Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Quote File: George Santayana

George Santayana is perhaps most famous today for the aphorism "Those who do not study the past are condemned to repeat it" `` a quote I disagree with, actually, as even those who study the past often find themselves sliding into the same human mistakes. But I very much like a lot of the rest of what he says -- and I think of the "fashion" quote especially at Fashion Week and in H&M:

The wisest mind has something yet to learn. 

Nothing is really so poor and melancholy as art that is interested in itself and not in its subject.

Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.

To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. 

All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.

Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit. 

Cultivate imagination, love it, give it endless forms, but do not let it deceive you. Enjoy the world, travel over it and learn its ways, but do not let it hold you.

The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than the logician or theologian, unless the latter, too, be lovers in disguise.

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.

There are books in which the footnotes or comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin are more interesting than the text. The world is one of these books.


  1. I LOVE quotes, and the last one, I daresay, reminds me of THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE! :)

  2. I like this one:

    "Practice makes perfect, and if that doesn't work, call in a specialist editor!"

  3. When my husband and I stayed at Massey College in Toronto, the dining hall had this quote cobbled together from several places in The Life of Reason:

    "Happiness is impossible, and even inconceivable, to a mind without scope and without pause, a mind driven by craving, pleasure, or fear. To be happy, you must be reasonable, or you must be tamed. You must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passion, and learned your place in the world and what things in it can really serve you. To be happy, you must be wise."

    I'd really like to get back there some day.

    P.S. Hi! *waves crazily from Missouri*