There is a delicate form of the empirical which identifies itself so intimately with the object that it thereby becomes theory.
On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.
— Virginia Woolf, The Waves
I have lost some friends by death … others through the sheer inability to cross the street.
— Virginia Woolf, The Waves
. . . the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life, “Worship”
The artist is always involved in writing a detailed history of the future because he is the only person aware of the nature of the present.
— Wyndham Lewis
…the image is the drawbridge which allows unconscious energies to be scattered on the surrounding meadows.
— Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
Pictures of perfection as you know make me sick and wicked.
— Jane Austen, Letter to Fanny Knight, 22-25 March (1817)
Architecture in general is frozen music.
— Friedrich von Schelling, Philosophie der Kunst
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please: they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.
— Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
I can resist everything except temptation.
— Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
Note how democratic is the earth. Today a respectable married couple sleeps on the same bit of ground that yesterday suffered a couple living in sin. Tomorrow a priest may sleep there, then a murderer, then a blacksmith, then a poet; and, like shipwrecked persons whose lifeboat has delivered them safely to shore, they will bless this bit of ground, for it gives them the illusion of security.
— Machado de Assis, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas
The more intense an individual’s concern with power over things, the more will things dominate him, the more will he lack any genuine individual traits, and the more will his mind be transformed into an automaton of formalized reason.
— Max Horkheimer, Eclipse of Reason
Therefore I have undertaken this work … not for the sake of speaking with authority about what I know but rather to know these subjects by speaking of them with reverence.
— St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei [City of God]
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
— Groucho Marx
Sit Jessica. See how the floor of heaven
Is inlaid with patines of bright gold.
— William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
Give me a place to stand and I will move the world.
There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
— Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners
Power especially proves itself to itself by the singular abuse which consists in crowning some absurdity with the laurels of success, thereby insulting genius, the only strength which power can never attain. The promotion of Caligula’s horse, that imperial farce, has enjoyed an almost unbroken run.
— Honoré de Balzac, Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes [A Harlot High and Low]
One man is king only because other men stand in the relation of subjects to him. They, on the contrary, imagine that they are subjects because he is king.
— Karl Marx, Capital