The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Quotations about the Mind

'Tis the great art of life to manage well
The restless mind...
~John Armstrong (1709–1779), The Art of Preserving Health, 1744  [Armstrong, a physician, was known as "The Poet of Health." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Nothing but a devouring flame of thought—
But a naked, eternally restless mind!
~Matthew Arnold (1822–1888), "Empedocles on Etna"

The mind is the most capricious of insects — flitting, fluttering. ~Virginia Woolf

All sorts of bodily diseases are produced by half used minds; for it is the mind that makes the body: that is my secret, and the secret of all the true healers. ~Bernard Shaw

Are the waves of the brain drawn like tides of the ocean by some psychic moon, as yet unexplored? ~Barbara Webster Shenton

      Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The Angel of Life winds them up once for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the hand of the Angel of the Resurrection.
      Tic-tac! tic-tac! go the wheels of thought; our will cannot stop them; they cannot stop themselves; sleep cannot still them; madness only makes them go faster; death alone can break into the case, and, seizing the ever-swinging pendulum, which we call the heart, silence at last the clicking of the terrible escapement we have carried so long beneath our wrinkled foreheads.
      If we could only get at them, as we lie on our pillows and count the dead beats of thought after thought and image after image jarring through the overtired organ! Will nobody block those wheels, uncouple that pinion, cut the string that holds those weights, blow up the infernal machine with gunpowder? What a passion comes over us sometimes for silence and rest! that this dreadful mechanism, unwinding the endless tapestry of time, embroidered with spectral figures of life and death, could have but one brief holiday!... If anybody would only contrive some kind of a lever that one could thrust in among the works of this horrid automaton and check them, or alter their rate of going, what would the world give for the discovery? ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

The human mind is Nature's keyboard, on which her harmonies and discords are sounded by the touch of invisible fingers. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), "Mind and its Mysteries," Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

It's hard to make up your bed while you're still sleeping in it. Hard to make up your mind for the same reason. ~Robert Brault,

Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. ~James Allen (1864–1912)

A philosophic mind is not haunted by the ghosts of tradition or superstition, neither does it shrink from the most profound contemplation of the future. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Breakfast, dinner, tea; in extreme cases, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, tea, supper, and a glass of something hot at bedtime. What care we take about feeding the lucky body! Which of us does as much for his mind? And what causes the difference? Is the body so much the more important of the two? By no means: but life depends on the body being fed, whereas we can continue to exist as animals (scarcely as men) though the mind be utterly starved and neglected. ~Lewis Carroll

The mind has shown itself at times
Too much the baked and labeled dough
Divided by accepted multitudes.
Across the stacked partitions of the day—
Across the memoranda, baseball scores,
The stenographic smiles and stock quotations
Smutty wings flash out equivocations...
~Hart Crane (1899–1932), "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen"

An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

[T]o‑day you are a great writer, a great philosopher, a great poet; a fibre of your brain breaks, and in vain they will bleed you or put ice on your head, to‑morrow you will be only a poor madman. ~Claude Tillier (1801–1844), My Uncle Benjamin: A Humorous, Satirical, and Philosophical Novel, 1843, translated from the French by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1890

The mind is like a trunk: if well-packed, it holds almost every thing; if ill-packed, next to nothing. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

A thought often makes us hotter than a fire. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882), "Drift Wood, A Collection of Essays: Table-Talk," Prose Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1857

Active minds that think and study,
Like Swift Brooks are seldom Muddy.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Brooks," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

The mind, as you age,
Is an artist, it seems.
Monet paints your mem'ries,
Picasso your dreams.
~Robert Brault,

No, no, the mind I love must still have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two (real snakes), a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of — and paths threaded with those little flowers planted by the mind. It must also have real hiding places, not artificial ones — not gazebos and mazes. And I have never yet met the cultivated mind that has not had its shrubbery. ~Katherine Mansfield

From Diamond-Dust the Diamond Lustre gains,
And Brains are polished bright by Other Brains.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Education," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Perhaps God gives us a physical body so that every time we change our mind, we won't be someone else. ~Robert Brault,

The Brain – is wider than the Sky –
For – put them side by side –
The one the other will contain
With ease – and You – beside –
The Brain is deeper than the sea –
For – hold them – Blue to Blue –
The one the other will absorb –
As Sponges – Buckets – do –
The Brain is just the weight of God –
For – Heft them – Pound for Pound –
And they will differ – if they do –
As Syllable from Sound –
~Emily Dickinson

I have too much brain for my head; it cannot play at ease in its case. ~Joseph Joubert (1754–1824), translated from French by George H. Calvert, 1866

What a sink of madness is man's mind! ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Mission," The Torture Garden, 1899, translated from the French by Alvah C. Bessie, 1931

No ghost could frighten me as my own thoughts will. ~Mabel Collins, In the Flower of Her Youth, 1883

What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

Even at eighteen, a mentally voracious young woman cannot live entirely upon scenery. ~Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth, 1933

The peculiar weariness and depression of spirits which is felt after a day wasted in turning over a magazine or other light miscellany, different from the state of mind after severe study; because there has been no excitement, no difficulties to be overcome, but the spirits have evaporated insensibly. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

The mind of man is often like a house of which he is the landlord; bad tenants are more easily admitted than removed. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

I wonder if there is such a thing in nature as a FAT MIND? I really think I have met with one or two: minds which could not keep up with the slowest trot in conversation; could not jump over a logical fence, to save their lives; always got stuck fast in a narrow argument; and, in short, were fit for nothing but to waddle helplessly through the world. ~Lewis Carroll

Few minds are sunlike, sources of light in themselves and to others: many more are moons that shine with a borrowed radiance. One may easily distinguish the two: the former are always full; the latter only now and then, when their suns are shining full upon them. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

You know how men become bone lazy for want of bodily exercise. Well, they become brain lazy for want of mental exercise... ~Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

Webs of strange patterns we weave (each owns)
From colour and soul; and like unto these,
Soul has its tones and semitones,
Mind has its major and minor keys.
~Amy Levy, "In a Minor Key (An Echo from a Larger Lyre)," c.1884

Formerly, whenever I went a-fishing in my head for thoughts or fancies, I always caught something; now the fish no longer come like that. They are beginning to be petrified upon the bottom, and I am obliged to hew them out. Occasionally I can only extract them in fragments, like fossil remains, and patch something or other together from them. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Pain of mind is worse than pain of body. ~Latin proverb

My thoughts seemed to whirl with lightning rapidity, and in a few seconds a whole process of reasoning became formulated. ~Bram Stoker, The Jewel of Seven Stars, 1903

One of the habits of the mind is the invention of horrible imaginings. ~Jorge Luis Borges, "La Biblioteca Total (The Total Library)," 1939

Let mind prevail where muscles fail. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Our dearest delights belong to the imagination; and our bitterest griefs are fancies. ~Thomas Clark Henley, A Handful of Paper Shavings, 1861

Aspatria's mind was sensitive and observing; it lived very well on its own ideas. ~Amelia E. Huddleston Barr, A Rose of a Hundred Leaves: A Love Story, 1891  #infj

Indeed, to me the charm of an encyclopaedia is that it knows, and I needn't. My mental lee-scuppers are often awash in facts: I want to reef not only from the blasts of boredom which are inevitable sometimes, but from the gales of new and interesting knowledge: only thus can I keep close-hauled on my mark. One often sees craft with too much canvas: sluggish in helm and liable to upset: modern life is strewn with their wreckage. In short, the place for facts is books, and I shall expect this new Britannica to enable me to forget rather than to remember. I shall expect it to air and elevate my mind, while keeping for me in a convenient place all that mass of exact information which we must carry, either in brain or bookcase. ~Francis Yeats-Brown, "The New Encyclopaedia Britannica," in The Spectator, 1929 September 21st  [What beautiful old-time phrasing for "You don't have to know everything; you just need to know where to find it," even if it was a thinly veiled advertisement. And as well, how interesting that some people actually suffered from information overload that long ago. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

When the mind's free,
The body's delicate. The tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there.
~William Shakespeare, King Lear, c.1605  [III, 4, Lear]

What, then, subdues the stronger body? It is the stronger MIND! ~Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), The Great Harmonia, 1852

Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasuredrome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag.... We take for granted the ridiculous-sounding yet undeniable fact that each person carries around atop the body a complete universe in which trillions of sensations, thoughts, and desires stream.... It's where catchy tunes snag, and cravings keep tugging. ~Diane Ackerman, An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

Perhaps already I am dead,
      And these perhaps are phantoms vain;—
      These motley phantasies that pass
      At night through my disordered brain.
Perhaps with ancient heathen shapes,
      Old faded gods, this brain is full;
      Who, for their most unholy rites,
      Have chosen a dead poet's skull...
~Heinrich Heine, translated from German

There are no chaste minds. Minds copulate wherever they meet. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

      Dementia, that stealthy thief of identity, had bleached her vibrant self almost to indistinctness, like a photograph long exposed to sunlight.
      It is said that God gave us memory so we could have roses in winter: Dementia is an ever-deepening advance of wintery whiteness, a protracted paring away of personality. It inflicts on victims the terror of attenuated personhood, challenging philosophical and theological attempts to make death a clean, intelligible and bearable demarcation.
      Is death the soul taking flight after the body has failed? That sequence — the physical extinguished, the spiritual not — serves our notion of human dignity. However, mental disintegration mocks that comforting schema by taking the spirit first. In the very elderly the mind can come and go, a wanderer in time, and a disintegrating personality can acquire angers and jagged edges that are, perhaps, protests against a growing lightness of being. No one has come back from deep in that foreign country to report on life there. However, it must be frightening to feel one's self become light as a feather, with inner gales rising. ~George Will, "A Mother's Love, Clarified," The Washington Post, 2006 July 13th

Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content:
The quiet mind is richer than a crown...
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss...
Obscurèd life sets down a type of bliss;
A mind content both crown and kingdom is.
~Robert Greene, c.1587

Ever wonder what crime you committed that you are confined to a small enclosure above your sinuses, under permanent skull arrest? ~Robert Brault,

      —What should decide one, in choosing a summer residence? —Constitution, first of all. How much snow could you melt in an hour, if you were planted in a hogshead of it? Comfort is essential to enjoyment. All sensitive people should remember that persons in easy circumstances suffer much more from cold in summer—that is, the warm half of the year—than in winter, or the other half. You must cut your climate to your constitution, as much as your clothing to your shape. After this, consult your taste and convenience. But if you would be happy in Berkshire, you must carry mountains in your brain; and if you would enjoy Nahant, you must have an ocean in your soul. Nature plays at dominos with you; you must match her piece, or she will never give it up to you.
      —The schoolmistress said, in a rather mischievous way, that she was afraid some minds or souls would be a little crowded, if they took in the Rocky Mountains or the Atlantic.
      Have you ever read the little book called "The Stars and the Earth?"—said I.—Have you seen the Declaration of Independence photographed in a surface that a fly's foot would cover? The forms or conditions of Time and Space, as Kant will tell you, are nothing in themselves,—only our way of looking at things. You are right, I think, however, in recognizing the idea of Space as being quite as applicable to minds as to the outer world. Every man of reflection is vaguely conscious of an imperfectly-defined circle which is drawn about his intellect. He has a perfectly clear sense that the fragments of his intellectual circle include the curves of many other minds of which he is cognizant. He often recognizes these as manifestly concentric with his own, but of less radius. On the other hand, when we find a portion of an arc on the outside of our own, we say it intersects ours, but are very slow to confess or to see that it circumscribes it. Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions. After looking at the Alps, I felt that my mind had been stretched beyond the limits of elasticity, and fitted so loosely on my old ideas of space that I had to spread these to fit it. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table," in The Atlantic Monthly, 1858

Quickness of examination and treatment are just as necessary in illness of the mind as in illness of the body. The plain fact is that no brain trouble is really minor: it may be kept so by early and effective care. Don't brush off recurring mental upsets as being just "nervousness." Don't try to ignore emotional upheavals that leave you feeling ragged and worn. There is nothing more damaging to the attainment of mental health than the idea that mental illness is incurable. That view may have been justified a half century ago, but it is not true today. ~Author unknown, c.1948

Thus still the Potter sang, and still,
By some unconscious act of will,
The melody and even the words
Were intermingled with my thought,
As bits of colored thread are caught
And woven into nests of birds.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Kéramos"

The power of the mind is your power. Use it. Don't let it use you. ~Terri Guillemets

Oh, dear Father God, I come—
      As I always come to Thee—
      And, with all my love, I bring
      My wholehearted, earnest plea.
Not for wealth nor jewels, rare,
      Do I ask of Thee each day,
      But for that which I so need
      I do ask of Thee; and, pray,
Give Thy richest gift to me:
      Give, oh, give me peace of mind!
      Nothing else can take its place…
      Peace, sweet peace, Lord, let me find!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Peace of Mind" (1940s)

You wonder sometimes, if it weren't for a false sense of complacency, if you'd ever have any peace of mind at all. ~Robert Brault,

I suppose my childish days are over, aren't yours? I've got it all together now, don't you? I must admit though, there are some days I practice positive thinking, and other days I'm not positive I am thinking. ~John M. Eades, The 7th Floor Ain't Too High for Angels to Fly: A Collection of Stories on Relationships & Self-Understanding, "The Boy in the Mirror," 1995

We can seek,
we can find,
if we open our minds.
~Terri Guillemets

Here, in your mind, you have complete privacy. Here there's no difference between what is and what could be. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Choke, 2001

In what is called 'circular insanity,' phases of melancholy succeed phases of mania, with no outward cause that we can discover; and often enough to one and the same well person life will present incarnate radiance to‑day and incarnate dreariness to‑morrow, according to the fluctuations of what the older medical books used to call "the concoction of the humors." ~William James, "Is Life Worth Living?," address to the Young Men's Christian Association of Harvard University, May 1895

The toughest battle is Mind. ~Terri Guillemets

There are so many things I do not know,
      As over the pathway of life I go!
      And the sun rides high and the waters flow,
      And I'm still in doubt, for I do not know!
There are so many things to confuse my mind,
      As I struggle on through the daily grind!
      But I feel that, sometime, I'll surely find
      The perfect answer that will ease my mind!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham (1880–1971), "So Many Things"

All my life I've wanted, just once, to say something clever without losing my train of thought. ~Robert Brault,

In the unhealthy-minded is bred a general sense that things are not as they should be with himself. In the healthy-minded there are no fears, and the sensations that pour in only help to swell the general vital sense of security and readiness for anything that may turn up. ~William James, "The Gospel of Relaxation," 1899  [a little altered –tg]

I've got a thing inside my head
That's made of tacks and spools of thread,
And little sticks, and wheels, and springs,
And scissors, and all sorts of things.
Besides, it's like a little trap:
When thoughts come in, I hear it snap!...
It's like Dad's typewriter machine,
With clocks, and such things, in between.
It's something like his cam'ra, too;
And like my paints—red, green, and blue.
It ticks out thoughts and ticks 'em in,
As fast as all the wheels can spin...
~Julian Street, "The Think-box," c.1909

Lovely flowers have overgrown my mind — trying to crowd out the ugly world with beauty. ~Terri Guillemets, "Rewrite the world in a breath," 2002

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real? ~J.K. Rowling, "King's Cross," Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2007  [Albus Dumbledore —tg]

Some minds are made of blotting-paper: you can write nothing on them distinctly. They swallow the ink, and you find a large spot. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

The desire in our minds is as real as the thirst in our throats. ~Terri Guillemets

To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain... ~William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, c.1594  [V, 2, Rosaline]

When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles. ~Horace Walpole, letter to the Countess of Ailesbury, 1779

Weeds are pulled up by the roots to clear the fields for the growing grain. Why should not mental weeds be pulled up by the roots also, and the mind cleared for growth? ~Horace Fletcher, Menticulture, 1895

      A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
      Just as a gardener cultivates his plot... so a man may tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts... [A] man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. ~James Allen, "Effect of Thought on Circumstances," As a Man Thinketh, 1908

We must weed our own minds as we would weed our gardens — of overgrown fears, strangling emotions, noxious thoughts, leeching habits, and poisonous beliefs. ~Terri Guillemets, "Constant growing," 2006

A flowerless conscience, drooping amid the ripened weeds of neglect! ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

...certain it is that minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort, and like them, are often successfully cured by remedies in themselves very nauseous and unpalatable. ~Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge

[M]y theory... there was a crack in Pansay's head and a little bit of the Dark World came through and pressed him to death. ~Rudyard Kipling

Sometimes it's harder to attain inner silence than outer silence. The dog stopped barking and the kids have gone to bed, but your mind has a lot to talk about and it knows you can't pretend you're not at home. ~Terri Guillemets

I've concluded, after many years, that my mind works by process of elimination. Problem is, it hasn't eliminated anything yet. ~Robert Brault,

Channels are blocked in the mind, from the day. Lie down in blackness of night, forgotten remnants rush to the mind, or creeping slowly appear in the dreams. ~Terri Guillemets

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