S.Warner                     A Collection of Declarations


“What is a poet? A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music.’ – Kierkegaard


“People, for the most part, don’t violate moral customs because they don’t know any better. They violate them because they think they do know better – because they think the principle is itself unmoral, or that it conduces to what is, from another point of view, morally the wrong outcome. We can’t say where the instinct to prefer one outcome to another comes from, but we can say that, as associated beings, we feel a strong incentive to justify our choices in moral terms.”   Louis Menand


“It is impossible, of course, to name a single set of defining characteristics that will discriminate an aesthetic object from one that does not exert aesthetic power, but that is no reason to deny the existence of aesthetic power and aesthetic response.”  Helen Vendler The Music of What Happens


“Almost every woman described to you by a woman presents a tragic idea, and not an idea of well-being.”

R.W.Emerson Journals 1838


“Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed…. If the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this>”  Pascal


“Our knowledge of the past demands this [sorting out] suppression in order to be manageable…. Some of the past has to be suppressed for the rest to become visible.”  Charles Rosen


“The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”  Mark Twain  Puddn’head Wilson


“Like Hawthorne, Melville anticipated Freud’s paradoxical insight that civilization requires repression, and yet that repression yields pathologies that are dangerous to civilization.”  Andrew Delbanco


“The age of chivalry is gone. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom.” –Edmund Burke reacting to the first insults offered the King and Queen of France by the French Revolution.


“In her world, men loved women as the fox loves the hare. And women loved men as the tapeworm loves the gut.”  Pat Barker Regeneration


“To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness – though if stupidity is lacking the others are worthless.” – Attributed to Flaubert in Julian Barnes in Flaubert’s Parrot


Some sorrows can only be met by patience, and the reflection that life is both sort and unimportant. This is a consolation not open to the Christians, and it is one which gives us a real advantage over them.” – Bertrand Russell, Selected Letters, Vol I


“Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore.”  Henry Ward Beecher


“The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing; it is that they thereafter believe in anything.”  G.K.Chesterton