Tag Archives: Russell Brand

The Male Libido is Like Being Chained to a Madman

Socrates? Sophocles? Plato? Cephalus? Russell Brand? David Niven? Kingsley Amis? Apocryphal?

sophocles04Dear Quote Investigator: There is an ancient and provocative simile that helps to explicate the irrational actions of infatuated males:

The male libido is like being chained to a madman.
To have a penis is to be chained to a madman.

These words have been attributed to Socrates, Sophocles, and Plato, but I have never seen a solid citation. Perhaps this is not really a venerable observation. The comedian and actor Russell Brand mentioned the adage in his memoir “My Booky Wook” and credited Socrates. Would you please examine this remark?

Quote Investigator: QI hypothesizes that these expressions have evolved from remarks contained within one of the most famous works of Ancient Greece “The Republic” by Plato. The confusing multiple attributions stem from the indirect framing of the quotation.

In Book 1 of “The Republic” Socrates approached Cephalus and asked him about his experiences in the latter part of life. Cephalus responded by presenting some of his thoughts about aging and then relaying key remarks made by the prominent playwright Sophocles. Hence, the primary comments were made by Sophocles and were transmitted though Cephalus to Socrates and then were written by Plato.

Here is an excerpt from a translation of “The Republic” published in 1852. This passage did not mention chains; however, later translations used the word “bondage” with its connotations of enchainment, Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

…I may mention Sophocles the poet, who was once asked in my presence, ‘How do you feel about love, Sophocles? are you still capable of it?’ to which he replied, ‘Hush! if you please: to my great delight I have escaped from it, and feel as if I had escaped from a frantic and savage master.’ I thought then, as I do now, that he spoke wisely. For unquestionably old age brings us profound repose and freedom from this and other passions.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1852, The Republic of Plato, Translated into English by John Llewelyn Davies and David James Vaughan (Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge), Book 1, Quote Page 3 and 4, Macmillan and Company, Cambridge. (Google Books Full View) link

Don’t Bend; Don’t Water It Down; Don’t Try to Make It Logical; Don’t Edit Your Own Soul According to the Fashion

Franz Kafka? Anne Rice? Russell Brand? Apocryphal?
kafka17Dear Quote Investigator: The comedian and controversial wild man Russell Brand released the bestselling autobiography “My Booky Wook” in 2007 and the sequel “Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal” in 2010. The sequel had a fascinating epigraph on the first page: 1

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

This statement was attributed to the powerful and singular author Franz Kafka. But I haven’t been able to locate it in Kafka’s writings. Is this ascription accurate?

Quote Investigator: Probably not. QI has located no substantive evidence that Franz Kafka said or wrote the passage above. QI believes the actual author was the prominent horror writer Anne Rice whose books about vampires and witches have been very popular.

In 1995 a collection of short stories by Kafka that included influential works such as “The Metamorphosis” and “In the Penal Colony” was published by Schocken Books. The foreword was written by Anne Rice who stated that Kafka’s tales provided her with a guidepost and a decisive form of encouragement. Boldface has been added to the following excerpt: 2

Kafka became a model for me, a continuing inspiration. Not only did he exhibit an irrepressible originality—who else would think of things like this!—he seemed to say that only in one’s most personal language can the crucial tales of a writer be told. Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Only if you do that can you hope to make the reader feel a particle of what you, the writer, have known and feel compelled to share.

Anne Rice did not use quotation marks in the passage above because she was not quoting Kafka. She was presenting her perception of the motivating force behind Kafka’s literary works. In fact, QI believes that the philosophy of creativity outlined above is the one that Anne Rice has adopted based on the stimulation she experienced from reading Kafka’s stories.

Here are three additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 2010, Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal by Russell Brand, (Epigraph on first page), Quote Page 1, HarperCollins, London. (Google Books Preview)
  2. 1995, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories by Franz Kafka, Translation to English by Willa and Edwin Muir, Foreword by Anne Rice, (Foreword is dated June 1995), Start Page 1, Quote Page 3, Schocken Books, New York. (Verified with scans; thanks to the Beaufort County Library system of South Carolina)