Bunch of quotes

* Explaining * Feminism * Friends * Insults * Labels * Opera * Opera again * Persistence * Political Correctness * Power * Reason * Ruthlessness * Tyrants * Wisdom * Women's work * "Victims" *


Opera is a bizarre affair made up of poetry and music, in which the poet and the musician, each equally obstructed by the other, give themselves no end of trouble to produce a wretched result.

- St Evremond, 1740

No one could explain better when needful, nor put more conscience into an account or a report; which burden of conscience is perhaps exactly the reason why his heart always sank when the clouds of explanation gathered. His highest ingenuity was in keeping the sky of life clear of them. Whether or no he had a grand idea of the lucid, he held that nothing ever was in fact - for anyone else - explained. One went through the vain motions, but it was mostly a waste of life.

- Henry James in The Ambassadors

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.

- Alice Walker

Miss Manners would like gently to propose that everyone just cut out all this helpfulness right now. She suggests this first as a matter of manners. It is rude to call people's attention to their shortcomings, no matter how much you have their welfare at heart. It is rude to assume that anyone other than minors in your custody is less capable than you are of making minor and major decisions about how to live. No, it doesn't count if you prepare the way by attempting to convince people who didn't realize it just how badly in need of help they are. In the etiquette lexicon, the statements necessary to break down a person's self-satisfaction to the point where he admits that he was in worse shape than he had fondly imagined are still called 'insults.'

- Miss Manners (seen on Usenet)

A man can be called ruthless if he bombs a country to oblivion. A woman can be called ruthless if she puts you on hold.

- Gloria Steinem (b. 1934)

The idea of control is contagious: if a person is interested in power without reference to any other value, he or she will be able to gain power relatively easily over those who are not interested in it. For example, if two people mate, and one wants power over the other, domination, and the other wants love, the former will perceive all acts of the latter in terms of conquest or submission. Whatever the latter does will be turned into part of a contest. The person who wants love will have only two options - to abandon the relation entirely or to play the game. The same thing is true on a larger political scale: if one state desires power over other states, states which wish to live in peace and freedom will be overrun. They have to learn to value power or be eradicated.

- Marilyn French in Beyond Power, 1985

If you have a group half of whose members are A's and half of whose members are B's and if you call the group C, then A's and B's may be equal members of group C. But if you call the group A, there is no way that B's can be equal to A's within it. The A's will always be the rule and the B's will always be the exception - the subgroup, the subspecies, the outsiders.

- Alma Graham, 1974

Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

- Rev. Pat Robertson, 1992 USA Republican Convention

No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

- Karl Popper

On being accused of political correctness/PC

These are often the least powerful groups in the community: women, people from non-dominant cultures and people with disabilities.

...there is a malign and deliberate attempt to use the phrase to actually kill off free speech and dissent, not to promote it as some may claim. By constantly harping on the phrase, commentators create self-censorship and anxiety in women who are speaking on behalf of other women. Yet what is spoofed as politically correct are generally the anti-establishment rules, and thus the spoofing acts as a form of social control on behalf of the status quo. The term is almost always used by the populists and powerful to suppress dissident voices. It stops people saying they are pained by certain words, it embarrasses people into silence. In the western world it claims to be about free speech but it is generally about majority domination.

...mainstream concerns are regarded as somehow legitimate, as are attacks from more conservative views, but radical views are not seen as needing serious attention.

However, those radical views are considered to be good subjects for ridicule, for undercutting in humorous ways, and of being in need of 'balance'. The mainstream and conservative views that control the debates are never seen as policing the system because they own it. In an almost ridiculous contradiction, efforts for change are believed to be an attempt to take control rather than a challenge to existing implicit control.

- Eva Cox, Leading Women, Random House Australia, 1996, pp 69-71

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I had to kill because they pissed me off.

- seen on Usenet

Throughout the history of mankind there have been murderers and tyrants; and while it may seem momentarily that they have the upper hand, they have always fallen. Always.

- Gandhi

It matters if you just don't give up.

- Stephen Hawking

The stigma that marks the victim and accounts for his victimization is an acquired stigma, a stigma of social, rather than genetic, origin. But the stigma, the defect, the fatal difference - though derived in the past from environmental forces - is still located within the victim, inside his skin. With such an elegant formulation, the humanitarian can have it both ways. He can, all at the same time, concentrate his charitable interest on the defects of the victim, condemn the vague social and environmental stresses that produced the defect (some time ago), and ignore the continuing effect of victimising social forces (right now). It is a brilliant ideology for justifying a perverse form of social action designed to change, not society, as one might expect, but rather society's victim.

- William Ryan in Blaming the victim, 1971

The struggle for safety and respect ought not be "women's work" but a human responsibility.

- Jennifer McDonnell writing on Helen Garner's The first stone in the Canberra Times of 8/4/95

...opera reaches its height when consisting of music by dead composers sung by foreigners in foreign languages to rich people.

- Arthur Jacobs

Page created 8 October 1995; last updated 29 December 2011