Wednesday, February 18

Muhammad and Jesus

"Wherever you find the infidels, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection. Know that paradise is under the shade of the swords." Muhammad of Mecca

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Jesus of Nazareth

Saturday, February 14

Umberto Eco: My Favorite Quotes

With the news that Umberto Eco's newest novel is at last being prepared for publication in the US, I thought I'd assemble a few of my favorite quotes from his earlier books:

“We live for books.”

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

“When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.”

“I love the smell of book ink in the morning.”

“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”

“Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.”

“Books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.”

"Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.”

“All poets write bad poetry. Bad poets publish them, good poets burn them.”

“To survive, you must tell stories.”

“Love is wiser than wisdom.”

“For every complex problem there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong.”

“Any fact becomes important when it's connected to another.”

Friday, February 13

Petty Tyrannies

There are two wonderful quotes about the omnipresent governmental busybodies that have become the bane of modern living. Alas, these epigrams are often conflated or misattributed or misquoted. For the record, here they are as originally composed, one from Ronald Reagan and the other from C.S. Lewis.

The one from Lewis in his anthology of essays, God in the Dock: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

The one from Reagan in his Collected Speeches: "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”

And, There They Go Again

“The electoral victory of the Neo-Communist Syriza Party in Greece, led by Alexis Tsipras, has been described in the mainstream media of Britain and America as a ‘sweep to power.’ However, Syriza’s victory, though perfectly legitimate in the constitutional sense, was far from triumphant or overwhelming. It received votes from only 23 per cent of registered Greek voters--hardly an overwhelming victory. So, while the media reports have not exactly been outright lies, they have hardly represented the facts of the matter: rather they have offered only partial truths, as are so many truths in the field of politics. As the old proverb avers: A change of rulers is the joy of fools; in other words the next lot will be as bad as the last.” Theodore Dalrymple