Literary Vandalism

Something has been bothering me for a while.  It’s the way that people abuse quotes.  Everyone loves quotes, myself included.  I view them as a manifestation of my thoughts.  I can relate to what the author is saying.  Most of the quotes I see being recycled are either on Twitter or Tumblr.  People don’t appreciate them.  They inject levity into these works of art.  It’s literary vandalism.  Reading this, you might say that it’s their freedom of speech.  Do you even know what that means?  A person needs to be educated, they need to think for themselves.  Instead, they’re thinking other people’s opinions.  When a person is quoted, those words are taken out of context.  The value they hold are what we assign to them based on the amount as to which the words resonate with us.  I admit, I’m not that well read.  I’ve only read about 200 books so far.  To some that may sound like a lot.  It is those people who don’t even know who the author of their favorite quote is.  I don’t mean the name of who said it, I mean who the person actually is.  They merely stumbled across some website advertising the 100 best quotes in the world.  Honestly, I think those are the 100 worst.  Pick up a book and start reading it.  Highlight passages that you like, and scribble in the margins.  Understand what you’re reading, understand what the author is trying to say and where he/she is coming from.  Understand why the author would say what it is that they said, why they selected those particular words.  Writers are rewarded by having their words turned into a monument.  So do us all a favor, leave literature to us and vote for something like American Idol.


  1. While I agree (to a certain extent) with the point that you’re making in this post, I have to confess; the phrase “leave literature to us and vote for something like American Idol” made me cringe. So, here goes my attempt at constructive criticism!

    Who are we to turn our noses up at people and deem them unworthy or undeserving of literature? What right do we have to decide that? And who is this “us” you speak of, anyway? Who are these people that so boldly claim ownership of literature? Literature is for everyone; that’s the beauty of it! Why would anyone want to contain it? Let the American Idol fans quote, read, and write—yes, why shouldn’t they? Valar morghulis!

    • I’ll try to clarify everything in the best way I can. My post came from personal experience. I live in the Middle East, and a lot of people here think it’s weird that someone would choose to read as a hobby. These people go so far as to ridicule you for reading. I find it difficult to say that English is their second language. They do not try to educate themselves. They sit around with their iPads and iPhones, smoking a hookah, glued to the tv. And yes, they’re watching trash television (i.e. American Idol, or The Kardashians). The minute I pull out whatever book it is that I am reading I am bombarded with tens of questions: Why do you like to read so much? What do you benefit from reading? So yes, I get annoyed when I see these people quoting a literary figure, because they do not try to understand it, and hence, are undeserving of literature. I do not claim ownership over literature, but they certainly do not deserve it. The “Us” I mentioned are the bibliophiles, the people who love to read, and also the people who love to write.

      I appreciate your comment, and I hope this helps you understand a bit of where I’m coming from.

    • To Runt,
      Your literary quote from the book Game of Thrones, “valar morghulis” meaning “all men must die” is an interesting choice. I wonder at your meaning. It seems to validate what Mugren says about people “abusing quotes”

      I liked Mugren’s reply and it goes back to what he said in his post. You need to understand the author and where they are coming from and what they are trying to say.

  2. In regards to quoting without understanding, I do agree completely. I have noticed this myself a lot on twitter – some quote to get re-tweets, others do it to increase their follower count – both categories want people to notice them, but I often wonder how many actually stop to ponder and how many from those that do, actually implement this within their own life & towards refining their character.

    I also agree with Runt to a certain degree. Mugren, there will always exist pockets of ignorance irrespective of where we come from or reside. Rather than shun them aside would it not be more pertinent to help develop that awareness & desire for literature? Historically, people have always responded in the way you have described to anything that is not the norm of their society, but, does that mean we should marginalise them?

    • That is true, but those pockets of ignorance have become what they are because they are unwilling to change. It is they that have shunned us aside and marginalised us, not vice versa.

  3. Society will always marginalise that which they are not comfortable with, because they feel ‘threatened’ by it to some degree, they feel anxious and apprehensive around it. That is why they will never be willing to give it a chance let alone change. We, the ones who are seen as abnormal are responsible for initiating that change – and it can happen, otherwise society would have stagnated a long time ago.

  4. paperinahurry

    I agree with you about people misusing quotes, whether it’s on twitter or Facebook, it just takes away all the meaning and beauty from the quote and makes it nothing more than a combination of words.
    But I don’t think that people who don’t appreciate a good quote or book should be really blamed, especially in the Middle East, because literature really isn’t in the Arab culture, we’re mostly food, money and loud gatherings. Yes they should aim to improve, or at least try to read, but why would they if nobody tries to show them how wonderful it really is?

  5. Reblogged this on Paper in a Hurry and commented:

  6. I’m a major quote buff. As a matter of fact, I usually start all of my blogs with a quote that has something to do with what my post is going to be about. I agree that a lot of quotes are taken out of context, but some people LIVE off quotes. I have a friend who has literally done one whole wall in bedroom of nothing but quotes. It’s actually pretty amazing. And 200 books is quite a few……. I love what you said about highlighting passages and writing in the margins of your favorite books. I think I may start that. Books are an amazing thing. And now I’m rambling…….

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