The Quote Garden

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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Society
and Modern Living

Society is itself a kind of organism, an enormously powerful one, but unfortunately not a very wise one. ~Isaac Asimov, "Sociology," Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988

As I write, the world is in an ungentle mood. The result is the crisis psychology of our time, with its characteristic brink-of-war and brink-of-fascism mentality. Anything, we feel, may happen any day. Each day may spell the difference between the status quo and disaster. ~Max Lerner, "History if Written by the Survivors," It Is Later Than You Think: The Need for a Militant Democracy, 1938–1943

Men would not live long in society, were they not the mutual dupes of each other. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault (1613–1680)

I wish I could go back to the old me. This modern world has torn me apart. ~Making History, "Body Trouble," 2017, written by Isaiah Lester  [S1, E9, Sam Adams]

Men need not trouble to alter conditions; conditions will so soon alter men. The head can be beaten small enough to fit the hat. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton, "The New Hypocrite," What's Wrong with the World, 1910

It has been such a busy world... So many things have been torn up by the roots again that were settled... There were to be no more wars; democracy was democracy... ~Charles Dudley Warner, Backlog Studies, 1873

O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames;
Before this strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims,
Its heads o'ertax'd, its palsied hearts, was rife...
~Matthew Arnold, "The Scholar-Gipsy," 1853

When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat? ~Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters, 1999

You know your Neighbor's Wish beyond a doubt;
His Hedge, however low, means, "Please Keep Out!"
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Neighborliness," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty : what is the matter with the Rich is Uselessness. ~Bernard Shaw

The wisdom of the world is sued for breach of promise. The lore of the ages is bankrupt. It cannot pay its debts. It is powerless to release a soul from pain, unable to mend a little broken heart, and even the hungry it cannot save from starvation. Strange situation, yet we explain it; we tell all who, like ourselves, are puzzled and perplexed, and content to remain so, that it is the problem of the ages. Are we not wise to use such words? We offer no solution, but give the problem a name.... why this abyss between the thought and the deed? Has not humanity been dreaming too much with its hands in its pockets? Has not the mind worked overtime and permitted the indolence of the body?... What is it we believe in? ~Bernard G. Richard, "Life and the Theories of Life," To‑Morrow, June 1905  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? ~Henry David Thoreau, 1860

Is Error, though unwittingly supported by a host of good men, stronger than Truth? Are Right and Wrong convertible terms, dependent upon popular opinion? Oh no! ~William Lloyd Garrison

We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953

When a man finds that photographers are willing to take his likeness for nothing — he has arrived. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Meanwhile, Aunt Cora observes that it’s getting harder and harder to worry needlessly. ~Robert Brault,

I see vulgarity is becoming more fashionable than ever. ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885

It is a bad sign when men do not like to hear of warnings in a world of danger. ~Rev. William Borrows, M.A., Minister of St. Paul's Chapel, Clapham

You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world. ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Mission," The Torture Garden, 1899, translated from the French by Alvah C. Bessie, 1931

Here's a brave earth to sin and suffer on....
We'll sow it thick enough with graves as green
Or greener certes, than its knowledge-tree.
We'll have the cypress for the tree of life,
More eminent for shadow: for the rest,
We'll build it dark with towns and pyramids,
And temples, if it please you:—we'll have feasts
And funerals also, merrymakes and wars,
Till blood and wine shall mix and run along
Right o'er the edges...
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "A Drama of Exile"

That ridiculous goose, the Public! Sometimes I wonder if the whole world is n't an idiot asylum for the castaways of happier planets. ~Malheureuse, "Four For a Cent," in The Overland Monthly, January 1893

[S]o far as I personally am concerned the public can go to the devil. It is the function of the public to prevent the artist's expression by hook or by crook.... we're in such a beautiful position to save the public's soul by punching its face that it seems a crime not to do so. ~Ezra Pound, letter to Harriet Monroe, December 1912

The time is ripe, and rotten-ripe, for change;
Then let it come: I have no dread of what
Is called for by the instinct of mankind.
Nor think I that God's world would fall apart
Because we tear a parchment more or less.
Truth is eternal, but her effluence,
With endless change, is fitted to the hour;
Her mirror is turned forward, to reflect
The promise of the future, not the past.
I do not fear to follow out the truth...
~James Russell Lowell, "A Glance Behind the Curtain"

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship. ~C.S. Lewis

We have an abundance of "statistics of crime," but no statistics of virtue. ~C. Nestell Bovee

How can I fix the world when the people in charge want it to stay broken? ~New Amsterdam, "Same As It Ever Was," 2021, written by Aaron Ginsburg, based on a book by Eric Manheimer  [S4, E3, Imani Moore]

The choice so often these days is to believe something that seems insane or go insane. ~Robert Brault,

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ~Isaac Asimov, "Science and Society," Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
~T. S. Eliot

Tolerance is like alcohol: in moderate amounts, it softens hard edges, and lubricates the machinery of social interaction; in excess, it leads to foolishness, incoherence, the annihilation of principle, and the destruction of the essential self. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

The only safeguard of human dignity — the door and the doorlatch... And the windowshade. ~Jean Giraudoux, The Enchanted: A Comedy in Three Acts, 1933, adapted by Maurice Valency, English Acting Edition, 1950

This little ceremony... is designed to preserve to our posterity these monuments of human ingenuity — together with some other trifles, such as law and order and a living wage. ~Jean Giraudoux, The Enchanted: A Comedy in Three Acts, 1933, adapted by Maurice Valency, English Acting Edition, 1950

The more people who shrug their shoulders and say, "It is what it is," the more likely it is. ~Robert Brault,

I do not want you to believe any of this because it is all crap, but it is the crap in which the piles of our pseudo-European culture are embedded, so you had better understand it because no one who does not understand the history and taxonomy of crap will ever come to know the difference between crap and pseudocrap and noncrap. ~Louis de Bernières, Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord (Dionisio Vivo)

Is it my imagination, or does shipping and handling settle a box of crackers more than it used to? ~Robert Brault,

We feed on the world in increasingly desperate attempts to compensate for feelings of incompleteness, separation, and alienation. This is a sorry way to live. ~Ken McLeod, Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention

Life has been reduced to getting food out of cans. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Yet every year the girls are more beautiful, the athletes are better. So the dilemma remains. Is the curse on the world or on oneself? Does the world get better, no matter how, getting better and worse as part of the same process, or does the world get better in spite of the fact it is getting worse, and we are approaching the time when an apocalypse will pass through the night? ~Norman Mailer, Cannibals and Christians, 1966

A man, to be happy in this world, needs to have been born a fool. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

      Appearances for them are absolute. So, like savages before their gods, they worship facts. And in return, the facts hit them like hailstones. Life is just one damned fact after another. They turn to collecting facts—laying them down—making "Outlines" of every real and fancied fact in the universe, until "truth" becomes an endless succession of stepping-stones that have a way of disappearing into a bog as soon as they are passed over, and the living and ever-present eternity is an abysmal void on the far horizon.
      No doubt about it, we live in a fact-ridden world. Any man who has gathered a handful of facts now fancies himself a competent authority; and slinging facts at one another is the whole occupation of our second-rate scientists, politicians and economists, who trail behind them a vast horde of camp-followers trampling the living relationship of truth underfoot while they vociferate their "confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning." What wonder that human values are regarded as outworn?
      ~Max Plowman, "The Adelphi Forum: Keyserling's Challenge," December 1932

Commuter — one who spends his life
In riding to and from his wife;
A man who shaves and takes a train,
And then rides back to shave again.
~E. B. White, "The Commuter," 1925

There is no hope for the survival of humanity unless we realize the absurdity of man's false sense of sovereignty as well as the fallacy of absolute expediency. ~Abraham J. Heschel, "Children and Youth," 1960

      When George Washington was President of the United States, the majority of the people in the country wanted him to go to war with France. They were excited and hysterical and when they were unable to stampede him into their way of thinking, or rather, of not thinking, they began to call him names. But after the country had "cooled off" a few months later, they saw that he had been right and they had been wrong. Washington came to a place of great leadership because he could keep his head level and cool.
      Did you ever see a cattle stampede? It usually starts in some scare and frequently carries along hundreds of cattle to destruction. A "man stampede" is just as strange and unreasonable. Men are swept along by the force of others' unthinking action and immense harm is done. ~Halford E. Luccock, "The Biggest Word in the Dictionary," Five-Minute Shop-Talks, 1916  [a little altered —tg]

Nowadays you envy a manic-depressive. Half the time he's happy, the other half he's right. ~Robert Brault,

People had been working for so many years to make the world a safe, organized place. Nobody realized how boring it would become. With the whole world property-lined and speed-limited and zoned and taxed and regulated, with everyone tested and registered and addressed and recorded... Without access to true chaos, we'll never have true peace. Unless everything can get worse, it won't get any better. This is all stuff the Mommy used to tell him. She used to say, "The only frontier you have left is the world of intangibles. Everything else is sewn up too tight. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Choke, 2001

But nowadays the world moves quicker than in the long ago; old-fashioned methods make us snicker, they were so crude and slow. ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Knowledge by Mail," c.1910

The world maddens some, and brutifies others. ~J. De Finod

      Is there any one, in our alternate moods of bafflement and exultation, who has not brooded on this queer divergence of Life and Happiness? Sometimes we feel that we have been trapped: that Life, which once opened a vista so broad and golden, has somehow jostled and hurried us into a corner, into a narrow treadmill of meaningless gestures that exhaust our spirit and mirth. In recent years all humanity has been herded in one vast cage of confusion and dread from which there seemed no egress. Now we are slowly, bitterly, perplexedly groping our way out of it. And perhaps in the difficult years of rebuilding each man will make some effort to architect his existence anew, creeping humbly and hopefully a little closer to the fountains of beauty and strength that lie all about us.
      When did we learn to cut ourselves apart from earth's miracles of refreshment? To wall ourselves in from the sun's great laughter, to forget the flamboyant pageantry of the world? Earth has wisdom for all our follies, healing for all our wounds, dusk and music for all our peevishness. Who taught us that we could do without her? Can you hear the skylark through a telephone or catch that husky whisper of the pines in a dictograph? Can you keep your heart young in a row of pigeonholes? Will you forego the surf of ocean rollers to be serf to a rolltop desk?...
      Here is this spinning ball for us to marvel at, turning in an ever-changing bath of color and shadow, blazed with sunshine, drenched with silver rain, leaning through green and orange veils of dusk, and we creep with blinkered eyes along narrow alleys of unseeing habit. What will it profit us to keep a balance at the bank if we can't keep a balance of youth and sanity in our souls? Of what avail to ship carloads of goods north, east, south, and west, if we cannot spare time to know our own dreams, to exchange our doubts and yearnings with our friends and neighbors?... It is like a man who should shoulder for a place at a quick lunch counter when a broad and leisurely banquet table was spread free just around the corner. ~Christopher Morley (1890–1957), "A Slice of Sunlight," Travels in Philadelphia, 1920  [a little altered —tg]

Anyone else tired of how media eats your brain? ~Daniel, @blindedpoet, tweet, 2011

What they sell to the masses are the chains you must break if you are ever to be in control of your life. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2011

Meanwhile, Wall Street criminality is growing by leaps. There are no bounds. ~Robert Brault,

The gods are satisfied when a man does his best, but the neighbors may still find fault with him. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

      The problem of our youth is not youth. The problem is the spirit of our age... What youth needs is a sense of significant being, a sense of reverence for the society to which we all belong...
      We have denied our young people the knowledge of the dark side of life... They do not feel morally challenged, they do not feel called upon...
      There are jobs, opportunities for success, comfort, security, but there is no exaltation, no sense for that which is worthy of sacrifice, no lasting insight, no experience of adoration, no relatedness to the ultimately precious.
      Demands which were made of the individual in earlier periods are now considered oppressive. Self-discipline is obsolescent, self-denial unhygienic, metaphysical problems irrelevant. The terms of reference are emotional release and suppression, with little regard for remorse and responsibility...
      Basic to man's existence is a sense of indebtedness... to society... to God. What is emerging in our age is a strange inversion. Modern man believes that the world is indebted to him... His standard and preoccupation: What will I get out of life? Suppressed is the question: What will life, what will society get out of me?...
      The basic issue is how young people can be imbued with a proper sense of responsibility in an affluent society... There is no sense of responsibility without reverence for the sublime in human existence, without a sense of dignity... without an awareness of the transcendence of living. Self-respect is the fruit of discipline, the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself...
      We prepare the pupil for employment, for holding a job. We do not teach him how to be a person... How to save the inner man from oblivion — this is the major challenge we face... We impart information; we must also foster a sense of appreciation. We teach skills, we must also stimulate insight. We are involved in numerous activities; we must not forget the meaning of stillness... Skills are vital, but so is self-restraint... ~Abraham J. Heschel, "Essay on Youth," 1960

So we go round the dreary circle. One reform is obtained, and a fresh failing springs up to take its place. One man cannot put himself against a system winked at by the whole country. It is a pity, but 'tis true, and pity 'tis 'tis true. ~Jerome K. Jerome, 1896

Fame consists in dying in action and getting your name misspelled on the casualty lists. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Beautiful world! I see you. One day I shall comprehend you.
Wondrous life! We all allow it to become so marred.
How life would touch us with fond caress, and our cold hands but chill her.
We shout at her. Maybe if we would whisper she would hear. Her soul is not attuned to raucous sound.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: V," A Soul's Faring, 1921  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

When with a tired soul Thou stand'st apart
      And life's most busy nothingness dost see,
      When the hard question rises in thy heart
      What all these contradictions here may be;
When thou dost see God's glorious world defaced,
      As though the very sun should hide his light,
      Ashamed at all the black lines man has traced
      Upon the things that were so pure and bright;
When man's unkindness to his brother man,—
      Not the great wars that shake a nation's weal,
      But that indifference with which they fan
      The flame of anguish which they do not feel;—
~Fanny Charlotte Wyndham Montgomery (1820–1893), "When with a tired soul," 1846

Western laziness.... consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time left to confront the real issues. ~Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse After Glimpse: Daily Reflections on Living and Dying

The wise man takes note of the spirit of the age, the politician panders to it, the statesman guides it. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Blackbeard:  His words, though, they sounded polite but they stung.
Stede Bonnet:  Yah, that's called passive aggression. Pirates, they attack with force. The upper crust, they strike with cutting remarks disguised as politeness.
Blackbeard:  That's [f@%¡ng] diabolical.
Bonnet:  It is.
~Our Flag Means Death, "The Best Revenge Is Dressing Well," 2022, written by John Mahone  [S1, E5]

If you camp out at the store for a TV, you are a good consumer. If you camp out for social justice, you're a dirty hippie and will be pepper-sprayed. ~Author unknown

      When I imagine the sixties and seventies, I am filled with a sad sense that something important has been lost — something that connected people, regardless of their many directions. Growing up in the aftermath of the "hippie movement" has fragmented youth identity. We are propelled headlong into the age of anxiety, afflicted with tunnel vision and distrust of our neighbors.... It was a movement in the truest sense of the word, a collective effort toward a common goal: personal freedom.
      Now there are only separate movements in opposing directions and a seeming ambiguity of purpose. My generation has been characterized as thoughtless, cynical, unmotivated, apathetic and generally uninterested.... During the past twenty years, technological innovation has become the dominant factor in defining the pace of our culture. Perhaps our brains seem a bit numb because they are saturated with too much information, too many media images repeating themselves in the reflective surfaces of our shiny new world....
      So here I am, driving through a landscape that has seen the last thirty years go whirling by in a blur of ever increasing traffic, rising decibels and thickening exhaust. ~Cecily Schmidt, "Common Threads," in Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counterculture edited by Chelsea Cain, 1999

I prefer Grimm's fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Possibilities," 1997, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak

When words stop meaning anything, when truth doesn't matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can't work. ~Barack Obama, speech, 2018, as quoted by The Associated Press

Business having become the most important thing in life it is quite clear that it is destined to swallow up the feeble things that we used to call literature and art. They must accommodate themselves or die. ~Stephen Leacock, "Romances of Business," The Garden of Folly, 1924

All a speed-reading course does for some people is enable them to become misinformed faster. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)

Things happen too quickly, crisis follows crisis, the soil of our minds is perpetually disturbed. Each of us, to relieve his feelings, broadcasts his own running commentary on the preposterous and bewildering events of the hour: and this, nowadays, is what passes for conversation. ~Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1940

I was talking to the devil the other day, and he told me that he seldom leads people astray anymore, finding it easier to just follow along in their footsteps. ~Robert Brault,

Copyrights Are All Reserved
Confidential And Preserved
Science, Fiction, Law And Art
All The Brain Is Kept Apart
Talents Of The World Exist
What Is Good Is Never Missed
Knowledge There, Is So Immense
Without It, Life, Would Not Make Sense
So Cultural So Refined
The World Is Left Behind
Copyrights Have All The Brain
      Ever Known
            Plus Its Own.
~Victor Derlatka, "Library Of Congress," in Our Western World's Most Beautiful Poems, edited and published by John Campbell, World of Poetry Press, 1985

Information should be used as food for thought, not poison to the soul. ~Shellie R. Warren

The typical gambler may not really understand the probabilistic nuances of the wheel or the dice, but such things certainly seem a good bit more tractable than, say, trying to raise children in this lunatic society of ours. ~Arthur S. Reber, The New Gambler's Bible: How to Beat the Casinos, the Tracks, Your Bookie, and Your Buddies, 1996

We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us. Ideas of the Stone Age exist side by side with the latest scientific thought. Only a fraction of mankind has emerged from the Dark Ages, and in the most lucid brains, as Logan Pearsall Smith has said, we come upon "nests of woolly caterpillars." Seemingly sane men entrust their wealth to stargazers and their health to witch doctors. Giant planes throb through the stratosphere, but half their passengers are wearing magic amulets and are protected from harm by voodoo incantations. Hotels boast of express elevators and a telephone in every room, but omit thirteen from all floor and room numbers lest their guests be ill at ease. We function on a dozen different levels of intelligence. Earnest suburbanites in sack suits go in their automobiles to celebrate the ancient rites of Attis and Mithra, theophagous in grape juice. On the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox we dye eggs, according to immemorial custom, and seven days before the end of the year worship the pine tree, as did our neolithic forebears. Matter and impertinency are inextricably mixed. One of our greatest universities employs its vast endowment to furnish "scientific proof" of clairvoyance, while, at another, a Nobel prize winner in physics, finding Truth to be incomprehensible, decides that the incomprehensible must be true. The discoveries of the telescope, the spectroscope, and the interferometer are daily news, but the paper that carries them probably has an astrologer on its staff and would sooner omit the headlines than the horoscope. ~Bergen Evans, "Adam's Navel," The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946

[T]he army of wrongness rampant in the world might as well march over me. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958

It is the worst thing about any system which divides men, or allows them to be divided, into classes and castes, that it weakens the sense of a common humanity. Unequal distribution of wealth, and still more effectually, unequal opportunities of education and culture, divided society in your day into classes which, in many respects, regarded each other as distinct races. ~Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000–1887, 1888

Society's sins are like new wine: they only require age to make them respectable. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Idiocy flows uphill towards power. ~Terri Guillemets

The three horrors of modern life — talk without meaning, desire without love, work without satisfaction. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

I hate handing over money to people for doing for what I could just as easily do myself, it makes me nervous. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, 1963

We speak of salaries and war instead of singing songs of life. ~Tom Brown, Jr.

What is new in our time is not senseless cruelty but a growing willingness to see sense in it. ~Robert Brault,

"We've taken the world apart," she says, "but we have no idea what to do with the pieces…" ~Chuck Palahniuk, Choke, 2001

You just can't escape it. This country is full of people who want to make their noise and, worse, make you listen. ~Terri Guillemets  #hsp

From noise and nonsense on the bank of Thames,
Self-loving fops, and trifle-loving dames;
From bustling crowds, and what my hearing loaths,
The roar of coaches, and the belch of oaths;
From city cries squawl'd in a tongue unknown,
(Which shews our very mob to op'ra prone)
And all the busy nothings of the town...
~Author name not published, "D___ Hall," The London Magazine (Poetical Essays), June 1735  #hsp #infj

It is our destiny to be born beautiful into an ugly age. ~Henry Rollins, "Solipsist"

Certain shades of limelight wreck a girl's complexion. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958

The world constantly sways me between poet and malcontent. ~Terri Guillemets

The public is hedged about by so many goddam bookkeepers that no time is left in which to produce. More time is spent in carrying out garbage than in carrying in food. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

We live longer
but less precisely
and in shorter sentences...
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Nonreading," translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak

Complication has penetrated everywhere. Few people have an immediate insight into moral truth such as nature has revealed it. Almost all men, even the least cultivated, only see invisible things through phrases. Intuition is very rare, ready-made phrases are common and cheap. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847), Philosophy. First Section: Pure Philosophy. Chapter II.—Metaphysics. II. Logic— 3. Problem of Cognition, Outlines of Philosophy and Literature, edited by ‎Jean Frédéric Astié, 1865

Inequality in wages is "the root of all evil." Thus all labor should be paid alike. Poverty and crime must continue until this is accomplished. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Junk mail, junk food, our society is full of junk living, period. ~Terri Guillemets

If you think that someone is out to steal everything you have, you're either paranoid or a member of the middle class. ~Robert Brault,

There is a final stage in the relaxation of morals where everything is offensive, but it doesn't offend anybody. ~Robert Brault,

You can say a lot in a glance. A glance I have tried to perfect is one that says, "Try as you will, you can't offend me — but that doesn't mean you aren't offensive." ~Robert Brault,

The world is changing so fast I've got societal vertigo. ~Terri Guillemets, journal, 1991

The year is 2006. The world has changed in about 364 significant ways since you started reading this sentence. ~Terri Guillemets

What's going on...? Why does everything suck this hard?... how did we get here? ~South Park, "The Damned," 2016, written by Trey Parker  [S20, E3, Randy—tg]

You wonder sometimes how cruelty became so tolerable and the simple aspirations of the human soul so threatening. ~Robert Brault,

Deb:  I thought that newspapers were for serious discourse on contemporary issues.
Dan:  No way. Newspapers are for people who don't have cell phones to read while they poop.
~Making History, "The Duel," 2017, written by Ted Travelstead  [S1, E8]

We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. ~Fight Club, 1999, screenplay by Jim Uhls, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk  [Tyler Durden —tg]

We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, 1996

Our system of training tends to smother man's sense of wonder and mystery, to stifle rather than to cultivate his sense of the unutterable... ~Abraham J. Heschel, "Essay on Youth," 1960

And after all... perhaps the greatest lesson which the lives of literary men teach us is told in a single word: Wait! — Every man must patiently bide his time. He must wait. More particularly in lands like my native land, where the pulse of life beats with such feverish and impatient throbs, is the lesson needful. Our national character wants the dignity of repose. We seem to live in the midst of a battle, — there is such a din, such a hurrying to and fro. In the streets of a crowded city it is difficult to walk slowly. You feel the rushing of the crowd and rush with it onward. In the press of our life it is difficult to be calm. In this stress of wind and tide, all professions seem to drag their anchors, and are swept out into the main. The voices of the Present say, 'Come!' But the voices of the Past say, 'Wait!' With calm and solemn footsteps the rising tide bears against the rushing torrent up stream, and pushes back the hurrying waters. With no less calm and solemn footsteps, nor less certainty, does a great mind bear up against public opinion, and push back its hurrying stream. Therefore should every man wait, — should bide his time. Not in listless idleness, — not in useless pastime, — not in querulous dejection, — but in constant, steady, cheerful endeavors, always willing and fulfilling, and accomplishing his task, that, when the occasion comes, he may be equal to the occasion. And if it never comes, what matters it? What matters it to the world, whether I, or you, or another man did such a deed, or wrote such a book, so be it the deed and book were well done? It is the part of an indiscreet and troublesome ambition to care too much about fame, — about what the world says of us; — to be always looking into the faces of others for approval; to be always anxious for the effect of what we do and say; to be always shouting to hear the echo of our own voices. If you look about you, you will see men who are wearing life away in feverish anxiety of fame, and the last we shall ever hear of them will be the funeral bel that tolls them to their early graves! Unhappy men, and unsuccessful! because their purpose is, not to accomplish well their task, but to clutch the 'trick and fantasy of fame'; and they go to their graves with purposes unaccomplished and wishes unfulfilled. Better for them, and for the world in their example, had they known how to wait! Believe me, the talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well; and doing well whatever you do, — without a thought of fame. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion: A Romance, 1839

Dear angry-distressed-hurtful World:
Call me when we return to spreading kindness.
~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2019,

I have seen humanity hanging on a cross. Do none of you know what sighs the sun and stars look down on in this city, that you can think and talk of anything else? Do you not know that close to your doors a great multitude of men and women, flesh of your flesh, live lives that are one agony from birth to death? Listen! their dwellings are so near that if you hush your laughter you will hear their grievous voices, the piteous crying of the little ones that suckle poverty, the hoarse curses of men sodden in misery, turned half way back to brutes, the chaffering of an army of women selling themselves for bread. With what have you stopped your ears that you do not hear these doleful sounds? For me I can hear nothing else. ~Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000–1887, 1888

Most people know more about their own elected officials via smear campaigns than they know about their own neighbors via conversation, and many know more about the celebrities via tabloids than they know about their own representatives via voting booklets. ~Terri Guillemets, 2007

No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously. ~Dave Barry, "25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years," Dave Barry Turns 50, 1998,

Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic. ~Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin, 1973

The Occidental snobbery which is invading us, the gunboats, rapid-fire guns, long-range rifles, explosives… what else? Everything which makes death collective, administrative and bureaucratic — all the filth of your progress, in fact — is destroying, little by little, our beautiful traditions of the past. ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Garden," The Torture Garden, 1899, translated from the French by Alvah C. Bessie, 1931

Some people have become as processed as the food. ~Terri Guillemets

Social reform aims to improve the condition of the poor by worsening the condition of the rich. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Somehow among all our use of antibiotic medicine and antibacterial soap our souls are becoming sanitized as well — don't let it happen to you! ~Terri Guillemets, 2007

Alas, the gates of life never swing open except upon death, never open except upon the palaces and gardens of death. And the universe appears to me like an immense, inexorable torture-garden. Blood everywhere and, where there is most life, horrible tormentors who dig your flesh, saw your bones, and retract your skin with sinister, joyful faces. ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Garden," The Torture Garden, 1899, translated from the French by Alvah C. Bessie, 1931

Ah, yes! the Torture Garden! Passions, appetites, greed, hatred, and lies; law, social institutions, justice, love, glory, heroism, and religion: these are its monstrous flowers and its hideous instruments of eternal human suffering. What I saw today, and what I heard, is no more than a symbol to me of the entire earth. I have vainly sought a respite in quietude and repose in death, and I can find them nowhere. ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Garden," The Torture Garden, 1899, translated from the French by Alvah C. Bessie, 1931

The trump of reform is sounding throughout the world for a revolution of all human affairs. This issue we cannot doubt; yet the cries are not without alarm. Already is the axe laid at the root of that spreading tree, whose trunk is idolatry, whose branches are covetousness, war, and slavery, whose blossom is concupiscence, whose fruit is hate. Planted by Beelzebub, it shall be rooted up. ~A. Bronson Alcott, "Orphic Sayings," in The Dial, January 1841

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Last saved 2022 Sep 22 Thu 11:09 PDT