Quotable: Marie Curie & Melissa Etheridge on Fear and Understanding

Good morning!

      Some years ago, I was either told, or worked out of necessity, that keeping a notebook is an essential habit for a writer, just as it is for a scientist. There are some truly glorious examples of notebooks online- pinterest is full of boards of notebooks by the great and the good and they make illuminating viewing : like little snapshots of the contents of some of history's most impressive brains for the rest of us to peer at.

     My own notebooks are a mixture of work and personal things, with a good number of photographs glued in to their battered pages. I learned this latter habit from Pete Docherty of all people, or at least, from seeing a volume of scans of his notebooks, complete with torn-edged photographic inclusions, on sale in my local Waterstones.

      Of course, including photographs creates a problem with getting the books to close neatly. Typically about 3 ordinary pages have to be removed- trimmed about 1/2cm from their bindings- in order to accommodate the thicker photographic paper. It depends upon how thick the double-sided tape is that is used to stick in the photos and you have to space the images so that too great a strain is not placed on the remaining pages or any one section of the bindings. A notebook made from watercolour paper in many ways works better for this, since then you only need to remove about 1 page per photograph, with an extra one taken out every 10 photographs or so for good measure.

     I used to add humourous cartoons cut from papers to liven the more terse sections, but it is astonishing how fast such inclusions date. The other element has always been quotations. Again, there are entire boards on Pinterest devoted to quotations of humanity's movers and shakers through the aeons, so collecting quotations is a hobby that quite a lot of people share. As a creature of short attention span, I love the brevity and the pithiness of these kinds of collections. It's like a low-callorie form of culture: all the thought distilled into half the words. Rather ironic for a writer.

     Anyway, I want to share some of these quotes on here; sometimes with commentary, more often without. As people say so often on twitter "retweeting [quoting] does not necessarily signify endorsement". I entirely disagree with some of my favourite quotes, yet I like the fact that they make me think....and thinking leads, often as not, to a greater understanding....and surely that's a major part of the point of life itself? At their cores, both love and empathy have a generous dose of understanding- whether that be through intellectual or emotional reasoning.

     On the subject of understanding, quote No. 1. is from Marie Curie- the Grand Lady of Physics herself-

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
- Marie Curie

     To follow this, I'd like to end with another quote on fear- in many ways it is a complete non-sequitur, to any other quote in the collection. Yet it has a great truth and admirable succinctness to it and has been much on my mind of late-

"Our power ends/ Precisely where our fear begins"
- Melissa Etheridge, Heart of a Woman

You could, perhaps, combine these two ideas and conclude that with greater understanding comes lesser fear and thus more power. I prefer to think of greater understanding (as distinct from just greater knowledge) leading to greater compassion, with empathy and love and inevitable consequence of understanding one another. No doubt that is naive, but you could argue that sometimes an uplifting idea can be useful, even if it is ultimately naive. All of which is rather philosophical for first thing on a Monday morning, but there you go. Here's to an uplifting week. 



  1. Marie Curie is such a hero of mine. Pierre, too, but you hardly ever see quotes from him. Not many on "brainy quote" or elsewhere either. Melissa Etheridge, not such a hero. lol.

  2. The quotes are fine, but you can't put Melissa Etheridge beside Marie Curie. There is no comparison! Would you put a child's drawing beside a Da Vinci?! No. I think not.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Bryan and RJT. RJT-sure-some people on here are more renowned than others or just working in such different fields that you cannot hope to compare them with one another. That said, I am not sure that it needs to be a competition and I think the ideas are often more interesting than the people who say them. Like most people, I have my "heroes" but I also quote a fair few people that I think have something interesting to say, whether or not I admire them as people. For example, I don't know masses about either Oliver Cromwell or Giacomo Leopardi (or Melissa Etheridge, for that matter), but I like the quotes from them that appear on here. Thanks for following. Best Wishes, Victoria


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