i. “Everyone knows that he and his friends and the people he knows will die sooner or later, and after a while the thought recedes to the back of your mind, being a problem that must be faced when the time comes. But you feel that you at least have a right to some notice of such an event, to give you time to prepare your mind for it.” (Tom Holt, The Walled Orchard)

ii. “He was speaking tremendously well, even I could tell that; but he didn’t actually seem to be saying anything.” (-ll-)

iii. “As we walked we saw another column of smoke coming up from a sheltered little combe below us, but this time we didn’t try and interfere. ‘Callicrates,’ I said as we hurried along. ‘Do the Spartans always do things like that? I haven’t heard any stories about it.’ ‘Only the last year or so,’ Callicrates said, ‘ever since we started doing that sort of thing in Messenia when we go raiding there.’ I was horrified. ‘You mean we started it,’ I said. ‘We’re in the wrong.’ ‘What do you mean, in the wrong?’ Callicrates replied. ‘It’s a war, things like that happen. And they only happen when people are stupid enough to hang around when the enemy are approaching.’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. ‘Are you trying to say it was their fault they got killed?’ I asked. Callicrates stopped walking and looked at me. ‘Don’t you understand anything?’ he said. ‘It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way things are. Why does everything have to be somebody’s fault all the time?’” (-ll-)

iv. “I hate posterity – it’s so fond of having the last word” (Saki, The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)

v. “The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.” (-ll-)

vi. “In the minds of those who come after us we may be remembered for qualities and successes which we quite left out of the reckoning.” (-ll-)

vii. “Lost dignity is not a possession which can be restored at a moment’s notice” (-ll-)

viii. “My mother is thinking of getting married.” “Again!” “It’s the first time.” “Of course, you ought to know. I was under the impression that she’d been married once or twice at least.” “Three times, to be mathematically exact. I meant that it was the first time she’d thought about getting married; the other times she did it without thinking.” (-ll-)

ix. “It is the tragedy of human endeavour that it works so often unseen and unguessed.” (-ll-)

x. ““Tell me a story,” said the Baroness […] “What sort of story?” […] “One just true enough to be interesting and not true enough to be tiresome[”]”. (-ll-)

xi. “It is the golden rule of all religions that no one should really live up to their precepts; when a man observes the principles of his religion too exactly he is in immediate danger of founding a new sect.” (-ll-)

xii. “Given how evolution operates on populations subjected to different selective pressures it seems one would have to invoke divine intervention for human intelligence to be unvaried completely across the board. Everything else varies; variation in intelligence would be expected.” (‘Young’, from this westhunt comment thread)

xiii. “As long as there have been cells on Earth there have been viruses infecting them.” (John M. Archibald, Genomics, A Very Short Introduction)

xiv. “Giraffes are so tall because their ancestors ate the top branches of trees. The shorter Giraffes could not reach the top branches and died off. Why the shorter Giraffes did not eat the tops of shorter trees seems very strange. Perhaps it never occurred to them.1 When standing beside a mimosa the Giraffe is indistinguishable from the tree except that he has four legs and a head and a tail. Some hunters will stalk a mimosa tree for days without getting results. Others take to stalking apple trees. […] The herd is governed by an experienced male who is governed by several experienced females.” (Will Cuppy, How to Tell Your Friends From the Apes)

xv. “The Screech Owl makes a most amusing pet. The bird flies at visitors and buries its talons in their scalps, sometimes causing them to break a leg in their headlong flight, to the accompaniment of gales of laughter from the owners. After a mass meeting of neighbors, the bird sometimes disappears as suddenly as it came. The owners often disappear, too.” (-ll-)

xvi. “The Man-eating Tiger is old and decrepit. He has lost his strength and vigor and we should feel sorry for him. Young normal Tigers do not eat people. If eaten by a Tiger you may rest assured that he was abnormal. Once in a while a normal Tiger will eat somebody but he doesn’t mean anything by it.” (-ll-)

xvii. “During my labors I found time for my first intensive study of Aristotle, whose “History of Animals” provided me with a footnote or two. The more one peruses this author, and ponders upon him, the more one realizes the wide range, the almost universal scope of his misinformation.” (-ll-)

xviii. “Sometimes you have to give weight to a principle to keep it from being taken away in a storm.” (Jim Butcher, Brief Cases)

xix. “Harry told me once that you can always tell when you’re about to rationalize your way to a bad decision. It’s when you start using phrases such as It would be wrong, but … His advice was to leave the conjunction out of the sentence: It would be wrong. Period.” (-ll-)

xx. “He met his day in the shower, washing his hair with shampoo that was guaranteed to have never been put in a bunny’s eyes and from which ten percent of the profits went to save the whales. He lathered his face with shaving cream free of chlorofluorocarbons, thereby saving the ozone layer. He breakfasted on fertile eggs laid by sexually satisfied chickens that were allowed to range while listening to Brahms, and muffins made with pesticide-free grain, so no eagle-egg shells were weakened by his thoughtless consumption. He scrambled the eggs in margarine free of tropical oils, thus preserving the rain forest, and he added milk from a carton made of recycled paper and shipped from a small family farm. By the time he finished his second cup of coffee, which would presumably help to educate the children of a poor peasant farmer named Juan Valdez, Sam was on the verge of congratulating himself for single-handedly saving the planet just by getting up in the morning.” (Christopher Moore, Coyote Blue)

May 6, 2019 Posted by | Books, Quotes/aphorisms | Leave a comment