Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas March 7, 2007

Cause and Effect
541 Cause and effect, yes, but a rational explanation, no. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

368 It was obvious that the affair that had begun so lightly could not now be averted in any way but was bound to run its course to the very end, irrespective of the will of men. Tolstoi, War and Peace.

1168 It is beyond the power of the human intellect to encompass all the causes of any phenomenon. Tolstoi, War and Peace

1168 And so the human intellect, without investigating the multiplicity and complexity of circumstances conditioning an event, any one of which taken separately may seem to be the reason for it, snatches at the first most comprehensible approximation to a cause and says: “There is the cause!” Tolstoi, War and Peace

162 Politicians are already wrestling with the question of when an online service should be treated as a common carrier and when it should be treated as a publisher. Gates, The Road Ahead.

163 When they [on-line services] act as publishers, and offer content they have acquired, authored or edited, it makes sense that the rules of libel…would apply. Gates, The Road Ahead.

163 …we also expect them [on-line services] to deliver our e-mail like a common carrier without taking responsibility for its contents. Gates, The Road Ahead.

108 Justice Potter Stewart of the United States Supreme Court said about pornography that he could not define it but he knew it when he saw it. Newman, Strictly Speaking.

7 The commentator may be excused for repeating what he has stressed in his own books and lectures, namely that “offensive” is frequently but a synonym for “unusual”; and a great work of art is of course always original, and thus by its very nature should come as a more or less shocking surprise. Foreword. Nabokov, Lolita.

285 Nabokov: [In pornographic novels]: style, structure, imagery should never distract the reader from his tepid lust. Nabokov, Lolita.

285 Nabokov: Their refusal to buy the book was based not on my treatment of the theme but on the theme itself, for there are at least three themes which are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned...two others are: a Negro-white marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total atheist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106. Nabokov, Lolita.

287 Nabokov: And when I thus think of Lolita, I seem always to pick out for special delectation such images as Mr. Taxovitch or that class list of Ramsdale School, or Charlotte saying “waterproof,” or Lolita in slow motion advancing toward Humbert’s gifts, or the pictures decorating the stylized garret of Gaston Godin, or the Kasbeam barber (who cost me a month of work), or Lolita playing tennis, or the hospital at Elphinstone, or pale, pregnant, beloved, irretrievable Dolly Schiller dying in Gray Star (the capital town of the book), or the tinkling sounds of the valley town coming up the mountain trail...the nerves of the novel...the secret means of which the book is plotted--although I realize very clearly that these and other scenes will be skimmed over or not noticed, or never reached, by those who begin reading the book under the impression that it is something on the lines of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.... Nabokov, Lolita.

438 Why can’t they understand that you are explaining and describing, not advocating…after all, you didn’t write the plot of human nature. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

651 Freud: I did not invent man…all I am trying to do is to describe him, to find out what makes this most complex and confusing of all animals behave the way he does. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

158 [Spinoza’s] A Treatise on Religion and the State…appeared anonymously in 1670…was at once honored with a place in the Index Expurgatorius; and its sale was prohibited by the civil authorities; with this assistance it attained a considerable circulation under cover of title pages which disguised it as a medical treatise or an historical narrative. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

193 Spinoza: Laws against free speech are subversive of all law; for men will not long respect laws which they may not criticize. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

193 Spinoza: If actions only could be made the ground of criminal prosecutions, and words were always allowed to pass free…. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

247 Voltaire: I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Voltaire.

559 Johnson on The Beggar’s Opera: …I do not deny that it may have some influence, by making the character of a rogue familiar, and in some degree pleasing. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

95 Walker Percy: All I suggest is that pornography and literature stimulate different organs. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

106 Their [the censors’] goal was not so much to eliminate sex as to erase all signs that the leading lady derived either pleasure or money from the experience. Pierpont, Claudia Roth. “A Critic at Large: The Strong Woman.” The New Yorker (Nov. 11, 1996), pp. 106-118.

111 The infamous Production Code…cut sexual references to nil and required that in the end the audience feel that “evil is wrong and good is right.” Pierpont, Claudia Roth. “A Critic at Large: The Strong Woman.” The New Yorker (Nov. 11, 1996), pp. 106-118.

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