Why quotations matter

Citing other people is not lazy, if …

Usually it does not take a long time to find out that I am a big fan of quotations. Depending on the context I drop one quote after the other. This seems to be sometimes disturbing to my social environment, since it can lead to the conclusion that I am trying to impress others. Quite the opposite is the case.

I just want to be as exact as possible. I try to remember every detail about a quote, so it is not only about the author and the year (which provides as meta data already some meta information), but also the publishing house and most important … the original context of the quote. I like to remember as many details as I can, in order to give the author the necessary credits AND understand the quote better.

In short: I do not want to pretend that it is me who have found a cool construct of words – and by remembering all the other details it helps me to think about another one’s thought.

It is my personal ethos which drives me towards this kind of behavior. I like truthfulness and give the “source of an idea” the necessary respect. In German there is a saying, which can be easily translated to English. It says: “Don’t decorate yourself with feathers from others.”. This is one of my prime directives. I am very aware of the fact, that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. In other words: Not giving props is unethical to me.

Therefore, I am not too lazy to think my own thoughts on a matter – but I give props to the ones who invented a catchy quote, be it a metaphor, an aphorism or whatever. And for sure I use quotes as a foundation to develop further thoughts, reformulate statements to gain insights … and a fundamental understanding of a topic. Again simplified: I do not want to fall into the trap of the [[Not invented here Syndrom]].

Actually this is anything but new – we build upon each others knowledge. At the same time one has to be careful. Like Karl Valentin once expressed: “Everything was said, but not by everyone.”.

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