Booster Pack

Sometimes you just get so run down that you can’t even remember what-for you were trying to find your get-up-and-go. You’ve been so engulfed in the Papierkrieg, so overwhelmed by the endless supplies of idiots that fill the world, and so repeatedly halted by your own internal difficulties that trying to find yet another work-around is too much to ask. On days like that, there isn’t enough chocolate, caffeine or ale to recharge the spirit.

So I like to collect quotes. Although I’ve looked through a few quote books, I’ve found them generally uninspiring. I believe that quotes should have a gritty, piercing quality to them, rather than being merely clever turns of phrase, or blandly “morally uplifting”. I have quite the motley collection on a number of topics, and not surprisingly, they’re not the kinds of categories or quotes that Mr Famous’ Big Book of Quotations is likely to contain.

In the US, Chinese restaurants often bring with your dinner bill some fortune cookies (instead of mints). These are twice-folded crispy cookies with a small paper “fortune” (trite bits of wisdom or predictions) inside. Here’s to hoping that a few of the goodies from my quote box serve you better than those insipid cookies!

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
~Audre Lorde

“You may be a geek, you may have geek written all over you; you should aim to be one geek they’ll never forget. Don’t aim to be civilized. Don’t hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them; they put you here. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don’t do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it.”
~Bruce Sterling

“To do good work you need a brain that can go anywhere. And you especially need a brain that’s in the habit of going where it’s not supposed to.”
~Paul Graham

“Unseen University was used to eccentricity among the faculty. After all, humans derive their notions of what it means to be a normal human being by constant reference to the humans around them, and when those humans are other wizards, the spiral can only wiggle downward.”
~ Terry Pratchett

“People who assume they are normal can be trouble. They tend to go around changing the world to suit themselves; their standards are “community standards”. ‘I’m normal, so if I like it this way, almost everyone else will. Right?’
–Glyn Webster

“Disability inspiration is a form of propaganda that glosses over oppression while simultaneously reassuring normals about the superiority of their ways.”
~John B. Kelly

“I wanted to find some intellectual or aesthetic framework that would let me – in a thrilling phrase I came across in Yeats – ‘hold reality and justice in a single vision.’…I wanted a way to be both an intellectual and spiritual snob and a friend of humanity – a nerdy recluse and a fighter for justice.”
~Richard Rorty

“Social movements have always needed to say what to a lot of people would be unspeakable. When we stop being able to say those things, we’re no longer at the cutting edge of anything. We’ve been bought and sold.”
~Bonnie Burstow

“You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.”
~Abbie Hoffman

“The emotional abuse which disabled people experience often means that we are not the sweet, compliant little souls that the rest of the world would like us to be.”
~Jenny Morris

“Oppressors always portray themselves as liberators.”
~Dave Hingsburger

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
~Elie Wiesel

“Every day silence harvests its victims. Silence is a mortal illness.”
~Natalia Ginzburg

“Disability is not a ‘brave struggle’ or ‘courage in the face of adversity’ …disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.”
~Neil Marcus

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
~Albert Camus

“It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential.”
~Hans Asperger

“It may be that the social deficits which are the cornerstone of an autism spectrum diagnosis tell us far more about the person who made them markers for such a diagnosis than about the child whom he observes.”
~Lucy Blackman

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“People are always so boring when they band together. You have to be alone to develop all the idiosyncrasies that make a person interesting.”
~ Andy Warhol

“It’s a curious phenomenon that whatever you can do easily, you think must be just as easy for other people. So you fail to appreciate your own gifts.”
~Linda Kreger Silverman

“Be who you are and say what you feel ’cause people who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.”
~Theodor Seuss Geisel “Dr. Seuss”

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
~Friedrich Nietszche

“The very essence of the creative is its novelty, and hence we have no standard by which to judge it.”
~Carl Rogers

“The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.”
~Emma Goldman

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”
~Albert Szent~Györgyi

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”
~Hunter S. Thompson

“When the going gets weird — the weird turn pro.”
~Hunter S. Thompson

“Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense. But you must pay attention to your nonsense.”
~Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Well behaved women rarely make history.”
~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. It follows that all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
~George Bernard Shaw

“To be nobody but yourself, in a world which is doing it’s best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting”
~E.E. Cummings

“Geniuses of certain kinds ~ mathematicians, chess players, computer programmers ~ seem, if not mad, at least lacking in the social skills most easily identified with sanity.”
~James Gleick

“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”
~Jack Kerouac

“If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.”
~Carl Rogers

“Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now.”
~Mark Twain

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well!”
~Joe Ancis

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
~Aldous Huxley

“A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. They’ve no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. ‘Bout the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
~Apple Computer’s “Think Different” Campaign, 1998


  1. Jean O'Neill-Bitting said,

    12 October 2007 at 20:18

    I have spent all day looking for a quote for a project I am working on for the Missouri Historical Society on the Disability Rights Movement. If I had found your sight first, I would have been done in 20 minutes instead of 7+ hours. There are at least a dozen quotes in this amazing list that I would like to eventually use so I would like to talk to someone about that. In the interim, I only need one quote for now and I have your list narrowed down to 10. AACKKK.

  2. qw88nb88 said,

    1 September 2007 at 13:47

    Ms Clark, quotes are “free” material; no worries.

    Dave, I culled that quote of yours from someone else’s post long before I even found your great blog. I’ve learned over the years that not all quotes come from people with whom I’d want to associate (those quotes are conceptual islands in contrast to the rest of the person’s work), but yours is a pithy and representative piece. And I don’t think that a bit of being well-regarded is more than good for you — like most of us, you still need more positivies to balance out life’s equation.

  3. Dave Hingsburger said,

    1 September 2007 at 8:45

    Wow, what a rich bunch of quotes! We have something in common (although I suspect we have much in common) here as I collect quotes on disability and have pages and pages of them. Some of these I’ve seen, many I’ve not. But I have to say, having a quote in here has excited me more than is good for me … thanks! Dave Hingsburger

  4. Ms. Clark said,

    1 September 2007 at 6:23

    Andrea I copied and pasted some of your quotes (but not your explanation) to the Autism Speaks board, let me know if I need to cut the copied part back. It’s not a paragraph per se.

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