Quotes of the Day: Happy birthday, Oscar Wilde
It is Oscar Wilde's birthday. It's possible that he has been quoted here in TreeHugger more than any other person, except perhaps Bucky Fuller, Tom Edison or Bill McDonough. In honour of his 168th birthday, here's a roundup of the stories we hung on him:
On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing
My favourite, which I use all the time to explain why small apartments, custom furniture and good design don't sell in the American market. I have used it twice:
My first crack at looking at why things in America cost what they do:
Updated in 2011, I look at the price of an Eames Lounge chair:
Either that wallpaper goes, or I do!
Purportedly Wilde's last words, complaining about his surroundings. That's how I felt about the renovation of President Obama's Oval Office. Adriana Huffington did better with the great headline, The Audacity of Taupe
Moderation in all things, especially moderation.
My first post of 2013.
From politics to design, moderation has gone out the window. But just doing with a bit less, driving a bit less, building a bit less would make such a big difference. Nothing else seems to have worked; perhaps a plea for moderation might. That's what I am going to look for this year.
All criticism is autobiography
What Wilde really said was a bit longer:
That is what the highest criticism really is, the record of one's own soul. It is more fascinating than history, as it is concerned simply with oneself. It is more delightful than philosophy, as its subject is concrete and not abstract, real and not vague. It is the only civilized form of autobiography.
I have used it often to complain about commenters, in that they seem to be talking more about themselves than they are about the post or the writer they are complaining about. I used it in an interview of James Howard Kunstler, who was taking a whole lot of heat for his book, The Long Emergency.
I used it again to complain about Jack Shafer complaining about TreeHugger and other green blogs.
Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern; one is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly.
Sami used this, quoting George Monbiot actually, in a discussion about reusable shopping bags. Sami writes:
I should be clear - Monbiot is not arguing that we should return to plastic bags - they are indeed an environmental scourge, and a ridiculous waste of resources. But given the amount of trash we create in general, and given that trash is only one of the environmental challenges we face, there is a danger that we get lost in promoting high-profile, feel-good cosmetic changes while the world around us burns. I must say I couldn't agree more.
Four years later, it appears that Monbiot and Sami were right.
Finally, I never got to use this one in a post, but I do use it often personally to justify myself and my writing: