Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I think there is some reason for questioning whether the body and mind are not so proportioned, that the one can bear all which can be inflicted on the other, whether virtue cannot stand its ground as long as life, and whether a soul well principled will not be sooner separated than subdued.

Samuel Johnson as quoted by James Boswell

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Monday, February 17, 2003

A man who writes a book, thinks himself wiser or wittier than the rest of mankind; he supposes that he can instruct or amuse them, and the publick to whom he appeals, must, after all, be the judges of his pretensions.

Samuel Johnson as quoted by James Boswell

Friday, February 14, 2003

Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misperception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain….extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves….We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood…it will not be impolite to say “I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.”

Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic Monthly, March 2003

Sunday, February 09, 2003

It sounds to me like it's all your fault.

Patrick, on the occasion of Sponge Bob seeking absolution from guilt.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be
saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any
immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however
virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is
quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint.
Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History quoted in The Atlantic Sept 02 by David Brooks

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria, as quoted in the Washington Post Book World of 2/2/2003
We could do that but it would be wrong.

Richard Nixon
No matter where you go, there you are.

Buckaroo Banzai
Get over it.

Marion Barry
If all you want to say is "Yes, yes, continue conducting yourself in this bad manner and you will see what I will do to you," then you're going to need "head raised and bent forward several times, with the eyes narrowed and menacing." If, however, the situation is more grave, if what you mean is "Wait, or give me time, so that a favorable occasion might turn up and then I will make you see if I know how to avenge myself for the wrong you do to me," then "palm held facing downwards and oscillated slowly up and down" is the ticket.

From Joan Acocella "The Neapolitan Finger", being a NYRB review of Gesture in Naples and Gesture in Classical Antiquity by Father Andrea de Jorio.
How sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
So is it in the music of men’s lives,
And here have I the daintiness of ear
To check time broke in a disorder’d string;
But for the concord of my state and time
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.

Shakespeare, Richard II
The Man who knew no bounds

Title of a lost work
It might feel good,
It might sound a little something,
But fuck the game
If it ain’t saying nothing.

Public Enemy - He Got Game
"Mom, I wish there was no bath."

From a young boy overheard in a coffe shop.
"The first thing wrong was that it was a bad investment."

An executive of a large American energy company on an investment in a
South American country that had lost several hundred million dollars so
Presented with two ruthless, pandering men who believe expressly in God
and necessarily in Mammon, each of whom must be overcompensating
drastically for something in his childhood, we ought to vote for whichever
one strikes us as marginally more likely, by dint of personal verve or
party affiliation, to slow down or speed up the nation’s drift toward
wherever we fear or hope it is heading…. If there is a third party
candidate for whom we would rather vote, we should vote for our second
choice…. If you are going to vote for [the third party] because he or she
is right, you might as well vote for yourself.

From Roy Blount Jr., "Relativism as Teflon: How Clinton kept us from
getting his goat
" in the February, 2001 Atlantic Monthly
Captain William Clark was one of the most defiant, as well as most
inventive, spellers ever to attempt to use the English language. He may
be said to have invented the concept of windchill when he described a
forty-below Dakota day with the wind blowing as "Breizing."

From a review by Larry McMurty in the February 8, 2001 NYRB of The Journal
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
ed. By Gary E. Moulton.
"When a man with a gun knocks on your door at 11 at night wanting food and
a place to sleep, he becomes your landlord."

A Colombian farmer who survived a paramilitary attack in the town of
Chengue as quoted in the Washington Post of January 28, 2001.
And I imagined (because it did not occur to me to ask him) that what he
had to teach me concerned the beauty in labor that remains, at the end of
the job, hidden, and that no one except the worker will see or understand
or even necessarily appreciate.

From, "Black Mountain, 1977" by Donald Antrim in the December 25, 2000 -
January 1, 2001 New Yorker.
Deep and abiding cynicism is the portal to true idealism.

From a Washington life.
"When they mistake you for dead, its time to move on."

Overheard at Foggy Bottom.
The contingency of the world is fourfold. First, the laws of physics
themselves appear to be contingent. Second, the cosmological initial
conditions could have been otherwise. Third, we know from quantum
mechanics that “God plays dice” - i.e., there is a fundamental statistical
element in nature. Finally, there is the fact that the universe exists.
After all, however comprehensive our theories of the universe may be,
there is no obligation for the world actually to instantiate that
theory….In my own mind, I have no doubts at all that the arguments for a
necessary world are far shakier than the arguments for a necessary being…

The Mind of God by Paul Davies.
Political parties who accuse the one in power of gobbling the spoils etc,
are like the wolf who looked in at the door & saw the shepards eating
mutton & said --
"Oh certainly, it's all right as long as it's you, but there'd be hell to
pay if I was to do that!"

Mark Twain, from his journals as quoted by Roy Blount, Jr. in The Atlantic
Monthly, July/August 2001.
When we consider that all quanta have interacted at some point in the
history of the cosmos … and that there is no limit on the number of
correlations that can exist between these quanta, this leads to [a]
dramatic conclusion -- nonlocality is a fundamental property of the entire
universe….The indivisible whole whose existence is inferred … cannot be
measured or observed, we confront here an "event horizon" of knowledge
where science can say nothing about the actual character of this reality.

From a discussion of a 1997 experiment suggesting communication between
two points at faster than the speed of light in The Non-local Universe:
The New Physics and Matters of the Mind
by Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Hence this life of your which you are living is not merely a piece of the
entire existence, but is, in a certain sense, the whole; only this whole
is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance.

Erwin Schrodinger as quoted in The Non-local Universe by Robert Nadeau and
Menas Kafatos.
What is Oedipus' hamartia then? Obviously it is not bad temper,
suspiciousness, hastiness in action -- for his punishment does not fit
these crimes; not ignorance of who his parents are -- for ignorance of
this type is not culpable; still less murder and incest -- for these
things are fated for him by the gods. No, Oedipus' blind spot is his
failure in existential commitment; a failure to recognize his own
involvement in the human condition, a failure to realize that not all
difficulties are riddles, to be solved by the application of disinterested
intellect, but that some are mysteries, not to be solved at all, but to be
coped with only by the engagement, active or passive, of the whole self.

Richmond Y. Hathorn as quoted in Asides: the Shakespeare Theatre 2001-2002
Season Issue
To be perpetually talking sense runs out the mind, as perpetually
ploughing and taking crops runs out the land. The mind must be manured,
and nonsense is very good for the purpose.

Boswell, as quoted by Richard Holmes in the New York Review of Books ,
September 20,2001
I wish I could remember what is said at this table.

Bob Homme, a regular at the Friday Misbackian.
There's nothing you can do when you're the next in line.

Genesis, from The Last Domino.
The Man, sing to me Muse of the wily man
Who wandered much after he sacked the holy citadel of Troy,
Who saw many cities and learned of the mind of men
Who suffered on the sea much grief in his heart
While striving for his soul and the return of his comrades.

Odyssey - my translation of first five lines.
Have you ever started a path? No one seems willing to do this. We don't mind using existing paths, but we rarely start new ones. Do it today. Start a path. Even if it doesn't lead anywhere.

George Carlin