Hindsight Quotes

Quotes tagged as "hindsight" Showing 1-30 of 129
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.”
Kurt Vonnegut

“I have no desire to suffer twice, in reality and then in retrospect.”
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

R.A. Salvatore
“Hindsight, I think, is a useless tool. We, each of us, are at a place in our lives because of innumerable circumstances, and we, each of us, have a responsibility (if we do not like where we are) to move along life's road, to find a better path if this one does not suit, or to walk happily along this one if it is indeed our life's way. Changing even the bad things that have gone before would fundamentally change who we are, and whether or not that would be a good thing, I believe, it is impossible to predict.
So I take my past experiences... and try to regret nothing.
-Drizzt Do'urden”
R.A. Salvatore, Sea of Swords

Roger Zelazny
“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, "I wish I had known this some time ago.”
Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn

S.J. Watson
“It's so difficult, isn't it? To see what's going on when you're in the absolute middle of something? It's only with hindsight we can see things for what they are.”
S.J. Watson, Before I Go to Sleep

Rasheed Ogunlaru
“How you look at it is pretty much how you'll see it”
Rasheed Ogunlaru

James Fenton
“The Mistake

With the mistake your life goes in reverse.
Now you can see exactly what you did
Wrong yesterday and wrong the day before
And each mistake leads back to something worse

And every nuance of your hypocrisy
Towards yourself, and every excuse
Stands solidly on the perspective lines
And there is perfect visibility.

What an enlightenment. The colonnade
Rolls past on either side. You needn't move.
The statues of your errors brush your sleeve.
You watch the tale turn back — and you're dismayed.

And this dismay at this, this big mistake
Is made worse by the sight of all those who
Knew all along where these mistakes would lead —
Those frozen friends who watched the crisis break.

Why didn't they say? Oh, but they did indeed —
Said with a murmur when the time was wrong
Or by a mild refusal to assent
Or told you plainly but you would not heed.

Yes, you can hear them now. It hurts. It's worse
Than any sneer from any enemy.
Take this dismay. Lay claim to this mistake.
Look straight along the lines of this reverse.”
James Fenton, Out of Danger

Friedrich Schlegel
“The historian is a prophet looking backwards.”
Friedrich Von Schlegel, Philosophical Fragments

Tim O'Brien
“Everything was such a damned nice idea when it was an idea.”
Tim O'Brien, Northern Lights

“It has been a mistake living my life in the past. One cannot ride a horse backwards and still hold its reins.”
Richard Paul Evans

Kazuo Ishiguro
“In any case, while it is all very well to talk of 'turning points', one can surely only recognise such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one's life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one's relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.”
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Ansel Adams
“I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence.”
Ansel Adams

David Zindell
“Before, you are wise; after, you are wise. In between you are otherwise”
David Zindell, The Broken God

Arthur Conan Doyle
“It is easy to be wise after the event.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Charles Mackay
“Let us not, in the pride of our superior knowledge, turn with contempt from the follies of our predecessors. The study of the errors into which great minds have fallen in the pursuit of truth can never be uninstructive. As the man looks back to the days of his childhood and his youth, and recalls to his mind the strange notions and false opinions that swayed his actions at the time, that he may wonder at them; so should society, for its edification, look back to the opinions which governed ages that fled.”
Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Deborah Meyler
“I think there is no difference between love and infatuation. If it works out, we call it love; if it doesn’t, we shrug our shoulders and say it was infatuation. It’s a hindsight word.”
Deborah Meyler, The Bookstore

Margaret Atwood
“People change, though, especially after they are dead.”
Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard's Egg

Criss Jami
“There's a difference between thinking you can't be wrong and having no regrets. Wrongness is what occurs prior to empiricism, in hindsight a counterpart of revelation, and revelation is nothing to regret.”
Criss Jami, Killosophy

Rasmenia Massoud
“The problem with comprehension is, it often comes too late.”
Rasmenia Massoud, Human Detritus

Milan Kundera
“We go through the present blindfolded... Only later, when the blindfold is removed and we examine the past, do we realise what we've been through and understand what it means. ”
Milan Kundera

Wallace Stegner
“If Henry Adams, whom you knew slightly, could make a theory of history by applying the second law of thermodynamics to human affairs, I ought to be entitled to base one on the angle of repose, and may yet. There is another physical law that teases me, too: the Doppler Effect. The sound of anything coming at you -- a train, say, or the future -- has a higher pitch than the sound of the same thing going away. If you have perfect pitch and a head for mathematics you can compute the speed of the object by the interval between its arriving and departing sounds. I have neither perfect pitch nor a head for mathematics, and anyway who wants to compute the speed of history? Like all falling bodies, it constantly accelerates. But I would like to hear your life as you heard it, coming at you, instead of hearing it as I do, a sober sound of expectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred or abandoned, chances lost, defeats accepted, griefs borne. I don't find your life uninteresting, as Rodman does. I would like to hear it as it sounded while it was passing. Having no future of my own, why shouldn't I look forward to yours.”
Wallace Stegner

Peter F. Hamilton
“Hindsight must surely be the most useless function of the human brain, torturing yourself over the unalterable past.”
Peter F. Hamilton, Mindstar Rising

James Robertson
“When we're in the story, when we're part of it, we can't know the outcome. It's only later that we think we can see what the story was. But do we ever really know? And does anybody else, perhaps, coming along a little later, does anybody else really care? ... History is written by the survivors, but what is that history? That's the point I was trying to make just now. We don't know what the story is when we're in it, and even after we tell it we're not sure. Because the story doesn't end.”
James Robertson, And the Land Lay Still

Kevin Ansbro
“Pah! I wave my cuff at hindsight as if it were a bothersome fly. Life can only be lived forwards, Ulysses. All that matters is what you do now.”
Kevin Ansbro, The Fish That Climbed a Tree

Joseph J. Ellis
“Washington's task was to transform the improbable into the inevitable.”
Joseph Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington

“Now that his children had grown into their lives, their own children too, there was no one who needed more than the idea of him, and he thought maybe that was why he had this nagging feeling, this sense that there were things he had to know for himself, only for himself. He knew, of course he knew, that a life wasn't anything like one of those novels Jenny read, that it stumbled along, bouncing off one thing, then another, until it just stopped, nothing wrapped up neatly. He remembered his children's distress at different times, failing an exam or losing a race, a girlfriend. Knowing that they couldn't believe him but still trying to tell them that it would pass, that they would be amazed, looking back, to think it had mattered at all. He thought of himself, thought of things that had seemed so important, so full of meaning when he was twenty, or forty, and he thought maybe it was like Jenny's books after all. Red herrings and misdirection, all the characters and observations that seemed so central, so significant while the story was unfolding. But then at the end you realized that the crucial thing was really something else. Something buried in a conversation, a description - you realized that all along it had been a different answer, another person glimpsed but passed over, who was the key to everything. Whatever everything was. And if you went back, as Jenny sometimes did, they were there, the clues you'd missed while you were reading, caught up in the need to move forward. All quietly there.”
Mary Swan

Leo Tolstoy
“But all these hints at foreseeing what actually did happen on the French as well as on the Russian side are only conspicuous now because the event has justified them. If the event had not come to pass, these hints would have been forgotten, as thousands and millions of suggestions and supposition are now forgotten that were current at the period, but have been shown by time to be unfounded and so have been consigned to oblivion.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

John G. Deaton
“Just because it's a novel--can't it also be different?”
John Deaton, Two Hands Full of Sunshine (Volume I): An Epic about Children Trapped in the Holocaust

Louis Mountbatten
“The Battle of Normandy was won on the beaches of Dieppe”
Louis Mountbatten

“While some incidental detours along a life's journey may feel purposeful in hindsight and others as quite the contrary, fate itself makes no such distinction. And if one pays heed, alternate pathways will continue to appear until the end – even as others fade indelibly into the background.

Ultimately when you betray one destiny, you betroth another...”
Monte Souder (Rat Luck)

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