“Do you have a favourite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?”
– WordPress: ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’
Well, it wouldn’t be that one, for a start.
As it happens, I do like using quotations. Not only does it offer the illusion of erudition, it also saves you the bother of having an original thought. What the hey, ‘it’s all been said before, it’s all been written in the book’.
To quote Bob Dylan.
In fact, I resort to quotations so often that I’m really struggling to come up with a single favourite to share with you, dear reader. What I can say, however, is that those I do particularly like fall largely into two categories: serious and amusing.
Of the serious ones, more likely than not they would come from Shakespeare and more specifically the existential meditations of Hamlet and Macbeth. All that stuff about ‘what a piece of work is a man’ and ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.
However, being serious for too long (see footnote) risks undermining, perhaps fatally, the tone of shallow and insouciant ineptitude that I am carefully trying to cultivate on this blog, so I would prefer to focus on the amusing.
Again, I would find it difficult to pick out a single favourite amusing quote. There is no question, though, that my preferred provider – to coin a phrase – would be Oscar Wilde.
My father-of-the-bride speech at my daughter’s wedding was woven (nay, crafted) around a series of Oscar’s sayings and I’m happy to say that it seemed to go down quite well. So well, indeed, that I retired from oratory immediately, on the basis that you should always quit while you’re ahead.
Apart from the dazzling wordplay, though, the skill of Oscar lies in conveying a sometimes uncomfortable truth in a humorous way: ‘I can resist everything except temptation’ is a prime example. Only yesterday (research again) I came across this even more telling observation, from The Picture of Dorian Grey:
‘The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.’
And on that cheery note I have finally decided, as my favorite quote of all, to plump for one from an obscure, largely overlooked, but probably overrated contemporary writer:
‘There are only two important rules in life. Rule One is that you should never take anything too seriously. Rule Two is that Rule One applies particularly to yourself.’
To put it another way, you might say that I have never attached too much importance to being earnest.
FOOTNOTE: As stated on Day One of this writing odyssey, the intention is to write something each day, but I did indicate that it was highly unlikely that there would be a post every day. After four consecutive days the time has come for a short break. This isn’t because I’ve lost the appetite, but I don’t want to try your patience any more than I already have.
Besides which, in the interests of keeping it superficial, I am avoiding what I consider to be the more ‘worthy’ prompts, of which there a couple over the next two days.
There are also some prompts coming up that just seem completely bonkers, so consider yourself to have been warned.
‘I’ll be back’
– Arnold Schwarzenegger: ‘The Terminator’