From the Archives

Over the years, whenever I came across a wise saying I wrote it down. I have lists as long as your arm and the other day I blew the dust off and started to read through them.

Blimey, as that great cockney music-hall star Ian Dury used to sing, There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards!

Hmm, not sure about all of those but here are some sayings that really struck me second time around, loosely organised by theme …

Who am I kidding? It was like trying to herd cats!

I haven’t credited the authors but if you want to know any and can’t find them on Google, let me know and I’ll try to oblige.

  1. Honesty, courage, kindness, humour, wonder – the essentials. In laughter all evil is present, but sanctified and absolved through its own happiness. Active successful natures act, not according to the dictum ‘know thyself’, but ‘will a self and thou shalt become a self’. Become what you are. Invent new values. Re-enchant the world. Seek apotheosis.
  2. What then? No then.
  3. The cause of death is not disease, but birth. Where death is, you are not; where you are, death is not. Death has no place in all the meanings of an enclosed, circular world. Be faithful to the earth. Live each day for the common good as if it is your last. A life lived in fear is a life half lived. Life is neither good or bad – it is original. Nothing is true – everything is permitted.
  4. If not now, when?
  5. I is another. As if each illumination was a waking dream, as though the vision were in the beholder and the beholder in the vision. We know more than we can tell. First thought, best thought. Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order. Life is an art form. No artist tolerates reality.
  6. Don’t just do something. Sit there.
  7. Never criticise a man until you’ve walked two miles in his moccasins. Unity – the two that is not two. A true team is greater than the sum of its parts. I, we, all together in you. Unity in diversity. Only connect. Life is a series of successful mistakes. Compose into one and bring together what is fragment and riddle and dreadful chance. Each of us bringing himself together unites the world.
  8. If not you, who?
  9. Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener, courage the greater as our might grows smaller. In dark times the eye begins to see. The owl of Minerva flies at dusk. When the heart weeps at what it has lost, the spirit laughs at what it has found.
  10. Love is all you need.

15 thoughts on “From the Archives

  1. Some gooduns here. “life is an art form. No artist tolerates reality”. This resonates!
    Some clever bastards indeed. Many a time i’ve read a book and have had to stop at a profound line to write it out onto a post-it. Problem is, the post-its pile up ( sometimes they’re old receipts instead of post-its), and ultimately get scattered about the place and lost. I might have to start writing them in an exercise book or something!

    1. The first is Flann O’Brien, I think, the second Friedrich Nietzsche. Go together quite well, I reckon.

      I often use the backs of old envelopes, which get thrown away – I console myself with this quotation from Emerson: ‘Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’.

      1. Thanks, Dave… or Christ… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How different the history of Christianity could have been if it had just followed that rule.

        1. Curt, hi. I was brought up with that ethic. I thought it was great and tried to live by it until recently I became aware of individuals for whom inflicting and experiencing pain was a pleasure.
          I now subscribe to “don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do unto you” – not so straightforward with all the negatives, but hopefully it excludes the unintentionally allowed “bad stuff” of the simpler version. (Or am I being boringly far too picky and health and safety conscious?)

          By the way this is a great theme and could generate stacks of good ideas – one of the many I like was attributed erroneously to John Lennon, actually Allen Saunders: “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

          1. I like your variant of the Golden Rule, Mike, though it puts me in mind of an old joke …
            Masochist: Hurt me!
            Sadist: No!
            Your final quotation is particularly relevant to the current UK situation! And for some reason it makes me think of the advice to dithering writers: Don’t get it right, get it written!

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