Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quotes that are actually useful

I bet at some point one of your co-workers had a daily quote calendar on his desk. You know, those calendars that deliver a brand new slice of affirmation each and every day!

For those who go paperless, your daily dose of cornball may come in the form of a daily quotation email.

Regardless of how they are delivered, what these lists of quotations normally amount to is a bunch of hokey affirmations with no absolutely no utility. Half the time they don't even make sense: White bread is just wheat bread waiting to be born!

And after spamming you with positivity, they will always insert one mildly cutting Mark Twain quote; you know, for all you affirmation-loving cynics out there!


Here are some quotes that you may not always see, and that may have some actual utility in your descent through life:

Arthur Schopenhauer:

If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the first sight of a letter from him.

Men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies.

The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone.

HL Mencken:

EM Cioran:

Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter.

Oscar Wilde:

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.

A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.

Ambrose Bierce:

Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.

Bertrand Russell:

Liberty is the right to do what I like; license, the right to do what you like.

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.

Sin is geographical.

One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.


A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

There are horrible people who, instead of solving a problem, tangle it up and make it harder to solve for anyone who wants to deal with it. Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all.

Raymond Chandler:

The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.

Murray Rothbard:

It is easy to be conspicuously 'compassionate' if others are being forced to pay the cost.


After all, life hasn't much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others.

Often people display a curious respect for a man drunk, rather like the respect of simple races for the insane... There is something awe-inspiring in one who has lost all inhibitions..

(On preferring cash over other gifts): “It's a thing which can't be beaten anywhere, for it wants nothing at all to eat, and it takes up very little room, and it fits easily to the pocket, and it doesn't break in pieces if it happens to be dropped.”


Speak low if you speak love.


As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task.


No one ever teaches well who wants to teach, or governs well who wants to govern.

Hannah Arendt:

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.

In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.
If you notice some overlap between some of these, perhaps it is because as the already quoted Schopenhauer said:

The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority have always done just the opposite.

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