Futile Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 173 quotes )
He was talking about the sign that said 'THE COMPLICATED FUTILITY OF IGNORANCE.' 'All knew was that I didn't want my daughter or anybody's child to see a message that negative every time she comes into the library,' he said. 'And then I found out it was you who was responsible for it.' 'What's so negative about it?' I said. 'What could be a more negative word than "futility"?' he said. '"Ignorance,"' I said.
...boredom speaks the language of time, and it is to teach you the most valuable lesson in your life--...the lesson of your utter insignificance. It is valuable to you, as well as to those you are to rub shoulders with. 'You are finite,' time tells you in a voice of boredom, 'and whatever you do is, from my point of view, futile.' As music to your ears, this, of course, may not count; yet the sense of futility, of limited significance even of your best, most ardent actions is better than the illusion of their consequence and the attendant self-satisfaction.
For there is a growing apprehension that existence is a rat-race in a trap: living organisms, including people,are merely tubes which put things in at one end and let them out at the other, which both keeps them doing it and in the long run wears them out. So to keep the farce going, the tubes find ways of making newtubes, which also put things in at one end and let them out at the other. At the input end they even develop ganglia of nerves called brains, with eyes and ears, so that they can more easily scrounge around for things to swallow. As and when they get enough to eat, they use up their surplus energy by wiggling in complicated patterns, making all sorts of noises by blowing air in and out of the input hole, and gathering together in groups to fight with other groups. In time, the tubes grow such anabundance of attached appliances that they are hardly recognizable as mere tubes, and they manage to do this in a staggering variety of forms. There is a vague rule not to eat tubes of your own form, but in general there is serious competition as to who is going to be the top type of tube. All this seems marvelously futile, and yet, when you begin to think about it, it begins to be more marvelous than futile. Indeed, it seems extremely odd.
Unless, of course, there's no such thing as chance;...in which case, we should either-optimistically-get up and cheer, because if everything is planned in advance, then we all have a meaning and are spared the terror of knowing ourselves to be random, without a why; or else, of course, we might-as pessimists-give up right here and now, understanding the futility of thought decision action, since nothing we think makes any difference anyway, things will be as they will. Where, then, is optimism? In fate or in chaos?
Efficiency," of course, is futile .... It has no philosophy for incidents before they happen; therefore it has no power of choice. An act can only be successful or unsuccessful when it is over; if it is to begin, it must be, in the abstract, right or wrong. There is no such thing as backing a winner; for he cannot be a winner when he is backed. There is no such thing as fighting on the winning side; one fights to find out which is the winning side. If any operation has occurred, that operation was efficient.... A man who thinks much about success must be the drowsiest sentimentalist; for he must be always looking back. If he only likes victory he must always come late for the battle. For the man of action there is nothing but idealism.
We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us - not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us. We are children because he is our father; and all of our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still in that before we loved him, he loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our lord.
In Mexico, I first encountered the attitude that was missing from the optimistic sense of living in the United States: a tragic sense of life. Such a sense doesn’t force us into a somber cone of depression and futility; it urges the opposite. The tragic sense opens a human being to the exuberant joys of the present. To laughter, carnal ity, the comical varieties of love, to music and art, to the small human glories of the day.
This withdrawal from the day's turmoil into creative silence is not a luxury, a fad, or a futility. It is a necessity, because it tries to provide the conditions wherein we are able to yield ourselves to intuitive leadings, promptings, warnings, teachings, and counsels and also to the inspiring peace of the soul. It dissolves mental tensions and heals negative emotions.
First is the danger of futility; the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills? against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. "Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all.
To me, the summer wind in the Midwest is one of the most melancholy things in all life. It comes from so far away and blows so gently and yet so relentlessly; it rustles the leaves and the branches of the maple trees in a sort of symphony of sadness, and it doesn't pass on and leave them still. It just keeps coming, like the infinite flow of Old Man River. You could -- and you do -- wear out your lifetime on the dusty plains with that wind of futility blowing in your face. And when you are worn out and gone, the wind -- still saying nothing, still so gentle and sad and timeless -- is still blowing across the prairies, and will blow in the faces of the little men who follow you, forever.
To us, the high-resounding “isms” to which our contemporaries ask; us to give our allegiance, now, in 1948, are all equally futile: bound to be betrayed, defeated, and finally rejected by men at large, if containing anything really noble; bound to enjoy, for the time being, some sort of noisy success; if sufficiently vulgar, pretentious and soul-killing to appeal to the growing number of mechanically conditioned slaves that crawl about our planet, posing as free men; all destined to prove, ultimately, of no avail.