Tag Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

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“Why seek to cure evil by evil? Mercy, remember, is by many set above justice…Power is a slippery thing – it has many suitors.”

Lycophron of Corinth’s Sister

So, to begin, a few disclaimers. (1) The above bust is of Periander, the father of Lycophron. I assume they looked relatively alike (and busts from back then are hard to come by), so it’ll have to do; (2) I don’t know what the sister’s name is because she’s called “Lycophron’s sister” in The Histories; (3) The above quote comes from Herodotus, whom many consider to be “The Father of History,” so I’m not sure if we can verify with any certainty the exact words the sister used 2,600 years ago; (4) “the results of the enquiry carried out by Herodotus of Halicarnassus” (aka The Histories) was one of the subtlest – but most romantic/intriguing – elements to the relationship between Count Almásy and Katharine Clifton in Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

But back to the Quote of the Day!

Somewhere in the ballpark of two and a half millennia ago, Lycophron’s sister is said to have uttered these words about mercy. I’m not sure if she was referring to one person or event in particular, but it’s quite possible she was thinking about her father, otherwise known as the Second Tyrant of the Cypselid dynasty that ruled over Corinth. However, this same tyrant was also considered one of the Seven Sages of Greece, so perhaps he wasn’t all bad and his daughter was just waxing poetic for no special reason.

Either way,  I’m not sure what it was about the Ancient Greeks, but it seems as if they all nailed their aphorisms effortlessly. Like the following conversation, which very well could have been an everyday moment shared between two Greeks:

“Hey, Plasticoratorus, are you going to apply for that job you mentioned?” 

“I haven’t made up my mind yet. Neverthless, let us spare no pains; for nothing comes without trouble; but all that men acquire is got by painstaking. What about you, Socratotalitis? Any plans to do anything but drink wine and carry on with your symposiums?”

“Ha ha, Plasticoratorus. I can sense the irony and envy in your voice. Remember, when men counsel reaosnably, reasonable success ensues; but when in their counsels they reject reason, God does not choose to follow the wanderings of human folies.”

“Well done, Socratotalitis. Your pithy pithism Trumped my circuitous mental aberration.”

In the case of today’s Quote of the Day, Lycophron’s sister was clearly a visionary ahead of her time. Even today in what are arguably the two world’s most powrful countires (America and China) not only is captial punishment still practiced, but these respective governments seem to imprison people with impunity.

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Quote of the Day

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“Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War (5th century BCE)

Even if you haven’t read The Art of War, you’re probably familiar with many of its now-famous axioms, most of which relate to military strategy and tactics, but can be just as easily applied to day-to-day stuff, business, sports, and pretty much everything else in life.

Here are a coupe of other doozies from Sun Tzu (544-496 BCE):

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

Although we have only had an annotated English translatin of The Art of War from its original Classical Chinese since 1910, when Lionel Giles seemed to accomplish the linguistically impossible, its effect on Western culture was immediate and profound.

Sadly, as the American Century – from its entrance onto the word stage as the NKOTB at the tail end of World War I in 1917 to the swearing-in of Donald Trump as President in 2017 – draws to a close, I can’t help but wonder if the current U.S. Commander-in-Chief didn’t perhaps get his Art of War on through the wrong medium, instead using Mr. Snipes as his inspiration to lodge a war with the world.

After watching the goings-on at the White House over the last five months or so, another military strategist I think about is Napoleon Bonaparte, a complex character who could come up with dynamite little quips in a short amount of time, kind of like this one: “Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Indeed, we won’t. After all, who needs any of that phony baloney bread or circus stuff when we’ve got Donnie T. shooting himself in the foot with a mouth-propelled rocket on a daily basis. I’ll tell you who really needs the bagutte and Cirque de Soleil action – the infamous secret agenct, Señor Covfefe of Mexico.

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Quote of the Day

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“The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”

Gore Vidal

I’m having one of those “I-told-you-so” days, so thought this Quote of the Day was particularly apropos. It all started when I went to the post office to return some merchandise the S.O. bought a couple of weeks ago after being assured in an online ad (i.e. scam) that the beauty products were FREE! FREE! FREE! as long as you filled out a short survey (i.e. you provided your phone number, email and mailing address).

To which I replied, “Nothing in this world is free.”

To which the S.O. replied, “No, no, no. This time it really is free. I swear.”

To which I so wittily and handily replied, “Indeed, you do have a potty mouth, but it doesn’t change the price of tea in China, nor does it make these things free.”

After numerous phone calls to a “No Caller ID” with a P.O. Box as an address, and of course the requisite $30 in postage, the matter is now settled.

I’ll shorten the above witticism to three words: Told ya so.

But back to Gore Vidal, one of those rare – like, really rare – writers that intimidated fellow authors, pundits, critics and politicians back in his day because of his pedigree, breadth of knowledge, Transatlantic accent (ha ha ha), and overall confidence (i.e. smugness) that was perpetuated as much by myth as it was by a shocking understanding of what appeared at times to be everything and everyone. If you’ve ever read Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, Gore Vidal was pretty much the real-life version of Elliott Templeton.

Personally, my favourite book by Mr. Vidal was The Golden Age,  a novel that offers readers the same kind of inside look into a fascinating period of world history/World War II as Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead; with the former, we’re taken inside the White House and the inner sanctum of FDR; in the case of the latter, we have a firsthand look into how generals plotted the insanely complicated island-hopping battles against the Japanese during the Pacific Campaign.

If you have yet to read anything by Gore Vidal, there’s a ton of material online, from essays and articles to brilliant one-liners and general observances, so go and check him out. Then I can tell you, I told you so!

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Quote of the Day

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  1. You will receive a body.
  2. You will learn lessons.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
  4. A lesson is repeated until learned.
  5. Learning lessons does not end.
  6. “There” is no better than “here.”
  7. Others are merely mirrors of you.
  8. What you make of your life is up to you.
  9. Your answers lie inside you.
  10. You will forget all this.

10 Rules for Being Human” (from If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules), Cherie Carter-Scott

I don’t think I would have ever written down this list in my literary journal 20 years ago if it hadn’t been for No. 10. Priceless. Like, toooootally MasterCard priceless.

There’s really no rhyme or reason to my selection for the Quote of the Day. Each one just kind of comes to me no differently than cosmic dust filtering in from the farthest reaches of the “Chocoalte Bar” Galaxy, penetrating our now ozone-less atmosphere, and then connecting with my uber sensitive-to-the-universe brain. That’s what happened this morning after I’d finished my 200th sit-up and was getting ready to do 100 chin-ups before getting started on my daily half-triathalon. Wednesdays are full-out triathalons.

Man, I love fitness!

I don’t know much about Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott (@DrCherie) except (1) I can’t cut and paste the accent aigu over the first “e” in her name; (2) she is known as the “Mother of Coaching” (anyone know who the Father is? Could it be Vader?); (3) she has been a self-dubbed “pioneer in the field of Human Development and Motivation since 1974,” the year the world stood still on June 19; and (4) I really liked the above “10 Rules for Being Human,” and have ever since I came across it for the first time in 1997, the year the world stood still once again on August 31 and September 5.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Ms. Carter-Scott.

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Quote of the Day

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“[M]y fear is that when we die, we’ll have to watch all those moments in our lives when we were short-tempered with our children, all the times they needed our love and we didn’t give it, all those times we were distracted or in a bad mood, and all the times we were angry or impatient. My fear is that when the time comes, I’ll have to watch all those moments again. That they’ll make us watch them before we can get into Heaven.”

Will Ferguson, 419

I know what you’re thinking: Why would you name your novel after an area code? While that is a good and dandy catechism of the secular, non-political variety, the title is not in fact a way to call Toledo, Ohio, but refers to a section of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with fraud, as well as the charges and penalties for offenders of this crime.

I also know what you’re thinking right now: Nigeria? Why would that fine, upstanding country need Article 419 as part of its Criminal Code? I’ll let Will Ferguson answer that one through his Giller Prize-winning novel of the same name, err, number.

Before I move on, however, let me provide you with a classic 419 email.

Subject: USE FOR THE LESS PRIVILEGED From: “Mrs.Isabella Caromel” <isabecaromel1515@yahoo.com.my>

Good day
Private Message to you,

This is an important message to you.The lord directs me to share this with you. As you read the mail, you should sympathize with my current situation and assist me. My name is Isabella Carmel the only survivor from family of four. I was narrowly escaped from the tsunami disaster which affected my spinal cord and also my ear drum and claim the lifes of my entire family, husband (Denis caromel) and two sons (Ugo and Tom) who went for holidays in Sri-Lanka.

Right now I am currently in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. After staying a week in my family hospital, I was disabled by the catastrophe and now on a wheel cheer after all the treatment.This has defiled all forms of medicine and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts.I have not lived my life so well as my primary interest and focus was only on my late fathers business. Though my father is very rich and was never generous. But now I regret all this, as I know that there is more in life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world.The bible says what shall it profit a man to wine the whole world and loose his soul. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I will live my life a different way from how I have lived before. I have willed and given most of my fathers properties to the less privileges because I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul. I have decided to give arms to charity organizations and give succor and comfort to the less privileged in our societies. I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth since my father has never recognized that.

So far I have to distribute money to charity organizations now that my health has deteriorated so badly,I cannot do this myself anymore that is why am soliciting your assistant to make this donation through you. The last of my late fathers money that am willing to donate to the less privileged right now is the huge sum of $10.6M USD that is concealed in a consignment and deposited in (OVERSEA CREDIT COMMISSION ABROAD) for safekeeping which he intends to invest on profitable factory.

I want you to help me claim this funds where is deposited and disburse it to charity organizations and the less privileged in the society.Please I will appreciate you to indicate interest for the disbursement and also include your contact telephone/fax numbers that I will forward to the(OVERSEA CREDIT COMMISSION ABROAD) to be able to contact you as the appointed beneficiary. I will provide you the certificate of deposit and the letter of authority to enable you claim the consignment of the funds.

If you are willing and ready to assist with this project,please e-mail me at isabecaromel900@myway.com without delay, while I wait to hear from you.Thanks once again for your kindness may God guide and reward you in all your endeavors as you make me realize my last dreams and wishes.

Remain blessed,
Mrs.Isabella Caromel

Now that’s the $$$ shot! Good on ya, Mrs. Isabella. Heart goes out to you. For trues and for reals!

Anyway, 419 is a very good book and the above quote is quite poignant. However, if you want to listen to a podcast that takes it about 156 steps past what Mr. Ferguson did with his novel, check out NPR’s This American Life, Episode 363: Enforcers and click on Act One, “Hanging in Chad.” These guys take “revenge is a dish best served cold” to new heights.

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Quote of the Day

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“Each person had their moment when they assumed the skins of wild animals, when they took responsibility for the story.”

Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion

This is, without a doubt, unequivocally, no question, stick-a-fork-in-me-I’m-done-like-dinner one my favourite quotes in the entire canon of English language literature. If you have not read this book, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and head directly to jail (or your local library/bookstore); if you have not read anything at all by Ondaatje – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, commentary – and you are over the age of 30, go straight to the hospital, get an MRI, then tell the technician, “Shoot me now, please.”

In the Skin of a Lion is a very loose prequel to Ondaatje’s most famous work internationally, The English Patient, but the novel stands on its own two feet just fine. Aside from winning the prestigious Governor General’s Award, it has stood the test of time since being published 30 years ago and will, in my humble opinion, continue to resonate with readers for many years to come. Like, many years to come.

When writing about this novel in an academic paper, Graciela Moreira Slepoy so rightly pointed out:

“As the title of the novel indicates, to take responsibility for one’s own story and for its narration is a way of legitimising and appropriating one’s life in order to compensate for historical omissions. Alice’s explanation of the meaning of the title emphasises the importance of telling personal stories.”

An immigrant himself, Mr. Ondaatje first uprooted his life in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and moved to England in 1954. Eight years later, in 1962, he made his final move, to Canada, and now resides in Toronto.

In the same paper as above, Graciela Moreira Slepoy states that “In the Skin of a Lion narrates forgotten stories of those who contributed to the building of…Toronto, particularly immigrants and marginal[ized] individuals.” In the novel, this primarily centres around two pieces of highly relevant Toronto infrastructure, the Bloor Street Viaduct (Prince Edward Viaduct) and the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, as well as the immigrant workers who built them.

Although a different time period than his own, this was obviously something that Ondaatje could not only sympathize with, but an experience that more than 20 years after first landing in Montreal he still felt passionate about. In 1987, he took this passion and his personal memories as an immigrant, combined them with some intense research carried out at the City of Toronto Archives,  and then brought this all together with a compelling plot and beautiful prose.

The result was the publication of one of the most important and enduring pieces of Canadian fiction – and one of its most enjoyable to read.

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Quote of the Day

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“The mature person eventually forgives his parents. Any adult can look back and see childhood wrongs and unfairness. Many of us were disappointed by our parents, even neglected or hurt by them. We certainly didn’t get all we wanted or needed. Yet, upon joining the ranks of adults, we become responsible for ourselves. Every situation has limited choices, and we work with what we’ve got. As adults, we realize this is exactly where our parents were when we were children. They, too, were born into an imperfect world and had to do the best they could.

When we can forgive our parents, we are free to accept them as they are, as we might a friend. We can accept them, enjoy the relationship, and forget about collecting old debts. Making peace with them imparts to us the strengths of previous generations and helps us be more at peace with ourselves.”

Touchstones: A Book of Daily Meditations for Men, Anonymous

I’m not sure why meditations like the one above are for men alone, but it’s poignant nonetheless. If only I could find that dastardly Anonymous! I think he was a Greek philosopher. Or maybe a Roman senator. Come to think of it, wasn’t he the first drummer for Guns n’ Roses?

Whatever the case, good ol’ Anonymous has hit on something important. Like the Sphinx riddle*, there seems to be three stages to how we view our parents in life. In childhood, we love them unconditionally. As a young, immature adult, we blame them for all of our problems and deficiencies. It’s only as a mature adult that we come to realize they are no different than ourselves and that compassion, empathy and understanding are the only way to rebuild bridges between us that were inevitably strained in our darker, weaker moments.


* “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?”  (Man – as a baby, an adult, and an elderly person)

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Quote of the Day

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“The inhabitant or soul of the universe…is never seen; its voice alone is heard. All we know is that it has a gentle voice, like a woman, a voice so fine and gentle that even children cannot become afraid. And what it says is: Sila ersinarsinivdluge, ‘Be not afraid of the universe.'”

Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live by (1972)

In my humble opinion, Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was one of the most important and influential writers of the 20th century. While there are many scholars who specialize in one religion or mythology, Campbell was really the first person to unify them and realized they shared something in common: they were all variations of one great story, the monomyth (a term he borrowed from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake – a story you should not read without a full vial of Advil beside you).

Joseph Campbell was serious about his reading and his research. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who, from 1929-34, as the Great Depression began ravaging the world, moved to the middle of buttf*** nowhere and spent nine hours a day reading. Imagine how many books you could get through in five years reading at that pace. Epic.

In 1939, Campbell would draw on all of his studies and his vast knowledge of the world when he published The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the book that would not only serve as his coming out party, but what is widely regarded today as his magnum opus. To put it in perspective, this book would not only have immediate and significant academic influence, but it would go on to form the impetus behind now-legendary cultural markers such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Matrix. Luke Skywalker, in fact, was a direct archetype of the very hero Campbell wrote about in that book, and George Lucas has repeatedly credited Campbell’s “hero” for creating a movie character now known the world over.

Something else many people will know of but not know where it came from is perhaps Campbell’s most famous quote, “follow your bliss,” a phrase that has become my friend Maria A.’s life mantra. Campbell came up with this after reading the Upanishads (Hinduism’s Sanskrit texts), and as he’d later explain:

I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: Sat-Chit-Ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.

Joseph Campbell was prolific in his lifetime, but if you want his genius condensed into one sweet package, go and get The Power of Myth. It’s a book published the year after his death, an audio book series and a television PBS series with Bill Moyers. Watch it, listen to it, read it. You will walk away a better person for having done so. Guaranteed.

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Quote of the Day

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“It is only by not paying one’s bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.”

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)


O-dubs was a smart guy, that one. Although he grew up with not one but two governesses, he was grounded enough to know the role/burden that bills play in our lives. It may not be the sexiest subject, but it’s one of the few things on this planet that connects almost every human being. And while us peons who hang out on the bottom rungs of the financial ladder scoff at it, even millionaires stress out about bills and go broke all the time.

They* say there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Well, there should be a third: bill collectors. All bills should come with a warning at the beginning – PAY NOW OR WE WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND, IF NECESSARY, KIDNAP YOUR PETS. HOW DO YOU LIKE ‘DEM APPLES NOW, MR./MS. CUSTOMER!

I was reminded of Wilde’s quote recently when a story surfaced in the newspaper about a hapless guy in T.O. who lived with his two kids and very nearly lost his electricity. Apparently after working out a plan with the hydro company to split the bill into three portions, he was told he was “lucky” his electricity wouldn’t be discontinued because the provincial government has mandated that June 1 still be deemed a “cold month” in Toronto. Therefore, the hydro company is by law not allowed to cut off this guy’s power.

(You mean it actually pays to live in a cold place like Canada?)

Yet if it had been July 1, he claims he would have been up a river, under the waterfalls, his dingy deflating after being punctured by falling rocks, and, of course, without a paddle.

Does that seem remotely fair, just or legal?

Who cares!

So, my dear friends who work as bill collectors or hired goons for loan sharks, I thank you on behalf of that wretched father and his children from the bottom of my heart for your sympathy. Scratch that – your empathy, for you clearly understand the human condition as well as Trump understands the word “truth” and North Korea understands the term “real world.”


* You know, “they”! Those two some guys and gals we all know of but have never actually met.

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Quote of the Day

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“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

For anyone who has even a little bit of love-on for the England of yore, this book is for you. Evelyn Waugh, most recently mentioned in Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning Lost in Translation, was a prolific journalist, biographer, travel writer and critic during his lifetime, but is today probably best remembered for his classic 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited.

There are numerous versions of this book that have been adapted to the silver screen and turned into TV miniseries, but if you find yourself in the mood for an oldie but a literary goodie, you won’t be disappointed  with this book.

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