"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]

"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family."

[teenage Charles Darwin: Charles Darwin's father, ]

Posted by Daniel on 10.15.2009

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The purpose of storytelling is "to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right: the times when when a man who might put on the most ordinary jacket of today will be dressed up for an elegant masquerade."

[storytelling: Nabokov, "A Guide to Berlin"]

Posted by Daniel on 06.16.2009

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"Once, when Schulz was a boy, on a melancholy evening his mother, Henrietta, walked into his room and found him feeding grains of sugar to the last houseflies to have survived the cold autumn. "Bruno," she asked, "why are you doing that?" "So they will have strength for the winter."

[Bruno Schulz: David Grossman, The New Yorker]

Posted by Daniel on 06.07.2009

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"...but I am most capitvated by the idea of the Earth's crust vibrating at an ascertainable frequency since it would theoretically be possible to calculate the precise note. True, it would probably not be a pure tone because there would be all sorts of harmonic interference from irregularities such as mountain ranges. Yet it ought to be possible to determine the fundamental note of the planet, the music of our spheroid."

[harmony: James Hamilton-Paterson, Seven-Tenths: The Sea and Its Thresholds]

Posted by Daniel on 05.06.2009

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"As skill expands, the capacity to sustain repetition increases. In music this is the so-called Isaac Stern rule, the great violinist declaring that the better your technique, the longer you can rehearse without becoming bored."

[skill: Richard Sennett, The Craftsman]

Posted by Daniel on 04.09.2009

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"It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live."

[reader abuse: Thoreau, Walden]

Posted by Daniel on 04.06.2009

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"When you play more inside you have more chances to have the winner. The [opponent's side of the] court is bigger. When you are more behind, the courts looks smaller, and the opponent has more time to think. So the sport is really easy. That's the thing. You don't need to study a lot or know about the tennis."

[simplicity: Rafael Nadal, tennis.com]

Posted by Daniel on 03.31.2009

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"Have you no shame man?" "Well, I'm young yet." "Is that a fact now? You are like the rest of them, you are counting from the wrong end. How do you know you are not within three months of the end of your life?"

[youth: Flann O'Brien, The Hard Life]

Posted by Daniel on 03.25.2009

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"He [Buddha] thought at an early stage in his life that he could become happy by living in a forest and starving himself close to death. He found that this did not work and concluded that it was not the right way."

[asceticism reconsidered: Dalai Lama, The Leader's Way]

Posted by Daniel on 03.14.2009

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"As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing."

[tourism: David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster]

Posted by Daniel on 09.20.2008

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"A queen and a male, both winged, mate in the air: the nuptial flight, as it's known. The male dies, and the female, alighting in a new place, starts a colony. One mating session provides her with enough ant sperm to last a lifetime; she can produce an egg every few seconds for the rest of her life."

[fertility: Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker]

Posted by Daniel on 09.17.2008

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"Hee is taken by the same meanes that the Unicorne is taken, for it is said by Albertus, Isidorus, and Alunnus, that above all creatures they love Virgins, and that unto them they will come be they never so wilde, and fall a sleepe before them, so being asleepe they are easily taken and carried away."

[rhinoceros capture: Conrad Gesner, The HIstorie of Foure-footed Beastes]

Posted by Daniel on 09.01.2008

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"The truth is most people, for some reason, hold back, and only put out 80% effort."

[effort: Mark Spitz, Wall Street Journal]

Posted by Daniel on 08.22.2008

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Today, any time some large group of people behaves in a way that defies a logical calculation of potential gains and losses, the people in question are said to be reacting to "humiliation," or what used to be called "ressentiment." Humiliation, though, taken as a political experience, exists only where it has been ideologically constructed, and not otherwise. Germany, having been defeated in World War I, was afterwards said to be undergoing "humiliation"; and yet, after World War II, having been defeated ten times more cruelly, Germany was no longer said to be "humiliated." That was because the German political doctrines promoting a feeling of "humiliation" disappeared after World War II. It was the doctrines, not the experience of misfortune, that had created "humiliation."

[humiliation: Paul Berman, The New Republic]

Posted by Daniel on 08.21.2008

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"Curiosity and the seeking of knowledge is a transcendent life force—almost, you might say, spiritual. It has a driven character to it. It drives you intellectually and, to an extent, physiologically. The brain influences the body in ways we don't know about."

[curiosity: Michael DeBakey, The New Republic, The Art of Incision, Sherwin Nuland]

Posted by Daniel on 08.20.2008

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