Quote Mismatched

Can you correctly match the following quotes with their authors?

  1. Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
  2. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
  3. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
  4. All art is quite useless.
  5. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason.
  6. If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.
  7. Capitalism has worked very well. Anyone who wants to move to North Korea is welcome.
  8. You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.
  9. The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.
  10. Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self interest.

The choices, each used exactly once, are:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Bill Gates
  • Barack Obama
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Ayn Rand
  • Voltaire
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Winston Churchill

The answer key is found here, but try it yourself first! If you really are bold, I dare you to write down your guesses in the comments and then check the solution.

Lady Windermere’s Fan

Lady Windermere's Fan

A typical Oscar Wilde play, this is one of the wittiest works imaginable, and is the origin of many famous quotes such as “I can resist everything except temptation” and “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” Although this play might not be as famous as The Importance of Being Earnest, and it might not have as sophisticated a plot, it is most certainly as witty, and has also more social commentary.

LORD WINDERMERE: Ah, Margaret, only trust me! A wife should trust her husband!

LADY WINDERMERE: London is full of women who trust their husbands. One can always recognise them. They look so thoroughly unhappy. I am not going to be one of them.

Here is another awesome passage, this time on superficiality:

LADY WINDERMERE: Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.

LORD DARLINGTON: I, Lady Windermere? […] I am quite miserable, Lady Windermere. You must tell me what I did.

LADY WINDERMERE: Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening.

LORD DARLINGTON: Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They’re the only things we can pay.

LADY WINDERMERE: No, I am talking very seriously. You mustn’t laugh, I am quite serious. I don’t like compliments, and I don’t see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when he says to her a whole heap of things he doesn’t mean.

LORD DARLINGTON: Ah, but I did mean them.

LADY WINDERMERE: I hope not. I should be sorry to have to quarrel with you, Lord Darlington. I like you very much, you know that. But I shouldn’t like you at all if I thought you were what most other men are. Believe me, you are better than most other men, and I sometimes think you pretend to be worse.

LORD DARLINGTON: We all have our little vanities, Lady Windermere.

LADY WINDERMERE: Why do you make that your special one?

LORD DARLINGTON: Oh, nowadays so many conceited people go about Society pretending to be good, that I think it shows rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides, there is this to be said. If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.

It is Lady Windermere’s very dislike of compliments that leads to the farcical temptation quote:

LORD DARLINGTON: Ah. what a fascinating Puritan you are, Lady Windermere!

LADY WINDERMERE: The adjective was unnecessary, Lord Darlington.

LORD DARLINGTON: I couldn’t help it. I can resist everything except temptation.

Another charming line is Lord Darlington’s speech on good and bad:

LORD DARLINGTON: Do you know I am afraid that good people do a great deal of harm in the world. Certainly the greatest harm they do is that they make badness of such extraordinary importance. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. I take the side of charming, and you, Lady Windermere, can’t help belonging to them.

Also, near the end of Act 3 are three now-very-famous quotes, quite close together:

DUMBY: I congratulate you, my dear fellow. In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst; the last is a real tragedy! But I am interested to hear she does not love you,. How long could you love a woman who didn’t love you, Cecil?

CECIL GRAHAM: A woman who didn’t love me? Oh, all my life!

DUMBY: So could I. But it’s so much different to meet one.

LORD DARLINGTON: How can you be so conceited, Dumby?

DUMBY: I didn’t say it was a matter of conceit. I said it as a matter of regret. I have been wildly, madly adored. I am sorry I have. It has been an immense nuisance. I should like to be allowed a little time to myself now and then.

LORD AUGUSTUS: Time to educate yourself, I suppose.

DUMBY: No, time to forget all I have learned. That is much more important, dear Tuppy.

LORD DARLINGTON: What cynics you fellows are!

CECIL GRAHAM: What is a cynic?

LORD DARLINGTON: A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

CECIL GRAHAM: And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.

LORD DARLINGTON: You always amuse me, Cecil. You talk as if you were a man of experience.


LORD DARLINGTON: You are far too young!

CECIL GRAHAM: That is a great error. Experience is a question of instinct about life. I have got it. Tuppy hasn’t. Experience is the name Tuppy gives to his mistakes. That is all.

DUMBY: Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.

I had certainly known of all three quotes before, but I never thought they were all located within a page of one another. Now, here are two more Wilde quotes, both located on the page before the previous passage:

DUMBY: Good heavens! how marriage ruins a man! It’s just as demoralising as cigarettes, and far more expensive.


LORD DARLINGTON: No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

That makes for five infamous quotes in the span of two pages.

By the way, the title Lady Windermere’s Fan is actually a sort of pun, as the fan could refer to both her physical fan, which Lord Windermere gave to her as a present, and Lord Darlington, who likes her. Again, it is maybe not as funny a pun as The Importance of Being Earnest, but the content is just as clever.

Time Quotes


The Persistence of Memory, 1931
The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dalí


A few thought-provoking quotations relating to time:

Ah! the clock is always slow; it is later than you think.

Robert W. Service (1874-1958)

Alcohol, hashish, prussic acid, strychnine are weak dilutions. The surest poison is time.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

But meanwhile it is flying, irretrievable time is flying.

Virgil (70-19 BC)

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

I believe that nothing that exists can be temporal, and that therefore time is unreal.

John McTaggart (1866-1925)

HAMM: What time is it? CLOV: The same as usual.

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.

Dion Boucicault (1820-1890)

Time the devourer of everything.

Ovid (43 BC-17 AD)

Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy’s immortal line has a powerful ring in the ears of all, but only few know the name of the rhetorical device being used, that is, the device that reverses the order of words in parallel phrases.

Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You

That rhetorical device is chiasmus, the topic of Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You (1999), by quotation collector Dr. Mardy Grothe. When I first read that title, it made no sense, but then I realized that both kiss and fool were being used alternatively as noun and verb. Thus, it was saying “Never X or Y,” but X and Y were worded so similarly that it caused some confusion.

After this initial shock, however, it becomes much easier to read chiastic phrases. These phrases (actually, sentences) come in many variations, and can even be separated between two speakers. For example, a member of Parliament once asked Winston Churchill, known for great speeches, “You heard my talk yesterday. What could I have done to put more fire into my speech?” Churchill replied:

What you should have done is to have put your speech into the fire.

Some other memorable chiastic lines:

You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.

by Ray Bradbury, in his advice to writers.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

by Joseph P. Kennedy.

When you have nothing to say, say nothing.

by Charles Caleb Colton.

It is best to learn as we go, not go as we have learned.

by Leslie Jeanne Sahler.

Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.

by George Bernard Shaw.

There are amusing people who do not interest, and interesting people who do not amuse.

by Benjamin Disraeli.

The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.

by Henry A. Kissinger.

Why are women . . . so much more interesting to men than men are to women?

by Virginia Woolf.

Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.

by Dr. Samuel Johnson, to an aspiring writer.

He defined wit, and wit defined him.

by Mark Nicholls, on Oscar Wilde.

Money will not make you happy, and happy will not make you money.

by Groucho Marx.

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.

by John F. Kennedy.

A politician wouldn’t dream of being allowed to call a columnist the things a columnist is allowed to call a politician.

by Max Lerner.

Simply Amazing. Amazingly Simple.

Apple’s slogan for the iMac computer.

When buyers don’t fall for prices, prices must fall for buyers.


I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me.

by Ovid, on love.

Love makes time pass, time makes love pass.

by Victor Hugo.

If God created us in his own image we have more than reciprocated.

by Voltaire.

With this book, I’ve certainly liked what I read and read what I liked.

(Edit: Also, if you want some commentary about the book’s subtitle, Chiasmus and a World of Quotations That Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say, see my follow-up post Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say.)

I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like

I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like is another intriguing quote collection by Dr. Mardy Grothe, this time focusing on analogies, metaphors, and similes. The title itself is an adaptation of the saying “I never met a man I didn’t like” by the twentieth century American humorist Will Rogers. Although that quote itself is not a metaphor, it does allow for a pun with the word “metaphor.” Hence the title.

I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like

Metaphors, analogies, and similes are often used to say something poetically, forcefully, and with more elegance and impact. As with my review of another of Grothe’s books, Oxymoronica, I shall share some of the more peculiar quotes, which range over a gamut of topics.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. (22)

by Henry David Thoreau in Walden.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (23)

by Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken.”

MTV is to music as KFC is to chicken. (68)

by Lewis Black.

An after-dinner speech should be like a lady’s dress—long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting. (68)

by R. A. “Rab” Butler.

Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on. (85)

by Thomas Beecham, on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkyre.

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. (109)

by Moshe Dayan.

Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time. (163)

by Maya Angelou.

An adult is an obsolete child. (229)

by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss).

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets through. (257)

by Jonathan Swift.

Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors. (278)

by Frank Gifford.

Long sentences in short composition are like large rooms in a little house. (307)

by William Shenstone.

Writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter, open up a vein, and bleed it out drop by drop. (307)

by Walter “Red” Smith.

This is overall a highly insightful as well as entertaining book—entertaining, at least, for lovers of words.

A Proverbial Attempt at Wordplay (2)

Continuation of lines from A Proverbial Attempt at Wordplay.

  • If I cannot see further, it is because giants are standing on my shoulders.
  • Even if we can kill two birds with one stone—that’s still a lot of stones to ground Twitter.
  • Repartee is what we wish we had 24 hours earlier said; procrastination is what we wish we had 24 hours earlier not done.
  • If I had a dollar, I would spend it. Perhaps that’s why I had to say “if.”
  • A stopped clock is correct twice a day; a stopped nuclear bomb is correct.
  • Nothing speaks louder than a sword.
  • Facebook status updates are both common and important. But unfortunately, those that are common are not important, and those that are important are not common.
  • The Internet is like the electromagnetic force—without it, our world would collapse.
  • If all the world’s a stage, then who or what is controlling the curtain?
  • A sword with no blade is just as mighty as a pen with no ink.
  • Football is like tennis—only the rules, players, and equipment are different.
  • Pi contains an infinite number of digits, but my digits contain only a finite amount of pie.
  • A mistake is a mistake; an error is an error.
  • Do not worry about the meaning of life; just make yours a life of meaning.
  • We are just as excited for the celebration of a new decade as we are for the celebration of a new millennium. Why not celebrate every day?

A Proverbial Attempt at Wordplay

After going through The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce and some other collections of funny, clever, witty quotations, I felt inspired to conjure (amateurishly) some of my own. So, here we go:

  • The early bird gets the worm, but the late bird gets the moth.
  • You can hit two birds with one stone, but never a stone with two birds.
  • What one fool can do, another can. What one genius can do, another can’t.
  • There are three types of flies: flies, damned flies, and mosquitoes.
  • All bugs come with software. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
  • I believe everything, except lies.
  • Theorems are true, unless proved false.
  • Don’t give up on your realities—they may become your dreams.
  • If imagination is normal, then reality is parallel.
  • If a stopped clock is correct twice a day, then a stopped program crashes twice a minute.
  • The moon outshines the sun, at night.
  • When stuck, try to move on.
  • With every step we take, we come closer to putting the future behind us.