Pithy Prose: More Wit and Wisdom of Anon

 By: Philip Yaffe Platinum Expert Author
Part 13 of an occasional series. Follow-up to Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Anon (Part 7)

I am a collector of quotations. I have been ever since I learned how to write, I mean professionally, not in primary school.

I am particularly fond of what I like to call "pithy prose". These short quotations can cover an unlimited variety of subjects: love, religion, politics, human nature, etc. What unites them is their ability to say more in one or two sentences than could be expressed in a thousand-word treatise. It's like being able to pour a liter of liquid into a half-liter bottle.

They are superb examples of Mark Twain's famous dictum, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

In principle, all writers and public speakers are capable of producing pithy prose, but clearly some are better at it than others.

Any collection of pithy prose must necessarily be biased in terms of what it includes and excludes. I make no apologies for my selections, only for the hundreds of other meritorious quotations I had to leave out.

No one will agree with all these quotations; this was not their intention. You may even find some of them repugnant or outrageous. This was their intention.

We seldom learn anything of value from what we already agree with. Only those ideas that grate on our nerves can open our minds. As with oysters, irritation can produce pearls. So if anything you are about to read annoys or shocks you, try to think clearly and dispassionately about what it is saying. You will either be confirmed in your current belief or shaken into re-examining it.

Either way, you win!

This article is part of an occasional series. In each article, I will be offering more amusing, educating, and exasperating quotations to your judgment. But just to be certain that we agree on what we are talking about, here it is in a nutshell.

Pithy Prose: A quotation where at first you may not be quite certain what it means. But when you become certain, you become equally certain that it couldn't have been said better any other way. In short, big ideas in small packages.

If you have a better definition of pithy prose, please contact me. I would love to hear it.

Who Are These People Named "Anon"?

Some people, such as Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, are pithy prose factories. During their careers they produced hundreds of quotations well worth remembering. Others produced only a handful, but these too are well worth preserving.

Another major treasure trove of pithy prose is "Anonymous". The origin of these witty, insightful quotations is either doubtful or unknown, yet they keep on working their magic year after year, decade after decade, and even century after century. They are eternal proof that if you don't know who said something of value, it doesn't really matter. The source of a bit of timeless wit and wisdom is not important, only what it conveys.

Accident: A condition in which presence of mind is good, but absence of body is better.

All easy problems have already been solved.

Always borrow money from a pessimist; they don't expect to be paid back.

Always try to do things in chronological order; it's less confusing that way.

Anarchy may not be the best form of government, but it's better than no government at all.

Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

Applying computer technology is simply finding the right wrench to pound in the correct screw.

Artificial Intelligence is the study of how to make real computers act like the ones in movies.

Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Bumper sticker: Auntie Em: Hate you, hate Kansas, taking dog. Dorothy

Bumper sticker: Please don't ride my tail; I have hemorrhoids

Computers are not intelligent. They only think they are.

Condense soup, not books!

Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.

Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from many, it's research.

Democracy is mob rule, but with income taxes.

Do not follow where the path may lead....go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Friends: People who know you well, but like you anyway.

When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum.

Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up.

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

The goal of science is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience--well, that comes from poor judgment.

The high cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.

Hindsight is an exact science.

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't there more happy people?

I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.

The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and doubt. We accept death and taxes, but doubt is forever under attack

Is the glass half empty, half full, or twice as large as it needs to be?

The man who knows little and is aware of it knows more than most.

Certainty is the opium of the people.

It's hard to make a program foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

Life would be so much easier if everyone read the manual.

The light at the end of the tunnel is usually a "No Exit" sign.

Nearly everyone is in favor of going to heaven, but too many are hoping they'll live long enough to see an easing of the entrance requirements.

The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from.

People with narrow minds usually have broad tongues.

Why is it that God, who bestowed on Man the gifts of hearing and tongues, persists in speaking to us in sign language?

There's an old proverb that says just about whatever you want it to.

I used to wish that my computer were as easy to use as my telephone. That wish has come true, since I no longer know how to use either.

To be a winner, all you need to give is all you have.

Today is the tomorrow that yesterday seemed so far away

When all else fails, read the instructions.

When all is said and done, more is said than done.

Work 8 hours, sleep 8 hours; but not the same 8 hours.

Previously in this series

Part 1 Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain
Part 2: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde
Part 3: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of People Named "W"
Part 4: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Anatole France
Part 5: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Ambrose Bierce
Part 6: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Friedrich Nietzsche
Part 7: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Anon
Part 8: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of People Named "H"
Part 9: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Johann Goethe
Part 10: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Eric Hoffer
Part 11: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Blaise Pascal
Part 12: Pithy Prose: The Wit and Wisdom of Robert Frost
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