Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas time ... a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. 

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life.

Abraham Lincoln on the effort to preserve the United States government in America's Civil War, from his First Message to Congress, July 4, 1861.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure;
but security enough to make fellowships accurst.

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Thou art not thyself;
For thou exists on many a thousand grains
That issue out of the dust.

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Monday, October 14, 2013

O place, O form,
How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls
To thy false seeming!

Blood, thou art blood.

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Non coerceri a maximo, sed contineri a minimo divinum est
(“not to be limited by the greatest and yet to be contained in the tiniest—this is the divine”).

Quoted by Pope Francis on the vision of St. Ignatius

Monday, September 02, 2013

You should only pick your own nose.

Heard from a nice lady in Iowa.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Relationships were ... utterly mysterious, they took place between two subconscious minds, and whatever the surface trickle thought was going on could not be trusted to be right.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The whole meaning of the universe, its beauty, is contained in the consciousness of intelligent life.  We are the consciousness of the universe, and our job is to spread that around, to go look at things, to live everywhere we can. 

Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

Sunday, July 21, 2013

To Evening

You set me and my thoughts a-wandering
along the path to the eternal void; and then
this wretched time flees, and with it
the throng of woes afflicting it and me;
and while I behold your peacefulness, that warlike
spirit that rages within me sleeps. 

From "Alla sera" by Ugo Foscolo, translated by Allen Shearer, seen on a Metro bus

Saturday, July 06, 2013

"Creation" in [the] Hindu view of things is designated by the word srishthi, literally the "pouring forth" of the universe from the source.  As a complex plant or tree grows, bursting forth and developing from the simple unitary seed, or as a complex creature emerges and grows from an embryo, so is this whole and diverse universe poured forth from the ... very body of the divine.  There is no God who stands apart from it and creates it.... everything is a manifestation that has poured forth from the living body of the Whole, what some would call God.... Within this systemic whole, everything is alive and interrelated. 

Diana L. Eck, India: A Sacred Geography

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

When you're surrounded by endless possibilities, one of the hardest things you can do is pass them up.

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

[History] doesn't repeat, but it rhymes.

Mark C. Elliott, quoted in "Laptop U", The New Yorker (May 20, 2013)

Sunday, May 05, 2013

In a dying civilization, political prestige is the reward not of the shrewdest diagnostician, but of the man with the best bedside manner.

Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios

Friday, April 19, 2013

At the end we dream of the beginning.

James Church, The Man with the Baltic Stare

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sooner or later, you learn things.  You don't realize until it's too late that you learned something; and then you don't remember where, or how, or why.  There's no voice that automatically pipes up: ... Attention! Learning Experience!

James Church, Bamboo and Blood

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Mistakes are good.  The more mistakes, the better.  People who make mistakes get promoted.  They can be trusted.  Why?  They're not dangerous.  They can't be too serious.  People who don't make mistakes eventually step off cliffs, a bad thing because anyone in free fall is considered a liability.  They might land on you.

James Church, A Corpse in the Koryo

Monday, April 01, 2013

We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularise their abundance; our
sufferance is a gain to them Let us revenge this with
our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (Act 1, Scene 1) 

Friday, March 29, 2013

The longer I live the more convinced I am that one of the greatest honors we can confer on other people is to see them as they are, to recognize not only that they exist, but that they exist in specific ways and have specific realities.

Shiva Naipaul, quoted by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Feb 2002 Atlantic magazine.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Truth is one.  The wise speak of it in many ways.

Rig Veda

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Montailou culture was directed towards mere reproduction, self-preservation and the perpetuation of the domus in the world below.  The only element of "growth" which happened to manifest itself early in the 14th century had little to do with economics.  It was concerned with the after-life and with a kind of spiritual transcendence, locally centered on the Albigensian idea of Heaven.  … Montaillou is the physical warmth of the ostal, together with the ever-recurring promise of a peasant heaven.

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou: The promised Land of Error

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When done for reasons other than competition, physical exercise ... can be a simultaneous act of peaceful prayer (talking to God) and deep meditation (listening to God), allowing me the space to ask without using words while listening to answers that I know already exist: an inner guidance of divinity achieved through outer exertion.

Romano Scaturro, 50@50

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm a treetop flyer,
Born Survivor.

Stephen Stills, Treetop Flyer

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fate freely accepted ... is this not the very definition of Grace?

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie - in Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error - talking of the life of a 14th Century sheep herder of Occitania.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Having noted Chinese immobility, they gained a clearer sense of their own motion.  Their appreciation of individual initiative was enhanced as they noted that individuals in China could undertake only what society expected of them.  They grasped more sharply the strength of the human personality in the West by observing that the only recognized human entity in China was the collective.  They took the measure of the role of competition in their own country when they saw that no one in China could escape his assigned place, for to do so would offend against the established hierarchy.  They saw more clearly how important merchants were in Britain by observing how deeply they were scorned in China.  They became aware of their own devotion to the new by discovering the cult of the immutable.  In short, they gained a clearer insight into the fact that individualism, competition, and innovation were the wellsprings of their own wealth and power.

Alain Peyrefitte's observation, on the "failed" Macartney expedition to China 1792-94, in his masterful The Collision of Two Civilisations