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Quotes of the day: John le Carré
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Published Saturday, October 18, 2014 @ 8:55 PM EDT
Oct 18 2014

David John Moore Cornwell (b. October 19, 1931), pen name John le Carré, is a British author of espionage novels. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Cornwell worked for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, and began writing novels under a pen name. His third novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) became an international best-seller, and it remains one of his best-known works. Following the success of this novel, he left MI6 to become a full-time author. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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A committee is an animal with four back legs.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.

A good man knows when to sacrifice himself, a bad man survives but loses his soul.

A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.

America has entered one of its periods of historic madness, but this is the worst I can remember.

Americans believe that if you know something, you should do something about it.

At 65, when you've seen the world shape up as I have, there are only two things you can do: laugh or kill yourself.

Blackmail is more effective than bribery.

Elections are a Western jerk-off.

Fools, most linguists. Damn all to say in one language, so they learn another and say damn all in that.

Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.

History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose.

I suffer from the same frustration that every decent American suffers from. That is, that you begin to wonder whether decent liberal instincts, decent humanitarian instincts, can actually penetrate the right-wing voice, get through the steering of American opinion by the mass media.

I think bankers will always get away with whatever they can get away with.

I think, increasingly, despite what we are being told is an ever more open world of communication, there is a terrible alienation in the ordinary man between what he is being told and what he secretly believes.

If there is one eternal truth of politics, it is that there are always a dozen good reasons for doing nothing.

If you're growing up in a chaotic world without reason, your instinct is to become a performer and control the circumstances around you. You lead from weakness into strength; you have an undefended back.

If you're reporting on human misery, you do well to share it.

Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love.

Luck's just another word for destiny... either you make your own or you're screwed.

My definition of a decent society is one that first of all takes care of its losers, and protects its weak.

Never trade a secret, you'll always get the short end of the bargain.

No problem exists in isolation, one must first reduce it to its basic components, then tackle each component in turn.

Nothing in life... even a few broken bones, is without its reward.

Savages... are by nature rash. They have no middle gear. The middle gear of any man is self-discipline.

So odd to think of the Devil as a fumbler!

The friends of my friends are my friends.

The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat.

The neglected are too easily killed.

The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done- dare I say it- in the name of God,

There is a big difference between fighting the cold war and fighting radical Islam. The rules have changed and we haven't.

There's one thing worse than change and that's the status quo.

We are in the process of doing things in defense of our society which may very well produce a society which is not worth defending.

We lie to one another every day, in the sweetest way, often unconsciously. We dress ourselves and compose ourselves in order to present ourselves to one another.

When you assimilate, you choose.

Why is it that so many men of small stature have more courage than men of size?

You can't make war against terror. Terror is a technique of battle.

(John le Carré interview with Amy Goodman in The Greanville Post, 12/02/2010)


Categories: John le Carré, Quotes of the day


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