Anonymity

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Many of the bravest never are known, and get no praise. That does not lessen their beauty… ~ Louisa May Alcott

Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning "without a name" or "namelessness". In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.

This page contains quotes on the subject of anonymity; for quotes for which the author is not publicly known, see Anonymous, and for quotes by or about the social action group see Anonymous (group)‎‎.

Quotes[edit]

The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs. ~ George Eliot
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. ~ Oscar Wilde
  • We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.
    • Anonymous representative of the activist group Anonymous, as quoted in Yale Law and Technology (9 November 2009).
  • "People who make sacrifices are very much loved and admired, aren't they? " she asked, earnestly. "If the sacrifice is a true one. But many of the bravest never are known, and get no praise. That does not lessen their beauty, though perhaps it makes them harder, for we all like sympathy," and Dr. Alec sighed a patient sort of sigh.
  • Never answer an anonymous letter.
    • Yogi Berra, as quoted in He Who Laughs, Lasts (2004) by Anson R. Nash, Jr., p. 108.
  • We talked of the casuistical question, Whether it was allowable at any time to depart from Truth? JOHNSON. 'The general rule is, that Truth should never be violated, because it is of the utmost importance to the comfort of life, that we should have a full security by mutual faith; and occasional inconveniences should be willingly suffered that we may preserve it. There must, however, be some exceptions. If, for instance, a murderer should ask you which way a man is gone, you may tell him what is not true, because you are under a previous obligation not to betray a man to a murderer.' BOSWELL. 'Supposing the person who wrote Junius were asked whether he was the authour, might he deny it?' JOHNSON. 'I don't know what to say to this. If you were sure that he wrote Junius, would you, if he denied it, think as well of him afterwards? Yet it may be urged, that what a man has no right to ask, you may refuse to communicate; and there is no other effectual mode of preserving a secret and an important secret, the discovery of which may be very hurtful to you, but a flat denial; for if you are silent, or hesitate, or evade, it will be held equivalent to a confession. But stay, Sir; here is another case. Supposing the authour had told me confidentially that he had written Junius, and I were asked if he had, I should hold myself at liberty to deny it, as being under a previous promise, express or implied, to conceal it. Now what I ought to do for the authour, may I not do for myself?
  • We are clandestine because we refuse the spectacle of celebrity and we are everyone. Because without real names, faces or noses, we show that our words, dreams, and desires are more important than our biographies. Because we reject the society of surveillance that watches, controls, spies upon, records and checks our every move. Because by hiding our identity we recover the power of our acts. Because with greasepaint we give resistance a funny face and become visible once again.
  • The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
  • Faith lived in the incognito is one which is located outside the criticism coming from society, from politics, from history, for the very reason that it has itself the vocation to be a source of criticism. It is faith (lived in the incognito) which triggers the issues for the others, which causes everything seemingly established to be placed in doubt, which drives a wedge into the world of false assurances.
    • Jacques Ellul, L'espérance oubliée (1972) [Hope in Time of Abandonment] as translated by C. Edward Hopkin (1973).
  • Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation's price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood.
    • Hal Norby, as quoted in The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? (1998), by David Brin, p. 3.
  • Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million, five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace.
  • If I had remained invisible, the truth would have stayed hidden. I couldn't allow that.
  • You know C. S. Lewis, whom I greatly admire, said there’s no such thing as creative writing. … He said there is, in fact, only one Creator and we mix. That’s our function, to mix the elements He has given us. See how wonderfully anonymous that leaves us? You can’t say, “I did this; this gross matrix of flesh and blood and sinews and nerves did this.” What nonsense! I’m given these things to make a pattern out of. Something gave it to me.
    I’ve always loved the idea of the craftsman, the anonymous man.
    For instance, I’ve always wanted my books to be called the work of Anon, because Anon is my favorite literary character. If you look through an anthology of poems that go from the far past into the present time, you’ll see that all the poems signed “Anon” have a very specific flavor that is one flavor all the way through the centuries. I think, perhaps arrogantly, of myself as “Anon.” I would like to think that Mary Poppins and the other books could be called back to make that change. But I suppose it’s too late for that.
  • Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
  • I would venture to guess than Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
  • No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformations of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming. The thing that has never happened before is still happening. It is still a miracle. The great burning blossom squats, flowing, upon the limb of the world, excreting the ash of the world, and being none of these things I have named and at the same time all of them, and this is reality — the Nameless.
  • I charge you — forget the names you bear, forget the words I speak as soon as they are uttered. Look, rather, upon the Nameless within yourselves, which arises as I address it. It hearkens not to my words, but to the reality within me, of which it is part. This is the atman, which hears me rather than my words. All else is unreal. To define is to lose. The essence of all things is the Nameless. The Nameless is unknowable, mightier even than Brahma. Things pass, but the essence remains. You sit, therefore, in the midst of a dream. "Essence dreams it a dream of form. Forms pass, but the essence remains, dreaming new dreams. Man names these dreams and thinks to have captured the essence, not knowing that he invokes the unreal. These stones, these walls, these bodies you see seated about you are poppies and water and the sun. They are the dreams of the Nameless. They are fire, if you like.
  • To struggle against the dreamers who dream ugliness, be they men or gods, cannot but be the will of the Nameless.
  • Death and Light are everywhere, always, and they begin, end, strive, attend, into and upon the Dream of the Nameless that is the world, burning words within Samsara, perhaps to create a thing of beauty.

External links[edit]

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