I picked up this quote book at a friend's house the other day. You know the kind of book I'm talking about. The most famous is probably "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," and they pretty much all contain the wit and wisdom of famous people like Shakespeare and Plato and Winston Churchill and Mark Twain.
And infamous people like Machiavelli and Adolf Hitler and Jenghiz Khan.
And obscure people with really fun names like Honorius Clementianus and Brewster Higley and Celia Laighton Thaxter.
There's even a guy in there named Albert Payson Terhune, who apparently wrote a book in 1924 called "The Heart of a Dog." I would quote his quote here, but it is pretty unmemorable.
Anyway, this particular quote book was called "The Great Thoughts," and was compiled by one George Seldes. On the cover, it also says, "From Abelard to Zola, from Ancient Greece to contemporary America, the ideas that have shaped the history of the world."
As I rummaged through the book for a few minutes, I was struck by several thoughts, none of which will ever get me quoted in a quote book:
If the book covers everything from ancient Greece to contemporary America, that means it would have to include our very own Rim country.
To be truly great, a great thought would have to be absolutely universal, meaning its wisdom would apply to life in the Rim country every bit as much as life in New York City or Timbuktu.
Of course we might have to change the wording of some quotes ever so slightly to make them work up here in the land of the Rimaroos.
But we have never in this column stood on ceremony or formality. This is, after all, cowboy country, and by God nobody better try to fence us in. If a quote needs to be altered, we are just the mavericks who can do it.
So here, for your edification and enlightenment is the beginning of a compendium of great thoughts and words of wisdom non-genetically altered to apply to life in the Rim country:
This quote, by Samuel Butler, is the one that got me thinking about this whole idea in the first place: "The three most important things a man has are, briefly, his private parts, his money, and his religious opinions." Now up here in "The Land of Little Money" (That's a famous saying too, isn't it?), we need to make a slight revision. Here is what I propose: "In the Rim country, the three most important things a man has are, briefly, his private parts, his religious opinions and his Payson Concrete hat.
Taxes have been a hot topic of late in the Rim country, and the quote books also have a thing or two to say on the subject. Considering the aborted bed, board and booze tax and the ongoing property valuation controversy, I submit that the following quote by Bernard Berenson works fine up here just as it is: "Governments last as long as the under-taxed can defend themselves against the over-taxed."
Destiny and free will would seem to be fairly universal topics. Poet William E. Henley once wrote: "I am the master of my fate;/I am the captain of my soul." True enough, but maybe the Rim country version should have a minor addendum attached: "I am the master of my fate;/ I am the captain of my soul./ So why must I shop at Wal-Mart,/ And eat potluck casseroles."
In the Rim country, of course, we are two nations the USA and the Tonto Apaches. Somebody by the name of Vine Deloria, Jr. once penned this nifty quote: "When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian simply said, 'Ours.'" The Rim country version would go something like this: "When asked by an anthropologist what the Tonto Apaches called the white man's money after they opened the Mazatzal Casino, a tribe member said, 'Ours.'"
This one quote book I have has a bunch of those laws in it like Murphy's Law. For example, Ettore's Law is that "the other line always moves faster," and Gates' Law is that "if there isn't a law, there soon will be."
From Ralph E. Roos comes one that is perfect for us RimaROOS, no pun intended. As originally hypothesized it reads, "If there's a harder way of doing something, someone will find it." Here's how Roos' Law would read in the Rim country: "If there's a harder way of doing something, the guy who designed the Wal-Mart parking lot will be first to do it."
And finally, from Lord Northcliffe comes the quote that explains what this entire column has been about: "Journalism: a profession whose business is to explain to others what it personally does not understand."
This quote, like the one about taxes, requires no changes.