Look at all these quotes on the pillars around the dining room. Quotes from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury, Joan Didion, and all the others. You leave remains, but you don’t get to choose what remains. Now, think, each of these authors is all that remains of a particular world. For the most part. I’m not talking about other famous figures whose acquaintance they made as a byproduct of fame, I’m referring to those small personal worlds in which they grew up. It’s unlikely that anything or anyone remains of those worlds except for them, except for their work. Humor me, for the sake of this argument, and imagine that nothing but these specific quotes last, the quotes around the dining room. Now imagine that, in each case, the quote chosen for this room was the author’s least favorite. My question to you is, would you rather live on in one uninspired quote or die out completely?
Joan Didion isn’t dead.
Forget about Joan Didion. This isn’t about one specific author, it’s about the concept. Take Joan Didion out of the equation altogether and give me a straight answer. If you had to choose between being remembered in one uninspired quote or forgotten altogether, which would you choose?
If I was going to be remembered in one quote, I’d make sure it was my best.
Look, this is a hypothetical scenario. I’m aware of fact that all of these authors have plenty of surviving work. I’m also willing to cede the point, without you properly making it, that these are not their worst quotes. Quite the opposite, they’re all tremendous quotes. That’s beside the point. When operating in a hypothetical situation, for the sake of the argument, you have to work within the established rules.
That sounds to me like something someone who would produce an uninspired quote would say.