Why Do Authors Matter?

I often come across quotes that grab my attention so strongly it feels as if I’ve been hit in the gut.  How my exact feelings were so eloquently put is beyond me.  I then quickly scan to the author’s name, only to be faced with 3 options—and all are vaguely disappointing.

It matters who said what.  It really does.  Depending on who you are, you may wish to recognize the famous name, you may wish to find an inconspicuous author, or you may wish to revel in its anonymity.  Whatever the case, though, doesn’t it always seem that you end up slightly disappointed?  An ideal result would be all three rolled into one.

Known Authors

Finding a quote by someone you admire, respect, and revere is pretty gratifying, yes?  You feel like you’re connecting with that person, you feel like you’re justified in your feelings, you feel like you’re wiser for agreeing with such an authority.  And that’s the thing about it: Authority.  When someone has “been there, done that”, it almost gives them an air of clout.  Their words and actions are influential, brave, purposeful, and spot-on.

In the same discovery, though, it almost ruins the fun of the journey.  I almost wish that it were someone unknown, up and coming, or completely anonymous, because I want to retain my individuality.  I want to know that I don’t need Vivienne Westwood to justify my feelings; I felt that before she said it!  But why does it feel so indulgent?

Unknown Authors

Then I find another quote that just gets me.  I get excited at the prospect of the author, find it’s someone I’ve never heard of, and am instantly disappointed.  The weight that this quote has on me somehow doesn’t mean as much.  But in the same breath, it means everything because it was said.

Now I’m torn.  I’ve discovered this new brilliant source of intelligence and get to explore their opinions and works, but it still somehow feels less adequate.  Why can’t it be someone just a little more noteworthy, I wonder?

Anonymous Authors

The perfect blend; or so one would think.  The beauty in the anonymous author is that there is no preconceived notion, no known context, and no applicable example.  It’s literally in the eye of the beholder as it’s left up to each individual’s interpretations.  But wait, why is it somehow less significant?

How am I supposed to feel connected if I don’t know who said this?  And furthermore, how do I quote a nonexistent source?  It came from somewhere, shouldn’t I pay them respect?  Or, are they so ashamed of their true feelings that they chose to live in obscurity?  I just lack that feeling of true connection if I don’t know the specifics; yet at the same time I cherish its open-endedness. 

So, it’s that anticlimactic end to a quote that sometimes leaves me digging for more.  It’s as if one day I’ll find the perfect blend of unchartered, anonymous fame; but if I find it, will I truly be satisfied? Or, maybe the answer is to dig deep within myself and put my own words out there?

What are your opinions on quotes’ authors?  Do you appreciate any of the above more than another?  Or are you like me: 99% hypnotized and 1% longing.