Inspiration, Quotes, Productivity and More

214 Quotes & Aphorisms From Mason Cooley

Mason Cooley was professor emeritus of English, speech and world literature at the College

of Staten Island. He received his B.A. from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. from Oxford.

Read our list of Mason Cooley Quotes and Aphorisms

Self-hatred and self-love are equally self-centered.

Mason Cooley

Stated clearly enough, an idea may cancel itself out.

Mason Cooley

Staid middle age loves the hurricane passions of opera.

Mason Cooley

Some loves are like a vice that has ceased to give pleasure.

Mason Cooley

Sloth, not ill-will, makes me unjust.

Mason Cooley

Self-reform is the only kind that works.

Mason Cooley

Seeing my malevolent face in the mirror, my benevolent soul shrinks back.

Mason Cooley

Talk about yourself as much as you like, but do not expect others to listen.

Mason Cooley

The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.

Mason Cooley

Sincerity: willingness to spend one’s own money.

Mason Cooley

Taste refers to the past, imagination to the future.

Mason Cooley

The aim of literary ambition is to demonstrate one’s greatness of soul.

Mason Cooley

The beginning of self-knowledge: recognizing that your motives are the same as other people’s.

Mason Cooley

The beloved is the ultimate fetish.

Mason Cooley

The body has a mind of its own.

Mason Cooley

Romantics consider common sense vulgar.

Mason Cooley

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul has more threat than comfort.

Mason Cooley

Promiscuity is like never reading past the first page. Monogamy is like reading the same book over and over.

Mason Cooley

The gods are watching, but idly, yawning.

Mason Cooley

The higher the moral tone, the more suspect the speaker.

Mason Cooley

The discontented believe that their regrets are about the past.

Mason Cooley

Poor but happy is not a phrase invented by a poor person.

Mason Cooley

Often, when I want to consult my impulses, I cannot find them.

Mason Cooley

Old age: I fall asleep during the funerals of my friends.

Mason Cooley

Old and young disbelieve one another’s truths.

Mason Cooley

Only the broken-hearted know the truth about love.

Mason Cooley

Opportunity knocks, but doesn’t always answer to its name.

Mason Cooley

Orgasm: the genitals sneezing.

Mason Cooley

Other people’s beliefs may be myths, but not mine.

Mason Cooley

Outside books, we avoid colorful characters.

Mason Cooley

People believe that photographs are true and therefore cannot be art.

Mason Cooley

Rage is exciting, but leaves me confused and exhausted.

Mason Cooley

Philosophy likes to keen common sense on the run.

Mason Cooley

Romance is tempestuous. Love is calm.

Mason Cooley

Preserving tradition has become a nice hobby, like stamp collecting.

Mason Cooley

Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.

Mason Cooley

The power of lying is much less than the power of what is not to be discussed.

Mason Cooley

Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort.

Mason Cooley

The horse stares at its captor, barely remembering the free kicks of youth.

Mason Cooley

Reality is the name we give to our disappointments.

Mason Cooley

Reason enables us to get around in the world of ideas, but cannot prescribe our thoughts.

Mason Cooley

Reputation runs behind the current state of affairs.

Mason Cooley

Rereading, we find a new book.

Mason Cooley

Rescue someone unwilling to look after himself, and he will cling to you like a dangerous illness.

Mason Cooley

People who abhor solitude may abhor company almost as much.

Mason Cooley

Who would not give up wit for power and beauty?

Mason Cooley

Unlike the actual, the fictional explains itself.

Mason Cooley

We are more tied to our faults than to our virtues.

Mason Cooley

We are prepared for insults, but compliments leave us baffled.

Mason Cooley

Well-behaved: he always speaks as if his mother might be listening.

Mason Cooley

What lies behind appearance is usually another appearance.

Mason Cooley

When a man bores a woman, she complains. When a woman bores a man, he ignores her.

Mason Cooley

When I prayed for success, I forgot to ask for sound sleep and good digestion.

Mason Cooley

When sages commend excess, Desire is sick.

Mason Cooley

The passion for money is never fickle.

Mason Cooley

While we are reading, we are all Don Quixote.

Mason Cooley

Totem poles and wooden masks no longer suggest tribal villages but fashionable drawing rooms in New York and Paris.

Mason Cooley

Why do we never expect dull people to be rascals?

Mason Cooley

Without civilization, we would not turn into animals, but vegetables.

Mason Cooley

Women encourage men to be childish, then scold them.

Mason Cooley

Worried about being a dull fellow? You might develop your talent for being irritating.

Mason Cooley

Writers mean more than they say and say more than they mean.

Mason Cooley

Young men preen. Old men scheme.

Mason Cooley

Young poets bewail the passing of love; old poets, the passing of time. There is surprisingly little difference.

Mason Cooley

Office politics are bloody-minded, but weak on content.

Mason Cooley

Many gloat over their own troubles.

Mason Cooley

While there’s life, there’s fear.

Mason Cooley

The wisdom of age: don’t stop walking.

Mason Cooley

The lonely become either thoughtful or empty.

Mason Cooley

The man in the street is always a stranger.

Mason Cooley

The man of sensibility is too busy talking about his feelings to have time for good deeds.

Mason Cooley

The novel avoids the sublime and seeks out the interesting.

Mason Cooley

The only peace is being out of earshot.

Mason Cooley

The passions are the same in every conflict, large or small.

Mason Cooley

The ravaged face in the mirror hides the enchanting youth that is the real me.

Mason Cooley

The real secrets are not the ones I tell.

Mason Cooley

The sage belongs to the same obsolete repertory as the virtuous maiden and the enlightened monarch.

Mason Cooley

Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind.

Mason Cooley

The time I kill is killing me.

Mason Cooley

Travelers never think that they are the foreigners.

Mason Cooley

There are different rules for reading, for thinking, and for talking. Writing blends all three of them.

Mason Cooley

Think carefully before asking for justice. Mercy might be safer.

Mason Cooley

Thinking about the universe has now been handed over to specialists. The rest of us merely read about it.

Mason Cooley

Three meals plus bedtime make four sure blessings a day.

Mason Cooley

To be successful be ahead of your time, but only a little.

Mason Cooley

To confer dignity, forgive. To express contempt, forget.

Mason Cooley

To understand a literary style, consider what it omits.

Mason Cooley

To understand someone, find out how he spends his money.

Mason Cooley

The laughter of the aphorism is sometimes triumphant, but seldom carefree.

Mason Cooley

The shades of respectability begin to close about the greying head.

Mason Cooley

I love you is the inscription on Pandora’s box.

Mason Cooley

If we think about the obvious long enough, it dissolves.

Mason Cooley

Fulfillment is often more trouble than it is worth.

Mason Cooley

General statements omit what we really want to know. Example: some horses run faster than others.

Mason Cooley

Good parties create a temporary youthfulness.

Mason Cooley

Hatred observes with more care than love does.

Mason Cooley

Hatred of the mother is familiar, but the mother’s hatred still comes as a surprise.

Mason Cooley

Human society sustains itself by transforming nature into garbage.

Mason Cooley

Hypocrisy is the outside of cynicism.

Mason Cooley

Forgiveness is like faith. You have to keep reviving it.

Mason Cooley

I know that I am what I am. But I am not sure what I am.

Mason Cooley

For many, immaturity is an ideal, not a defect.

Mason Cooley

I read less and less. I have not forgiven books for their failure to tell me the truth and make me happy.

Mason Cooley

I see what you mean, but I do not think what you think.

Mason Cooley

I’m being treated like a sex object, cried the lady. No matter. I will take care of it, said Time soothingly.

Mason Cooley

Ideology has shaped the very sofa on which I sit.

Mason Cooley

If beggars do not hate the rest of us, they are even more abject than I had imagined.

Mason Cooley

If I play hard to get, soon the phone stops ringing altogether.

Mason Cooley

If modesty disappeared, so would exhibitionism.

Mason Cooley

If success is a habit, it is a hard one to acquire.

Mason Cooley

If the world would apologize, I might consider a reconciliation.

Mason Cooley

I have learned to keep to myself how exceptional I am.

Mason Cooley

Faith moves mountains, but you have to keep pushing while you are praying.

Mason Cooley

Observe decorum, and it will open a path to morality.

Mason Cooley

Even boredom has its crises.

Mason Cooley

Even cats grow lonely and anxious.

Mason Cooley

Even the most fickle are faithful to a few bad habits.

Mason Cooley

Events are called inevitable only after they have occurred.

Mason Cooley

Every day begins with an act of courage and hope: getting out of bed.

Mason Cooley

Every literary critic believes he will outwit history and have the last word.

Mason Cooley

Excuses change nothing, but make everyone feel better.

Mason Cooley

Friends are sometimes boring, but enemies never.

Mason Cooley

Fail, and your friends feel superior. Succeed, and they feel resentful.

Mason Cooley

I did not know I was in my prime until afterwards.

Mason Cooley

Families in which nothing is ever discussed usually have a lot not to discuss.

Mason Cooley

Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it.

Mason Cooley

Fastidious taste makes enjoyment a struggle.

Mason Cooley

Fears and lies intensify consciousness.

Mason Cooley

Few artists can afford artistic temperament.

Mason Cooley

Few friendships could survive the moodiness of love affairs.

Mason Cooley

First literature came to refer only to itself, the literary theory.

Mason Cooley

Flattery and insults raise the same question: What do you want?

Mason Cooley

Folly always knows the answer.

Mason Cooley

Expensive advertising courts us with hints and images. The ordinary kind merely says, Buy.

Mason Cooley

If you are going to break a Law of Art, make the crime interesting.

Mason Cooley

Lying just for the fun of it is either art or pathology.

Mason Cooley

Magic trick: to make people disappear, ask them to fulfill their promises.

Mason Cooley

Malice is always authentic and sincere.

Mason Cooley

Middle age went by while I was mourning for my lost youth.

Mason Cooley

Melancholy is as seductive as Ecstasy.

Mason Cooley

Eternity eludes us, even as a thought.

Mason Cooley

Mind and body obstruct one another’s pleasures.

Mason Cooley

Minds will wander even during the Last Judgment.

Mason Cooley

Mistakes are the only universal form of originality.

Mason Cooley

Lust and greed are more gullible than innocence.

Mason Cooley

Money: power at its most liquid.

Mason Cooley

Moo may represent an idea, but only the cow knows.

Mason Cooley

Most people regard getting their way as a matter of simple justice.

Mason Cooley

Humor does not rescue us from unhappiness, but enables us to move back from it a little.

Mason Cooley

My mind is led astray by every faint rustle.

Mason Cooley

My parents wanted me to solace them for sorrows they denied having had.

Mason Cooley

My passions have never jumped out of the fireplace and set fire to the carpet.

Mason Cooley

My thought has been shaped by books; my desires by pictures.

Mason Cooley

Never ask a bore a question.

Mason Cooley

Never try to leap from a standstill.

Mason Cooley

No chaos, no creation. Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.

Mason Cooley

Money is to my social existence what health is to my body.

Mason Cooley

In psychoanalysis, only the fee is exactly what it seems to be.

Mason Cooley

Most reputations are not ruined but forgotten.

Mason Cooley

Love begins with an image; lust with a sensation.

Mason Cooley

If you call failures experiments, you can put them in your resume and claim them as achievements.

Mason Cooley

Imagination has rules, but we can only guess what they are.

Mason Cooley

In bridge clubs and in councils of state, the passions are the same.

Mason Cooley

In love, we worry more about the meaning of silences than the meaning of words.

Mason Cooley

In the game of love, the losers are more celebrated than the winners.

Mason Cooley

In the street, the gaze of desire is furtive or menacing.

Mason Cooley

Innocence is thought charming because it offers delightful possibilities for exploitation.

Mason Cooley

Innocence: I am only stepping on your face because it lies in my path.

Mason Cooley

Irony regards every simple truth as a challenge.

Mason Cooley

Language is the friendliest of the things from which we cannot escape.

Mason Cooley

Logic teaches rules for presentation, not thinking.

Mason Cooley

In every death, a busy world comes to an end.

Mason Cooley

It is possible to interpret without observing, but not to observe without interpreting.

Mason Cooley

Living alone makes it harder to find someone to blame.

Mason Cooley

Listening to people keeps them entertained.

Mason Cooley

Logic and fact keep interfering with the easy flow of conversation.

Mason Cooley

Kindness eases everything almost as much as money does.

Mason Cooley

Kafka: cries of helplessness in twenty powerful volumes.

Mason Cooley

Journalism never admits that nothing much is happening.

Mason Cooley

Don’t stare into a mirror when you are trying to solve a problem.

Mason Cooley

Consciousness is our only reprieve from Time.

Mason Cooley

Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.

Mason Cooley

Critic’s delight: scolding the Mighty Dead.

Mason Cooley

Cruelty is softened by fear, not pity.

Mason Cooley

Cure for an obsession: get another one.

Mason Cooley

Cynicism is full of naive disappointments.

Mason Cooley

Dancing and running shake up the chemistry of happiness.

Mason Cooley

Documents create a paper reality we call proof.

Mason Cooley

Conscious thought is the tidying up at the end.

Mason Cooley

A real idea keeps changing and appears in many places.

Mason Cooley

Death is frightening, and so is Eternal Life.

Mason Cooley

An omnipotent God is the only being with no reason to lie.

Mason Cooley

Affection reproaches, but does not denounce.

Mason Cooley

Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining.

Mason Cooley

A blocked path also offers guidance.

Mason Cooley

A blunt statement can be as false as any other.

Mason Cooley

A great reader seldom recognizes his solitude.

Mason Cooley

A happy arrangement: many people prefer cats to other people, and many cats prefer people to other cats.

Mason Cooley

A sense of blessedness comes from a change of heart, not from more blessings.

Mason Cooley

After an argument, silence may mean acceptance or the continuation of resistance by other means.

Mason Cooley

After my spectacular failures, I could not be satisfied with an ordinary success.

Mason Cooley

An academic dialect is perfected when its terms are hard to understand and refer only to one another.

Mason Cooley

Bad faith likes discourse on friendship and loyalty.

Mason Cooley

Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves.

Mason Cooley

City people make most of the fuss about the charms of country life.

Mason Cooley

Children use all their wiles to get their way with adults. Adults do the same with children.

Mason Cooley

Children now expect their parents to audition for approval.

Mason Cooley

Cats are inquisitive, but hate to admit it.

Mason Cooley

Amazing that the human race has taken enough time out from thinking about food or sex to create the arts and sciences.

Mason Cooley

‘Be faithful to your roots’ is the liberal version of ‘Stay in your ghetto.’

Mason Cooley

Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.

Mason Cooley

At sixty, I know little more about wisdom than I did at thirty, but I know a great deal more about folly.

Mason Cooley

As equality increases, so does the number of people struggling for predominance.

Mason Cooley

Art seduces, but does not exploit.

Mason Cooley

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