"Whether it be a grain of sand or a rock, in water they sink the same."
- Oldboy (2003)
The Dog and His Shadow
A Dog, bearing in his mouth a piece of meat that he had stolen, was crossing a smooth stream by means of a plank. Looking in, he saw what he took to be another dog carrying another piece of meat. Snapping greedily to get this as well, he let go the meat that he had, and lost it in the stream.
Catch at the shadow and you lose the substance.
- Aesop, Aesop’s Fables with Illustrations by Ernest Griset
“Among the maxims of Lord Naoshige’s wall there was this one: ‘Matters of great concern should be treated lightly.’ Master Ittei commented, ‘Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.’ Among one’s affairs there should not be more than two or three matters of what one could call great concern. If these are deliberated upon during ordinary times, they can be understood. Thinking about things previously and then handling them lightly when the time comes is what this is all about. To face an event and solve it lightly is difficult if you are not resolved beforehand, and there will always be uncertainty in hitting your mark. However, if the foundation is laid previously, you can think of the saying ‘Matter of great concern should be treated lightly’ as your own basis of action.”
- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure
“When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“While firearms drove the Iroquois and other natives deeper into economic dependence on the European interlopers, their tactical response to the new weapons was ingenious, radical, and belatedly more influential than almost any other native impact on the whites. By the 1640s, Iroquois had abandoned mass tactics, wooden armour, and dependence on fortifications. When the French armed their Huron enemies, the Iroquois perfected concealment, dispersion, and ambush. The techniques of the hunt became the tactics of war. Instead of fighting in the open, the Iroquois learned to entice a better-armed enemy into dense woods where, suddenly, hundreds of hidden warriors would attack at short range. In battle, the Iroquois learned to spread out and seek to encircle an enemy. A war party on the move was widely dispersed to avoid ambush: “travelling calls” – simulated bird or animal sounds – controlled movement.”
- Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada: From Champlain to the Gulf War 3rd Edition
"It should be noted that the main reason for the Romans becoming masters of the world was that, having fought successively against all peoples, they always gave up their own practices as soon as they found better ones.”
"What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing."
- George Orwell, Why I Write
“Do not despair; one of the thieves was save. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.”
- Saint Augustine
“People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have let themselves become. And they pay for it simply, by the lives they lead.”
- James Baldwin
“At its best, Rap, though a most serious genre, doesn’t take itself too self-consciously or try to overburden its lines with rehearsed wisdom, or the cant of ideology. It complicates or even rejects literal interpretation. It demands fluency in the recondite codes of African American speech. Just like the Dozens before it, Rap draws strength by shattering taboos, sending up stereotype, and relishing risqué language and subject matter… Rap has always been animated by this complexity of meaning and intention. This is by no means to absolve artists of the ethics of form, particularly in the artist’s capacity as a role model for young people, but rather to point out that there’s an underlying value worth fighting for in defending Rap – or any other form of art for that matter – against those who would silence its voice. One of the hallmarks of a democratic society should be ensuring the space for all citizens to express themselves in art, whether we like what they have to say or not. After all, censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
- Henry Louis Gates Jr., Edited by Adam Bradley & Andrew DuBois, The Anthology of Rap, Forward