February 23, 2011

Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’...


THE ACTUAL ORIGINAL QUOTE:

“When I hear ‘culture’...I unlock my Browning!.”
(“Wenn ich Kultur höre...entsichere ich meinen Browning.”)
       Hanns Johst (1890-1978)
       German playwright and Nazi SS officer  
       The traditionally misquoted, misattributed line from from Johst’s 1933 play Schlageter
       This line from Schlageter, Johst’s patriotic homage to the German World War I “martyr”
Albert Leo Schlageter, is most widely-known in misquoted paraphrase form. The most common version is “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun.” The literal translation of the German words “Wenn ich Kultur höre...entsichere ich meinen Browning” is: “When I hear culture...I unlock my Browning.” The ellipsis (...) in the sentence is a pause, not an indication of missing text. For some reason, most English translations incorrectly use the word “whenever” in place of “when.”  (Wenn actually means “when” in German and wann immer means “whenever.”) Since a Browning is a pistol and the word entsichere (unlock) refers to a gun’s safety catch, the line has also been translated as: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I release the safety-catch on my pistol!” Sometimes “revolver” or “Browning” is used in place of “pistol.” The misquote versions of Johst’s original line are usually attributed to Nazi leader Hermann Göring and occasionally to other Nazi officials, such as Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels. The Nazi brass were indeed fans of Schlageter and apparently did quote Johst’s line. But Johst deserves the real credit — or blame — for the origin of the saying.


A TECHIE’S VIEW OF FASHION:

“When I hear the word couture, I reach for my cyanide pill.”
       A quip posted on the TechEye.com site


HENRY MILLER’S GENIUS VARIATION:

“When I hear the word Culture I reach for my revolver. Remember that? So, too, when I hear the word Genius.”
       Henry Miller (1891-1980)
       American novelist and painter
       In Henry Miller on Writing (1964)


GROUCHO’S VERSION:

“When I hear the word culture I reach for my wallet!”
       Attributed to Groucho Marx
       American comic genius
       Quoted in Urban History: Volume 22 (1995), published by Cambridge University Press


THE POSTMODERN VARIATION:

“When I hear the word ‘postmodern’ I reach for the remote control. I want to change channels immediately, before I get instantaneously and totally bored.”
       McKenzie Wark
       Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at The New School in New York City
       In his book Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events (1994)


THE PUKE BOWL VARIATION:

“When I hear the word nobility I reach for the puke bowl.”
       Maeve Kelly 
       Irish novelist, short-story writer and poet
       Said by a character in Kelly’s novel Necessary Treasons (1985)


A WINE LOVER’S VERSION:

“When I hear the word culture I don’t reach for an Uzi, I reach for a corkscrew and a bottle of venerable and well chilled sauterne. Viniculture. Noble rot, mutating nobler by the minute.”
       Glenn O’Brien
       American journalist
       In an article included in his book Soapbox: Essays, Diatribes, Homilies and Screeds (1997)


A PRODUCER’S VIEW OF GOVERNMENT:

“It is unlikely that the government reaches for a revolver when it hears the word culture. The more likely response is to search for a dictionary.” 
       David Glencross (1936-2007)
       Television executive and producer for Britain’s ITV
       Comment at the Royal Television Society conference on the future of television in November 1988
       Quoted in the Oxford Essential Quotations Dictionary (1998)


A LOVE HATER’S VERSION:

“When I hear the word love, I reach for my revolver.”
       Gore Vidal
       American novelist, screenwriter and playwright
       Quoted in the book S and M, Studies in Sadomasochism (1983), edited by Thomas S. Weinberg and G. W. Levi Kamel


A QUIRKY, EDGY, INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER’S QUOTE:

“‘Independent.’ I’m so sick of that word. I reach for my revolver when I hear the word ‘quirky.’ Or ‘edgy.’ Those words are now becoming labels that are slapped on products to sell them. Anyone who makes a film that is the film they want to make, and it is not defined by marketing analysis or a commercial enterprise, is independent.”
       Jim Jarmusch
       American movie director, producer, screenwriter and actor
       Quoted in the “Personal Quotes” section of his bio on IMDB.com


STEPHEN HAWKING’S CAT QUIP:

“When I hear of Schrödinger’s cat, I reach for my pistol.”
       Stephen Hawking
       British theoretical physicist and cosmologist
       A favorite Hawking quip that’s often mentioned in articles about him. It refers to
Erwin Schrödinger’s famed “thought experiment” about a cat that is simultaneous dead and alive. The “Schrödinger’s cat” paradox highlights a problem inherent in certain aspects of quantum theory.

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Further reading: books about misquotes and misattributed quotes:

February 18, 2011

From Kipling to the Coen Brothers: Twains That Never Meet (and some that do)...


THE FAMOUS ORIGINAL QUOTE:

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”
       Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
       British poet, short story writer and novelist 
       This is the opening line of Kipling’s poem “The Ballad of East and West,” which was first published in 1889 and is one of Kipling’s popular Barrack-Room Ballads poems.
The famous first line made the old English word twain, which means “two,” familiar to most people. It also evolved into a proverbial saying and variable word formula used to suggest that two different types of people or things cannot co-exist or find common ground. Ironically, the actual point of Kipling’s poem is that two intelligent and honorable people from different cultures can understand and respect one another. In the poem, that’s the lesson learned by two men from vastly different backgrounds — a wild Scottish Chieftain named Kamal and the privileged son of a British Colonel. The moral of the story is embodied in the first four lines, which are also repeated at the end of the poem:
       “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
       Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
       But there is neither East nor West, border, nor breed, nor birth,
       When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!”


GROUCHO’S VERSION:

“We must remember that art is art. Still, on the other hand, water is water, isn’t it? And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like apple sauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” 
       Captain Spaulding (played by Groucho Marx) 
      
Effectively confusing art connoisseur Roscoe W. Chandler (actor Louis Sorin) in the classic Marx Brothers movie Animal Crackers (1930)


THE STOOGES VERSION:

Moe: “Spread out and remember, ducks is ducks and cash is king.”
Curly: “And never the twain shall meet.”
       In the Three Stooges film
A Ducking They Did Go (1939)


THE WOMAN WARRIOR PRINCIPLE:

“Feminine is feminine, masculine is masculine, and ne’er the twain shall meet. The woman warrior triumphs not by being a successful woman in a male world (the exception which proves the rule or the token which solidifies convention), nor by transcending gender difference in androgynous equality, but by passing as a man, denying her biological sex altogether...Passing as a male, the woman warrior would refuse her body the power to determine her identity.”
       Michael O’Donovan-Anderson
       Assistant professor of philosophy at Stonehill College
       In his book
The Incorporated Self: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Embodiment (1996)


A CHRISTIAN BIOLOGIST’S THOUGHTS ON EVOLUTION:

“As Christians we don’t have to simply stand aside and say, Well, science is about the material and religion about the spiritual, and ne’er the twain shall meet. Instead, we can rejoice as Christians in the ethical meaning behind what evolutionary biologists are increasingly finding.”
       Joan Roughgarden
       Professor of geophysics and biological sciences at Stanford University
       In her book
Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist (2006)


HUEY’S THOUGHTS ON THE EVOLVING MUSIC MARKET:

“Today, society is integrated, but music is segregated. You have country here, R&B here and never the twain shall meet.”
       Rock musician Huey Lewis  
       Commenting on the challenge of today’s segmented music market,
in an interview posted on the American Songwriter site, February 9, 2011


THE GENESEE BEER BOAST:

“In the old days, there were ales and there were lagers. Ales were flavorful. Lagers were smooth. And never the twain did meet. Until Genesee Cream Ale. And then the twain met head on to form an American Original with the flavor of an ale and the smoothness of a lager.”
       Promotional blurb on the
Genesee Cream Ale website


THE TATTOO QUOTES QUOTE:

“Once upon a time, there were people who enjoyed quoting from classic literary texts, and people who enjoyed getting tattoos, and rarely the twain did meet. But tattoos have gone mainstream, and the result is a paradox of the digital age: Nowadays, nothing demonstrates a commitment to literature better than words inked on skin.”
       Journalist Mark Lewis 
       In a
post about “literary tattoos” on the Forbes.com website, August 13, 2009


COWDOG WISDOM:

“Cowdogs and coyotes don’t mix. We’re natural enemies, born on different sides of the law, and as the old saying goes, “Never the twangs shall meet.” Exactly what a ‘twang’ is, I never figgered out.”
       Hank the Cowdog
       Philosophizing in the 1998 children’s book
Murder in the Middle Pasture (#4 in the Hank the Cowdog series), written by John R. Erickson


COEN BROTHERS WISDOM:

“There’s what’s right and there’s what’s right and never the twain shall meet.”
       H.I. McDunnough (actor Nicolas Cage)
       Philosophizing in the 1987 Coen Brothers’ movie
Raising Arizona (1987)

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: some recent collections of quotes…

February 15, 2011

“All the news that’s fit to print.”


THE FAMOUS NEWSPAPER SLOGAN:

“All the news that’s fit to print.” 
       Adolph Simon Ochs (1858-1935)
       American newspaper publisher 
       This is the famed and oft-parodied slogan of The New York Times. It was coined by Ochs in 1896 when he gained control of the paper. According to Professor
W. Joseph Campbell, author of the book The Year That Defined American Journalism, the slogan was first used on signs promoting the Times. It was first printed on the front page of the paper on February 10, 1897, in a box at the upper left corner, where it has appeared ever since.


THE TYPICAL CONSERVATIVE VIEW OF THE NYT:

“‘All the news that’s fit to print” has morphed into “‘any news that fits our agenda, we print.’”
       Conservative blogger Alicia Colon
       In
an opinion piece criticizing the New York Times as “left-leaning,” posted on the American Thinker site on January 20, 2011


THE PLAYBOY VARIATION:

“All the nudes that’s fit to print.”  
       Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner 
       Describing a fan’s view of Playboy magazine in his column in the November 1963 issue


THE ENQUIRING MINDS VARIATION:

The National Enquirer: ‘All the News That’s Unfit to Print.’”
       Ralph Ginzburg (1929-2006) 
       American writer, publisher, activist and porn pioneer  
       In a 1964 issue of his magazine Fact (published 1964-1967)


ROLLING STONE’S VERSION:

“All the news that fits.” 
       Slogan created for Rolling Stone by the magazine’s
editor and publisher Jann Wenner
       Used since the first issue, which was published in November 1967 and featured John Lennon on the cover


JOHN LENNON’S VERSION:

“‘All the shit that fits’ is more like it.”
       John Lennon (1940-1980)
       Complaining about inaccuracies in a Rolling Stone news story. The quip was the last line of a handwritten note Lennon sent to the magazine’s “Random Notes” department in 1967. A photo of note was published along with photos of John and Yoko in an interview with Jann Wenner in the February 4, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone.

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: books about famous slogans…

February 13, 2011

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”


THE ORIGIN OF THE FAMOUS MISQUOTE:

“On resiste a l’invasion des armees; on ne resiste pas a l’invasion des idees.”
       Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
       French novelist, poet, playwright and historian
       The French sentence above is from the final chapter of Hugo’s book Histoire d’un Crime (“The History of a Crime”), his account of the French coup d’état of 1851 that brought Napoleon III to power. It’s the origin of the famous quotation that is commonly, but erroneously attributed to Hugo: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” (Also cited as “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”) In reality, the literal English translation of the sentence from Hugo’s Histoire d’un Crime is: “One can resist the invasion of armies; one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.” The oft-cited English paraphrase versions were never spoken or written by Hugo.


EGYPT’S RECENT PROOF OF THE CONCEPT:

“Victor Hugo once wrote: ‘No one can resist an idea whose time has come’...The times when Arab rulers could treat their people like naughty children are over.”
       Ismail Serageldin
       Director of The Library of Alexandria in Egypt and one of the country’s leading intellectuals
       Quoted
in a news story about the Egyptian people’s revolt on Speigel Online International, February, 2011


AN MLK SCHOLAR’S COMMENT ON EGYPT:

“In Egypt we are witnessing the 24/7 validation of Victor Hugo's observation in the 1800s that ‘more powerful than the March of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.’ More importantly, we are witnessing the universal power of the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. – their commitment to non-violent civil disobedience as an instrument to successfully effect fundamental political change to peacefully achieve participatory democracy.”
       Clarence B. Jones
       Scholar in Residence, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University
       In an opinion piece
on The Huffington Post, February 8, 2011


MLK’S OWN OBSERVATION:

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
       Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
       American civil rights leader and clergyman
       In his book Strength to Love (1963)


ALAIN’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when you have only one idea.”
       Alain (pen name of Emile Auguste Chartier; 1868-1951)
       French philosopher, journalist, and pacifist  
       In his book Propos sur la religion (“Remarks on Religion,” 1938)


THE SERVICEMAN’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“There is something more powerful than an idea whose time has come – the willingness to voluntarily risk your life for something beyond your self, a self-sacrifice that gives others freedoms to do things like sit around and freely express their thoughts about this and that.”
       Blogger Brian Thomas
       In a post about men and women who serve in the military, on his blog
La Sensual Political, November 24, 2010


OSCAR WILDE’S OPINION:

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
       Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
       Irish writer, poet and wit
       In his book The Critic as Artist (1891)
       Later used by Elbert Hubbard in his magazine The Philistine


THE PRECONCEPTIONS PRINCIPLE:

“There is something more powerful than an idea whose time has come, to wit, an idea which reinforces one’s preconceptions.”
       Blogger Tom Maguire
       On his blog
Just One Minute, September 10, 2007


THE CAMPY MOVIE CRAP PRINCIPLE:

“Teaching tolerance through broad humor and outrageous camp isn’t an idea whose time has come; it’s an idea whose time has passed.”
       Stephanie Zacharek
       Salon.com movie critic
       In
her review of the movie But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)


WALLY’S CORPORATE BOSS PRINCIPLE:

“Nothing is more dangerous than a boss with a spreadsheet.”
       Wally 
       Corporate cube dweller and philosopher
       In Scott Adams’ Dilbert cartoon strip (1998)

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: books about great ideas…

February 9, 2011

10 things that would have to be invented if they did not exist...


THE FAMOUS ORIGINAL QUOTE:

“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
(“Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.”)
       Voltaire (the pen name of François-Marie Arouet; born 1694, died 1778)
       French novelist, poet, historian, philosopher and social critic
       This line, sometimes translated as “If God did not exist, he would have to be invented” or “If God did not exist, we would have to invent him,” appears several times in Voltaire’s writings. He first used it in a poem he wrote in 1768, titled Epître à l'auteur du livre des Trois imposteurs (“Epistle to the Author of the Book the Three Imposters”). The poem was a response to the anonymously-written work Traité sur les trois imposteurs (“The Treatise of the Three Impostors”), an early atheistic manuscript that denied the validity of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Voltaire was more of a Deist than a traditional Christian, but felt strongly that a belief in God and fear of God’s divine retribution against evildoers was necessary to deter crime, maintain social order and restrain excesses by those in power. In
Epître à l'auteur du livre des Trois imposteurs, he argued:
       “This sublime system is necessary to man.
       It is the sacred tie that binds society,
       The first foundation of holy equity,
       The bridle to the wicked, the hope of the just.
       If the heavens, stripped of his noble imprint, 
       Could ever cease to attest to his being,
       If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
       Let the wise man announce him and kings fear him.”
By 1770, the “If God did not exist...” aphorism had become one of Voltaire’s favorites. In
a letter to a M. Saurin, dated November 10, 1770, Voltaire said of it: “I am rarely satisfied with my lines, but I confess that I have a father’s tenderness for that one.” That same month, in a letter to letter to Frederick William, Prince (later King) of Prussia, dated November 28, 1770, Voltaire wrote: “If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. But all nature cries aloud that he does exist; that there is a supreme intelligence, an immense power, an admirable order, and everything teaches us our own dependence on it.”


THE SKEPTIC’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Reason tells us that if the skeptic did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.”
       Frater H.J. Hershenow, F.R.C.
       20th Century
Rosicrucian writer
       In his essay
“The Chess Players”
       Rosicrucian Digest, June 1938


BOB DYLAN’S VERSION:

“If I didn’t exist, someone would have to have invented me.”
       Bob Dylan
       In his autobiographical book Chronicles: Volume One (2004)


THE DOCTOR WHO VARIATION:

“If heroes do not exist, it is necessary to invent them. Good for public morale.”
       Cardinal Borusa (actor Angus MacKay)
       In
“The Deadly Assassin” episode of the Doctor Who TV series, first aired in four parts on BBC from October 30 to November 20, 1976.


LOUIS L’AMOUR’S VERSION:

“Men strive for peace, but it is their enemies that give them strength, and I think if man no longer had enemies, he would have to invent them, for his strength only grows from struggle.” 
       Louis L’Amour (1908-1988)
       In his historical novel The Lonesome Gods (1984)


THE RETAILERS’ VIEW OF CHRISTMAS:

“From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.”
       Katharine Whitehorn
       British journalist
       In
her book Roundabout (1962)


THE TRICKY DICK PRINCIPLE:

“If Nixon did not exist, it would be necessary for Americans to invent him. He’s the Mount Rushmore of failed presidential ambitions.”
       Martin Higgins
       American filmmaker, writer and stand-up comic
       In his compilation of political quotes The Nastiest Things Ever Said About Republicans (2006)


THE SARAH PALIN PRINCIPLE:

“A figure like Sarah Palin serves a need for both her followers and her detractors. Much as Voltaire famously said about God, if Sarah Palin did not exist, it would be necessary for someone to invent her.”
       Blogger Kevin Camp
       In
a post on his blog Comrade Kevin’s Chrestomathy, November 17, 2010


SARTRE’S ANTI-SEMITE PRINCIPLE:

“If the Jew did not exist, the anti-Semite would invent him.”
       Jean-Paul Sartre
       French writer and existentialist
       In his essay Anti-Semite and Jew (1946), originally titled: Réflexions sur la question juive (“Reflections on the Jewish Question”)


DENNIS HOPPER’S RESPONSE TO IT ALL:

Captain America (Peter Fonda): (Reading a plaque on the wall of a New Orleans brothel) “If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.”
Billy (Dennis Hopper):
“That’s a humdinger. I’m getting a little smashed, man.”
       In their 1969 film
Easy Rider (at about 1 hour, 16 minutes into the movie)
       If Dennis Hopper had not existed and invented himself, could anyone else have invented him?

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Further reading: books of quotations about God by believers and non-believers:

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