Always be suspicious of conclusions that reinforce uncritical hope and follow comforting traditions of Western thought.

The Flamingo’s Smile by Stephen Jay Gould

No one else looks out upon the world so kindly and charitably as the pedestrian; no one else gives and takes so much from the country he passes through.

Winter Sunshine by John Burroughs

Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

but bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma
i havent conquered yet

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

Opening lines

I’ve been taking part in Microblogvember by posting a daily quote which includes the prompt word, and today the random word generator selected the one, singular word which allows me to use the one, singular opening line in all of American literature. What are the odds?*

There can be little debate that Moby-Dick is one of (if not the) greatest of American novels, and I think we can all agree that the opening line is the most iconic of them all. But is it the greatest opening line in all of English language literature? What competition does it have? Perhaps “It was the best of times…” or “In a hole in the ground…”?

I might have to go with “It is a truth universally acknowledged…”


* The odds are small.

The first years of man must make provision for the last.

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson

To represent something symbolically, as we do when we speak or write, is somehow to capture it, thus making it one’s own.

The Dreams of Reason by Heinz R. Pagels

O, Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

— “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.

The Dead by James Joyce

A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible.

Disturbing the Universe by Freeman Dyson

And whereas sense and memory are but knowledge of fact, which is a thing past and irrevocable, science is the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of one fact upon another…

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment.

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

I cannot seriously believe in it because the theory cannot be reconciled with the idea that physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky action at a distance.

— letter to Max Born by Albert Einstein

I never guess. It is a shocking habit — destructive to the logical faculty.

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle