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Aphorisms

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

 

A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

 

I am not young enough to know everything.

 

I can resist everything except temptation.

 

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.

 

I think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.

 

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

 

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

 

Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.

 

A cynic is a person who knows the prize of everything and the value of nothing.

 

There are works which wait, and which one does not understand for a long time; the reason is that they bring answers to questions which have not yet been raised; for a question often arrives a terribly long time after the answer.

 

Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes.

( Lady Windermere's fan )

 

To the critic the work of art is simply a suggestion for a new work of his own, that need not necessarily bear any obvious resemblance to the thing it critices.

( Intentions )

 

Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows? . . . The extraordinary change that has taken place in the climate of London during the last ten years is entirely due to a particular school of Art. . . . For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence.

( The Decay of Lying )

 

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did he would cease to be an artist.

( The Decay of Lying )

 

After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never commited, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own. Music always seems to me to produce that effect. It creates for one a past of which one had been ignorant, and fills one with a sense of sorrows that have been hidden from one's tears. I can fancy a man who had led a perfectly commenplace life, hearing by chance some curious piece of music, and suddenly discovering that his soul, without his being conscious of it, had passed through terrible experiences, and known fearful joys, or wild romantic loves, or great renunciations.

( The Critic as Artist )

 

Truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!

( The Importance of Being Earnest )

 

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

( The Critic as Artist )

 

A sentimentalist is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.

( De Profundis )
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