September 24, 2012

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Or not.)


NIETZSCHE’S FAMOUS MAXIM:

“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
(“Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.”)
      
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
       German philosopher
       His famous maxim in Twilight of the Idols (1888) 
       The sayings “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” and similar lines are all descendants of the aphorism above, which comes from
the “Maxims and Arrows” section of Nietzsche’s book Twilight of the Idols. His original German line has been translated in several ways. Sometimes “Whatever” or “That which” is used in place of “What.” Sometimes “destroy” or some other verb is used in place of “kill” (though the German word Nietzsche used, umbringt, is derived from the verb umbringen, which is generally translated as meaning “to kill”).
      
       Today, English translations and variations of Nietzsche’s maxim are often used for ironic effect. But they are also frequently used in a positive way, to express optimism and determination in the face of adversity. Most people who give such sayings a positive spin might be surprised to learn that Nietzsche’s original German line was used as a motto for Hitler’s Nazi youth camps.


JAX TELLER’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“There’s an old saying: that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things — your family, your friends, the satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that keep you whole. Those are the things to hold on to when you’re broken.”
      
Jackson “Jax” Teller (played by actor Charlie Hunnam) 
       Speaking in a voiceover
in the “Sovereign” episode of the TV series Sons of Anarchy. (Season 5, Episode 1. First aired September 11, 2012)


CHUCK LORRE’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“What doesn’t kill us makes us bitter. I used to believe that to be both funny and true...I now have a thicker skin, I’m less likely to sweat the small stuff, and, perhaps most importantly, I have a renewed sense of humility. All in all, better. That being said, I still try to stay reasonably bitter in order to maintain my eligibility in the Writers Guild of America.”
      
Chuck Lorre
       American TV show producer
       An excerpt from
one of the popular “vanity cards” shown at the end of television shows he produces. This one comes from the “Spy Gaming” episode of his sitcom Big Bang Theory. (Season 4 Episode 22, first aired on May 5, 2011.) Lorre picked What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Bitter as the title of a book collecting his TV vanity cards.


TAYARI’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“People say, That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But they are wrong. What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you. That’s all you get. Sometimes, you just have to hope that’s enough.”
      
Tayari Jones

       American novelist
       In the epilogue of her novel Silver Sparrow (2011)


CHOKO’S COUNTER-COUNTERQUOTE:

“Of course, what doesn’t make you stronger, will kill you, so there’s also that.”
      
Kaarli Sylvester Makela (a.k.a. Choko!)
       American author
      
In her book Pure Speculation: One Juggalo’s Strange Story (2005)

See more witty variations of “What does not kill me…”
in this previous QuoteCounterquote.com post

“What does not kill me makes me stronger” – the movie star edition…

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September 13, 2012

“The Powers That Be” — the Celebrity Quotes Edition


THE ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE:

“The powers that be are ordained of God…Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” 
       Romans, 13:1-2
       This Biblical quote from Saint Paul’s “Epistle to the Romans” (usually just called Romans) is the origin of the English idiom “the powers that be,” a general term used to refer to the people or organizations who control something.
       “Powers that be” and many others familiar phrases from the Bible were coined by
William Tyndale (1494–1536). He was a feisty English Puritan who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English in the 1520s, a time when such a translation was considered heresy by the Catholic Church’s Powers That Be. The “Tyndale Bible” pre-dated and heavily influenced the King James Version created in 1611.


RICHARD DREYFUSS VERSION:

“The [Screen Actors] Guild was the healthiest, sanest and strongest guild in America, and now it’s run by complete loons and the opposition is made up of complete loons, so the Guild has destroyed itself, and in so doing, has achieved the Powers That Be’s greatest goal, which is to extract every illegal penny that they can from their own work force and deny them the ability of collective power.”  
       Richard Dreyfuss
       American actor
       In an interview on HollywoodNews.com


SARAH PALIN’S VIEW FROM THE RIGHT:

“The powers that be in Washington, they've got it all wrong...We should not be working for our government. Our government should be working for us.”
      
Sarah Palin 
       Republican politician and commentator
       In
a speech she gave in Wichita, Kansas on May 3, 2010  
       Providing a possible alternate explanation of why she resigned as Governor of Alaska


JIM HIGHTOWER’S VIEW FROM THE LEFT:

“The powers that be within it made a political calculation that we Democrats could raise corporate money and compete with the Republicans…The problem is, when you start taking those corporate checks, on the back is written the corporate agenda. So our party began speaking in different languages.” 
       Jim Hightower 
       Liberal political gadfly and former Democratic politician
       In
an article about him in the Texas Tribune (April 16, 2010)


THE OLIVIA MUNN VIEWERS VERSION:

“Cable channels were built around the notion that as long as the male audience is drooling from one side of their mouth, then the other side of the body won't be able to work the remote. So, it is with a deep understanding of the powers that be, and the powers that eventually will be, that we celebrate cable’s newest ‘It’ girl, and PETA's latest pin-up, Olivia Munn.”  
       Reagan Alexander
       Online columnist and blogger
       In
an article about Olivia Munn on Tonic.com


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September 9, 2012

Can a leopard change his spots? The answer depends on who you ask...


THE FAMOUS RHETORICAL QUESTION FROM THE BIBLE:

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”
      
Jeremiah, 13:23
       This question is posed by the gloomy
prophet Jeremiah in the book of the Bible named for and allegedly written by him. It comes from one of his many long rants (which gave rise to the term jeremiad). In this particular rant, he was warning the people of Judah (Jerusalem) that God was going to destroy them for becoming idolaters and sinners and “scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.”
       The answer to Jeremiah’s question seems obvious. Indeed, it’s the source of the proverbial sayings used to imply that people, animals or things cannot overcome their true nature. One common idiomatic formula is a query based on, but shorter than, Jeremiah’s: “Can a leopard change his spots?” The other popular formulation is an affirmative statement, like “A leopard can’t change its spots.” 
      Jeremiah provided a somewhat ambiguous addition to his famous question. The full quotation from Chapter 13, Verse 23 is:
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
       Some Christian commentators have interpreted this to mean that hard-core sinners cannot become good and will not be saved by God; they are doomed to be punished. Others have suggested that, while it’s very difficult for a long-standing sinner to change and be saved, it’s not impossible. Those who strive hard to embrace the teachings of the Bible and become good can be saved by the grace of God.
       Of course, Jeremiah’s famous quote was recorded in a Biblical text written around 700 B.C. Modern events and science have provided some new information. For example,
Michael Jackson proved that with the help of certain chemical treatments a black man can indeed change his skin color. And, as noted by the book Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods?: Answers to Rhetorical Questions (2011), scientists who study evolution have determined that the patterns of spots on some subspecies of leopards have changed over time. 


THE ‘YOU COULD LOOK IT UP’ COUNTERQUOTE:

“I find many people have deep-seated beliefs that people really cannot change all that much, if at all. Our culture even has clichés to support this lie like ‘A leopard can't change its spots’...If you do not believe that people can really change, I suggest you go to your local library and check out a few of the thousands of books you will find there about how people have changed their lives for good and become something quite different from what they once were.”
      
James C. Hunter
       American author and consultant 
      
From Chapter 7 of his book The World's Most Powerful Leadership Principle (2004)


THE ‘GOD BLESS AMERICA’S BIGOTED INDIAN POLICY’ QUOTE:

“You may change the leopard’s spots, but you will never change the different qualities of races which God has created…The Indian of one hundred and twenty-five years ago is the Indian of to-day—ameliorated, to a certain extent civilized, and yet the wisdom of our forefathers, when, in the Constitution, they set them apart as one people, separate and distinct from the great dominant race which had come to take this land and inhabit it, is indicated in what we are still doing and must forever do with them so long as they maintain their tribal relations and so long as they are Indians.” 
      
U.S. Senator John Daniel (1842-1910) 
       Virginia lawyer, author and politician 
       In a February 1899 address to Congress quoted in the book
Shadowing the White Man's Burden: U.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line (2010) by Gretchen Murphy


THE SHAKESPEAREAN REPARTEE QUOTE:

King Richard: “Rage must be withstood...lions make leopards tame.”
Thomas Mowbray: “Yea, but not change his spots.”
      
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
       English playwright and poet 
       Lines
from Act 1, Scene 1 of his play Richard II


THE LMFAO PAR-TEE! LYRICS:

“1-2-3 to the 4
I’m dancin’ with as many super freaks as possible
You can’t change the spots on a leopard
In the club, the homies call me redfoo hefner.” 
       LMFAO 
       American electropop music duo  
       Lyrics from the song
“What Happens At The Party,” on their Party Rock album (2009) 
       Sorry, folks. I only have a dim understanding of WTF these LMFAO lyrics mean. You’ll have to figure them out for yourself.

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September 1, 2012

“We have met the enemy…”



FAMOUS WAR OF 1812 QUOTE:

“We have met the enemy and they are ours.”
       Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819)
       American Navy officer
       The immortal message Perry sent
on September 10, 1813 to U.S. General William Henry Harrison about the Battle of Lake Erie. That day, American ships under Perry’s command defeated a British naval squadron and captured all of the British ships. After the battle, Perry scrawled a brief report to Harrison on the back of an envelope. It said: “Dear General: We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop. Yours with great respect and esteem, O.H. Perry.” The first sentence became one of the most famous U.S. Navy quotations in history.



WORLD WAR II VERSION:

“We have met the enemy and have learned nothing more about him. I have, however, learned some things about myself. There are things men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul. It is one thing to reconcile these things with God, but another to square it with yourself.”
       American PFC Robert Leckie (played by actor James Badge Dale
       Comment in a letter written to his stateside girlfriend 
       In the
HBO miniseries The Pacific (2010)



WAR BETWEEN THE SEXES VERSION:

“We have met the enemy and he’s our friend...the friends, brothers, lovers in the counterfeit male-dominated Left. The good guys who think they know what ‘Women’s Lib,’ as they so chummily call it, is all about.” 
       Robin Morgan 
       American author, journalist and pioneering feminist
       In a 1970 editorial piece titled
“Goodbye to All That”
       Published in the January 1970 issue of the underground newspaper Rat: Subterranean News 
 



WAR IN AFGHANISTAN VERSION:

“We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint”
       Title of an article about a Pentagon PowerPoint diagram meant to portray the complexity of America’s strategy in Afghanistan. Published
in the New York Times on April 26, 2010. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal commented: “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”



WAR ON NATURE VERSION:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
       Walt Kelly (1913-1973)
       American cartoonist
       First used for
his famous 1970 Earth Day poster



VIETNAM WAR VERSION:

“I was stumbling around in a beautiful haze
When I met a little cat in black P.J.’s,
Rifle, ammo belt, B.F. Goodrich sandals...

He said, ‘We’re campin’ down the pass
And smelled you people blowin’ grass,
And since by the smell you’re smokin’ trash
I brought you a taste of a special stash
Straight from Uncle Ho’s victory garden.
We call it Hanoi gold.’

So his squad and my squad settled down
And passed some lovely stuff around.
All too soon it was time to go.
The captain got on the radio, said: 
‘Hello, headquarters. Hello, headquarters?

We have met the enemy
And he has been smashed!’”
 
       Tom Paxton
       American singer/songwriter 
       From his song "Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues"
       Originally released on his 1968 album Morning Again. (Also on
The Best Of Tom Paxton.)

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