What are the greatest quotes which changed your life?
by Stephen Schwartz
[CIP Executive Director Schwartz has reached nearly 20k hits on Quora.]
I ask forgiveness for having gone rogue here. I am an old man now, and have read and seen a great deal. This is a compendium of quotations that changed my life. I have always been a compiler and purchaser of Commonplace Books. I don't usually do repetitive edits.
Signposts of a biography.
In order of encounter:
"If Mr. Harbison owned a slave named Bull, Tom would have spoken of him as 'Harbison's Bull,' but a son or a dog of that name was Bull Harbison." — Twain
"Woman is sacred. The woman one loves is holy." — Dumas
"Property is theft." — Proudhon
"Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." — Marx
"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!" — Spies
"Ferro contro ferro, Sangue contra sangue, Forza contro forza, E terrore contro terrore." — Bordiga
"If it had not been for these thing, I might have live out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have die, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words — our lives — our pains — nothing! The taking of our lives — lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish peddler — all! That last moment belong to us — that agony is our triumph." — Vanzetti
"Verde que te quiero verde. Verde viento. Verdes ramas. El barco sobre la mar y el caballo en la montaña" — García Lorca
"And death shall have no dominion" — Thomas
"God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger." — Heraclitus
"I am a most fleshly man" — Duncan
"Our fire is that which dissolves and heats bodies more effectually than ordinary fire; hence it is called ardent wine and a most strong fire, and the Sages bid us burn our ore with our most strong fire -- words which are falsely interpreted of an ordinary coal fire." — Eirenaeus Philalethes
"No freedom for the enemies of freedom!" — St. Just
"Freedom is always the freedom of dissent." — Rosa
"In the internal politics of the Party these methods lead, as we shall see below, to the Party organisation 'substituting' itself for the Party, the Central Committee substituting itself for the Party organization, and finally the dictator substituting himself for the Central Committee." — Trotsky
"Open the prisons! Disband the army!" — The Surrealist Group
"Beauty will be convulsive or will not exist at all." — Breton
"The poet of the future will overcome the depressing notion of the irreparable divorce between action and dream." — Breton
"The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb." — Breton
"French people, another effort is necessary to become genuine republicans!" — De Sade
"Up to this moment I marched alongside you. Now I will not take another step. Our paths diverge! He who now keeps quiet becomes Stalin's accomplice." — Porecki-Rais
"With us the individual has always been crushed, absorbed, he has never even tried to emerge. Free speech with us has always been considered insolence, independence, subversion; man was engulfed in the State, dissolved in the community. The revolution of Peter the Great replaced the obsolete squirearchy of Russia—with a European bureaucracy; everything that could be copied from the Swedish and German codes, everything that could be taken over from the free municipalities of Holland into our half-communal, half-absolutist country, was taken over; but the unwritten, the moral check on power, the instinctive recognition of the rights of man, of the rights of thought, of truth, could not be and were not imported.
"With us slavery increased with education; the State grew and improved but the individual reaped nothing from it; on the contrary, the stronger the State, the weaker the individual. European forms of administration and justice, of military and civil organization, developed with us into a kind of monstrous and inescapable despotism.
"Were it not that Russia was so vast, that the alien system of power was so chaotically established, so incompetently administered, one might have said without exaggeration that no human being with any sense of his own dignity could live in Russia." — Herzen
"A soon as we study animals — not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and prairie, in the steppe and in the mountains — we at once perceive that though there is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species, and especially amidst various classes of animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same society. Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle." — Kropotkin
"Ten to the Number of Ten, like the Invisible Lords of Peyote." — Artaud
"This is the flower of the night which is demanded of him: a star in the sky. This is the vile thing of the night: it is the moon. This is the first woman captive and the great álamo tree: it is the town official, named 'Falls to the Ground.' This is the old man with nine sons who is demanded of him: it is his great toe. This is the old woman demanded of him: it is his thumb. These are the stones of the savannah which are sought for and which his son is to gather to his breast: they are quails." — Chilam Balam of Chumayel
"For centuries my people have roamed across this land. It has always been our home. In our culture, a man who has courage is valued above all. For this reason, I will allow you to live. Take a message back to your leaders: this is what awaits them, if they continue invading our country!" — Abd El-Krim
"To accuse the government and the bourgeoisie of a reactionary conspiracy; of permanent violence against the majority of the population, physical, economic, moral, educative violence." — Munis
"From my earliest years, the first thing that I saw was suffering. And if I couldn't rebel when I was a child, it was only because I was an unaware being then. But the sorrows of my grandparents and parents were recorded in my memory during those years of unawareness. How many times did I see our mother cry because she couldn't give us the bread that we asked for! And yet our father worked without resting for a minute. Why couldn't we eat the bread that we needed if our father worked so hard? That was the first question whose answer I found in social injustice. And, since that same injustice exists today, thirty years later, I don't see why, now that I'm conscious of this, I should stop fighting to abolish it.
"I don't want to remind you of the hardships suffered by our parents until we got older and could help out the family. But then we had to serve the so-called fatherland. The first was Santiago. I still remember mother weeping. But even more strongly etched in my memory are the words of our sick grandfather, who sat there, disabled and next to the heater, punching his legs in anger as he watched his grandson go off to Morocco, while the rich bought workers' sons to take their children's place...
"Don't you see why I'll continue fighting as long as these social injustices exist?" — Durruti
"If common sense lacks the brightness of the sun, it possesses the permanence of the stars." — Largo Caballero
"Men are as we have always known them to be, neither better nor worse than before. From the hearts of criminals a latent honesty springs, from the inner depths of the honest a brutish appetite emerges — a thirst for extermination, a desire for blood." — Montseny
"We tried again and again to advance the social revolution in Spain. We sought to stir the people's emotion, and we raised the banner of Libertarian Communism." — Montseny
"Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine. " — Orwell
"Today I read your autobiography in two volumes, Living My Life. These two books full of life, shocked me greatly. Your roaring of forty years like spring thunder, knocked at the door of my living grave throughout the whole book. At this time, silence lost its effect, the fire of my life was lit, I want to come to life and go through great anguish, immeasurable joy, dark despair and enthusiastic hope, throughout the peak and the abyss of life. I will calmly go on living with an attitude you taught me until I have spent my whole life." — Ba Jin to Emma Goldman
"Freedom is a Vietnamese word!" — The Surrealist Group
"Literature is news that stays news." — Pound
"Plena de seny, quan amor és molt vella/absença és lo verme que la guasta" — March
"How very much I loved you only I know" — Gatsos
"With pears the land/and filled with roses/the terrain hangs in the lake/O lovely swans/And drunk with kisses/You plunge your heads/Into the sober sacred water" — Holderlin
"I am the dark man, the widower, inconsolable... My only star is dead, and my starry lute/Bears the black sun of melancholy" — Nerval
"Everything is burning, far away." — Pasos
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."— St. Paul
"I am that I am" — YHVH
"Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth, for your love is sweeter than wine." — Shir Ha-Shirim
"He [Rabbi Hillel] used to say: If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when?" — Pirkei Avos
"I am truth" — Hallaj
"Because you [Allah] have forgiven me, I swear I will never serve an oppressor." — Qur'an
"As we told the Hebrews, if you kill a man, you kill humanity; if you save a human being, you save the whole world." —Qur'an
"Say to the People of the Book: What was revealed to us was revealed to you. Our God is your God." —Qur'an
"Believers, turn to Allah in repentance." — Qur'an
"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'" — Lincoln
"Then turn, and be not alarm'd, O Libertad--turn your undying face,
"People play roles like puppets, as if wound up by other people, to an alien music that is absolutely incomprehensible and unintelligible to them. Like riders on a... merry-go-round... these riders on the wooden horses, social prejudice, are convinced they are galloping at an incredible speed within the closed circle of 'success' when, from time to time, such a merry-go-round breaks down and the poor perplexed riders unexpectedly find themselves oft the track, the infuriated careerists fail to adjust themselves to a life without a wooden horse." — Krleža
"Life without knowledge is a war without weapons." — Shota
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things." — Trotsky
"How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always and in the final act, by determination and faith." — Macleish
"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." — Zapata
"Love, work, and knowledge are the wellsprings of our lives, they should also govern it." — Reich
"The principal figure came out with a spring; he was very gingery and energetic, debonair, sharp, acute in the beard.
"He addressed himself without waste of attention to the study of the front of the cathedral. He wore a short coat with fur collar, large glasses, his cheek was somewhat soft but that didn't take away from an ascetic impression he gave. As I looked at him I decided with an real jolt that this must be Trotsky, down from Mexico City, the great Russian exile, and my eyes grew big." — Bellow
"Everything is moved by love." —Mandelshtam
"I love you." — My beautiful comrade.