Matthew Arnold on Failure

It is a sad thing to see a man who has been frittered away piecemeal by petty distractions, and who has never done his best. But it is still sadder to see a man who has done his best, who has reached his utmost limits – and finds his work a failure, and himself far less than he had imagined himself.

~ Matthew Arnold (Courtesy of Mike Chisholm)

Mike Chisholm on Ambition

Yes, we might have entertained fantasies about alternative lives as writers or musicians or artists, but failure – an almost certain outcome, in retrospect – would have been catastrophic, and to have taken that risk would have been the sort of folly only the exceptionally brave (or irredeemably strange) can contemplate: working-class families have no safety nets to cushion the fall of their crash-and-burn casualties.

~ Mike Chisholm / Idiotic Hat

Oliver Stone on Struggle

“…the patterns of struggle and failure in life tend to repeat themselves.”

~ Oliver Stone

Stone, Oliver. Chasing The Light: How I Fought My Way into Hollywood – From the 1960s to Platoon (p. 73). Octopus. Kindle Edition.

Robert Frank on Failure

“There’s something good about being a failure — it keeps you going.”

~ Robert Frank.

Janan Ganesh On Failure

“For many people, failure will be just that, not a nourishing experience or a bridge to something else. It will be a lasting condition, and it will sting a fair bit.

Look again at that list of names who have minted smarmy epigrams about the utility of failure. It is, you realise, a kind of winner’s wisdom. Those who overcome setbacks to achieve epic feats tend to universalise their atypical experience. Amazingly bad givers of advice, they encourage people to proceed with ambitions that are best sat on, and despise “quitters” when quitting is often the purest common sense.”

~ Janan Ganesh / Financial Times, March 15th 2019

Sophocles on Honour

“Rather fail with honour than succeed by fraud.”

~ Sophocles