Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas April 3, 2007

27 [On his inconsistency]: JFK: “We all learn...from the time you are born to the time you die...events change...conditions change, and...you would be extremely unwise...to pursue policies that are unsuccessful. Sorenson, Kennedy

265 A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. Emerson, Self-Reliance.

265 Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. Emerson, Self-Reliance.

58 Why do we not recall how much contradiction we perceive even in our own judgment, how many things were yesterday articles of faith to us that today are fables to us? Montaigne, Selected Essays.

113 Our actions are only pieces patched together. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

285 So it is that I, indeed, contradict myself upon occasion, but truth as Demades said, I do not contradict. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Constitution (U.S.)
437 JFK: “The Constitution has served us extremely well…but…all its clauses had to be interpreted by men and had to be made to work by men, and it has to be made to work today in an entirely different world from the day in which it was written.” Sorenson, Kennedy

172 Lincoln on the Constitution: Better not take the first step [in altering the Constitution], which may lead to a habit of altering it; new provisions would introduce new difficulties, and thus create, and increase appetite for still further change. Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years

83 [The true believer] cannot be…baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence. Hoffer, The True Believer

66 “I’ve got an adjective that just fits you” …one of his favorite starts—he seldom had a word in mind, but it was a curiosity provoker, and he could always produce something complimentary if he got in a tight corner. Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

76 ...and the agreeable manner in which he [Wickham] immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability of a rainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

91 It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy--I talked about the dance and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room or the number of couples. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

91 We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

152 Sir William Lucas, and his daughter Maria, a good-humored girl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be worth hearing, and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

21 Miss Bates...was a great talker upon little matters. Austen, Emma

273 Emma made as slight a reply as she could; but it was fully sufficient for Mrs. Elton, who only wanted to be talking herself. Austen, Emma

125 …success in Cambridge conversation frequently came from saying something preposterous, hoping that someone would take you seriously. Watson, The Double Helix.

34 This brief account of the family is intended to supersede the necessity of a long and minute detail from Mrs. Thorpe herself…in which the worthlessness of lords and attorneys might be set forth, and conversations, which had passed twenty years before, be minutely repeated. Austen, Northanger Abbey.

36 …never satisfied with the day unless she spent the chief of it by the side of Mrs. Thorpe, in what they called conversation, but in which there was scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of subject, for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children and Mrs. Allen of her gowns. Austen, Northanger Abbey.

68 The admiral, after taking two or three refreshing turns about the room with his hands behind him…now came up to Captain Wentworth, and without any observation of what he might be interrupting, thinking only of his own thoughts, began with…. Austen, Persuasion.

155 …but when…has half an hour’s leisure to bestow on me, she is sure to have something to relate that is entertaining and profitable, something that makes one know one’s species better. Austen, Persuasion.

204 No. It [the information] does not come to me in quite so direct a line as that; it takes a bend or two, but nothing of consequence. Austen, Persuasion.

230 Mrs. Musgrove was giving Mrs. Croft the history of her eldest daughter’s engagement, and just in that inconvenient tone of voice which was perfectly audible while it pretended to be a whisper. Austen, Persuasion.

231 The two ladies continued to talk, to re-urge the same admitted truths…. Austen, Persuasion.

252 …conversation can flourish only in a small company where no one is stuck up. Clark, Civilization.

124 F. Bacon: Do not betray even to your friends too much of your real purposes and thoughts; in conversation, ask questions oftener than you express opinions; and when you speak, offer data and information rather than beliefs and judgments. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Francis Bacon.

426 "There, it does seem so pleasant to talk with an old acquaintance that knows what you know[;] I see so many of these new folks nowadays, that seem to have neither past nor future[;] conversation's got to have some root in the past, or else you've got to explain every remark you make, an' it wears a person out." Jewett, The country of the Pointed Firs.

470 Dr. Johnson…often “talked for victory.” Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

605 Boswell: In a moment he [Johnson] was in a full glow of conversation, and I felt myself elevated as if brought into another state of being. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

616 Boswell: But, Sir, may there not be very good conversation without a contest for superiority? Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

635 Johnson: Never speak of a man in his own presence…always indelicate, and may be offensive. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

1042 The eyes of men converse as much as their tongues, with the advantage, that the ocular dialect needs no dictionary, but is understood all the world over. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Behavior.

273 Francine du Plessix Gray: The vapid tiddlywinks conversation, and the tedium of the endless cocktail hours! Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

25 In one’s converse with the world, I have often observed this vice: that instead of gathering observations from others, we make it our only business to give them our own and are more concerned how to peddle our own than how to acquire new. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

25 Above all, let him be taught to surrender to truth as soon as ever he shall discover it, whether in his opponent’s argument…. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

26 Make him understand that to acknowledge the error he shall discover in his own argument, though only perceived by himself, is an act of judgment and sincerity, which are the principal things he is to seek after; that obstinacy and contention are common qualities, most often seen in the meanest souls; that to change his mind and correct himself, and to forsake a bad argument in the height and heat of dispute, are rare, strong, and philosophical qualities. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

412 …agreement is a very tiresome quality in conversation. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

415 I feel much prouder of the victory I obtain over myself when, in the very heat of combat [conversation], I make myself bow beneath the force of my adversary’s reason, than I feel pleased by the victory I obtain over him through his weakness. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

422 As in conversation, the gravity, the gown, and the fortune of the speaker often give authority to vain and absurd remarks. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

423 …they will knock you senseless with the authority of their experience; they have heard, they have seen, they have done; you are overwhelmed with examples. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

430 They make a good remark; let us examine how far they understand it, let us see where they got it. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

432 But as for things that are said in company or before other people, I never oppose them, either by word or sign, however false or absurd I may consider them. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

583 …for it tires me and disagrees with me to talk on a full stomach, whereas I find it a very wholesome and pleasant exercise to shout and argue before a meal. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

1097 …for the people talk about nothing as if they were terribly in earnest…. Hawthorne, The Marble Faun.

148 It is a secret known but to few, yet of no small use in the conduct of life, that when you fall into a man’s conversation, the first thing you should consider is, whether he has a greater inclination to hear you, or that you should hear him. Steele, 4/26/1711. The Spectator.

308 It is a wonderful thing, that so many, and they not reckoned absurd, shall entertain those with whom they converse by giving them the history of their pains and aches; and imagine such narrations their quota of the conversation. Steele, 6/25/1711. The Spectator.

416 Story tellers, who are most religiously careful of keeping to the truth in every particular circumstance of a narration, whether it concern the main end or not. Steele, 8/8/1711. The Spectator.

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