For quite a long while now I’ve been thinking about this issue. It’s not one I would have sleepless nights on or lose my appetite over, it is one of those that I’d rather tag “kick-starters”.
A very close look at this picture should make you smile or let loose a mirth, if you really understand what it says. A closer look, however, would take one to another level of thought. Where it took me I’ll tell.
If I get a dollar every time I see a quote (plain or pictured) I’m sure I would have enough to disturb the peace of the society with unnecessary razzmatazz, or if I’m more sane, establish a reasonably solid farm already (that’s what’s up!). They come with various contents with the name of an author — usually a popular, learned or influential person — at the end.
Undoubtedly, I won’t need a debate let alone a panel of judges to prove that Einstein actually didn’t say that; not exactly like that at least. He most likely doesn’t know fried plantain means “dodo” in some parts of the world. In fact, I think dodo would sound more like a bird to him than a delicacy. The error in the statement itself isn’t peculiar to a man of his reputation. To me, “courageous” doesn’t fit well in the quote, “disciplined” or “determined” should.
Does it then mean that the statement — after the slight modification — is incorrect?
No. To a great extent it’s not. I am a perfect proof of that. It would take God, malaria or an invalid state…and at least seven fairies to stop me from taking some bites, half of the whole lot perhaps. The same applies to many other persons…but that’s not our destination.
Let’s leave the jocular types and focus on the real serious ones. Apart from this quote which is particularly humour intended and not very Einstein-like, I have over time come across rich countless others, bearing the names of remarkable individuals as authors. Putting the light beam on Einstein now (he started this *smiles*), I’ve seen his name on hosts of quotes it actually got to the point where I began to wonder if he was more of a philosopher or quotes lover than a physicist.
In my opinion I think Einstein and other notable elites didn’t say all those things, a few (at least) were only ascribed to them perhaps by virtue of their erudition and status. If that’s the case, why then would someone make them the author of a text that never belonged to them? I think I’ve answered that. To what end?
In the quest for an answer, I could only imagine myself writing a speech or giving a lecture (ardent “bad-belles” will say yinmu…or show some attitudes here) and at the point where a sweet quote would fit so well, I dropped it like it’s hot and input an outstanding name as author, say Steve Jobs (even though it was something an apple hawker told me). What do I get to lose? People re-read or pay attention (Hello! It’s Steve), my points are buttressed…and most importantly, Mr Jobs isn’t around to say I’ve lied or done a deceitful job. C’est fini!
Countless quotations bear “Unknown author” as the writer. Does it mean that names or faces can’t be put to them because the writers are not known (as the “unknown” implies) or can’t be physically found…or because the names, even if known, are less significant as far as the society is concerned?
Generalisation is reputed for being erroneous, but I’ll cast my vote for the latter.
Morale of the story:
“Nobody cares what you say until you put rich value(s) to your name.” — Adewoyin Joseph
The great Madiba, I mean the most revered Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela himself sure knew this, but now he’s gone to rest you can’t ask him to explain.
Go ahead and change the author above to Julius Ceasar or Winston Churchill, I’ll go to church for your sake and ceaselessly pray for you. You’re watched. [smiles]
For your relish, here’s another one by “Socrates”, some over 600years after his death: