Entries Tagged 'books and writing' ↓

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

Edith Wharton

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“Your Uncle Charles had his blood cholesterol tested late last week.
Though the verdict rendered was no worse than a rather unperspicuous
‘Normal to Upper-normal’, the penultimate modifier has caused, as you
might anticipate, much pacing and high-decibel whingeing, as well as
vows of eternal xerophagy from here on out.”

David Foster Wallace; Infinite Jest: A Novel; Little, Brown and Company;

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“Oh, I never look under the hood.”

– E. B. White, writer, on being asked where his stories came

the paperclip

“Never, btw (which, unlike ‘poststructuralism,’ is a word in Word
spellcheck), ask that androgynous paper clip anything. S/he is
just a stooge for management, leading you down more rabbit holes
of options for things called Wizards, Macros, Templates, and
Cascading Style Sheets.”

– Louis Menand, commenting on Microsoft Word, in the New Yorker
article “The End Matter” (October 6, 2003).

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“The great artists of the world are never Puritans and seldom
respectable. No virtuous man — that is, virtuous in the YMCA
sense — has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written
a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.”

– H. L. Mencken

misfortune and contentment

“Those who say that life is only a combination of misfortunes mean that life itself is a misfortune. If it is a misfortune, then death is a happiness. Such people did not write in good health, with their purses stuffed with money, and contentment in their souls from having held Cecelias and Marinas in their arms and being sure that there were more of them to come… If pleasure exists, and we can only enjoy it in life, then life is a happiness. There are misfortunes, of course, as I should be the first to know. But the very existence of these misfortunes proves that the sum of good is greater. I am infinitely happy when I am in an dark room and see the light coming through a window which opens on a vast horizon.”

– Giacomo Casanova, History of My Life (Willard R. Trask, translator)

on evolution

“Whoever can scare people enough (produce bio-survival anxiety) can sell them quickly on any verbal map that seems to give them relief, i.e. cure the anxiety. By frightening people with Helland then offering them Salvation, the most ignorant or crooked individuals can “sell” a whole system of thought that cannot bear two minutes of rational analysis. And any domesticated primate alpha male, however cruel or crooked, can rally the primate tribe behind him by howling that a rival alpha male is about to lead his gang in an attack on this habitat. These two mammalian reflexes are known, respectively, as Religion and Patriotism.  They work for domesticated primates, as for the wild primates, because they are Evolutionary Relative Successes. (So far.)”

– Robert Anton Wilson, in ‘Prometheus Rising’, 1983.

the point

The point, I imagine is
Not to learn to expect
betrayal, self-deceit, lies
however thick they collect
in the cul-de-sac of one’s days,
half-noticed, half-numbered, half-checked;
but rather to learn to praise
fidelity, trust and love
which in their modest ways
continue to be and move
(however mocked, however derided
however difficult, indeed to prove),
utterly undivided-
if inarticulate or mute,
still mortally decided.

Neither fashionable nor astute
This point to take to heart:
Merely final and absolute;

Without it no people, no life, no art

Evan Jones, 1931