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Ideas

  • All one really requires for putting anything over is enough energy and resistance to keep on plugging the idea. Someone will eventually fall.

  • He accumulated a wide vocabulary and waited all his life for an idea.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • No matter how brilliantly an idea is stated, we will not really be moved unless we have already half-thought of it ourselves.

  • I've got a penny-ante talent, out of which I try to drum up a living for myself. And what nobody seems to realize is that it's just as difficult to get a bad idea as a good one.

  • These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: 'I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.' But they have no slow, big ideas.

  • Unless you catch ideas on the wing and nail them down, you will soon cease to have any.

  • ... this year's blasphemy is next year's liberating truth ...

  • Borrowed thoughts, like borrowed money, only show the poverty of the borrower.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • Ideas are like everything else. They've got to be marketed.

  • The attempt to suppress an idea has always and everywhere proved a failure.

  • It is a very dangerous thing to have an idea that you will not practice.


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  • ... we are, in this country, more open to new ideas. But we are also, it seems to me, more inclined to hail the new as absolute truth — until the next new comes along.

  • ... the only people in the whole world who can change things are those who can sell ideas.

  • I had never been as resigned to ready-made ideas as I was to ready-made clothes, perhaps because, although I couldn't sew, I could think.

  • ... Mrs. Tillotson senior dreaded ideas as much as a draught on her back.

  • Suggestiveness. Henry could never understand that word as applied in condemnation. Should not everything be suggestive? Or should all literature, art, and humor be a cul-de-sac, suggesting no idea whatsoever? Henry did not want to be uncharitable, but he could not but think that those who used this word in this sense laid themselves open to the suspicion ... that their minds were only receptive of one kind of suggestion, and that a coarse one.

  • ... there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt ...

  • By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond!

  • True knowledge consists in knowing things, not words.

  • There are no original ideas. There are only original people.

  • Beware of people carrying ideas. Beware of ideas carrying people.

  • Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • She was not a woman of many words: for, unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas ...

  • A man with lofty ideas is an uncomfortable neighbor.

  • If you have one good idea, people will lend you twenty.

  • No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.

  • To seize the flying thought before it escapes us is our only touch with reality.

  • The most interesting ideas are heresies.

  • Concepts antedate facts.

  • At any given period in history the ideas of the common mind are found to antedate the facts. The facts of the twentieth century are approached with the ideas, feelings, prejudices of the tenth.

  • A concept is stronger than a fact.

  • Some ideas, like dandelions in lawns, strike tenaciously: you may pull off the top but the root remains, drives down suckers and may even sprout again.

  • One can live in the shadow of an idea without grasping it.

  • It is often the case with a new idea that when it comes knocking on society's door with modesty and the best premises for its existence, there is a tremendous outcry from inside.

  • ... we are, in this country, more open to new ideas. But we are also, it seems to me, more inclined to hail the new as absolute truth — until the next new comes along.

  • The history of human growth is at the same time the history of every new idea heralding the approach of a brighter dawn, and the brighter dawn has always been considered illegal, outside of the law.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks ()
  • It's very good for an idea to be commonplace. The important thing is that a new idea should develop out of what is already there so that it soon becomes an old acquaintance.

  • How surprisingly alive false ideas are! They even have their own evolution. At first they are highfalutin' 'truths,' then humdrum 'laws,' and finally superstitions.

  • ... you can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.

  • A writer didn't need 'an' idea for a book; she needed at least forty. And 'get' was the wrong word, implying that you received an idea as you would a gift. You didn't get ideas. You smelled them out, tracked them down, wrestled them into submission; you pursued them with forks and hope, and if you were lucky enough to catch one you impaled it, with the forks, before the sneaky little devil could get away.

  • Once a suggestion has entered the general atmosphere of human thought, it is very difficult to neutralise it.

  • A healthful hunger for a great idea is the beauty and blessedness of life.

  • It was no use to argue the point; for she had a very small head, and when one idea got into it there was no room for another.

  • Getting an idea is a little like falling in love: excitement is highest when you first meet.

  • He did not get many ideas; those he got he hung on to.

  • Men are perishable, but ideas live.

    • Empress Frederick,
    • 1893, in Sir Frederick Ponsonby, ed., The Letters of the Empress Frederick ()
  • Ideas he had in plenty — 'unpractical' ideas people called them; but what else should ideas be?

  • New ideas are difficult just because they are new. Repetition has somehow plastered over the gaps and inconsistencies in the old ones, and the new cannot penetrate.

    • Joan Robinson,
    • "The Keynesian Revolution," Economic Philosophy ()
  • She had a tremendous impatience with other people's ideas — unless those happened to be exactly like hers; even then, often as not, she gave a hurried, almost angry, affirmative, and flew on to emphatic illuminations of her own.

  • Nothing dies harder than a bad idea.

  • ... uproar against a new idea, and laws to prevent anybody's accepting it, nearly always can be regarded as a signal that the new idea is just about to be taken for granted. ... they didn't start making laws to prohibit the teaching of evolution until everybody was about to take it for granted.

  • She never lets ideas interrupt the easy flow of her conversation.

  • One doesn't 'get' an 'idea' for a novel. The 'idea' more or less 'gets' you. It uses you as a kind of culture, the way a pearl uses an oyster.

    • Diana Chang,
    • "Woolgathering, Ventriloquism and the Double Life," in Dexter Fisher, ed., The Third Woman ()
  • That was a snake that would lay eggs in my brain.

  • We are stimulated to emotional response not by works that confirm our sense of the world, but by works that challenge it.

  • The seed of the idea is developed by both labor and the unconscious, and the struggle that goes on between them.

  • Ideas are the old-age of art. Artists have to keep young; they must not think too much — thought is death, while art is life. Such was Emile's viewpoint.

  • Emile Saint-Blague had been a lively, versatile painter in his youth, but he had abused his energy by painting too many pictures; so that in what might have been the ripe period of his art he had nothing left but ideas. A man who has nothing left but ideas may be of great service to his friends, but he is of no use at all to himself. Emile was certainly an inspiration to his friends.

  • If there's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come, there is nothing more ubiquitously pervasive than an idea whose time won't go.

  • But ideas move rapidly when their time comes.

  • ... good ideas are false gods. They make for great beginnings, but lousy endings.

  • If you ever have a new idea, and it's really new, you have to expect that it won't be widely accepted immediately. It's a long hard process.

    • Rosalyn Yalow,
    • in Lynn Gilbert and Gavlen Moore, Particular Passions: Talks With Women Who Have Shaped Our Times ()
  • I have so many ideas that I don't sleep at night.

  • I'm not afraid of facts; I welcome facts but a congeries of facts is not equivalent to an idea. This is the essential fallacy of the so-called scientific mind. People who mistake facts for ideas are incomplete thinkers; they are gossips.

    • Cynthia Ozick,
    • "We Are the Crazy Lady and Other Feisty Feminist Fables," in Ms. ()
  • We are so placid that the smallest tremor of objection to anything at all is taken as a full-scale revolution. Should any soul speak up in favor of the obvious, it is taken as a symptom of the influence of the left, the right, the pink, the black, the dangerous. An idea for its own sake — especially an obvious idea — has no respectability.

  • Ideas are power because ideas are money. Good ideas are hard to come by. They are rare. They are valuable.

  • ... ideas are never scarce; it is only one's panic sense of limitation that blocks the way.

  • 'Rules for Stifling Innovation': 1. Regard any new idea from below with suspicion — because it's new, and because it's from below. 2. Insist that people who need your approval to act first go through several other levels of management to get their signatures. 3. Ask departments or individuals to challenge and criticize each other's proposals. (That saves you the job of deciding; you just pick the survivor.) ... 10. And above all, never forget that you, the higher-ups, already know everything important about this business.

  • The idea was fragrant with possibilities.

  • ... it was seldom an idea found entrance into his head, and when once there it was no easy matter to dislodge it; it became not the mere furniture of the head, to be turned or changed at will, but seemed actually to become a part of the head itself, which it required a sort of mental scalping or trepanning to remove.

  • ... she leaned toward me the way people do when they want an idea to penetrate your resistance. As though the closer they get their own brain to your brain, the easier it will be for the idea to leap across.

  • ... evidence without ideas is more valuable than ideas without evidence.

  • ... ideas are dangerous commodities.

  • Every new fad or fashion at once has its denouncers from the pulpit, platform, professor's chair.

    • Alice Dunbar-Nelson,
    • 1926, in Gloria T. Hull, ed., The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, vol. 2 ()
  • Ideas for stories began to crowd thick and fast, like people waiting for a train.

  • Talk uses up ideas ... Once I have spoken them aloud, they are lost to me, dissipated into the noisy air like smoke. Only if I bury them, like bulbs, in the rich soil of silence do they grow.

  • Every great creative idea, formulated as a philosophy, has a social setting — in time, in a geographical location, in a political economy, in a matrix of interests and knowledge. It is not a free-swinging phenomenon like a balloon without moorings. It is not produced in a vacuum and, being creative, it does not work in a vacuum. Nurtured on things experienced and things known, it reaches out toward the unknown like a flower on a stalk growing out of the soil.

    • Mary Ritter Beard,
    • "Feminism as a Social Phenomenon," in Woman's Press Magazine ()
  • To have ideas is to gather flowers. To think is to weave them into garlands.

  • Ideas are funny little things — they won't work unless you do.

  • Ideas are a dime a dozen, but the men and women who implement them are priceless.

  • ... a mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.

  • Like an enormous walnut in feeble, jittery squirrel hands, an idea, bigger and closer than any idea he had ever known, had been revolving in his mind for several days.

  • Often the seed of a great and workable idea is inherent in an absurd one.

  • But lying in bed just before going to sleep is the worst time for organized thinking; it is the best time for free thinking. Ideas drift like clouds in an undecided breeze, taking first this direction and then that.

  • Usually, the best ideas come from other people's good ideas, which then, after a short gestation period, become your ideas.

  • ... an idea in my head is like a rock in my shoe; I just can't wait to get it out.

  • The limits of thought are not so much set from outside, by the fullness or poverty of experiences that meet the mind, as from within, by the power of conception, the wealth of formulative notions with which the mind meets experiences. Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there.

  • To be successful a person must attempt but one reform. By urging two, both are injured, as the average mind can grasp and assimilate but one idea at a time.

    • Susan B. Anthony,
    • in Lynn Sherr, ed., Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words ()
  • When an idea reaches critical mass, there is no stopping the shift its presence induces.