Quotes of Note

“And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone or that’s an evil one because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels.” – The Amber Spyglass, Phillip Pullman

“We did not ask for this room or this music. We were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces to the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty. We have been given pain to be astounded by joy. We have been given life to deny death. We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance.” – 11/22/63, Stephen King

“Travel is the death of prejudice.” – Mark Twain

“Life is a game, and love is the trophy.” – Singer Rufus Wainwright

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” – Satchel Paige

“Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened up.  Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, I was reading in  the library, I was reading in my bunk.  You couldn’t have gotten me out of books with a wedge . . . Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned.  In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life.” – The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X

“If Attila the Hun were alive today, he’d be a drama critic.” – Edward Albee

“Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.” – Wilson Mizner

“No nation is ever defeated in its textbooks.” – Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

“Make haste slowly.” – Classical Adage

“You will wonder how a man as busy as he [Pliny the Elder] was could find time to compose so many books, and some of them too involving such care and labor. But you will be still more surprised when you hear that he pleaded at the bar for some time, that he died in his sixty-sixth year, that the intervening time was employed partly in the execution of the highest official duties, partly in attendance upon those emperors who honored him with their friendship. But he had a quick apprehension, marvelous power of application, and was of an exceedingly wakeful temperament. He always began to study at midnight at the time of the feast of Vulcan, not for the sake of good luck, but for learning’s sake; in winter generally at one in the morning, but never later than two, and often at twelve. He was a most ready sleeper, insomuch that he would sometimes, whilst in the midst of his studies, fall off and then wake up again. Before day-break he used to wait upon [Emperor] Vespasian (who also used his nights for transacting business in), and then proceed to execute the orders he had received. As soon as he returned home, he gave what time was left to study. After a short and light refreshment at noon (agreeably to the good old custom of our ancestors) he would frequently in the summer, if he was disengaged from business, lie down and bask in the sun; during which time some author was read to him, while he took notes and made extracts, for every book he read he made extracts out of, indeed it was a maxim of his, that ‘no book was so bad but some good might be got out of it.’ When this was over, he generally took a cold bath, then some light refreshment and a little nap. After this, as if it had been a new day, he studied till supper-time, when a book was again read to him, which he would take down running notes upon. I remember once, his reader having mispronounced a word, one of my uncle’s friends at the table made him go back to where the word was and repeat it again; upon which my uncle said to his friend, ‘Surely you understood it?’ Upon his acknowledging that he did, ‘Why, then,’ said he, ‘did you make him go back again? We have lost more than ten lines by this interruption.’ Such an economist he was of time! In the summer he used to rise from supper at daylight, and in winter as soon as it was dark: a rule he observed as strictly as if it had been a law of the state. Such was his manner of life amid the bustle and turmoil of the town: but in the country his whole time was devoted to study, excepting only when he bathed. In this exception I include no more than the time during which he was actually in the bath; for all the while he was being rubbed and wiped, he was employed either in hearing some book read to him or in dictating himself. In going about anywhere, as though he were disengaged from all other business, he applied his mind wholly to that single pursuit. A shorthand writer constantly attended him, with book and tablets, who, in the winter, wore a particular sort of warm gloves, that the sharpness of the weather might not occasion any interruption to my uncle’s studies: and for the same reason, when in Rome, he was always carried in a chair. I recollect his once taking me to task for walking. ‘You need not,’ he said, ‘lose these hours.’ For he thought every hour gone that was not given to study. Through this extraordinary application he found time to compose the several treatises I have mentioned, besides one hundred and sixty volumes of extracts which he left me in his will, consisting of a kind of commonplace, written on both sides, in very small hand, so that one might fairly reckon the number considerably more. He used himself to tell us that when he was comptroller of the revenue in Spain, he could have sold these manuscripts to Largius Licinus for four hundred thousand sesterces, and then there were not so many of them. When you consider the books he has read, and the volumes he has written, are you not inclined to suspect that he never was engaged in public duties or was ever in the confidence of his prince [Emperor]? On the other hand, when you are told how indefatigable he was in his studies, are you not inclined to wonder that he read and wrote no more than he did? For, on one side, what obstacles would not the business of a court throw in his way? and on the other, what is it that such intense application might not effect? It amuses me then when I hear myself called a studious man, who in comparison with him am the merest idler.” – Letter to Baebius Macer, Pliny the Younger [describing his uncle the Roman army and naval commander, author, scientist of nature, and naturalist Pliny the Elder.  He wrote a huge number of books – many of them lost to us. Now, what have you accomplished today?]

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