Friday, December 11, 2009


This blog will resume on Monday, January 4, 2010. It consists of unfamiliar quotes from mostly unfamiliar books. RayS.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quotes: Religion (5).

Religion 532 "An idea that you must be somehow satisfied as well as mortified before entering repose goes deep into the [Buddhist] system, and perhaps into human life." Sir William Empson. “The Faces of Buddha.” 1936. Gross, ed. Essays.

Religion 53 "The drooping eyelids of the great creatures [statues of the Buddha] are heavy with patience and suffering, and the subtle irony which offends us in their raised eyebrows… [conveys to us] that it is odd that we let our desires subject us to so much torment in the world." Sir William Empson. “The Faces of Buddha.” 1936. Gross, ed. Essays. The problem with life is our unsatisfied desires. A Buddhist idea.

Religion 298 "Robert on his brother Edward, who expects to become a clergyman: …laughed most immoderately; the idea of Edward’s being a clergyman, and living in a small parsonage-house, diverted him beyond measure;--and when to that was added the fanciful imagery of Edward reading prayers in a white surplice, and publishing the banns of marriage between John Smith and Mary Brown, he could conceive nothing more ridiculous." Austen, Sense and Sensibility.

Religion 229 "…in Ireland there used to be some old women who, having ascertained from Scripture that the hairs of their heads were all numbered by the Almighty, expected to have to account for them at the Day of Judgment." Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

Religion 417 "The god Dionysus or Bacchus is best known to us as the personification of the vine and of the exhilaration produced by the juice of the grape…ecstatic worship, characterized by wild dances, thrilling music, and tipsy excess, appears to have originated among the rude tribes of Thrace, who were notoriously addicted to drunkenness." Frazer, The New Golden Bough.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quotes: Religion (4).

Religion 329 "Religion is not got rid of by eliminating superstition." Cicero. Latin. Dictionary of Foreign Terms. There is something deeper than superstition in religion.

Religion 268 " ...daily the trained parrot in the pulpit gravely delivers himself of these ironies [the religious code of conduct applicable to people, not to God], which he has acquired at second-hand and adopted without examination, to a trained congregation which accepts them without examination.... " Mark Twain. “Thoughts of God.” 1890s. Gross, ed. Essays.

Religion 313 "...divines reducing life to the dimensions of a mere funeral procession...." Robert Louis Stevenson, “Aes Triplex.” 1878. Gross, ed. Essays. Life is only a means to an end. Joy cannot exist in life. Joy can be found only in the after-life. What really matters is the after-life.

Religion 386 "Anglicanism [the English church] has never produced--never could produce--a St. Teresa." Lytton Strachey. “Creighton.” 1925. Gross, ed. Essays.

Religion 532 "The Buddha has delivered himself from the world and may well look superior to it, but he is telling you that you can do the same; also he could not achieve this apparently selfish aim without first learning complete unselfishness." Sir William Empson. “The Faces of Buddha.” 1936. Gross, ed. Essays. Apparent contradictions in Buddha's Teaching.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Quotes: Religion (3).

Religion 119 "God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable; they find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters." H. L. Mencken. Portable Curmudgeon. Another piece of half-truth cynicism from HL Mencken.

Religion 234 "Since the whole affair had become one of religion, the vanquished were of course exterminated." Voltaire.

13. Religion 234 "Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat." John Morley. If it is worshiped in a religion, it cannot be analyzed.

Religion 235 "The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,0000 revolutions a minute; man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it; religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride." H. L. Mencken.. One view of man's pusillanimity in a gigantic universe.

Religion 94 "The cowl does not make the monk." Latin. Dictionary of Foreign Terms. I.e., it is the heart that makes the monk.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quotes: Religion (2).

Religion 16 "I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching." Emerson. 1841. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Religion 19 "Religion consists of believing that everything that happens is extraordinarily important." Cesare Pavese. 1935-50. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Religion 19 "Archbishop defined: A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ." H. L. Mencken. Portable Curmudgeon. You can expect that kind of cynicism from Mencken. He's probably half right.

Religion 66 "Organized Christianity has probably done more to retard the ideals that were its founder’s than any other agency in the world." Richard Le Gallienne. Portable Curmudgeon.

Religion 66 "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton. Portable Curmudgeon.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quotes: Religion (1)

Religion 803 "Each sect surrounds its own righteousness with a hedge of thorns." Hawthorne: "The Procession of Life" i.e., sin?

Religion 807 " …Death levels us all into one great brotherhood, and that another state of being will surely rectify the wrong of this." Hawthorne: "The Procession of Life." assumption without foundation.

Religion 14 "All religions correspond to the same human needs…." Henry de Montherlant. 1930-44 Which are? .

Religion 14 "All religions promise a reward for excellences of the will or heart, but none for the excellences of the head or understanding." Schopenhauer. 1819. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms. Something to think about.

Religion 16 "A religion, even if it calls itself the religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it." Freud. 1921. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms. Even a cursory reading of history supports this statement.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quote: Relative.

Relative 236 The true Main Streetite defines a relative as a person to whose house you go uninvited, to stay as long as you like. Sinclair Lewis, Main Street. Instead of "relative," I would say neighbor.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quotes: Relationship (2)

Relationship 264 "He [Edmund] was gone as he spoke; and Fanny remained to tranquilize herself as she could." Austen,

Relationship 464 "She [Maria] had hoped to marry him [Crawford], and they continued together till she was obliged to be convinced that such hope was vain, and till the disappointment and wretchedness arising from the conviction, rendered her temper so bad, and her feelings for him so like hatred, as to make them for a while each other’s punishment, and then induce a voluntary separation." Austen, Mansfield Park. A woman's hopes blighted by a blighter.

Relationship 464 She [Maria] had lived with him to be reproached as the ruin of all his happiness in Fanny, and carried away no better consolation in leaving him, than that she had divided them; what can exceed the misery of such a mind in such a situation? Austen, Mansfield Park. If I can't have him, then I'll make sure that he can't have the one he wants either.

Relationship 465 "…it may be reasonably supposed that their tempers became their mutual punishment." Austen, Mansfield Park.

Relationship 468 " He [Crawford] was entangled [with Maria] by his own vanity." Austen, Mansfield Park.

Relationship 97 " …we form limited involvement relationships with most of the people around us…rather than entangling ourselves with the whole man, we plug into a module of his personality." Toffler, Future Shock. This one really set me thinking.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quotes: Relationship (1)

Relationship 1265 "When the stranger conversed, it was…in such a way that Philemon felt irresistibly moved to tell him everything which he had most at heart…always the feeling that people have, when they meet with any one wise enough to comprehend all their good and evil, and to despise not a tittle of it." “The Miraculous Pitcher” Hawthorne’s The Wonder Book for Boys and Girls

Relationship 233 "Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation…." W. H. Auden. That's cynical.

Relationship 27 "For the first time she tolerated him rather than encouraged him." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Relationship 151 "Carol’s hero-worship dwindled to polite nodding, and the nodding dwindled to a desire to escape, and she went home with a headache." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Relationship 297 "Babbitt was frightened, but he had an agonized instinct that if he yielded in this he would yield in everything." Lewis, Babbitt.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Quote: Rejection.

Rejection 327 "She [Fanny] told him [Crawford] that she did not love him, could not love him, was sure she never should love him; that such a change was quite impossible, that the subject was most painful to her, that she must entreat him never to mention it again, to allow her to leave him at once, and let it be considered as concluded forever…when farther pressed, had added, that in her opinion their dispositions were so totally dissimilar, as to make mutual affection incompatible; and that they were unfitted for each other by nature, education, and habit." Austen, Mansfield Park. Now that is a rejection!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quote: Reincarnation.

Reincarnation 1273 "And as for those foolish people, said Quicksilver, with his mischievous smile, they are all transformed to fishes…needed but little change, for they were already a scaly set of rascals and the coldest-blooded beings in existence." “The Miraculous Pitcher” Hawthorne’s The Wonder Book for Boys and Girls.

Note: This blog will resume on Monday, November 30, 2009. RayS.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quotes: Reform and Reformers

Reformer 577 "There is even a coldness in his [Martin Luther King’s] public character, an impenetrability and solidity often seen in those who have given their entire lives to ideas and causes." Elizabeth Hardwick. “The Apotheosis of Martin Luther King.” 1968. Gross, ed. Essays.

Reformer 579 " His [Martin Luther King’s] was a practical, not a frenzied exhortation…." Elizabeth Hardwick. “The Apotheosis of Martin Luther King.” 1968. Gross, ed. Essays.

Reformers 892 "The spirituous and fermented liquors being thus disposed of, the zeal of the reformers next induced them to replenish the fire with all the boxes of tea and bags of coffee in the world…and crops of tobacco." Hawthorne: "Earth's Holocaust"

Reformers 892 “ 'Well;--they’ve put my pipe out,' said an old gentleman, flinging it into the flames in a pet… 'everything rich and racy—all the spice of life—is to be condemned as useless; now that they have kindled the bonfire, if these nonsensical reformers would fling themselves into it, all would be well enough' … 'Be patient,' responded a staunch conservative;-- 'it will come to that in the end; they will first fling us in, and finally themselves.' " Hawthorne: "Earth's Holocaust"

Reformers 1102 "…it behooves men, and especially men of benevolence, to consider well what they are about, and, before acting on their philanthropic purposes, to be quite sure that they comprehend the nature and all the relations of the business in hand; what has been established as an element of good to one being, may prove absolute mischief to another." Hawthorne: "The Snow Image"

Reformers 197 "The passion for setting people right is in itself an afflictive disease." Marianne Moore. 1935. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quotes: Reform and Reformers (3)

Reform 331 "Young man, go East and grow up with the revolution…perhaps you may come back and tell Sam and Nat and me what to do with the land we’ve been clearing—if we’ll listen—if we don’t lynch you first." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 422 "Here’s the test for you: Do you come to ‘conquer the East’ as people say, or do you come to conquer yourself?" Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 423 "There’s one attack you can make on it, perhaps the only kind that accomplishes much anywhere: you can keep on looking at one thing after another in your home and church and bank, and ask why it is, and who first laid down the law that it had to be that way." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 423 "Easy, pleasant, lucrative homework for wives: asking people to define their jobs…the most dangerous doctrine I know." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 431 "…a hundred generations of Carols will aspire and go down in tragedy…the humdrum inevitable tragedy of struggle against inertia." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quotes: Reform and Reformers (2).

Reform 221 "Perhaps this evening would convert Gopher Prairie to conscious beauty." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 248 "And she comes rushing in and expects in one year to change the whole town into a lollypop paradise, with everybody stopping everything else to grow tulips and drink tea." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 261 "How you hate this place! How can you expect to do anything with it if you haven’t any sympathy?" Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 263 "You give up too easily…gave up on…the dramatic association—just because we didn’t graduate into Ibsen the very first thing; you want perfection all at once." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 276 "And we’ll continue in barbarism just as long as people as nearly intelligent as you continue to defend things as they are because they are." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quotes: Reform and Reformers (1).

Reform 887 "Once upon a time—but whether in time past or time to come, is a matter of little or no moment—this wide world had become so overburdened with an accumulation of worn-out trumpery, that the inhabitants determined to rid themselves of it by a general bonfire." Hawthorne: "Earth's Holocaust"

Reform 901 "Unless we set fire to the earth itself, and then leap boldly off into infinite space, I know not that we can carry reform to any further point." Hawthorne: "Earth's Holocaust"

Reform 195 "Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel." H. L. Mencken. Portable Curmudgeon.

Reform 97 Carol: "And you want to ‘reform’ people like that when dynamite is so cheap?" Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Reform 139 "You want to do something for the town; I don’t; I want the town to do something for itself." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote: Recluse.

1. Recluse 104 "In the midst of a few foreign acres teeming with more than two hundred people, he had succeeded in becoming a recluse; with a little ingenuity and vision, he had made it all but impossible for anyone in the squadron to talk to him which was just fine with everyone, he noticed, since no one wanted to talk to him anyway." Heller, Catch-22.

Comment: Pretty good definition of a recluse.You might as well be a recluse, because no one wants to talk to you, anyway. RayS.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quotes: Reasoning.

Reasoning 39 "Dunbar loved shooting skeet because he hated every minute of it and the time passed so slowly." Heller, Catch-22.

Reasoning 47 Catch-22: "If he flew them [missions] he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to." Heller, Catch-22.

Reasoning 82 "Clevinger was guilty, of course, or he would not have been accused." Heller, Catch-22.

Reasoning 416 "Catch 22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing." Heller, Catch-22.

Comment: I suppose we could use explaining these examples of reasoning as an IQ test. I think Catch-22 is one of the funniest novels ever written. RayS.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quotes: Reality.

Distinguishing between the virtual and the real.

Reality 235 "If consumers can no longer distinguish clearly between the real and the simulated…." Toffler, Future Shock.

Reality 236 "And what, then, happens when an economy in search of a new purpose, seriously begins to enter into the production of experiences for their own sake, experiences that blur the distinction between the vicarious and the non-vicarious, the simulated and the real?" Toffler, Future Shock.

Reality 347 "The unpredictability arising from novelty undermines his sense of reality." Toffler, Future Shock.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quotes: Reading (15).

Reading purpose 103 "Gotthold Ephraim Lessing…believed that 'books explain life.' " Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading response 93 "…something revealing about the creative nature of the act of reading lies in the fact that one reader can despair and another can laugh at exactly the same page." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading response 313 "Professor Jonathan Rose on the 'five common fallacies to reader response': …all literature is political…influence of a given text is directly proportional to its circulation… 'popular' culture has a much larger following than 'high' culture and therefore it more accurately reflects the attitudes of the masses…. 'high' culture tends to reinforce acceptance of the existing social and political order…the canon of 'great books' is defined solely by social elites." Manguel, A History of Reading. That quote will make you think!

Reading response 315 "…raises the question of how (and why) certain readers will preserve a reading long after most other readers have relinquished it to the past." Manguel, A History of Reading. Similar to why some people will watch a movie once and never want to see it again while others will watch the same movie over and over again.

Reading uses 63 Augustine (according to Petrarch): "Whenever you read a book and come across any wonderful phrases which you feel stir or delight your soul, don’t merely trust the power of your own intelligence, but force yourself to learn them by heart and make them familiar by meditating on them, so that whenever an urgent case of affliction arises, you’ll have the remedy ready as if it were written in your mind." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading, writing 286 " Sometimes even good Homer nods." Horace. Latin. Dictionary of Foreign Terms ...or is boring.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quotes: Reading (14).

Reading purpose 00 Gustave Flaubert: "Read in order to live." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading purpose 7 "We read to understand, or to begin to understand." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading purpose 71 "In every literate society, learning to read is something of an initiation, a ritualized passage out of a state of dependency and rudimentary communication." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading purpose 89 "One reads in order to ask questions," Kafka once told a friend. Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading purpose 93 "Altogether, Kafka wrote in 1904 to his friend Oskar Pollak, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us; if the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?" Manguel, A History of Reading.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quotes: Reading (13).

Reading process 37 " …it is only during the brief pause between [eye] movements that we actually 'read.' ” Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading process 38 "…imbue the text with something--emotion, physical sentience, intuition, knowledge, soul--that depends on who I am and how I became who I am." Manguel, A History of Reading. Individuals respond differently to what they read, depending on their personalities. RayS.

Reading process 38 Dr. Merlin C. Wittrock, in the 1980s: "…readers attend to the text…create images and verbal transformations to represent its meaning…generate meaning as they read by constructing relations between their knowledge, their memories of experience, and the written sentences, paragraphs and passages." Manguel, A History of Reading. Individuals respond differently to what they read, depending on their backgrounds. RayS.

Reading process 77 "First came the lectio, a grammatical analysis in which the syntactic elements of each sentence would be identified; this would lead to the littera or literal sense of the text…student acquired the sensus, the meaning of the text according to different established interpretations…process ended with an exegesis--the sententia--in which the opinions of approved commentators were discussed. Manguel, A History of Reading. A method of reading in sequential steps. Sounds as if individual readers were dependent on the interpretations and commentaries of others. Rays.

Reading process 267 " Like every reader, Rilke was also reading through his own experience." Manguel, A History of Reading. Readers construct meaning through their own experiences. RayS.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quotes: Reading (12)

Reading nature of 152 "One can transform a place by reading in it." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading nature of 173 "However readers make a book theirs, the end is that book and reader become one…we are what we read." Manguel, A History of Reading. Half truth. RayS.

Reading nature of 244 "The act of reading establishes an intimate, physical relationship in which all the senses have a part: the eyes drawing the words from the page, the ears echoing the sounds being read, the nose inhaling the familiar scent of paper, glue, ink, cardboard or leather, the touch caressing the rough or soft page, the smooth or hard binding; even the taste, at times, when the reader’s fingers are lifted to the tongue (which is how the murderer poisons his victims in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose)." Manguel, A History of Reading. About as thorough a description of reading as you will find. RayS.

Reading process 23 "…the act of reading itself…skips chapters, browses, selects, rereads, refuses to follow conventional order." Manguel, A History of Reading. The Reading process. RayS.

Reading process 34 "How does the act of apprehending letters relate to a process that involves not only sight and perception but inference, judgment, memory, recognition, knowledge, experience, practice?" Manguel, A History of Reading. The complexity of reading. RayS.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quotes: Reading (11).

Reading listening 348 "She caught every syllable with panting eagerness." Austen. [She was reading a letter.]

Reading medium 23 "…by the first makers of books, who found the methods of scroll-reading (like the methods we now use to read on our computers) too limiting and cumbersome, and offered us instead the possibility of flipping through pages and scribbling in margins." Manguel, A History of Reading. I don't like reading scrolls and, therefore, I find reading anything of any length on the computer to be uncomfortable.

Reading nature of 10 "The Canadian essayist Stan Persky once said to me that ‘for readers, there must be a million autobiographies,’ since we seem to find, in book after book, the traces of our lives." Manguel, A History of Reading. Books call up memories of our experiences.

Reading nature of 10 "Reading gave me an excuse for privacy." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading nature of 21 "Something in the relationship between a reader and a book is recognized as wise and fruitful, but it is also seen as disdainfully exclusive and excluding…." Manguel, A History of Reading. I have encountered the latter attitude from, of all people, my mother who taught me to read by reading to me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quotes: Reading (10).

Reading interpretation 86 "…implied that not one but a near infinity of readings was possible." [I think by "readings" he means "interpretations." RayS.] Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading interpretation 89 "Two different ways of reading the Bible developed among Jewish scholars in the sixteenth century…Sephardic schools of Spain and North Africa preferred to summarize the contents of a passage with little discussion of the details that composed it…the Ashkenazi schools based largely in France, Poland, and the Germanic countries analyzed every line and every word, searching for every possible sense." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading interpretation 93 "Kafka has been read literally, allegorically, politically, psychologically." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading interpretation 173 " …no reading can ever be definitive." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading learning how 71 "Medieval Jewish society: …biblical verses were written on peeled hard-boiled eggs and on honey cakes, which the child would eat after reading the verses out loud to the teacher." Manguel, A History of Reading. [The "reward" school of motivation.]