Category Archives: Quotes

Quotes, from a variety of sources, related to teaching and learning–somewhat more loosely defined than in other categories on Mark’s Text Terminal.

Miguel Barnet

Cuban novelist, poet, and essayist. Born in Havana, he was educated in an American school before the revolutionary years, but in his early adulthood became deeply involved in Cuban sociology, geography, and anthropology, particularly ethnology and folklore. Applying his rich literary imagination to those disciplines, he invented anew novelistic form, the testimonial novel, initiated by his Biografia de un cimarron (1966; tr The Autobiography of a Runaway Slave, 1968). The work is based on the memoirs of a black Cuban centenarian, Esteban Montejo, who experienced slavery, the life of a maroon, the anticolonial struggle, and the disillusionment of continuing racism after independence from Spain in 1898. Barnet continued to develop the genre in his books Cancion de Rachel (1968), Gallego (1981), and La vida real (1986), several of which were made into films. Also an outstanding poet, his books of poetry have appeared at regular intervals since his La Piedra fina y el pavo real (1963), and include La Sagrada familia (1967), winner of the Casa de las Americas prize.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

9 Mexican Posadas

“The nine Mexican Posadas are a series of dances, candlelit processions, recitals and songs held over the nine nights before Christmas, They tell the story of the Holy Family (the pregnant Mary and Joseph) traveling out of Galilee to Judea to try to reach Bethlehem, On the last night, Joseph once again sings his desperate refrain to an empty door–‘the night is cold and dark and the wind blows hard’–before May accidentally reveals that beneath their travel-worn cloaks she is Queen of Heaven and she is welcomed into a stable by the animals. Then a dance of honour is held and a ‘pinata’ is demolished by a blindfold young lady wielding a cane to shower sweets over the celebrants.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.


Santayana on Fanaticism

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.”

George Santayana

The Life of Reason vol I, ch 10 (1905)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

General Smedley Butler on his Role in Latin America

[This famous quote from General Smedley D. Butler, nicely encapsulates the deleterious role the United States Government played in preventing sovereignty and economic independence across Latin America.]

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier (Port Townshend, Washington: Feral House, 2003).

Rufino Blanco Fombona

“(1874-1944) Venezuelan novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist. Blanco-Fombona was an exile during the long dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gomez, returning to Venezuela after the latter died in 1935. His writing reflects his angry dismay at the stupidity, iniquity, and sordidness that he seemed to find everywhere. Accordingly his novels are weakened by bits of heavy-handed social satire and political propaganda. They include El hombre de hierro (1907), which depicts the triumph of evil over virtue; El hombre de oro (The Man of Gold, 1916), which exposes the venality and incompetence of Venezuelan politicians; and La mitra en la mano (1927), the story of an ambitious priest, a character that has been called a Venezuelan Elmer Gantry. Cuentos americanos (1904) and Dramas minimos (1920) are his best-known collections of short stories. His poetry, which includes the collections Pequena opera lirica (1904) and Cantos de la prision y del destierro (1911), shows the influence of modernism. Among his other works are Letras y letrados de Hispano-America (1908) and Grandes escritores de America (1917), literary criticism; La lampara de Aladino (1915), autobiographical sketches; and El conquistador espanol en el siglo XVI (1922), a study of the Spanish conquistadors. Blanco-Fombona also edited the letters of Simon Bolivar, and he edited and published several series of great American books.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Luis Walter Alvarez on Science and the Vox Populi

“There is no democracy in physics. We can’t say that some second rate guy has has much right to opinion as Fermi.”

Luis Walter Alvarez

Quoted in D.S. Greenberg, The Politics of Pure Science (1967)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Manuel [Carneirode Sousa] Bandeira [Filho]

“(1886-1968) Brazilian poet and essayist, Tuberculosis cut short Bandeira’s studies in architecture. While living in a Swiss sanitarium, he came into contact with several French surrealists, notably Paul Eluard. By 1914, on his return to Brazil, he had already written a book-length manuscript of poems. Although he consistently disassociated himself from any poetic movements, his work in the 1920s—particularly O ritmo dissolotu (1924) and Libertinagem (1930)—was hailed as the spearhead of Modernismo. Distinguished for its irony and tragic wit, Bandeira’s poetics advocate ‘using all the words, especially barbarisms; and all the rhythms, especially those beyond metrics.’ Apart from his unceasing experimentation with form, Bandeira introduced the Brazilian vernacular and the African folklore of his native Recife into serious poetry. His collected works, Poesia e prosa (2 vols, 1958), includes essays, art criticism, and an autobiography, as well as verse.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.