Category Archives: Uncommon Quotations

“Law in the land died …”

“Law in the land died. I grieve for it but I do not despair over it. I know, with a certainty no argument can turn, no wind can shake, that from its dust will rise a new and better law: more just, more human, and more humane. When that will happen, I know not. That it will happen, I know.” — The great Jose W. Diokno, who died 30 years ago today

From the memorial website.


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Filed under Readings in Politics, Spiral Notebook, Uncommon Quotations

What the Dickens?

“To me it is a perversion of criticism to suggest that you can have the virtues of a writer without his vices, and the discovery of Dickens’s failures does not make his achievement less. I swallow Dickens whole and put up with the indigestion.” V. S. Pritchett, reviewing “Edwin Drood”

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"If you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet. You can find a lot of people there who don't like you." – Tina Fey, receiving her Golden Globe a few minutes ago

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Best quote (ever) on writing

My money’s on this line from a letter Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter “Scottie”:

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.

I don’t know why, but maybe because I am not a good swimmer, the image appeals deeply to me. It certainly has great explanatory power; I’ve used it many times, in classes and seminars, since at least the mid-1990s.

I found the line in a book of Fitzgerald’s letters, which I bought in 1988 or 1989, when good friend Gigi brought me to a wonderful second-hand bookstore somewhere in Greater L.A. Still have the book, although I found out today that the line is actually the first quotation listed in Fitzgerald’s Wikiquote page. Breathe deeply.

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Filed under Notes on Readings, Spiral Notebook, Uncommon Quotations

Quote: Renaissance man

 "… an enduring European cultural model: the "Encyclopedic" or "Universal" man, personified by such figures as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Leibnitz, and Goethe. All cultures have their saints, their poets, and their sages; but a Leonardo da Vinci could appear only in Europe." – Mircea Eliade

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Quote: Rizal country

“Rizal’s achievement in respect of the Philippines is immeasurable; it is impossible to imagine that country without him.” – Austin Coates

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Quote: Perfectionism

“… what a burden it must be to see how all things fall into place: where the earth sinks: where the seas flow: how every angel falls.” – Gilda Cordero Fernando


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Quote: Art, high and low

“High art, we might say, is art which presumes knowledge of other art; popular culture is prepared to deal with the untutored.” – John Updike

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Quote: The liberal thinker

The Dictionary of Insufficiently Familiar, Unfairly Obscure or Uncommon Quotations, first entry:

The "liberal or critical thinker, aware of the traps set by his passions, aware of the ambiguity of reality itself, constantly calls his hypotheses and judgments into question. Skepticism? Not at all. The liberal constantly seeks the truth, and he will never budge from his ultimate convictions, that is, his maxims that are as moral as they are intellectual." – Raymond Aron

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