Kurt Vonnegut once wrote...(quotes you've taken to heart)

…that if you want to be able to tell a good painting from a bad one, just look at ten thousand paintings, and you’ll know.

Possibly more than any other quote (from Bluebeard, btw, a great novel), that one changed my life. I decided to watch “ten thousand” films (though I’m not keeping more than general [around 2000, I think] track, because I hope to see many more than that in my lifetime; you get the idea). I decided that to grasp the art I would just submerge myself in it, and I’ve never looked back. (I enjoy filmic scholarship, but ultimately, deconstruction is best done in context. Which is what Vonnegut said in Bluebeard, just way better than I could).

There’ve been other (“Do unto others…”) soundbyte type quotes from writers I admire that I took to heart as watchwords, but that Vonnegut one I can say actually made a practical, outward difference in my life. So that’s the kind I’m after from you all, though I’m also happy just to hear quotes people have found personally significant.

Another of mine:

Douglas Adams in Last Chance to See: “It would be easy to think, after the extinction of the dodo, that we are now sadder and wiser, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that we are merely sadder and better informed.”

“I don’t have to experience starvation to want to alleviate it wherever possible.” – Robert Parker

“By and By it will be found that all Literature has become one boundless self-devouring Review…” – Thomas Carlyle (1831)

“Little girls are only cute and adorable to adults. To each other they are not cute. They are life-sized.” – Margaret Atwood

“Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.” --Richard Feynman in The Meaning of It All

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. "–Richard Feynman, same place.

There are a couple that I have taken to heart.

“You are who you pretend to be; so be careful who you pretend to be.” --Kurt Vonnegut.

“A leader should err on the side of lenience and not punishment.” Muhammed. (Anytime I think about penal policies and politics, I remember this. Actually, this summer I’m a legal intern writing policies for a work release facility and I’ve repeated this quote several times to my co-workers).

I’ve begun to question my instincts following a quote from Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity:” I’ve been listening to my guts for years and I think my guts have shit for brains."
That really spoke to me because I really identified with the main character who spoke that line.

History is bunk. - Henry Ford

followed closely by, and inextricably linked to:

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. - George Santayana

I love all the contribution so far, but I think this is my favorite, probably just because (as, I think, Dr. Feynman would agree) I’m against this idea of instinct as being a good guide. Not relying on instinct is what makes us human beings. Rationality is so key, and instinct is so often irrational ( for example, we see patterns where there are none, because we’re pattern-making creatures…false hits confuse us and create superstition). I haven’t read that book but I’m going to order a copy now, thanks, M.

And, because you all know I’m a fan of the Doctor of Journalism–

M. Mersault, how nice you’ve come around to understanding it’s better to learn from Arabs than to shoot them. :stuck_out_tongue:

One of my favorite quotes to live by was sung by Rita Marley:

The road of life is rocky and you may stumble too
But while you point your finger someone else is judging you.

Freshman physics is invariably the most satisfying course offered by any American university. - KVjr.

… we’ll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere … and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys. DA

(The latter is the best explanation of scientific research I have ever seen.)

Do we not destroy our enemy by making him our friend? --Abraham Lincoln

Hey, if they didn’t want us to shoot them, they wouldn’t have built a civilization on top of our oil. :smiley:

I actually think that the Qu’ran is infinitely more quotable than the Bible. The Qu’ran just has a natural poetry to it that the Bible doesn’t (probably due to the endless translations required for me to read it).

“Unemployment results when large numbers of people are out of work” Calvin Coolidge

“All’s well that ends.” Walt Kelly (Pogo)

“Minds were made to be blown” Mr. Natural (R. Crumb)

“Don’t touch it, it’s the history eraser button you fool!” Ren (J. Krisfaluci)

“Barnicke? Barnicke! He owes me money!” John Winger (Bill Murray)

I’ve read so much Vonnegut I forget which book this was in, but I remember a quote that went something like “Just because people can reproduce, it doesn’t mean they should.”

A profound one from Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle) on the sad lot of Humanity:

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,
man gotta sit and wonder why? why? why?"

From Angel episode "Epiphany"

[slight hijack]There are repeated references to “potato love” (not love of potatos, but rather to love like a potato) in Saul Bellow’s wonderful Herzog, first published in 1964. Didn’t Vonnegut also use that phrase in at least one of his books? It seems to me he did, but I can’t recall for certain. Does anyone know?

“Sacred Cows make the best hamburgers” - Mark Twain

On death and dying

“…-- the aimless days and the uncertain nights and the impotently putting up with the physical deterioration and the terminal sadness and the waiting and waiting for nothing. This is how it works out, he thought, this is what you could not know.”


“he went under feeling far from felled, anyting but doomed, eager yet again to be fulfilled, but nonetheless, he never woke up. Cardiac arrest. He was no more, freed from being, entering into nowhere without even knowing it. Just as he’d feard from the start.”

– Philip Roth, from Everyman

Jesus, but this dude can write.

This is a picture of an asshole. *