Ambiguity Quotes

Quotes tagged as "ambiguity" Showing 1-30 of 102
Gilda Radner
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”
Gilda Radner

Rainer Maria Rilke
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Ursula K. Le Guin
“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Brodi Ashton
“Heroes don't exist. And if they did, I wouldn't be one of them.”
Brodi Ashton, Everneath

Milan Kundera
“The greater the ambiguity, the greater the pleasure.”
Milan Kundera

Donna Tartt
“…I’ve come to realize that the only truths that matter to me are the ones I don’t, and can’t, understand. What’s mysterious, ambiguous, inexplicable. What doesn’t fit into a story, what doesn’t have a story. Glint of brightness on a barely-there chain. Patch of sunlight on a yellow wall. The loneliness that separates every living creature from every other living creature. Sorrow inseparable from joy.”
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

“We might not be able to know what reality is about, but we can’t but be aware of the explicitness of facts. To get a better grip on the intricate nature of the truth and its ambiguity, we have got to scrutinize facts and find out about their codes. But, yet, we can’t ignore that reality is a very intriguing place, since facts may be construed, receive variant contexts and create alternate outcomes, which, in turn, might spark new realities, over again. ("Imbroglio" )”
Erik Pevernagie

Simone de Beauvoir
“As long as there have been men and they have lived, they have all felt this tragic ambiguity of their condition, but as long as there have been philosophers and they have thought, most of them have tried to mask it.”
Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity

Joyce Carol Oates
“The ideal art, the noblest of art: working with the complexities of life, refusing to simplify, to "overcome" doubt.”
Joyce Carol Oates, The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982

Glen Cook
“There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies.”
Glen Cook, Chronicles of the Black Company

Pawan Mishra
“Isn’t life a collection of weird quizzes with no answers to half the questions?”
Pawan Mishra, Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy

“Stories start in all sorts of places. Where they begin often tells the reader of what to expect as they progress. Castles often lead to dragons, country estates to deeds of deepest love (or of hate), and ambiguously presented settings usually lead to equally as ambiguous characters and plot, leaving a reader with an ambiguous feeling of disappointment. That's one of the worst kinds.”
Rebecca McKinsey, Sydney West

Daniel Quinn
“The sign stopped me-- or rather, this text stopped me. Words are my profession; I seized these and demanded that they explain themselves, that they cease to be ambiguous.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Lionel Shriver
“He prizes ambiguity; he loves to keep you guessing.”
Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Christopher Hitchens
“There's a certain amount of ambiguity in my background, what with intermarriages and conversions, but under various readings of three codes which I don’t much respect (Mosaic Law, the Nuremberg Laws, and the Israeli Law of Return) I do qualify as a member of the tribe, and any denial of that in my family has ceased with me. But I would not remove myself to Israel if it meant the continuing expropriation of another people, and if anti-Jewish fascism comes again to the Christian world—or more probably comes at us via the Muslim world—I already consider it an obligation to resist it wherever I live. I would detest myself if I fled from it in any direction. Leo Strauss was right. The Jews will not be 'saved' or 'redeemed.' (Cheer up: neither will anyone else.) They/we will always be in exile whether they are in the greater Jerusalem area or not, and this in some ways is as it should be. They are, or we are, as a friend of Victor Klemperer's once put it to him in a very dark time, condemned and privileged to be 'a seismic people.' A critical register of the general health of civilization is the status of 'the Jewish question.' No insurance policy has ever been devised that can or will cover this risk.”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir

Pawan Mishra
“In the end, it’s not the obviousness or the complexity of the matters that’s deluding mankind. It’s man himself.”
Pawan Mishra, Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy

Toba Beta
“Apriority creates ambiguities among ideas.”
Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

Leo Tolstoy
“The doctor arrived towards dinnertime and said, of course, that although recurring phenomena might well elicit apprehension, nonetheless there was, strictly speaking, no positive indication, yet since neither was there any contraindication, it might, on the one hand, be supposed, but on the other hand it might also be supposed. And it was therefore necessary to stay in bed, and although I don't like prescribing, nevertheless take this and stay in bed.”
Leo Tolstoy, The Devil

Jenny Offill
“What it means to be a good person, a moral person, is calculated differently in times of crisis than in ordinary circumstances,” she says. She pulls up a slide of people having a picnic by a lake. Blue skies, green trees, white people.

“Suppose you go with some friends to the park to have a picnic. This act is, of course, morally neutral, but if you witness a group of children drowning in the lake and you continue to eat and chat, you have become monstrous.”
Jenny Offill, Weather

Jonathan Wells
“The many meanings of 'evolution' are frequently exploited by Darwinists to distract their critics. Eugenie Scott recommends: 'Define evolution as an issue of the history of the planet: as the way we try to understand change through time. The present is different from the past. Evolution happened, there is no debate within science as to whether it happened, and so on... I have used this approach at the college level.'
Of course, no college student—indeed, no grade-school dropout— doubts that 'the present is different from the past.' Once Scott gets them nodding in agreement, she gradually introduces them to 'The Big Idea' that all species—including monkeys and humans—are related through descent from a common ancestor... This tactic is called 'equivocation'—changing the meaning of a term in the middle of an argument.”
Jonathan Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design

Pema Chödrön
“Whether it’s ourselves, our lovers, bosses, children, local Scrooge, or the political situation, it’s more daring and real not to shut anyone out of our hearts and not to make the other into an enemy. If we begin to live like this, we’ll find that we actually can’t make things completely right or completely wrong anymore, because things are a lot more slippery and playful than that. Everything is ambiguous; everything is always shifting and changing, and there are as many different takes on any given situation as there are people involved. Trying to find absolute rights and wrongs is a trick we play on ourselves to feel secure and comfortable.”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

“Perhaps we can conceive of the ironist as the fetishist's apprentice, reaching out for all readers, ensnaring them in a tangle of ambiguity, uncertainty and indecision from which there is no escape. Irony, quite possibly, makes fetishists of us all.”
Janet Beizer

George Herbert
“I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sowre-sweet dayes
I will lament, and love.”
George Herbert, The Temple: The Poetry of George Herbert

Keri Hulme
“What does he mean by disgraceful propensities?"

"Weelll, I should imagine in that ingrown aristocracy it could mean anything from an improper preference for scotch whisky, to a practiced predilection for raping the cat."

He chokes on his coffee.”
Keri Hulme, The Bone People

Mokokoma Mokhonoana
“Unlike meaning, the truth always survives translation.”
Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I overhead Jove, one day,' said Silenus, 'talking of destroying the Earth; he said it had failed; they were all rogues and vixens, who went from bad to worse, as fast as the days succeeded each other. Minerva said she hoped not, they were only ridiculous little creatures, with this odd circumstance, that they had a blur, or indeterminate aspect, seen far or seen near; if you called them bad, they would appear so; if you called them good, they would appear so; and there was no one person or action among that which would not puzzle her Owl, much more all Olympus, to know whether it was fundamentally bad or good.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jean Baudrillard
“[...]No society can live without in a sense opposing its own value system: it has to have such a system, yet it must at the same time define itself in contradistinction to it. At present we live according to at least two principles: that of sexual liberation and that of communication and information. And everything suggests that the species itself, via the threat of AIDS, is generating an antidote to its principle of sexual liberation; that by means of cancer, which is a breakdown of the genetic code, it is setting up a resistance to the all-powerful principle of cybernetic control; and that the viral onslaught in general signals its sabotaging of the universal principle of communication.
What if all this betokened a refusal of the obligatory flows of sperm, sex and words, a refusal of forced communication, programmed information and sexual promiscuity? What if it heralded a vital resistance to the spread of flows, circuits and networks - at the cost, it is true, of a new and lethal pathology, but one, nevertheless, that would protect us from something even worse? If so, then AIDS and cancer would be the price we are paying for our own system: an attempt to cure its banal virulence by recourse to a fatal form. Nobody can predict the effectiveness of such an exorcism, but the question has to be asked: What is cancer a resistance to, what even worse eventuality is it saving us from? (Could it be the total hegemony of genetic coding?) What is AIDS a resistance to, what even worse eventuality is it saving us from? (Could it be a sexual epidemic, a sort of total promiscuity?) The same goes for drugs: all melodramatics aside, what exactly do they protect us from, from what even worse scourge do they offer us an avenue of escape? (Could it be the brutalizing effects of rationality, normative socialization and universal conditioning?) As for terrorism, does not its secondary, reactive violence shield us from an epidemic of consensus, from an ever-increasing political leukaemia and degeneration and from the imperceptible transparency of the State? All things are ambiguous and reversible. After all, it is neurosis that offers human beings their most effective protection against madness. AIDS may thus be seen not as a divine punishment, but as quite the opposite - as a defensive abreaction on the part of the species against the danger of a total promiscuity, a total loss of identity through the proliferation and speed-up of networks.”
Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil: Essays in Extreme Phenomena

“Does metaphor mean something more than, or different form, or in some sense beneath, what it appears to say; or is the meaning of a metaphor precisely what it does say.”
David Punter, Metaphor

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