If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: satire

Lucretius – De rerum natura (ca. 50 B.C.E.)

Who hath the power (I ask), who hath the power
To rule the sum of the immeasurable,
To hold with steady hand the giant reins
Of the unfathomed deep? Who hath the power
At once to roll a multitude of skies,
At once to heat with fires ethereal all
The fruitful lands of multitudes of worlds,
To be at all times in all places near,
To stablish darkness by his clouds,
The serene spaces of the sky with sound,
And hurl his lightnings—ha, and whelm how oft
In ruins his own temples, and to rave,
Retiring to the wildernesses, there
At practice with that thunderbolt of his,
Which yet how often shoots the guilty by,
And slays the honourable blameless ones!

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Voltaire – Micromégas (1752)

“One should always cite what one does not understand at all in the language one understands the least.”

Terry Pratchett – Unseen Academicals (2009)

Contrary to popular belief and hope, people don’t usually come running when they hear a scream. That’s not how humans work. Humans look at other humans and say, ‘Did you hear a scream?’ because the first scream might just have been you screaming inside your head, or a horse backfiring.

Terry Pratchett – Unseen Academicals (2009)

It is considered in the Sto Plains that only scoundrels know the second verse of their national anthem, since anyone spending time memorizing that would be up to no good purpose. The Ankh-Morpork national anthem, therefore, had a second verse that was deliberately written as ner ner ners and the occasional coherent word desperately trying to stay afloat, on the basis that this is how it would sound in any case.

Terry Pratchett – Unseen Academicals (2009)

‘Are you worthy?’ said the woman.

‘What sort of question is that to ask a stranger?’

‘An interesting and possibly revealing one. Do you think the world is a better place with you in it, and would you do me the courtesy of actually thinking about your answer rather than pulling one off the “affronted” rack? I’m afraid there’s far too much of that these days. People believe that acting and thinking are the same thing.’

Terry Pratchett – Unseen Academicals (2009)

Juliet’s version of cleanliness was next to godliness, which was to say it was erratic, past all understanding and was seldom seen.

Terry Pratchett – Unseen Academicals (2009)

The Patrician took a sip of his beer. ‘I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.’

Michael Shermer – “Genesis Revisited” (2001)

By now the valley of the shadow of doubt was overrunneth with skepticism, so God became angry, so angry that God lost His temper and cursed the first humans, telling them to go forth and multiply themselves (but not in those words). But the humans took God literally and now there are six billion of them.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Terry Pratchett – Wyrd Sisters (1988)

Oh, he might burn down the odd cottage every now and again, in a sort of absent-minded way, but only when he was really angry about something, and he could give it up any time he liked.

Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad (1991)

“–della, della t’ozentro, audri t’dren vontarieeeeee”
“The shop, the shop, I have a lozenge, the sky is pink,” said Nanny.
Granny and Magrat looked at one another.
“–guaranto del tari, bella pore di larientos–”
“Rejoice, candlemaker, you have a great big–”
“I don’t believe any of this,” said Granny. “You’re making it up.”
“Word for word translation,” said Nanny. “I can speak foreign like a native, you know that.”