The Quote Garden ™
“I dig old books.” ™
Quotations about Society
and Modern Living
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
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" [S1, E9, 2017], written by Isaiah Lester, spoken by the time-traveling character Sam Adams
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, rbrault.blogspot.com
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, Torture Garden, "The Mission"
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
The choice so often these days is to believe something that seems insane or go insane. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
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, lumpenbangenpiano.com
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
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, rbrault.blogspot.com
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
Nowadays you envy a manic-depressive. Half the time he's happy, the other half he's right. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
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
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, rbrault.blogspot.com
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
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
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
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, rbrault.blogspot.com
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
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
[T]he army of wrongness rampant in the world might as well march over me. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958
But fully to digest the spirit of this dicephalous diffusion, it is necessary to escalate retrospectively to the earliest instance of daylight-slaving, consequent on Uncle Adam's paucity of perception in failing to swallow the core. The occasion, besides establishing the fact that it was the serpent who first slipped over the slogan "Eat More Fruit," proved to be an ominous omen to man, who on account of Adam's failure to comply with the Orchard Act, was obliged to hitch up his hosiery and handle a hoe. Protestingly he proceeded to dig Old Man Earth in the ribs until he in his turn realised the necessity of hoisting his "holeproofs" and attending to his greengroceries, with the result that man plucked from his bosom herbaceous haberdashery both edible and elegant.
From this moment man experienced the psychological solecism, "Pride of Place," and out of his uppishness, combined with this access of agricultural activity, there sprang towns, like corns on the cuticle of cultivation, or excrescences on the hands of husbandry, thus proving that the Town and Country are really one, the town being merely the country with its hat on.
To quote the quips of Barnyard Stripling, the pastoral poet:— Each is least and both are best, And ever the twain shall meet. ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "Daylight-Slaving and the Curse of the Core," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st
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, 1960
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'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
Society 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
The secret to living contently and sanely in this modern world is to... find the beautiful in the ugly — but don't get confused which is which. ~Terri Guillemets
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, rbrault.blogspot.com
You make me sick! You are offered meat and you choose a banana-split-with-nuts. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)
The year is 2006. The world has changed in about 364 significant ways since you started reading this sentence. ~Terri Guillemets
The world is changing so fast I've got societal vertigo. ~Terri Guillemets, journal, 1991
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]
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]
Dear angry-distressed-hurtful World:
Call me when we return to spreading kindness.
~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2019, professorsunwolf.com
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
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
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
Last saved 2021 Apr 06 Tue 12:31 PDT