Ralph Waldo Emerson told us to read for understanding, not for quotations, so out of respect for the man I’m not going to look up that citation. I’ll choose to understand what he meant rather than quote what he said.
Ah, the polished, the perfect quotation. People who have never read Huxley put him in their e-mail signature lines. People who are cloudy at best about determinism will “Like” a Nietzsche quote. The children of red-blooded, God-fearing, gun-toting capitalists stand up every morning in school and quote a self-proclaimed Socialist (yes, look it up, a Socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, all except the “under God” part). Misogynists steal from Eleanor Roosevelt and the Peabody sisters (hardly anybody quotes Sophia, though. God bless her, she was the cute one) without any self-awareness.
“Shakespeare said,” they say, and then they quote something by a minor villain in an early Shakespearean history which he probably only co-wrote. Conversely, they attribute Shakespeare’s lines to the historical Julius Caesar. Then they misquote Hamlet.
The Perfect Memorial company, from whom I ordered my husband’s urn, and who send me yearly “reminder” e-mails about my Memorial Needs (they must think I need to re-pot him every April or something) have a handy select-a-quote tool to “personalize” the Loving Tribute. Because nothing says personal as much as a pre-fab quote from a Persian philosopher you never heard of.
Wait, there are Persian philosophers?