Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Irony

"Neither irony nor sarcasm is argument." - Rufus Choate

"The mere observing of a thing is no use whatsoever. Observing turns into beholding, beholding to thinking, thinking into establishing connections, so that one may say that every attentive glance we cast on the world is an act of theorizing. However, this ought to be done consciously, with self-criticism, with freedom, and, to use a daring word, with irony." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"It is a further irony that our legal ethic prosecutes those who are forced (economically or psychologically) to offer themselves for sale as objects, but condones the act of buying persons as objects." - Kate Millet, Katherine Murray Millett

"For God's sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself! As for the others, the irony of facts shall take it out of their hands, and make fools of them in downright earnest, ere the farce be over. " - Robert Louis Stevenson, fully Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

"Love is the essence of the soul, and must be strengthened and cleansed of ill-feeling, irritation, irony, against every individual." - Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

"To have arrived on this earth as a product of a biological accident, only to depart through human arrogance, would be the ultimate irony." - Richard Leakey, fully Richard Erskine Frere Leakey

"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding." - Agnes Repplier

"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding." -

"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding." -

"The reward of the adventure of life is freedom. The irony of the adventure is that we were free before we set out, but we needed to learn that freedom was not to be found where we fantasized it to be. We needed to learn, like our old friend Dorothy from Kansas, that there’s no place like home, because there is no place but Home. When we learn that God is everywhere, that Love fills all space, and that Truth is the very Ground of our Being, we may surely release the little to embrace the All." - Alan Cohen

"The reward of the adventure of life is freedom. The irony of the adventure is that we were free before we set out, but we needed to learn that freedom was not to be found where we fantasized it to be. We needed to learn, like our old friend Dorothy from Kansas, that there’s no place like home, because there is no place but Home. When we learn that God is everywhere, that Love fills all space, and that Truth is the very Ground of our Being, we may surely release the little to embrace the All." -

"The reward of the adventure of life is freedom. The irony of the adventure is that we were free before we set out, but we needed to learn that freedom was not to be found where we fantasized it to be. We needed to learn, like our old friend Dorothy from Kansas, that there’s no place like home, because there is no place but Home. When we learn that God is everywhere, that Love fills all space, and that Truth is the very Ground of our Being, we may surely release the little to embrace the All." -

"People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within." -

"Civilizations die from philosophical calm, irony, and the sense of fair play quite as surely as they die of debauchery." - Joseph Wood Krutch

"People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within." -

"The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive" -

"The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive" -

"Redemption, eternal life, divinity, humanity, propitiation, incarnation, judgment, Satan, heaven and hell—all these beliefs have been so materialized and coarsened, that with a strange irony they present to us the spectacle of things having a profound meaning and yet carnally interpreted. Christian boldness and Christian liberty must be reconquered; it is the church which is heretical, the church whose sight is troubled and her heart timid. Whether we will or no, there is an esoteric doctrine, there is a relative revelation; each man enters into God so much as God enters into him, or as Angelus, I think, said, "the eye by which I see God is the same eye by which He sees me."" - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends. " - Paul Fussell

"Or, to go a step further, let us glance at what science has done to establish rational foundations for physical and moral health. Science tells us how we ought to live in order to preserve the health of our own bodies, how to maintain in good conditions of existence the crowded masses of our population. But does not all the vast amount of work done in these two directions remain a dead letter in our books? We know it does. And why? Because science today exists only for a handful of privileged persons, because social inequality which divides society into two classes — the wage-slaves and the grabbers of capital-renders all its teachings as to the conditions of a rational existence only the bitterest irony to nine-tenths of mankind." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"The irony here is this administration is spending more money on climate change research and development than any administration in all the rest of the industrialized world combined." - Christine Todd Whitman, aka "Christie"

"It is no small irony that in the age of ‘technological man’ people actually play a greater role in ecosystems than ever. For example, H. sapiens has long been the most successful terrestrial carnivore ever to have walked the earth and, during the 20th Century, humans became the most voracious predator in the world’s oceans. Remarkably, considering our unchallenged status as top carnivore, we are also the dominant herbivore in grasslands and forests all over the planet, particularly if we consider the demands of ‘industrial metabolism’ (Rees 2003a, Fowler and Hobbs 2003). And human impacts transcend biology, earth scientists assert that economic activity has become the most significant geological force altering the face of the planet and climatologists agree that we are now actually beginning to affect global climate." - William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel

"The keynote of American civilization is a sort of warm-hearted vulgarity. The Americans have none of the irony of the English, none of their cool poise, none of their manner. But they do have friendliness. Where an Englishman would give you his card, an American would very likely give you his shirt." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"When irony first makes itself known in a young man's life, it can be like his first experience of getting drunk; he has met with a powerful thing which he does not know how to handle." - Robertson Davies

"Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth pierced by a ray of sunshine: and now evening, and Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world, pierced by a ray of sunlight, and Suddenly it's evening." - Salvatore Quasimodo

"Nevertheless, I knew that I could get it to agree with me if I could so effectually buttonhole and fasten on to it as to eat it. Most men have an easy method with turtle soup, and I had no misgiving but that if I could bring my first premise to bear I should prove the better reasoner. My difficulty lay in this initial process, for I had not with me the argument that would alone compel Mr. Sweeting to think that I ought to be allowed to convert the turtles — I mean I had no money in my pocket. No missionary enterprise can be carried on without any money at all, but even so small a sum as half a crown would, I suppose, have enabled me to bring the turtle partly round, and with many half-crowns I could in time no doubt convert the lot, for the turtle needs must go where the money drives. If, as is alleged, the world stands on a turtle, the turtle stands on money. No money no turtle. As for money, that stands on opinion, credit, trust, faith — things that, though highly material in connection with money, are still of immaterial essence." - Samuel Butler

"The New Jerusalem, when it comes, will probably be found so far to resemble the old as to stone its prophets freely." - Samuel Butler

"We must [it has been argued] go beyond reductionism to a holistic recognition that biology and culture interpenetrate in an inextricable manner." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Gender named literature simply fun hair." - Stephane Mallarme, born Étienne Mallarmé

"He thought what a fine thing it was that people made music all over the world, even in the strangest settings – probably even on polar expeditions." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"Is not life in itself a thing of goodness, irrespective of whether the course it takes for us can be called a 'happy' one?" - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"I'm actually surprised how well we've done. We've made more progress in the first 100 days of this one than any other joint venture I've been involved in." - Thomas Nagel

"The typical large company has a compensation committee... They don't look for Dobermans on that committee, they look for Chihuahuas." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"The previous regime — armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology — reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. In this it attacked both their very substance and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone." - Václav Havel

"There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight." - Václav Havel

"A chicken won't be grudged to a place a goose will come from." - Turkish Proverbs

"If death wants me, let him ride up on a pale mount, ashes in his mouth, ice in his testicles. Frankly, I do not like the way death does business." - Tom Robbins, fully Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins

"He showed me a sketch he'd drawn once during meditation. It was an androgynous human figure, standing up, hands clasped in prayer. But this figure had four legs, and no head. Where the head should have been, there was only a wild foliage of ferns and flowers. There was a small, smiling face drawn over the heart. To find the balance you want, Ketut spoke through his translator, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"Meditation vs. Prayer = Listening vs. Talking" - Elizabeth Gilbert

"The average mind is slow in grasping a truth, but when the most thoroughly organized, centralized institution, maintained at an excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the dullest must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is "ordained by divine right," or by the majesty of the law." - Emma Goldman

"The man of knowledge in our time is bowed down under a burden he never imagined he would ever have: the overproduction of truth that cannot be consumed." - Ernest Becker

"The Latin words humus, soil/earth, and homo, human being, have a common derivation, from which we also get our word 'humble.' This is the Genesis origin of who we are: dust - dust that the Lord God used to make us a human being. If we cultivate a lively sense of our origin and nurture a sense of continuity with it, who knows, we may also acquire humility." - Eugene Peterson

"Two women and a goose make a market." -

"Very seldom does any good thing arise but there comes an ugly phantom of a caricature of it." -

"For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him when he departs to the Havens: for mine is the choice of Luthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter." - J. R. R. Tolkien, fully John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

"Gil-galad was an Elven-king. Of him the harpers sadly sing: the last whose realm was fair and free between the Mountains and the Sea. His sword was long, his lance was keen, his shining helm afar was seen; the countless stars of heaven's field were mirrored in his silver shield. But long ago he rode away, and where he dwelleth none can say; for into darkness fell his star in Mordor where the shadows are." - J. R. R. Tolkien, fully John Ronald Reuel Tolkien