Quotes, quotes, quotes

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!

4 thoughts on “Quotes, quotes, quotes

  1. I’m always impressed with people who seem to have a quote ready for every situation they get into. To me it’s like with jokes: I can’t remember a single one well enough to tell it to someone else. How do you guys do it? Are you cheating, having a quote book hidden in your pocket (half of it consisting of Oscar Wild btw) where you flip the pages frenetically as you look for something appropriate to make an impression?

    Anyway: good to see you blogging regularly. Just don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t keep up with your promise. Don’t let the blogging turn into a job.

    1. The truth is that I don’t really quote things as much as my friends think I do. Like I said, it’s mostly Jurassic Park and whatever song I was listening to earlier that day. My memory for quotes is not great. That’s why I had to go to three websites to get all of the ones for this post.

      And I certainly won’t let it become a job. But I need some kind of reckoning for myself. I figure a public promise is as good as it gets for the moment, right?

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