Here’s our usual round up of interesting and amusing quotes encountered in the last few weeks.
It will take some time before the number of people watching on TV is revealed, but some viewers must have had that eerie feeling that a perverse revival of Dynasty was under way. The incoming president gave a speech livid with populist fury, an indictment of “the establishment” and yet, in his person, demeanour and in reality, he confirms that the establishment, the force of true power remains anchored in old white men with a comb-over and decades-younger wife.
[John Doyle, television critic, on the Trump inauguration; at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-inauguration-tv-a-divided-nation-severed-by-a-very-divided-media/article33690171/]
… remember the ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
[Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams (2nd US President) as well as the mother of John Quincy Adams (6th US President)]
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Beliefs are what divide people, doubt unites them.
Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.
[Lord Byron, 1788-1824]
An old woman at Rome reading Boccaccio exclaimed, “I wish to God that this was saying one’s prayers”.
[Lord Byron, letter]
Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make because they lead little by little to the truth.
It is unfortunate, though very natural, that the history of this period has so generally been written in hysterics. Exaggeration abounds, execration, wailing; and on the whole, darkness.
[Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881]
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism.
[President Franklin Roosevelt, to Congress, April 1938]
So I passed him some very good advice, that if you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work, I explained, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk-lamp. The light from a lamp, I explained, gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquillity of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.
[Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington]
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal”.
[John F Kennedy, 14 September 1960]
When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the TRUTH, just like you did!
Religion: So pathetically absurd and infantile that it is humiliating and embarrassing to think that the majority of people will never rise above it.
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
The beliefs of to-day may count as true to-day if they carry us along the stream; but tomorrow they will be false, and must be replaced by new beliefs to meet the new situation.
More next month …