Famous quotes without attribution

I love quotes. I love quotes because they’re often short phrases I can use to help both myself and others make sense of certain situations. They can help others know that what they’re thinking about or experiencing is often something that others have experiences in the past. We aren’t alone in out plights, and you never know when a message can alter someones life.

Whilst having a recent conversation with a friend, they brought up how I enjoy summoning quotes from certain humans in order to further points, provide clarity, or just because I think they’re awesome. They also made note of how I sometimes will reference these aforementioned quotes, but will omit the author of them, like so…

Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew.“**

I never fail to add the quotes around the phrase or passage, but I intentionally leave out the author’s name when I’m quoting things in an unofficial capacity on the internet, such as twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. (if I were writing a thesis you bet your butt I’d cite every single letter.)

Why would I only go 90% with the quote reference?

Well what it comes down to is that I find that humans often react better to information when biases aren’t involved. What do I mean by that you ask? Well there have been nearly an infinite amount of enlightening things that have been said throughout human history. Some by great humans, and some by… let’s just say, not-so-great humans. Not just that, but many folks have many different opinions of everybody.

I’ve found that I’ve gotten a better initial positive response to quoted phrases I share on channels like facebook and twitter, when I intentionally omit the author. I believe this is most likely due to the fact my readers aren’t interrupted by conjuring visuals of the humans who’ve said them.

Let me show you what I mean in practice.

Never pretend to love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”

Man. That’s deep. This suggests that humans can’t control their emotions, so it’s futile to attempt to do so.

But if I add the quote with the author, it may have a different impact on the person reading it.

Never pretend to love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.” – Alan Watts

Now… Alan Watts was a British philosopher who is still generally held in high regard. In his day he had and communicated many enlightening thoughts and was open seen as an authority in spirituality and more. But to some, Watts was a very self-destructive person. An alcoholic and womanizer, he led a very troubled life that many often look down upon.

Now I’m not passing judgement on Watts, but one could see how these things could influence the interpretation of this quote. If you don’t like a person, you may be less apt to absorbed the information being presented to you.

Let’s try one a little more controversial…

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”

I like this message a lot. Of course, the fun thing about quotes is that they’re completely open to interpretation. I see this message as boiling down to basically “you have to fail to learn how to succeed.” A message I think you’d be hard-pressed to disagree with.

Wait for it…

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” – Donald Trump

Oh shit. I went there. Now that you see who said it I’m guessing you’re either thinking one of 3 things:

  1. Fuck that guy… Now I’m going to get lost online and waste my day reading about how shitty trump is.
  2. What? Wait… that actually kind of makes sense… did he really say that? Lemme google it…
  3. Hell yeah he did! Love that guy! Let me google him and remind myself how awesome he is…

Regardless of your stance on him, due to the recent US election shenanigans, chances are you’re going to get extremely distracted and not properly absorb the message that’s being communicated.

Let’s take this a step further…

“History shows that there are no invincible armies.”

Ain’t that the truth. That must have been said by some great leader…

“History shows that there are no invincible armies.” – Joseph Stalin

Well that’s certainly up for debate. Y’all thought I was going to quote hitler didn’t ya? Wanted to toss in a little surprise. Again, now that you know who said it, it doesn’t have quite the same direction.

Plus, if I go around quoting stalin or hitler I think a lot of my friends are going to want me out of their life. 😉

Focus on the message, not the person.

So, again, the reason I do this is pretty simple. I want people to focus on the message. And remember, it’s all about context. Those who know my sense of humor would know I’d use that stalin quote while referencing the recent onslaught of ants pillaging my cats’ food dish.

Now of course, I do this knowing that folks can also quickly research and figure out who said the quote if they want to.

What are some incredibly important or powerful quotes that come to find for you? Regardless of who has said them.

** Grace Hopper

4 Comments Add yours

  1. poohscafe says:

    That’s one meaningful post. I like reading and quoting myself. So I really enjoyed your writing. And yes quotes are better without the names. My all time favorite quote is where there is a will, there is a way☺

    1. jeffgolenski says:

      That’s a timeless, meaningful quote for sure. Thanks for reading!

  2. arwen1968 says:

    I have to admit that I initially totally disagreed with your stance on not including the source, but then I found myself soundly rejecting the quote when I didn’t like the author of it! A knee-jerk reaction – which proves your point exactly.

    All the same, I still prefer to put the source with my quotes. 🙂 (And sometimes half the fun is to establish who is the genuine source; the internet is full of misattributed quotes!)

    1. jeffgolenski says:

      aha! see! I do agree that including the source in any formal application of a quotation is the proper route to take, but human biases often play a role in lowering the power of it! Thanks for tuning in!

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