Wednesday, 20 April 2016

all progress depends on the unreasonable man

sometimes I enjoy a well-known quotation so much that it becomes a staple of my conversation. I'll reach for it whenever it seems apposite. I probably overdo it sometimes. one such much-loved quote has cropped up once or twice on this is my england. it is a remark made by George Bernard Shaw, suggesting that we avoid the temptation to get drawn into debates with those who refuse to play nice in a lively exchange. Shaw talks to us in terms of wrestling with a pig.

this image is most likely to surge to the front of my mind when I'm feeling the urge to spar with the writers of very horrible comments added, below the line, to articles or news items presented to me on the laptop screen or on the phone. same thing back when I used to bother with Internet messageboards. it can happen in the context of Twitter, too, of course.

no huge surprise, then, to find myself stumbling upon another Shaw quote today and deciding that it may well become as well-liked and come to be(over)used as regularly as the pig wrestling bit:
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
readers who are more well-read than me. readers who are better educated. readers who really KNOW their Shaw. they may all be smiling, sighing or eye-rolling at the spectacle of a middle-aged blogger only coming to know of the above quotation today. at the childlike wonder with which he's enjoying it as something fresh. at the idea that he openly professes the likelihood of working into his limited repertoire of rhetorical flourishes. but I don't mind. I'll never meet you anway. and I like it. just like it. find it pleasing. find it to be neatly and so, so obviously useful and versatile. and I like the slim, slight book in which it cropped up for me today. more on that soon.

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