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theodore zeldin Quotes

Theodore Zeldin Quotes



    • I invented something called The Oxford Muse. The Muses were women in mythology. They did not teach or require to be worshipped, but they were a source of inspiration. They taught you how to cultivate your emotions through the different arts in order to reach a higher plane. What is lacking now, I believe, is somewhere you can get that stimulation not information, but stimulation where you can meet just that person, or find just that situation, which will give you the idea of invention, of carrying out some project which interests you, and show how it can become a project of interest to other people.
    • The past is what provides us with the building blocks. Our job today is to create new buildings out of them.
    • The violent have been victorious for most of history because they kindled the fear with which everyone is born.
    • The temptation before 1933 was to believe in Hitler as a savior, to believe in a national rebirth. The path to National Socialism led through a wasteland of personal fears, collective anxiety, and resentments. The temptation was to surrender oneself to a dictator, to believe in a miracle. Hitler evoked human will and divine providence. The religious-mystical element in National Socialism was uncannily appealing to unpolitical people, to unrealistic people at odds with their world and accustomed perhaps to the dream of heroic irrationalism. The temptation was to abandon oneself to national delirium- despite (or even because of) the threat of violence.
    • Even Gandhi, with all his charisma, did not 'melt the hearts' of his oppressors, as he had hoped. After softening, hearts harden again. Asoka too was wrong to think that he was changing the course of history, and that his righteousness would last 'as long as the sun and the moon'.
    • It takes a long time for people to recognize their soul-mates when they have too limited an idea of who they are themselves.
    • No history of the world can be complete which does not mention Mary Helen Keller... whose overcoming of her blindness and deafness were arguably victories more important than those of Alexander the Great, because they have implications still for every living person.
    • All invention and progress comes from finding a link between two ideas that have never met.
    • Change the way you think, and you are halfway to changing the world.
    • Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don't just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.
    • It's up to us to decide on the kind of conversations we have. The way we talk at the office or factory shapes the work we do; it's not just machines which force us to be obedient. I want to show how we could make our work a lot less boring and frustrating if we learned to talk differently.
    • No amount of status or reward will compensate for your inadequacy as a human being.
    • [Socrates] introduced the idea that individuals could not be intelligent on their own, that they needed someone else to stimulate them. ... His brilliant idea was that if two unsure individuals were put together, they could achieve what they could not do separately: they could discover the truth, their own truth, for themselves.
    • Technology does not automatically improve conversation, communication or behaviour.
    • The great attraction of fashion is that it diverted attention from the insoluble problems of beauty and provided an easy way- which money could buy... to a simply stated, easily reproduced ideal of beauty, however temporary that ideal.
    • The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person.
    • To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they can control it, wish to influence its direction.
    • We risk impoverishing ourselves more than we know if we sideline the personal dimension of life.
    • theodore zeldin

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