by Michael Crichton
Ballantine Books, 1992
“They say Americans are too eager to make theories. They say we don’t spend enough time observing the world, and so we don’t know how thing actually are.”
“Is that a Zen idea?”
“No,” he laughed. “Just an observation.” Page 43
“In a Japanese organization, you’d never get a call like that. The chief just hung you out to dry. He takes no responsibility—it’s all your problem. And he’s blaming you for things that have nothing to do with you, like Graham, and me.” Conner shook his head. “The Japanese don’t’ do that. The Japanese have a saying: fix the problem, not the blame. In American organizations it’s all about who fucked up. Whose head will roll. In Japanese organizations it’s about what’s fucked up, and how to fix it. Nobody gets blamed. Their way is better.” Page 78.
The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
Bantam Books, 1951
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. Page 18.
The kid was swell. He was walking in the street, instead of on the sidewalk, but right next to the curb. He was making out like he was walking a very straight line, the way kids do, and the whole time he kept singing and humming. I got up closer so I could hear what he was singing. He was singing that song, “If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” He had a pretty little voice, too. He was just singing for the hell of it, you could tell. The cars zoomed by, brakes screeched all over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking next to the curb and singing “If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” It made me feel better. It made me feel not so depressed any more. Page 115.
“You know what I’d like to be?” I said. “You know what I’d like to be? I mean if I had my goddam choice?”
“What? Stop swearing.”
“You know that song ‘If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye’? I’d like—“
“It’s ‘If a body meet a body coming through the rye’!” old Phoebe said. “It’s a poem. By Robert Burns.”
“I know it’s a poem by Robert Burns.”
She was right, though. It is “If a body meet a body coming through the rye.” I didn’t know it then, though.
“I thought it was ‘If a body catch a body,’” I said. “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.” Pages 172-73.
Einstein: His Life and Universe
By Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster, 2007
“Accumulation of material should not stifle the student’s independence.” A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity. Pages 6-7.
As he once declared, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Page 7.
“Long live impudence!” he exulted to the lover who would later become his wife. “It is my guardian angel in this world.” Page 7.
“To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself.” Page 7.
“It is important to foster individuality,” he said, “for only the individual can produce the new ideas.” Page 7.
“When I asked myself how it happened that I in particular discovered the relativity theory, it seemed to lie in the following circumstance,” Einstein once explained. “The ordinary adult never bothers his head about the problems of space and time. These are things he has thought of as a child. But I developed so slowly that I began to wonder about space and time only when I was already grown up. Consequently, I probed more deeply in the problem than an ordinary child would have.” Page 9.
Persistence and tenacity were obviously already part of his character. Page 12.
“I believe that love is a better teacher than a sense of duty,” he said, “at least for me.” Page 14.
“People like you and me never grow old,” he wrote a friend later in life. “We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.” Page 15.
He did, however, retain from his childhood religious phase a profound reverence for the harmony and beauty of what he called the mind of God as it was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws. Page 20.
It inculcated an allergic reaction against all forms of dogma and authority, which was to affect both his politics and his science. “Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this experience, an attitude which has never again left me,” he later said. Indeed, it was this comfort with being a nonconformist that would define both his science and his social thinking for the rest of his life. Page 21.
Skepticism and a resistance to received wisdom became a hallmark of his life. As he proclaimed in a letter to a fatherly friend in 1901, “A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.” Page 22.
“His early suspicion of authority, which never wholly left him, was to prove of decisive importance,” said Banesh Hoffmann, who was a collaborator of Einstein’s in his later years. “Without it he would not have been able to develop the powerful independence of mind that gave him the courage to challenge established scientific beliefs and thereby revolutionize physics.” Page 22
When his frustration finally overwhelmed his admiration, Professor Weber’s pronouncement on Einstein echoed that of the irritated teacher at the Munich gymnasium a few years earlier. “You’re a very clever boy, Einstein,” Weber told him. “An extremely clever boy. But you have one great fault: you’ll never let yourself be told anything.” Page 34.
“A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way,” Einstein once said. “But,” he hastened to add, “intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.” Page 113.
“The whole paper is a testament to the power of simple language to convey deep and powerfully disturbing ideas,” says the science writer Dennis Overbye. Page 127.
Another way to picture this is to use Galileo’s ship. Imagine a light beam being shot down from the top of the mast to the deck. To an observer on the ship, the light beam will travel the exact length of the mast. To an observer on land, however, the light beam will travel the length of the mast plus the distance (it’s a fast ship) that the ship has traveled forward during the time it took the light to get from the top to the bottom of the mast. To both observers, the speed of light is the same. To the observer on land, it traveled farther before it reached the deck. In other words, the exact same event (a light beam sent from the top of the mast hitting the deck) took longer when viewed by a person on land than by a person on the ship. Pages 129-130.
So, using the letters that soon became standard, Einstein had come up with his memorable equation: E=mc2. Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light. The speed of light, of course, is huge. Squared it is almost inconceivably bigger. That is why a tiny amount of matter, if converted completely into energy, has an enormous punch. Page 139.
“One of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness,” Einstein said. “Such men make this cosmos and its construction the pivot of their emotional life, in order to find the peace and security which they cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.” Page 233.
For nearly three centuries, the mechanical universe of Isaac Newton, based on absolute certainties and laws, had formed the psychological foundation of the Enlightenment and the social order, with a belief in causes and effects, order, even duty. Now came a view of the universe, known as relativity, in which space and time were dependent on frames of reference. This apparent dismissal of certainties, and abandonment of faith in the absolute, seemed vaguely heretical to some people, perhaps even godless. “It formed a knife,” historian Paul Johnson wrote in his sweeping history of the twentieth century, Modern Times, “to help cut society adrift from its traditional moorings.”
The horrors of the great war, the breakdown of social hierarchies, the advent of relativity and its apparent undermining of classical physics all seemed to combine to produce uncertainty. Page 277.
Moreover, he was not a relativist in his own morality or even in his taste. “The word relativity has been widely misinterpreted as relativism, the denial of, or doubt about, the objectivity of truth or moral values,” the philosopher Isaiah Berlin later lamented. “This was the opposite of what Einstein believed. He was a man of simple and absolute moral convictions, which were expressed in all he was and did.” Page 278.
It was, by all accounts, a pleasant Atlantic crossing, during which Einstein tried to explain relativity to Weizmann. Asked upon their arrival whether he understood the theory, Weizmann gave a delightful reply: “During the crossing, Einstein explained his theory to me every day, and by the time we arrived I was fully convinced that he really understands it.” Page 292.
As they were leaving, Elsa was asked if she understood relativity. “Oh, no, although he has explained it to me many times,” she replied. “But it is not necessary to my happiness.” Page 293.
“Subtle is the Lord, but malicious he is not.” Page 297.
“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think,” he said. Page 299.
On one of the many occasions when Einstein declared that God would not play dice, it was Bohr who countered with the famous rejoinder: Einstein, stop telling God what to do! Page 326.
This led to one of Einstein’s most famous quotes, written to Max Born, the friend and physicist who would spar with him over three decades on this topic. “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing,” Einstein said. “But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but it does not really bring us any closer to the secrets of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not play dice.” Page 335.
The fact that this method paid off in general relativity, he said, “justifies us in believing that nature is the realization of the simplest conceivable mathematical ideas.” That is an elegant—and also astonishingly interesting—creed. It captured the essence of Einstein’s thought during the decades when mathematical “simplicity” guided him in his search for a unified field theory. And it echoed the great Isaac Newton’s declaration in book 3 of the Principia: “Nature is pleased with simplicity.” Page 352.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Page 367.
Einstein struck a more serious pose when he addressed the Caltech student body near the end of his stay. His sermon, grounded in his humanistic outlook, was on how science had not yet been harnessed to do more good than harm. During war it gave people “the means to poison and mutilate one another,” and in peacetime it “has made our lives hurried and uncertain.” Instead of being a liberating force, “it has enslaved men to machines,” by making them work “long wearisome hours mostly without joy in their labor.” Concern for making life better for ordinary humans must be the chief object of science. “Never forget this when you are pondering over your diagrams and equations!” Page 374.
This wariness of authority reflected the most fundamental of all of Einstein’s moral principles: Freedom and individualism are necessary for creativity and imagination to flourish. He had demonstrated this as an impertinent young thinker, and he proclaimed the principle clearly in 1931. “I believe that the most important mission of the state is to protect the individual and to make it possible for him to develop into a creative personality,” he said. Page 379.
Unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believe in God; instead, he tended to denigrate atheists. “What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos,” he explained. Page 389.
The talk got front-page news coverage, and his pithy conclusion became famous: “The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Page 390.
A spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble,” he wrote. “in this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.”
For some people, miracles serve as evidence of God’s existence. For Einstein it was the absence of miracles that reflected divine providence. The fact that the cosmos is comprehensible, that it follows laws, is worthy of awe. This is the defining quality of a “god who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists.” Pages 550—551.
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
(Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001)
If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the alter of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams. Page XII.
I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science. Page 5.
I have nothing to say of my working life, only that a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful. Page 6.
It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them—and then they leap.
I’ll be honest about it. It is not the atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted to doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation. Page 28.
The paths to liberation are numerous, but the bank along the way is always the same, the Bank of Karma, where the liberation account of each of us is credited or debited depending on our actions. Page 49.
I am sitting in a downtown café, after, thinking. I have just spend most of an afternoon with him. Our encounters always leave me weary of the glum contentment that characterizes my life. What were those words he used that struck me? Ah, yes: “dry, yeastless factuality”, “the better story”. I take pen and paper out and write:
Words of divine consciousness: moral exaltation; lasting feelings of elevation, elation, joy; a quickening of the moral sense, which strikes one as more important than an intellectual understanding of things; an alignment of the universe along moral lines, not intellectual ones; a realization that the founding principle of existence is what we call love, which works itself out sometimes not clearly, not cleanly, not immediately, nonetheless ineluctably. Page 63.
And that wasn’t the end of it. There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.
These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their deference, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush. Pages 70-71.
To me, religion is about dignity, not our depravity. Page 71.
Nil magnum nisi bonum. No greatness without goodness. Page 87.
Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it. Page 91.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
By Robert M. Pirsig
(A Bantam New Age Book, 1981)
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know its going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, its always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt. Page 134.
Any effort that has self-glorification as its final end-point is bound to end in disaster. Now we’re paying the price. When you try to climb a mountain to prove how big you are, you almost never make it. And even if you do it’s a hollow victory. In order to sustain the victory you have to prove yourself again and again in some other way, and again and again and again, driven forever to fill a false image, haunted by the fear that the image is not true and someone will find out. That’s never the way. Page 189.
At present we’re snowed under with an irrational expansion of blind data-gathering in the sciences because there’s no rational format for any understanding of scientific creativity. At present we are also snowed under with a lot of stylishness in the arts—thin art—because there’s very little assimilation or extension into underlying form. We have artists with no scientific knowledge and scientists with no artistic knowledge and both with no spiritual sense of gravity at all, and the result is not just bad, it is ghastly. The time for real reunification of art and technology is really long overdue. Page 264.
This inner peace of mind occurs on three levels of understanding. Physical quietness seems the easiest to achieve, although there are levels and levels of this too, as attested by the ability of Hindu mystics to live buried alive for many days. Mental quietness, in which one has no wandering thoughts at all, seems more difficult, but can be achieved. But value quietness, in which one has no wandering desires at all but simply performs the acts of his life without desire, that seems the hardest. Page 265.
I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value. Page 267.
Lonely people back in town. I saw it in the supermarket and at the Laundromat and when we checked out from the motel. These pickup campers through redwoods, full of lonely retired people looking at trees on their way to look at the ocean. You catch it in the first fraction of a glance from a new face—that searching look—then it’s gone.
We see much more of this loneliness now. It’s paradoxical that where people are the most closely crowded, in the big coastal cities in the East and West, the loneliness is the greatest. Back where people were so spread out in western Oregon and Idaho and Montana and the Dakotas you’d think the loneliness would have been greater, but we didn’t see it so much.
The explanation, I suppose, is that the physical distance between people has nothing to do with loneliness. It’s psychic distance, and in Montana and Idaho the physical distances are big but the psychic distances between people are small, and here’s its reversed. Pages 321-322.
Reading Lolita in Tehran:
A Memoir in Books
By Azar Nafisi
(Random House, Trade Paperbacks
New York 2004)
“I am incapable of telling you not to repine and rebel,” he wrote, “because I have so, to my cost, the imagination of all things, and because I am incapable of telling you not to feel. Feel, feel, I say—feel for all you’re worth, and even if it half kills you, for that is the only way to live, especially to live at this terrible pressure, and the only way to honour and celebrate these admirable beings who are our pride and our inspiration.” In letters to friends, again and again he urges them to feel. Feeling would stir up empathy and would remind them that life was worth living. Page 215.
In the book, my magician had marked two passages. One was in the preface, where James mentions a famous and oft repeated scene as the “essence” of his novel; the other was the scene itself. It occurs at a party given by the famous sculptor Gloriani. Lambert Strether, the hero of the novel, tells a young painter, little Bilham, whom he has unofficially appointed as his spiritual heir: “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had? I’m too old—too old at any rate for what I see. What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that. Still, we have the illusion of freedom; therefore don’t, like me to-day, be without the memory of that illusion. I was either, at the right time, too stupid or too intelligent to have it, and now I’m a case of reaction against the mistake. For it was a mistake. Live, live.” Page 247.
Later, I showed the pictures we’d taken in those last few weeks to my magician. You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again. Page 336.
Remember what Cary Grant said in that fabulous film: a word, like a lost opportunity, cannot be taken back once it has been uttered. Page 337.
The Heart and the Fist
By Eric Greitens
(Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston, New York 2011)
Back at college I’d been reading about courage in my philosophy classes. There were a number of definitions of courage, but now I was seeing it in its simplest form: you do what has to be done day after day, and you never quit. Page 71.
I thought of the many well-intentioned discussions I’d had in university classrooms about cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness, and I could imagine some of my classmates rolling their eyes if they heard aid workers pray, “Lord, please help these Africans.” But the fact was that none of those classroom conversations ever saved a life, while some of these committed volunteers were weighing infants in slings every day and providing food to lactating mothers. A lot of international aid that I saw was not always as helpful as it could be, and some of it was even harmful. The world, however, would be a darker and colder pace without it. Whatever her flaws, Karen was feeding hungry families every day. Page 82.
I was fortunate also that I had professors who, while appreciating the value of contemplation, understood the importance of doing, of translating thoughts into deeds. In this regard they followed the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who believed that action was essential: “Without it,” Emerson wrote, “thought can never ripen into truth.” Page 89.
For all the violence and tragedy and pain that armed conflict brings, I thought that it might be easier for a child to lose a parent or a limb and to live through war than to grow up abused and abandoned. Most of the children on the streets of Bolivia had never known the comforts of family life, were never going to go to college. Few of them, I guessed, would ever know one whole carefree and happy day in their lives. Page 106.
The Philosopher John Stuart Mill once wrote, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” Page 127 (John Stuart Mill, The Contest in America.).
They both learned—and we all were reminded—that to be a warrior is as much a question of moral character as it is a question of physical courage. Page 246.
There is no school of thought that can save us from the simple fact that hard decisions are best made by good people, and that the best people can only be shaped by hard experience. Page 284.
I write these lines sitting at peace in a cabin in mid-Missouri, where a single quotation hangs on the wall: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Page 297.
(A Signet Classic, 1964)
Of the plebeian stock all I can say is that it serves only to swell the number of living men whose great deeds merit no other fame or eulogy. I want to impress upon you, my dear simpletons, that there is great confusion among lineages and that only those appear great and illustrious that show themselves so by the virtue, wealth, and generosity of their owners. I spoke of virtue, wealth, and generosity, because a great man who is vicious will only be a great doer of evil, and a rich man who is not liberal will only be a miserly beggar, for the possessor of wealth is not made happy by possessing it, but by spending it, and not by spending it as he pleases, but by knowing how to spend it well. To the poor gentleman there is no other way of showing that he is a gentleman than by virtue, by being affable, well bred, courteous, and helpful, not haughty, arrogant, or censorious, but above all by being charitable, for by two maravedis given with a cheerful heart to the poor, he will show himself as liberal as he who distributes alms to the sound of a bell. And no one who sees him adorned with the virtues I have mentioned will fail to recognize and judge him, though he know him not, to be of good stock. Indeed, it will be a marvel if this was not so, for praise has always been virtue’s guerdon, and those who are virtuous cannot fail to be praised. Page 568 (Remarks of Don Quixote).
“The future will tell, Sancho,” answered Don Quixote. “Time, the discoverer of all things, leaves nothing that it does not drag into the light of the sun, even though it be buried in the bosom of the earth. But enough of that, let us go as see Master Pedro’s show, for I am sure it must contain some novelty.” Page 711.
When a criminal is brought before you, treat him as a man subject to the frailties and depravities of human nature, and as far as you can, without injuring the opposite party, show pity and clemency, for though one attribute of God is as glorious as another, His mercy shines more brightly in our eyes than His justice. Page 826 (advice of Don Quixote to Sancho Panza).
Be a father to virtues and a stepfather to vices. Do not always be harsh or always mild; chose the mean between two extremes, for here lies the point of wisdom. Page 894 (advice of Don Quixote to Sancho Panza).
“To think that the affairs of this life will always remain in the same state is a vain presumption; indeed they all seem to be perpetually changing and moving in a circular course. Spring is followed by summer, summer by autumn, and autumn by winter, which is again followed by spring, and so time continues its everlasting round. But the life of man is ever racing to its end, swifter than time itself, without hope or renewal, unless in the next, which is limitless, and infinite.” So says Cide Hamete, the Mohammedan philosopher, for many by natural instinct, without the light of faith, have understood the swiftness and instability of this present life, and the duration of the eternity to come. Page 906.
Scipio lands in Africa and stumbles as he leaps ashore. His soldiers take it for a bad omen, but he embraces the ground and cries: “You cannot escape, Africa, for I have you clasped in my arms.” Page 938.
by Victor Hugo
Abridged by James K Robinson, University of Cincinnati
Translated by Charles E Wilbour
(Fawcett Premier, New York, 1961)
Undoubtedly they seemed very depraved, very corrupt, very vile, very hateful, even, but those are rare who fall without becoming degraded; there is a point, moreover, at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Miserables; whose fault is it? And then, is it not when the fall is lowest that charity ought to be greatest. Page 175.
During all these torments, and now for a long time, he had discontinued his work, and nothing is more dangerous than discontinued labor; it is a habit lost. A habit easy to abandon, difficult to resume. Page 202.
A MATHEMATICIAN’S APOLOGY
BY G.H. HARDY
(Cambridge University Press, Canto Edition 1992)
For any serious purpose, intelligence is a very minor gift. Page 47.
Sometimes one has to say difficult things, but one ought to say them as simply as one knows how. Page 47.
“No one should ever be bored,” had been one of his axioms. “One can be horrified, or disgusted, but one can’t be bored.” Pages 51-52.
It will probably be plain by now to what conclusions I am coming; so I will state them at once dogmatically and then elaborate them a little. It is undeniable that a good deal of elementary mathematice—and I use the word “elementary” in the sense in which professional mathematicians use it, in which in includes, for example, a fair working knowledge of the differential and integral calculus—has considerable practical utility. These parts of mathematics are, on the whole, rather dull; they are just the parts which have least aesthetic value. The “real” mathematics of the “real” mathematicians, the mathematics of Fermat and Euler and Gauss and Abel and Riemann, is almost wholly “useless” (and this is as true of “applied” as of “pure” mathematics). It is not possible to justify the life of any genuine professional mathematician on the ground of the “utility” of his work. Pages 119-120.
Many people, of course, use “sentimentalism” as a term of abuse for other people’s decent feelings, and “realism” as a disguise for their own brutality.” Page 142.
I have never done anything “useful.” No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world. I have helped to train other mathematicians, but mathematicians of the same kind as myself, and their work has been, so far at any rate as I have helped them to it, as useless as my own. Judged by all practical standards, the value of my mathematical life is nil; and outside mathematics it is trivial anyhow. I have just one chance of escaping a verdict of complete triviality, that I may be judged to have created something worth creating. And that I have created something is undeniable: the question is about its value.
The case for my life, then, of for that of any one else who has been a mathematician in the same sense in which I have been one, is this: that I have added something to knowledge, and helped others to add more; and that these somethings have a value which differs in degree only, and not in kind, from that of the creations of the great mathematicians, or of any of the other artists, great or small, who have left some kind of memorial behind them. Pages 150-151.
The Ballad of Bob Dylan – A Portrait
by Daniel Mark Epstein
“[T]he real value of things cannot be measured by what you pay for them, but by what it costs you to gain them. And ‘if anything costs you your faith or your family then the price is too high.’” Kindle Version, Page 200 of 446.
“Things will have to change. And one of those things that will have to change: People will have to change their internal world.” Kindle Version, Page 387 of 446.
When the Legends Die
by Hal Borland
(Bantam Books, 1963)
“You going away?”
“I’m going to Odessa in a few more weeks.”
“Odessa? “ The name seemed to mean nothing to Meo.
“Odessa, Texas. That’s where the big rodeos start the year.”
“So. You make the big rumble.”
“I’m going to make the big rumble, yes. Do you want to come along?”
Meo shook his head. “I rode my horses. I am an old man.”
It didn’t matter to Tom whether Meo went along or not. Nobody else can live your life for you. You have to ride your own furies. Page 134.
He sighed, knowing why he had come back. And he remembered a chipmunk he had as a small boy, a pet that came when he called and sat in his hand. He had asked his mother the meaning of the stripes on the chipmunk’s back. Those stripes, she said, were the paths from its eyes, with which it sees now and tomorrow, to its tail, which is always behind it and a part of yesterday. He had laughed at that and said he wished he, too, had a tail. His mother had said, “When you are a man you will have a tail, though you will never see it. You will have something always behind you.”
Now he understood. Now he knew that time lays scars on a man like the chipmunk’s stripes, paths that lead from where he is now back to where he came from, from the eyes of his knowing to the tail of his remembering. They are the ties that bind a man to his own being, his small part of the roundness. Page 215.
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
(Harper & Row, Publishers, 1987)
One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for once as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live. Pages 293-94.
Anne of Avonlea
by L.M. Montgomery
(Bantam Books, 1988).
I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people know more. . . though I know that is the noblest ambition . . . but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me . . . to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born. Page 54.
“. . . I think the little things in life often make more trouble than the big things,” said Anne, with one of those flashes of insight which experience could not have bettered. Page 196.
Those who knew Anne best felt, without realizing that they felt it, that her greatest attraction was the aura of possibility surrounding her . . . the power of future development that was in her. She seemed to walk in an atmosphere of things about to happen. Page 248.
Anne of the Island
by L.M. Montgomery
(Bantam Classic Edition, June 1987)
Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life—the things that pass—forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other—from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there—Anne believed—she would learn—but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved. Page 107.
Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same; but the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not be to face the next with the shrinking terror of something wholly different—something for which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth. Page 109.
But, like Kipling’s cat, he “walked by himself.” His paw was against every cat, and every cat’s paw against him. One by one he vanquished the aristocratic felines of Spofford Avenue. Page 124.
Anne of Windy Poplars
By L.M. Montgomery
(Bantam Books, 1988)
He’s well-do-to and I’ve always felt he looked down on us because we were poor. But we have our boy . . . and it don’t never matter how poor you are as long as you’ve got something to love. Page 136.
Things have always been made easy for you. You . . . you seem to live in a little enchanted circle of beauty and romance. “I wonder what delightful discovery I’ll make today” . . . that seems to be your attidtude to life, Anne. Page 149.
“Oh, but you can!” Anne put her arm about Katherine. “You can put hate out of your mind . . . cure yourself of it. Life is only beginning for you now . . . since at last you’re quite free and independent. And you never know what may be around the next bend in the road.” Page 152.
“Babies are such fascinating creatures,” said Anne dreamily. “They are what I heard somebody at Redmond call ‘terrific bundles of potentialities.’ Think of it, Katherine . . . Homer must have been a baby once . . . a baby with dimples and great eyes full of light . . . he couldn’t have been blind then, of course.” Page 157.
There are so many Bugles in the world . . . not many quite so far gone in Buglism as Cousin Ernestine, perhaps, but so many kill-joys, afraid to enjoy today because of what tomorrow will bring.
“Gilbert darling, don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us, even if it brings scads of trouble and typhoid and twins.” Page 174.
“I’m so different,” sighed Hazel.
It was really dreadful to be so different from other people . . . and yet rather wonderful, too, as if you were a being strayed from another star. Hazel would not have been one of the common herd for anything . . . no matter what she suffered by reason of her differentness. Page 174.
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
(Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1964)
When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself. Page 49.
I was getting tired of the literary life, if this was the literary life that I was leading, and already I missed not working and I felt the death of loneliness that comes at the end of every day that is wasted in your life. Pages 165-66.
Education of a Wandering Man
by Louis L’Amour
(Bantam Books, 1989)
We do not at present educate people to think but, rather, to have opinions, and that is something altogether different. Page 75.
Quote from Friedrich Schleiermacher, “Whoever would make of himself a distinctive individual must be keen to perceive what he is not.” Page 80.
Only one who has learned much can fully appreciate his ignorance. He knows so well the limits of his knowledge and how much lies waiting to be learned. Page 81.
Eaters of the Dead
by Michael Crichton
(Ballantine Books, New York, 1976)
“As you see best,” Herger replied, “but there is too much that man does not know. And what man does not know, that is the province of the gods.” Page 173.
The Pursuit of God
by A.W. Tozer
Christian Publications, Inc., 1982
The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. He develops toward himself a kindly sense of humor and learns to say, “Oh, so you have been overlooked? They have placed someone else before you? They have whispered that you are pretty small stuff after all? And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself? Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing, a mere worm of the dust. Where is you consistency? Come on, humble yourself, and cease to care what men think.” Pages 112-113.