“On Point” had a fantastic little discussion about quotations yesterday, getting into issues like what makes a statement memorable, how we use quotes, whether accuracy or correct attribution really matters.
So it got me thinking…
There seems to be a bit of cultural indecision on the value of quotations.
Quotations are sometimes dismissed as the SparkNotes version of intellectualism. As Richard Kemph apparently said,
Quotations are nothing but inspiration for the uninspired.
Though I must admit I am not familiar with Kemph and the only information I can find about him is actually this very quote on a number of different quote sites (perhaps demonstrating one of the reasons why quotes are derided–they’re often taken out of context).
But on the other hand, we obviously love quotes. Looking for some? Try quoteland.com, quotationspage.com, quotegarden.com, brainyquote.com, great-quotes.com, coolfunnyquotes.com, wisdomquotes.com, lovequotes4u.com … and it goes on.
They don’t have to be trite. Using quotes to enhance, highlight or punctuate our argument is pretty common and generally not looked down upon (even Harvard says it’s ok). In the roughly 50,000 years of modern human history, it’s likely the case that someone else has said what you’re trying to say in such a way that you just can’t top. Why bother?
And there are certainly enough people who do it–there’s probably at least one quote popping up on your Facebook “news feed” at this moment.
One of the powers of quotes (especially in the self-styled life context) is that they can be a tool of self-identification. We’re usually drawn to quotes that reflect who we are, or maybe wish to become. We can use that bit of wisdom captured in a good quote at times when we are struggling to follow through with our goals, like a mantra.
And some quotes are just, well, Legendary.
How do you feel about quotes? Feel free to share some favorites!