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Robert Browning

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He is called an optimist; but the word suggests a calculated contentment which was not in the least one of his vices. What he really was was a romantic. He offered the cosmos as an adventure rather than a scheme. He did not explain evil, far less explain it away: he enjoyed defying it. He was a troubadour even in theology and metaphysics: like the Jongleurs de Dieu of St. Francis. He may be said to have serenaded heaven with a guitar, and even, so to speak, tried to climb there with a rope ladder.
G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature (1913), Ch. III: The Great Victorian Poets (p. 89).

Robert Browning

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This is the predicament of man. All souls descend a ladder form heaven to the world. Then the ladders are taken away. Once they are in this world, they are called upon from heaven to rise, to come back. It is a call that goes out again and again. Each soul seeks the ladder in order to ascend above; but the ladder cannot be found. Most people make no effort to ascend, claiming, how can one rise to heaven without a ladder? However, there are souls which resolve to leap upwards without a ladder. So they jump and fall down. They jump and fall down, until they stop. Wise people think that since no ladder exists, there must be another way. We must face the challenge and act. Be what it may, one must leap until God, in His mercy, makes exultation come about.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

The American Dream can come in many different ways for many different people. It doesn't have to come in the way they explain it to you. Now, the American Dream can come if a guy hits the lottery. Who in the world thought he would hit a lottery? That's the American Dream for him. But I look at it from day one, moving up the ladder, and moving up the ladder. Now you get to the top of the ladder and you have to look back. How did you get to that ladder? To me, that's the American Dream.

Willie Mays

There's been a lot of analysis about the so-called gender wars . . . me playing the so-called gender card because heavens knows no-one noticed I was a woman until I raised it, but against that background, I do want to say about all of these issues, the reaction to being the first female Prime Minister does not explain everything about my Prime Ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my Prime Ministership. I've been a little bit bemused by those colleagues in the newspaper who have admitted that I have suffered more pressure as a result of my gender than other Prime Ministers in the past but then concluded that it had zero effect on my political position or the political position of the Labor Party. It doesn't explain everything . . . it explains some things. And it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey. What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that - and I'm proud of that.

Julia Gillard

The fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.

Adolf Eichmann

Of course, if you assume a big enough conspiracy, you can explain anything, including the cosmos itself.

Fritz Leiber
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