Those who believe in miracles when it comes to matters of the heart may believe that there is a perfect mate for each of us waiting to be discovered somewhere in the world. But if this is true, the far greater miracle is the frequency with which the Fates conspire to place this person within walking distance.

— Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, and Hillgard, Introduction to Psychology

Before he became a hermit, Zarathud was a young Priest, and took great delight in making fools of his opponents in front of his followers.

One day Zarathud took his students to a pleasant pasture and there he confronted The Sacred Chao while She was contentedly grazing.

“Tell me, you dumb beast,” demanded the Priest in his commanding voice, “why don’t you do something worthwhile? What is your Purpose in Life, anyway?”

Munching the tasty grass, The Sacred Chao replied “MU”. (The Chinese ideogram for NO-THING.)

Upon hearing this, absolutely nobody was enlightened.

Primarily because nobody understood Chinese.

— Camden Benares, Zen Without Zen Masters

Date Added: Jul 11, 2003

Once Law was sitting on the bench
And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
“Clear out!” he cried, “disordered wench!
Nor come before me creeping.
Upon you knees if you appear,
’Tis plain you have no standing here.”

Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
“YOUR states? — Devil seize you!”
“Amica curiae,” she replied —
“Friend of the court, so please you.”
“Begone!” he shouted — “There’s the door —
I never saw your face before!”

— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Mythology, n.
The body of a primitive people’s beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.

— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Ocean, n.
A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills.

— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road …

— Stewart Brand, The Media Lab

Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be!

— Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

The dreamers are the ones who conceive of what could happen and the scientists are the ones who make it happen. The best of humanity are those who combine both traits.

— Peter David, Vendetta

[W]e have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which “now” was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient “now” to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volitile. […] We have only risk management. The spinning of a given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.

— William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

Date Added: Dec 7, 2003

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.

— Matt Groening, Life in Hell

Any person who can’t find reverse gear in a Volkswagen.

— Rich Hall, Sniglets

There are three schools of magic.
One: State a tautology, then ring the changes on its corollaries; that’s philosophy.
Two: Record many facts. Try to find a pattern. Then make a wrong guess at the next fact; that’s science.
Three: Be aware that you live in a malevolent Universe controlled by Murphy’s Law, sometimes offset by Brewster’s Factor; that’s engineering.

— Robert A. Heinlein, The Number of the Beast

Memory never recaptures reality. Memory reconstructs. All reconstructions change the original, becoming external frames of reference that inevitably fall short.

— Frank Herbert, The Mentat Handbook

Date Added: Jul 13, 2003

“Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before,” Bokonon tells us. “He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.”

— Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cat’s Cradle

She later confessed to me that I was the only person, besides herself, who could make her really laugh. It was the best grade I ever got.

— Chip Kidd, The Cheese Monkeys

There is a land shining with goodness where each man protects his brother’s dignity as his own, where war and want have ceased and all races live under the same law of love and honor.

It is a land bright with truth, where a man’s word is his pledge, and falsehood is banished, where children sleep safe in their mother’s arms and never know fear or pain. It is a land where kings extend their hands in justice rather than reach for the sword; where mercy, kindness, and compassion flow like deep water over the land, and men revere virtue, revere truth, revere beauty, above comfort, pleasure, or selfish gain. A land where peace reigns in the hearts of men, where faith blazes like a beacon from every hill, and love like a fire from every hearth, where the True God is worshiped and his ways acclaimed by all …

There is a golden realm of light, my son. And it is called the Kingdom of Summer.

— Stephen R. Lawhead, Merlin

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

— T. E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Come, let us hasten to a higher plane,
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n,
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

— Stanislaw Lem, Cyberiad

This is life’s sorrow:
That one can only be happy where two are
And that our hearts are drawn to stars that want us not.

— Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

When you live in the shadow of insanity, the appearance of another mind that thinks and talks as yours does is something close to a blessed event.

— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

That was always the dream, wasn’t it? “I wish I knew then what I know now?” But when you got older, you found out that you now wasn’t you then. You then was a twerp. You then was what you had to be to start out on the rocky road of becoming you now, and one of those rocky patches was being a twerp.

A much better dream, one that’d ensure sounder sleep, was not to know now what you didn’t know then.

— Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

Date Added: Oct 5, 2003

A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.

— Carl Sagan, Contact

Hier liegt ein Mann ganz obnegleich;
Im Leibe dick, an Suden reich.
Wir haben ihn in das Grab gesteckt,
Weil es uns dunkt er sei verreckt.

Here lies a man with sundry flaws
And numerous Sins upon his head;
We buried him today because
As far as we can tell, he’s dead.

— Peter Schickele, The Definitive Biography of PDQ Bach (PDQ Bach’s epitaph, as requested by his cousin Betty Sue Bach and written by the local doggerel catcher)

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

… Illusions are the most valuable and necessary of all things, and she who can create one is among the world’s greatest benefactors.

— Virginia Woolf, Orlando

… “fire” does not matter, “earth” and “air” and “water” do not matter. “I” do not matter. No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformations of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming.

— Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light

Date Added: Dec 10, 2005

About this Page

This is an excerpt from my quote file. Things that I've found inspirational, profound, food for thought, but most of all, funny.

This portion is for the “Books” category. The complete list can be found here, or via the links below.

Return to my blog.

By Attribution