On Soul-Stirring Quotations

in #writing3 years ago (edited)


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Amr Taha™

Powerful quotations have the habit of putting the soul to its heavenward flight.

It is even better when they come along with the resource person's name attached, followed by the name of the work the quotation is home in.

There are writers who'd go to a great length to do just that. While some other pen-wielders assume too much, mentioning just a single word and not give the resource person's full name. So mean.

And then there are also writers, who, at the cost of their own reputation, make their readers cringe a little by having inserted in their work a long-known, misattributed quotation. Ta-ta-ta. Been there.

The famous psychologist Philip Zimbardo, the guy who'd conducted the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, contributed his knowledge about reality at a trial where some guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp had been accused of torturing the prisoners; Zimbardo argued that the environment, too, had played a contributory role in the wrongdoing.

A man of his stature, nonetheless, resorted to recycling of a falsely attributed quotation, in a lecture, on a whole another occasion:

"Edmund Burke says, all that matters for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing".

Ta-ta-ta!

I'm skeptical if Edmund Burke had made that statement: listening to Zimbardo, I laughed; because I'd read it somewhere that that line is the world's most famous misattributed quotation. Of course, it was a distraction.

No matter what we say or write, we can give the audience a laugh occasionally. That's not too bad. As long as we don't give the audience a severe migraine. Perhaps.


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