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Desert Island Quotes

Posted by Andrew Cooper on August 11, 2008

What ten quotes would you take with you to a desert island?

Well it’s been a difficult choice Kirsty, but here they are in no particular order.

Always the more beautiful answer who asks the more beautiful question.e e cummings

“Theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler”. Albert Einstein’s restatement of Occam’s Razor Although he is often quoted as saying this, his actual words weren’t quite so elegant: see the quote starting “It can scarcely denied that all theory..” on this page.

“Let’s pretend it isn’t and see what happens.” Rabbit’s reply to Winnie the Pooh one morning when Pooh happened along and said “Hello Rabbit, is that you?”

“I think it would be a good idea.” Mahatma Ghandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization during a visit to the UK.  (There’s a wonderful list of Ghandi quotes at wikiquote.)

“For every complex problem, there’s a solution that’s neat, elegant and wrong.” H L Menken (Again, this is an often quoted paraphrase of the original.  But it’s still a good quote.)

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” Leonardo da Vinci discussing cognitive dissonance 500 years before the term was coined.

“Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.” William Shakespeare, prologue to Henry Vth.  I think that prologue is wonderful – the bard himself (probably, but it doesn’t matter if it isn’t) inviting us to use our imagination.

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.”

Doc Danneka explaining why Yossarian can’t leave the air force on the grounds of claimed insanity in the wonderful strange loop that is Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.

“Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  Winston Churchill, who never read a book about management in his life or hired a single management consultant, demonstrating what leadership is all about in a speech given at Harrow School on 29th October 1941

‘If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother to try to teach them. Instead, give them a tool the use of which will lead them to new ways of thinking.’ Buckminster Fuller

And if I could only take one, Kirsty?  Probably the first one.

A luxury?  Would it be possible to have WordPress together with a supply of laptops and a fast broadband link?  Only if I promised not to use it to communicate with anyone else? Yep, that’s absolutely fine.


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