You might have noticed that I’ve started the past few posts here with a quote. Up until the previous post the quotes have all been from the actual work that I’ve been talking about, but since I was talking about a general idea in the promise post I pulled a quote that I liked about the topic. So for today’s post I thought I’d defend that decision. I think pulling a quote from a book or movie or song has a pretty obvious defense, so let’s focus on those other cases, shall we?
I am not the smartest person on the earth, nor the wittiest, nor the best writer. In fact, I often wonder what the point of writing is when there are so many other people doing it, and doing it way better than I will ever do. I will never beat Thomas Pynchon. I will never beat Neil Gaiman, and I probably won’t even beat Stephen King. There’s just something in me that will always feel inferior to everybody else doing what I’m trying to do, so why not steal from the best. After all…
Ah, but what of the pitfalls? What if I screw up the quote? What if I misattribute! What if the quote doesn’t really mean what I want it to mean?
Quoting: the act of repeating erroneously the words of another. – Ambrose Bierce
Misquotation is the pride and privilege of the learned. – Hesketh Pearson
Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted. – Hesketh Pearson
And what’s the use of a quote, really? To get a little funny thing? Something profound? Why are quotes even a thing?
He who trains his tongue to quote the learned sages will be known far and wide as a smart ass. – Howard Kandel
There’s a difference between philosophy and a bumper sticker. – Charles Shultz
Quotations will tell the full measure of meaning, if you have enough of them. – James Murray
Quotes are nothing but inspiration for the uninspired. – Richard Kemph
The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. – Somerset Maugham
Ouch, that last one stings a bit, doesn’t it? I have a friend who complains that I quote movies too much in our regular conversations. I suppose I do. To be fair, half the time I don’t even know that I’m quoting something. The other half of the time I’m quoting Jurassic Park. See, now I’m sitting here by myself, uh, talking to myself. That’s, that’s chaos.
If you ever wrote a paper you were probably tempted to start that paper with a quote. Don’t worry, we’re all friends here. You can admit it. And that quote was probably from Oscar Wilde, right? The guy practically wrote exclusively in quote form. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve done it.
If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it. – Dorothy Parker
And finally, if you can’t trust the word of a beautiful woman, who can you trust?
I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself. – Marlene Dietrich
What’s your favorite quote? Or can you just not stand them? Let us know in the comment section!