Joined: 01 February 2010
This is a highly subjective list of my favorite inspirational quotes (and I duly contemplated the title (My Top 5 Favorite quotes of all time) We cannot fully understand the beauty and power of certain quotes unless we understand both the context and the experiences of those who uttered them. So, in a sense, this is a tribute to both the meaning and beauty of the message as well as the people that spoke them.
To me, the beauty of this quote lies in the life and struggles of Robert Frost himself. Robert frost suffered heavily throughout his life at the hands of grief and loss. At the age of 11 (1884)his father died to tuberculosis leaving the family in financial distress. Sixteen years later his mother, too, died of cancer.
But family deaths and intense depressive bouts would mark Robert's life as long as he lived. Following the death of his mother, he had to commit his sister to a mental institution, where she lived for nine years before also perishing.
Robert Frosts' children, too, were not spared from what seemed to be inherited bouts of misfortune and depression. Of his six children (re-worked from Wikipedia):
His wife Elinor died of heartattack one year after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1938. Truly, then, for Robert Frost -- Life goes on. I am shattered by the amount of strength and courage in his words.
"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend"
Albert Camus was a French novelist, journalist and playwright born in Mondovi, Algeria (a French colony at the time). A year after his birth in 1913, Camus' father was killed in war, leaving him in the care of his near-deaf mother in the poverty stricken colonial Mondovi. As a youth he excelled in philosophical studies and was awarded scholarships (which, as it happens, was the only way he could afford his education) as a student of philosophy.
Camus' life was marred by illness. He contracted tuberculosis and often had to spent time in Sanatoriums, and his oscillating health also prevented him from finding work as a teacher. In 1938, after having been declared unfit to join the war effort, Camus wrote L'Etranger (the stranger - Published in 1942) a stunning novel that highlights Camus' philosophical rationalizations.
The core of Camus' work dealt with the separation of thoughts and deeds in human nature, which Camus called the "Absurd". How, for instance, on the one hand man desires to be free, but then lives a life of servitude.
"The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude."
In 1957 Camus was awarded the Nobel prize for literature for his insightful work into human consciousness. Three years later at the age of 46 Camus was killed in a car crash outside Paris.
"Pardonnez-moi, monsieur," (Pardon me, mister)
You're no doubt wondering why on earth this quote is on the list. Without the proper context I would agree with you! As it happens these words, a polite apology were uttered as she stepped on the executioners toes before she was beheaded.
I know there are a great many "famous last words" that are wittier, funnier, more insightful and arguably -- ballsier -- but the humanity that emanates from these words is truly staggering.
Of course, you may say that the words might have been sarcastic or reflexive. Its true that most of France ridiculed her because of her Austrian descent and she was the object of many rumors (largely sexual) -- so the foundations for sarcasm are most definitely present. It is also true that her flamboyant ways must have frustrated and infuriated the lower classes and catalyzed the revolution.
I believe there are two more compelling reasons why she said those words.
"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof"
Hitchens represents a growing trend, and his thoughts and quotes encapsulate an exponentially growing section of society that seeks to undermine religious authoritarianism with public debate and information. Now, no matter where you stand on an issue, it is undoubtedly true that Christopher Hitchens is a highly influential figure in contemporary philosophy.
I believe the quote is important because it highlights the struggle and debates of our time: from terrorism to politics and from society to the individual. Hitchens phrases a very complex and recurrent array of thoughts into a concise and easily digestible quote.
Through the debate medium, Hitchens has used his intelligence and wit to discuss large social issues. He has done this with personal honesty and a great degree of humor (which helps introduce controversial subjects). He has often been accused of lacking respect by religious authorities and his notorious books are an example:
"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
To admire the truth and power behind this quote one needn't look further than at the contemporary world. From global politics to the individual, our struggle with our nature has always led to this primordial conflict.
Along with this truism, the quote also carries a warning. One that he himself would experience deeply and subjectively.
In 1889 (aged 45) he suffered a mental collapse and the years that proceeded his death (1900) were ones marked with insanity.
The abyss, it seems, had looked back.
Thank you very much for viewing this article, I'm aware that many of these quotes are highly subjective which is why I'm looking to see if you have any quotes that have marked your life as well! Feel free to add a comment at the bottom of this page and tell me about them!
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Joined: 07 January 2008
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