Quotes of the Day: Happy birthday, Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
Public Domain Oscar Wilde. He knew how to dress warmly.

On this day we update a post published earlier.

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, Thomas Edison or Bill McDonough. In honour of his 162th birthday, here's a roundup of the stories we hung on him:

On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

A 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, looking at why things in America cost what they do:On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing
fast company renest screen shot
Updated, with a look at the price of an Eames Lounge chair, and the problem of knock-offs:On Knowing The Price Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing, Updated
knockoff furnitureIt doesn't get any more blatant than this/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
And again: On Knowing The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing: More on Why Things Cost More
obama office renovation photo

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

Obama's Oval Office Is Beige And Could Have Been Green

Moderation in all things, especially moderation.

Escape Vista© Escape Vista

Much of the tiny house movement is about using less of everything, but even it can be immoderate and too small, too little of a good thing. It is all about balance. As Martin Holladay noted in Forget the green gizmos and bamboo floors; Green building is all about moderation:

What makes a house green? (A designer who mentions things like “keeping the house small” and “keeping energy bills low” is on the right track. A designer whose first answer is “choosing green materials” may not be the one you want to hire.)

It's true in our diet too. From There's a lot wrong with eating "everything in moderation"

From convincing oneself that dietary habits don't have to change, to fuelling junk food sales and diminishing the intake of really healthy stuff, following the "everything in moderation" rule can be problematic.

A New Year's wish:

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.

The Word for 2013: Moderation


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.: Interview with James Howard Kunstler

I used it again to complain about Jack Shafer complaining about TreeHugger and other green blogs: Pot Calls Kettle Yellow

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.

Years later, it appeared that Monbiot and Sami were right. : "Plastic Bags are a Distraction" - Monbiot

Finally, I never got to use this one in a post, but I do use it often personally to justify myself and my writing:

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative

Quotes of the Day: Happy birthday, Oscar Wilde
A look back at all the posts that quote the quotable author on his 168th birthday.

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