Posts Tagged 'Quotes'

de Tocqueville: Soft Despotism

No Trespassing

Recently I came across this quote from Alexis de Tocqueville, the Frenchman sent by the French government in 1831 to study the American prison system, but who was really more interested in studying and writing about American society. He did so in a book entitled Democracy in America, and it is from this that the following quote on soft despotism was taken. (Soft despotism is control over or oppression of the people without their realizing it; hard despotism is the more obvious oppression.)

I’m posting it because I think it sounds eerily apropos of what’s going on in our country today.

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.”

From Volume II, Book 4, Chapter 6 of his book Democracy in America,.

The above link takes you to  the entire book, which you can also download. I just downloaded it onto my Kindle for PC,  in fact.

Quote: Can’t Look You in the Voice

It’s sometimes comforting to know that other writers, famous ones, wildly successful ones go through the same trials the less famous and less successful do.

Here’s a picture of a telegram sent by American writer Dorothy Parker to her publisher while in the midst of writer’s… block/angst/despond…

In case this comes up too small to read, here’s a transcription:

WESTERN UNION

1945 JUN 28 PM 4 37

NBQ209 78=NUJ NEWYORK NY 28 422P
PASCAL COVICI.VIKING PRESS=
18 EAST 48 ST=

THIS IS INSTEAD OF TELEPHONING BECAUSE I CANT LOOK YOU IN THE VOICE. I SIMPLY CANNOT GET THAT THING DONE YET NEVER HAVE DONE SUCH HARD NIGHT AND DAY WORK NEVER HAVE SO WANTED ANYTHING TO BE GOOD AND ALL I HAVE IS A PILE OF PAPER COVERED WITH WRONG WORDS. CAN ONLY KEEP AT IT AND HOPE TO HEAVEN TO GET IT DONE. DONT KNOW WHY IT IS SO TERRIBLY DIFFICULT OR I SO TERRIBLY INCOMPETANT=

DOROTHY.

—————-

I love “can’t look you in the voice.”  And, “all I have is a pile of paper covered with wrong words.” I can relate to that.

On that subject (that is, piles of papers with wrong words), I worked on Sky yesterday and today, and am slowly moving through ch 3.  I have LOTS of papers with the wrong words on them. My consolation is that I also have a few papers with mostly the right words on them, and also, that all the work I’ve done on worldbuilding here, will pay off later. And it is coming together if roughly.

Telegram image courtesy of Nancy Campbell’s blog

Little Books

One thing I’ve always liked doing is making little books. I cut  sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper in half width-wise, to make pieces of 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches, fold them in half and either staple them down the side or down the middle and then glue a same sized or slightly larger piece of heavier cardstock around the outside. You can also hand sew the pages down the middle, including cover for a more “book like” effect. (You need an awl for that, though.)

This gives me little books into which I can transcribe notes from Bible class,  favorite verses, quotes I find in books that I like, things that inspire or remind me of where I need to keep my head. They are small, so they fit in my purse and I can take them everywhere.

Here’s a picture of some of them.

And here’s what the inside looks like (I like to use different colored inks to differentiate between entries):

You can see the above book has been well-used.  A couple of the entries on these pages are:

“If you were using the ten problem solving devices (“10 PSD”)* you’d never be in panic palace, you’d never fall apart, feel ‘stressed,’ uptight, never spend one second worrying about anything. You’d have the most fantastic tranquility in the world.

“God has provided perfect happiness through a place of rest, a place which does not depend upon any human factor in life. This is a complete dependence upon the One who is the source of joy and strength.”

and

If something is not important to you, you forget it. It flies right out of your mind. Another person’s sins belong in this category. Their failures, negative volition, sins, obtuseness, etc, are not your concern. If you are remembering them, you are making an issue of them and you’re out of line. No criticizing! Sins and failures are to be forgotten. Apply Bible Doctrine (“BD”) to yourself, not Charlie Brown!”

If you want to read the entries better, you can click on the picture for a slightly larger version.

*Those of you who were under Col Thieme’s ministry for any length of time no doubt recognized the voice there right away!  🙂 Yes, all three of these are notes I took from his messages. For those of you who were not Thieme’s students…

The “ten problem solving devices” are: rebound (1 Jn 1:9), the filling of the Holy Spirit, faith rest, grace orientation, doctrinal orientation, personal sense of destiny, impersonal, unconditional love for people, personal love for God, sharing the Happiness of God, and occupation with Jesus Christ.

“Bible Doctrine” simply refers to the teachings of the Word of God. I suppose he could have said “Apply the Word of God to yourself…” but I believe he was trying to differentiate between what you get from merely sitting down and reading the Word, as opposed to really studying it. So many (especially at the time he was teaching) seem to think that studying the Word means just reading it every day, when actual studying is much more rigorous than that. But that, too, is a post for another day!

Quote: Beginning is Chaos

“For some people, the beginning is a time of complete chaos. You see bits and pieces of what is before you. You have a sense of what it is you must set out to do. But nothing will form yet. When you sit cown to write or paint or form movement, it’s like stepping over a cliff or into a dense fog. All you can do is trust that this impending masterpiece is going to somehow manifest itself as you work. But you do know that there is something specific ahead, and you feel the excitement of that.”  ~  Vinita Hampton Wright, The Soul Tells a Story

At first I thought dense fog was the better metaphor for how I tend to feel at this stage, but then decided that stepping off the cliff might be better. Because you’re falling and you have no idea where and it may well be to a very unpleasant end.  And you’re seeing all sorts of things — rocks, trees on the cliff face, birds, but can’t quite get a fix on any of them…

Quote of the Day: Don’t be a Nuisance

 

 ‘The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.’

~John Stuart Mill in his 1895 essay On Liberty 

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                    

.       .       .

Quote of the Day: Faith

Faith is not about everything turning out OK; Faith is about being OK no matter how things turn out.”

Quote of the Day – Book-writing

“The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”   ~   John Steinbeck, 1902-1968

Foreign Service

One of the premises for my work in progress, The Other Side of the Sky is that the setting will include a loose analogy to Christians as citizens of the Holy City and ambassadors of that city to the world. With that in mind I’ve been reading a book called From Inside a US Embassy: How the Foreign Service Works for America where I came across the following descriptions. I thought they were especially interesting when considered in light of our spiritual calling as Believers in Christ:

“The Foreign Service is a career like no other. It is much more than a job; it is a uniquely demanding and rewarding way of life. As representatives of the United States (Ed: or the kingdom of God?) to foreign governments, Foreign Service members have a direct impact on people’s lives and witness history in the making. They work alongside highly talented colleagues and face the unexpected every day, in situations that push their ingenuity and creativity to the limit.

“But a Foreign Service career also imposes significant demands. Typically, Foreign Service members spend two-thirds of their careers overseas, sometimes in unhealthy or isolated locations. They live for extended periods of time far from parents, siblings, and old friends, and sometimes without familiar amenities or modern medical facilities. Due to increasing international terrorism, [they] face physical danger and may be required to serve an ‘unaccompanied’ tour or to remain at their duty posts in harm’s way after their families are evacuated.”

Opinions are not Equal

Saw this today on Rush Limbaugh’s site and thought he expressed it so well, I wanted to share.

I don’t fall in the PC trap that every opinion has validity. It doesn’t. Opinions which are wrong are worthless. And just because you might be wrong with your opinion and you are human and you have feelings and shouldn’t be insulted, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and I’m not afraid to tell anybody they’re wrong. I’m not afraid to tell myself I’m wrong. It doesn’t happen much, that’s why, but you’re never going to be properly educated unless you eventually tell yourself you’re wrong. “My opinion counts just as much as –” no, it doesn’t if it’s wrong. “Yes, it does Mr. Limbaugh, my opinion is valid. I think I have a brain and my opinion –” If you’re wrong, you’re wrong.                        ~Rush Limbaugh, December 10, 2009

I will add that I believe everyone has the right to hold an opinion, valid or not,and while I don’t think you should be afraid to tell someone they are wrong, I also think that it’s mostly unnecessary — futile, even —  to go around trying to straighten people out.  Freedom guarantees us the right to hold whatever opinions we desire. If our thoughts and opinions are foolish, and we act upon them in foolish ways, we will pay the price. Rush, however, is an entertainer and an educator and the whole point of his show is to express his opinion. If you don’t like it you don’t have to listen. But I did think his point that all opinions are not equal was dead on.

Quote: Predicting Poorly, Unawares

The inability to predict outliers (events which lie outside the realm of regular expectations) implies the inability to predict the course of history, given the share of these events in the dynamics of events.

But we act as though we are able to predict historical events, or, even worse, as if we are able to change the course of history. We produce thirty year projections of social security deficits and oil prices without realizing that we cannot even predict these for next summer — our cumulative prediction errors for political and economic events are so monstrous that every time I look at the empirical record I have to pinch myself  to verify I am not dreaming. What is surprising is not the magnitude of our forecast errors, but our absence of awareness of it…

Our inability to predict in environments subjected to the Black Swan, coupled with a general lack of the awareness of this state of affairs, means that certain professionals, while believing they are experts, are in fact not. Based on their empirical record, they do not know more about their subject matter than the general population, but they are much better at narrating — or worse, at smoking you with complicated mathematical models. They are also more likely to wear a tie.

From the Prologue of  The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.


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