Weekend Words: Mess

Crispijn van de Passe, “Discordia” (n.d.). Engraving. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (image via Web Gallery of Art)

“‘It’s a very tangled mess,’ said Gary Samore, a former national security aide to Mr. Obama.” That’s the sum of current events as reported in an article on Obama’s response to the crises mounting around the world that appeared in Wednesday’s New York Times. Samore continues:

“You name it, the world is aflame. Foreign policy is always complicated. We always have a mix of complicated interests. That’s not unusual. What’s unusual is there’s this outbreak of violence and instability everywhere. It makes it hard for governments to cope with that.”

“To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.”

—Samuel Beckett

“If one looks with a cold eye at the mess man has made of history, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he has been afflicted by some built-in mental disorder which drives him towards self-destruction.”

—Arthur Koestler

“There are two kinds of truth; the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery.”

—Raymond Chandler

“Life isn’t like a book. Life isn’t logical or sensible or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time. And theology must be lived in the midst of that mess.”

—Charles Caleb Colton

“I think there are innumerable gods. What we on earth call God is a little tribal God who has made an awful mess. Certainly forces operating through human consciousness control events.”

—William S. Burroughs

“Esau selleth his birth right for a mess of pottage.”

—Genesis, Heading to Chapter 25, Geneva Bible (1560)

“If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?”

—Will Rogers

“Status quo, you know, that is Latin for the mess we’re in.”

—Ronald Reagan

“It’s not the tragedies that kill us, it’s the messes.”

—Dorothy Parker

“You’ve got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
Elim-my-nate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-between.”

—Johnny Mercer, “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive”

“Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by someone I do not know. I admire lolling on a lawn by a water-lilied pond to eat white currants and see goldfish: and go to the fair in the evening if I’m good. There is not hope for that — one is sure to get into some mess before evening.”

—John Keats

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