Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Madness

"It is the worst of madness to learn what has to be unlearnt." - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, sometimes known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

"The whole society depends on creating ambition in you. Ambition means a conflict, ambition means that whatsoever you are, you are wrong -- you have to be somewhere else. Wherever you are, you are wrong -- you have to be somewhere else. A constant madness to be somewhere else, to be somebody else, is what ambition is." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"Tranquility is found also in dungeons; but is that enough to make them desirable places to live in? To say that a man gives himself gratuitously, is to say what is absurd and inconceivable; such an act is null and illegitimate, from the mere fact that he who does it is out of his mind. To say the same of a whole people is to suppose a people of madmen; and madness creates no right. Even if each man could alienate himself, he could not alienate his children: they are born men and free; their liberty belongs to them, and no one but they has the right to dispose of it. Before they come to years of judgment, the father can, in their name, lay down conditions for their preservation and well-being, but he cannot give them irrevocably and without conditions: such a gift is contrary to the ends of nature, and exceeds the rights of paternity. It would therefore be necessary, in order to legitimize an arbitrary government, that in every generation the people should be in a position to accept or reject it; but, were this so, the government would be no longer arbitrary. " -

"Tranquility is found also in dungeons; but is that enough to make them desirable places to live in? To say that a man gives himself gratuitously, is to say what is absurd and inconceivable; such an act is null and illegitimate, from the mere fact that he who does it is out of his mind. To say the same of a whole people is to suppose a people of madmen; and madness creates no right. Even if each man could alienate himself, he could not alienate his children: they are born men and free; their liberty belongs to them, and no one but they has the right to dispose of it. Before they come to years of judgment, the father can, in their name, lay down conditions for their preservation and well-being, but he cannot give them irrevocably and without conditions: such a gift is contrary to the ends of nature, and exceeds the rights of paternity. It would therefore be necessary, in order to legitimize an arbitrary government, that in every generation the people should be in a position to accept or reject it; but, were this so, the government would be no longer arbitrary. " - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state - it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage" - John Witherspoon

"There is wisdom in madness and strong probability of truth in all accusations, for people are complete and everybody is capable of everything." - Joseph Heller

"Today’s milestone is human madness. Politics is a part of it, particularly in its lethal outbursts. Politics is not, as it was for Hannah Arendt, the field where human freedom is unfurled. The modern world, the world of world war, the Third World, the underground world of death that acts upon us, do not have the civilized splendor of the Greek city state. The modern political domain is massively, in totalitarian fashion, social, leveling, exhausting. Hence madness is a space of antisocial, apolitical, and paradoxically free individuation." - Julia Kristeva

"In the midst of excitement, grief, joy, and solitude, I remind myself every moment that the sole mission of my life is to find the ultimate questioner - that unimaginable who has put me in this madness to answer an unanswerable question. " - Kedar Joshi

"In the midst of excitement, grief, joy, and solitude, I remind myself every moment that the sole mission of my life is to find "the ultimate questioner" - that unimaginable who has put me in this madness to answer an unanswerable question." - Kedar Joshi

"We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death." - Leo Busacaglia

"The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself." - Louis-Ferdinand Céline, pen name Louis-Ferdinand Destouches

"Between these two unique and symmetrical events, something happens whose ambiguity has left the historians of medicine at a loss: blind repression in an absolutist regime, according to some; but according to others, the gradual discovery by science and philanthropy of madness in its positive truth. As a matter of fact, beneath these reversible meanings, a structure is forming which does not resolve the ambiguity but determines it. It is this structure which accounts for the transition from the medieval and humanist experience of madness to our own experience, which confines insanity within mental illness. In the Middle Ages and until the Renaissance, man's dispute with madness was a dramatic debate in which he confronted the secret powers of the world; the experience of madness was clouded by images of the Fall and the Will of God, of the Beast and the Metamorphosis, and of all the marvelous secrets of Knowledge. In our era, the experience of madness remains silent in the composure of a knowledge which, knowing too much about madness, forgets it. But from one of these experiences to the other, the shift has been made by a world without images, without positive character, in a kind of silent transparency which reveals— as mute institution, act without commentary, immediate knowledge—a great motionless structure; this structure is one of neither drama nor knowledge; it is the point where history is immobilized in the tragic category which both establishes and impugns it." - Michel Foucault

"Madness, then, was not merely one of the possibilities afforded by the union of soul and body; it was not just one of the consequences of passion. Instituted by the unity of soul and body, madness turned against that unity and once again put it in question. Madness, made possible by passion, threatened by a movement proper to itself what had made passion itself possible." - Michel Foucault

"In the Western imagination, reason has long belonged to terra firma. Island or continent, it repels water with a solid stubbornness: it only concedes its sand. As for unreason, it has been aquatic from the depths of time and until fairly recently. And more precisely oceanic: infinite space, uncertain ... Madness is the flowing liquid exterior of rocky reason." - Michel Foucault

"Maybe the greatest madness is to see life as it is rather than what it could be." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"In love, no certainty is ultimate... That elementary thing - the feeling that you are loved - must be certified again and again, because one doubt,one mistake razes everything to madness and ecstasy." - Mircea Eliade

"The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one's designs to one's means." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war. " - Paul Fussell

"Collective madness is called sanity… ‎Comparing is impoverishing our own experience. There is meaning to our suffering, if we rise above it… Cry if you need to, it's good to cry out all your tears, because only then you will be able to smile again… Deal with the pitfalls of life the same way that it deals with the pitfalls of the road instead of the curse the place where it is located. First try to know the cause of your falling? " - Paulo Coelho

"We look before and after, And pine for what is not: Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought… Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow The world should listen then — as I am listening now." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"True, we love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving. There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness." - Petrarch, anglicized from Italian name Francesco Petrarca NULL

"Directly overhead the Milky Way was as distinct as a highway across the sky. The constellations shown brilliantly, except the north, where they were blurred by the white sheets of the Aurora. Now shimmering like translucent curtains drawn over the windows of heaven, the northern lights suddenly streaked across a million miles of space to burst in silent explosions. Fountains of light, pale greens, reds, and yellows, showered the stars and geysered up to the center of the sky, where they pooled to form a multicolored sphere, a kind of mock sun that gave light but no heat, pulsing, flaring, and casting beams in all directions, horizon to horizon. Below, the wolves howled with midnight madness and the two young men stood in speechless awe. Even after the spectacle ended, the Aurora fading again to faint shimmer, they stood as silent and transfixed as the first human beings ever to behold the wonder of creation. Starkmann felt the diminishment that is not self-depreciation but humility; for what was he and what was Bonnie George? Flickers of consciousness imprisoned in lumps of dust; above them a sky ablaze with the Aurora, around them a wilderness where wolves sang savage arias to a frozen moon." - Philip Caputo

"The madness of love is the greatest of heaven's blessings." - Plato NULL

"If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories " - Ray Bradbury, fully Ray Douglas Bradbury

"When people ask me where I get by imagination, I simply lament, God, here and there, makes madness a calling." - Ray Bradbury, fully Ray Douglas Bradbury

"It's coming soon and soon, mother, it's nearer every day, When only men who work and sweat will have a word to say; When all who earn their honest bread in every land and soil Will claim the Brotherhood of Man, the Comradeship of Toil; When we, the Workers, all demand: `What are we fighting for?' . . . Then, then we'll end that stupid crime, that devil's madness -- War" - Robert Service, fully Robert William Service

"There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad." - Salvador Dalí, fully Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech

"There are two classes [of scientists], those who want to know and do not care whether others think they know or not, and those who do not much care about knowing but care very greatly about being reputed as knowing." - Samuel Butler

"The Stoics agree to put in the forefront the doctrine of presentation and sensation, inasmuch as the standard by which the truth of things is tested is generically a presentation, and again the theory of assent and that of apprehension and thought, which precedes all the rest, cannot be stated apart from presentation. For presentation comes first; then thought, which is capable of expressing itself, puts into the form of a propositions that which the subject receives from a presentation. [Diocles the Magnesian]" - Stoics, The Stoics or Stoicism NULL

"What shakes the eye but the invisible? Running from God's the longest race of all." - Theodore Roethke

"Ah, souls, you can easily sin as the saints—but can you repent with the saints? Many can sin with David and Peter, that cannot repent with David and Peter—and so must perish forever!" - Thomas Brooks

"Every day that is born into the world comes like a burst of music and rings the whole day through, and you make of it a dance, a dirge, or a life march, as you will." - Thomas Carlyle

"I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhyamika, of sunyata, that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything — without refutation — without establishing some other argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening." - Thomas Merton

"The things I thought were so important—because of the effort I put into them—have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able either to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered." - Thomas Merton

"Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"Writing a check separates a commitment from a conversation." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"He brushed away the thunder, then the clouds, then the colossal illusion of heaven. Yet still the sky was blue." - Wallace Stevens

"Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"Optimism, said Cacambo, What is that? Alas! replied Candide, It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"The man who leaves money to charity in his will is only giving away what no longer belongs to him." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"There have been superficial blendings, as spiritual groups take up social service work and social activists join religious organizations, but a real integration of social action and spirituality at a deep, innovative level has not yet happened to any significant degree. The history of human development has been fragmentary, and the majority of people have been content with the fragmentation. It has the sanction of society. Each fragment of society has its own set of values. Among many social activists, anger, hatred, violence, bitterness, and cynicism are accepted norms, even though the effectiveness of these motivations for peaceful living has been seriously put in doubt. And indifference to the needs of the poor has had shocking acceptance among generations of spiritual people who considered higher states of consciousness much more significant than the misery of the starving millions." - Vimala Thakar

"I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing." - Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh

"But if sleep it was, of what nature, we can scarcely refrain from asking, are such sleeps as these? Are they remedial measures—trances in which the most galling memories, events that seem likely to cripple life forever, are brushed with a dark wing which rubs their harshness off and gilds them, even the ugliest, and basest, with a lustre, an incandescence? Has the finger of death to be laid on the tumult of life from time to time lest it rend us asunder? Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of living? And then what strange powers are these that penetrate our most secret ways and change our most treasured possessions without our willing it? Had Orlando, worn out by the extremity of his suffering, died for a week, and then come to life again? And if so, of what nature is death and of what nature life?" - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"You have been reading Byron. You have been marking the passages that seem to approve of your own character. I find marks against all those sentences which seem to express a sardonic yet passionate nature; a moth-like impetuosity dashing itself against hard glass. You thought, as you drew your pencil there, I too throw off my cloak like that. I too snap my fingers in the face of destiny. Yet Byron never made tea as you do, who fill the pot so that when you put the lid on the tea spills over. There is a brown pool on the table - it is running among your books and papers. Now you mop it up, clumsily, with your pocket-handkerchief. You then stuff your handkerchief back into your pocket - that is not Byron; that is you; that is so essentially you that if I think of you in twenty years' time, when we are both famous, gouty and intolerable, it will be by that scene: and if you are dead, I shall weep." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"Things divine are not attainable by mortals who understand sensual things." - Zoroaster, aka Zarathustra or Zarathushtra Spitama NULL

"The man you seek is here. I stand before you, Trojan Aeneas, torn from Libyan waves. O you who were alone in taking pity on the unutterable trials of Troy, who welcome us as allies to your city and home- a remnant left by Greeks, harassed by all disasters known on land and sea." - Virgil, also Vergil, fully Publius Vergilius Maro NULL

"When thou art preparing to commit a sin, think not that thou wilt conceal it; there is a God that forbids crimes to be hidden." - Tibullus, fully Albius Tibullus NULL

"And wet his grave with my repentant tears." -