Quotes Uncovered: Who Said You're Always Where You Are?

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

A while back, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.

John Christensen asked:

Attributed to Mencken: “To every complicated problem there is a simple solution, which turns out to be wrong.” Actually sounds more like Bierce, now that I write it.

The Yale Book of Quotations sources this as follows:

“There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” H. L. Mencken, Prejudies, Second Series (1920).

Greg Kennedy asked:

“No matter where you go, there you are.” I’ve heard it quoted in two movies.

The YBQ cites this quote:

“No matter where you go, there you are.” The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (motion picture) (1984).

Stephen Nightingale asked:

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Attributed to Plato, but per my web search a few minutes ago, no one has found it in his works — yet. Possibly Thucydides or Herodotus? Hesiod? Cain?

“If God were to make himself manifest to a clam, He would do so in the form of a very large clam.” I heard this at Catholic university many years ago from a very thoughtful and pious theologian who was trying to make a very serious point about religious tolerance.

According to The Yale Book of Quotations, “Only the dead have seen the end of war” is from George Santayana, Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies (1922). It is frequently attributed to Plato, as on the wall of the Imperial War Museum in London, in General Douglas MacArthur‘s farewell address at West Point in 1962, and in the film Black Hawk Down, but it does not appear in Plato’s works.

The second quote is similar to Montesquieu‘s line in Lettres Persanes (1721), which is translated as “If the triangles were to make a God they would give him three sides.”

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?


finally buckaroo banzai gets kudos!- my vote for best zany movie of all time

Richard Simon

Sorry, Buckaroo Banzai fans. It ain't so.

I personally heard the comedian Jackie Vernon use this line at a performance in Philadelphia in 1966 (and i'm sure it wasn't the first time he used it!


When did the Imperial War Museum inscribe that "Plato" quote?


Seems the Buckaroo Banzai quote is quite fiercely debated: http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/popculture4.html.

pieter wesselink

AA Milne!!!. Winnie the Pooh said:

"Where you are, there you are".

He had a magnificent turn of phrase, that bear, before Disney turned him into a vulgar shadow of his literary self.

Pieter Wesselink

David E Mulvihill

I recall reading the statement as, "No matter where you go, when you get there, you look around and there you are", some time in the 60's.

Long time and a lot of books ago.



The Montesquieu line is a rehash of Xenophanes of Colophon.

"If oxen and horses and lions had hands and were able to draw with their hands and do the same things as men, horses would draw the shapes of gods to look like horses and oxen to look like oxen, and each would make the gods' bodies have the same shape as they themselves had."

"Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and dark, Thracians that theirs are blue-eyed and red-haired."


I've seen “We don't know [one tenth / one thousandth / a millionth] of one percent [about anything / of what nature has revealed to us]” attributed to Edison and Einstein. What was the original and who said it?

Tim Ashby

I have always wondered about two quotes widely (and I believe inaccurately) attributed to Wayne Gretzky: "You always miss 100% of the shots you don't take" and "I skate to where the puck will be, not where it is".

In Canada, i've seen these dropped into dozens of business/sales presentations, but Wayne wasn't known as a big talker - was it him?


There is a very old camp song - I learned it in the early 60's - which went, in its entirety, "We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here." And that song, sung to Auld Lang Syne, came from WWI. It's not exactly the same but it's very close.


I'm pretty sure I saw it on a book from John Muir Publications. This link is to a relatively recent version, but I wouldn't be surprised if the first edition included the line "Wherever you go, there you are", and is much older than 1998.


Larry G.

Attribution please:

"The man who can be convinced in an evening, isn't worth convincing."

Theodoric Meyer

I've seen many variations on "If you have to ask, you'll never know." Who coined this expression?

Handa Shinobo

I always wondered about:
"money is the way strangers say thank you..."


I would like to know the origin of a quote my dad and I often use: The difference between communism and capitalism is that in capitalism, man exploits man. In communism, it's the other way around.
I've seen it attributed to a variety of people, including John Kenneth Galbraith


I have a quote that I'd like to knonw the orgin of. Cleanlyness is nest to Godlyness. Where is that from?

Lee Creighton

There is an oft-quoted Proust line

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes ... consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"

Yet I can't find it in any proust, anywhere.

Arnold D'Souza

@13 - My girlfriend. :-)


I heard a quote attributed to President Lyndon B Johnson -- as the president was about to board Marine One, a soldier told the president "Your helicopter is ready, sir," and the president responds, "They're all my helicopters, son." Was this, in fact, LBJ, or is this story apocryphal?

A.J. Venter

@15 - Not sure who said it first, but this expression became extremely popular in Poland in the years right after the fall of the Berlin wall - to the point of being deemed a proverb in Polish.

Since the Polish at the time had the time were in the rare position of being able to compare living in both systems within a short part of living memory, it seems likely that the quote could have originated there ?