Letter C

Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Study Quotes letter

To sum up:
1. The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute
2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it
3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride

HL Mencken

In Smart Set, December 1920, p45.

There are collections, of course, and then there are collections. Make no mistake about it, the ones described herein are nothing if not unusual. It takes a certain cast of mind, for example, to want to acquire Napoleon's or Rasputin's desiccated penis. The former, if that is what it really is, "was shown in New York in the 1920s, 'looking like a maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace or shriveled eel,' according to a contemporary account," and now is in the collection of a urologist1 whose interest presumably is entirely professional. As for the latter, "Rasputin's penis was regarded as similarly collectible, and went into an auction at Christie's in 1995. It was withdrawn, however, when investigations revealed it to be a sea cucumber."

Jonathan Yardley

In his June 2006 Washington Post review of "Sex collectors" by novelist Geoff Nicholson.

The reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more than it is worth.

Lord Macauley

In the armed services, I believe they call it "dumb insolence" — a risky tactic. But where? Well, my friend Len assures me Google assured him that it popped up in an essay "War of the Succession in Spain" published in January 1833, that was a critique of Lord Mahon's book "History of the War of the Succession in Spain" published in 1832. Whatever!

Even the good old comma continues to evolve: it was flipped upside down and turned into the quotation mark circa 1714, and a woman I knew in college punctuated her letters to her high school friends with homemade comma-shapes made out of photographs of side-flopping male genitals that she had cut out of Playgirl.

Nicholson Baker

In his essay The history of punctuation

You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word.

Princess Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco

My friend Lesley was sure I'd enjoy this one. She's right.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.

Herman Melville

In "Poor Man's Pudding and Rich Man's Crumbs (1854)". Didn't he write about a great white whale?!

Sex ruling
The Vatican in a policy document tomorrow, is expected to brand test-tube babies as immoral, and to allow condoms to be used if they have a small hole.

The Guardian

Religious logic among the Jesuits, perhaps?

I have been assured by a very knowing American [...] that a healthy young child, well nursed, is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food ...

Jonathan Swift

In "A modest proposal (1729)". I expect people were Swift to criticise...

For security against robbers who snatch purses, rifle luggage and crack safes, one must fasten all property with ropes, lock it up with locks, bolt it with bolts. This (for property owners) is elementary good sense. But when a strong thief comes along he picks up the whole lot, puts it on his back, and goes his way with only one fear: That the ropes, locks and bolts may give way. Thus what the world calls good business is only a way to gather up loot, pack it, make it secure in one convenient load for more enterprising thieves.

Chuang Tzu

But where? Why does one get the impression that human nature changes slowly, if at all?

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.

Bertrand Russell

Lord Russell accurately pinpoints an aspect of (most of) our daily lives on Earth.


1  The owner, I believe, was John K. Lattimer. According to a piece by Judith Pascoe, here, he [had] "been a Columbia University professor and a collector of military (and some macabre) relics, [who] also possessed Lincoln's blood-stained collar and Hermann Göring's cyanide ampoule. But the penis, which supposedly had been severed by a priest who administered last rites to Napoleon and overstepped clerical boundaries, stood out (sorry) from the professor's collection of medieval armor, Civil War rifles and Hitler drawings."