Category Archives: quotes


“The beard, being a half-mask, should be forbidden by the police. It is, moreover, as a sexual symbol in the middle of the face, obscene: that is why it pleases women.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer

(Via @GuyLongworth.)

Related reading: Have we reached peak beard?

Appealing Workspaces Are to Be Avoided

“Appealing workspaces are to be avoided.”

—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Academics vs. Scholars

“The demand to publish, to be competitive on the job market, makes reading breadth and depth, to be truly interdisciplinary and broad focused, increasingly difficult. The neoliberal university is a space for the production academics (and commodities) rather than scholars or intellectuals.”

David J. Leonard

Good Enough to Get Old


“Good clothes look better when they are nearly worn out than very cheap clothes look when they are new.”

—Edward Spencer in Clothes & the Man (1901)

(Both image and quote via Put This On. And yes, I realize the image is of shoes and the quote is about clothes, but for the purposes of this juxtaposition I don’t think the distinction is important.)

Related post: “Repair Your Own Jeans.”

Vanish in General

“When I write fiction, I feel the need to vanish in general. It almost doesn’t matter where, except that I won’t be found until I’m done. When you’re somewhere no one knows you, the need to be the reliable self you agreed to be to the people you know goes away.”

Alexander Chee


Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

“Strikingly original, quirky individual – ‘creative’ – ‘nonconformist’ – would not be admitted to most competitive universities & colleges. Great American writers – Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Whitman, Dickinson, Poe et al. – would surely be rejected by ‘top’ universities today.”

—Joyce Carol Oates on  Twitter


What’s Sexy

I can tell you what I think is sexy in a man. It has to do with warmth, a personal givingness, not self-awareness. Richard is a very sexy man. He’s got that sort of jungle essence that one can sense. It’s not the way he combs his hair, not the things he wears; and he doesn’t think about having muscles. It’s what he says and thinks.

—Elizabeth Taylor

Get Outside

“The role of the writer is to be the outsider. Writing is under the domain of Mercury, the trickster. And yet I increasingly see American writers deep in this pull, with the MFA culture and the snug domesticity and the atheism and the insularity and the dismissal of radical voices and the nostalgia and the lack of any deep philosophical or emotional or historical views. It’s all rooted in the Self, and pretending like that Self is not in the grips of these unconscious, magically-loaded stories that go unquestioned. And we get so caught up in words, the importance of using exactly the right words and not using the wrong words, without looking at the stories we are telling with those words.

Jessa Crispin

Nothing Better to Do

“I’m so revolted by writers taking themselves seriously that, as a kind of protest, I’ve deprioritized the role of writing in my life. I do it when I’ve not got anything better to do – and even then I often do nothing instead.”

—Geoff Dyer, in an interview in The Paris Review


“America is thus a nation rapidly drifting towards a state of things in which no man
of science or letters will be accounted respectable unless some kind of badge or
diploma is stamped upon him”

—William James, “The PhD Octopus” (1903)