Monday, April 30, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 30, 2007.

Note: Several of my readers have said that some of the quotes are convoluted and/or verbose. In either case they are hard to read. As a service to my readers, I will add at the end of difficult quotes a plainly written statement of the basic idea. Hope this helps. Rays.

Economics 383 Spencer: Economic relationships are so different from political relationships, and so much more complex, that no government could regulate them all without…an enslaving bureaucracy. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Herbert Spencer. [Regulating economics would produce an enslaving bureaucracy.]

Economics 383 Spencer: Economic relations must be left to the automatic self-adjustment…of supply and demand; what society most wants it will pay for most heavily. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Herbert Spencer. [Economics is essentially supply and demand.]

Economics and inflation 722 Soon they would be saying in Richmond, “You take your money to market in a market basket and bring home what you buy in your pocketbook.” Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. [Civil War inflation.]

Ecumenism 154 Mutual respect is a prerequisite for authentic ecumenism. Pope John Paul II, Threshold

Education 342 “We must never accept utility as the sole reason for education.” Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley

Education 267 Sir Eric Ashby: “To train young people in the dialectic between orthodoxy and dissent is the unique contribution which universities make to society.” Eiseley, The Star Thrower. [The purpose of a university education is to learn to deal with orthodoxy and dissent.]

Education 197 All this information, however, is not going to solve the serious problems facing many public schools today: budget cuts, violence, drugs, high dropout rates, dangerous neighborhoods, teachers more concerned about survival than education. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education 197 The problem of America’s schools are not insurmountable, just extremely complicated. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education 197 Even today, for every disastrous public school there are dozens of successful ones you don’t read about. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education 919 Robert Kennedy…laid emphasis on pre-school education, pointing out that the formative years of a child’s life were before the age of six or seven and that many children from poor families arrived in the first grade so far behind that they could never catch up. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

Education 12 …Beatrice O’ Hara absorbed the sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again, a tutelage measured by the number of things and people one could be contemptuous of and charming about…. Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise. [A kind of education that looked upon things and people with either contempt and charm.]

Education 250 If he can be educated to think clearly, concisely, and logically, freed of his habit of taking refuge in platitudes and prejudices and sentimentalisms…. Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

Education 553 JFK: “Any educated citizen who seeks to subvert the law, to suppress freedom, or to subject other human beings to acts that are less than human, degrades his heritage, ignores his learning and betrays his obligations.” Sorenson, Kennedy.

Education 7 “Idealism” . . . is now the fashion in our schools and colleges, where all aesthetic and most intellectual standards are being abandoned in the name of social harmony and the remedying of historical injustice. Bloom, Western Canon. [The purpose of a college education today is social harmony and remedying historical injustice, not scholarship.]

Education 483 Instead of calling on some scholar, I paid many a visit to particular trees…. Thoreau, Walden.

Education 237 He [Heathcliff] appeared to have bent his malevolence on making him [Hareton] a brute: he was never taught to read or write; never rebuked for any bad habit which did not annoy his keeper; never led a single step towards virtue, or guarded by a single precept against vice. E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights. [The education of a brute.]

Education 21 Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a school--not of a seminary, or an establishment, or any thing which professed, in long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquirements with elegant morality upon new principles and new systems--and where young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity...[but] where girls might be sent to be out of the way and scramble themselves into a little education, without any danger of coming back prodigies. Austen, Emma [A school for girls that did not inculcate morality and refinement, but which kept the girls out of the way of their families, with little education to disturb the status quo.]

Education 12 I am aware I may here be reminded of the necessity of rendering instruction agreeable to youth, and of Tasso’s infusion of honey into the medicine prepared for a child; but an age in which children are taught the driest doctrines by the insinuating method of instructive games, has little reason to dread the consequences of study being rendered too serious or severe. Sir Walter Scott, Waverley. [Education with games does not produce serious education.]

Education 12 It may…be subject of serious consideration, whether those who are accustomed only to acquire instruction through the medium of amusement, may not be brought to reject that which approaches under the aspect of study…. Sir Walter Scott, Waverley. [Those who acquire instruction through amusement will not be willing or able to study.]

Education 366 You can’t teach a baby to walk by explaining the matter to her logically—she has to learn the strange poise of walking by experience. T. H. White, The Once and Future King. [Experience is the only method for learning to walk,]

Education 104 …wince involuntarily, as we remember the hard knuckles with which the reverend old lady who instilled into our mind the first principles of education…was wont to poke our juvenile head occasionally by way of adjusting the confusion of ideas in which we were generally involved. Dickens, Sketches by Boz. [The old school marms used knuckles on the head to unconfuse one's ideas.]

Education 12 The New-England meeting-house, like the synagogue on which it was consciously modeled, was primarily a place of instruction. Boorstin, The Americans: Colonial Experience

Education 145 Rev. Hugh Jones: They [Americans] are more inclinable to read men by business and conversation, than to dive into books, and are for the most part only desirous of learning what is absolutely necessary, in the shortest and best method. Boorstin, The Americans: Colonial Experience [Americans are inclined to read men and conversation rather than books.]

Education 171 In Europe a “liberal” education, which would supposedly liberate a man from the narrow bounds of his time and place, was the property of an exclusive few. Boorstin, The Americans: Colonial Experience [A 'liberal education' was designed to liberate one from the bounds of time and place.]

Education 304 English visitors found it hard to believe that a prosperous ruling class would rather learn directly from experience than from books. Boorstin, The Americans: Colonial Experience. [Europe was skeptical of Americans' learning directly from experience rather than from books. ]

Education 162 That is, with due respect to Shakespeare and others, we want our girls to communicate freely with the live world around them rather than plunge into musty old books. Nabokov, Lolita. [We want girls to be lively rather than stuck in musty books.]

Education 310 ...early example of the American identification of learning with self-improvement. Boorstin, The Americans: Colonial Experience

Education 161 ...the institution might turn out to be one of those where girls are taught...”not to spell very well, but to smell very well.” Nabokov, Lolita.

Education 72 Whoever needs more than five hours of sleep should not study medicine. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

Education 161 Why is it that doctors see only what they have learned to see? Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud). [Doctors do what they have learned, not what they see.]

Education 497 Latin and Greek were introduced because they are a bore and because they stupefy the intellect. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Education 497 …it was not for the sake of studying the classics they introduced the Latin, but solely as a police measure, to stupefy the intelligence. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Education 381 “Part of our job is to take kids with sixth-grade educations and prepare them to go to MIT.” Wiliam Watley, Pastor of St. James Methodist Episcopal Church, Newark, New Jersey. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

Education 388 Schools in urban America are beset by multiple problems: students in poor health, streets filled with danger, buildings in disrepair, families without enough parental time and less take-home pay, teachers who are overworked and called upon to ensure safety as well as teach mathematics and history, administrators who become detached from the crisis and make holding on to a paycheck more important than improving the school, state legislators who mandate higher test scores without providing the needed resources and thereby force pragmatic principals to sacrifice genuine education and teach for the test, and parents who hate sending their children into a cauldron of drugs and blood but don’t have any good alternative. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past. [The many problems with today's urban schools.]

Education 399 The zest for lifetime learning will be the entrepreneurial energy of a knowledge-based society. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past. [Knowledge will be so prevalent that people will want to go on learning for a life time.]

Education viii …the function of the professional teacher was clear…to mediate between the specialist and the nation; to learn the specialist’s language…and find for new truths old terms that all literate people might understand. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy. [One role of a teacher is to mediate between the specialist and generally literate people.]

Education xv …we might build up in America an audience fit to listen to geniuses, and therefore ready to produce them. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy. [We need an audience who can listen to geniuses in order to produce them.]

Education xxv We are like Mitya in The Brothers Karamazov—“one of those who don’t want millions, but an answer to their questions.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

Education xxv …we want to seize the value and perspective of passing things, and so pull ourselves up out of the maelstrom of daily circumstance. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

Education xxviii Leonardo: “The noblest pleasure, the joy of understanding.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

Education xxviii Emerson: In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy. [Every person is my pupil.]

Education 26 ...studies are not to be forced upon an unwilling mind. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

Education 26 The elements of instruction...should be presented to the mind in childhood, but not with any compulsion; for a free man should be a free man too in the acquisition of knowledge. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato. [Children cannot learn by compulsion.]

Education 26 Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato. [What one learns by compulsion is not learned.]

Education 111 F. Bacon: To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation...crafty men condemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Francis Bacon.

Education 156 It was in accord with the Hebrew canon that every student should acquire some manual art. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Education 165 Spinoza: [Christ] accommodated himself to the comprehension of the people…and most often taught by parables. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Education 194 Spinoza: Academies that are founded at the public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men’s natural abilities as to restrain them. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza. [Schools don't encourage man's natural abilities; they constrain them.]

Education 521 Following up on Spencer’s demand for more science and less literature, in education, Dewey added that even the science should not be book-learning, but should come to the pupil from the actual practice of useful occupations. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey. [You can't learn best from books; you learn best from experience.]

Education 521 Dewey: In an industrial society the school should be a miniature workshop and a miniature community...should teach through practice, and through trial and error. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey. [People should learn in school as people learn in the workplace.]

Education 521 Dewey: must be re-conceived, not as merely a preparation for maturity...but as a continuous growth of the mind and a continuous illumination of life. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey. [Education should not be a preparation for learning, but should engage in actual production.]

Education 521 Dewey: Real education comes after we leave school; and there is no reason why it should stop before our death. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey.

Education 523 Dewey: ...mind and life are to be understood not in theological but in biological terms, as an organ or an organism in an environment, acted upon and reacting, molded and molding. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey. [Mind and life should grow through experience.]

Education 133 Whenever a given school system turns out to be relatively rational and effective, no one remembers the [school] ma'ams who make it so, for all the credit and glory are hogged by the super-gogues at the head of it. Mencken, Minority Report. [Successful schools do not praise the teachers, but the administrators.]

Education 129 Faulkner: People learn only by error. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

Education 193 …and in such weather as this I think one day in the fields is worth five in the school house. Jewett, A Country Doctor. [School houses shut children away from life.]

Education 198 M.L. Robinson: Be encouraged that what you know so well others know not at all. Hull, ed. The Writer’s Book.

Education 18 Johnson on Mr. Hunter, the headmaster: He used…to beat us unmercifully; and he did not distinguish between ignorance and negligence; for he would beat a boy equally for not knowing a thing, as for neglecting to know it. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1. [He beat us for not understanding something as for not bothering to learn something.]

Education 283 Johnson: Sir (said he) a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1. [People desire knowledge.]

Education 1020 You send your child to the schoolmaster, but ‘tis the school boys who educate him. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Culture. [The pupils educate the teachers.]

Education 1191 …this deep sleep of the higher faculties of man, coexists with a great abundance of what are called the means of learning, great activity of book making and of formal teaching. Emerson, Uncollected Prose. [Our minds are in a deep sleep notwithstanding that we know much from books and formal teaching.]

Education 594 It was complained…we are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing. Emerson, New England Reformers. [We learn words, but nothing real.]

Education 599 [Our education system]…is a system of despair. Emerson, New England Reformers.

Education 599 Men do not believe in the power of education. Emerson, New England Reformers.

Education 600 …the scholar was not raised by the sacred thoughts amongst which he dwelt, but used them to selfish ends. Emerson, New England Reformers. [Scholars did not use knowledge to help people but only to accomplish their own selfish goals.]

Education 629 …all are teachers and pupils in turn. Emerson, Representative Men: Uses of Great Men.

Education 419 Each mind has its own method. Emerson, Intellect.

Education 385 Experimental college at the University of Wisconsin: There were no classes as such, the emphasis…on education, on opening the mind…the first year…spent studying nothing but Greek civilization, the second nothing but nineteenth-century American civilization and comparing the values of the two civilizations. Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest. [Example of a reformed university education: comparing Greek and American society.]

Education 38 It is not a mind, it is not a body, that we are training; it is a man, and we must not divide him into two parts; and, as Plato says, we must not train one without the other, but drive them abreast like two horses harnessed to the same pole. Montaigne, Selected Essays. [Both mind and body must be trained together.]

Education 51 …I believe I should have brought nothing away from school but a hatred of books, as almost all our noblemen do. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Education 221 A good education changes the judgment and way of living…. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Education 418 For being more learned they are none the less fools. Montaigne, Selected Essays. [Greater learning can sometimes produce bigger fools.]

Education 12 In high school we obediently went through brief courses in elementary physics and chemistry, without the faintest glimmering ever percolating into our minds about the rigor and the glories of the scientific method, the long heart-breaking struggle of men to establish it against institutionalized superstition, or how and why it made our age fundamentally different, more wonderful and more terrible, than all preceding ages. Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream. [In high school we did not really learn the nature of learning.]

Education 487 Their [the American soldiers’] education had given them the ability to read and write and follow a map; it had not given them intellectual curiosity and without this they could not be said to have received any education. Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream. [Learning to read and write without curiosity produced almost no education.]

Education 290 Shame, despair, solitude…had been her [Hester’s] teachers…had made her strong…. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

Education 271 Mr. Weller on Sam: “I took a good deal o’ pain with his eddication, sir; let him run in the streets when he was very young, and shift for his-self...the only way to make a boy sharp, sir.” Dickens, Pickwick.

Education and society 524 Dewey: The first distinguishing characteristic of thinking is facing the facts--inquiry, minute and extensive scrutinizing, observation. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey.

Education change 254 In a changing world, education is the best preparation for being able to adapt. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education institution individual 204 The highway [i.e. Internet] will alter the focus of education from the institution to the individual. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education learning 204 The ultimate goal will be changed from getting a diploma to enjoying life-long learning. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education technology 184 Some fear that technology will dehumanize formal education. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education technology 186 Preschoolers familiar with cellular telephones, pagers, and personal computers enter kindergartens where chalkboards and overhead projectors represent the state of the art. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education technology 186 Reed Hundt, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission: …”there are thousands of buildings in this country with millions of people in them who have no telephones, no cable TV, and no reasonable prospect of broadband services…they are called schools. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education technology 191 Her ability to influence what she sees on the screen—to answer the question, “What happens if I click here?”—keeps her curiosity high. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education technology 192 I’ve always believed most people have more intelligence and curiosity than current information tools encourage them to use. [education and technology] Gates, The Road Ahead.

Education technology 196 Testing will become a positive part of the learning process: a mistake won’t call forth a reprimand; it will trigger the system to help the student overcome this misunderstanding. Gates, The Road Ahead. [Real testing helps students understand their mistakes.]

Education technology 198 The good teachers of the future…will use technology as a starting point or an aid. Gates, The Road Ahead.

Educational leadership 133 The [super-gogues] have incommoded the schoolma'am much more than they have aided her, and when she succeeds at her dismal task it is usually in spite of them, not because of them. Mencken, Minority Report. [Administrators get in the way of good teachers.]

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 29, 2007

Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol 229 Conrad Aiken: This [hashish and peyote], as we find in alcohol, is an escape from awareness, a cheat, a momentary substitution, and in the end a destruction of it. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Dueling 296 ...although we do not now quarrel according to the modes and figures of Caranza or Vincent Saviola, no one knew better than Fergus that there must be some decent pretext for a mortal may challenge a man for treading on your corn in a crowd or for pushing you up to the wall, or for taking your seat in the theater; but the modern code of honor will not permit you to found a quarrel upon your right of compelling a man to continue addresses to a female relative, which the fair lady has already refused. Sir Walter Scott, Waverley.

Duels 138 A story arose and lived on that when first, as the challenged party, he had his choice of weapons, he [Lincoln] said, “How about cow dung at five paces?” Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years

Dullness 280 Johnson: “Why, Sir, … is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him.” Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Earth 29 …the earth, far from being at rest is whirling through space in a giddy and highly complicated fashion…its daily rotation about its axis at the rate of 1000 miles an hour, and its annual revolution about the sun at the rate of 20 miles a second…. Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein

Earth 87 ...the radius of the universe is 35 billion light years or 210,000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 miles. Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein

Ecology 234 Thoreau, as is evidenced by his final journals, had labored to lay the foundations of a then unnamed science—ecology. Eiseley, The Star Thrower

Ecology xii [Ted Browning suggested]: Instead of first identifying the best areas for development, we can identify areas that are most important for conservation of natural processes, those of special and innate landscape character, and those suitable for modification to parks, playgrounds, green space, and so forth. H. Wm. Sellers, Director, Brandywine Conservancy. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 11 Somebody once said that developers often name their developments after what has been destroyed by the development...Deerfield; Quail Hill, Darlington Woods. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 26 ...a beauty that results when living organisms evolve into near-perfect harmony with the soil, the rocks, the water, the other creatures that make their world--with their environment. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 68 All things are connected--one of ecology’s bedrock concepts. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 70 Chief Stealth: Man did not weave the web of life/ He is merely one strand in it,/ Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 94 Chief Stealth: "If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit." Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 129 …the environmental breakdown is a crisis of spirit, dealing with the fundamental spiritual question: what should be the relationship of humans to earth…. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 129 The native Americans perceived of the great spirit as a kind of cosmic connective tissue stretching through all creation, binding all parts into a fabric of spiritual harmony. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 130 Chief Stealth, a native American philosopher of the Duwamish Tribe in Washington State said this: …every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every…humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people." Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 135 Wendell Berry: We go to the wilderness to be restored…the survival of wilderness--of places that we do not change--is necessary…wildernesses are places where nature is given a free hand and where people go only as guests…function as sacred groves, places we respect and leave alone. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Ecology 138 For the sun is part of us as we are part of it: the heat that makes our normal temperature 98.6 is solar heat, transformed and made available to us by green plants. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 28, 2007.

Dreaming 831 I must have fallen asleep, and had a dream, all the circumstances of which utterly vanished at the moment when they converged to some tragical catastrophe, and thus grew too powerful for the thin sphere of slumber that enveloped them. Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Dreams 94 Catherine: I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me, ever after, and changed my ideas…. E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

Dreams 345 What an air of probability sometimes runs through a dream…and at others, what a heap of absurdities it is. Austen, Emma

Dreams 306 Seven hundred years ago—or it may have been fifteen hundred according to Malory’s notation—people took dreams as seriously as the psychiatrists do today. T. H. White, The Once and Future King.

Dreams 1394 Just as in a dream everything may be unreal, incoherent, and contradictory except the feeling behind the dream…. Tolstoi, War and Peace

Dreams 188 As in a dream a man chasing another/ cannot catch him, nor can he in flight/ escape from his pursuer…. Homer, Iliad.

Drill and Routine
Drill and Routine 983 The second substitute for temperament is drill, the power of use and routine. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Power.

Drill and Routine 983 So in human action, against the spasm of energy, we offset the continuity of drill…spend the same amount of force over much time, instead of condensing it into a moment. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Power.

Drinking 391 Hawthorne on the pleasures of drinking: “The temperance-men may preach till doom’s day; and still this cold and barren world will look warmer, kindlier, mellower through the medium of a toper’s glass….” Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Drinking 39 A meeting between old friends should never be dry. Hawthorne, Fanshawe.

Drinking 49 One took his dram [of whiskey] because he felt sick; another to make him sleep well; and a third because he had nothing else to do. Hawthorne, Tales and Sketches.

Drinking 78 It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people…can hold your tongue, and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don’t see or care. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Drinking 122 We were all irritable now with the fading ale…. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Drinking 187 Gin-drinking is a great vice in England, but wretchedness and dirt are a greater, and until you improve the homes of the poor, or persuade a half-famished wretch not to seek relief in the temporary oblivion of his misery, with the pittance which, divided among his family, would furnish a morsel of bread for each, gin-shops will increase in number and splendor. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

Drinking 787 But the true purpose of their drinking—and one that will induce men to drink, or do something equivalent, as long as this weary world shall endure—was the renewed youth and vigor, the brisk, cheerful sense of things present and to come, with which, for about a quarter-of-an-hour, the dram permeated their systems. Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Drinking 789 The flavor of this wine, added he, and its perfume, still more than its taste, makes me remember that I was once a young man. Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Drinking 181 Hot punch is a pleasant thing, gentlemen--an extremely pleasant thing under any circumstances--but in that snug old parlor, before the roaring fire, with the wind blowing outside till every timber in the old house creaked.... Dickens, Pickwick.

Drinking 528 As the cocked hat would have been spoilt if left there, Sam very considerately flattened it down on the head of the gentleman in blue, and putting the big stick in his hand, propped him up against his own street door, rang the bell, and walked quietly home. Dickens, Pickwick.

Drinking : 17 Like a gas lamp in the street, with the wind in the pipe, he had exhibited for a moment an unnatural brilliancy; then sunk so low as to be scarcely discernible. Dickens, Pickwick.

Drunkenness 183 [Drunk]: he was conscious that he was talking in a loud voice, very succinctly and convincingly. Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 27, 2007.

Discussion 414 Cicero: For there can be discussion without contradiction. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Disease 235 Chillingworth: A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

Disease 235 Chillingworth: …a sickness, a sore place, if we may so call it, in your spirit, hath immediately its appropriate manifestation in your bodily frame. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

Doctors 64 …for we may lay it down as a maxim, that when a nation abounds in physicians, it grows thin of people. Addison, 3/24/1711. The Spectator.

Doctrine 83 The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude. Hoffer, The True Believer

Doctrine 85 The true doctrine is a master key to all the world’s problems. Hoffer, The True Believer

Dogmatic 260 …with bigness there often emerges a dogmatic rigidity. Eiseley, The Star Thrower

Dogmatism 263 The dogmatisms of each age wear out. E. Hamilton. The Greek Way

Doublespeak 206 Hitler: …after a critical diagnosis incurable persons may be granted a mercy death. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg.

Doublespeak 211 Race and Resettlement Office…responsible for the ‘racial’ purification of the Reich…. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg.

Doublespeak 312 …Keitel corrected the sentence with his customary purple pencil: “I did not say shoot[;] I said turn over to the Secret Police.” Conot, Justice at Nuremberg.

Doublespeak 472 Jackson: They all speak with Nazi double-talk…in the Nazi dictionary of sardonic euphemisms ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem was a phrase that meant extermination; ‘special treatment’ of prisoners of war meant killing; ‘protective custody’ meant concentration camps. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg.

Doublespeak 298 W.H. Auden: When words lose their meaning, physical force takes over. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Doubt 1197 The purest saints that I have ever known were long, very long, in darkness and in doubt. Emerson, Uncollected Prose.

Drama 423 Nietzsche…believes that our pleasure in the tragic drama…is a refined and vicarious cruelty. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Nietzsche.

Drama 109 Thornton Wilder: [The theater should be...] experience for experience’s sake--rather than for moral improvement’s sake. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

Drama 110 Thornton Wilder: ...a dramatist is one who from his earliest years has found that sheer gazing at the shocks and countershocks among people is quite sufficiently engrossing without having to encase it in comment. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

Drama 241 Johnson: …it is regarded as a kind of dramatic impiety to maintain that virtue should not be rewarded, nor vice punished in the last scene of the last act of every tragedy…[but] labors in vain to inculcate a doctrine in theory, which everyone knows to be false, vis., that virtue in real life is always productive of happiness; and vice of misery. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Drama 483 The curate: …because the public after seeing a well-written and well-constructed play, would come away delighted by the comic part, instructed by the serious, intrigued by the plot, enlivened by the witty quips, warned by the tricks, edified by the moral, incensed against vice, and enamored of virtue. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Part One: 1605.

Drama 120 And as the principal design of tragedy is to raise commiseration and terror in the minds of the audience, we shall defeat this great end, if we always make virtue and innocence happy and successful. Addison, 4/16/1711. The Spectator.

Drama 399 Euripides: These wholesome habits, then, of thought/ To this democracy I taught:/ I showed them logic on the stage/ Till logic now is all the rage. Aristophanes, Frogs.

Drama 1 Aristophanes created his own world and populated it with his own people, as a god might do. Hadas, ed., The Complete Works of Aristophanes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 26, 2007

Desire, fulfillment 323 Schopenhauer : Desire is infinite, fulfillment is limited. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Schopenhauer.

Desire, fulfillment 323 Schopenhauer : …fulfillment never satisfies. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Schopenhauer.

Desire, fulfillment 323 Schopenhauer : Each individual bears within himself a disruptive contradiction; the realized desire develops a new desire, and so on endlessly. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Schopenhauer.

Desires 72 …certainly, the mistakes that we male and female animals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it. George Eliot, Middlemarch.

Despair 267 Hester: There is no path to guide us out of this dismal maze. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

Destiny 385 I am constrained every moment to acknowledge a higher origin for events than the will I call mine. Emerson, The Over-Soul.

Destiny 1349 …so every individual bears within himself his own aims and yet bears them so as to serve a general purpose unfathomable by man. Tolstoi, War and Peace

Devil 53 It will be seen...that for all the devil’s inventiveness, the scheme remained daily the same: first he would tempt me--and then thwart me, leaving me with a dull pain in the very root of my being. Nabokov, Lolita.

Devil 216 I think if the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Devotion 15 All forms of dedication, devotion, loyalty and self-surrender are in essence a desperate clinging to something which might give worth and meaning to our futile, spoiled lives. Hoffer, The True Believer

Dialogue 246 Interviewers: Do you try to write a poetic prose? N. Algren: No, I’m not writing it, but so many people say things poetically, they say it for you in a way you never could. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

Dickens 317 Dickens: ...fairy tales...told as though they were sagas of social realism. Bloom, Western Canon.

Dickens x …the eyes which observed the tragedy and comedy of life in such vivid detail; which saw and recorded brutality and pathos, courage and despair, and all the innumerable absurdities of human behavior. Intro. by Thea Holme. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

Diplomacy 326 Second Athenian: This is the advice I’d give the Athenians--/ See our ambassadors are always drunk/ For when we visit Sparta sober, then/ We’re on the alert for trickery all the while/ So that we miss half of the things they say/ And misinterpret things that were never said,/ And then report the muddle back to Athens. Aristophanes, Lysistrata.

Diplomats 382 ...empty bundles of good manners. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

Discipline 225 [Johnson on the popularity of monastic life]: Man will submit to any rule, by which they may be exempted from the tyranny of caprice and of chance…are glad to supply by external authority their own want of constancy and resolution, and court the government of others, when long experience has convinced them of their own inability to govern themselves. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Discipline 434 Johnson: The master who punishes not only consults the future happiness of him who is the immediate subject of correction, but he propagates obedience through the whole school; and establishes regularity by exemplary justice. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Discipline 436 Johnson: It [severity] is the way to govern them [schoolboys]…[but] I know not whether it be the way to mend them. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Discipline 564 Johnson: The objection in which is urged the injustice of making the innocent suffer with the guilty, is an objection…against society…[since] all societies, great and small, subsist upon this condition: that as the individuals derive advantages from union, they may likewise suffer inconveniences. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Discipline 589 Johnson: There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Discipline 75 Joseph Heller: There’s an essay of T.S. Eliot’s in which he praises the disciplines of writing, claiming that if one is forced to write within a certain framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost and will produce its richest ideas. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 25, 2007. Demagogue. Democracy.

Demagogue 149 The persuasiveness of the intellectual demagogue consists not so much in convincing people of the vileness of the established order as in demonstrating its helpless incompetence. Hoffer, The True Believer

Democracy viii Peter Gay, quoting Bracher: “The German dictatorship has failed, but German democracy has not yet been secured.” Bracher, The German Dictatorship

Democracy 496 Whereas the old national idea emphasized divisiveness, the present demands that nationalism everywhere be replaced by an international policy attuned to the rules of democracies, to discussion and compromise. Bracher, The German Dictatorship.

Democracy 697 JFK: “For there is no place in democratic life for institutions which benefit the few while denying the needs of the many….” Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

Democracy 91 The spokesmen of democracy offer no holy cause to cling to and no corporate whole to lose oneself in. Hoffer, The True Believer

Democracy 173 When its existence is threatened and it has to unify its people and generate in them a spirit of utmost self-sacrifice, the democratic nation must transform itself into something akin to a militant church or a revolutionary party. Hoffer, The True Believer

Democracy 73 Lincoln: For my own part, I consider the first necessity that is upon us, is of proving that popular government is not an absurdity…must settle this question now—whether in a free government the minority have the right to break it up whenever they choose; if we fail, it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves. Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

Democracy 4 …the Athenian oligarchic party, led by Critias, advocated the abandonment of democracy on the score of its inefficiency in war…. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

Democracy 20 But even democracy ruins itself by excess--of democracy. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

Democracy 32 Democracy means perfect equality of opportunity.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

Democracy 88 …because men are equally free they claim to be absolutely equal. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Aristotle.

Democracy 195 Spinoza: The defect of democracy is its tendency to put mediocrity into power…. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Democracy 431 Nietzsche: Worst of all are the English; it is they who corrupted the French mind with the democratic delusion; “shop-keepers, Christians, cows, women, Englishmen, and other democrats belong together.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Nietzsche.

Democracy 432 Nietzsche: Democracy...the enthronement of liberty and chaos. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Nietzsche.

Democracy 521 Dewey: ...fellowship in occupation makes for a democracy. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, John Dewey.

Democracy 27 [In a democracy] the man who is barely human is treated as if he were the peer of Aristotle. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy 119 The elements in democracy that are sound in logic and of genuine cultural value may be briefly listed: equality before the law; the limitation of government; free speech. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy 139 …democracy…the heavy stressing of self-reliance, the doctrine of equality before the law, government by laws not men, the insistence upon free competition. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy 197 [Democracy] is, at its best, only a scheme to counteract the natural differences between man and man by setting up artificial likenesses…a relentless hatred of every sort of superiority. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy 202 The masses of the people are quite as incapable of deciding questions of government as they are of deciding questions of medicine. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy 219 We must grasp the idea that democracy is really not final and absolute, and that totalitarianism in some form or other may succeed it. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy 620 At first the critics were told that they should not be critics because it was not really going to be a war and it would be brief, anyway; then, when it became clear that it was a war, they were told not to be critics because it hurt our boys and helped the other side. Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

Democracy 250 Lincoln: As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master…expresses my idea of democracy…whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years.

Democracy and totalitarianism 147 The totalitarian paternalism of the Jesuits apparently fitted South American conditions enormously better than democracy[;] nevertheless, democratic theory prevailed, and the whole of Latin America has been racked by turmoil and corruption ever since. Mencken, Minority Report.

Democracy vs. aristocracy 504 Santayana wonders was there not more happiness for men in the old aristocratic doctrine that the good is not liberty, but wisdom, and contentment with one’s natural restrictions; the classical tradition knew that only a few can win[;] but now that democracy has opened the great free-for-all, catch-as-catch-can wrestling match of laissez-faire industrialism, every soul is torn with climbing, and no one knows content. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Santayana.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 23, 2007.

Debt 992 A man in debt is…a slave. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Wealth.

Decision Making
Decision-making 535 JFK: “We see little value in a [UN] resolution which would be primarily a means for a discharge of our emotions, which would be unlikely to be fully implemented and which calls for measures which could be easily evaded….” Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

Decision-making 316 The Iroquois believed that no decision should be made without considering its impact seven generations into the future. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

Decisions 983 But in our flowing affairs a decision must be made,--the best, if you can; but any is better than none. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Power.

Decisions 983 [On decision-making]: There are twenty ways of going to a point, and one is the shortest; but set out at once on one. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Power.

Decisions 826 …instinct is to search for precedent. Emerson, English Traits.

Definition 681 …Mr. Robert Bolton, an individual who defines himself as “a gentleman connected with the press,” which is a definition of peculiar indefiniteness. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

Definition 38 There are only three things worthwhile in this world—justice, beauty and truth; and perhaps none of them can be defined. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

Definition 180 Johnson: “To explain requires the use of terms less abstruse than that which is to be explained, and such terms cannot always be found.” Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Definition 180 Johnson: …nothing can be defined but by the use of words too plain to admit of definition. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Definition 8 …the relation between an analogy and a pun: in the former one truth lies under two expressions, and in the latter two truths lie under one expression. R V Jones. A Random Walk in Science.

Definition 105 It is indeed much easier to describe what is not humor than what is. Addison, 3/10/1711. The Spectator.

Déjà vu
Déjà vu 612 Natasha glanced at her, and at the crack in the pantry door, and it seemed to her that she remembered the light falling through that crack once before, and Sonya passing with a glass in her hand. Tolstoi, War and Peace.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 22, 2007. Dark Ages, Darwinism, Daydreams and Death.

Dark Ages
Dark Ages 346 The things that made the Dark Ages so dark—the isolation, the lack of mobility, the lack of curiosity, the hopelessness…. Clark, Civilization.

Darwinism 361 Spencer: …that the theory of evolution might be applied in every science as well as biology; that it could explain not only species and genera but planet and strata, social and political history, moral and esthetic conceptions. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Herbert Spencer.

Daydream 57 I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter into their lives…in my mind I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Death 138 Chorus: No wedding march/ No dancing song/ A sudden vista down stark avenues/ To Hades halls;/ Then Death at last. Sophocles. Oedipus at Colonus.

Death 180 Antigone: We’ll all die anyway…And if this hurries me to death before my time/ Why, such a death is gain. Sophocles. Antigone.

Death 113 He left a world for which he was unfit; and we trust, that among the innumerable stars of heaven, there is one where he had found happiness. Hawthorne, Fanshawe

Death 404 For, as we have only the testimony of the eye to M. Du Miroir’s existence, while all the other senses would fail to inform us that such a figure stands at arm’s length, wherefore should there not be beings innumerable, close beside us filling heaven and earth with their multitude, yet of whom no corporeal perception can take cognizance? Hawthorne, Tales and Sketches

Death “Tomorrow, the shadow on the wall be that of another.” 1963. Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley.

Death 172 Death is the only successful collector. Eiseley, The Star Thrower

Death 361 Fergus: But I am no boy, to sit down and weep because the luck has gone against me; I knew the stake which I risked; we played the game boldly, and the forfeit shall be paid manfully. Sir Walter Scott, Waverley.

Death 363 Fergus on his pending execution: Nature has her tortures as well as art, and how happy should we think the man who escapes from the throes of a mortal and painful disorder, in the space of a short half hour? Sir Walter Scott, Waverley.

Death 243 Some kind gentleman take my love to my poor old father; five years ago, he said he wished that I had died a child…I wish I had…I wish I had…the nurse bent over the girl for a few seconds, and then drew the sheet over her face; it covered a corpse. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

Death 494 Not five seconds had passed when he rose to the water’s surface—but what a change had taken place in that short time, in all his thoughts and feelings! Life-life in any form, poverty, misery starvation—anything but death. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

Death 235 …and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Death 478 "There's that little rockin' chair o' her'n, I set an' notice it an' think how strange 'tis a creatur' like her should be gone an' that chair be here right in its old place." Jewett, The country of the Pointed Firs.

Death 482 "Poor dear," I repeated to myself half aloud; "I wonder where she is and what she knows of the little world she left." Jewett, The country of the Pointed Firs.

Death 108 The notion that it is against human nature to want to die is…absurd[;] many men, in fact, show an active desire to die and have it over. Mencken, Minority Report.

Death 198 There was a new unsheltered grave on the slope above the river, the farm house door was shut and locked, and the light was out in the kitchen window. Jewett, A Country Doctor.

Death 206 Joel Sayre: …I hate everything that pertains to funerals: Not only undertakers themselves, not only undertakers proper, but tombstone cutters, florists, compounders of embalming fluid, drivers of …hearses, grave diggers, and even the little guy that arranges the folding chairs. Hull, ed. The Writer’s Book.

Death 123 Before the people had entered the house, there had been, I am sure, an indifferent, business-like look, but when they came out, all that was changed; their faces were awed by the presence of death, and the indifference had given place to uncertainty. Sarah Orne Jewett, Deephaven.

Death 343 Inscription on the dial-plate of Johnson’s watch: “The night cometh when no man can work.” Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Death 378 Johnson on death: A man knows it must be so, and submits; it will do him no good to whine. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Death 391 Johnson: Every man…at last wishes for retreat: he sees his expectations frustrated in the world, and begins to wean himself from it, and to prepare for everlasting separation. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Darth 11 But in this last scene between death and ourselves there is no more counterfeiting. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 30 So many millions of men buried before us encourage us not to fear to go seek such company in the other world. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 85 He is killed, not conquered. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 120 It seemed to me that my life just hung upon the edge of my lips; I shut my eyes to help, so I thought, to thrust it out, and took pleasure in languishing and letting myself go…an idea that only floated on the surface of my mind, as weak and feeble as all the rest, but, in truth, not only free from distress, but mixed with that pleasant tranquillity felt by us when we are gliding into slumber. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 480 Dying is not a social role. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 488 I am particularly pleased that in dying I shall hardly please or displease anyone. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 571 Consider how artfully and gently she makes life distasteful to you and detaches you from the world…. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Death 667 How many men, I wonder, does one meet with, in a lifetime, whom he would choose for his death-bed companions! Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Death 840 We all stood around the narrow niche in the cold earth; all saw the coffin lowered in, all heard the rattle of the crumbly soil upon its lid--that final if in the vain hope of bringing an echo from the spiritual world. Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Death 618 It may be remembered, however, that, of all the events which constitute a person’s biography, there is scarcely one--none, certainly, of anything like a similar importance—to which the world so easily reconciles itself, as to his death. Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables.

Death 407 One dies and either finds out about everything or ceases asking. Tolstoi, War and Peace.

Death 915 Prince Andrei: And tomorrow I shall be killed, perhaps not even by a Frenchman but by one of our own side, by a soldier discharging a musket close to my ear, as one of them did yesterday; and the French will come along and take me by my head and heels and pitch me into a hole that I may not stink under their noses; and life generally will go on under new conditions, just as natural in their turn as the old ones, and I shall not know about them, for I shall be no more. Tolstoi, War and Peace.

Death 915 Prince Andrei: To be killed be no more...that all this should still be, but no me. Tolstoi, War and Peace.

Death 915 He [Prince Andrei] pictured the world without himself...the birches with their light and shade, the curly clouds and the smoke of the camp-fires.... Tolstoi, War and Peace.

Death 1141 Then who was it who was executing him, killing him, taking his life—his, Pierre’s, with all his memories, yearnings, hopes and ideas? Tolstoi, War and Peace

Death 1158 She understood it to signify that he [Prince Andrei] had suddenly become gentle and resigned, and that this sweet humility could only be the precursor of death. Tolstoi, War and Peace

Death 1159 His speech, his voice, and especially that calm, almost antagonistic look betrayed the detachment from all earthly things which is so terrible for a living man to witness. Tolstoi, War and Peace

Death 1167 Natasha and Princess Maria wept too now, but they wept not because of their own personal grief: they wept from the emotion and awe which took possession of their souls before the simple and solemn mystery of death that had been accomplished before their eyes. Tolstoi, War and Peace

Death 98 All of that immense mass of flesh and bone and consciousness will disappear by absorption into the earth, without recognition by the transient survivors. L. Thomas, Lives of a Cell.

Death 52 ...there is still that permanent vanishing of consciousness to be accounted for: ...where on earth does it go? L. Thomas, Lives of a Cell.

Death 193 Even as he [Hector] spoke, the end came, and death hid him;/ spirit from body fluttered to undergloom. Homer, Iliad.

Death 286 They little knew, who coldly talk of the poor man’s bereavements, as a happy release from pain to the departed, and a merciful relief from expense to the survivor--they little knew, I say, what the agony of those bereavements is. Dickens, Pickwick.

Death 628 But he had grown so like death in life, that they knew not when he died. Dickens, Pickwick.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 19, 2007.

Crowds 159 ...for it’s not at all necessary for a crowd to know what they are cheering about. Dickens, Pickwick.

Cruelty 218 …the intoxication of cruelty…. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Cruelty 177 Among other vices I hate cruelty, both by nature and judgment, as the extreme of all vices. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Cultural differences 124 In Damascus, after I had shown a certain polite (I thought) interest in a young Syrian woman whose backyard lay right below our hotel window, I was warned by a representative of the hotel that under Islamic law the father could have my hand chopped off for such boldness…I stopped waving to her. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

Cultural differences 144 A key to our world leadership as a pluralistic democracy with a growing economy is our knowledge of other cultures. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

Cultural differences 144 Different languages challenge; different customs enrich; different political ideas broaden; different attitudes about the world surprise; different perceptions of American reality enlighten. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

Cultural differences 144 If we can absorb these new influences that make us a world society, even as we take note of the perspectives they offer about who we are as Americans, we can truly show the world the future. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

Culture 717 All cultures have evolved out of a suppression of instincts. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

Culture 239 Culture…is…an atmosphere and a heritage--say that of the Renaissance or that of the pre-Revolutionary Eighteenth Century. Mencken, Minority Report.

Culture 239 Take a boy from one cultural milieu and try to outfit him with the ideas, traditions, tastes and prejudices of another, and you succeed only in bewildering and demoralizing him. Mencken, Minority Report.

Culture 1051 As respects the delicate question of culture, I do not think that any other than negative rules can be laid down. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Behavior.

Culture 51 Schopenhauer remarked that the duel and venereal diseases were the only contributions to culture the race had made since the classical period…. W M Wheeler. A Random Walk in Science.

Curse 152 Formula for excommunication: ...we anathematize, execrate, curse and cast out.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Curse 152 Formula for excommunication: Let him be accursed by day, and accursed by night; let him be accursed in his lying down; and accursed in his rising up; accursed in going out and accursed in coming in. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Curse 156 Formula for excommunication: May the Lord never more pardon or acknowledge him; may the wrath and displeasure of the Lord burn henceforth against this man, load him with all the curses written in the Book of the Law, and blot out his name from under the sky; may the Lord sever him...from all the tribes of Israel, weight him with all the maledictions of the firmament.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Curse 152 Formula for excommunication: Hereby then are all admonished that none hold converse with him by word of mouth, none hold communication with him by writing; that no one do him any service, no one abide under the same roof with him, no one approach within four cubits length of him, and no one read any document dictated by him, or written by his hand. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Curse 888 Sanchicha [Sancho’s daughter]: A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Part Two: 1615.

Cynicism 692 With a little more bitterness, the cynic moans: our life is like an ass led to market by a bundle of hay being carried before him: he sees nothing but the bundle of hay. Emerson, Representative Men: Montaigne, or The Skeptic.

Cynicism 693 “There is so much trouble coming into the world,” said Lord Bolingbroke, “and so much more, as well as meanness, in going out of it, that ‘tis hardly worth while to be here at all.” Emerson, Representative Men: Montaigne, or The Skeptic.

Cynicism 721 …the professor’s tone represented that of worldly society at large, where a cold skepticism smothers what it can of our spiritual aspirations, and makes the rest ridiculous. Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance.

Cynicism 87 “Relativism leads to skepticism, skepticism to indifference, and indifference leads to cynicism…corrosive of all good human institutions.” Justice Anthony Kennedy. Jeffrey Rosen, “Annals of Law: The Agonizer.” The New Yorker, November 1966.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 16, 2007.

Criticism 205 Emerson on Hawthorne: “N. Hawthorne’s reputation as a a very pleasing fact, because his writing is not good for anything, and this is a tribute to the man.” Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 280 Poe claimed that … was ‘grossly uneducated’ and that he could not write ‘three consecutive sentences of grammatical English.’ Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 281 Hawthorne was clearly tainted with the didactic impulse Poe considered the major failing of New England writers. Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 315 E.P. Whipple: “…bears on every page the evidence of a mind thoroughly alive….” Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 521 The great failure of The Marble Faun is his separation of plot and scenery. Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 521 The Marble Faun is the same high allegory on the “fortunate fall,” the loss of innocence, the bitter wisdom of sin, that Hawthorne had written before in many of his tales and romances; like “Young Goodman Brown,” or The Scarlet Letter, it could as easily have taken place in the New England forest as in the Borghese Gardens. Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 527 Hawthorne: “It is odd enough, moreover, that my own individual taste is for quite another class of works than those which I myself am able to write.” Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 527 Hawthorne confessed to Fields [his publisher] that if he read such books as his own, written by some other writer, he doubted that he would be able to get through them. Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 582 Curtis: Although Hawthorne could produce ‘harrowing allegories' of the theme of sin in Salem Village, he 'did not see a Carolina slave-pen….' Mellow, Hawthorne in His Times.

Criticism 292 Editor: “It’s cute, but is it science?” Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley

Criticism 292 Loomis: “I think the author’s real value is in his ability to make us aware, to shake up our egotistic complacency, of the unfathomable mystery of life and the wonder of the world.” Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley

Criticism 296 “…each page cries out to be quoted.” Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley

Criticism 307 His is the myth of the loner gazing down from the mountain slope, of the solitary hiker in the woods, of man against society giving permanent form to Thoreau’s dream of turning his back on an impoverished world of polluted skies and teeming cities. Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley

Criticism 318 Hiram Haydn’s criticism of a poem: “...for in all honesty I don’t think it a good poem, but I do feel the thought and feeling behind it good and also a number of individual lines and phrases.” Christianson, Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley

Criticism 223 [Thoreau]…a banal writer who somehow managed to produce a classic work of literature. Eiseley, The Star Thrower

Criticism 278 On Thomas E. Dewey: “The boy orator of the platitude”; “intellectual halitosis.” Blum, V Was for Victory.

Criticism 689 E. M. Dealey: “We need a man on horseback to lead this nation, and many people in Texas and the Southwest think you [Kennedy] are riding Caroline’s bicycle.” Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

Criticism 348 He [Kennedy] could find and fret over one paragraph of criticism deep in ten paragraphs of praise. Sorenson, Kennedy

Criticism 598 Liberals denounced [the Peace Corps] as a gimmick…conservatives dismissed it as a nonsensical haven for beatniks and visionaries…Communist nations denounced it as an espionage front…and its own backers threatened to dissipate its momentum by talking, even before it started, of a UN Peace Corps and a domestic Peace Corps and a dozen other diversions. Sorenson, Kennedy

Criticism 617 [The Mormon Bible]: …chloroform in print. Twain, Roughing It

Criticism Kafka 448 His longer narratives--Amerika, The Trial, even The Castle--are better in parts than as complete works; and his longer stories, even 'The Metamorphosis,' begin more acutely than they tend to close. Bloom, Western Canon.

Criticism 152 [Criticism] disturbs us…because it jogs a firmly held set of beliefs and forces us to re-examine them. Zinsser, On Writing Well.

Criticism 507 He consoled himself that he was treated badly because he was ahead of his time. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

Criticism 411 Harrisburg Patriot and Union on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of. Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

Criticism 411 The Chicago Times on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dish-watery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States. Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

Criticism 411 The American correspondent of the London Times wrote [of the Gettysburg Address] that ‘the ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln…anything more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to produce.’ Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

Criticism 159 Johnson on Lord Chesterfield’s published letters to his natural son: They teach the morals of whore and the manners of a dancing master. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Criticism 180 A lady once asked [Johnson] how he came to define pastern the knee of a horse [in his dictionary]: instead of making an elaborate defense as she expected, he at once answered,Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.” Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Criticism 253 Johnson on the right to be a critic of a play, although you could not write one so good: You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

Criticism 244 Chinese proverb: Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Criticism 147 John Berryman: I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Criticism 142 Every day and every hour we say things of another that we may more properly say of ourselves. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Criticism 421 A hundred times a day we laugh at ourselves in the person of our neighbor and detest in others the defects which are more clearly in us and wonder at them with extraordinary impudence and heedlessness. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Criticism 104 …assault the vice without hurting the person. Addison, 4/9/1711. The Spectator.

Criticism 310 Censure, says a late ingenious author, is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent. Addison, 6/26/1711. The Spectator.

Criticism 310 There is no defense against reproach [criticism?], but obscurity. Addison, 6/26/1711. The Spectator.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. April 11, 2007

62 The foreign criminal, they say, rarely repents, for the very doctrines of today confirm him in the idea that his crime is not a crime, but only a reaction against an unjustly oppressive force. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

621 “I am not mad…only a murderer,” Ivan began again. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

699 You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory…but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education…and, if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us…perhaps, that one memory may keep him from great evil and he will reflect and say, ‘Yes, I was good and brave and honest then.’ Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

197 Jacobi, refusing all measure of right and wrong except the determinations of the private spirit, remarks that there is no crime but has sometimes been a virtue. Emerson, The Transcendentalist.

1028 Every crime destroys more Edens than our own. Hawthorne, The Marble Faun.

6 The late Judge Frederick Bausman of Seattle…proposed…that a sharp distinction be made between murderers whose crimes are of such a character that any normal persons, under the circumstances, might be imagined committing them, and murderers who kill strangers for gain. Mencken, Minority Report.

7 [In favor of sterilization of criminals]: Even if it is argued that their criminality is thus the product of environment rather than of heredity, it follows that the environment they themselves provide for children is very likely to produce more criminals. Mencken, Minority Report.

92 In case of murder I think it should be written into the law that no murderer, under any circumstances, whatever, shall ever be released until his victim's natural expectation of life has expired…no reason that I can imagine why he should enjoy liberty while that victim is deprived of life. Mencken, Minority Report.

219 …the middle class, whose fear of crisis made such a vital contribution to the victory of National Socialism…. Bracher, The German Dictatorship

119 Katherine Anne Porter: You cannot be a hostile critic of society and expect society to feed you regularly. Hull, ed. The Writer’s Book.

137 T.S. Eliot: He [Ezra Pound] was a marvelous critic because he didn’t try to turn you into an imitation of himself [but]...tried to see what you were trying to do. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Critical Thinking
392 “Space forbids” (The author [Durant] has often smiled at this cloak for laziness….) Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Herbert Spencer.

258 Angus Wilson: The natural habit of any good and critical reader is to disbelieve what you are telling him and try to escape out of the world you are picturing. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

779 For so long a time now in one crisis after another the President had seen the judgments of supposedly good minds, some rated among the “best minds,” so utterly wrong, so completely mistaken, so ready with advice that would have wrought wreck and ruin beyond retrieving, that he had a deeper and surer feeling about his own reasons and vision in the face of chaos. Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

279 JFK: ...salvation lay in man’s liberation from myth, stereotype and fanaticism. [Note: What are the unquestioned assumptions in education?] Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

463 All this made strategic analysis far less exact than the pseudo-precision of its terminology suggested. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

464 Kennedy faced no greater problem of public education than that of convincing both Capitol Hill and the Kremlin that his demands for strength and disarmament, far from being contradictory, were complementary. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

469 …the sense he [Kennedy] gave of freedom from preconception…. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

593 JFK: …every past generation had to disenthrall itself from an inheritance of truism and stereotype…must move on from the reassuring repetition of stale phrases to a new, difficult, but essential confrontation with reality. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

593 JFK: For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

593 JFK: Too often, we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

593 JFK: We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

664 He [Kennedy] perceived himself…as a man who, unlike the Trumans and Robert Tafts of American politics, generally saw reason on both sides of complex issues. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

823 JFK: Too many Americans…regarded peace as impossible and therefore war was inevitable. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

240 He began for the first time in his life to have a strong distrust of all generalities and epigrams. Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

355 ...a study of Time [Magazine's] treatment of Eisenhower’s first year as compared with Kennedy’s...amassed considerable evidence to show that, by the use of loaded adjectives, clever picture captions and a careful selection of quotations out of context...the two administrations were put in very different lights [Eisenhower positive, Kennedy negative].... Schlesinger, A Thousand Days.

614 JFK: “The Soviets and ourselves give wholly different meanings to the same words—war, peace, democracy, and popular will.” Sorenson, Kennedy

112 Emma...amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions to judgment are for ever falling into.... Austen, Emma

17 This fundamental question—is light waves or is it particles?—has been answered only by asserting that it must be both. Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein.

22 By itself neither concept [wave or particle] suffices to explain light, but together they do. Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein.

48 …it is because of Einstein’s unwillingness ever to accept any unproven principle as self-evident that he was able to penetrate closer to the underlying realities of nature than any scientist before him. Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein

766 Lincoln: Mr. Moorhead, haven’t you lived long enough to know that two men may honestly differ about a question and both be right? Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

199 Facts shall speak. Austen, Persuasion.

153 To make an enemy of the media is fatal for a public figure…not because the press will print lies…but because so much depends on where reporters want to put the emphasis, or on how they want to see events that are often subject to several interpretations. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

6 Plato: …uncovering assumptions and questioning certainties. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

13 ...every extreme was seen as a half-truth.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Plato.

59 “If you wish to converse with me,” said Voltaire, “define your terms.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Aristotle.

59 How many a debate would have been deflated into a paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms! Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Aristotle.

59 …once done, it [defining terms] is half of any task. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Aristotle.

108 F. Bacon: I possessed a passion for research, a power of suspending judgment with patience, of meditating with pleasure, of assenting with caution, of correcting false impressions with readiness, and of arranging my thoughts with scrupulous pains. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Francis Bacon.

131 ...fig-leaf phrases used to cover naked ignorance.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Francis Bacon.

132 F. Bacon: ...we find no new truth because we take some venerable but questionable proposition as an indubitable starting-point, and never think of putting this assumption itself to the test of observation or experiment. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Francis Bacon.

164 Spinoza: …the vivid and metaphorical forms of speech which the founders of religion by the nature of their mission and their own emotional intensity, are driven to adopt. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

446 Towards the end Nietzsche’s work grew in bitterness; he attacked persons as well as ideas. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Nietzsche.

478 Perhaps the source of most of the innovations in modern mathematics is the rejection of axioms; and Russell delights in men who challenge “self-evident truths” and insist upon the demonstration of the obvious. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell.

199 People crave certainties in this world and are hostile to ifs and buts. Mencken, Minority Report.

615 Johnson: If my antagonist writes bad language, though that may not be essential to the question, I will attack him for his bad language. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

630 Johnson on a doctor’s changing religion with consequent distrust in his medical skills: …when people see a man absurd in what they understand, they may conclude the same of him in what they do not understand. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

694 Who shall forbid a wise skepticism, seeing that there is no practical question on which anything more than an approximate solution can be had? Emerson, Representative Men: Montaigne, or The Skeptic.

810 Into this English logic, however, an infusion of justice enters, not so apparent in other races,--a belief in the existence of two sides, and the resolution to see fair play. Emerson, English Traits.

45 ...the end is lost sight of in attention to the means. Emerson, Nature.

65 The world is his who can see through its pretension.... Emerson, The American Scholar.

261 He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Emerson, Self-Reliance.

234 His [McNamara’s] power was facts, no one had more, and no one used them better, firing them out, one after another, devastating his opponents (though sometimes his friends would feel that there was a missing piece, that sometimes this brilliant reasoning was based…on a false assumption). Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

328 Here was a man [Rusk] who believed…the democracies were ipso facto good and the totalitarians were ipso facto bad…the danger of his tenets [being]…he did not reckon with the whimsical quality of history, that the forces of history can just as easily make the democracies aggressive, that to some small states, large democracies look tyrannical, that justice and decency have various definitions in different parts of the world. Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

346 State simply did not pose deep and probing questions…instead…geared itself up on straight operational questions: how much fertilizer for this province, how much barbed wire for that. Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

363 About McNaughton: When he taught evidence at Harvard Law School, he specialized in defining the difference between reality and illusion…would walk into a law class, pull out a toy pistol, shoot a student and then take sixteen different versions of what had happened…would point out to his class the difference between what they thought they had seen and what they actually saw, carefully extracting the hearsay. Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

365 [A young sociologist to McNaughton]: “Mr. McNaughton, I’ve had enough [of]…all your facts, all your statistics, all your slide rules, all your decisions—you speak it all so well, and yet where is Man in all this, Mr. McNaughton?” Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

385 After only four years, the [experimental] school was closed, largely upon the protests of parents who objected to their children coming back and asking too many disturbing questions…. Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

335 …Goering tried to dismiss by ridicule, by placing the responsibility on others, by feigning ignorance, or by resorting…to the argument of tu quoque [If I am guilty, you are, too.]. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg.

206 Ralph Ellison: In any society there are many rituals...which, for the most part, go unquestioned. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

420 …for it is always a tyrannical harshness not to be able to endure a way of thinking differing from your own. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

47 Huxley to Bishop Wilberforce: If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would be a man of restless and versatile intellect who, not content with success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by aimless rhetoric and distract the attention of his hearers from the point at issue by digressions and appeals to religious prejudice. Caullery and Tetry. A Random Walk in Science.

90 Book: 100 Authors Against Einstein which sought to show that Einstein must be wrong because so many opinions were ranged against him. A Random Walk in Science.

xx …the courage of …doubts in a world of dangerously passionate certainties. Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream.

212 Lincoln: To a boy fishing: “Well it’s good to be out here where there is so much fact and so little opinion.” Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years

26 Dicaeopolis: And yet I fear; for well I know the moods/ Of our good country people, how they love to hear the city and themselves be praised/ By some intriguing humbug, right or wrong,/ Nor ever dreamed they are being bought and sold. Aristophanes, Acharnians.

133 Strepsiades: You have the rogue’s trick of looking injured when you’re injuring. Aristophanes, Clouds.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas April 8, 2007

45 In war time, as Vice President Henry Wallace once wryly remarked, a coordinator was only a man trying to keep all the balls in the air without losing his own. Blum, V Was for Victory

415 He [Kennedy] never self-consciously thought of himself as “courageous,” but he lived by the Hemingway definition with which he had opened Profiles: “grace under pressure.” Sorenson, Kennedy

843 “A man does what he must,” he [Kennedy] had written in Profiles in Courage, “in spite of personal consequences, in spite of…dangers—and that is the basis of all human morality.” Sorenson, Kennedy

417 …three-o’clock-in-the-morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest. Thoreau, Walden.

609 The bravest people are the ones who don’t mind looking like cowards. T. H. White, The Once and Future King.

1019 A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Culture.

381 In the gloom of our ignorance of what shall be, in the hour when we are deaf to the higher voices, who does not envy those who have seen safely to an end their manful endeavor? Emerson, Prudence.

407 Valor consists in the power of self-recovery…. Emerson, Circles.

727 When a valiant man flees, it is obvious that there is foul play, and it is a wise man’s duty to reserve himself for a better occasion. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Part Two: 1615.

391 To consider and judge the danger is in some sort the reverse of being scared by it. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

471 I sometimes get from nonchalance and unconcern the means of strengthening myself…. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

19 …under the London Blitz—Ed Murrow…said: “I have never gone down into a shelter because I was afraid…that if I did it once I could not stop doing it.” Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream.

68 In accordance with his usual mode of creative thought Einstein set the stage with an imaginary situation. Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein

xviii The technical objections raised were themselves a spur to invention. Clark, Civilization.

xviii I could see the truth of those familiar words, ‘How often has a difficult rhyme led me to a beautiful thought.’ Clark, Civilization.

417 [Nietzche] Zarathustra: He who must be a creator…verily, he must first be a destroyer, and break values into pieces. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Nietzche.

473 Leonardo: The minds of men of lofty genius are most active in invention when they are doing the least external work. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Benedetto Croce.

473 Everybody knows the story told of DaVinci, that when he was painting the “Last Supper,” he sorely displeased the Abbot who had ordered the work, by sitting motionless for days before an untouched canvas; and revenged himself for the importunate Abbot’s persistent query--when would he begin to work?--by using the gentleman as an unconscious model for the figure of Judas. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Benedetto Croce.

481 Russell: ...those creative powers within him that struggle on in the face of failure.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell.

188 The process of creation is only partly intellectual[;] the rest of it seems to be based on instinct rather than on idea. Mencken, Minority Report.

335 Dr. Beatrice Hinkle: When one looks back over human existence, however, it is very evident that all culture has developed through an initial resistance against adaptation to the reality in which man finds himself…resistance acts as a stimulus to his inner impulse to action and to creation, thus causing him to shape and remake his environment to suit better his need and desire. Hull, ed. The Writer’s Book.

338 Dr. Beatrice Hinkle: The creator does not create only for the pleasure of creating but…he also desires to subdue other minds. Hull, ed. The Writer’s Book.

431 What is that abridgment and selection we observe in all spiritual activity, but itself the creative impulse? Emerson, Art.

471 In times when we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterwards discovered, that much was accomplished and much was begun in us. Emerson, Experience.

113 John Hersey: It may be that the mystery [of creativity] is among the things that attract those of us who write. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

118 Marianne Moore: Life is energy and energy is creativity. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

101 Edward Albee: If you intellectualize and examine the creative process too carefully, it can evaporate and vanish. [Tells story of centipede who is asked about how it manipulates its hundreds of legs—thinks about it and then can’t walk.] Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

68 Albert Schweitzer: To create means evolution. Anderson, The Schweitzer Album.

100 The Renaissance historian of art, Vasari, when he asked himself...why it was in Florence and not elsewhere that men became perfect in the arts, gave as his first answer: ‘the spirit of criticism: the air of Florence making minds naturally free, and not content with mediocrity.’ Clark, Civilization.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas April 3, 2007

27 [On his inconsistency]: JFK: “We all learn...from the time you are born to the time you change...conditions change, would be extremely pursue policies that are unsuccessful. Sorenson, Kennedy

265 A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. Emerson, Self-Reliance.

265 Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. Emerson, Self-Reliance.

58 Why do we not recall how much contradiction we perceive even in our own judgment, how many things were yesterday articles of faith to us that today are fables to us? Montaigne, Selected Essays.

113 Our actions are only pieces patched together. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

285 So it is that I, indeed, contradict myself upon occasion, but truth as Demades said, I do not contradict. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

Constitution (U.S.)
437 JFK: “The Constitution has served us extremely well…but…all its clauses had to be interpreted by men and had to be made to work by men, and it has to be made to work today in an entirely different world from the day in which it was written.” Sorenson, Kennedy

172 Lincoln on the Constitution: Better not take the first step [in altering the Constitution], which may lead to a habit of altering it; new provisions would introduce new difficulties, and thus create, and increase appetite for still further change. Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years

83 [The true believer] cannot be…baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence. Hoffer, The True Believer

66 “I’ve got an adjective that just fits you” …one of his favorite starts—he seldom had a word in mind, but it was a curiosity provoker, and he could always produce something complimentary if he got in a tight corner. Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.

76 ...and the agreeable manner in which he [Wickham] immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability of a rainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

91 It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy--I talked about the dance and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room or the number of couples. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

91 We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

152 Sir William Lucas, and his daughter Maria, a good-humored girl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be worth hearing, and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

21 Miss Bates...was a great talker upon little matters. Austen, Emma

273 Emma made as slight a reply as she could; but it was fully sufficient for Mrs. Elton, who only wanted to be talking herself. Austen, Emma

125 …success in Cambridge conversation frequently came from saying something preposterous, hoping that someone would take you seriously. Watson, The Double Helix.

34 This brief account of the family is intended to supersede the necessity of a long and minute detail from Mrs. Thorpe herself…in which the worthlessness of lords and attorneys might be set forth, and conversations, which had passed twenty years before, be minutely repeated. Austen, Northanger Abbey.

36 …never satisfied with the day unless she spent the chief of it by the side of Mrs. Thorpe, in what they called conversation, but in which there was scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of subject, for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children and Mrs. Allen of her gowns. Austen, Northanger Abbey.

68 The admiral, after taking two or three refreshing turns about the room with his hands behind him…now came up to Captain Wentworth, and without any observation of what he might be interrupting, thinking only of his own thoughts, began with…. Austen, Persuasion.

155 …but when…has half an hour’s leisure to bestow on me, she is sure to have something to relate that is entertaining and profitable, something that makes one know one’s species better. Austen, Persuasion.

204 No. It [the information] does not come to me in quite so direct a line as that; it takes a bend or two, but nothing of consequence. Austen, Persuasion.

230 Mrs. Musgrove was giving Mrs. Croft the history of her eldest daughter’s engagement, and just in that inconvenient tone of voice which was perfectly audible while it pretended to be a whisper. Austen, Persuasion.

231 The two ladies continued to talk, to re-urge the same admitted truths…. Austen, Persuasion.

252 …conversation can flourish only in a small company where no one is stuck up. Clark, Civilization.

124 F. Bacon: Do not betray even to your friends too much of your real purposes and thoughts; in conversation, ask questions oftener than you express opinions; and when you speak, offer data and information rather than beliefs and judgments. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Francis Bacon.

426 "There, it does seem so pleasant to talk with an old acquaintance that knows what you know[;] I see so many of these new folks nowadays, that seem to have neither past nor future[;] conversation's got to have some root in the past, or else you've got to explain every remark you make, an' it wears a person out." Jewett, The country of the Pointed Firs.

470 Dr. Johnson…often “talked for victory.” Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

605 Boswell: In a moment he [Johnson] was in a full glow of conversation, and I felt myself elevated as if brought into another state of being. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

616 Boswell: But, Sir, may there not be very good conversation without a contest for superiority? Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

635 Johnson: Never speak of a man in his own presence…always indelicate, and may be offensive. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

1042 The eyes of men converse as much as their tongues, with the advantage, that the ocular dialect needs no dictionary, but is understood all the world over. Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Behavior.

273 Francine du Plessix Gray: The vapid tiddlywinks conversation, and the tedium of the endless cocktail hours! Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

25 In one’s converse with the world, I have often observed this vice: that instead of gathering observations from others, we make it our only business to give them our own and are more concerned how to peddle our own than how to acquire new. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

25 Above all, let him be taught to surrender to truth as soon as ever he shall discover it, whether in his opponent’s argument…. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

26 Make him understand that to acknowledge the error he shall discover in his own argument, though only perceived by himself, is an act of judgment and sincerity, which are the principal things he is to seek after; that obstinacy and contention are common qualities, most often seen in the meanest souls; that to change his mind and correct himself, and to forsake a bad argument in the height and heat of dispute, are rare, strong, and philosophical qualities. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

412 …agreement is a very tiresome quality in conversation. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

415 I feel much prouder of the victory I obtain over myself when, in the very heat of combat [conversation], I make myself bow beneath the force of my adversary’s reason, than I feel pleased by the victory I obtain over him through his weakness. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

422 As in conversation, the gravity, the gown, and the fortune of the speaker often give authority to vain and absurd remarks. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

423 …they will knock you senseless with the authority of their experience; they have heard, they have seen, they have done; you are overwhelmed with examples. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

430 They make a good remark; let us examine how far they understand it, let us see where they got it. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

432 But as for things that are said in company or before other people, I never oppose them, either by word or sign, however false or absurd I may consider them. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

583 …for it tires me and disagrees with me to talk on a full stomach, whereas I find it a very wholesome and pleasant exercise to shout and argue before a meal. Montaigne, Selected Essays.

1097 …for the people talk about nothing as if they were terribly in earnest…. Hawthorne, The Marble Faun.

148 It is a secret known but to few, yet of no small use in the conduct of life, that when you fall into a man’s conversation, the first thing you should consider is, whether he has a greater inclination to hear you, or that you should hear him. Steele, 4/26/1711. The Spectator.

308 It is a wonderful thing, that so many, and they not reckoned absurd, shall entertain those with whom they converse by giving them the history of their pains and aches; and imagine such narrations their quota of the conversation. Steele, 6/25/1711. The Spectator.

416 Story tellers, who are most religiously careful of keeping to the truth in every particular circumstance of a narration, whether it concern the main end or not. Steele, 8/8/1711. The Spectator.