Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fun with H.L. Mencken

H.L. Mencken, the American satirist, critic and all round cynic, was quite the quotable fellow. I recently dug out some of my favorite quotes (which I shared on Twitter earlier this month - you should follow me) and I figured they deserved a blag post of their own. So...

"The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind."

"To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!"

"Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true."

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."

"The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man — that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense — has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading."

"I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty and the democratic form is as bad as any of the other forms.
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech — alike for the humblest man and the mightiest, and in the utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in organized society.
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
I —But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant."

Check out Mencken's Wikiquote page for more fun....

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