“As I looked out into the night sky,” said the great Peter Cook, “across all those infinite stars,” he continued, “it made me realise how insignificant they are.”

Like a comfort blanket, I reach for this line whenever I encounter the opposite: sanctimony, earnestness, unearned wisdom. The modern genre of “inspirational quotes” has given us “Let go and trust the universe” (bad advice), “Always chase your passion” (contradictory), “Everything happens for a reason” (no it doesn’t) and “All great change is preceded by chaos” (unhistoric).

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