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Speak to the moment, write for all eternity
Quotations that will shape your thinking
I don’t know when, but I jotted it down in ALL CAPS: “SPEAK TO THE MOMENT, WRITE FOR ALL ETERNITY.”
I was at an event where someone had said some fragmentary version of this phrase, and so I re-formed it into something catchier, something spicier, something I liked better. Something for me to aim at.
It was written on a ripped piece of scratch paper. I found it atop a dusty pile of slogans and sayings I’d collected over some time. I pulled out this pile after several years and found them of interest.
I don’t think they’re all of equal value. Some ideas are certainly more meaningful in certain circumstances, and some’re so bound to the moment I captured them that they hold little utility in other applications.
But what matters most is I like them. And I think you’d like them too. They’re fit to read, and hopefully they catch your eye as much as they did mine. I don’t have all their sources, so I can’t vouch for veracity, but I’m confident they’re real ideas worth reading again.
“Strategy making is problem solving of the most complex order, because it deals with three of life’s great imponderables: people, war and the future.” (Steven Jermy, “Strategy for Action: Using Force Wisely in the 21st Century”)
“The problem is, that here in America, we’re really good at blowing stuff up—and less good at knowing where the pieces land.” (Neil deGrasse Tyson, 24 Feb 2013, Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show on CNN)
“When you try big things, you take big risks, and if you’re trying to do something that is maybe above you and you can’t quite pull it off…I’ve always been pushing that envelope. I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say: ‘Ok, you’re not that good. You just reached the level here.’ I don’t ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out the gate.” (Quentin Tarantino, quoted in a 23 Dec 2012 NYTimes story, “Quentin’s World,” by Charles McGrath)
“Every two days we create as much digital content as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003—that’s about five exabytes of information, with only two billion people, out of a possible seven billion online.” (Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, “The New Digital Age,” 2013, pg. 253)
“Science fiction is not about the future,” the future “is only a writerly convention…that sets up a rich and complex dialogue with the reader’s here and now.” (Samuel R. Delany)
“It takes a special energy, over and above one’s creative potential, a special audacity of subversiveness, to strike out in a new direction once one is settled. It is a gamble as all creative projects must be, for the new direction may not turn out to be productive at all…Creativity—that state when ideas seem to organize themselves into a swift, tightly-woven flow, with a feeling of gorgeous clarity and meaning emerging…At such times, when I am writing, thoughts seem to organize themselves in spontaneous succession and to clothe themselves instantly in appropriate words. I feel I can bypass or transcend much of my own personality, my neuroses. It is at once not me and the innermost part of me, certainly the best part of me.” (Oliver Sacks, “The River of Consciousness”)
“You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man…You will feel fine. But what about him? You will have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph.” (Later summarized as: “A man convinced against his will / Is of the same opinion still.”) (Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”)
“When you lose someone, you don’t lose them all at once, and their dying doesn’t stop with their death. You lose them a thousand times in a thousand ways. You say a thousand goodbyes. You hold a thousand funerals.” (Sara Seager, “The Smallest Lights in the Universe”)