Cool Quotes

This page is entirely devoted to bits and pieces that have caught my attention, with absolutely no uniting theme. I shrink from calling them trivia though:

"My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love, and absolute freedom - freedom from violence and falsehood, no matter how the last two manifest themselves."

[Anton Chekhov]

"Everything is a miracle, until we call it natural, and everything is equally natural that actually happens."

[George Santayana]

"A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind."

[John Maynard Keynes]

"A poem need not have a meaning and like most things in nature often does not have."

[Wallace Stevens]


"If you talk to God you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia."

[Thomas Szasz, ‘The Second Sin’ 1973]

"Now lemme tell you something about pot. Pot will be legal in ten years. Why? Because in this audience probably every other one of you knows a law student who smokes pot, who will become a senator, who will legalize it to protect himself."

[Lenny Bruce 1963 - Sorry Lenny, but it seems he didn't inhale...]


"A simile must be as precise as a slide-rule and as natural as the smell of dill."

[Isaac Babel]

"A good composer does not imitate, he steals."

[Igor Stravinsky]

"Good writers have two things in common; they prefer to be understood rather than admired; and they do not write for knowing and over-acute readers."

[F.Nietzsche, ‘Assorted Opinions and Maxims’ (Which eliminates just about every novelist of the last twenty years...)]

"The optimist thinks that this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist knows it."

[J. Robert Oppenheimer, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 1951]

"Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success."

[Christopher Lasch, ‘The Culture of Narcissism’ 1979]

"I have remembered how to seem."

[from the film ‘The Madness of King George’]

"Ultima ratio regis"

[Literally, ‘the King’s ultimate argument’, the inscription embossed onto the barrels of cannons in pre-revolutionary France.]

"Oh, Louis was the King of France before the Revolution

Way haul away, we'll haul away Joe

But Louis got his head cut off which spoiled his constitution

Way haul away, we'll haul away Joe"

[British sailors' sea shanty]

"There comes a time in the life of every man when his heart must burst or turn to stone." [Nicolas-Sébastien Chamfort (1741-94).]

"I measure time by how a body sways"[Theodore Roethke, 'I Knew a Woman']


" The notion 'grammatical' cannot be identified with 'meaningful' or 'significant' in any semantic sense. Sentences 1 and 2 are equally nonsensical, but only the former is grammatical:

1 Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.

2 Furiously sleep ideas green colourless."

[Noam Chomsky, ‘Syntactic Structures’ 1957]


" I have known for some time that one cannot make a number occur to one at one's own free choice any more than a name. Investigation of a number made up in an apparently arbitrary manner - one, let us say, of several digits uttered by someone as a joke or in a moment of high spirits - reveals that it is strictly determined in a way that would really never have been thought possible."

[Sigmund Freud, ‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Life’ 1901]


Two verses, written two hundred years apart, wittily sum up the opposed views about science that still divide us today:

" Nature and Nature's Laws lay hid in night:

God said, Let Newton be! and all was light."

[Alexander Pope, ‘Intended for Sir Isaac Newton’ 1735]

" Locke* sank into a swoon;

The Garden died;

God took the spinning-jenny

Out of his side."

[W.B.Yeats, ‘Fragments’ 1931]

*John Locke, rationalist philosopher and contemporary of Newton


"When money's tight and is hard to get

And your horse has also ran,

When all you have is a heap of debt -


[Flann O'Brien - from At Swim-Two-Birds 1939 (the funniest book ever written in this world or any other)]

"Jack Sprat would eat no fat

His wife would eat no lean

A real sweet pair of neurotics"

[Jack Sharkey 1965]

"The first blini is always a mess."

[Russian Proverb - someone should have reminded Lenin...]


"Following the fall of Communism and Socialism, the rising 'ism' appears to be solipsism. It even has its own liberation front - serial killers are the military wing of solipsism."

"The central philosophical problem of the 20th century is that Schrödinger's Cat has eaten Flaubert's Parrot."

[Dick Pountain - unpublished work 1996]