Quotes on Change

BY Justin Clemens

THEME LEADER The National Gallery of Victoria

SUPPORTED BY University of Melbourne, as part of the NGV Triennial – exploring the emerging intersections of art, design, science and society.

Justin Clemens is interested in the notion of change as a mutating yet simultaneously consistent facet of our lives. He investigates this aspect from the imperceptible to the obvious, from the metaphysical to the physical, from the sociological to the political. For the NGV Triennial Voices, Justin contributes a selection of quotes on the theme of change obtained through a large variety of sources from all over the world, communicating this global phenomenon in everyone’s lives.

  • Podcast: Timothy Moore interviews Justin Clemens

If change went up the hill
To fetch a pail of freedom
Tomorrow it came tumbling down
Murries falling after …
Lionel Fogarty, ‘To: Brother Gary Foley, The Words Reveal Some Boy in Me & You’ (1982)

A changescape helps you think and feel so that you are engaged with the flux-infused world, so that you feel informed about that world’s maintenance and motivated by its momentum rather than distressed by its entropy.
Ross Gibson, Meanjin, 2016

Everyone’s always telling me, “Yo, you gotta change.” I’m about stacking change, y’all! Stacking change! That’s it.
Alien from Spring Breakers (2013)

I realised you could make change if you went about it in a certain way, if you went out and ‘organised the masses’ so to speak.
Gary Foley Grapeshot magazine (2014)

Changing differences
Catherine Malabou

A higher power or force says ‘You’ll have to adapt and shift and grow up, change in a big way, and I’m struggling with it.’
Brett Whiteley

Thinking changes things.
Joan Copjec

… she’s driving the ks between states
hoping her state of mind will change.
Ellen van Neerven, Comfort Food (2016)

Mutatis mutandis (The necessary changes having been made).
Medieval Latin saying

Something better change!
The Stranglers, ‘Something better change’ (1977)

If there is to be change, the change is not only going to come through the justified and courageous resistance of those who are oppressed. It is also going to have to displace the positions of hegemony and oppression.
Homi Bhabha

To restore education to its ideal point of invention returns … to nothing less than changing the world.
Alain Badiou, What is Education? (2017)

Don’t go changing.

A change is as good as a holiday.

The Winds of Change.
Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, 1960

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (The more things change, the more they stay the same).
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The scene was changed.
Mary, Queen o’ Scots, anonymous broadside

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.
Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ (1845)

It is not enough to change the world. Humans do this anyway … We also need to interpret this change, in order to change it.
Günther Anders, ‘Theses for the Atomic Age’ (1962)

They realise at last that change does not mean reform, that change does not mean improvement.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)

Only by constant willingness to change their minds and start again can they be trusted with so great a power as that to begin something new.
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (1958)

The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.
Peter Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (1985)

No change.

Change was incessant, and change perhaps would never cease.
Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Lao Tzu

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
Lao Tzu

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Frederick Douglass (1857)

Remain open to change.
Zhuangzi (c. 370 – 286 BCE)

It is not possible to step into the same river twice.
Heracleitus of Ephesus (c. 500 BCE)

Now look at human beings this way: one grows, another wastes away, and all are in process of change all the time. But that which changes its nature and never remains in the same state, must also be different by now from that which has changed. So both you and I were yesterday other men, and we are other men now, and again other men, and never the same, according to the same Logos.
Epicharmus of Syracuse (c. 485 – 467 BCE)

Eppur si muove (And yet it moves!).
Galileo Galilei, on movement in the heavens

A chemical compound once formed would persist for ever, if no alteration took place in surrounding conditions. But to the student of Life the aspect of nature is reversed. Here, incessant, and, so far as we know, spontaneous change is the rule, rest the exception – the anomaly to be accounted for. Living things have no inertia and tend to no equilibrium.
T. H. Huxley, 1854

Time … is the most radical form of change, but the form of change does not change.
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (1968)

The times they are a’changin’.
Bob Dylan, ‘The times they are a’changin’ (1964)

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know, that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken’, and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
Carl Sagan

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes/Turn and face the strange.
David Bowie, ‘Changes’ (1971)

The dictionary definition of change
means your face looks different in the water
& even tho’ you’d feel at home down there
each moment spent at one remove, anywhere
between the mammal & the sponge,
you know you’d miss a particular cassette
idle tears or a glass of gin
& be irked by the serious options
a changeless life presents e.g. ‘Minor
poet, conspicuously dishonest’ would look funny
on a plaque screwed to a tree
while the blue trace of your former life
suggests an exception
generations will end up chanting: for them
the parts of speech will need explaining
not lakes or sleep or sex,
or the dumb poets of the past
who, being lyrical, missed out on this.
John Forbes, ‘The Age of Plastic’ (2002)

Cupid is wingèd and doth change,
Her country so my love doth change:
But change she earth, or change she sky,
Yet will I love her till I die.
Attributed to Thomas Ford (1607)

Justin Clemens is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.
Timothy Moore is director of architecture practice Sibling.
Image: Nathaniel Mellors, Ourhouse episode-1: Time, 2015-16