Tag Archives: #quoteoftheday

Quote of the Day


“Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one
sensation, fire, from the other, frost.”

A.S. Byatt, Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice

Yep, I had to write about the weather. For those of us living in Canada – the whole freaking country – and New England, this has been one of the most severe winter’s on record. How bad, you ask? It’s currently -23 with the wind chill in Toronto as I write this post, and it actually feels warm compared to the last three weeks.

We broke a record here yesterday for coldest temperature. In fact, the City of Toronto had to go to Ottawa to make an exceptional request yesterday: open up the federal armouries to house the homeless. Fortunately, Ottawa acquiesced.

On December 26, 1993 I experienced -70 degree weather, the coldest I’ve ever braved. (Interesting fact: If you stand outside naked at -70, your heart will stop in 60 seconds.) That being said, the last two days have felt colder than -70 here in the T Dot. After five minutes outside in full winter gear, I thought I’d developed frostbite in my fingers – and I had gloves on.

So, yeah, winter sucks.

But back to Dame Byatt! Not only is she an exceptional writer (Possession was a masterpiece), but she’s the heavyweight responsible for helping put a young go-getter named David Mitchell on the literary map; it was she who read an advanced reading copy (ARC) of his second novel, number9dream, and championed him before anyone (except me, of course) knew the limitless potential Mr. Mitchell possessed.

With respect to today’s QOTD, I like the imagery Dame Byatt evokes in this one sentence because, as I’ve felt these past few weeks, when it gets this cold it really is difficult to distinguish between the sting of being burned by fire and the acute pain that an Arctic wind can inflict on exposed (and sometimes covered) skin.

Please, all mountain gods, bring an end to this winter torment and usher in spring early this year. We deserve it!


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Quote of the Day

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“But what is certain is that in five, ten or twenty years, this problem unique to our time, according to him, will no longer exist, it will be replaced by others…Yet this music, the sound of this rain on the windows, the great mournful creaking of the cedar tree in the garden outside, this moment, so tender, so strange in the middle of war, this will never change, not this, this is forever.”

Irène NémirovskySuite française

“The French Suite” is a special book for a few reasons. To begin, Irène Némirovsky wrote a beautiful story set in France during the Second World War. Second, her prose is eloquent, as can be evidenced from the above QOTD. Third, we’ll never know the “real” ending, as Némirovsky only completed two of the five stories planned for this novel before she was rounded up by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz, where she was murdered. Fourth, by some miracle of you know who, “The notebook containing the two novels was preserved by her daughters but not examined until 1998. They were published in a single volume entitled Suite française in 2004.

I wrote about another brilliant work that survived a totalitarian regime through samizdat, The Master and Margarita, but there’s yet another book I read that somehow squeaked out from under intolerant noses, Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Per the Wiki entry on the book:

Life and Fate, the sequel to For a Just Cause, was written in the aftermath of Stalin’s death. Grossman submitted it around October 1960 for potential publication to the Znamya magazine. At this point, the KGB raided his apartment. The manuscripts, carbon copies and notebooks, as well as the typists’ copies and even the typewriter ribbons were seized.

In 1974, a friend and a prominent poet Semyon Lipkin got one of the surviving copies put onto microfilm and smuggled it out of the country with the help of satirical writer Vladimir Voinovich and nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov. Grossman died in 1964, never having seen his book published, which did not happen in the West until 1980.

It would seem that in these cases there is much truth to the idiom The pen is mightier than the sword.

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Quote of the Day

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“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.”

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)

Or, to put it a little more bluntly like Friedrich Nietzsche did, “Without music life would be a mistake.”

I’d like to say I love Schopenhauer’s quote so much I bought the company, but the truth is much more prosaic: I merely included it in A Father’s Son.

Schopenhauer was a titan of philosophy, probably best remembered today for his work The World as Will and Representation. Although not as commonly known as other big names like Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes, for example, here are a few (relatively unknown) people he had a significant impact on with their own work: Joseph Campbell, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy.

Yeah, I guess Schopenhauer was sort of important in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, the above quote comes from a longer segment that I’m including here because (1) I agree with it; and (2) Schopenhauer explains it better than I ever could.

“Music…stands quite apart from all the [other arts]. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of any Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man’s innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [“an unconscious exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting”] which Leibniz took it to be…We must attribute to music a far more serious and profound significance that refers to the innermost being of the world and of our own self…

“Music is as immediate an objectification and copy of the whole will as the world itself is, indeed as the Ideas are, the multiplied phenomenon of which constitutes the world of individual things. Therefore music is by no means like the other arts, namely a copy of the Ideas, but a copy of the will itself, the objectivity of which are the Ideas. For this reason the effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence…

“The inexpressible depth of all music, by virtue of which it floats past us as a paradise quite familiar and yet eternally remote, and is so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain. In the same way, the seriousness essential to it and wholly excluding the ludicrous from its direct and peculiar province is to be explained from the fact that its object is not the representation, in regard to which deception and ridiculousness alone are possible, but that this object is directly the will; and this is essentially the most serious of all things, as being that on which all depends.”


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Quote of the Day

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

Joseph Campbell

Seeing as how today definitely had a follow-your-bliss theme, I thought I’d bring it around to the man himself, Joseph Campbell, one of the great minds and writers of his day. I think The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Myths to Live By were possibly two of the most influential works of literature in the entire 20th century. If you haven’t read anything by Sir Joe, I highly recommend you start with either of these books. But if you’re especially partial to the Star Wars franchise and the Matrix series and want to learn where George Lucas and the Wachowskis drew their inspiration from, definitely start with The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

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Quote of the Day

Image result for The Dalai Lama on What Matters Most: Conversations on Anger, Compassion, and Action

“Fear, anxiety, and stress weaken the immune system. Some scientists have described anger as eating our immune functions. On the other hand, a relaxed state of compassion and kindness brings us inner peace and supports and augments the function of the immune system.”

The Dalai Lama on What Matters Most: Conversations on Anger, Compassion, and Action, Noriyuki Ueda (in conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

From my years spent living in Korea and traveling around Asia, I can now look back and say that one of the most striking differences between the West and the East is how we approach health/wellness and sickness.

This Quote of the Day embodies a simple truth. If you want to remain healthy, listen to simple yet sage thoughts like the above. Be proactive in the maintenance of your physical and mental health, and be reactive and benefit from the wonders of modern medicine when you are sick or weak.

Here are some other simple truisms I learned along the way: Eat until your 80 percent full; don’t eat alone; concentrate on the meal; acupuncture is real; singing can make your body stronger; meditation improves cognitive processes.

With respect to the book itself, here’s a brief intro from the publisher:

A few years ago, prominent cultural anthropologist Noriyuki Ueda sat down with the Dalai Lama for a lively two-day conversation. This little book is the result. In it are some surprising truths and commonsense wisdom.

Click here to visit the Dalai Lama’s official website. And, yes, His Holiness is also on Twitter (@DalaiLama) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DalaiLama/).

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Quote of the Day

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“Pain demands that I pay attention to it, then tells me random things very loudly. Like a natural process it resists prediction and administration. It can run away with itself. It changes without notice or evident pattern. Pain keeps its secrets. It is like nature that way, like the weather and the ecosystem, economies, earthquakes, rivers, public policy. Pain never lets you simplify complexity. It is the ecosystem of me, in stochastic rebellion against the cognitive me. The disease might kill you or not, but to be sure self-pity will kill you if you let it go unchecked. There’s no avoiding self-pity, there’s no one who is perfectly capable of never falling into it. It is pain’s most dangerous traveling companion. Pain may hold on to you, but it’s self-pity that eats you alive.”

Quinn Norton, “Learning From Pain: On living a continuously interrupted life

Most times I link the Quote of the Day to someone famous that we should have all read by now, but once in a while I come across something from an everyday person like you and me that is well written and resonates through my laptop screen with reverberation-like resonance.

Today’s quotation is one such shining example. Ms. Norton has a specific angle that she’s coming from, she knows of what she speaks, and she has put together a thoroughly informative, touching, and eye-opening piece about a universal subject.


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Quote of the Day

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“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”
Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride   

What’s interesting for me is that I remember The Robber Bride as the only Margaret Atwood book I’ve read which made me laugh out loud throughout the novel, but when going over it again today I forgot how heavy some of the writing is from the story.

While a new generation of readers has been introduced to Ms. Atwood – or “Canada’s unrivaled Queen of Letters,” as Eleanor Wachtel once called her – through the recent made-for-TV remake of The Handmaid’s Tale, those of us a bit older know that she has a canon of literature long enough, broad enough, and circumspect enough to shelve an entire library.

I may not have read all of her books, but I highly recomend The Robber Bride, a story that was insired by a Brothers Grimm tale, “[b]ut in her version, Atwood brilliantly recasts the monster as Zenia, a villainess of demonic proportions, and sets her loose in the lives of three friends, Tony, Charis, and Roz.”

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Quote of the Day

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“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Diary   

I like Chuck Palahniuk. He’s one of those rare novelists who goes at his writing full force, no holds barred, a total I-don’t-give-a-shit-what-you-think attitude that is neither cavalier nor annoying; he’s simply fabulous because his words hit at every truth with raw, naked, blunt honesty. That’s why, at least in part, I think he’s so revered by his legion of die-hard fans in a way few other authors are.

Although many people will be most familiar with him through his novel Fight Club, which was then turned into a movie that “was a flop at the box office, but achieved cult status on DVD,” Palahniuk has written a lot more since then – and in several different genres.

More than that, however, he’s a big believer in giving back to readers and writers. Per his publisher:

“In 2004, Chuck began submitting essays to ChuckPalahniuk.net on the craft of writing. These were ‘How To’ pieces, straight out of Chuck’s personal bag of tricks, based on the tenants of minimalism he learned from Tom Spanbauer. Every month, a “Homework Assignment” would accompany the lesson, so Workshop members could apply what they had learned. (all 36 of these essays can currently be found on The Cult’s sister-site, LitReactor.com).”

Click on the above links if you want to investigate that further, but in the meantime – and to further back up my point that Palahniuk is not only a great storyteller, but can turn out one-liners with the best of them – check out these other gems from Diary alone:

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

“Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.”

“All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.”

“Just for the record, the weather today is bitter with occasional fits of jealous rage.”

“You’re always haunted by the idea you’re wasting your life.”

“Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It’s all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self portrait. Everything is a diary.”

“Everyone’s in their own personal coma.”

“Just for the record, she still loves you. She wouldn’t bother to torture you if she didn’t.”

“For the record, knowing when people are only pretending to like you isn’t such a great skill to have.”

“You have endless ways you can commit suicide without dying dying.”

“Angel says that rich people don’t like to tolerate much. Money gives you permission to just walk away from everything that isn’t pretty and perfect. You can’t put up with anything less than lovely. You spend your life running, avoiding, escaping.”

“Maybe it’s just a daughter’s job to piss off her mother.”

“You’re doomed at being you.”

“The truth is, wherever you choose to be, it’s the wrong place.”

“Of all the priceless objects left behind, this is what we rescue. These artifacts. Memory cues. Useless souvenirs. Nothing you could auction. The scars left from happiness.”

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Quote of the Day


“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

–Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”

I am flattered and embarrassed by all the recent attention to my “Last Lecture.” I am told that, including abridged versions, over six million people have viewed the lecture online. The lecture really was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful. But rest assured; I’m hardly unique. Send your kids to Carnegie Mellon and the other professors here will teach them valuable life lessons long after I’m gone. — Randy

Holy moly. I don’t know how I’d never heard of Randy Pausch or “The Last Lecture” before today, but do yourself a favour and watch one of the two versions of this talk I’ve linked to below. Per his introduction on Goodreads:

Randy Pausch was a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States and a best-selling author, who achieved worldwide fame for his “The Last Lecture” speech on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University.

Two versions to choose from:

  1. Here’s the abridged version from Oprah, just over 10 minutes long.
  2. And here’s the full version, just under two hours long.

And here’s the rest of Randy Pausch’s story from Goodreads:

In August 2006, Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He pursued a very aggressive cancer treatment that included Whipple procedure surgery and experimental chemotherapy; however, in August 2007, he was told the cancer had metastasized to his liver and spleen, which meant it was terminal. He then started palliative chemotherapy, intended to extend his life as long as possible. At that time, doctors estimated he would remain healthy for another three to six months. On May 2, 2008, a PET scan showed that his cancer had spread to his lungs, some lymph nodes in his chest and that he had some metastases in his peritoneum and retroperitoneum.

On June 26, 2008, Pausch indicated that he was considering stopping further chemotherapy because of the potential adverse side effects. He was, however, considering some immuno-therapy-based approaches.

On July 24, 2008, on behalf of Pausch, his friend (anonymous) posted a message on Pausch’s webpage indicating cancer progression further than what was expected from recent PET scans and Pausch becoming more sick than ever. It was announced that his family had sent him into a hospice program — palliative care to those at the end of life.

On July 25, 2008, Diane Sawyer announced on Good Morning America that Pausch had died earlier that morning.

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Quote of the Day

“We all pay for our advantages…There’s not a man in this world who hasn’t, and I include the priests. Every man has his secrets, his costs of doing business. It’s no different in my line. Don’t be fooled by the marble columns – the Romans had those, too, and they fed their prisoners to lions. There’s a good deal of brutality behind institutions like mine, leavened by an equal measure of hypocrisy.”

Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach

I’m currently reading Jennifer Egan’s follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, itself a fantastic read, and am enjoying it very much. I’ll save my final thoughts for a full post later on, but it’s a slow, meditative story, not unlike Blade Runner as a film, and a welcome change of pace in an otherwise crazy day of pressing deadlines and a near-ubiquitous now now now culture.

In the quote, the father-in-law, a banker, is talking to his son-in-law, a gangster, at a pivotal point of World War II (and the book – surprise, surprise). What’s great about timeless literature – or art for that matter – is that it never goes out of style. The above little talk from Arthur could be about so many different subjects, and yet the ultimate message rings true in each and every one of the cases, just as it does throughout history.

There was one more quote I was thinking of using from this book, a much shorter one, and I think I’ll include it here to end off this piece.

“It’s a pity we’re forced to make the choices that govern the whole of our lives when we’re so goddamn young.”

P.S. Today’s picture is of Jennifer Egan in full “battle dress” for the book.

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