Weekend Words: Stink

“Life is a God-damned, stinking, treacherous game and nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand are bastards.”

Vincent van Gogh, “Still-Life with Drawing Board and Onions” (January 1889, Arles), oil on canvas, 50 x 64 cm, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo (image via Web Gallery of Art)

In the “7 takeaways from Comey’s extraordinary testimony about what Trump told him to do,” published on Thursday in the Washington Post, number 4 is “Democrats are pretty sure Comey’s firing is the key to what the president did wrong,” which features Senator Ron Wyden’s statement to the newly jobless FBI Director James Comey: “I believe the timing of your firing stinks.”

I don’t understand anything about the ballet; all I know is that during the intervals the ballerinas stink like horses.

—Anton Chekhov

Life is a God-damned, stinking, treacherous game and nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand are bastards.

—Theodore Dreiser, quoting an unnamed newspaper editor

Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.

—Anonymous (The Women’s Petition Against Coffee), 1674

The military mind is indeed a menace. Old-fashioned futurity that sees only men fighting and dying in smoke and fire; hears nothing more civilized than a cannonade; scents nothing but the stink of battle-wounds and blood.

—Sean O’Casey

If anatomy presupposes a corpse, then psychology presupposes a world of corpses. Personalities, which means personal criticism and analysis, presuppose a whole world laboratory of human psyches waiting to be vivisected. If you cut a thing up, of course it will smell. Hence, nothing raises such an infernal stink, at last, as human psychology.

—D. H. Lawrence

Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world, a mother’s love is not.

—James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings.

—Alexander Pope, “An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot”

The previous regime […] reduced man to a means of production and nature to a tool of production. Thus it attacked both their very essence and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people to nuts and bolts in some monstrously huge, noisy, and stinking machine.

—Vaclav Havel

A man has his distinctive personal scent which his wife, his children and his dog can recognize. A crowd has a generalized stink. The public is odorless.

—W. H. Auden

Because hypocrisy stinks in the nostrils one is likely to rate it as a more powerful agent for destruction than it is.

—Rebecca West

The New York art world readily proves people wrong. Just when folks say that things stink and flibbertigibbet critics wish the worst on us all because we’re not pure enough, good omens appear.

—Jerry Saltz

Euphemisms are not, as many young people think, useless verbiage for that which can and should be said bluntly; they are like secret agents on a delicate mission, they must airily pass by a stinking mess with barely so much as a nod of the head, make their point of constructive criticism and continue on in calm forbearance. Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.

—Quentin Crisp

Here we are in the 70’s when everything really is horrible and it really stinks. The mass media, everything on television everything everywhere is just rotten. You know it’s just really boring and really evil, ugly and worse.

—Lester Bangs


I hate those limousines. They stink and their drivers have been driving dead people to the cemeteries.

—Klaus Kinski

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