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?


I've often wondered about the expression "if the shoe fits, wear it." I thought it might come from Cinderella's slipper, but "if the shoe fits" is almost always used in a negative sense, as in the answer to, "are you calling me a liar?" That seems odd since the shoe fitting for Cinderella was a good thing.


Chief Joseph (of Nez Perce fame) is supposed to have said -- "Where I go, there will I be"


The figmentfly link says that Thomas a Kempis wrote "Wherever you go, there you are" in his Imitation of Christ.



#11 You are correct. Decades ago, I purchased THE John Muir book, How to Keep Your VW Alive (mid 70s?) and it had that quote in it. I don't know if it was his or not, but that's the first time I encountered it. I love it! A person can try to escape who and what they are, but no matter where they go, there they - their essence and nature - are.

Andrea Eisenberg

Odd how the misquotes often reflect something completely different than the actual quote. "If the triangles were to make a god, they would give him three sides," clearly points out that people create the god that they need. The monks story reverses that in claiming that god would manifest himself in a form acceptable to the creature before him.

Our family discussed something similar last week regarding the quote The clothes make the man. Not only does that quote not make much sense, it differs greatly from what Shakespeare wrote, one of my favorite quotes:
"...for the apparel oft proclaims the man."


So was it Wayne Gretzky who said: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."? I thought this was a basketball reference...

Douglas Lax

Who originally said, " A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." or "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is BIG enough to take everything you have." ?

My search has attributed this quote to Thomas Jefferson, Barry Goldwater and Gerald Ford. The truth?

that one guy

i feel this

Rob Szarka

As much as I love Buckaroo Banzai, the saying must be quite a bit older than the movie: "Professor" Irwin Corey quoted (?) it on The Smothers Brothers' show in the 60s, See


"Wherever you go, there you are" comes from "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. Pretty sure that pre-dates Buckaroo Banzai...

Louie Ludwig

"That's it, that's all, end of the mall for the Joel Cooper heavyweight hall and thank you driver for getting me there. Remember, wherever you go ... there you are ... so don't forget your papers. Mmmbyebye."

Joel Cooper, KGW, trademark signoff