Monday, November 21, 2011

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on,
and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare (The Tempest) as quoted by
Stephen Greenblatt, Will In The World

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed
Beated and chopp'd with tanned antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
   'Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
   Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 62

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it,
That thou art then estranged from thyself?
Thyself I call it, being strange to me,
That, undividable, incorporate,
Am better than thy dear self's better part.
Ah, do not tear away thyself from me;
For know, my love, as easy mayst thou fall
A drop of water in the breaking gulf,

And take unmingled thence that drop again
Without addition or diminishing,
As take from me thyself, and not me too. 

William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act 2, Scene 2

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Not only that anything should be, but that this very thing should be, is mysterious!  Philosophy stares, but brings no reasoned solution, for from nothing to being there is no logical bridge.

Wiliam James, as quoted by Geoffrey O'Brien in The New York Review of July 14, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ingrate, he had of me all he could have;
I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood,
Though free to fall.

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Life [has become] that strange experience in which you're zooming along a freeway and suddenly realize that you haven't paid any attention to driving for the last fifteen minutes, yet you're still alive and didn't crash.

Douglas Coupland, as quoted by Pico Iyer in "The McLuhan Galaxy", New York Review of Books (May 26, 2011)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

True ambivalence: not feeling unsure, but feeling opposing extremes of conviction at once....ambivalence holds more information than any single emotion.

Rivka Galchen, "Dream Machine" The New Yorker (May 2, 2011)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

In attitude and proportion the graceful majesty of the figure is unsurpassed. The effect is completed by the countenance, where on the perfection of youthful godlike beauty there dwells the consciousness of triumphant power.

Thomas Bulfinch, commenting on the Apollo Belvedere in Bulfinch's Mythology.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An open mind is okay, but you should fill it first.

JG, said in class.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Old age is the only stage of life we never grow out of, and can never look back on.

Jill Lepore, Twilight, The New Yorker (March 14, 2011)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The coat-of-arms of the human race ought to consist of a man with an axe on his shoulder proceeding toward a grindstone.

We do no benevolences whose first benefit is not for ourselves.

Mark Twain, Reflections on a Letter and a Book, The Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms; and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had his nuts in a steel-trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap till he died.

Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I plung'd for life or death. To interknit
One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff
Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt,
And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt
Whole days and days in sheer astonishment;
Forgetful utterly of self-intent;
Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow.
Then, like a new fledg'd bird that first doth shew
His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill,
I tried in fear the pinions of my will.
'Twas freedom! and at once I visited
The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed.

Glaucus on entering the sea and breathing water, Keat's ENDYMION (line 380)

Monday, January 10, 2011

His superiority over other learned men consisted chiefly in what may be called the art of thinking, the art of using his mind; a certain continual power of seizing the useful substance of all that he knew, and exhibiting it in a clear and forcible manner; so that knowledge, which we often see to be no better than lumber in men of dull understanding, was, in him, true, evident, and actual wisdom.

James Boswell, on Johnson, in his Life of Samuel Johnson

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Against inquisitive and perplexing thoughts,

O Lord, my Maker and Protector, who hast graciously sent me into this world to work out my salvation, enable me to drive from me all such unquiet and perplexing thoughts as may mislead or hinder me in the practice of those duties which Thou hast required. When I behold the works of thy hands, and consider the course of thy providence, give me grace always to remember that thy thoughts are not my thoughts, nor thy ways my ways. And while it shall please thee to continue me in this world, where much is to be done, and little to be known, teach me by thy Holy Spirit, to withdraw my mind from unprofitable and dangerous enquiries, from difficulties vainly curious, and doubts impossible to be solved. Let me rejoice in the light which Thou hast imparted, let me serve thee with active zeal and humble confidence and wait with patient expectation for the time in which the soul which Thou receivest shall be satisfied with knowledge. Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

A Prayer by Samuel Johnson (1784) as quoted in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sagacity is the eye of the mind, intuition the mind's nose.

Samuel Johnson (1784) in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson