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Problems are inevitable. Problems are solvable. Solutions create new problems which must be solved in their turn.

David Deutsch
Three Laws of the Human Condition

Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.

Henry David Thoreau

Intelligence is knowing how to win the game. Wisdom is knowing which game to play in the first place.

Liv Boeree

The surest sign of wisdom is continual cheerfulness.

Michel de Montaigne

Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.

Cary Grant

If I had five minutes to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first three sharpening the axe.


The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

Henry David Thoreau

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

John Milton
Paradise Lost

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.


Almost every idea that you have is downstream from what you consume. When you choose who to follow on Twitter, what book to read, what podcast to listen to, you’re choosing your future thoughts.

James Clear

To oppose something is to maintain it. They say here “all roads lead to Mishnory.” To be sure, if you turn your back on Mishnory and walk away from it, you are still on the Mishnory road. To oppose vulgarity is inevitably to be vulgar. You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness

Let not the defeatists tell us that it is too late. It will never be earlier. Tomorrow will be later than today.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yes, I have free will. I have no choice but to have it.

Christopher Hitchens

Here’s a joke. Don’t feel offended. A Turk goes to see a doctor. He tells him: “When I touch my body with my finger, it hurts. When I touch my head, it hurts, my legs, it hurts, my belly, my hand, it hurts.” The doctor examines him and then tells him: “Your body’s fine but your finger’s broken.”

My dear man, your mind is ill but there’s nothing wrong with you. You have to change your outlook and change the world.

Mr. Bagheri
“Taste of Cherry”

If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.

Jean-Paul Sartre

We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

H.P. Lovecraft
“The Call of Cthulhu”

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Cormac McCarthy
“The Road”

The dose makes the poison.


It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Adam Smith

Tedious and brief.

Sundial motto

It’s later than you think.

Sundial motto

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.

Milton Friedman

If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
“The Leopard”

Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

George Orwell

Provided that it is not accompanied by humiliation, discomfort can be endured for long periods without complaint. For proof of this, we have only to look to the example of the many soldiers and explorers who have, over the centuries, willingly tolerated privations far exceeding those suffered by the poorest members of their societies, so long as they were sustained throughout their hardships by an awareness of the esteem in which they were held by others.

Alain de Botton
“Status Anxiety”

History is philosophy teaching by example.


Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

Richard Feynman

The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes.

Susan Sontag

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

Philip K. Dick

I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s.

William Blake

Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.

George Carlin

For 50 million years our biggest problems were too few calories, too little information. For about 50 years our biggest problems have been too many calories, too much information.

Penn Jillette

That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate.

Carl Jung

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Stephen Covey

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Douglas Adams

The best thing is to do the right thing; the next best is to do the wrong thing; the worst thing of all things is to stand perfectly still.

Alfred Henry Lewis

The “I” and “mine” are extra. We are adding them to the experience.

Joseph Goldstein

An unproblematic state is a state without creative thought. It’s other name is death.

David Deutsch
The Beginning of Infinity

The opposite of spiritual is not material but egotistical.

Michael Pollan

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.

Benjamin Franklin

The world is full of fools; and he who would not wish to see one must not only shut himself up alone, but must also break his looking-glass.

Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux

The lives of the psyche and of the world are not separate; the inner and the outer realities are like a pair of funfair mirrors set against one another, and life is the flow of images reflected in them.

Carl Jung
As paraphrased by Nikita Petrov

I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that.

Tom Lehrer

On what principle is it that with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?

Thomas Babington Macaulay

There’s a concept of being entertained by other people, or by things, or by TV programmes, or whatever, that is a mistake. We may interpret what is happening as the other thing entertaining us but really the only thing that entertains us is our own creative engagement with it.

David Deutsch
In conversation with Sam Harris

What they call you is one thing. What you answer to is something else.

Lucille Clifton

If you don’t understand how someone could possibly believe something as stupid as they do, this is more likely a failure of understanding on your part than a failure of reason on theirs.

Scott Alexander

Politics in a democracy is based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree.

Jonathan Chait

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.

Franklin P. Adams

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Samuel Beckett

The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous.

E. O. Wilson

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.

Will Rogers

Confidence is not about believing you’ll win. It’s about being comfortable with the fact that you might lose.


The Stone Age came to an end not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil.

Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani

When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learnt in seven years.

Mark Twain

Wealth consists not in having many possessions, but in having few wants.


We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.


The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.

G. K. Chesterton

Character is destiny.


Design is a solution to a problem. Art is a question to a problem.

John Maeda

In the joy of the actors lies the sense of any action.

Robert Louis Stevenson

What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts.

Ray Eames

If you don’t know what you want to do it’s harder to do it.

Malcolm S. Forbes

True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks.

John Waters

Life is a long failure of understanding. A long mistaken shutting of the heart.

Patricia Highsmith
“The Trouble with Mrs. Blynn, the Trouble with the World”

A culture is the residue of all the things that people have thought worthwhile to preserve.

Roger Scruton

Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.

Alice Walker

It’s a small world, but not if you have to clean it.

Barbara Kruger

The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.

Ellen Glasgow

Life is full of misery, pain and tremendous suffering, and it’s all over much too quickly.

Woody Allen

You see one object which makes you think of another. The two together is an idea.

Michel Gondry

If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so. The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance.

Alan Watts

This is absurd.

Sigmund Freud
Last words

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what is going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.

Joseph Campbell

At any given moment you’re failing to see the way things actually are. The manifestation is that you’re failing to be kind.

George Saunders

Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.


Seek freedom and become captive of your desires, seek discipline and find your liberty.

Frank Herbert

Every society honours its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.

Mignon McLaughlin

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

Robert Frost

People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Abraham Lincoln

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different.

Bill Watterson

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.

Bertrand Russell

Be as you wish to seem.


Between the idea and the act a whole kingdom lies.

Richard Ford
“Rock Springs”

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.

Bob Dylan

Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.

Will Rogers

A movie is good or bad not because of what it is about, but because of how it is about it.

Roger Ebert

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Buddhist proverb

He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.

Friedrich Nietzsche

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.

Woody Allen

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Søren Kierkegaard

I, on the other hand, am a fully-rounded human being, with a degree from the University of Life, a diploma from the School of Hard Knocks, and three gold stars from the Kindergarten of Getting the Shit Kicked Out of Me.

Edmund Blackadder
“Blackadder Goes Forth”

When the boy asked him if this knowledge were a special knowledge only to the blind the blind man said that it was not. He said that most men were in their lives like the carpenter whose work went so slowly for the dullness of his tools that he had not time to sharpen them.

Cormac McCarthy
“The Crossing”

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

Tom Waits

Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.

Andre Dubus

Your problem is that you think you have time.

Don Juan
To Carlos Casteneda

Write drunk, edit sober.

Ernest Hemingway

Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.

Carl Jung

Confidence is the feeling you have before you understand the situation.


The past does not repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.

Mark Twain

People who claim they don’t let little things bother them have never slept in a room with a single mosquito.


Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.

Samuel Johnson

Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

George Bernard Shaw

If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist it’s another nonconformist who doesn’t conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.

Bill Vaughan

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

Linus Pauling

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.


For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:18

Throughout the whole of life one must continue to learn to live. And what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.

Oscar Levant

Imagine a room, awash in gasoline. And there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has 9000 matches. The other has 7000 matches. Each of them is concerned about who’s ahead, who’s stronger.

Carl Sagan
On the nuclear arms race

Which will you have: wise madness or foolish sanity?


When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution isn’t beautiful, I know it is wrong.

R. Buckminster Fuller

A bore is someone who persists in holding his own views after we have enlightened him with ours.

Malcolm S. Forbes

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.

Richard Feynman

The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.

Horace Walpole

Life is like a blank piece of paper. But just remember, you’re writing with a sharpie.


All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.

Doris Lessing

This is the main question, with what activity one’s leisure is filled.


Think with the whole body.

Taisen Deshimaru

No worthy problem is ever solved within the plane of its original conception.

Albert Einstein

People felt that enlightenment was going entirely with the flow, but that’s like being the ball in a football game. I’d rather be the quarterback.

Ken Kesey

The big problem is that people don’t believe a revolution is possible, and it is not possible precisely because they do not believe it is possible.

Ted Kaczynski
(The Unabomber)

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

You’re born naked. The rest is drag.


Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

Kurt Vonnegut
“Cat’s Cradle”

Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?


It would be better if there were nothing. Since there is more pain than pleasure on earth, every satisfaction is only transitory, creating new desires and new distresses, and the agony of the devoured animal is always far greater than the pleasure of the devourer.

Arthur Schopenhauer

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Albert Einstein

Humour is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to.

George Saunders

Before you take mushrooms or LSD, people will say, “It’s going to allow you to have thoughts you’ve never had before.” When you hear that it makes no sense because you think, “I can think whatever I want now.” And then you take hallucinogens and you realise there are thoughts your mind stops you from having. I’m very interested in living a life where I’m always in that realm, where I’m having thoughts that my unconscious is trying to prevent.

Chuck Klosterman

I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.

Dave Barry

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.

J. M. Barrie

To be stupid and selfish and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.

Gustave Flaubert

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.

Matt Groening

Just wait until now becomes then. You’ll see how happy we were.

Susan Sontag

If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.

Thomas Jefferson

Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.

Ernest Hemingway

Pessimism and optimism emerge as being a dispute about how far one is prepared to look, about focal distances.

Theodore Zeldin

The purpose of art is not to solve problems but to formulate them correctly.

Anton Chekhov

A gentleman is a man who can play the accordion but doesn’t.


When inspiration arrives I want it to find me working.

Pablo Picasso

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.

Joan D. Vinge

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.

Bill Vaughan

Common sense is what tells you that the world is flat.

Malaclypse the Younger

Talent hits a target no one else can hit, while genius hits a target that no one else can see.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Everything has been said. But nobody listens. Therefore it has to be said all over again only better. In order to say it better, we have to know how it was said before.

Roger Shattuck

If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.

Terrence McKenna

Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it.

Frank Herbert

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Mike Tyson

I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.

Auguste Rodin
When asked how he managed to make his remarkable statues

There are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don’t talk at all, ’cause they walkin’.

“Hustle & Flow”

Why should any phenomenon be assumed impossible? The universe begins to look more and more like a great thought, than a great machine.

James Jeans

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

Edward Abbey

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

Wilhelm Stekel

Vincent Van Gogh. Everyone said to him, “You can’t be a great painter, you only have one ear.” And you know what he said? “I can’t hear you.”

“Dinner for Schmucks”

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy

To want to meet an author because you like his books is as ridiculous as wanting to meet the goose because you like pâté.

Arthur Koestler

It is the function of the artist to evoke the experience of surprised recognition: to show the viewer what he knows but does not know that he knows.

William Burroughs

What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.

Mignon McLaughlin

It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth.

Niels Bohr

According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at a reason we are here: by creating things, by thinking up new combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness, so the universe comes out even. A shepherd on a hilltop who looks at a mess of stars and thinks, “There’s a hunter, a plow, a fish,” is making mental connections that have as much real force in the universe as the very fires in those stars themselves.

Annie Dillard

Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.

Andre Gide

I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.

William Faulkner
“As I Lay Dying”

What’s another word for Thesaurus?

Steven Wright

A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.

George Santayana

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

Oscar Wilde

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.

Henry David Thoreau

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

Søren Kierkegaard

You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.

David Foster Wallace

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.

R. Buckminster Fuller

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.

G. K. Chesterton

You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?

Steven Wright

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

Abraham Maslow

Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.

Mignon McLaughlin

For there is always a sanctuary more, a door that can never be forced, whatever the force, a last inviolable stronghold that can never be taken, whatever the attack; your vote can be taken, your name, your innards, even your life, but that last stronghold can only be surrendered.

Ken Kesey
“Sometimes a Great Notion”

Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.

Woody Allen

Happiness is related to the level of expectation. To be the mayor of Wellington, or the second richest farmer in Southland, is a gnawing futility if you can only be satisfied by being Prime Minister.

Owen Marshall
“Cabernet Sauvignon With My Brother”

Taste repeated becomes style.

George Saunders

Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.

Robert Orben

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realise that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.

Ronald Reagan

I Started Out With Nothing and I Still Have Most of It Left

Miranda July
(Title of a short film)

I want to be at least as alive as the vulgar.

Frank O’Hara

Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you may be fierce and original in your work.

Gustave Flaubert

Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best.

Frank Zappa

I think that having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.

Andy Warhol

Pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory.

Gustave Flaubert

Any technology invented before you were 20 is just standard, anything invented while you were between 20 and 30 is new and exciting, while any technology invented after you were 30 is dangerous, unnatural and likely to upset the social order.

Douglas Adams

I wanted to be alone in quite an unusual, new way. The very opposite of what you are thinking: namely, without myself.

Luigi Pirandello

See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little.

Pope John XXIII

The first rule of tinkering is to save all the parts.

Paul Ehrlich

The television screen has become the retina of the mind’s eye.

Prof. Brian O’Blivion

Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy.

“Old Joy”

When my brothers try to draw a circle to exclude me, I shall draw a larger circle to include them. Where they speak out for the privileges of a puny group, I shall shout for the rights of all mankind.

Pauli Murray

Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one.

Sam Rayburn