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Sydney J. Harris (14 September 1917– 8 December 1986) was an American journalist for the Chicago Daily News and later the Chicago Sun-Times. His column, “Strictly Personal,” was syndicated in many newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.

He was born in London but grew up in Chicago, where he spent the rest of his life. He attended high school with Saul Bellow, who was his lifelong friend.

He became a member of the editorial staff of the Chicago Daily News in 1941 and began his column in 1944. His work landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents.

He was also a drama critic, teacher, and lecturer, and he received numerous honorary doctorates during his career. In 1980–1982 he was the Visiting Scholar at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. For many years he was a member of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. Harris was married twice and he fathered five children.

Contents

Bibliography

Collected Columns

  • Strictly Personal (1953)
  • Majority of One (1957)
  • Last Things First (1961)
  • On the Contrary (1964)
  • Leaving the Surface (1968)
  • For the Time Being (1972)
  • The Best of Sydney J. Harris (1975)
  • Pieces of Eight (1982)
  • Clearing the Ground (1986)

Other Books

  • The Authentic Person: Dealing with Dilemma (1972)
  • Winners and Losers (1973)
  • Would You Believe? (1979)

References

  • Staff report (December 8, 1986). Sydney Harris, a Columnist And Author, Dies in Chicago. New York Times

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.

Sydney J. Harris (14 September 1917 in London8 December 1986 in Chicago), was a syndicated essayist and drama critic.

Contents

Sourced

An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter...
A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.
Agnosticism is a perfectly respectable and tenable philosophical position; it is not dogmatic and makes no pronouncements about the ultimate truths of the universe.
A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
  • In shape, it is perfectly elliptical. In texture, it is smooth and lustrous. In color, it ranges from pale alabaster to warm terra cotta. And in taste, it outstrips all the lush pomegranates that Swinburne was so fond of sinking his lyrical teeth into.
    • “Tribute to an Egg” in Majority of One (1957
  • Nothing is as easy to make as a promise this winter to do something next summer; this is how commencement speakers are caught.
    • Chicago Daily News (February 20, 1958)
  • The public examination of homosexuality in our contemporary life is still so coated with distasteful moral connotations that even a reviewer is bound to wonder uneasily why he was selected to evaluate a book on the subject, and to assert defensively at the outset that he is happily married, the father of four children and the one-time adornment of his college boxing, track and tennis teams.
    • On Jess Stearn’s The Sixth Man, Saturday Review (April 22, 1961)
  • The beauty of “spacing” children many years apart lies in the fact that parents have time to learn the mistakes that were made with the older ones — which permits them to make exactly the opposite mistakes with the younger ones.
    • Leaving the Surface (1968)
  • An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.
    • Reader’s Digest (May 1979)
  • Agnosticism is a perfectly respectable and tenable philosophical position; it is not dogmatic and makes no pronouncements about the ultimate truths of the universe. It remains open to evidence and persuasion; lacking faith, it nevertheless does not deride faith. Atheism, on the other hand, is as unyielding and dogmatic about religious belief as true believers are about heathens. It tries to use reason to demolish a structure that is not built upon reason; because, though rational argument may take us to the edge of belief, we require a "leap of faith" to jump the chasm.
    • “Atheists, Like Fundamentalists, are Dogmatic,” Pieces of Eight (1982)
  • Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.
    • “What’s Wrong with Being Proud?” Pieces of Eight (1982)
  • Every morning I take out my bankbook, stare at it, shudder — and turn quickly to my typewriter.
    • On incentive as a journalist, quoted by Rosamund Essex Church Times (December 30, 1983)
  • As we grow older, we should learn that these are two quite different things. Character is something you forge for yourself; temperament is something you are born with and can only slightly modify. Some people have easy temperaments and weak characters; others have difficult temperaments and strong characters. We are all prone to confuse the two in assessing people we associate with. Those with easy temperaments and weak characters are more likable than admirable; those with difficult temperaments and strong characters are more admirable than likable.
    • “Confusing ‘Character’ with ‘Temperament’,” Clearing the Ground (1986)
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Strictly Personal (1953)

  • The principal difference between love and hate is that love is an irradiation, and hate is a concentration. Love makes everything lovely; hate concentrates itself on the object of its hatred. All the fearful counterfeits of love — possessiveness, lust, vanity, jealousy — are closer to hate: they concentrate on the object, guard it, suck it dry.
    • "Love and Its Loveless Counterfeits"
  • The difference between faith and superstition is that the first uses reason to go as far as it can, and then makes the jump; the second shuns reason entirely — which is why superstition is not the ally, but the enemy, of true religion.
    • "Purely Personal Prejudices"
  • The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.
    • "Purely Personal Prejudices"

On the Contrary (1962)

  • A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
    • Ch. 7
  • We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice — that is, until we have stopped saying “It got lost,” and say, “I lost it.”
    • Ch. 7
  • People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault.
    • Ch. 7

External links

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