2019-09-23 07:00

Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings:

Sam said nothing. The look on Frodo’s face was enough for him; he knew that words of his were useless. And after all he never had any real hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.

2019-09-10 09:44

Gilbert Seldes, The Stammering Century:

But it is almost impossible to believe that the wholly undisciplined followers of New Thought could understand or seriously practice the discipline of Yoga. […] For the most part, those who practiced it had not the faintest intention of giving up the world. Yoga was for them a mystic way of renouncing whatever was irritating and preserving whatever was pleasing. It was an elaborate game of pretense by which noisy people went into silence and distracted people imagined they were concentrating. The glamour of renunciation suffused the picture which they had of themselves. Actually nothing was renounced and whatever was desired was lifted to a transcendantal plane where it could be enjoyed a hundred-fold. No doubt the delusion was as effective as the actuality might have been. One fancies oneself becoming ageless and deathless, and full of perfection, sinking into eternal nothingness. And if, in fact, one was only resting a little and sinking into a perfumed bath the result was about the same. For Yoga had given a reason beyond reason. It had, in a strange way, transfigured the commonplaces of life. One was lifted successively to higher and higher planes of being, not knowing exactly where they were, but vaguely satisfied because they were higher. The little irritations of the world fell away. One was alone with the mysterious spirit and, breathing in a refined way, one returned to conquer the world.

2019-08-15 05:00

John Holt, Whole Earth Epilog (1974) (via):

A society of large tools cannot be democratic, egalitarian, socialistic, humane, and just. It must be hierarchical, exploitative, bureaucratic, and authoritarian. If the day comes when all of humanity’s wants can be supplied by a few giant tools, the people who tend them will rule the world.

2019-08-08 09:00

Toni Morrison (via):

We have to stop loving our horror stories. Joyce’s Ulysses was rejected fourteen times. I don’t like that story; I hate it. Fitzgerald burned out and could not work. Hemingway despaired and could not work. A went mad, B died in penury, C drank herself to death, D was blacklisted, E committed suicide. I hate those stories. Great works are written in prisons and holding camps. So are stupid books. The misery does not validate the work. It outrages the sensibilities and violates the work.

2019-08-06 09:28

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow:

In one of these streets, in the morning fog, plastered over two slippery cobblestones, is a scrap of newspaper headline, with a wirephoto of a giant white cock, dangling in the sky straight downward out of a white pubic bush. The letters


appear above with the logo of some occupation newspaper, a grinning glamour girl riding astraddle the cannon of a tank, steel penis with slotted serpent head, 3rd Armored treads ’n’ triangle on a sweater rippling across her tits. The white image has the same coherence, the hey-lookit-me smugness, as the Cross does. It is not only a sudden white genital onset in the sky — it is also, perhaps, a Tree…

commonplace pynchon otd
2019-08-01 06:50

Walter Ong, Orality & Literacy:

To say writing is artificial is not to condemn it but to praise it. Like other artificial creations and indeed more than any other, it is utterly invaluable and indeed essential for the realization of fuller, interior, human potentials. Technologies are not mere exterior aids but also interior transformations of consciousness…. Writing heightens consciousness. Alienation from a natural milieu can be good for us and indeed is in many ways essential for full human life. To live and understand fully, we need not only proximity but also distance. This writing provides for consciousness as nothing else does.

2019-07-29 05:03

Solvitur ambulando.

2019-07-14 03:50

Nietzsche, The Gay Science:

…But what I have in view will now be understood, namely, that it is always a metaphysical belief on which our belief in science rests,— and that even we knowing ones of today, the godless and anti-metaphysical, still take our fire from the conflagration kindled by a belief a millennium old, the Christian belief, which was also the belief of Plato, that God is truth, that the truth is divine… But what if this itself always becomes more untrustworthy, what if nothing any longer proves itself divine, except it be error, blindness, and falsehood;— what if God himself turns out to be our most persistent lie?

2019-07-14 10:45

Barbara Tuchman, Practicing History:

…I take notes on four-by-six index cards, reminding myself about once an hour of a rule I read long ago in a research manual, “Never write on the back of anything.” Since copying is a chore and a bore, use of the cards, the smaller the better, forces one to extract the strictly relevant, to distill from the very beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one’s own mind, so to speak. Eventually, as the cards fall into groups according to subject or person or chronological sequence, the pattern of my story will emerge. Besides, they are convenient, as they can be filed in a shoe box and carried around in a pocketbook. When ready to write I need only to take along a packet of them, representing a chapter, and I am equipped to work anywhere; whereas if one writes surrounded by a pile of books, one is tied to a single place, and furthermore likely to be too much influenced by other authors.

2019-07-07 02:56

PSA: I’ve recently added a few more “old” posts to this blog with their original publication dates: