You Can Quote Me on That

March 26, 2012

Elbert Hubbard quoted by Bugs Bunny

Throughout my life I have collected quotes.  If something gives me pause when I read it, I take note.   Over the years, the list has grown considerably long.  It’s not so much a formal list as it lives in my head, to be recalled when I need to make a point about a particular issue.   If judged by how often I use them, it is pretty obvious I have my favorites.

I’ve even posted to this blog about the use and misuse of quotes, you can read it here.  The point is people say some incredibly witty and pithy things, well worth repeating.  I guess that’s why books of quotes have always been popular.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • Regarding time, I like to quote Albert Einstein.  Late in his life he was asked by a reporter about his Special Theory of Relativity, this is the E=mc2 one, a subject Einstein was weary of talking about as the paper was published some 50 years earlier, he explained it this way:  “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”  As funny at the quote is, in the end it does explain Relativity.  As I get older, it grows more and more relative.
  • It is no secret I am not the biggest fan for free-verse poetry.  I have often quoted Robert Frost on the subject.  In a speech he stated “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.”  At first, it might seem that he is kicking free-verse to the curb.  In reality, what he is saying is the rules add to the game.  Imagine how boring tennis would be without the net to add a level of difficulty.  It is the same for poetry, the rules and structure add to the outcome.  In both tennis and poetry, you remove the net and it is up to the players alone to be exciting.
  • When it comes to national responsibility, I’ve quoted Stephen Crane.  In case you do not remember, Stephen wrote the Red Badge of Courage.  It is and epic poem of his I quote though –War is Kind.  Of course, his point is war is anything but kind.  Here is the quote I use:

A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

This quote is like a slap in the face when you first read it.  It is harsh and uncaring, but it is true.  We are no more obligated to do a thing or care about something than the universe is.  It is a choice we make.  We choose to take action or to not take action.  It is an individual sense of morality that dictates the choice, regardless if the choice is good or bad.

  • Of course, I have often pointed out we are a nation of individuals but it is our commonality that joins us.  As Voltaire put it “it is through our mutual needs that we are useful to the human race.”  In other words, it is through our mutual needs we put an obligation on ourselves Mr. Crain’s universe did not.

OK, so there are just a few of the quotes I often use.  I like to use quotes but I have a fear most do not understand the frame of reference and that leads to misunderstanding.   It sort of defeats the whole purpose of quoting in the first place.  That point opens the door for a completely different subject, do I Are they the same?

Give some thought to the quotes you use, even if you only use them mentally to yourself.  Quotes are like little metaphors we use to help explain the world.   On that note, I could not help but end this with a quote of my own to warn about understand a quote before its use, it is from a poem of mine called Testing Water:

So think about your actions
long before you make that jump
be sure you test the waters
and avoid that painful thump.


  1. Great post and I like your quote at the bottom.Thanks for sharing! I have quite a collection of quotes too. I’ve even started jotting down a few original ones that cross my mind.

    • That is great. You should share some of them.

      • True! I will… someday 🙂

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