I’m kind of a quote-fiend. I’m always saving quotations. I used to even sit around typing what people said into a file of quotes, but I also save them in my head.

Maybe it’s because of my Mrs. Who approach to language (which is how I conceptualized it before I heard of echolalia):

“Finxerunt animi, raro et perpauca loquentis,”, Mrs. Who intoned. “Horace. To action little, less to words inclined.”

“Mrs Who, I wish you’d stop quoting!” Charles Wallace sounded very annoyed.

Mrs. Whatsit adjusted her stole. “But she finds it so difficult to verbalize, Charles dear. It helps her if she can quote instead of working out words of her own.

Madeleine L’Engle, from A Wrinkle In Time. A Wrinkle In Time is a children’s book with plenty of interesting, geeky, and eccentric characters.

So this page is going to be a collection of quotations, whenever I get around to adding them. I will also, hopefully, be putting hyperlinks inside the quotations, to point to relevant articles or posts, as well as linking back to the sources where applicable, which of course if I had my way everyone would be reading. ;-) I like funny quotes as well as quotes that express something I couldn’t express on my own. I’ve handled language for a long time as collections of quotations that I can maneuver nearer and nearer to what I mean the longer I live and gain experience in the world. So whenever I add more of my favorite quotes, this will be the page you’ll find them on.

You keep finding all the reasons to close the door
You keep minding that we’re too many to ignore
We may seem in the gutter from up there where you are
Maybe you don’t know we still see the same stars

Donna Williams, from the song “Beautiful Behavioural Mutations” on the album Mutation, which has lots of amazing songs

Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.

— Gandalf, from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.

— Sally Kempton

There are worse things than having and accepting autism, and one of them is not accepting autism.

— Alan Winston

I’ve been a good patient, and I’ve been a bad patient, and believe me, being a good patient helps to get you out of the hospital, but being a bad patient helps to get you back to real life.

— Judi Chamberlin, “Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient

The tight weave of traditions that makes a comfortable hammock for some just as surely makes a noose that strangles others.

Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners Manifesto

What I resent is this: It is not the expediency or even the current fictions of psychiatry. It is the black and hollow lie that is called help.

Rae Unzicker, from Beyond Bedlam: Contemporary Women Psychiatric Survivors Speak Out edited by Jeanine Grobe

It just warms my heart so, to see that so many people are taking the time to talk amongst themselves about what they want to do to us.

Laura Tisoncik, “The Conference Presentation I Won’t Make (But Want To)

All people are real, in the deepest sense of that word. That means there is no such thing as a non-human human.

— Eugene Marcus, “On Almost Becoming a Person

Nobody achieves sainthood by having an autistic kid.

Laura Tisoncik, “Why I Am Angry

An inability to read body language or intonation or even auditory comprehension is not necessary to ‘sensing’ when a ‘brick wall’ is approaching you.

Donna Williams, “In the Real World

Because there is no way for good people to admit just how bloody uncomfortable they are with us, they distance themselves from their fears by devising new ways to erase us from the human landscape, all the while deluding themselves that it is for our benefit.

— Cheryl Marie Wade, “Thoughts on the Right to Die with Dignity

Disability inspiration is a form of propaganda that glosses over oppression while simultaneously reassuring normals about the superiority of their ways.

— John B. Kelly, “Inspiration

I have been told many times that I am an exception, and that others will never be able to reach my potential. I find that ironic when I look at my past – a young boy who was not supposed to be able to learn anything. I guess I was classified as low functioning then. Now all of a sudden, I am high functioning. I am neither high functioning nor low functioning. I am who I am! I am Patrick Worth.

— Patrick Worth, “The Damage of Labels

It is not uncommon for engineers to accept the reality of phenomena that are not yet understood, as it is very common for physicists to disbelieve the reality of phenomena that seem to contradict contemporary beliefs of physics.

— H. Bauer

People, it seems, communicate principally vocally, and their clacking and chattering goes on interminably from morn till night and, believe it or not, some of them even continue to talk in their sleep.

— Cica the cat, from The Silent Miaow: A Manual for Kittens, Strays, and Homeless Cats by Paul Gallico and Suzanne Szasz

Sanity is a treatable condition…with psychiatric help, involuntary hospitalization, the extensive use of restraints, neuroleptic drugs, ECT, and the guidance of NAMI, Sanity can be fully and permanently overcome. It happens every day.

Shoshanna Moser, “Glossary

This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.

— –Jim Sinclair, “Don’t Mourn For Us

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

If a cat does something, we call it instinct; if we do the same thing, for the same reason, we call it intelligence.

Will Cuppy

Those who think I am too much in the public eye, should stop and think whether they would really like to be so visible and subject to the vile criticisms that come with it.

— Larry Arnold

Momo listened to everyone and everything, to dogs and cats, crickets and tortoises — even to the rain and the wind in the pine trees — and all of them spoke to her after their own fashion.

Many were the evenings when, after he friends had gone home, she would sit by herself in the middle of the old stone amphitheater, with the sky’s starry vault overhead, and simply listen to the great silence around her.

Whenever she did this, she felt she was sitting at the center of a giant ear, listening to the world of the stars, and she seemed to hear soft but majestic music that touched her heart in the strangest way. On nights like these, she always had the most beautiful dreams.

Those who still think listening isn’t an art should see if they can do half as well.

— Michael Ende, Momo

Ashes and diamonds, foe and friend — we were all equal in the end.

— Pink Floyd, “Two Suns in the Sunset”

There’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see, but everywhere I go I’m looking

— Rich Mullins, “Here In America”

My past, and the pain I have endured, is not Purina Vulture Chow.

Jessadriel Darkmountain

No, I’m not an uppity autie. I’m a goddamn roll-over-and-play-dead autie who’s afraid to do anything other than to keep going “yes sir, yes sir” out of terror that someone may get so angry about my “defiance” that they’ll start yanking away all of the “privileges” they’ve granted me and more, just to punish me.

anonymous autistic student

When many of us who have become leaders in the [psychiatric] consumer/survivor movement compare notes, we find that one of the factors we usually have in common is that we were labeled “bad patients.” We were “uncooperative,” we” were “non-compliant,” we were “manipulative,” we “lacked insight.” Often, we were the ones who were told we would never get better. […] All those “unmotivated clients” I keep hearing about are the ones who are on a silent sit-down strike about others’ visions of what their lives should be like. […] Let us celebrate the spirit of the self struggling to survive. Let us celebrate the unbowed head, the heart that still dreams, the voice that refuses to be silent.

— Judi Chamberlin

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.

— Arthur Conan Doyle

I can be as free as I want in my own life, but while my friends and others are being tortured and humiliated, my personal freedom is not good enough.

— Irit Shimrat, from “Freedom

23 responses »

  1. Paul Gallico also wrote an excellent book about the design, development, production, and combat history of the Hawker Hurricane.

    Sorry, I seem to have a hopelessly incorrigible, chronic, severe, military aviation perseveration.

    P.s. I have two kitties living with me, one who can barely manage to make a slight noise when he thinks he’s fixing to die, and another who just will not shut up.

  2. One of my favorites:
    There’s a distinction between fixing, helping and serving.

    “When you fix, you assume something is broken,” Fred said. “When you help, you see the person as weak. But when you serve, you see the person as intrinsically whole. You create a relationship in which both parties gain. The purpose of love is to serve.”

    “Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.” — Marian Wright Edelman

  3. not particularly relevant to anything except its being a favourite quote: Einstein apparently said of the Theory of Relativity that “If it is proved wrong the French will call me a German and the Germans will call me a Jew; if it is proved correct the Germans will call me a German and the French will call me a Citizen of the World”
    I don’t know if it’s really true that Einstein said that, but it gives me a wry laugh

  4. That quote from A Wrinkle in Time about quotes and facility of spoken language, it reminds of me how I use speech. For, even though I was considered to have had no language delay, I could always tell that other people used language differently than I did. Not only did I speak pedantically (and sparingly – I usually said no more than a handful of words at school, if that much), but I used mostly just “stock phrases” when I did speak at school – much as someone learning a foreign language learns very systematically how to greet at first, even though in reality people don’t typically adhere to such strict patterns, at least when familiarly speaking.

    Even what people usually considered to be original speech (as in not originating from a quote or standard phrase), even this I usually memorized some time previously. I would, almost every morning and afternoon going to and from school with my dad, I would talk very much, in conversation, to a degree where it seemed to be very fluid, when in fact I had prepared ahead of time in my mind what would be, written out, pages worth of observations of science and politics and the rigidity of the school system – each of these phrased out in my mind beforehand, so that I could sprinkle my thoughts in without breaking the flow. Nowadays, since I realize that my family actually did not have such rigid expectation of how I would communicate as I had thought they would, I do not bother so much with this, and they do not express frustration with me when I speak in short phrases, or when my grammar is so poorly constructed that I am hard to follow, or when I am in no mood to speak whatever (mostly, anyway, mostly there is not such a frustration in them for these circumstances). Luckily, my friends accept me (now that I am in a different district for high school than I was for previous schooling, the people here, they are very accepting and friendly). I am not made to feel unwelcome if I get up to pace, or rock, or if I am not speaking, if I disagree with what everyone else or nearly everyone else present thinks about what-have-you (such as music).

    Another thing that intrigues me is that I never learned to read/write by phonics/phonetics. I learned each word individually by making association between what is written (as visually depicted) and what is spoken. I was always very confused when teachers instructed the class to “sound out” new words, and I had little idea of what this was supposed to mean. For this, I had much difficulty in speaking any mathematical statement (though I had taught myself the meaning, I could not force a verbal representation), as I also butchered the pronunciations of new words. Now, although I still do this for advanced vocabulary (I can never pronounce ‘respite’ right), I am more likely to get wrong the stress or intonation. Oh, well. It does make for interesting conversation (and inspires me very often for new jokes to put into scripts).

    Luckily, I had learned to read before starting school, so while I was frustrated and confused, at least I could do work to their -somewhat- satisfaction.

    By the way, Amanda, my friends have seen your YouTube videos and think the work you do online is awesome.

    As for a favorite quote…hm. Aha! I like this one from Get Smart, in which Maxwell Smart, who is a secret agent for the US agency called CONTROL (whose nemesis organization is called KAOS – which they say like the word ‘chaos’), he said:
    “We have to shoot and kill and destroy. We represent everything good and wholesome in the world.”


  5. Amanda–

    Nice list. I’m partial to the one by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I decided, before adding it to my own random quote rotation on my website’s index page, that I should search for the source. Finding it, I was interested, as an atheist, to learn about Mr. Shelley’s atheism, and that he was expelled from university for his refusal to repudiate authorship of his pamphlet, “The Necessity of Atheism”.



  6. I’m afraid that quote just reminds me of the fact that there is actually a statue modeled after the poem outside of Amarillo, Texas. that is to say it’s a giant pair of legs. They apparently randomly sport socks. I’m actually a bit disappointed my family never spotted those when we used to take road trips to visit my relatives in Dallas. (We lived in another state at the time and randomly started flying and then we moved back to Texas ourselves and don’t live in an area where we have to pass through Amarillo to get to my relatives.)

  7. I found a quote that I like.

    The context: there is an article about how Canadian airlines can no longer force disabled travelers to pay double (i.e for themself and an attendant or their equipment to accompany them). An alarmingly large number of people have made appallingly ignorant comments on this article, both in regard to people with disabilities and also about people with obesity. Some people have also leaped in to defend disability rights, or obesity rights, or both. Way down the page, someone named “Steve” made this comment:

    “Disabled people don’t choose to be disabled just as the people who made the intolerant comments towards them don’t choose to be ignorant. What’s unfortunate is that the former often suffer pain while the latter unfortunately do not.”

  8. personal favorite: “the hardest thing in the world is to live in it.” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    my old p-doc told me she had a lot of patients who loved Buffy, and we theorized that she is the patron saint of the mad. she has been “chosen” to fight all these demons that nobody else believes in, and if she talks to anyone about it, they’ll just lock her up. but if she stops, well, we’ll all die.

  9. My favorite, also relevant to many of your posts:

    “The map is not the territory”.

    This has been passed around a lot, but I’ve been told by Smart Folks ™ that the original source is a book titled “Science and Sanity”, by Alfred Korzybski.

  10. One of my all time favorite quotes is actually from my son when he was about 3 years old. “I love you, Mama, even when you’re evil.” Ah, unconditional love…

  11. I collect things people say too. I like compact and resonant meanings in concise statements.
    One I like from Russia is “Do not be breaking your shin on a stool that is not in your way”.
    I use these things as navigation in the world, as reminders of principles that help.
    Another observation is that most people talk more than they think as if they are afraid that they will disappear in quietness.

  12. I don’t recall this quote exactly, but found this on the web and thought you might like it.
    “People don’t like to think. Thinking leads to conclusions. Conclusions aren’t always pleasant.”
    –Attributed to Helen Keller.

  13. Another Russian favorite:

    “Better” is the enemy of “good enough.”

    Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov

  14. To Michael Katz: could it be this quote? Cited in many places around the web, various inspirational posters, etc., popular quote in the social work field and certain other idealistic professions etc:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead

  15. This has always spoken to me, so thought I’d share it with you, since you have shared so much with me today – Thank you.

    This is what I believe:
    That I am I.
    That my soul is a dark forest.
    That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest.
    That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.
    That I must have the courage to let them come and go.
    That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.
    There is my creed.

    — D. H. Lawrence

  16. wen my hamster died it had a smile on its face and i was so so so scared and my brothers hamster died he sead his hamster smile to and it scared him to

  17. “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition… advances that permit this norm to be exceeded, here & there, now & then, are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned & almost always opposed by all ‘right-thinking’ people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or, as sometimes happens, is driven out of society, the people slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

    –Lazarus Long, fictional character created by Robert Heinlein

    “We are not your kind of people, speak a different language–we see through your lies.”

    –“Not Your Kind Of People”, title track from 2012 album by music group Garbage

    “The only causes worth fighting for are lost causes.”

    –attributed to Clarence Darrow

  18. Hi Mel and others, here are a couple of quotes from Buckminster Fuller, who helped the world by being different from the norm:

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
    ― Buckminster Fuller

    “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
    ― Buckminster Fuller

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