A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)
What I am in the eyes of most people - a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person - somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then - even if that were absolutely true, then I should like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.
Vincent van Gogh
What am I in the eyes of most people - a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person - somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then - even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.
Vincent Van Gogh
Jeremy and Karl and Elizabeth have known each other since the first day of kindergarten. Amy and Talis are a year younger... Now the five are inseparable; invincible. They imagine that life will always be like this-like a television show in eternal syndication-that they will always have each other. They use the same vocabulary. They borrow each other's books and music. They share lunches, and they never say anything when Jeremy comes over and takes a shower. They all know Jeremy's father is eccentric. He's supposed to be eccentric. He's a novelist.
On a very rough-and-ready basis we might define an eccentric as a man who is a law unto himself, and a crank as one who, having determined what the law is, insists on laying it down to others. An eccentric puts ice cream on steak simply because he likes it; should a crank do so, he would endow the act with moral grandeur and straightaway denounce as sinners (or reactionaries) all who failed to follow suit.... Cranks, at their most familiar, are a sort of peevish prophets, and it's not enough that they should be in the right; others must also be in the wrong.
In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.
John Stuart Mill