Wednesday, March 8

Maxims, or Deep Thoughts, by Ribstone Pippin


Some observations and thoughts I've committed to paper over the years:
Do not drink wine from half-bottles; it only encourages wineries to produce more of them.

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It is an abiding frustration that so many people today are so very bad at remembering names. Our names should be one of our greatest qualities.

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To those who would deny the rapid decline of our civilization, I respond that, in one lifetime, Winston Churchill took part in the British Army's last cavalry charge and witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb.

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All that is necessary to put the lie to most art is the sight of a beautiful woman in the gallery.
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Exceptions are made for exceptional people.

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Unwavering commitment to a grudge is an indispensable tool of social sanction.

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Do not let proximity to greatness obscure your self-perception. When a man mistakes an association with greatness for greatness itself, he risks overreaching his ability and finding, as Marcus Crassus found, only too late, that he is neither a Caesar nor a Pompey.
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God, family, nation, friends: muster your loyalties in that order.
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E.M. Forster famously said:

‘If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. . . . Dante places Brutus and Cassius in the lowest circle of Hell because they had chosen to betray their friend Julius Caesar rather than their country Rome.’

Forster should re-read his Dante: the lowest circle of Hell is reserved not for betrayers of friends but traitors to lieges. Brutus and Cassius, like Judas, are condemned not for betraying friendships but for betraying higher powers they were obliged to defend. A free country is our liege; the violation of that relationship is treachery.

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Never forget where home is. When Diocletian retired from governing the Roman Empire, he returned to Dalmatia to raise cabbages.

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It is often said that the reward for a job well done is more work; it is less often noted that the reward for a job done badly is also more work, though of a worse kind.

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Do not seek glory; seek, instead, victory and glory will follow.

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In all confrontations, the importance of style correlates inversely with the likelihood of victory. Danton’s rallying cry, ‘il nous faut de l'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace’, is the privilege of the underdog for whom romantic defiance will garner glory equally in triumph or death. For the greater power, plodding victory is always preferable to daring defeat.

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Often, the price of saving face is losing your soul, which is far, far dearer.

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The marks by which we are judged are often invisible to us. It has been observed that, to many Iranians at the time of the Islamic revolution, America and The Soviet Union were almost indistinguishable. Despite the fact that an ideological chasm divided the two superpowers, to alien eyes one common trait predominated: they both wore trousers.