Quotes

If something’s worth doing, its worth doing right.
— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

I wanted to have controversy, argument, fights, discussions, people in anger waving fists in my face saying, ‘How dare you? Why don’t you do more [shows] that we can understand?’ I was delighted with that reaction. I think it’s a very good one; that was the intention of the exercise.
— Patrick McGoohan, when asked by interviewer Warner Troyer in 1977 to describe the intention behind The Prisoner.

Tomorrow you will receive a notice about some small corrections which I made during the performance of the [Fifth and Sixth] symphonies — When I gave these works to you, I had not yet heard either of them performed — and one should not want to be so like a god as not to have to correct something here and there in one’s created works.
— Ludwig van Beethoven, in a letter to Breitkopf and Ha:rtel, dated 4 March 1809

“Just to give you a general idea,” he would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently–though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.
— Aldus Huxley, Brave New World

“A New Theory of Biology” was the title of the paper which Mustapha Mond had just finished reading. He sat for some time, meditatively frowning, then picked up his pen and wrote across the title-page: “The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.” He underlined the words. “The author will be kept under supervision. His transference to the Marine Biological Station of St. Helena may become necessary.” A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose–well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes–make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible. He picked up his pen again, and under the words “Not to be published” drew a second line, thicker and blacker than the first; then sighed, “What fun it would be,” he thought, “if one didn’t have to think about happiness!”
— Aldus Huxley, Brave New World

I don’t like work–no man does–but I like what is in the work,–the chance to find yourself. Your own reality–for yourself, not for others–what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.
– Joseph Conrad, The Heart Of Darkness

A proposition must be plain to be adopted by the understanding of a people. A false notion which is clear and precise will always meet with a greater number of adherents in the world than a true principle which is obscure or involved.
– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.
– George Orwell, 1984

I think it is very definitely worth the struggle to try and do first-class work because the truth is, the value is in the struggle more than it is in the result. The struggle to make something of yourself seems to be worthwhile in itself. The success and fame are sort of dividends.
– Richard Hamming, You And Your Research

The things you desire now will become at best familiar and at worst junk after you’ve attained them.
– Chad Fowler, My Job Went To India

[I]t’s not what you do for a living or what you have that’s important. It’s how you choose to accept these things. It’s internal. Satisfaction, like our career choices, is something that should be sought after and decided upon with intention.
– Chad Fowler, My Job Went To India. Emphasis in the original.

How did they get so smart? … The answer is that they paid attention to what they were doing while they were doing it — and then they tried to do it better.
– Ward Cunningham in the forward to The Pragmatic Programmer.

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