Donald Sutherland

I don’t think I’ve ever had a sexual involvement without love. I’ve never had a one-night stand.

John Milton

“I will not deny but that the best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.”

~ John Milton

Thich Nhat Hanh on Enemies

“Beware! Turn around and face your real enemies
— ambition, violence, hatred and greed.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Dave Eggers on Piloting

I will never be a pilot. I know this. Pilots should be organized and methodical, and I am not these things.

~ Dave Eggers

John Banville on Malice

“To hurt other people is the worst thing you can do. To be hurt oneself is bad enough, but hurting other people is unforgivable… Unforgivable. Literally unforgivable. I think that one has to take responsibility for one’s life and one has to take responsibility for one’s bad deeds as well as one’s good deeds. One has to, as I say, be responsible… Failure in art, or failure in making a living, or a success — none of them compares, everything pales beside hurting other people, because, you know, we are here for such a short time and basic life itself is so hard one has a duty to try to be decent to other people”.

~ John Banville | Wikipedia

John Banville on University

“I don’t think I would have learned much more, and I don’t think I would have had the nerve to tackle some of the things I tackled as a young writer if I had been to university – I would have been beaten into submission by my lecturers.”

~ John Banville | Wikipedia

Celia Paul on Marriage

I had been brought up to regard sex outside marriage as a sin.

~ Celia Paul

Kat Deeley on Life

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Nothing is as good or as bad as you think it is.

~ Kat Deeley

CS Lewis on Originality

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

~ CS Lewis

George Bernard Shaw on Want

As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.

~ George Bernard Shaw

James Stockdale on Reality

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

~ James Stockdale

Jenny Diski on Writing

“I do nothing. I get on with the new novel. Smoke. Drink coffee. Smoke. Write. Stare at ceiling. Smoke. Write. Lie on the sofa. Drink coffee. Write.

It is a kind of heaven. This is what I was made for. It is doing nothing. A fraud is being perpetrated: writing is not work, it’s doing nothing. It’s not a fraud: doing nothing is what I have to do to live. Or: doing writing is what I have to do to do nothing. Or: doing nothing is what I have to do to write. Or: writing is what I have to do to be my melancholy self. And be alone.”

~ Jenny Diski


Jenny Diski on People

Mick Carman reckons that orangs are closer to humans than gorillas or chimps; he doesn’t care what anyone says. I’m delighted to hear this, more grist for my fiction mill. But why? Because they’re lazy, sullen and devious, if I see what he means. Oh, yes, I do see.

~ Jenny Diski


Jenny Diski on Joviality

…it’s a very jovial affair, with all the brittleness and pretence that joviality implies.

~ Jenny Diski


Paul Theroux on Knowing People

I thought of Henry James who once said, “Never say you know the last word about any human heart.”

~ Paul Theroux

Zeno on Destiny

When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled in any case. So it is with men too: even if they don’t want to, they will be compelled to follow what is destined.

~ Zeno

Jenny Diski on Writing

I’ve never been a nice friend sitting in anyone’s lap. I just wanted to write stuff down in shapes, really.

~ Jenny Diski

Tim Kreider on Art

© Stephen McAteer

“I’ve tried to solve this problem by keeping my own artistic endeavors low in overhead, devoid of collaborators and as free from editorial interference as possible.”

~ Tim Kreider / NYT

Steve Gambardella on Schopenhauer

“According to Schopenhauer, the “will to life” — a manifestation of “the will” in living things — is what causes the desire to stay alive and procreate. But the pessimistic older philosopher believed the will to life caused nothing but anguish since it was the source of insatiable desires. Schopenhauer reasoned that the best thing to do was renounce this will and to find peace instead in art and compassion.”

~ Steve Gambardella / Medium

Sir Anthony Kenny on Virtue

“I comforted myself with the thought,” he said, “that even Socrates was very doubtful whether virtue could be taught.”

~ Sir Anthony Kenny

Oliver Burkeman on Life

I think virtually everyone, except perhaps the very Zen or very old, goes through life haunted to some degree by the feeling that this isn’t quite the real thing, not just yet – that soon enough, we’ll get everything in working order, get organised, get our personal issues resolved, but that till then we’re living what the great Swiss psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz called the “provisional life.”

~ Oliver Burkeman

Epicurus on Fear

“The fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future.”

~ Epicurus

Julian Baggini on Living

“If we pretend or imagine that life’s purpose lies outside living itself, we will be searching the stars for what is underneath our feet all the time.”

~ Julian Baggini / Atheism: A Very Short Introduction

Julian Baggini on Immortality

“Our desire to preserve is a form of denial about our own mortality. The fact that art can endure longer than people has led some to seek a form of proxy-immortality through it. If we accept that art is mortal too, and that nothing is truly permanent, maybe we can see more clearly where the value of art and life is to be found – in experiencing them.”

~ Julian Baggini / The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher

David Letterman on Doing Good Work

You were innovating out of necessity?

I never knew if the stupider things we did or the more traditional things we did would work. I didn’t know if the stupid stuff would alienate people. I didn’t know if the traditional stuff would be more appealing. And then, when I look back on it now, of course the answer is, you want to do the weird thing.

David Letterman / NYT

Julian Baggini on Wrongdoing

“Judas sees he has done wrong and condemns himself…The price of ‘sin’ is not that you will be sent to hell by a divine judge or that karmic forces will ensure you’re paid back. The price of being bad is that you have to live with being the person who did wrong”

~ Julian Baggini / The Godless Gospel