Friday, October 30, 2009

Quotes: Reading (6).

Reading 329 "Reading this book, you might think there was only one good kind of microbe hunter: the kind of searcher who stood on his own absolutely, who paid little attention to the work of other microbe hunters, who read nature, not books…no, Paul Ehrlich got his ideas out of books…lived among scientific books and subscribed to every chemical journal in every language he could read, and in several he couldn’t read." DeKruif, Microbe Hunters.

Reading 330 "…and queer things happened to those ideas of others when they stewed in Ehrlich’s brain." DeKruif, Microbe Hunters.

Reading 21 " 'Go out and live!' my mother would say when she saw me reading, as if my silent activity contradicted her sense of what it meant to be alive." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading 21 "…artificial dichotomy between life and reading…." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Reading 53 "[Emerson] …thought there were too many books to be read, and thought readers should share their findings by reporting to one another the gist of their studies…." Manguel, A History of Reading.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quotes: Reading (5).

Reading 679 "People don’t get their morality from the reading matter; they bring their morality to it." Clive James. “A Blizzard of Tiny Kisses.” [Scathing review of Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz. 1980. Gross, ed. Essays. On the issue of censorship.

Reading 17 Marianne on Edward’s reading: "…how spiritless, how tame was Edward’s manner in reading to us last night…to hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference…if he is not to be animated by Cowper…to hear him read with so little sensibility." Austen, Sense and Sensibility. In the days when reading aloud in the evening was their TV....

Reading 66 " In the afternoons, when grandmother sat upstairs, darning, or making husking-gloves, I read ‘The Swiss Family Robinson to her, and I felt that the Swiss Family had no advantages over us in the way of an adventurous life." Cather, My Ántonia. Settling the prairie was as adventurous as the adventures in any book.

Reading 93 Carol: “What if some children are destructive [with books]? They learn to read; books are cheaper than minds.” Sinclair Lewis, Main Street. To which the librarian responds that her job is to maintain the books and to keep them from being destroyed by careless children.

Reading 352 "…nothing but trying to make books talk to me." Sinclair Lewis, Main Street. One way of defining reading.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quotes: Reading (4).

Reading 289 "There is hardly any grief that an hour’s reading will not dissipate." Montesquieu. 1722-55. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms. It's a hard lesson to learn, but it's true. Reading books is the best therapy.

Reading 289 "To buy books would be a good thing if we could also buy the time to read them; as it is, the mere act of purchasing them is often mistaken for the assimilation and mastering of their contents." Schopenhauer. 1851. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms. I have several bookshelves full of books that I bought and have not read.

Reading 308 "I suspect that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready….". E. M. Forster. 1951. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms. This is a potent point for teachers of English.

Reading 34 "I have given up reading books; I find it takes my mind off myself. Oscar Levant." Portable Curmudgeon. You have to have seen Levant in his films to realize how this statement fits his personality.

Reading 209 "We read that others may not read (said of reviewers/critics and censors)." Lactantius. Latin. Dictionary of Foreign Terms. The critics', reviewers', and censors' credo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quotes: Reading (3)

Reading 288 "The art of not reading is extremely important…consists in our not taking up whatever happens to be occupying the larger public at the time. Schopenhauer." 1851. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Reading 288 "One of the conditions for reading what is good is that we must not read what is bad; for life is short and time and energy are limited." Schopenhauer. 1851. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Reading 288 "Read at whim! Read at whim!" Randall Jarrell. 1965. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Reading 288 "It is no more necessary that a mind should remember the different dinners and suppers which have made him healthy, than the different books which have made him wise; let us see the result of good food in a strong body, and the result of great reading in a full and powerful mind." Sydney Smith. 1806. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Reading 289 "…it is only once in a lifetime that we can know the passionate reading of youth." Walter Bagehot. 1879. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quotes: Reading (2)

Reading 1152 "The book [Twice-Told Tales], if you would see anything in it, requires to be read in the clear, brown twilight atmosphere in which it was written; if opened in the sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank pages." Hawthorne: Preface to Twice-Told Tales. The read-it-the-way-the-author-wrote-it school of reading.

Reading 1152 "Every sentence [of the stories in Twice-told Tales], so far as it embodies thought or sensibility, may be understood and felt by anybody, who will give himself the trouble to read it, and will take up the book in a proper mood." Hawthorne: Preface to Twice-Told Tales. That is, a reflective mood.

Reading 2 "The only way to read a book of aphorisms without being bored is to open it at random and, having found something that interests you, close the book and meditate." Prince De Ligne. 1796. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.Yes!

Reading 175 "At the day of judgment we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done." Thomas A Kempis. 1420. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Reading 268 "Books we want to have young people read should not be recommended to them but praised in their presence; afterwards they will find them themselves." Lichtenberg. 1764-99. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms. I recall a teacher praising the essays of Loren Eiseley. I recalled that I had a book of his essays at home but had not read it. I went home and read it. And then I read everything else he wrote. RayS.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quotes: Reading (1)

Reading 866 "It is true, I have an idea of the character you endeavor to describe; but it is rather by dint of my own thought than your expression." Hawthorne: "The Christmas Banquet"

Reading 1136 "…I burrowed among these venerable books, in search of any living thought…." Hawthorne: Preface to “The Old Manse”

Reading 1136 "What was good and nourishing food for the spirits of one generation, affords no sustenance for the next." Hawthorne: Preface to “The Old Manse”

Reading 1138 " …a superstitious reverence for literature of all kinds; a bound volume has a charm in my eyes…." Hawthorne: Preface to “The Old Manse”

Reading 1138 "…and I, that every new book, or antique one, may contain the ‘Open Sesame’—the spell to disclose treasures, hidden in some unsuspected cave of truth." Hawthorne: Preface to “The Old Manse”

Comment: One purpose for reading books is to find the treasure of new ideas. RayS.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quotes: Rationalizing (2)

A young soldier rationalizes his fleeing the battlefield.

Rationalizing 76 "…a defeat for the army this time might mean many favorable things for him…blows of the enemy would splinter regiments into fragments…many men of courage…would be obliged to desert the colors and scurry like chickens; he would appear as one of them…sullen brothers in distress, and he could then easily believe he had not run any farther or faster than they." Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.

Rationalizing 77 "In a defeat there would be a roundabout vindication of himself…thought it would prove, in a manner, that he had fled early because of his superior powers of perception… serious prophet upon predicting a flood should be the first man to climb a tree." Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.

Rationalizing 101 "His self-pride was now entirely restored…he had performed his mistakes in the dark, so he was still a man." Crane, The Red Badge of Courage. [i.e., no one saw his cowardly act.]

Rationalizing 102 " He remembered how some of the men had run from the battle…recalled their terror-struck faces…felt scorn for them…had surely been more fleet and more wild than was absolutely necessary…were weak…as for himself, he had fled with discretion and dignity." Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quotes: Rationalizing.

The first two quotes are from Hawthorne's retelling of the story of Pandora's box. The last two are from Crane's The Red Badge of Courage. The third is the best rationalization of all.

Rationalizing 1222 "And then the thought came into her naughty little heart, that, since she would be suspected of having looked into the box, she might just as well do so, at once." “The Paradise of Children” Hawthorne’s The Wonder Book for Boys and Girls

Rationalizing 1222 "I am resolved to take just one peep! Only one peep; and then the lid shall be shut down as safely as ever…cannot possibly be any harm in just one little peep!" “The Paradise of Children” Hawthorne’s The Wonder Book for Boys and Girls

Rationalizing 372 "The chaplain had mastered…the handy technique of protective rationalization…almost no trick at all…to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice…merely required no character." Heller, Catch-22.

Rationalizing 51 "He had fled, he told himself, because annihilation approached…had done a good part in saving himself, who was a little piece of the army…had considered the time…to be one in which it was the duty of every little piece to rescue itself if possible…later the officers could fit the little pieces together again, and make a battle front…if none of the little pieces were wise enough to save themselves from the flurry of death at such a time, why, then where would be the army…all plain that he had proceeded according to very correct and commendable rules…actions had been sagacious…had been full of strategy." Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.

Rationalizing 53 " He threw a pine cone at a jovial squirrel, and he ran with chattering fear…youth felt triumphant at this exhibition…nature had given him a sign…squirrel, immediately upon recognizing danger, had taken to his legs without ado…did not stand stolidly baring his furry belly to the missile, and die with an upward glance at the sympathetic heavens…had fled as fast as his legs could carry him; and he was but an ordinary squirrel, too—doubtless no philosopher of his race…nature was of his mind…reinforced his arguments with proofs that lived where the sun shone." Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quotes: Rationality.

Rationality 474 "Whenever the rational male intellect asserts itself [at the expense of intuition]…[it results in] an immediate increase in wars, crime, mental ill-health and physical excess." Robert Graves. “The Case for Xanthippe [Plato’s shrewish wife].” 1960. Gross, ed. Essays.

Rationality 366 "Social rationality presupposes individual rationality, and this, in turn, depends on…continuity, order and regularity in the environment." Toffler, Future Shock.

Rationality vs. intuition 478 "But humane, creative thought, which depends on intuition, withers under the abstract rule of…reason." Robert Graves. “The Case for Xanthippe [Plato’s shrewish wife].” 1960. Gross, ed. Essays.

Comment: Intuition is creative; rationality is abstract. RayS.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quotes: Rain.

Rain 551 "How loudly tinkles the collected rain down the tin spouts." Hawthorne: Night Sketches: “Beneath an Umbrella.”

Rain 551 "One blast struggles for her umbrella, and turns it wrong side outward; another whisks the cape of her cloak across her eyes; while a third takes most unwarrantable liberties with the lower part of her attire." Hawthorne: Night Sketches: “Beneath an Umbrella.”

Rain 190 " …a rainy day is a blessing to the earth and everything that lives upon it." Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quotes: Race (2)

Race 630 "At the root of the American Negro problem is the necessity of the American white man to find a way of living with the Negro in order to be able to live with himself." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 631 "In this long battle, a battle by no means finished, the unforeseeable effects of which will be felt by many future generations, the white man’s motive was the protection of his identity; the black man was motivated by the need to establish an identity." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 632 "…American white men still nourish the illusion that there is some means of recovering the European innocence, of returning to a state in which black men do not of the greatest errors Americans can make." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 632 "One of the things that distinguishes Americans from other people is that no other people has ever been so deeply involved in the lives of black men and vice versa; it is precisely this black-white experience which may prove of indispensable value to us in the world we face today; this world is white no longer, and it will never be white again." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 650 "He [a small, neatly dressed white South African] was pointing at a group of Indian youths on the outskirts of the crowd, and his face bore that pale, fanatical look, self-absorbed, as though listening to God within himself, that white South Africans often wear when they are working up to violence on those with darker skins than their own: ‘Look at them,’ he was saying; ‘look at them; filthy f_____ collies, coming to look at the King and Queen, as if they’re white men; look at them, f_____ cheeky collies; let’s do something.’ " Dan Jacobson. “A Visit from Royalty.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Comment: The rage of racial hatred. RayS.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quotes: Race (1).

Race 624 "…my father, who having taken his own conversion too literally, never, at bottom, forgave the white world…for having saddled him with a Christ in whom, to judge at least from their treatment of him, they themselves no longer believed." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 626 "The black man insists…that the white man cease to regard him as an exotic rarity and recognize him as a human being." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 627 "But I am not a stranger in America and the same syllable riding on the American air expresses the war my presence has occasioned in the American soil." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 629 "For the history of the American Negro is unique also in this: that the question of his humanity, and of his rights therefore as a human being, became a burning one for several generations of Americans, so burning a question that it ultimately became one of those used to divide the nation…." James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Race 630 "The idea of white supremacy rests simply on the fact that white men are the creators of civilization (the present civilization, which is the only one that matters; all previous civilizations are simply ‘contributions’ to our own)…. " James Baldwin. “Stranger in the Village.” 1953. Gross, ed. Essays.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotes: Quotable.

Quotable 139 " It’s better to be quotable than to be honest." Tom Stoppard. Portable Curmudgeon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quote: Questions and Answer

Question and Answer 717 He liked the way the response to each question [in the Catechism] repeated the question before delivering the answer. DeLillo, Underworld.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quote: Quest.

Quest 1364 "Were we to find her [lost sister, Europa], she would now be a woman grown, and look upon us all as strangers." “The Dragon’s Teeth” Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales. How often does this happen in real life? A child is kidnapped and disappears only to turn up years later, a changed person.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quote: Quakers.

Impressions of Quaker Services.

Quakers 1030 "Their house of worship, like their ceremonial, was naked, simple, and severe." Hawthorne: "Main-Street"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quote: Pygmies.

Pygmies 139 "At harvest time, they were forced to go with their little axes and cut down the grain, exactly as a wood-cutter makes a clearing in the forest; and when a stalk of wheat, with its over-burdened top, chanced to come crashing down upon an unfortunate pygmy, it was apt to be a very sad affair." “The Pygmies” Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quotes: Puritanism

Puritanism 198 "Puritanism—the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." H. L. Mencken. 1928. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Puritanism 226 "The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." Macaulay. Portable Curmudgeon.

Puritans 1031 " …how like an iron cage was that which they [the Puritans] called liberty!" Hawthorne: "Main-Street" The liberty that the Puritans wanted was freedom to worship THEIR way.

Puritans 1037 "Dorothy Talby is chained to a post at the corner of Prison Lane, with the hot sun blazing on her matronly face, and all for no other offense than lifting her hand against her husband." Hawthorne: "Main-Street"

Puritans 1039 "Nor, it may be, have we even yet thrown off all the unfavorable influences which, among many good ones, were bequeathed to us by our Puritan forefathers. Hawthorne:" "Main-Street"

Puritans 1124 "These worthies [grim prints of Puritan ministers that hung around the study] looked strangely like bad angels, or, at least, like men who had wrestled so continually and so sternly with the devil, that somewhat of his sooty fierceness had been imparted to their own visages." Hawthorne: Preface to “The Old Manse”

To what degree does our Puritan heritage shape our contemporary attitudes?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Quotes: Psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis 225 "Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution." G. K. Chesterton. Portable Curmudgeon.

Psychoanalysis 34 "Doc Daneeka had been told that people who enjoyed climbing into an airplane were really giving vent to a subconscious desire to climb back into the womb." Heller, Catch-22.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quotes: Proverb.

Proverb 388 [The Irish] have a wise proverb which says that a good barn may perhaps pay for a decent house, but no one has ever heard of a fine dwelling that paid for a decent barn. Rölvaag, Giants in the Earth.

Proverbs 365 Solomon made a book of proverbs, but a book of proverbs never made a Solomon. Anon. Gross, ed. Oxford Book of Aphorisms.

Half-truths, both of them. RayS.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quote: Protestantism.

Protestantism 224 "The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore. " H. L. Mencken. Portable Curmudgeon. The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is that people have the right to think their own thoughts about religion. RayS.