In lieu of a biography, a selection of aphorisms from people who have influenced my thinking:
a traveller give an account of men who were entirely divested of
avarice, ambition, or revenge; who knew no pleasure but friendship,
generosity, and public spirit, we should immediately detect the
falsehood and prove him a liar with the same certitude as if he had
stuffed his narration with centaurs and dragons.
Against those who praise--A: "One is praised only by one's peers." B: "Yes, and whoever praises you says: I am your peer."
One has to get rid of the bad taste of wanting to be in agreement with many.
One has no right to existence or to work, to say nothing of a right to "happiness": the individual human being is in precisely the same case as the lowest worm.
'I do not like it.' - Why? - 'I am not up to it.' - Has anyone ever answered like that?
Without music life would be a mistake.
The most suffering animal on Earth invented for itself--laughter
requires a great deal of strength to be able to live and to forget the
extent to which to live and to be unjust is one and the same thing
Agreement is an altogether tiresome constituent of conversation.
annoys me so much in the stupid as that they are better pleased with
themselves than any reasonable person has a right to be.
hydrogen bomb is an example of mankind's enormous capacity for friendly
cooperation. Its construction requires an intricate network of
human teams, all working with single-minded devotion toward a common
goal. Let us pause and savor the glow of self-congratulation we
deserve for belonging to such an intelligent and sociable species.
The world's richest man, Bill Gates, is so incredibly wealthy that it would take the U.S. federal government about 5 days to squander his entire fortune.
It is scarcely the same thing to put a man on the moon as to put a bone in your nose.
If a man has learned to think, no matter what he may think about, he is always thinking of his own death.
patriotism is not love of one's native soil, it is love of the past,
respect for the generations who have gone before us.
ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness a whole life long, and a
long life if possible, and then, quite at the end, one might perhaps be
able to write ten lines that were good.
One day a man of the people said to Zen Master Ikkyu: "Master, will you please write for me some maxism of the highest wisdom?" Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word "Attention." "Is that all?" asked the man. "Will you not add something more?" Ikkyu then wrote twice running: "Attention. Attention." "Well," remarked the man rather irritably, "I really don't see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written." Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times running: "Attention. Attention. Attention." Half-angered, the man demanded: "What does that word 'Attention' mean anyway?" And Ikkyu answered gently: "Attention means attention."
Arrange your library in fair order, so to avoid wearying yourself in searching for the book you need.
The ineptitude of sociology, filling people's heads with confused ideas, has finally become one of the plagues of our times.
shall never forget the surprise mingled with shame and shock which I
felt when, many years ago, conscious of my ignorance on this subject, I
hurried, full of illusion, all the sails of hope spread wide, to books
on sociology...and found something incredible--namely, that books on
sociology have nothing clear to say about
order that everything should be reduced to the same level, it is
first of all necessary to procure a phantom, its spirit, a monstrous
abstraction, an all-embracing something which is nothing, a mirage--and
that phantom is the public.
There is no fate which cannot be surmounted by scorn.
things which most engage the attention of men, as politics and the
daily routine, are, it is true, vital functions of human society, but
should be unconsciously performed, like the corresponding
What is called politics is comparatively something so superficial and inhuman, that practically I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all.
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.
This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may
serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.
established once and for all that one cannot be a successful scholar in
the field of social and political science unless one knows what one is
talking about. And that means acquiring the comparative
a large sector of American intellectuals is anti-American must be
acknowledged, even if they would deny it; it is the same
anti-Americanism that is to be found among European
intellectuals. This anti-Americanism,
mot de sociologie est un mot magique, qui a deja fait trop de
magiciens. Il vole de bouche en bouche et a chaque coup se vide
de sens. C'est une sorte de "Sesame, ouvre-toi" qui sert a mille
fins aussi diverses qu'obscures.
My fiftieth year had come and gone
pleasure in this world, it has been said, outweighs the pain; or, at
any rate, there is an even balance between the two. If the reader
wishes to see shortly whether this statement is true, let him compare
the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in
eating the other.
Nature had meant man to think, she would not have given him ears; or at
any rate she would have furnished him with air-tight flaps, such as are
the enviable possession of the bat
and contempt are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive...For if
a man shows that he despises you, he signifies at least this much
regard for you, that he wants to let you know how little he appreciates
you; and his wish is dictated by hatred, which cannot exist with real
contempt. On the contrary, contempt, if it is genuine, is
simply the conviction that the object of it is a man of no value at all.
In the last analysis, we can scarcely talk about what is most important.
am not interested in the academic status of what I am doing because my
problem is my own transformation...when people say, 'Well, you thought
this a few years ago and now you say something else," my answer is,
[laughter] "Well, do you think I have worked like that all those years
to say the same thing and not be changed?
Music appears in the world despite the music industry, not becauseof it.
I am now a sociologist (according to my employment documents), I am so
essentially to put an end to the use of collective concepts, a use
which still haunts us.
are many ways to victimize people. Perhaps the most effective way
is to convince them that they are nothing more than victims.
N'essaie pas de peter plus haut que ton cul.
all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its
victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber
baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us
without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Why attack God? He may be as unhappy as we are.
sans doute aux femmes que j'ai le plus pensť dans ma vie...Meme quand
je pense a des sujets qui n'ont pas de rapport direct avec elles, j'y
pense quand meme
can be against the market or against bureaucracy. But if one is
against both of them, one is in real intellectual trouble.
Very few academics have any ideas of their own.
occasionally play works by contemporary composers for two reasons:
first, to discourage the composer from writing any more, and second, to
remind myself how much I appreciate Beethoven.
want to go past working in sociology. I don't want to stay
there. But it is not a declared hostility. It's just that
it is one of those disciplines which may be precious, but it's
necessary to pass through all disciplines.
the war, Paul Eluard abandoned surrealism and became the greatest
exponent of what I might call the "poesy of totalitarianism." He
sang for brotherhood, peace, justice, better tomorrows; he sang for
don't know which of my characters is right. I invent stories,
confront one with another, and by this means I ask questions. The
stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything.
The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for
everything...The totalitarian world, whether founded on Marx, Islam, or
anything else, is a world of answers rather than questions.
There, the novel has no place.
If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there's little point in writing.
Human society is founded on mutual deceit; few friendships would endure if each knew what his friend said of him in his absence.
Il n'y a pas de solution parce qu'il n'y a pas de probleme.