the profession far better than any I have followed since, and I took a measureless pride in it. The reason is plain: a pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth. ... In truth, every man and woman and child has a master, and worries and frets in servitude; but in the day I write of, the Mississippi pilot had none.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


When I find a well-drawn character in fiction or biography, I generally take a warm personal interest in him, for the reason that I have known him before — met him on the river.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Here was a thing which had not changed; a score of years had not affected this water's mulatto complexion in the least; a score of centuries would succeed no better, perhaps. It comes out of the turbulent, bank-caving Missouri, and every tumblerful of it holds nearly an acre of land in solution. I got this fact from the bishop of the diocese. If you will let your glass stand half an hour, you can separate the land from the water as easy as Genesis; and then you will find them both good: the one good to eat, the other good to drink.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Remains of former steamboatmen told me, with wan satisfaction, that the bridge doesn't pay. Still, it can be no sufficient compensation to a corpse, to know that the dynamite that laid him out was not of as good quality as it had been supposed to be.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Mississippi steamboating was born about 1812; at the end of thirty years, it had grown to mighty proportions; and in less than thirty more, it was dead! A strangely short life for so majestic a creature. Of course it is not absolutely dead; neither is a crippled octogenarian who could once jump twenty-two feet on level ground; but as contrasted with what it was in its prime vigor, Mississippi steamboating may be called dead.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened — Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)



The Meaning (?) of Life


Arthur Dent's current favourite fact is that life is full of surprises.
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide 
     to the Galaxy
(radio program, 1977-1980)


Anything for a weird life.
     Zaphod Beeblebrox in Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's 
     Guide to the Galaxy
(radio program, 1977-1980)


The Poghrils, always a pessimistic race, had a little riddle, the asking of which used to give them the only tiny twinges of pleasure they ever experienced. One Poghril would ask another Poghril, "Why is life like hanging upside down with your head in a bucket of hyena offal?" To which the second Poghril would reply, "I don't know. Why is life like hanging upside down with your head in a bucket of hyena offal?" To which the first Poghril would reply, " I don't know either. Wretched, isn't it?"
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide 
     to the Galaxy
(radio program, 1977-1980)


"Oh look — I appear to be lying at the bottom of a very deep dark hole. That seems a familiar concept. What does it remind me of? Ah, I remember. Life."
     Marvin, the Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams, 
     The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (radio program, 1977-1980)


Will everything tie up neatly, or will it be just like life — quite interesting in parts, but no substitute for the real thing?
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide 
     to the Galaxy
(radio program, 1977-1980)


"I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."
     Marvin, the Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams, 
     The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


"Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? 'Cos I don't."
     Marvin, the Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams, 
     The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


"Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don't know why I bother to say it, oh God, I'm so depressed. ... Life! Don't talk to me about life."
     Marvin, the Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams, 
     The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


"And then of course I've got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left-hand side," said Marvin ... "I mean I've asked for them to be replaced but no one ever listens."
     Marvin, the Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams, 
     The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


"But what are you supposed to do with a manically depressed robot?" [said Ford].
     "You think you've got problems," said Marvin, as if he was addressing a newly occupied coffin, "what are you supposed to do if you are a manically depressed robot? No, don't bother to answer that, I'm fifty thousand times more intelligent than you and even I don't know the answer. It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level."
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


"Life," said Marvin dolefully, "loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it."
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything: Forty-two.
     Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


"I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my life-style."
     Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's 
     Guide to the Galaxy


There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
     There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
     Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)


"Making it up?" said Marvin, swiveling his head in a parody of astonishment. "Why should I want to make anything up? Life's bad enough as it is without wanting to invent any more of it."
     Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)


The Question (?) to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything: What do you get when you multiply six by nine?
     Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)


Important Fact from Galactic History, Number Two: (reproduced from the Siderial Daily Mentioner's Book of Popular Galactic History): Since this Galaxy began, vast civilizations have risen and fallen, risen and fallen, risen and fallen so often that it's quite tempting to think that life in the Galaxy must be (a) something akin to seasick space-sick, time-sick, history-sick, or some such thing — and (b) stupid.
Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe, and Everything (1982)


God's Final Message To His Creation: We apologize for the inconvenience.
     Douglas Adams, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish (1985)


Marvin's Response to the Final Message: "I think I feel good about it."
     Douglas Adams, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish (1985)


You live and learn. At any rate, you live.
     Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless (1992)


The last thing he wanted after a hellish night like this one was some blasted day coming along and barging about the place.
     Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless (1992)


Every time we tell anybody to cheer up, things might be worse, we run away for fear we might be asked to specify how.
     Franklin Pierce Adams, quoted in Robert E. 
     Drennan (ed.), The Algonquin Wits (1985)


The secret to happiness is high expectations and your own bag of chips.
     Dogbert in Scott Adams, It's Obvious You Won't 
     Survive By Your Wits Alone
("Dilbert," 1995)


Why is it that the nuttiest people define reality?
     Dilbert in Scott Adams, Fugitive from 
     the Cubicle Police
("Dilbert," 1996)


The best things in life are silly.
     The Garbageman in Scott Adams, 
     Don't Step in the Leadership ("Dilbert," 1999)


"The key to happiness is self-delusion. Don't think of yourself as an organic pain collector racing toward oblivion."
"I've never had that thought . . . until now."
"Don't blame me; I said don't."
     Dogbert and Dilbert, Scott Adams, Another 
     Day in Cubicle Paradise ("Dilbert," 2002)


Rats cry when they hear about my life.
     Dilbert in Scott Adams, Another Day 
     in Cubicle Paradise
("Dilbert," 2002)


If . . . you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
     Catherine Aird


The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
     Muhammad Ali


If I could get my membership fee back, I’d resign from the human race.
     Fred Allen


My only regret in life is that I wasn't born someone else.
     Woody Allen


The message is, God is love, and you should lay off fatty foods.
     Woody Allen


The universe is merely a fleeting idea in God's mind — a pretty uncomfortable thought, particularly if you've just made a down payment on a house.
     Woody Allen


I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.
     Woody Allen, Annie Hall (with Marshall Brickman, movie, 1977)


Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.
     Woody Allen, Husbands and Wives (movie, 1992)


I should be all right. Apart from the fact that I am wanted by the lynch mob, the police are after me, and there is a homicidal maniac loose and I'm unemployed. Everything else is just fine.
     Woody Allen, Shadows and Fog (movie, 1992)


All my life is passing in front of my eyes. The worst part of it is I'm driving a used car.
     Woody Allen, Manhattan Murder Mystery 
(with Marshall Brickman, movie, 1993)


We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know.
     W. H. Auden


Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays it insists upon it.
     Russell Baker, Poor Russell's Almanac (1972)


Nothing matters very much, and few things matter at all.
     Arthur Balfour


My life is an experiment I never had a chance to properly design.
     Diana Ballard


Life is a long lesson in humility.
     J. M. Barrie


Everything is worth precisely as much as a belch, the difference being that a belch is more satisfying.
     Ingmar Bergman


Life, n. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay. We live in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed. The question, "Is life worth living?" has been much discussed; particularly by those who think it is not, many of whom have written at great length in support of their view and by careful observance of the laws of health enjoyed for long terms of years the honors of successful controversy.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Don't let yourself suffer needlessly — find a need to suffer.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Even a meaningless life may contain many good breakfasts.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


How can I fail when I have no purpose?
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I can no longer face life, so I've decided to go through the rest of it backwards.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I understood most of your message, but would you wind repeating the last scream?
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I've learned to accept birth and death . . . but sometimes I still worry about what lies between.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


It's good to have some certainty in life — even if it's only that I'm in deep trouble.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


It's hard enough to be alive and human, without the additional burden of being me.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Just when I nearly had the answer, I forgot the question.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Life can be very deep, but I'm trying to stay at the shallow end.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Life is an incurable condition: the only known treatment is to try to keep the patient comfortable.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Life is too important to be taken as a joke, but too ridiculous to be taken seriously.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Life may have no meaning. Or even worse, it may have a meaning of which I disapprove.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Living on earth may be expensive, but it includes an annual free trip around the sun.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


My cat knows the meaning of life, but has no interest in sharing the secret.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


My life shows a clear pattern of total unpredictability.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


My life so far has been a long series of things I wasn't ready for.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


My main object in life is to see what will happen next.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Nothing really matters except a few things that really don't matter very much.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Please don't ask me what the score is — I'm not even sure what game we're playing.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Strange as it seems, my life is based on a true story.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Take courage! Whatever you decide to do, it will probably be the wrong thing.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


The longer I live, the less chance I'll ever recover from what life keeps doing to me.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


There's nothing on my mind that couldn't be expressed by a long insane outburst of hysterical rage.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Things are gradually falling into place on top of me.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


You have a right to enjoy life, but only on your own time.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Hope for the best. Expect the worst. Life is a play. We're unrehearsed.
     Mel Brooks


There's nothing shameful in acknowledging that you don't have the answers to every question about life. Just accept the fact that you know only a fraction of what's going on in the world. You don't have to attach explanations in terms of a special revelation of God's will, a glimpse at the supernatural, evidence of a conspiracy, or anything else.
     Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World


Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.
     Jimmy Buffett, A Pirate Looks At Fifty (1998)


Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.
     Samuel Butler


There are two great rules of life, the one general and the other particular. The first is that everyone can, in the end, get what he wants if he only tries. This is the general rule. The particular rule is that every individual is more or less an exception to the general rule.
     Samuel Butler


Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.
     Samuel Butler, Note-Books (1912); "Life"


The purpose of life is a life of purpose.
     Robert Byrne, The 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1988)


"I think you don't grow up until you stop worrying about other people's purposes or lack of them and find the purposes you believe in for yourself."
     Ender in Orson Scott Card, Xenocide (1991)


That's the whole secret of life — not dying!
     George Carlin, "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" (HBO, 1990)


I've adopted a new lifestyle that doesn't require my presence. In fact, if I don't want to, I don't have to get out of bed at all, and I still get credit for a full day.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Life is a near-death experience.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


NOBODY EVER SAID LIFE WAS FAIR. Not so. I specifically remember as I was growing up, at least twelve different people, telling me life was fair. One person put it this way: "Life, you will find, is fair, George." Oddly enough, all twelve of those people died before the age of twenty-seven.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)
     "Popular Beliefs"


LIFE IS SHORT. Sorry. Life is not short, it's just that since everything else lasts so long — mountains, rivers, stars, planets — life seems short. Actually life lasts just the right amount of time. Until you die. Death on the other hand, is short.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)
     "Popular Beliefs"


Just when I discovered the meaning of life, it changed.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Live and let live, that's what I say. Anyone who can't understand that should be killed. It's a simple philosophy, but it's always worked well in our family.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Have you ever been sitting on a railroad train in the station, and another train is parked right next to you? And one of them begins moving, but you can't tell which one? And then it becomes obvious, and all the magic is gone? Wouldn't it be nice if we could spend our whole lives not knowing which train was moving? Actually, we do.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?
     Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass (1872)


It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear.
     Norm Peterson (George Wendt) in Cheers


The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live — moreover, the only one.
     E. M. Cioran, Anathemas and Admirations (1986)


If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel you are looking the wrong way.
     Barry Commoner


Life is a maze in which we take the wrong turn before we have learnt to walk.
     Cyril Connolly


Life should be a little nuts; otherwise it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together.
     Kevin Costner


A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
     Stephen Crane, "War Is Kind" (1899), Fragment


Life was a funny thing that happened to me on the way to the grave.
     Quentin Crisp


You fall out of your mother's womb, you crawl across open country under fire, and drop into your grave.
     Quentin Crisp


The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we have of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us.
     Quentin Crisp, How to Become a Virgin (1981)


Creativity is the central source of meaning in our lives.
     Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
     Marie [Sklodowska] Curie


Get busy living, or get busy dying.
     Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption
     (movie, 1994; based on the short story by Stephen King)


The purpose of life is living. Men and women should get the most they can out of their lives. The smallest, the tiniest intellect may be quite as valuable to itself; it may have all the capacity for enjoyment that the wisest has.
     Clarence Darrow


We know life is futile. A man who considers that his life is of very wonderful importance is awfully close to a padded cell.
     Clarence Darrow


The world and the universe is an extremely beautiful place, and the more we understand about it the more beautiful does it appear. It is an immensely exciting experience to be born in the world, born in the universe, and look around you and realize that before you die you have the opportunity of understanding an immense amount about that world and about that universe and about life and about why we're here. We have the opportunity of understanding far, far more than any of our predecessors ever. That is such an exciting possibility, it would be such a shame to blow it and end your life not having understood what there is to understand.
     Richard Dawkins, Interview by Sheena McDonald, 
     "The Vision Thing" (Aug 15, 1994, U.K., Channel-4)


It's often said that people 'need' something more in their lives than just the material world. There is a gap that must be filled. People need to feel a sense of purpose. Well, not a bad purpose would be to find out what is already here, in the material world, before concluding that you need something more. How much more do you want? Just study what is, and you'll find that it already is far more uplifting than anything you could imagine needing.
     Richard Dawkins, "Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder" 
     (Richard Dimbleby Lecture, BBC1, November 12th, 1996)


The spotlight passes, but exhilaratingly, before doing so it gives us time to comprehend something of this place in which we fleetingly find ourselves and the reason that we do so. We are alone among animals in foreseeing our end. We are also alone among animals in being able to say before we die: yes, this is why it was worth coming to life in the first place.
     Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow:  Science, 
     Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder


If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. Unfortunately, the combination is locked up inside the safe.
     Peter De Vries


Life is a zoo in a jungle.
     Peter De Vries


Anythin' for a quiet life, as the man said wen he took the sitivation at the lighthouse.
     Sam Weller in Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers (1837)


It's over, and can't be helped, and that's one consolation, as they say in Turkey, ven they cuts off the wrong man's head.
     Sam Weller in Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers (1837)


What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?
     Isak Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales (1934)
     "The Dreamers"


"What is the meaning of it, Watson?" said Holmes solemnly as he laid down the paper. "What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
     His Last Bow (1917)
     "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box"


"The example of patient suffering is in itself the most precious of all lessons to an impatient world."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
     The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)
     "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger"


And that's the world in a nutshell — an appropriate receptacle.
     Stan Dunn


... I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
     Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum (1988)


Once you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy.
     Albert Einstein


Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals 1842


Make yourself necessary to somebody.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life (1860)
     "Considerations by the Way"


Life is a game played on us while we are playing other games.
     Evan Esar


For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.
     Clifton Fadiman


You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here. ... I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me.
     Richard Feynman, quoted in James Gleick, 
     Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992)


What, then, is the meaning of it all? What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence? If we take everything into account — not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn't know — then I think we must frankly admit that we do not know. But, in admitting this, we have probably found the open channel. This is not a new idea; this is the idea of the age of reason. This is the philosophy that guided the men who made the democracy that we live under. The idea that no one really knew how to run a government led to the idea that we should arrange a system by which new ideas could be developed, tried out, and tossed out if necessary, with more new ideas brought in — a trial-and-error system. This method was a result of the fact that science was already showing itself to be a successful venture at the end of the eighteenth century.
     Richard Feynman, "The Value of Science" 
     (speech at NAS meeting, 1955)


It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.
     Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, and Richard Curtis,
     Bridget Jones's Diary
(movie, 2001)


Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.
     W. C. Fields


... life is sometimes life and sometimes only a drama, and one must learn to distinguish t'other from which ...
     E. M. Forster, Howard's End (1910)


Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.
     Erich Fromm, Man for Himself (1947)


Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.
     Brendan Gill


Man is born not to solve the problems of the universe, but to find out where the problem begins, and then to restrain himself within the limits of the comprehensible.
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


One ought every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 
     Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship


"You mock my pain."
"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."
          Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Westley (Cary Elwes)
          William Goldman, The Princess Bride (movie, 1987)


Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
     Lewis Grizzard


You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.
     Walter Hagen, The Walter Hagen Story (1956)


As soon as life starts making sense to me I know I'm in trouble.
     Mal Hancock


I've finally got my act together, only to discover that I've got a crummy act.
     Mal Hancock


If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.
     Mal Hancock


There are two reasons for cynicism: 1. Birth. 2. Death. No organism, from paramecium to parapsychologist, has ever succeeded in overcoming these two fundamental disorders. In between is what we call life, a downward arc of brief expectations and lengthy disappointments.
     Tony Hendra, The Book of Bad Virtues: 
     A Treasury of Immorality


Don't take life so seriously . . . It's not permanent.
     Kathy Holder


Do not not take life too seriously — you will never get out of it alive.
     Elbert Hubbard


Life is just one damned thing after another.
     Elbert Hubbard, Philistine (December 1909)


We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the plain duty of each and all of us is to try and make the little corner that he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered it.
     Thomas Henry Huxley


Try to arrange your life in such a way that you can afford to be disinterested. It is the most expensive of all luxuries, and the one best worth having.
     W. R. Inge


Life is not so bad if you have plenty of luck, a good physique, and not too much imagination.
     Christopher Isherwood


To take what there is, and use it, without waiting forever in vain for the preconceived — to dig deep into the actual and get something out of that — this doubtless is the right way to live.
     Henry James


The trouble with life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end in an awful hurry.
     John Jensen


The joy of life is make up of obscure and seemingly mundane victories that give us our own small satisfactions.
     Billy Joel


The meaning of life is that it stops.
     Franz Kafka


That's basically a Norwegian view of life, I think, that pleasure just makes the rest of life seem worse.
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
     "News from Lake Wobegon" (August 28, 1993)


Life is just too much for some people.
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
     "News from Lake Wobegon" (March 27, 1993)


The stream of insults that life directs at you cannot be vanquished by skill or cunning. You can't fight your way clear. You can't outsmart life. The only answer is to be loved so that nothing else matters so much.
     Garrison Keillor, Wobegon Boy (1997)


We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle, and if you should feel really happy, be patient: this will pass.
     Garrison Keillor (story and screenplay) and Ken LaZebnik (story),
     A Prairie Home Companion (movie, 2006)


Security is mostly a superstition. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
     Helen Adams Keller


The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible.
     Jean Kerr, Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1957)


For in and out, above, about, below
'Tis nothing but a magic shadow show.
     Omar Khayyßm, The Rubßiyßt of Omar Khayyßm 
(transl. by Edward FitzGerald, c. 1200)


Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.
     S°ren Kierkegaard


Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.
     Mark Knopfler


Life is an effort that deserves a better cause.
     Karl Kraus


Nevertheless, there is a maxim I am constantly reminded of in my work: Because the universe is big and old, no matter how unlikely something is, if it can happen it will happen. Accidents more remote than anything that might occur during our lifetime occur every second somewhere in the vast reaches of the cosmos. The most important question of modern science, and perhaps theology as well, is then: Are we merely one such accident?
     Lawrence M. Krauss, Atom: An Odyssey From the 
     Big Bang to Life on Earth ... and Beyond


The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.
     Louis L'Amour, Ride the Dark Trail


Taken as a whole, the universe is absurd.
     Walter Savage Landor


Life sucks and then you die. And then it still sucks.
     George Lass


... life is something to do when you can't get to sleep. Therefore, that which we call civilization is merely the accumulated debris of a chilling number of bad nights.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Mars: Living in a Small Way"


People find life entirely too time-consuming.
     Stanislaw Lec


Life is like a sewer — you get out of it what you put into it.
     Tom Lehrer


Life is what happens while you are making other plans.
     John Lennon


You only live once — but if you work it right, once is enough.
     Joe E. Lewis


If humans exist on earth for a purpose, it is likely to be for scientific research. It is the one urge that is exclusively human and distinctive of the race.
     Cinna Lomnitz, Fundamentals of Earthquake Prediction


Expect the worst. (You won't be disappointed.)
     Eric Marcus


There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.
     Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851)


The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore.
     H. L. Mencken


The other day a dog peed on me. A bad sign.
     H. L. Mencken


Life is a dead-end street.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


The life of man in this world is like the life of a fly in a room filled with 100 boys, each armed with a fly-swatter.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


Life isn't one damn thing after another. It's the same damn thing again and again.
     Edna St. Vincent Millay


Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement.
     Henry Miller


Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.
     Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart (1941)


There are more questions than answers; and the more I find out, the less I know.
     Johnny Nash


Life! Can't live with it, can't live without it.
     Cynthia Nelms


In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular.
     Kathleen Norris


Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
     George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant (1950)


I suppose that's the one dependable law of life — everything is always worse than you thought it was going to be.
     Dorothy Parker, "The Waltz"


I read this article, it said the typical symptoms of stress are eating too much, smoking too much, impulse buying, and driving too fast. Are they kidding? This is my idea of a great day!
     Monica Piper


The situation is hopeless, but not serious.
     Austrian Proverb


Wait until it is night before saying that it has been a fine day.
     French Proverb


Live your own life, for you will die your own death.
     Latin Proverb


To live a life through is not like crossing a field.
     Russian Proverb


Today is an average day — worse than yesterday, but better than tomorrow.
     Russian Proverb


When you live next to the cemetery, you can't weep for everyone.
     Russian Proverb


It's always something.
     Gilda Radner


Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.
     Christopher Reeve


We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but by then we realize it and admit it.
     Jules Renard, Journal


The world is a spiritual kindergarten where bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks.
     Edwin Arlington Robinson


I still understand a few words in life, but I no longer think they make a sentence.
     Jean Rostand, Pensees d'un Biologiste (1939)


To most humans, a universe consisting of particles banging about and doing what they have to do seems cold, barren, and without meaning. "Meaning," however, is not something that floats in space, permeating the universe like a nebulous, mystical cloud. ... "Meaning" arises out of the working of the human mind, and therefore exists only in the human mind. The meaning of existence is whatever you want to make of it.
     Milton A. Rothman, The Science Gap: Dispelling the Myths 
     and Understanding the Reality of Science


Even when I'm sick and depressed, I love life.
     Artur Rubenstein


The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.
     Bertrand Russell


What hunger is in relation to food, zest is in relation to life.
     Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness (1930)


Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
     Bertrand Russell, Autobiography (1967); Prologue


The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long.
     Bertrand Russell, A Free Man's Worship and Other Essays (1976)


Life expectancy is probably the single most effective index of quality of life: If you're dead, you're probably not having a good time.
     Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life 
     and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
     "The Twentieth Century"


That life is worth living is the most necessary of assumptions, and, were it not assumed, the most impossible of conclusions.
     George Santayana, The Life of Reason (1905-1906)


There is no cure for birth or death except to try to enjoy the interval.
     George Santayana, Soliloquies in England and 
     Later Soliloquies
(1922); "War Shrines"


Everything has been figured out, except how to live.
     Jean Paul Sartre


In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back.
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"


Never lie in bed at night asking yourself questions you can’t answer.
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"


Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Is it all worth it?” Ad then a voice says, “Who are you talking to?” And another voice says, “You mean: to whom are you talking?” And I say, “No wonder I lie awake at night.”
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"


Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?” And the voice says, “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"


Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I asked, "Is life a multiple choice test or is it a true of false test?" Then a voice comes to me out of the dark, and says, "We hate to tell you this, but life is a thousand word essay."
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"


I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, 
     The Unsinkable Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1967)


My life has no purpose. My life has no direction . . . no aim . . . no meaning . . . and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?
     Snoopy in Charles M. Schulz,
     You'll Flip, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1967)


Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Does anyone remember me?" Then a voice comes to me out of the dark that says, "Sure, Frank, we remember you."
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, 
     It's a Big World, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 2001)


It's seven o'clock. Time to cringe from another day.
     Sally Brown in Charles M. Schulz, 
     You're Out of Sight, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1970)


No matter what happens, I always feel like I'm in the ninth inning.
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, 
     You're Out of Sight, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1970)


Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I wonder if my life would be different if I had it to do over . . . then a voice comes to me out of the dark that says, "Boy, there's an original thought!"
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz,
     The World According To Lucy ("Peanuts," 2002)


I’m a parchesi player in a chess world.
    Peppermint Patty in Charles M. Schulz, It Was a Dark
        and Stormy Night, Snoopy
(“Peanuts,” 2004)


Last year I was the only person I know who had three hundred and sixty-five bad days!
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts, 1959 to 1960 (“Peanuts,” 2006)


     “Whenever it’s one man against an institution, there is always a tendency for the institution to win! (Linus looks stricken.) What’s the matter?”
     “The hearing of a great truth always stuns me.”
          Charlie Brown and Linus in Charles M. Schulz, The Complete
          Peanuts, 1959 to 1960
(“Peanuts,” 2006)


“I think the whole trouble is that we’re thrown into life too fast . . . we’re not really prepared”
“What did you want . . . a chance to warm up first?”
          Charlie Brown and Linus in Charles M. Schulz, The Complete
          Peanuts, 1959 to 1960
(“Peanuts,” 2006)


“Sometimes I feel that life has passed me by. . . . *sigh* Do you ever feel that way, Charlie Brown?”
“No, I feel that it has knocked me down and walked all over me!”
          Linus and Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, The Complete
          Peanuts, 1959 to 1960
(“Peanuts,” 2006)


“All of us have certain areas in which we feel out of place.”
“Oh? In what area do you feel out of place, Charlie Brown?”
          Charlie Brown and Linus in Charles M. Schulz, The Complete
          Peanuts, 1959 to 1960
(“Peanuts,” 2006)


To be very good at what one loves to do is the best prescription for a satisfying life.
     John F. Schumaker


Life, if well lived, is long enough.
     Lucius Annaeus Seneca (the Younger), De Ira


I like life. It's something to do.
     Ronnie Shakes


Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.
     George Bernard Shaw


Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
     George Bernard Shaw


Life would be tolerable but for its amusements.
     George Bernard Shaw


There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)


This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)


Humans are not only storytelling animals, we are also pattern-seeking animals, and there is a tendency to find pattern even when none exists. To most of us the pattern of the universe indicates design. For countless millennia we have taken these patterns and constructed stories about how our cosmos was designed specifically for us. For the past few centuries, however, science has presented us with a viable alternative in which we are but one among tens of millions of species, housed on but one planet among many orbiting an ordinary solar system, itself one among possibly billions of solar systems in an ordinary galaxy, located in a cluster of galaxies not so different than billions of other galaxy clusters, themselves whirling away from one another in an expanding cosmic bubble that very possibly is only one among a near infinite number of bubble universes. Is it really possible that this entire cosmological multiverse exists for one tiny subgroup of a single species on one planet in a lone galaxy in that solitary bubble universe?
     Michael Shermer


... humans are, by nature, a forward-looking species always seeking greater levels of happiness and satisfaction. Unfortunately, the corollary is that humans are all too often willing to grasp at unrealistic promises of a better life or to believe that a better life can only be attained by clinging to intolerance and ignorance, by lessening the lives of others. And sometimes, by focusing on a life to come, we miss what we have in this life. It is a different source of hope, but it is hope nonetheless: hope that human intelligence, combined with compassion, can solve our myriad problems and enhance the quality of each life; hope that historical progress continues on its march toward greater freedom and acceptance for all humans; and hope that reason and science as well as love and empathy can help us understand our universe, our world, and ourselves.
     Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things


The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection, even though it consist in nothing more than in the pounding of an old piano, is what alone gives a meaning to our life on this unavailing star.
     Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931)


There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.
     Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931)


Perhaps if we saw what was ahead of us, and glimpsed the crimes, follies, and misfortunes that would befall us later on, we would all stay in our mother's wombs, and then there would be nobody in the world but a great number of very fat, very irritated women.
     Lemony Snicket


A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.
     Dr. Boyce, "The Cage"/"The Menagerie"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


You either live life, bruises, skinned knees and all, or you turn your back on it and start dying.
     Dr. Boyce, "The Cage"/"The Menagerie"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


Stories often have happy endings. It's life that throws you for a loop.
     Dr. Ira Graves, "The Schizoid Man"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Life's true gift is the capacity to enjoy enjoyment.
     Lwaxana Troi, "Cost of Living"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer.
     Gertrude Stein


"What is the answer?" (Silence) "In that case, what is the question?"
     Gertrude Stein, last words 
     (in Alice B. Toklas, What Is Remembered, 1963)


Life is not a matter of holding good cards, it's playing a poor hand well.
     Robert Louis Stevenson


The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
     Robert Louis Stevenson


To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.
     Robert Louis Stevenson, Of Men and Books (1882)


Anderson: "Tomorrow is another day, McKendrick."
McKendrick: "Tomorrow, in my experience, is usually the same day."
     Tom Stoppard


Life is a gamble at terrible odds. If it was a bet, you wouldn't take it.
     Tom Stoppard


May you live all the days of your life.
     Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation (1738)


In the game of life, I keep meeting goalies.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip)


Sometimes I feel like life is passing me by. The rest of the time it just rams me from behind.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip, Aug 10, 1994)


We are a spectacular manifestation of life. We have language. ... We have affection. We have genes for usefulness, and usefulness is about as close to a "common goal" of nature as I can guess at. And finally, and perhaps best of all, we have music.
     Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail (1979)


Never face facts; if you do you'll never get up in the morning.
     Marlo Thomas


Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)


All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.
     James Thurber


It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.
     James Thurber, Fables For Our Time & 
     Famous Poems Illustrated
     "The Scotty Who Knew Too Much"


Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
     Lily Tomlin


We're all in this together — by ourselves.
     Lily Tomlin


Such is life, and the trail of the serpent is over us all.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)


I feel strongly out of place here. Sometimes I feel like the sane person in a community of the mad; sometimes I feel like the one blind man where all others see; the one groping savage in the college of the learned, and always, during service, I feel like a heretic in heaven.
     Mark Twain, "At the Shrine of St. Wagner" (1891)


Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"


It is not likely that there has ever been a civilized person 65 years old who would consent to live his life over again.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1903


... the events of life are mainly small events — they only seem large when we are close to them. By and by they settle down and we see that one doesn't show above another. They are all about one general low altitude, and inconsequential.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


It is not likely that any complete life has ever been lived which was not a failure in the secret judgment of the person that lived it.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Obscurity and a competence. That is the life that is best worth living.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


What is human life? The first third a good time; the rest remembering about it.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


... it seems to be a law of the human constitution that those that deserve shall not have and those that do not deserve shall get everything that is worth having. It is a sufficiently crazy arrangement, it seems to me.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), 
     Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)


It is a pity that we cannot escape from life when we are young.
     Mark Twain, Charles Neider (ed.), 
     The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959)


A man once wrote to the editor of the London Punch and asked, "Is life worth living?" Then came the answer, now known all over the world — "It depends upon the liver." But that does not embrace the whole of the human family. Ask the question of a cynic and he will not say that life depends on the liver but the gall bladder.
     Mark Twain, Alex Ayres (ed.), 
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)


Life is uncertain. Eat desert first.
     Ernestine Ulmer


A wise man is one who finally realizes that there are some questions one can ask which may have no answers.


Happiness is not a destination. It's the trip.


I hope life isn't a big joke, because if it is, I don't get it.


The secret to life is that there is no secret.


This life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been an actual life, you would have received further instructions as to what to do and where to go. You may or may not be issued an actual life later.


When life hands you a lemon, it rarely offers a glass.


Life is like an overlong drama through which we sit being nagged by the vague memories of having read the reviews.
     John Updike


Every morning signals a new day during which something can go wrong.
     Bob Uyeda


Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.


I write about ordinary people who tried to live decently in an indecent world.
     Kurt Vonnegut, "How To Get A Job Like 
     Mine" (Lecture, Austin, March 26 1993)


You are here on earth to fart around.
     Kurt Vonnegut, "How To Get A Job Like 
     Mine" (Lecture, Austin, March 26 1993)


We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is. (quoting his son Mark)
     Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake (1997)


Why torture yourself when life will do it for you?
     Laura Walker


The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.
     Horace Walpole, letter to Horace Mann 
     (December 31, 1769)


That's one of the remarkable things about life. It's never so bad that it can't get worse.
     Hobbes in Bill Watterson, Weirdos from 
     Another Planet
("Calvin and Hobbes," 1990)


I suppose if we couldn't laugh at things that don't make sense, we couldn't react to a lot of life.
     Hobbes in Bill Watterson, The Days Are Just 
Packed ("Calvin and Hobbes," 1993)


     "They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines."
     "Maybe that's why it's hard to tell if we're in a tragedy or a farce."
     "We need more special effects and dance numbers."
          Calvin and Hobbes in Bill Watterson, There's Treasure 
      Everywhere ("Calvin and Hobbes," 1994)


     "I wish we could stop summer right here and have the days stay just the way they are. That's the problem with life. It rolls along with speed you can't control. You can't go faster or slower. Fun experiences always go roaring by . . . while bad experiences never pass quickly enough. I wish we could choose how fast and slow events go. For example, I'd like to speed up childhood and get to driving age."
     "It's not the pace of life I mind. It's the sudden stop at the end."
          Calvin and Hobbes in Bill Watterson, Homicidal Psycho 
       Jungle Cat ("Calvin and Hobbes," 1994)


It is very hard to realize that this present universe has evolved from an unspeakably unfamiliar early condition, and faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat. The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.
     Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes (1977)


In my 1977 book, The First Three Minutes, I was rash enough to remark that "the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless." I did not mean that science teaches us that the universe is pointless, but rather that the universe itself suggests no point. I hastened to add that there were ways that we ourselves could invent a point for our lives, including trying to understand the universe. But the damage was done: that phrase has dogged me ever since.
     Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The 
     Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature


If I wanted life to be easy, I should have gotten born in a different universe.
     Rebecca West


I am always astonishing myself. It is the only thing that makes life worth living.
     Oscar Wilde


The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly deceived.
     Oscar Wilde


We should treat all trivial things of life very seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.
     Oscar Wilde


Paradox though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying" (1889)


The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies 
     for the Use of the Young" (1894)


Once we get over the shock of discovering that the universe was not made with us in mind, all the meaning the grain can master, and all the emotions it can bear, and all the shared adventure we might wish to enjoy, can be found by deciphering the hereditary orderliness that has borne our species through geological time and stamped it with the residues of deep history. Reason will be advanced to new levels, and emotions played in potentially infinite patterns. The true will be sorted from the false, and we will understand one another very well, the more quickly because we are all of the same species and possess biologically similar brains.
     Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998)


Dawn! A brand new day! This could be the start of something average.
     Tom Wilson


I believe in living life one doldrum at a time.
     Tom Wilson


I don't want to panic, but my alphabet soup says, "Forget about me ... just try to save yourself."
     Tom Wilson


So far my life's been a lot of on-the-job training. When do I get a shot at the real thing?
     Tom Wilson


The secret of living without frustration and worry is to avoid becoming personally involved in your own life.
     Tom Wilson


It's always darkest before it goes pitch black.
     Connie Winkler


We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer. The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of this problem.
     Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1958)


Two babies were born on the same day at the same hospital. They lay there and looked at each other. Their families came and took them away. Eighty years later, by a bizarre coincidence, they lay in the same hospital, on their deathbeds, next to each other. One of them looked at the other and said, "So. What did you think?"
     Steven Wright


In the fight between you and the world, back the world.
     Frank Zappa


Concerning organic life, the only statement which can be made with certainty is that life is uncertain.
     Roger Zelazny, "The Great Slow Kings" (1963)


There is a certain irrational element in the rationale of the organic being, making it less amenable to direct orders than a machine would be. Our robots, at least, were faithful when we ordered them to destroy one another. Irresponsible organic subjects either do it without being told, which is boorish, or refuse to do it when you order them, which is insubordination.
     Roger Zelazny, "The Great Slow Kings" (1963)





How can life be so bountiful, providing such sublime rewards for mediocrity?
     Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum (1988)


Only the mediocre are always at their best.
     Jean Giraudoux


Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three.
     Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1955)


As a rule, the man who can do all things equally well is a very mediocre individual.
     Elbert Hubbard, The Philistine (1915)


In the Republic of mediocrity genius is dangerous.
     Robert Ingersoll


Only a mediocre writer is always at his best.
     W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (1938)


Second-rate minds usually condemn everything beyond their grasp.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular one must be a mediocrity.
     Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)



Meetings, Committees, and Bureaucracies


The building had been sturdily reinforced when it was completely rebuilt after the Frogstar attack and was probably the most heavily armored publishing company in the business, but there was always, he [Ford] thought, some weakness in any system designed by a corporate committee.
     Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless (1992)


A committee is a group of important individuals who singly can do nothing but who can together agree that nothing can be done.
     Fred Allen


Boren's Guidelines for bureaucrats: (1) When in charge, ponder. (2) When in trouble, delegate. (3) When in doubt, mumble.
     James H. Boren


Nothing is impossible until it is sent to a committee.
     James H. Boren


Individual scientists have no doubts about Nature's indifference to popular opinion, no matter how well informed. But the scientific enterprise today is controlled not by individuals but by committees, these relatively modern institutions which, in the words of Sir Barnett Cocks, a former Clerk of the British House of Commons, are cul-de-sacs down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.
     Donald Braben, To Be a Scientist: The Spirit 
     of Adventure in Science and Technology


The chief purpose of our organization is to perpetuate our organization.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


The six phases of a project: 1. Enthusiasm, 2. Disillusionment, 3. Panic, 4. Search for the Guilty, 5. Punishment of the Innocent, 6. Praise and Honors for the Non Participants.
     David Broome


There is no passion like that of a functionary for his function.
     Georges Clemenceau


A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.
     Sir Barnett Cocks, New Scientist (8 November 1973)


A competent organization knows the difference between the wheat germ and the chaff, and which is valuable.
     Michael Fendley


An incompetent organization promotes those who are nonthreatening and who it perceives fulfill its incompetency requirements.
     Michael Fendley


An organization that values style over substance is destined to be beaten in the market place by one that does not.
     Michael Fendley


The degree of political intrigue in a work environment is inversely proportional to the actual work related abilities of the participants.
     Michael Fendley


It is an old joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, a joke which does grave injustice to a splendid creature and altogether too much honour to the creative power of committees.
     Michael French Invention and Evolution: Design in Nature and Engineering (2nd ed.)

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
     Milton Friedman


Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.
     John Kenneth Galbraith


     "Listen, this old system of yours could be on fire and I couldn't even turn on the kitchen tap without filling out a 27b/6. Bloody paperwork. Huh!"
     "I suppose one has to expect a certain amount."
     "Why? I came into this game for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there's trouble, a man alone. Now they got the whole country sectioned off, you can't make a move without a form."
          Archibald 'Harry' Tuttle (Robert De Niro)
               and Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce)
          Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown,
          Brazil (movie, 1985)


What is a committee? A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.
     Richard Harkness, The New York Times (1960)


Every revolution evaporates, leaving behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
     Franz Kafka


Theorists never schedule meetings on Wednesday because it kills two weekends.
     Leon Lederman, The God Particle: If the Universe is the 
     Answer, What is the Question?
(with Dick Teresi, 1993)


A committee is a small group of the unqualified appointed by the unthinking to undertake the utterly unnecessary.
     Fibber McGee


The Law of Triviality: Briefly stated, it means that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.
     Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson's Law (1957)


If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee.
     Graham Summer 


Committee: a structured decision-making body in which the level of collective judgment is lower than that of any individual member.
     Jerry Tucker


A camel is a horse planned by committee.


A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.


A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.


Committee: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.



Memory, and Other Forgotten Things


There are two types of people: those who are forgetful . . .


You can't win: if you're right, no one remembers; if you're wrong, no one forgets.
     Jean Anouilh


A bad memory is the mother of invention.
     Gerald Brenan


One consolation about memory loss in old age is that you also forget a lot of things you didn't intend to remember in the first place.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


I never read memoirs; the last thing I need is someone else's memories. I have all I can do to deal with my own.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Do you ever find yourself standing in a room, and you can't remember why you went in there? And you think to yourself, "Maybe if I go back where I was I'll see something that reminds me. Or maybe it would be quicker if I just stand here and hope it comes back to me." Usually as you're weighing those options, two words float across your mind: "Alzheimer's disease."
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!'
     'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it always makes one a little giddy at first —'
     'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard of such a thing!'
     '— but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
     'I'm sure mine only works one way.' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember things before they happen.'
     'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.
     Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass (1872)


Memory is the thing you forget with.
     Alexander Chase, Perspectives (1966)


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
     Billy Collins, Questions About Angels (1991)


"... a man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
     The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
     "The Five Orange Pips"


I once mastered an ingenious mnemonic system for remembering words and numbers, but I long ago forgot it.
     Martin Gardner, Gardner's Whys and Wherefores (1989)
     "Kickshaws II"


Short memory makes everything more entertaining, even weather.
     Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days (1985)


Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in memory as the wish to forget it.
     Michel de Montaigne


The advantage of a bad memory is that, several times over, one enjoys the same good things for the first time.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878)


Every one complains of his memory and no one complains of his judgment.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Why is our memory good enough to retain to the smallest detail things that have happened to us, and yet not good enough to recall how often we have told them to the same person?
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember!
     Henry David Thoreau, "Life Without Principle" (1862, first published 1863)


"There's only one way to be a pilot, and that is to get this entire river by heart. You have to know it just like A B C" [said Mr. Bixby]. That was a dismal revelation to me; for my memory was never loaded with anything but blank cartridges.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


Give a man a tolerably fair memory to start with, and piloting will develop it into a very colossus of capability. But only in the matters it is daily drilled in. ... Astonishing things can be done with the human memory if you will devote it faithfully to one particular line of business.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)


... I am grown old, and my memory is not as active as it used to be. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying, now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
(North American Review, 1906-1907)


It isn't so astonishing, the number of things that I can't remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren't so.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


... the natural way provided by nature and the construction of the human mind for the discovery of a forgotten event is to employ another forgotten event for its resurrection.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


The truth is, a person's memory has no more sense than his conscience and no appreciation whatever of values and proportions.
     Mark Twain, Charles Neider (ed.), 
     The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959)


I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
     Mark Twain attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.), 
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain


A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.


We make decisions based upon what is in our memory — a memory that is, as will be seen, biased toward overgeneralization of the commonplace and overemphasis on the discrepant or rare cases.
     Lewis Wolpert The Unnatural Nature of Science (1993)


I had amnesia once or twice.
     Steven Wright


Right now I'm having amnesia and dÚjÓ vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.
     Steven Wright



Men and Women


Women like silent men. They think they're listening.
     Marcel Achard, Quote (November 4, 1956)


Grown men, he told himself, in flat contradiction of centuries of accumulated evidence about the way grown men behave, do not behave like this.
     Douglas Adams, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish (1985)


"Why can’t I find a girlfriend?"
"You have two problems:  Your looks and your personality."
"Hmm . . . Two isn’t bad."
    Dilbert and Dogbert in Scott Adams, The Fluorescent
        Light Glistens Off Your Head
(“Dilbert,” 2005)


The more I know about men the more I like dogs.
     Gloria Alfred


A wife lasts only for the length of the marriage, but an ex-wife is there for the rest of your life.
     Woody Allen


For the first year of marriage I had a basically bad attitude. I tended to place my wife underneath a pedestal.
     Woody Allen


I can't understand why more people aren't bisexual. It would double your chances for a date on Saturday night.
     Woody Allen


Love is the answer, but while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.
     Woody Allen


Sex without love is an empty experience, but, as empty experiences go, it's one of the best.
     Woody Allen


The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it.
     Woody Allen


I believe that sex is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five, it's fantastic . . .
     Woody Allen, The Nightclub Years, 1964-1968 (record, 1972)


I was involved in an extremely good example of oral contraception recently. I asked a girl to go to bed with me and she said no.
     Woody Allen, The Nightclub Years, 1964-1968 (record, 1972)


It's a match made in heaven... by a retarded angel.
     C.W Briggs (Woody Allen)
     Woody Allen, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (movie, 2001)


In an age when the fashion is to be in love with yourself, confessing to being in love with somebody else is an admission of unfaithfulness to one's beloved.
     Russell Baker


The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin.
     Honore de Balzac, The Physiology of Marriage


People in love, it is well known, suffer extreme conceptual delusions; the most common of these being that other people find your condition as thrilling and eye-watering as you do yourselves.
     Julian Barnes


If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base.
     Dave Barry


Here is the problem: for many years, the Supreme Court wrestled with the issue of pornography, until finally Associate Justice John Paul Stevens came up with the famous quotation about how he couldn't define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it. So for a while, the court's policy was to have all the suspected pornography trucked to Justice Stevens' house, where he would look it over. "Nope, this isn't it," he'd say. "Bring some more." This went on until one morning when his housekeeper found him trapped in the recreation room under an enormous mound of rubberized implements, and the court had to issue a ruling stating that it didn't know what the hell pornography was except that it was illegal and everybody should stop badgering the court about it because the court was going to take a nap.
     Dave Barry, "Pornography"


The big problem with pornography is defining it You can't just say it's pictures of people naked. For example, you have these primitive African tribes that exist by chasing the wildebeest on foot, and they have to go around largely naked, because, as the old tribal saying goes: "N'wam k'honi soit qui mali," which means, "If you think you can catch a wildebeest in this climate and wear clothes at the same time, then I have some beach front property in the desert region of Northern Mali that you may be interested in."
     So it's not considered pornographic when National Geographic publishes color photographs of these people hunting the wildebeest naked, or pounding one rock onto another rock for some primitive reason naked, or whatever. But if National Geographic were to publish an article entitled "The Girls of the California Junior College System Hunt the Wildebeest Naked," some people would call it pornography. But others would not. And still others, such as the Spectacularly Rev. Jerry Falwell, would get upset about seeing the wildebeest naked.
     Dave Barry, "Pornography"


Sitting around for no reason under the guise of being engaged in productive work was the first real guy contribution to human civilization, forming the underlying basis for many modern institutions and activities such as fishing, sales conferences, highway repair, the federal government, and "Customer Service."
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Complete Guide
     To Guys: A Fairly Short Book


A lot of women have concluded that the problem is that guys, as a group, have the emotional maturity of hamsters. No, this is not the case. A hamster is much more capable of making a lasting commitment to a woman, especially if she gives it those little food pellets. Whereas a guy, in a relationship, will consume the pellets of companionship, and he will run on the exercise wheel of lust; but as soon as he senses that the door of commitment is about to close and trap him in the wire cage of true intimacy, he'll squirm out, scamper across the kitchen floor of uncertainty and hide under the refrigerator of nonreadiness. [I am a professional writer. Do not try these metaphors at home.]
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Complete Guide
     To Guys: A Fairly Short Book


Despite millions of years of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, women are convinced that guys must spend a certain amount of time thinking about the relationship. How could they not? How could a guy see another human being day after day, night after night, sharing countless hours with this person, becoming physically intimate — how can a guy be doing these things and not be thinking about their relationship? This is what women figure.
     They are wrong. A guy in a relationship is like an ant standing on top of a truck tire. The ant is aware, on a very basic level, that something large is there, but he cannot even dimly comprehend what this thing is, or the nature of his involvement with it. And if the truck starts moving, and the tire starts to roll, the ant will sense that something important is happening, but right up until he rolls around to the bottom and is squashed into a small black blot, the only distinct thought that will form in his tiny brain will be, and I quote, Huh?
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Complete Guide
     To Guys: A Fairly Short Book


Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock.
     John Barrymore


No man is a hero to his wife's psychiatrist.
     Eric Berne


Altar, n. The place whereon the priest formerly raveled out the small intestine of the sacrificial victim for purposes of divination and cooked its flesh for the gods. The word is now seldom used, except with reference to the sacrifice of their liberty and peace by a male and a female fool.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Bride, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Female, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Intimacy, n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for their mutual destruction.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Male, n. A member of the unconsidered, or negligible sex. The male of the human race is commonly known (to the female) as Mere Man. The genus has two varieties: good providers and bad providers.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Wedding, n. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Witch, n. (1) An ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Woman, n. An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Of two kinds of temporary insanity, one ends in suicide, the other in marriage.
     Ambrose Bierce, "Epigrams on Women" in Brian St. Pierre (ed.), 
     The Devil's Advocate: An Ambrose Bierce Reader (1987)


When God saw how faulty was man He tried again and made woman. As to why He then stopped there are two opinions. One of them is woman's.
     Ambrose Bierce, "Epigrams on Women" in Brian St. Pierre (ed.), 
     The Devil's Advocate: An Ambrose Bierce Reader (1987)


Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.
     Ambrose Bierce, "Epigrams on Women" in Brian St. Pierre (ed.), 
     The Devil's Advocate: An Ambrose Bierce Reader (1987)


... doctors and lawyers must go to school for years and years, often with little sleep, and at great sacrifice to their first wives.
     Roy Blount, Jr., One Fell Soup, or, I'm Just 
     a Bug on the Windshield of Life
     "Loss: A Guide to Economics"


When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.
     Elayne Boosler


Oh, I know what men want. . . . Men want to be really, really, really close to someone who will leave them alone.
     Elayne Boosler, "Live Nude Girls" (Showtime, 1991)


Are we having a relationship — or just doing research on each other?
     Ashleigh Brilliant


By accepting you as you are, I do not necessarily abandon all hope of your improving.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I have you, you have me: at least one of us is lucky.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


It's well-known that men and women are different but it keeps being re-discovered with great excitement.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


There are no important differences between men and women, but the unimportant ones are sometimes very interesting.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Women can do anything men can do, but often have more sense than even to be interested.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive?
     Aaron (Albert Brooks) in James L. Brooks, 
     Broadcast News
(movie, 1987)


The only real argument for Marriage is that it remains the best method for getting acquainted.
     Heywood Broun, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)


Familiarity breeds consent.
     Rita Mae Brown


Romantic love is a willing suspension of disbelief in order to be entertained. My feeling is that you can enjoy the same experience by attending the theater, with generally better results.
     Rita Mae Brown


JW: What do you think of computer dating?
RMB: It's terrific if you're a computer.
     Rita Mae Brown, interview in Jon Winokur (ed.), 
     The Portable Curmudgeon (1987, 1992)


I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
     George Burns


It is better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all.
     Samuel Butler


I could've married anyone I pleased. So far, I haven't pleased anybody.
     Ruth Buzzi, Laugh-In


I've never won an argument with [my wife]; and the only times I thought I had I found out the argument wasn't over yet.
     Jimmy Carter


Love is a power too strong to be overcome by anything but flight.
     Miguel Cervantes


Love is more pleasant than marriage for the same reason that novels are more amusing than history.
     Nicolas Chamfort


"What about the idea that opposites attract?"
"Ah, the song of the truly desperate. Well, take it from one that has observed dozens of failed marriages, the only thing that opposites attract is divorce."
     Diane (Shelley Long) and Simon Fitz-Royce 
     (John Cleese), Cheers (TV show)


[Of sexual intercourse:] The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous and the expense damnable.
     Lord Chesterfield


Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim he would not have chosen a suit by it.
     Maurice Chevalier


Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade, since it consists principally of dealing with men.
     Joseph Conrad


The best way to remember you wife’s birthday is to forget it once.
     E. Joseph Cossman


The happiest moments in any affair take place after the loved one has learned to accommodate the lover and before the maddening personality of either party has emerged like a jagged rock from the receding tides of lust and curiosity.
     Quentin Crisp


The war between the sexes is the only one in which both sides regularly sleep with the enemy.
     Quentin Crisp


The difficulty with marriage is that we fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character.
     Peter De Vries


The only thing that my husband and I have in common is that we were married on the same day.
     Phyllis Diller


"But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
     The Sign of Four (1890)


"A man always finds it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a woman's love, however badly he may have treated her."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
     The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
     "The Musgrave Ritual"


If men can run the world, why can't they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a noose around your neck?
     Linda Ellerbee


"Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake."
"I don’t know what you mean, Miss Elsa."
"Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"
    Ilsa Lund Laszlo (Ingrid Bergman) and Sam (Dooley Wilson) in Julius J. Epstein,
        Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch and Casey Robinson (uncredited), Casablanca (movie, 1942)


"You know what I want to hear."
"No, I don't."
"You played it for her, you can play it for me!"
"Well, I don’t think I can remember . . ."
"If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"
    Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Sam (Dooley Wilson) in Julius J. Epstein,
        Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch and Casey Robinson (uncredited), Casablanca (movie, 1942)


Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
    Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein,
        Howard Koch and Casey Robinson (uncredited), Casablanca (movie, 1942)


Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now . . . Here’s looking at you kid.
    Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein,
        Howard Koch and Casey Robinson (uncredited), Casablanca (movie, 1942)


We were happily married for eight months. Unfortunately, we were married for four and a half years.
     Nick Faldo


... the idea that he was trying to explain to me was the amusing part of life: the whole thing is just reproduction. No matter how complicated the business is, the main point is to do it again!
     Richard Feynman, "What Do You Care What Other People 
     Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character (1988)
     "The Making of a Scientist"


"Do married people live longer?" No, it just seems longer.
     W. C. Fields, attributed


Marriage is a two-way proposition, but never let the woman know she is one of the ways.
     W. C. Fields


The kiss originated when the first male reptile licked the first female reptile, implying in a subtle, complimentary way that she was as succulent as the small reptile he had for dinner the night before.
     F. Scott Fitzgerald


He and Evie soon fell into a conversation of the "No, I didn't; yes, you did" type — conversation which, though fascinating to those who are engaged in it, neither desires nor deserves the attention of others.
     E. M. Forster, Howard's End (1910)


     "What would you have me do? Give out? Give up? Give in?"
     "Give me a little peace."
     "A little? Why so modest? How about eternal peace? Now there's a thought."
          Henry II (Peter O'Toole) to Elanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn)
          James Goldman, The Lion in Winter (movie, 1968)


I'm vilifying you, for God's sake! Pay attention!
     Henry II (Peter O'Toole) to Elanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn)
     James Goldman, The Lion in Winter (movie, 1968)


Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and give her a house.
     Lewis Grizzard


There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
     Lewis Grizzard


When the authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.
     Matt Groening, "Life in Hell" (comic strip)


The fact is, we sometimes fall in love with unsuitable people, which is why Cupid carries a bow and arrow and not a clipboard with a stack of personality tests.
     Michael Gruber


Love is the only game that will never be postponed on account of rain.
     Homer Haynes


If men knew how women pass the time when they are alone, they'd never marry.
     O. Henry, The Four Million (1906)


Gentlemen prefer blondes but take what they can get.
     Don Herold


If a wife does not cause all your troubles, she at least conveniently symbolizes them at times.
     Don Herold


Women have the feeling that since they didn't make the rules, the rules have nothing to do with them.
     Diane Johnson


It was a triumph of hope over experience. [On an acquaintance's remarriage.]
     Samuel Johnson


The most difficult year of marriage is the one you're in.
     Franklin P. Jones


The trouble with incest is that it gets you involved with relatives.
     George S. Kaufman


Our marriage is like the Electoral College: it works okay if you don't think about it.
     Garrison Keillor, The Book of Guys (1993)


Romance happens between individuals and any generalizations about when it happens and to whom are strictly for amusement and not meant to be taken seriously.
     Garrison Keillor, "Ask Mr. Blue" (, September 4, 2001)


Women speak because they wish to speak, whereas a man speaks only when driven to speech by something outside himself — like, for instance, he can't find any clean socks.
     Jean Kerr, The Snake Has All the Lines (1960)


My parents only had one argument in forty-five years. It lasted forty-three years.
     Cathy Ladman


Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.
     Stephen Leacock


If your sexual fantasies were truly of interest to others, they would no longer be fantasies.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)


God is love, but get it in writing.
     Gypsy Rose Lee


... a civilized divorce is a contradiction in terms. ... When it comes to your wife, I'm going to urge you to be generous to the point of night sweats. Because the all-important thing here is to get you through this as quickly and cleanly as possible so that you can begin rebuilding your life, okay? Or — you can get up. and go home, and try to find some shred of what you once loved about the sweetheart of your youth. It's your life.
     Gavin (Danny DeVito) in Michael Leeson, 
     The War of the Roses
(movie, 1989)


It's slim pickings out there. When you're first single, you're so optimistic. At the beginning, you're like: I want to meet a guy who's really smart, really sweet, really good-looking, has a really great career ... Six months later, you're like: Lord, any mammal with a day job.
     Carol Leifer


When you're in love it's the most glorious two-and-a-half days of your life.
     Richard Lewis


Like the ski resort full of girls hunting for husbands and husbands hunting for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.
     Alan Lindsay Mackay, Lecture, Birkbeck College, 
     University of London (1964)


Always begin with a woman by telling her that you don't understand women. You will be able to prove it to her satisfaction more certainly than anything else you will ever tell her.
     Don Marquis


A man is as old as the woman he feels.
     Groucho Marx


Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.
     Groucho Marx


Hollywood brides keep the bouquets and throw away the grooms.
     Groucho Marx


Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows — marriage does.
     Groucho Marx


Women should be obscene and not heard.
     Groucho Marx


     [to Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead] "Let’s get married."
     "All of us?"
     "All of us."
     "But that’s bigamy!"
     "Yes, and it’s big of me too. It’s big of all of us.  Let’s be big for a change.  I’m sick of these conventional marriages.  One woman  and one man was good enough for your grandmother, but who wants to marry your grandmother?  Nobody.  Not even your grandfather."
         Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding (Groucho Marx), Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont)
        and Mrs. Whitehead (Margaret Irving), The Marx Brothers, Animal Crackers (movie, 1930)


"How about you and I passing out on the veranda; or would you rather pass out here?"
"Sir, you have the advantage of me."
"Not yet I haven’t, but wait till I get you outside."
    Groucho (Groucho Marx), The Marx Brothers, Monkey Business (movie, 1931)


After all, I’m a man and you’re a woman — and I can’t think of a better arrangement.
    Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx) and Beatrice Rheiner (Lisette Verea),
        The Marx Brothers, A Night in Casablanca (movie, 1946)


“You know, I think you’re the most beautiful woman in the whole world.”
“Do you really?”
“No, but I don’t mind lying if it’ll get me somewhere.”
    Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx) and Beatrice Rheiner (Lisette Verea),
        The Marx Brothers, A Night in Casablanca (movie, 1946)


A guest on his You Bet Your Life television show was a woman who had given birth to twenty-two children. "I love my husband," the woman explained sheepishly.
"I love my cigar too," Groucho said, "but I take it out once in a while."
     Groucho Marx, "Groucho Marx Anecdotes" in 
     Jon Winokur (ed.), The Portable Curmudgeon (1987, 1992)


     "Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents. Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely."
     "That means my marriage is only worth a dollar seventy-eight?"
          Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and Henry (McLean
               Stevenson) in "Love Story"
          M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


When my Uncle Ed came home from World War I, his mother could tell from the look in his eyes that he hadn't been a good boy in France. She cried for three days. I just know when I get home, my mother's going to look at me and chuckle for a week.
     Radar (Gary Burghoff) , "Fallen Idol"
     M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


Listen, when you love somebody, you're always in trouble. There's only two things you can do about it: either stop loving 'em, or love 'em a whole lot more.
     Col. Potter (Harry Morgan)
     M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


Love is only the dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.
     W. Somerset Maugham


A woman usually respects her father, but her view of her husband is mingled with contempt, for she is of course privy to the transparent devices by which she snared him.
     H. L. Mencken


Every man is thoroughly happy twice in his life: just after he has met his first love, and just after he has left his last one.
     H. L. Mencken


Getting married, like getting hanged, is a great deal less dreadful than it has been made out.
     H. L. Mencken


Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.
     H. L. Mencken


Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
     H. L. Mencken


Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who would want to live in an institution?
     H. L. Mencken


The average woman must inevitably view her actual husband with a certain disdain; he is anything but her ideal. In consequence, she cannot help feeling that her children are cruelly handicapped by the fact that he is their father.
     H. L. Mencken


'Tis more blessed to give than receive; for example, wedding presents.
     H. L. Mencken


Suicide is a belated acquiescence in the opinion of one's wife's relatives.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


A bachelor is one who wants a wife, but is glad he hasn't got her.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


A man always remembers his first love with special tenderness. But after that he begins to bunch them.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


A man may be a fool and not know it — but not if he is married.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Bachelors have consciences. Married men have wives.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Bachelors know more about women than married men. If they didn't they'd be married, too.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


If women believed in their husbands they would be a good deal happier. And also a good deal more foolish.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


In the duel of sex woman fights from a dreadnaught and man from an open raft.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


No matter how much a woman loved a man, it would still give her a glow to see him commit suicide for her.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


The worst of marriage is that it makes a woman believe that all other men are just as easy to fool.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Whenever a husband and wife begin to discuss their marriage they are giving evidence at a coroner's inquest.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Women do not like timid men. Cats do not like prudent rats.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Love is the most fun you can have without laughing.
     H. L. Mencken, Mencken's Book of Quotations (1956)
     author unidentified (probably Mencken)


A great marriage is not when the “perfect couple” come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.
     Dave Meurer


My wife is a very dominant woman. She walks on the very ground that I worship.
     Dennis Miller


Women don't want men to be dangerous. They want us to think that because women want to kill us.
     Dennis Miller


You know, it seems like the only two times they pronounce you anything in life is when they pronounce you "man and wife" or "dead on arrival".
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live (August 4, 1995)


Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion.
     Spike Milligan


Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets them.
     Ogden Nash


Love is an emotion experienced by the many and enjoyed by the few.
     George Jean Nathan


A pair of powerful spectacles has sometimes sufficed to cure a person in love . . .
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1878)


After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly form the left my
moon rising slowly form the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
     Sharon Olds, "Topography"


Women and elephants never forget.
     Dorothy Parker, "Ballade of Unfortunate Mammals" (Death and Taxes)


Oh life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
     Dorothy Parker, "Comment" (Enough Rope)


In youth, it was a way I had
     To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
     To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know,
     And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
     To hell, my love, with you!

     Dorothy Parker, "Indian Summer" (Enough Rope)


A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
     All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet —
     One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
     One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
     One perfect rose.

     Dorothy Parker, "One Perfect Rose" (Enough Rope)


Oh, gallant was the first love, and glittering and fine;
     The second love was water, in a clear white cup;
The third love was his, and the fourth was mine;
     And after that, I always get them all mixed up.

     Dorothy Parker, "Pictures in the Smoke" (Enough Rope)


Lady, lady, never start
Conversation toward your heart;
Keep your pretty words serene;
Never murmur what you mean.
Show yourself, by word and look,
Swift and shallow as a brook.
Be as cool and quick to go
As a drop of April snow;
Be as delicate and gay
As a cherry flower in May.
Lady, lady, never speak
Of the tears that burn your cheek —
She will never win him, whose
Words had shown she feared to lose.
Be you wise and never sad,
You will get your lovely lad.
Never serious be, nor true
And your wish will come to you -
And if that makes you happy, kid,
You'll be the first it ever did.

     Dorothy Parker, "The Lady's Reward" (Death and Taxes)


Into love and out again,
     Thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen —
     Well and bitterly I know
All the songs were ever sung,
     All the words were ever said;
Could it be, when I was young,
     Some one dropped me on my head?

     Dorothy Parker, "Theory" (Sunset Gun)


I require only three things of a man:
He must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.
     Dorothy Parker, You Might As Well Live (1971)


When Mary Sherwood — wife of the playwright — gave birth to a child (an event that most of the Round Tablers felt she had made too much of), Mrs. Parker cabled her: "Dear Mary, we all knew you had it in you."
     Dorothy Parker, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)


Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.
     Maryon Pearson


Burning dinner is not incompetence but war.
     Marge Piercy


A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores.
    Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant (2000)


Sam Vimes could parallel process. Most husbands can. They learn to follow their own line of thought while at the same time listening to what their wives say. And the listening is important, because at any time they could be challenged and must be ready to quote the last sentence in full. A vital additional skill is being able to scan the dialogue for telltale phrases such as “and they can deliver it tomorrow” or “so I’ve invited them for dinner?” or “they can do it in blue, really quite cheaply.”
    Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant (2000)


The most dangerous food is wedding cake.
     American Proverb


Never advise anyone to go to war or to marry.
     Spanish Proverb


Giving a man space is like giving a dog a computer: The chances are he will not use it wisely.
     Bette-Jane Raphael


Everybody in this room knows a couple that shouldn't be together. They just argue constantly. By the way, if you don't know that couple, you are that couple.
     Rick Reynolds, Only The Truth Is Funny: 
     My Family And How I Survived It


What keeps lovers and mistresses from tiring of being together is that they always talk about themselves.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Never feel remorse for what you have thought about your wife. She has thought much worse things about you.
     Jean Rostand


A bachelor never quite gets over the idea that he is a thing of beauty and a boy forever.
     Helen Rowland


A husband is what's left of a man after the nerve is extracted.
     Helen Rowland


It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son, and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him.
     Helen Rowland


There is a vast difference between the savage and the civilized man, but it is never apparent to their wives until after breakfast.
     Helen Rowland


I asked my husband if he wanted to renew our vows. He got so excited — he thought they had expired.
     Rita Rudner


I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
     Rita Rudner


I never know what to get my father for his birthday. Once I gave him a hundred dollars and said, "Buy yourself something that will make your life easier." So he went out and bought a present for my mother.
     Rita Rudner


In Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk.
     Rita Rudner


It's a good thing love is painful. Otherwise songs would all have to be about root canal.
     Rita Rudner


Love is a very strange emotion. I don't know if I've ever been in love. I know that I've stepped in it.
     Rita Rudner


My boyfriend and I broke up. He wanted to get married and I didn't want him to.
     Rita Rudner


My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands. Two of them were just napping.
     Rita Rudner


My mom had good advice for me about how to stay married for a long time. She said, “Always remember, honesty is very important. It must be avoided. And the most important thing is, you have to let your husband be himself and you have to pretend he’s someone else.”
     Rita Rudner


My parents want me to get married. They don't care who anymore, as long as he doesn't have a pierced ear, that's all they care about. I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry.
     Rita Rudner


When I eventually met Mr. Right, I had no idea that his first name was Always.
     Rita Rudner


When I meet a man I ask myself, "Is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?"
     Rita Rudner


When I want to end a relationship I just say, "You know, I love you. I want to marry you. I want to have your children." Sometimes they leave skid marks.
     Rita Rudner


Why are women wearing perfumes that smell like flowers? Men don't like flowers. I've been wearing a great scent. It's called New Car Interior.
     Rita Rudner


Flirting is genetic; some women just have that look in their eye that says, "I'm a friendly, happy person who you might have a good time with." I happen to have a look in my eye that says, "You come near me and I'll call the police."
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


I've never really understood some of the standard flirting methods. Why are women wearing perfumes that smell like flowers to attract men? Men don't like flowers. I have a great idea for a scent that will attract men — how about "New Car Interior"? And what are men wearing? Why do they think women like horse saddles and pine sap? If a man wanted me to follow him down the street, he should wear something called "Butter Cookie" or, even better, "Croissant."
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


My first boyfriend, who shall remain nameless and probably jobless ...
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


My husband found a gray hair on his head. He was upset. I had it framed.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


Stores don't make it easy to buy things on sale. They know women enjoy a challenge. (After all, we marry men.)
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


When a relationship becomes "serious" (I hate that term; it's one step away from "terminal") ...
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


Why can't men ever sense doom? Why does it have to be right on top of them before they know?
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


Women look forward to shopping for a bathing suit with much the same anticipation that baby seals look forward to clubbing season. Men don't know what we go through, so if you are a man reading this book, I am now going to tell you. (After all, we only wear those skimpy things to look good for you. If it were up to us, we'd wear bathing suits that had feet.) We go into these little cells that have mirrors everywhere, and very cruel lighting, so we can see exactly what's wrong with our bodies from every conceivable angle. I think after you leave those rooms they should offer you some kind of counseling — or at least have a sign on the mirror that says, "Caution: objects in mirror may appear larger."
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


We would have broken up except for the children. Who were the children? Well, she and I were.
     Mort Sahl


I wouldn't mind being the last man on earth — just to see if all of those girls were telling me the truth.
     Ronnie Shakes


I'm dating a woman now who, evidently, is unaware of it.
     Garry Shandling


All young men greatly exaggerate the difference between one young woman and another.
     George Bernard Shaw


It is most unwise for people in love to marry.
     George Bernard Shaw


Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can't sleep with the window open.
     George Bernard Shaw


I hate singles bars. Guys come up to me and say, "Hey, cupcake, can I buy you a drink?" I say, "No, but I'll take the three bucks."
     Margaret Smith


The best contraceptive is the word no — repeated frequently.
     Margaret Smith


Never date a woman whose father calls her "Princess." Chances are she believes it.
     Wes Smith


You see, gentlemen, behind every great man there is a woman urging him on. And so it was with my Stella. She urged me on into outer space. Not that she meant to, but with her continual, eternal, confounded nagging . . . Well. I think of her constantly, and every time I do, I go further out into space.
     Harry Mudd, "I, Mudd"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series 


What is it with you, anyway?
     Dr. McCoy to Kirk, who has been kissed by his umpteenth alien in
     STAR TREK VI The Undiscovered Country


"You are fully functional, aren't you?"
"Of course, but —"
"How fully functional?"
"In every way. I am programmed in multiple techniques . . . A broad variety of pleasuring."
"You jewel, that's exactly what I hoped."
     Tasha Yar and Data, "The Naked Now"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation 


"They're [the Edo] wild in some ways, actually puritanical in others. Neat as pins, ultralawful, and they make love at the drop of a hat."
"Any hat."
     LaForge and Yar, "Justice"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


"Men do not roar, women roar — they hurl heavy objects, and claw at you."
"What does the man do?"
"He reads love poetry . . . He ducks a lot."
"Worf, sounds like it works great for the Klingons, but I think I need to try something a little less . . . dangerous."
"Go to her door. Beg like a human."
     Worf and Wesley, "The Dauphin"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Perhaps someday our ability to love won't be so limited.
     Dr. Crusher, "The Host"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


"Captain, I am seeking advice in how to —"
"Yes, I've heard, Data. And I will be delighted to offer any advice I can on understanding women. When I have some, I'll let you know."
     Data and Picard, "In Theory"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


WESLEY: Sir, what do the initials 'A.F.' stand for? ... Boothby said he caught you carving those initials into his prized elm tree.
PICARD: (with sudden recognition) 'A.F.' (He smiles pleasantly at the recollection.) Oh, just an acquaintance of mine. Wesley, if you meet someone whose initials you might want to carve into that elm tree, don't let it interfere with your studies. I failed organic chemistry because of 'A.F.'.
     "The Game"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?
     Soren, "The Outcast"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Human females are so repulsive.
     B'Etor (a Klingon), STAR TREK Generations


"Are you familiar with physical forms of pleasure?"
"If you are referring to sexuality, I am fully functional — programmed in multiple techniques."
"How long has it been since you've used them?"
"Eight years, seven months, sixteen days, four minutes, twenty-two —"
"Far too long."
     The Borg Queen and Data, STAR TREK First Contact


"Frankly, in my humble opinion, most of you humanoids spend far too much time on your respective mating rituals."
"It does help the procreation of one's species."
"Procreation does not require changing how you smell or writing bad poetry or sacrificing various plants to serve as tokens of affection. In any event it's all irrelevant to me. ..."
"Constable, you can handle thieves and killers but not one Betazoid woman?"
"I understand thieves and killers, I don't understand her."
     Odo and Sisko, "The Forsaken"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"I am a fool."
"You're in love. Which I suppose is the same thing."
     Worf and Jadzia Dax, "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


Interspecies romance isn't without it's danger. That's part of the fun.
     Jadzia Dax, "Let He Who is Without Sin..."
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


The one constant in the universe is that females are trouble.
     Quark, "Dr. Bashir, I Presume?"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


SISKO: Perhaps I should have a talk with him.
EZRI DAX: Absolutely not. You intimidate him.
DAX: Don't tell him I told you.
SISKO: (laughs) I intimidate Worf? (laughs again)
DAX: You like that, don't you?
SISKO: (suddenly serious) Of course not.
DAX: Come on, I've been a man, I know.
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


     "But enough about the war with the Dominion, I want to hear about the war at home. You just married that freighter captain, didn't you?"
     "Then war has broken out, whether you know it or not — a long grueling, intoxicating war."
          Martok and Sisko, "Strange Bedfellows"
          STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


… over the course of our marriage, I've won more than my fair share of battles between us, but in the end, I know she will win the war.
     Martok, "Strange Bedfellows"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


     "Neelix and Tom Paris had a physical . . . fight over me. ..."
     "You should consider it a high compliment. Throughout history, men have fought over the love of a woman. Why, I can quote you autopsy reports from duels as far back as 1538."
     "That's not funny."
     "It's not meant to be. You've always been interested in autopsies."
          Kes and The Doctor, "Parturition"
          STAR TREK:  Voyager


"You're not giving this a fair chance."
"This exercise is pointless."
"It may seem pointless, but small talk is a vital dating skill. It helps to establish a rapport with your companion."
"Perhaps there's something to be said for assimilation after all."
     The Doctor and Seven, "Someone To Watch Over Me"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager


A man can be called ruthless if he bombs a country to oblivion. A woman can be called ruthless if she puts you on hold.
     Gloria Steinem


A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.
     Gloria Steinem


There's no absence of love in the world, only worthy places to put it.
     Theodore Sturgeon


Love is blind, but desire just doesn't give a good goddamn.
     James Thurber


Laugh and the world laughs with you, love and you love alone.
     James Thurber, Further Fables For Our Time (1956)
     "The Lover and His Lass"


If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?
     Lily Tomlin


If sex is so personal, why are we expected to share it with someone else?
     Lily Tomlin


There will be sex after death; we just won't be able to feel it.
     Lily Tomlin


In all the relations of life, sir, it is but just and a graceful tribute to woman to say of her that she is a brick.
     Mark Twain, "Woman — an Opinion" (speech, 1867)


What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce.
     Mark Twain, "Woman — an Opinion" (speech, 1867)


I seem sixty and married, but these effects are due to my condition and sufferings, for I am a bachelor, and only forty-one.
     Mark Twain, "Some Rambling Notes of an Idle 
     Excursion" / "The Invalid's Story" (1877)


"I will explain that whenever I want a thing, and Mrs. McWilliams wants another thing, and we decide upon the thing that Mrs. McWilliams wants — as we always do — she calls that a compromise."
     Mr. McWilliams in Mark Twain, "The McWilliamses 
     and the Burglar Alarm" (1882)


Both marriage and death ought to be welcome: the one promises happiness, doubtless the other assures it.
     Mark Twain, letter to Will Bowen (November 4, 1888)


"He said he would rather sleep with Adelina Patti without a stitch of clothes on than with General Grant in full uniform."
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1889


Monday. — The new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don't like this; I am not used to company. I wish it would stay with the other animals. ... . Cloudy to-day, wind in the east; think we shall have rain. ... We? Where did I get that word? ... I remember now, — the new creature uses it.
     Mark Twain, "Extracts from Adam's Diary" (1893)


Familiarity breeds contempt — and children.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894


Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894


We easily perceive that the peoples furthest from civilization are the ones where equality between man and woman are furthest apart — and consider this one of the signs of savagery. But we are so stupid that we can't see that we thus plainly admit that no civilization can be perfect until exact equality between man and woman is included.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1895


It takes much to convince the average man of anything; and perhaps nothing can ever make him realize that he is the average woman's inferior — yet in several important details the evidences seems to show that that is what he is. Man has ruled the human race from the beginning — but he should remember that up to the middle period of the present century it was a dull world, and ignorant and stupid; but it is not such a dull world now, and is growing less and less dull all the time. This is woman's opportunity — she has had none before.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


The course of free love never runs smooth. I suppose we have all tried it.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1904


The Garden is lost, but I have found him, and am content.
     Mark Twain, "Eve's Diary" (1905)


I love certain birds because of their song; but I do not love Adam on account of his singing — no, it is not that; the more he sings the more I do not get reconciled to it. Yet I ask him to sing, because I wish to learn to like everything he is interested in.
     Mark Twain, "Eve's Diary" (1905)


At Eve's GraveAdam: Wheresoever she was, there was Eden.
     Mark Twain, "Eve's Diary" (1905)


Behind every successful man is a surprised mother-in-law.


Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.


Men are from earth, women are from earth: deal with it.


Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion.
     Unknown, The Goon Show


Take it from me, marriage isn't a word — it's a sentence.
     King Vidor


Nothing wrecks any kind of love more effectively than the discovery that your previously acceptable behavior has become ridiculous.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake (1997)


All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I'd sooner go to my dentist any day.
     Evelyn Waugh


I'm single because I was born that way.
     Mae West


The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics and women are idiots.
     Rebecca West


... he was beginning to understand why married men did not always immediately yield to their first impulses.
     Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920)


Bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.
     Oscar Wilde


Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.
     Oscar Wilde


Don't give a woman advice: one should never give a woman anything she can't wear in the evening.
     Oscar Wilde


Long engagements give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which is never advisable.
     Oscar Wilde


[Love:] A mutual misunderstanding.
     Oscar Wilde


Love is a misunderstanding between two fools.
     Oscar Wilde


Men marry because they are tired; women marry because they are curious. Both are disappointed.
     Oscar Wilde


No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.
     Oscar Wilde


One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age; a woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.
     Oscar Wilde


The only way a woman can ever reform her husband is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.
     Oscar Wilde


Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the two sexes.
     Oscar Wilde


Women, as some witty Frenchman once put it, inspire us with the desire to do masterpieces, and always prevent us from carrying them out.
     Oscar Wilde


When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving oneself, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.
     Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)


Lord Illingworth: The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden.
Mrs. Allonby: It ends with Revelations.
     Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance (1893)


The number of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public.
     Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)


The best part of married life is the fights. The rest is only so-so.
     Thornton Wilder, The Matchmaker (1954)


To the one woman fate created just for me. So far I've managed to avoid her.
     Jon Winokur, dedication to A Curmudgeon's Garden of Love (1989)


The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he's a baby.
     Natalie Wood


A beautiful woman moved in next door. So I went over and returned a cup of sugar. "You didn't borrow this." "I will."
     Steven Wright


I brought a mirror to Lovers' Lane. I told everybody I'm Narcissus.
     Steven Wright


I met this wonderful girl at Macy's. She was buying clothes and I was putting Slinkies on the escalator.
     Steven Wright


My girlfriend does her nails with whiteout. When she's asleep, I go over there and write misspelled words on them.
     Steven Wright


My girlfriend's so intense . . . She woke me up the other night and asked, "If you could tell exactly when and how you were going to die, would you want to know?" "Heck no," I said, "Why?" "Doesn't matter, just go back back to sleep . . ."
     Steven Wright


A bachelor is a man who never makes the same mistake once.
     Ed Wynn


A man doesn't know what real happiness is until he's married. Then it's too late.
     Henny Youngman


I've been married for thirty-four years, and I'm still in love with the same woman. If my wife ever finds out, she'll kill me.
     Henny Youngman



Metaphysics and Mysticism


I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy next to me.
     Woody Allen


A metaphysician is a man who goes into a dark cellar at midnight without a light looking for a black cat that is not there.
     Baron Bowen


Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct.
     Francis Herbert Bradley, Appearance and Reality


Mystic, n. A man or woman who wishes to understand the mysteries of the universe but is too lazy to study physics.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)


Logic and metaphysics make use of more tools than all the rest of the Sciences together and they do the least work.
     Charles Colton


The impulses to awe, reverence and wonder which led Blake to mysticism (and lesser figures to paranormal superstition, as we shall see) are precisely those that lead others of us to science. Our interpretation is different but what excites us is the same. The mystic is content to bask in the wonder and revel in a mystery that we were not 'meant' to understand. The scientist feels the same wonder but is restless, not content; recognizes the mystery as profound, then add, 'But we're working on it.'
     Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, 
     Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (1998)


Metaphysicians, like other men who cannot give convincing reasons for their statements, are usually not very polite in controversy. One's success against them may be measured approximately by the increasing want of politeness in their replies.
     Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz, 
     Das Denken in der Medizin


A mystic is a person who is puzzled before the obvious but who understands the nonexistent.
     Elbert Hubbard


A sacred horror hovers near the approaches to mysticism; somber openings lie gaping there, but something tells you, as you near the brink — Do not enter. Woe to him who does!
     Victor Hugo, Les MisÚrables (1862)


Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck.
     Immanuel Kant


A metaphysician is one who believes it when toxins from a dilapidated liver makes his brain whisper that mind is the boss of liver.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


The essential part [of metaphysics] is nothing more or less than a silly denial that facts are important. As commonly encountered, it takes the form of the doctrine that materialism is somehow sordid, and even more or less immoral. Yet it is materialism operating on the plane of common sense, that has brought the human race all the progress it has seen in five hundred years.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)


Metaphysics is a refuge for men who have a strong desire to appear learned and profound but have nothing worth hearing to say. Their speculations have helped mankind hardly more than those of the astrologers. What we regard as good in metaphysics is really psychology: the rest is only blah.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)


Metaphysics is almost always an attempt to prove the incredible by an appeal to the unintelligible.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)


Physics, beware of metaphysics.
     Isaac Newton


Mysticism is, in essence, little more than a certain intensity and depth of feeling in regard to what is believed about the universe.
     Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (1917)


The difference between physics and metaphysics, [Robert W.] Wood concluded as he raised his glass high, is not that the practitioners of one are smarter than the practitioners of the other. The difference is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.
     Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: 
     Science As A Candle in the Dark (1995)


Once we admit that only certain mystical experiences are revelatory, we have abandoned the claim that all mystical experience yields knowledge.
     Theodore Schick, Jr. & Lewis Vaughn, How to Think 
     About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age (1995)


Metaphysics is a word which can mean exactly what one wants it to mean, hence its continuing popularity. To Aristotle it meant the field of speculation he took up after physics.
     Roger Shattuck


In the vast literature of Eastern thought, surely something must have been said about almost everything and everything said about something.
     Victor J. Stenger, Physics and Psychics: The Search 
     for a World Beyond the Senses (1990)


When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
     Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)



Everything I Need to Know I Learned in


In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses have lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained — well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


The mother of our particular hobbit — what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). Now you know enough to go on with.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


… Bullroarer … was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


“What shall we do, what shall we do!” he [Bilbo] cried. “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say ‘out of the frying-pan into the fire’ in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


Smaug was still to be reckoned with. It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something (or so Thorin said to the young dwarves). You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after. So it proved on this occasion.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


“Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!” he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
     Thorin Oakenshield to Bilbo Baggins, 
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)


Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
     Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
     One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
     One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
     One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor, where the Shadows lie.
     "Verse of the Rings" in J. R. R. Tolkien, 
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came out to a compliment.
     from Bilbo’s Farewell Speech, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


“It was pity that stayed his hand. Pity and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so.”
     Gandalf the Grey, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


“Deserves it! I daresay he [Gollum] deserves it [death]. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.”
     Gandalf the Grey, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


The Road goes ever on and on
     Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
     And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
     Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
     And whither then? I cannot say.

     Bilbo Baggins, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


All that is gold does not glitter,
     Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not whither,
     Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
     A light from the shadows shall spring,
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
     The crownless again shall be king.

     Bilbo Baggins, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


“Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”
     Elrond, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


“... he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”
     Gandalf the Grey, J. R. R. Tolkien,
     The Fellowship of the Ring:  Being the First Part 
     of the Lord of the Rings


“Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?”
“A man may do both,” said Aragorn. “For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!”
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers:  Being the 
     Second Part of the Lord of the Rings


“Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.”
     Treebeard, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers:  Being 
     the Second Part of the Lord of the Rings


“I do not like worrying about the future. I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me … I go my own way; but your way may go along with mine for a while.”
     Treebeard, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers:  Being 
     the Second Part of the Lord of the Rings


“Let us now go on with the journey we have begun!”
     Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers:  Being 
     the Second Part of the Lord of the Rings


“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the men of N˙menor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.”
     Faramir, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers:  Being 
     the Second Part of the Lord of the Rings


“But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave thing in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind.”
     Sam Gamgee, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers:  Being 
     the Second Part of the Lord of the Rings


“Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to muster all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
     Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King:  Being 
     the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings


I amar prestar aen. (The world is changed.)
Han mathon ne nen. (I feel it in the waters.)
Han mathon ne chae. (I feel it in the earth.)
A han noston ned 'wilith. (I smell it in the air.)
Much that once was is lost.
For none now live who remember it.
          Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), opening narration
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


Hobbits have been living and farming in the four Farthings of the Shire for many hundreds of years, quite content to ignore and be ignored by the world of the Big Folk. Middle-earth being, after all, full of strange creatures beyond count, Hobbits must seem of little importance, being neither renowned as great warriors nor counted among the very wise. In fact, it has been remarked by some that Hobbits' only real passion is for food. A rather unfair observation, as we have also developed a keen interest in the brewing of ales and the smoking of pipe-weed. But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet and good, tilled earth. For all hobbits share a love for things that grow. And, yes, no doubt to others, our ways seem quaint. But today of all days, it is brought home to me: It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.
          Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), extended edition opening narration
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


My dear Frodo. Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.
          Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


ARAGORN: Gentlemen. We do not stop 'till nightfall.
PIPPIN: What about breakfast?
ARAGORN: You've already had it.
PIPPIN: We've had one, yes. What about second breakfast?
MERRY: Don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
PIPPIN: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?
MERRY: I wouldn't count on it.
          Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Merry (Dominic
               Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


     "Now the Ring has brought him here. He will never be rid of his need for it. He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. Smeagol's life is a sad story. Yes, Smeagol he was once called. Before the Ring found him. Before it drove him mad."
     "It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance."
     "Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of the Ring."
     "I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened."
     "So do all that come to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case you were also 'meant' to have it. And that is an encouraging thought."
          Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


Nobody tosses a dwarf!
          Gimli (John Rhys-Davies)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


     "This task was appointed to you. And if you do not find a way, no one will."
     "Then I know what I must do. It's just, I'm afraid to do it."
     "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
          Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (movie, 2001)


     "It's true you don't see many dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, they are often mistaken for dwarf men."
     "It's the beards."
     "And this in turn has given rise to the belief that there are no dwarf women. And the dwarves just, spring out of holes in the ground — which is of course nonsense."
          Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) to Eowyn (Miranda Otto)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie, 2002)


TREEBEARD: We have just agreed.
TREEBEARD: I have told your names to the Entmoot and we have agreed — you are not Orcs.
PIPPIN: Well that's good news.
MERRY: And what about Saruman? Have you come to a decision about him?
TREEBEARD: Now don't be hasty, Master Meriadoc.
MERRY: Hasty? Our friends are out there. They need our help! They cannot fight this war on their own.
TREEBEARD: War, yes. It affects us all. But you must understand, young hobbit. It takes a long time to say anything in old Entish, and we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
          Treebeard (voice of John Rhys-Davies), Merry
               (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie, 2002)


     "Oh, come on. We can take them!"
     "It's a long way."
     "Toss me."
     "I cannot jump the distance so you'll have to toss me. Don't tell the elf."
     "Not a word."
          Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie, 2002)


     "I can't do this, Sam."
     "I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
     "What are we holding on to, Sam?"
     "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
          Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie, 2002)


Sauron's wrath will be terrible, his retribution swift. The battle for Helm's Deep is over. The battle for Middle-Earth is about to begin. All our hopes now lie with two little hobbits. Somewhere in the wilderness.
          Gandalf the White (Ian McKellen)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie, 2002)


     "I wonder if we'll ever be put into songs or tales."
     "I wonder if people will ever say, 'let's hear about Frodo and the Ring.' And they'll say, 'yes, that's one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn't he, dad.' 'Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that's saying a lot.'"
     "You left out one of the chief characters. 'Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam.'"
     "Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun. I was being serious."
     "So was I."
          Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin) and Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (movie, 2002)


     "It's so quiet."
     "It's the deep breath before the plunge."
     "I don't want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse. Is there any hope, Gandalf, for Frodo and Sam?"
     "There never was much hope — just a fool's hope. Our Enemy is ready, his full strength gathered. Not only Orcs, but Men as well. Legions of Haradrim from the south. Mercenaries from the coast. All will answer Mordor's call. This will be the end of Gondor as we know it. Here the hammer-stroke will fall the hardest. If the river is taken, if the garrison at Osgiliath falls, the last defense of this city will be gone."
     "But we have the White Wizard, that's got to count for something. Gandalf?"
     "Sauron has yet to release his deadliest servant. The one who will lead Mordor's armies in war. The one they say no living Man can kill. The Witch-king of Angmar. You've met him before. He stabbed Frodo on Weathertop. He is the lord of the Nazgűl, the greatest of the Nine. Minas Morgul is his lair."
          Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Gandalf the White (Ian McKellen)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (movie, 2003)


     "I do not think we should so lightly abandon the outer defenses. Defenses that your brother long held intact."
     "What would you have me do?"
     "I will not yield the river and Pelennor unfought. Osgiliath must be retaken."
     "My Lord, Osgiliath is overrun."
     "Much must be risked in war. Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his lord's will?"
     "You wish now that our places had been exchanged. That I had died and Boromir had lived."
     "Yes, I wish that."
     "Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will do what I can in his stead."
     "If I should return, think better of me, father."
     "That will depend on the manner of your return."
          Denethor (John Noble) and Faramir (David Wenham)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (movie, 2003)


ARAGORN: No. There's still hope for Frodo. He needs time, and safe passage across the Plains of Gorgoroth. We can give him that.
ARAGORN: Draw out Sauron's armies. Empty his lands. Then we gather our full strength and march on the Black Gate.
╔OMER: We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms.
ARAGORN: Not for ourselves, but we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron's Eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves.
LEGOLAS: A diversion.
GANDALF: Sauron will suspect a trap. He will not take the bait.
GIMLI: Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?
          Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Eomer (Karl Urban), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gandalf the White (Ian McKellen)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (movie, 2003)


Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!
          Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen)
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (movie, 2003)


My friends — you bow to no one.
          Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) to the Hobbits
               after he is sworn in as King of Gondor
          Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson,
          The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (movie, 2003)



Mind, Brain, and Thought


"You know what I'm thinking?"
"Neither do I. Frightening, isn't it?"
     Zaphod Beeblebrox and Ford Prefect, Douglas Adams, 
     The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (radio program, 1977-1980)


Man consists of two parts, his mind and his body, only the body has more fun.
     Woody Allen, Love and Death (movie, 1975)


It's very hard to get your heart and head together in life. ... In my case, they're not even friendly.
     Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors (movie, 1989)


Son, you have to guard against speaking more clearly than you think. [Advice from his father]
     Howard Baker


Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think. That which distinguishes the man who is content to be something from the man who wishes to do something. A man of great wealth, or one who has been pitchforked into high station, has commonly such a headful of brain that his neighbors cannot keep their hats on. In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, brain is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


The greatest torture in the world for most people is to think.
     Luther Burbank


A scary dream makes your heart beat faster. Why doesn't the part of your brain that controls your heartbeat realize that another part of your brain is making the whole thing up? Don't these people communicate?
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Sometimes I can't recall my mental blocks, so I try not to think about it.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Although it sounds contradictory, what we call objective thinking is possible only after we come to understand the subjective nature of thought. This is because objectivity requires that we differentiate between the internal world of private thoughts and dreams and the external world that exists apart from us. ... Thus science — the grand exemplar of the power of human thought — is possible only after it is recognized that thought has no "real" power.
     Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The 
     Heretical Nature of Science (1993)


Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons.
     Will Cuppy


Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
     Leonardo da Vinci


There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.
     Thomas Alva Edison


The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
     Paul Fix


The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to the office.
     Robert Frost


A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension.
     Oliver Wendell Holmes


Human thought has no limit. At its risk and peril, it analyzes and dissects its own fascination.
     Victor Hugo, Les MisÚrables (1862)


When a fact can be demonstrated, force is unnecessary; when it cannot be demonstrated, an appeal to force is infamous. In the presence of the unknown all have an equal right to think.
     Robert Ingersoll, On the Gods and Other Essays 
     (Paul Kurtz, ed., 1990)


A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
     William James


People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.
     Helen Keller


One has to multiply thoughts to the point where there aren't enough policemen to control them.
     Stanislaw Lec, Unkempt Thoughts (1962)


People tend to stay away from the hypothalamus. Most brain scientists . . . prefer the sunny expanses of the cerebral cortex to the dark, claustrophobic regions at the base of the brain. They think of the hypothalamus — though they would never admit this to you — as haunted by animal spirits and the ghosts of primal urges. They suspect that it houses, not the usual shiny hardware of cognition, but some witches' brew of slimy, pulsating neurons adrift in a broth of mind-altering chemicals.
     Simon LeVay, The Sexual Brain


Although one may lose one's mind while keeping one's head, one cannot be beheaded and retain one's mind.
     Delos McKown


The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors.
     John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)


The less men think, the more they talk.
     Baron de la BrŔde et de Montesquieu (Charles-Louis de Secondat)


What is Matter? — Never mind. What is Mind? — No matter.
     Punch 29:19 (1855)


Those who know their minds do not know their hearts.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Most people would die sooner than think; in fact, they do so.
     Bertrand Russell


Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin, more even than death.
     Bertrand Russell, Selected Papers


There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
     William Shakespeare, Hamlet


It is not thought that is dangerous to a nation, but the lack of it.
     Charles T. Sprading, Freedom and its Fundamentals


"Sure you won't change your mind?"
"Is there something wrong with the one I have?"
     Gillian Taylor and Spock, STAR TREK IV The Voyage Home


I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)


That is what a teaspoonful of brains will do for a man. And admirers had often told me I had nearly a basketful though they were rather reserved as to the size of the basket.
     Mark Twain, "Unconscious Plagiarism" (speech, August 29, 1879)


"Thought! You should not try to think. One cannot think without the proper machinery."
     Mark Twain, "Playing Courier" (1891)


It is because they do not think at all; they only think they think.
     Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth" (1909)


The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, involved in many kinds of motivation, among other functions. The hypothalamus controls the "Four F's": (1) fighting, (2) fleeing, (3) feeding, and (4) mating.
     Unknown, psychology professor in neuropsychology intro course


Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world and people die of it just as they die of any other disease.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying" (1889)


Those who see any difference between soul and body have neither.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" (1894)


I can't stop thinking like this.
     Steven Wright


I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.
     Steven Wright


Sorry, my mind was wandering. One time my mind went all the way to Venus on mail order and I couldn't pay for it.
     Steven Wright



Moderates and Fanatics


Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when a man has only one idea.
     Alain, Propos sur la religion (1938)


As for the fanatics, whose number is legion in our own time, we might be advised to leave them to heaven. They will not, unfortunately, do us the same courtesy. They attack us and each other, and whatever their protestations to peaceful intent, the bloody record of history makes clear that they are easily disposed to restore to the sword.
     Steve Allen


Beware of the man of one book.
     Thomas Aquinas


So long as there are earnest believers in the world, they will always wish to punish opinions, even if their judgment tells them it is unwise, and their conscience it is wrong.
     Walter Bagehot, Literary Studies (1879)


No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
     James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name (1961)


It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth.
     Arthur Balfour, letter, 1918


It is easier to devote one's life to fanaticism. . . . The Flat Earth society is, after all, more committed to its flatness than I am to its roundness.
     Lionel Blue


There is no lantern by which the crank can be distinguished from the reformer when the night is dark. Just as every conviction begins as a whim so does every emancipator serve his apprenticeship as a crank. A fanatic is a great leader who is just entering the room.
     Heywood Broun, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)


Half the vices which the world condemns most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use rather than total abstinence.
     Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh (1903)


A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
     Sir Winston Churchill


The lunatic fringe has always been with us. In every age there have been people who have been willing to believe anything so long as it was sufficiently improbable. Religion, economics, science, politics have all had — and still have had — their fanatical minorities who devote their fortunes, their energies, and often their lives to the cause they have made their own.
     Arthur C. Clarke, Voices from the Sky: A 
     Preview of the Coming Space Age (1974)
     "The Lunatic Fringe"


Those who are enslaved to their sects are not merely devoid of all sound knowledge, but they will not even stop to learn!
     Galen Claudius, On The Natural Faculties


Slogans are both exciting and comforting [but] some of mankind's most terrible misdeeds have been committed under the spell of certain magic words [and] phrases.
     James Bryant Conant, address, Harvard (1934)


All evils are equal when they are extreme.
     Pierre Corneille, Horace (1639)


The world is made up for the most part of morons and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in their own opinions, never doubting anything.
     Clarence Darrow, Personal Liberty (1928)


A fanatic is a man who does what he thinks the Lord wud do if He knew the facts iv the case.
     Finley Peter Dunne, Mr. Dooley's Opinions (1901)


The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.
     Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on 
     the Nature of Mass Movements (1951)


If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess of commitment to some special and constricting idea.
     Ricahrd Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963)


To be ultra is to go beyond. It is to attack the scepter in the name of the throne, and the miter in the name of the altar; it is to mistreat the thing you support; it is to kick in the traces; it is to cavail at the stake for undercooking heretics; it is to reproach the idol for a lack of idolatry; it is to insult through an excess of respect; it is to find too little papistry in the pope, in the king too little royalty, and too much light in the night; it is to be dissatisfied with the albatross, with snow, with the swan, and the lily for not being white enough; it is to champion things to the point of becoming their enemy; it is to be so pro you become con.
     Victor Hugo, Les MisÚrables (1862)


It's possible to fight intolerance, stupidity, and fanaticism when they come separately. When you get all three together it's probably wiser to get out, if only to preserve one's sanity.
     P. D. James, Devices and Desires (1989)


What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.
     Robert F. Kennedy, The Pursuit of Justice: 
     Extremism, Left and Right (1964)


Anything taken too seriously becomes a devil.
     William P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe (1982)


I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
     W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (1938)


There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.
     H. L. Mencken


One defeats a fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one's intelligence.
     George Orwell


A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
     Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, pt. II (1792)


The fanatic goes through life with his mouth open and his mind closed.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.
     Laurens van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari (1958)


People are zealous for a cause when they are not quite positive that it is true.
     Bertrand Russell


Fanaticism is a camouflage for cruelty. Fanatics are seldom humane, and those who sincerely dread cruelty will be slow to adapt to a fanatical creed.
     Bertrand Russell, Theory and Practice of Bolshevism (1920)


It is commonly urged that, in a war between Liberals and fanatics, the fanatics are sure to win, owing to their more unshakable belief in the righteousness of their cause. This belief dies hard, although all history, including that of the last few years, is against it. Fanatics have failed, over and over again, because they have attempted the impossible, or because, even when what they aimed at was possible, they were too unscientific to adopt the right means; they have failed also because they roused the hostility of those whom they wished to coerce. In every important war since 1700 the more democratic side has been victorious. This is partly because democracy and empiricism (which are intimately interconnected) do not demand a distortion of facts in the interests of theory.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "Philosophy and Politics"


Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
     George Santayana, The Life of Reason (1905)


Temperate temperance is best. Intemperate temperance injures the cause of temperance, while temperate temperance helps it in its fight against intemperate intemperance. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1896


The world acquires value only through its extremists and endures only through its moderates; extremists make the world great, moderates keep it stable.
     Paul ValÚry, in The Nation (January 5, 1957)


Every dogma must have its day.
     Carolyn Wells


Nothing is good in moderation. You cannot know good in anything until you have torn the heart out of it by excess.
     Oscar Wilde


The worst vice of the fanatic is his sincerity.
     Oscar Wilde


Moderation is a fatal thing. Enough is as bad as a meal. More than enough is as good as a feast.
     Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)


Moderation is a fatal thing; nothing succeeds like excess.
     Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance (1893)


All fanaticism is a strategy to prevent doubt from becoming conscious.
     H. A. Williams, The True Wilderness (1965)


In times of disorder and stress, the fanatics play a prominent role; in times of peace, the critics. Both are shot after the revolution.
     Edmund Wilson, Memoirs of Hecate County (1949)


All empty souls tend to extreme opinion. It is only in those who have built up a rich world of memories and habits of thought that extreme opinions affront the sense of probability.
     William Butler Yeats, Autobiography


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
     William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming" (1920, 1921)


[The fanatic is] the insecure person anywhere, at any time, who gives himself without reservation to any movement that promises him meaning through action.
     Robert Zwickey



Modesty, Immodesty, Egotism, and Selfishness


The Universe, as has been observed before, is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life most people tend to ignore. Many would happily move to somewhere rather smaller of their own devising, and this is what most beings do. ... Exotic though this behavior may seem, there is no life form in the galaxy which is not in some way guilty of the same thing, which is why the Total Perspective Vortex is as horrific as it is. For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says "You are here."
     Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)


The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
     Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
     And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.
     "Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.
     And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her.
     And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
     To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
     Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)


Egoist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Immodest, adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with a feeble conception of worth in others.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Self-esteem, n. An erroneous appraisement.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Selfish, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


We know better the needs of ourselves than of others. To serve oneself is economy of administration.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


All I ask of Life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Appreciate me now and avoid the rush.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I like who I am, and am puzzled to find that not everybody shares this opinion.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Egomania, n. A disagreeable condition which afflicts others, especially the teeming masses of one's inferiors.
     Chaz Bufe The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)


He that falls in love with himself, will have no Rivals.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)


The nice thing about egotists is that they don't talk about other people.
     Lucille S. Harper


In cant, Mlle. Gillenormand the elder could have put to shame any English miss. She was immodestly modest. ... Age had only increased this pitiless modesty. Her dress front was never thick enough, never came up high enough. She piled on hooks and pins where nobody thought of looking. The characteristic of prudery is to increase the sentinels, as the fortress becomes less threatened.
     Victor Hugo, Les MisÚrables (1862)


Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.
     Frank Leahy, Look (January 10, 1955)


As one whose taste in mental states has always run largely toward the coma, I have very little patience with the current craze for self-awareness. I am already far too well acquainted with how I feel and frankly, given the choice, I would not. Anyone who is troubled by the inability to feel his or her own feelings is more than welcome to feel mine.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Not in the: Mood Jewelry"


He who is in love with himself has at least this advantage — he won't encounter many rivals.
     Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms (1799)


Egotist: A man who thinks that if he hadn't been born, people would have wondered why.
     Dan Post


It astounds us to come upon other egotists, as though we alone had the right to be selfish and full of the eagerness to live.
     Jules Renard, Journal (November 18, 1887)


I possess every good quality, but the one that distinguishes me above all is modesty.
     Charles Robert Richet, The Natural History 
     of a Savant, transl Oliver Lodge (1927)


We would rather run ourselves down than not speak of ourselves at all.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims
(translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


The excessive pleasure we get from talking about ourselves should inspire us with the fear that we are giving almost no pleasure to those who are listening.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims
(translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself.
     Franklin Delano Roosevelt


God made me and broke the mold.
     Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (1782)


If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.
     Arthur Schopenhauer


The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time.
     George Bernard Shaw


A vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.
     Baruch Spinoza, Ethics (1677)


Of course it'll work. I never fail. Well, I did once, but I found it didn't agree with me, so I swore never to do it again. And I never break my word.
     Seyetek, "Second Sight"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


I was born modest; not all over, but in spots; and this was one of the spots.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


Well, to my mind there's a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off, when you get down to the marrow of it; and when a man is able to afford two slop-tubs in his parlor and don't do it, it may be that he is truly humble-minded, but it's a hundred times more likely that he is just trying to strike the public eye.
     Mark Twain, "The Esquimau Maiden's Romance" (1893)


More hugging and kissing by boys and girls and young men and maids in the streets at night and parks by day! And no chaffing them by anybody. I met a couple tonight, aged 17 and 14, a dozen times, around the garden. They ought to have done the blushing, but I presently found they could not be depended on, and had to do it myself.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1896


The man who is ostentatious of his modesty is twin to the statue that wears a fig-leaf.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


You now see what modesty I have in stock. But it has taken long practice to get it there.
     Mark Twain, "Author's Club" (speech, June, 1899)


The statue that advertises its modesty with a fig-leaf really brings its modesty under suspicion.
     Mark Twain, "Diplomatic Pay and Clothes" (1899)


I was born modest, and if I had not been things like this would force it upon me.
     Mark Twain, "The Day We Celebrate" (speech, July 4, 1907)


Now, I am not modest. I was born modest, but it didn't last.
     Mark Twain, "Layman's Sermon" (speech, March 4, 1906)


If it can be proved that my fame reaches to Neptune and Saturn that will satisfy me.
     Mark Twain, "I was Born for a Savage" (speech, 1907)


Modesty died when clothes were born.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


Forty years ago I was not so good-looking. A looking glass then lasted me three months. Now I can wear it out in two days.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.
     Gore Vidal


To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" (1894)


I don't at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes one far too conceited.
     Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband (1895)



(A Royal Pain)


The world is made wrong; kings should go to school to their own laws, at times, and so learn mercy.
     Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper (1882)


By and by, when they was asleep and snoring, Jim says: "Don't it s'prise you de way dem kings carries on, Huck?" ... "Well, it don't, because it's in the breed. I reckon they're all alike. ... [A]ll kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur as I can make out."
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


In a constitutional — figurehead — monarchy, a royal family of chimpanzees would answer every purpose, be worshipped as abjectly by the nation, and be cheaper.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1888


The institution of Royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1888


The kingly office is entitled to no respect. It was originally procured by the highwayman's methods; it remains a perpetuated crime, can never be anything but the symbol of a crime. It is no more entitled to respect than is the flag of a pirate.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1888


There are shams and shams; there are frauds and frauds, but the transparentest of all is the sceptered one. We see monarchs meet and go through solemn ceremonies, farces, with straight countenances; but it is not possible to imagine them meeting in private and not laughing in each other's faces.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1888


Why, dear me, any kind of royalty, howsoever modified, any kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don't believe it when somebody else tells you.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


I was a champion, it was true, but not the champion of the frivolous black arts, I was the champion of hard, unsentimental, common-sense and reason. I was entering the lists to either destroy knight-errantry or be its victim.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


The first gospel of all monarchies should be Rebellion; the second should be Rebellion; and the third and all gospels and the only gospel in any monarchy should be Rebellion against Church and State.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1891


The Autocrat of Russia possesses more power than any other man in the earth; but he cannot stop a sneeze.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


It is hard enough luck being a monarch, without being a target also.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)



Money, Banks, Bills, and Other Financial Concerns


Money isn't everything, but lack of money isn't anything.
     Franklin Pierce Adams, quoted in Robert E. 
     Drennan (ed.), The Algonquin Wits (1985)


Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
     Woody Allen


Money can't buy love — but it certainly puts you in a wonderful bargaining position.
     Harrison Baker


Family solvency is not a felony, but many economists consider it vaguely unpatriotic.
     Russell Baker, Poor Russell's Almanac (1972)


Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
     James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name (1961)


There are several ways to apportion the family income, all of them unsatisfactory.
     Robert Benchley, quoted in Robert E. 
     Drennan (ed.), The Algonquin Wits (1985)


Money can’t buy you happiness. It just helps you look for it in more places.
     Milton Berle


Economy, n. Purchasing the barrel of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Always live within your income, even if you have to borrow money to do so.
     Josh Billings


Never run into debt, not if you can find anything else to run into.
     Josh Billings


Why is my autograph so little in demand, except on checks?
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Capitalism tries for a delicate balance: It attempts to work things out so that everyone gets just enough stuff to keep them from getting violent and trying to take other people's stuff.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.
     e e cummings


The stock investment industry depends on one major misconception for its continuing health: It is possible to predict the motion of stock prices. As long as people with money to invest believe this, they can be encouraged by brokers to part with their money.
     A. K. Dewdney, 200% of Nothing: An Eye-Opening Tour through 
     the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy


A fool and his money are soon parted, but how did they get together in the first place?
     Evan Esar


If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.
     Henry Ford


If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some.
     Benjamin Franklin


If you'd lose a troublesome visitor, lend him money.
     Benjamin Franklin


Beware of little Expenses, a small Leak will sink a great Ship.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)


A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.
     Robert Frost


There is no money in poetry, but then there is no poetry in money, either.
     Robert Graves


Actually, I have no regard for money. Aside from its purchasing power, it’s completely useless as far as I’m concerned.
     Alfred Hitchcock


It's no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.
     Kin Hubbard


Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.
     Thomas Jefferson


Neither a borrower nor a lender be. (Motto of Bob's Bank in Lake Wobegon)
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion


You don't seem to realize that a poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy. Because the poor person has hope. He thinks money would help.
     Jean Kerr


The banks have a new image. Now you have "a friend." Your friendly banker. If the banks are so friendly, how come they chain down the pens?
     Alan King


I've been rich and I've been poor, and believe me, rich is better.
     Joe E. Lewis


Oh, I know it’s a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.
    Groucho (Groucho Marx), The Marx Brothers, Monkey Business (movie, 1931)


Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But being paid, — what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!
     Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851)


The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"

Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money.
     Arthur Miller


Money can't buy friends, but it can get you a better class of enemy.
     Spike Milligan


Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
     Spike Milligan


To achieve a real sense of your own worth, reconcile your bank statements monthly.
     Hester Mundis, 101 Ways To Avoid Reincarnation, 
     or, Getting It Right the First Time


The two most beautiful words in the English language are "check enclosed."
     Dorothy Parker


Parkinson's Second Law: Expenditure rises to meet income.
     Cyril Northcote Parkinson, In Laws and Outlaws (1962)


The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
     Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
     But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
     This was Captain Samuel Vimes “Boots” theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
          Terry Pratchett, Men At Arms (1993)


Riches serve a wise man but command a fool.
     English Proverb


He is rich who owes nothing.
     French Proverb


A rich man has no need of character.
     Jewish Proverb


Get what you can and keep what you have; that's the way to get rich.
     Scottish Proverb


Invest in inflation. It's the only thing going up.
     Will Rogers


Someday I want to be rich. Some people get so rich they lose all respect for humanity. That's how rich I want to be.
     Rita Rudner


I have never been able to stick to a budget because I don't know how to figure out exactly what constitutes a budget. I just know I should have more money coming in than going out. In this area I'm doing better than the government.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


There are more important things than money — the only trouble is they all cost money.
     Louis A. Safian


The love of money is the root of all virtue.
     George Bernard Shaw


To be clever enough to get a great deal of money, one must be stupid enough to want it.
     George Bernard Shaw


Lack of money is the root of all evil.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)


There are few sorrows, however poignant, in which a good income is of no avail.
     Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931)


Poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.
     Sydney Smith, His Wit and Wisdom (1900)


What does it mean— "exact change"?
     Spock, STAR TREK IV The Voyage Home


The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves, and the rest of humanity.
     Captain Picard, STAR TREK First Contact


I'll never understand this obsession with accumulating material wealth. You spend your entire life plotting and scheming to acquire more and more possessions until your living areas are bursting with useless junk. Then you die, your relatives sell everything and start and cycle all over again.
     Odo, "Q-Less"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"Jake, if you want to bid at the auction, use your own money."
"I'm human, I don't have any money."
"It's not my fault your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement."
"Hey, watch it. There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity."
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"It means . . . it means we don't need money."
"Well, if you don't need money, then you certainly don't need mine!"
     Nog and Jake, "In the Cards"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


     "A man is the sum of his possessions."
     "Back on my homeworld, that kind of thinking almost destroyed our civilization."
     "You should have managed your businesses better."
          Krem [a Ferengi] and Archer, "Acquisition"


I have to take my paycheck to the bank. It's too little to go by itself.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip)


But the rich man — not to make any invidious comparison — is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; and it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)


The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as what are called the "means" are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavour to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)


But I have since learned that trade curses every thing it handles; and though you trade in messages from heaven, the whole curse of trade attaches to the business.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


It is life near the bone where it is sweetest. You are defended from being a trifler. No man loses ever on a lower level by magnanimity on a higher. Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.
     Henry David Thoreau, Journal (1906)


Beautiful credit! The foundation of modern society.
     Mark Twain, The Gilded Age
(with Charles Dudley Warner, 1873)


Unexpected money is a delight. The same sum is a bitterness when you expected more.
     Mark Twain, letter to Orion Clemens (March 23, 1878)


My financial views are of the most decided character, but they are not likely, perhaps, to increase my popularity with the advocates of inflation. I do not insist upon the special supremacy of rag money or hard money. The great fundamental principle of my life is to take any kind I can get.
     Mark Twain, "A Presidential Candidate" (1879)


October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"


... I was already familiar with the rest of the details of the gold-mining industry. I had been a gold miner myself, in my day, and knew substantially everything that those people knew about it, except how to make money at it.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


Simple rules for saving money: To save half, when you are fired by an eager impulse to contribute to a charity, wait and count forty. To save three-quarters county sixty. To save it all, count sixty-five.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when he can't afford it, and when he can.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


I see around me captains of all the illustrious industries, most distinguished men; there are more than fifty here, and I believe I know thirty-nine of them well. I could probably borrow money from — from the others, anyway.
     Mark Twain, "Sixty-Seventh Birthday" (speech, November 28, 1902)


Vast wealth has temptations which fatally and surely undermine the moral structure of persons not habituated to its possession.
     Mark Twain, "The $30,000 Bequest" (1904)


One values a thing when one can't afford it.
     Mark Twain, Christian Science (1907)


I often gave him [multimillionaire Henry H. Rogers] fresh financial ideas, quite uninvited; and in return — uninvited — he told me how to write my literature better; but nothing came of it, both of us remained as poor as ever.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.),
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


Twain and the financier, H. H. Rogers, were fast friends. On a time they were in Bermuda together. In return for much courtesy, they gave a dinner at the Princess Hotel. It was a period of criticism of great wealth. Said one of the 'Mudians to Twain: "Your friend Rogers is a good fellow. It's a pity his money is tainted." "It's twice tainted," drawled Twain — "tain't yours, and tain't mine."
     Mark Twain, Francis Wilson's Life of Himself (1924)


The lack of money is the root of all evil.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Nothing incites to money-crimes like great poverty or great wealth.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


The real yellow peril: Gold.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


I was told by a person who said he was studying for the ministry that even Noah got no salary for the first six months — partly on account of the weather and partly because he was learning navigation.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.),
     Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)


A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
     Mark Twain, attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.),
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)


Remember the poor — it costs nothing.
     Mark Twain, attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.),
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)


Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.
     Bill Vaughan


When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.


Let us all be happy and live within our means, even if we have to borrow money to do it.
     Artemus Ward


Never get deeply in debt to someone who cried at the end of Scarface.
     Robert S. Wieder


Young people nowadays imagine that money is everything; when they get older they know it.
     Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)


Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" (1891)


There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" (1891)


If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
     Earl Wilson


Money really isn't everything. If it was, what would we buy with it?
     Tom Wilson


I saw a bank that said "24 Hour Banking", but I don't have that much time.
     Steven Wright


I was walking down the street and saw a sign on a post. It said: "Lost — $50. If found, just keep it."
     Steven Wright


I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money. They said, "What for?" I said, "I'm going to buy some sugar."
     Steven Wright


I've never seen electricity, so I don't pay for it. I write right on the bill, "I'm sorry, I haven't seen it all month."
     Steven Wright


If all the nations in the world are in debt, where did all the money go?
     Steven Wright



Motivations and Demotivations


What's all this stuff about motivation? I say, if you need motivation, you probably need more than motivation. You probably need chemical intervention or brain surgery. Actually, if you ask me, this country could do with a little less motivation. The people who are causing all the trouble seem highly motivated to me.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.
     Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)


The best stimulus for running ahead is to have something we must run from.
     Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)



Movies, Hollywood, and Acting


An associate producer is the only guy in Hollywood who will associate with a producer.
     Fred Allen


If my film makes one more person miserable, I've done my job.
     Woody Allen


When Jaws 1 was made, people stopped going to the ocean, and when Jaws 2, 3, and 4 were made, people stopped going to the theater.
     Dave Attell


Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.
     Dave Barry


Never judge a book by its movie.
     J. W. Eagan


Never get caught acting.
     Lillian Gish


[While filming The African Queen, after being reassured that the alligators swimming in the river where she was filming would be scared away by gunfire] Yes, but what about the deaf ones?
     Katherine Hepburn, quoted in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Colossal Collection of “Quotable” Quotes (2004)


Drama: life with the dull bits left out.
     Alfred Hitchcock


     "I'm going to Bombay, India, to become a movie star!"
     "You don't go to Bombay to become a movie star. You go where we're going: Hollywood!"
     "Sure, if you want to do it the easy way!"
          Gonzo the Great and Fozzie Bear in Jerry Juhl & 
          Jack Burns II, The Muppet Movie (movie, 1979)


     "Well, how do you like the film?"
     "I've seen detergents that leave a better film than this."
          Statler and Waldorf in Jerry Juhl & Jack Burns II, 
          The Muppet Movie (movie, 1979)


If movies ... were of such a high and serious nature, can you possibly entertain even the slightest notion that they would show them in a place that sold Orange Crush and Jujubes?
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Tips For Teens"


Plagiarism: The only "ism" Hollywood believes in.
     Dorothy Parker


Lately, lots of people have been bringing their babies to the movies, and their babies aren't happy about it. I wouldn't be happy either if I were two months old and someone brought me to see Drugstore Cowboy.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature (1992)


The official movie ratings are "General," "Parental Guidance," and "Restricted." I have my own ratings. They are "See at Movie Theater," "Wait for Video," and "Not Even If/When It Comes on Cable Someone Comes to My House and Staples My Eyes Open."
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature (1992)


     "They don't have movies where you come from, do they?"
     "We had something similar a few hundred years ago, but they lost their appeal when people discovered their real lives were more interesting."
     Crewman Cutler and Dr. Phlox, "Dear Doctor"


BOBBY: My career is dead.
LOUIE: Thank God, it suffered long enough.
     Taxi (TV Series), "The 10% Solution"


Doing a special-effects movie is like being circumcised with a water-pick. It takes a long time, but you get there.
     Robin Williams, interview on Good 
     Morning America
(December 29, 1995)


They shoot too many pictures and not enough actors.
     Walter Winchell


I went to the cinema, and the prices were: Adults $5.00, children $2.50. So I said, "Give me two boys and a girl."
     Steven Wright


One time I went to a drive-in in a taxi cab. The movie cost me $95.
     Steven Wright





"And you said you didn't want to be a star," he continued, wallowing in nostalgia, "because you despised the star system. And we said — Hadra and Sulijoo and me — that we didn't think you had the option."
     Ford Prefect to Hotblack Desiato in Douglas Adams, 
     The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)


Accordion, n. An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Opera, n. A play representing life in another world, whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures and no postures but attitudes.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Piano, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


But country music has helped me through a great many crises. Either by making me feel better or by making me feel so much worse that it was fascinating.
     Roy Blount, Jr., Now, Where Were We? (1988)


You want something by Bach? Which one, Johann Sebastian or Jacques Offen?
     Victor Borge


The lazy composer still had several scores to settle.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


All music is the blues. All of it.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Intellectual: someone who can listen to Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.
     Billy Connolly


I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.
     Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (Morgan Freeman) in Frank Darabont, The Shawshank
(movie, 1994; based on the short story by Stephen King)


     “That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?”
     “I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn't make much sense in here.”
     “Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.”
     “Forget that — there are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours.”
     “What're you talking about?”
     “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
          Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (Morgan Freeman) in Frank Darabont,
          The Shawshank Redemption
(movie, 1994; based on the short story by Stephen King)


     “Mr. Cash? Might I suggest you refrain from playing any tunes that remind them, the inmates that is, that they are in prison?”
     “You think they forgot?”
          Warden (James Keach) and Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) in
          Gill Dennis and James Mangold, Walk the Line (movie, 2005)


     “What's with the black? He looks like he's going to a funeral!”
     “Maybe I am.”
          Record Company Executive (Ross Harkins) and Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) in
          Gill Dennis and James Mangold, Walk the Line (movie, 2005)


Never forget that music is much too important to be left entirely in the hands of professionals.
     Robert Fulghum


Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding, he sings.
     Ed Gardner


I know only two tunes: one is "Yankee Doodle" and the other isn't.
     Ulysses S. Grant, attributed


That some of the Nazis who kept the crematoria burning were moved to tears by Beethoven does not prove that music is evil, but neither, certainly, does it prove that music has great power for good.
     Milton Himmelfarb


I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the manmade sound never equaled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.
     Alfred Hitchcock


Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.
     Kin Hubbard


You should never trust anyone who listens to Mahler before they're forty.
     Clive James


"A child who has learned to love Wagner is a child who could learn to enjoy a pig slaughter," replied Ray, who was no fan of pig slaughters.
     Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance (1991)


When you listen to Arthur Rubenstein play Chopin, you are no longer a liberal or a conservative or even an American, but simply a breathing sensate human being with a soul. Music lends you the freedom of your own mind. You listen to the Mahler Fourth Symphony or the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings, and it evokes scenes and visions of your own life and elevates them into the realm of art.
     Garrison Keillor, Wobegon Boy (1997)


Sentimentally I am disposed to harmony; but organically I am incapable of a tune.
     Charles Lamb, "A Chapter on Ears"


The first thing that music must understand is that there are two kinds of music — good music and bad music. Good music is music that I want to hear. Bad music is music that I don't want to hear.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "The Sound of Music: Enough Already"


A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.
     Gustav Mahler


If you think you're boring your audience, go slower not faster.
     Gustav Mahler


One reason for the bustle was that over large parts of the continent other people preferred to make money without working at all, and since the Disc had yet to develop a music recording industry they were forced to fall back on older, more traditional forms of banditry.
     Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites (1987)


I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to.
     Elvis Presley


Mr. Wagner has beautiful moments but bad quarters of an hour.
     Gioacchino Rossini


KIRK: Come one, Spock, why didn't you jump in?
SPOCK: I was trying to comprehend the meaning of the words. [to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"]
McCOY: It's a song, you green-blooded Vulcan! You sing it. The words aren't important; what's important is that you have a good time singing it!
SPOCK: Oh, I am sorry, Doctor. Were we having a good time?
McCOY: God, I liked him better before he died.
     STAR TREK V The Final Frontier


Life is not a dream.
     Spock, STAR TREK V The Final Frontier


Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.
     Igor Stravinsky


Music is the effort we make to explain to ourselves how our brains work. ... If you want, as an experiment, to hear the whole mind working, all at once, put on the St. Matthew Passion and turn the volume up all the way. That is the sound of the whole central nervous system of human beings, all at once.
     Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail (1981)


The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.
     Hunter S. Thompson


Many an irksome noise, go a long way off, is heard as music, a proud sweet satire on the meanness of our lives.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)
     "Higher Laws"


I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else.
     Lily Tomlin


Assassins! (said to his orchestra)
     Arturo Toscanini


Another time, we went to Mannheim and attended a shivaree — otherwise an opera — the one called "Lohengrin." The banging and slamming and booming and crashing were something beyond belief. The racking and pitiless pain of it remains stored up in my memory alongside the memory of the time that I had my teeth fixed. ... It was what one might call a narrative play. Everybody had a narrative and a grievance, and none were reasonable about it, but all in an offensive and ungovernable state. ... Each sang his indictive narrative in turn, accompanied by the whole orchestra of sixty instruments; and when this had continued for some time, and one was hoping they might come to an understanding and modify the noise, a great chorus composed entirely of maniacs would suddenly break forth, and then during two minutes, and sometimes three, I lived over again all that I had suffered the time the orphan asylum burned down.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)


A pretty air in an opera is prettier there than it could be anywhere else, I suppose, just as an honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)


A German lady in Munich told me that a person could not like Wagner's music at first, but must go through the deliberate process of learning to like it — then he would have his sure reward; for when he had learned to like it he would hunger for it and never be able to get enough of it. ... I could have said, "But would you advise a person to deliberately practise having the toothache in the pit of his stomach for a couple of years in order that he might then come to enjoy it?" But I reserved that remark.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)


... it does seem to me that nothing can make a Wagner opera absolutely perfect and satisfactory to the untutored but to leave out the vocal parts.
     Mark Twain, "At the Shrine of St. Wagner" (1891)


The opera was concluded at ten in the evening or a little later. When we reached home we had been gone more than seven hours. Seven hours at five dollars a ticket is almost too much for the money.
     Mark Twain, "At the Shrine of St. Wagner" (1891)


This present opera was "Parsifal." ... The first act of the three occupied two hours, and I enjoyed that in spite of the singing.
     Mark Twain, "At the Shrine of St. Wagner" (1891)


We have the grand opera, and I have witnessed, and greatly enjoyed, the first act of everything which Wagner created, but the effect on me has always been so powerful that one act was quite sufficient; whenever I have witnessed two acts I have gone away physically exhausted; and whenever I have ventured an entire opera the result has been the next thing to suicide.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
(North American Review, 1906-1907)


The late Bill Nye once said, "I have been told that Wagner's music is better than it sounds."
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography


We often feel sad in the presence of music without words; and often more than that in the presence of music without music.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Those who have hear me [sing] say I don't.
     Mark Twain, attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.), 
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)


Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.


... an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.
     Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920)


I play the harmonica. The only way I can play is if I get my car going really fast, and stick it out the window. I've been arrested three times for practicing. I put a new engine in my car, but forgot to take the old one out. Now my car goes 500 miles per hour. The harmonica sounds "amazing".
     Steven Wright


I wrote a song, but I can't read music so I don't know what it is. Every once in a while I'll be listening to the radio and I say, "I think I might have written that."
     Steven Wright



Myths and Legends


Cerberus, n. The watch-dog of Hades, whose duty it was to guard the entrance — against whom or what does not clearly appear; everybody, sooner or later, had to go there, and nobody wanted to carry off the entrance.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Mythology, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


A one sentence definition of mythology? 'Mythology' is what we call someone else's religion.
     Joseph Campbell


It is . . . worth remembering that not all myths are simply false stories. We should remain open to the possibility that the killer-ape myth became popular not only because it reflected the tensions of the cold war, or because it retold the familiar story of Even and Adam, but because it is — at least in some symbolic way — essentially true.
     Matt Cartmill, A View to Death in the Morning: 
     The Nature of Hunting Through History


Legend: a lie that has attained the dignity of age.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


All tribal myths are true, for a given value of “true.”
    Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent (1998)


Children are natural mythologists: they beg to be told tales, and love not only to invent but to enact falsehoods.
     George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1925)


"This ancient Earth culture seems fascinated with monsters."
"Every culture has its demons. They embody the darkest emotions of its people. Giving them physical form in heroic literature is a way of exploring those feelings. The Vogshaw of Rokella Prime believe that hate is a beast which lives inside the stomach. Their greatest mythical hero is a man who ate stones for twenty-three days to kill the beast, and became a saint."
"Such fables are necessary only in cultures that unduly emphasize emotional behavior. I would point out there are no demons in Vulcan literature."
"That might account for its popularity."
     Tuvok and Chakotay, "Heroes And Demons"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager 


"Halflings!" laughed the Rider that stood beside ╔omer. "Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children's tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"
     "A man may do both," said Aragorn. "For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!"
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (1955)


"But I suppose it's often that way. The brave thing in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end."
     Sam in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (1955)