Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Quotations I read this week


When an important dignitary was executed his head was exposed on a silver plate, whereas that of a lesser official was granted a plate of wood. The Sultan’s favourite method of execution was to order men to be cut in half, and his whimsical sense of humour permitted him to claim that he had been true to his word when he had three hundred Italians killed in this way at Mytilene in 1462 after promising ‘they might keep their heads’. D. P. Waley, Later Medieval Europe
So bored of middle-class media feminists complaining about how hard their lives are while sitting at desks made by working-class men, typing on computers built by working-class men, and then driving home in cars constructed by working-class men who will never know the comforts these women enjoy.
Brendan O'Neill
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of ones time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. H.L. Mencken, quoted by Brendan O'Neill
The supreme adventure is being born...When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world that we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.
G.K. Chesterton, The Wildest of Adventures
The aim of malice is not the suffering of others in itself, but our own enjoyment; for instance, as the feeling of revenge, or stronger nervous excitement. All teasing, even, shows the pleasure it gives to exercise our power on others and bring it to an enjoyable feeling of preponderance. Is it immoral to taste pleasure at the expense of another's pain? Is malicious joy devilish, as Schopenhauer says? We give ourselves pleasure in nature by breaking off twigs, loosening stones, fighting with wild animals, and do this in order to become thereby conscious of our strength. Is the knowledge, therefore, that another suffers through us, the same thing concerning which we otherwise feel irresponsible, supposed to make us immoral? But if we did not know this we would not thereby have the enjoyment of our own superiority, which can only manifest itself by the suffering of others, for instance, in teasing. All pleasure per se is neither good nor evil; whence should come the decision that in order to have pleasure ourselves we may not cause displeasure to others? From the point of view of usefulness alone, that is, out of consideration for the consequences, for possible displeasure, when the injured one or the replacing State gives the expectation of resentment and revenge: this only can have been the original reason for denying ourselves such actions. Pity aims just as little at the pleasure of others as malice at the pain of others per se. For it contains at least two (perhaps many more) elements of a personal pleasure, and is so far self gratification; in the first place as the pleasure of emotion, which is the kind of pity that exists in tragedy, and then, when it impels to action, as the pleasure of satisfaction in the exercise of power. If, besides this, a suffering person is very dear to us, we lift a sorrow from ourselves by the exercise of sympathetic actions. Except by a few philosophers, pity has always been placed very low in the scale of moral feelings, and rightly so.
Friedrich Nietzsche
A little boy sees and hears birds with delight.
Then his “good father” comes along and feels he should “share” the experience and help his son “develop.” He says: “That’s a jay, and this is a sparrow.”
The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. 
Eric Berne

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