Favorite Quotes

stlukesguild

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We have a thread on favorite poems. Unfortunately, that is limited to short or lyric poetry. No one is going to take the time to type in or read the whole of Dante's Comedia or even The Wasteland. And what of novels, short stories, essays, etc...? I Here I thought I'd start a thread where members might share favorite quotes.
 
One favorite quote of mine that I have sworn by for years is the Preface to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray:

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.
To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.
The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything.
Even things that are true can be proved.
No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.
No artist is ever morbid.

The artist can express everything.
Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.
Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.
From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it.
The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

Oscar-Wilde-1882.jpg
 
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"You reach a moment in life when, among the people you have known, the dead outnumber the living."
-
Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities
 
She was beautiful, but not like those girls in magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn't beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
Some quotes from Saki, who was even more acerbic than Wilde.

“He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.”

“A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.”

“The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go, she went.”

“Every reformation must have its victims. You can’t expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal’s return.”

“Think how many blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretions of other people.”

“Behind his careful political flippancy and cynicism one might also detect a certain careless sincerity, which would probably in the long run save him from moderate success, and turn him into one of the brilliant failures of his day. ”

“The sacrifices of friendship were beautiful in her eyes as long as she was not asked to make them.”
 
I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the world are
latent in any iota of the world;
I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities, insects, vulgar
persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds, rejected refuse than I have
supposed.

-Walt Whitman

To see a world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wildflower
to hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour...

-William Blake

I loved maudlin pictures, the painted panes over doors, stage
sets, the backdrops of mountebanks, old inn signs, popular
prints, antiquated literature, church Latin, erotic books
innocent of all spelling, the novels of our grandfathers,
fairytales, children's storybooks, old operas, inane refrains,
and artless rhythms...

-Rimbaud
 
I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.
-Charlie Chaplin
 
The details are not the details. They make the design.
- Charles Eames

Who ever said that pleasure wasn't functional?
- Charles Eames
 
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
- Walter Reuther
 
“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.”

“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 uncertainty about different things, but I am 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 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.”

“I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.”

~Richard P. Feynman
 
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O, thou art fairer than the evening air clad in the beauty of a thousand stars.
-Christopher Marlowe
 
Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive to us, — for that moment only. Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the end. A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life. How may we see in them all that is to seen in them by the finest senses? How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy?

To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes any two persons, things, situations, seem alike. While all melts under our feet, we may well grasp at any exquisite passion, or any contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment, or any stirring of the senses, strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, or work of the artist's hands, or the face of one's friend. Not to discriminate every moment some passionate attitude in those about us, and in the very brilliancy of their gifts some tragic dividing of forces on their ways, is, on this short day of frost and sun, to sleep before evening. With this sense of the splendour of our experience and of its awful brevity, gathering all we are into one desperate effort to see and touch, we shall hardly have time to make theories about the things we see and touch. What we have to do is to be for ever curiously testing new opinions and courting new impressions, never acquiescing in a facile orthodoxy of Comte, or of Hegel, or of our own...

One of the most beautiful passages of Rousseau is that in the sixth book of the Confessions, where he describes the awakening in him of the literary sense. An undefinable taint of death had clung always about him, and now in early manhood he believed himself smitten by mortal disease. He asked himself how he might make as much as possible of the interval that remained; and he was not biassed by anything in his previous life when he decided that it must be by intellectual excitement, which he found just then in the clear, fresh writings of Voltaire. Well! we are all condamnés, as Victor Hugo says: we are all under sentence of death but with a sort of indefinite reprieve — les hommes sont tous condamnés mort avec des sursis indéfinis: we have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest, at least among "the children of this world," in art and song. For our one chance lies in expanding that interval, in getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time. Great passions may give us this quickened sense of life, ecstasy and sorrow of love, the various forms of enthusiastic activity, disinterested or otherwise, which come naturally to many of us. Only be sure it is passion — that it does yield you this fruit of a quickened, multiplied consciousness. Of such wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire of beauty, the love of art for its own sake, has most. For art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments' sake.

-Walter Pater: The Renaissance; Studies in Art and Poetry- Conclusion
 
That's a long quote. Not that I disagree with Pater, but I tend to prefer shorter ones that I can remember without opening a book. This one I memorized long ago.

“The sun shines, snow falls, mountains rise and valleys sink, night deepens and pales into day, but it is only very seldom that we attend to such things. . . . When we are grasping the inexpressible meaning of these things, this is life, this is living. To do this twenty-four hours a day is the Way of Haiku. It is having life more abundantly.”

~R.H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 1
 
For snappy quotes it's hard to beat Raymond Chandler. Goodreads has over twenty pages worth.

“He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake.”

“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder.”

“She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.”

“I'm in a wild mood tonight. I want to go dance in the foam. I hear the banshees calling.”

One of my all time favorites, from The Big Sleep-- cracks me up whenever I watch the film. Of course, Bogart's delivery helps.

“Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains. You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.”

Then there's this, which I have course haven't memorized, but love just as a bravura piece of hard-boiled noir writing.

“There are blondes and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are as blond as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a sidewalk. There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you are glad you found out about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or Lucrezia’s poison vial. There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provençal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them. And lastly there is the gorgeous show piece who will outlast three kingpin racketeers and then marry a couple of millionaires at a million a head and end up with a pale rose villa at Cap Antibes, an Alfa Romeo town car complete with pilot and co-pilot, and a stable of shopworn aristocrats, all of whom she will treat with the affectionate absent-mindedness of an elderly duke saying goodnight to his butler.”

Whew.
 
Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.
― Haruki Murakami


For these few days, the hills are bright with cherry blossom. Longer, and we should not prize them so.
― Yamabe no Akahito
 
Life, despite what the Buddha said, is not all grief and misery, except to those who are so dissatisfied they prefer it to be so.
 
Nonetheless, he wished to escape from it, permanently. However, that's a different subject.
 
what he wished to escape was the stress of existence

which is not to say he doesn't exist
 
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