"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

But how can I communicate with the gods, who am a pencil maker on earth, and not be insane?

[: Thoreau, A week on the Concord and Merimac Rivers]

Posted by rebeccap on 03.21.2011

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Why do precisely these objects which we behold make a world?

[: Henry David Thoreau, ]

Posted by rebeccap on 03.21.2011

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I went out of that gallery and into another and still larger one, which at first glance reminded me of a military chapel hung with tattered flags. The brown and charred rags that hung from the sides of it, I presently recognised as the decaying vestiges of books. They had long since dropped to pieces, and every semblance of print had left them. But here and there were warped boards and cracked metallic clasps that told the tale well enough. Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralised upon the futility of all ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with keenest force was the enormous waste of labour to which this sombre wilderness of rotting paper testified. At the time I will confess that I thought chiefly of the Philosophical Transactions and my own seventeen papers on physical optics.

[: hg wells, time machine]

Posted by rp on 02.04.2011

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“No one really dreams any longer of the Blue Flower. The dream has grown gray. The gray coating of dust on things is its best part. Dreams are now a shortcut to banality. Technology consigns the outer image of things to a long farewell, like banknotes that are bound to lose their value.”


[: Walter Benjamin, Dream Kitsch]

Posted by rp on 10.18.2010

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Within its depths I saw gathered together, Bound by love into a single volume, Leaves that lie scattered through the universe. (Paradise XXXIII, 85-87)

[: Dante, ]

Posted by rebeccap on 05.05.2010

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Vladimir: That helped to pass the time. Estragon: It would have passed in any case. Vladimir: Yes, but not so rapidly.

[: Beckett, Waiting for Godot ]

Posted by rebeccap on 01.06.2010

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The willow tree at the bottom of my garden is pumping downy seeds into the air. It is raining instructions out there; it's raining programs; it's raining tree-growing, fluff-spreading, algorithms. This is not a metaphor, it is the plain truth. It couldn't be any plainer if it were raining floppy disks. It is raining DNA.

[: Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker]

Posted by rp on 09.28.2009

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'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

[: Keats, ]

Posted by rp on 09.28.2009

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Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. At this point many of you will remember with pleasure the large library which Jean Paul's poor little schoolmaster Wutz gradually acquired by writing, himself, all of the works whose titles interested him in book fair catalogues; after all, he could not afford to buy them. Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.

[: Walter Benjamin, Illuminations]

Posted by rp on 09.28.2009

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Our civilization will leave to the future ages only its roundhouses and its railroad tracks. Scholars will perish trying to decipher the inscriptions.

[: Guillaume Apollinaire to Max Jacob, ]

Posted by rp on 09.24.2009

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Books have always a secret influence on the understanding; we cannot at pleasure obliterate ideas; he that reads books of science, thogh without any fixed desire of improvement, will grow more knowing…

[: Samuel Johnson, ]

Posted by rp on 09.13.2009

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Among those whom I could never pursuade to rank themselves with idlers, and who speak with indignation of my morning sleeps and nocturnal rambles, one passes the day in catching spiders, that he may count their eyes with a microscope; another exhibits the dust of a marigold separated from the flower with a dexterity worthy of Leuwenhoweck himself. Some turn the wheel of electricity; some suspend rings to a lodestone, and find that what they did yesterday, they can do again to-day.—Some register the changes of the wind, and die fully convinced that the wind is changeable.—There are men yet more profound, who have heard that two colorless liquors may produce a color by union, and that two cold bodies will grow hot of they are mingled: they mingle them, and produce the effect expected, say it is strange, and mingle them again.

[: Samuel Johnson, ]

Posted by rp on 09.13.2009

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Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.

[: Heidegger, ]

Posted by rp on 09.13.2009

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There is no science without fancy, and no art without facts.

[: Vladimir Nabakov, ]

Posted by rp on 09.10.2009

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The marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the specters of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermonuclear weapons systems and soft drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudoevents, science and pornography.

[: J D Ballard, Crash]

Posted by rp on 09.10.2009

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