Quotations and Excerpts from Things I've Read
Here are some things that I've run across in my readings,
things that I've found amusing, enlightening or otherwise interesting.
Experiment in Autobiography by H. G. Wells (1934)
p.69 - Trotsky has recorded that Lenin, after his one conversation with me, said that I was incurably middle-class. So far Lenin was a sound observer. He, and Trotsky also, were of the same vital social stratum; they had indeed both started life from a far more advantageous level than I had; but the discolouration of their stream of thought by Marxist pretences and sentimentalities, had blinded them to their own essential quality. My conversation with Lenin turned entirely on the "liquidation" of the peasant and the urban toiler - by large-scale agriculture and power machinery. Lenin was just as much for that as I was, we were talking about the same thing in the same spirit; but we said the same thing as though it was a different thing because our minds were tuned in different keys.
p.145 - On one occasion, however, I reached a stage nearer the
It was at Christmas at Up Park and there was a dance in the Servants Hall
and the upper and lower servants mingled together.
There was a kitchen maid whom I suddenly discovered was pretty beyond
words and I danced and danced again with her, until my mother was moved
to find other partners for me.
She was a warm-coloured girl with liquid brown eyes and a quick pretty
flush of excitement.
Her name was Mary and that is all the name I ever had for her.
And afterwards in one of the underground passages towards the kitchen,
where perhaps I was looking for her, she darted out of a recess and kissed
and embraced me. No lovelier thing had ever happened to me.
Somebody became audible down the passage and she made a last dash at me,
pressed her lips to mine and fled.
And that is all.
Next morning I trundled off in the dog-cart on the frosty road to
Rowlands Castle station for Portsmouth, before sunrise, and when next I
went to Up Park for a holiday, Mary had gone.
I never saw her again, and I could not find her name nor where she had gone.
My mother who knew would not tell me. But I can feel her heart beat
against mine now, I can recall the lithe body in her flimsy yellow dress,
for all I know I have driven my automobile past Mary - an alert old lady I
am certain - on some Hampshire road within the last few weeks.
p.243 - The lean shock-headed intellectual doing his desperate tactless best in open-air games is never an attractive spectacle.
p.326 [being tongue-in-cheek in a letter to Miss Robbins] This choice of degree subjects is a very serious one, and one you ought to make now. For mental greatness - such as mine - you must attack the biological group. I sincerely regard mathematics as on a lower level intellectually than biology.
p.402 - Turning from my novels to the various papers, pamphlets and letters I was putting through this same period, I discover a much less candid display of view and attitude. I began well, but I found I was speedily entangled and bemused by various political and propagandist issues. I find a quite straightforward statement of my ideas in a paper I read to the Fabian society in October 1906, under the title of Socialism and the Middle Classes. Therein I say plainly that I "no more regard the institution of marriage as a permanent thing than I regard a state of competitive industrialism as a permanent thing" and the whole paper sustains this attitude.
p.404 - Socialism, if it is anything more than a petty tinkering with economic relationships is a renucleation of society. The family can remain only as a biological fact. Its economic and educational autonomy are inevitably doomed. The modern state is bound to be the ultimate guardian of all children and it must assist, place, or subordinate the parent as supported, guardian and educator; it must release all human beings from the obligation of mutual proprietorship, and it must refuse absolutely to recognize or enforce any kind of sexual ownership. It cannot therefore remain neutral when such claims come before it. It must disallow them.
p. 586 - I rememver vividly a conference we had in a shed upon the Thames embankment. The soldiers came "well groomed" as the phrase goes, in peculiarly beautiful red-banded peaked caps, heavy with gold braid. Crowns and stars, ribbons, epaulettes, belts and band of the utmost significance, adorned their persons. War was the most important function in life for them and they dressed for it. They sat down, like men who had given some thought to sittin down in the best possible manner. They produced their voices; they did not merely emit audible turbid thoughts as we did. If you had listened only to the sounds they made, you would have felt they were simple clear-headed men, speaking with a sane determination, and yet the things they said were by my standards almost inconceivably silly. Over against them sat my civilian colleagues, and only David Low could convey to you how comparatively ignoble we looked in our untidy every-day costumes, out bowler hats, our wilted collars, our carelessly chosen and carelessly tied war-time cravats. Judged by the way we carried ourselves we might almost as well have had no chests at all. And though our vocabulary was much more extensive there was no click about it. The noises we made came in shambling loose formation - from Scotland and Lancashire and Cockney London.
Franz Kafka - A Biography by Max Brod (1937)p.108 (1995 Da Capo Press edition) - Kafka was always very sensitive on the question of any risk to his health. Every imperfection of the body tormented him, even, for example, scurf or constipation, or a toe that was not quite properly formed. He distrusted drugs and doctors. He demanded that Nature herself restore the balance, and despised all "unnatural" medicines.
The Household Physician by Dr. Buffum, et al (1912)
This is a book I recently aquired from my grandfather. It's huge, old, and full of interesting passages like the following, some wise, some...
p. 90 - Yet, as I have said, there is no doubt the Americans eat too much meat. Sedentary persons require but very little. Less is wanted in summer than in winter, in warm climates than in cold. People of wealth, whose circumstances impose no bodily hardships, need less than the poor, who are much exposed, and work hard; whereas, they consume more. Those who do not labor with their hands should never taste meat more than once a day.
p.99 - The Game of Base-Ball requires very active running, and for the young, it is an exceedingly healthful amusement. It fills the whole frame with a bound spirit, and sets the currents of life running like swollen brooks after heavy rains.
p.109 - The defective way in which American females protect their feet
from cold and wet is a sore evil; and he who persuades them to adopt a
wiser fashion, and cover their feet with better guards against colds and
consumption, will deserve the gratitude of the nation. We are in many ways
too fond of copying foreign fashions: but if our ladies would, in this
matter, follow the excellent example of English women, they would live
longer, and leave a hardier posterity behind them.
p. 479 - Sex of Child - How to Regulate Before Birth
Haydn's Dictionary of Dates (1868)
The entry for LUNATICS:
And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my cou ch with my tears.
And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of t he belly.
My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest.
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
Picasso by Gertrude Stein (1938)
Picasso said once that he who created a thing is forced to make it ugly. In the effort to create the intensity and the struggle to create this intensity, the result always produces a certain ugliness, those who follow can make of this thing a beautiful thing because they know what they are doing, the thing having already been invented, but the inventor because he does not know what he is going to invent inevitably the thing he makes must have its ugliness.
The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition
p. 68, from Jan Romein's article in Het Parool of April 3,1946 - That this girl could have been abducted and murdered proves to me that we have lost the fight against human bestiality. And for the same reason we shall lose it again, in whatever form inhumanity may reach out to us, if we are unable to put something positive in its place. The promise that we shall never forget or forgive is not enough. It is not even enough to keep that promise. Passive and negative rejection is too little, it is as nothing. Active and positive "total" democracy - politically, socially, economically and culturally - is the only solution; the building of a society in which talent is no longer destroyed, repressed or oppressed, but discovered, nurtured and assisted, wherever it may appear. And with all our good intentions, we are still as far from that democracy as we were before the war.
Cassell's Book of Sports and Pastimes (1910?)
p. 110 - In its social aspects bicycling is, to a great extent, affected by local circumstances, but a neat and well-behaved rider always eventually gains the respect of all. Every wheelman should bear in mind that the public are tacitly hostile to the silent steed, and should invariably bear himself in an orderly and gentlemanly manner.
G.H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology
p. 61 - Exposition, criticism, appreciation is work for second-rate minds.
p. 135 - But is not the position of an ordinary applied mathematician in some ways a little pathetic? If he wants to be useful, he must work in a humdrum way, and he cannot give full play to his fancy even when he wishes to rise to the heights. "Imaginary" universes are so much more beautiful than this stupidly constructed "real" one; and the finest products of an applied mathematician's fancy must be rejected, as soon as they have been created, for the brutal but sufficient reason that they do not fit the facts.
p. 140 - There is one comforting conclusion which is easy for a real mathematician. Real mathematics has no effects on war. No one has yet discovered any warlike purpose to be served by the theory of numbers or relativity, and it seems very unlikely that anyone will do so for many years.
p. 150 (final paragraphs) - I have never done anything "useful". No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world. I have helped train mathematicians, but mathematicians of the same kind as myself, and their work has been, so far at any rate as I have helped them to it, as useless as my own. Judged by all practical standards, the value of my mathematical life is nil; and outside mathematics it is trivial anyhow. I have just one chance of escaping a verdict of complete triviality, that I may be judged to have created something worth creating. And that I have created something is undeniable: the question is about its value.
The case for my life, then, or for that of any one else who has been a mathematician in the same sense in which I have been one, is this: that I have added something to knowledge, and helped others to add more; and that these somethings have a value which differs in degree only, and not in kind, from that of the creations of the great mathematicians, or of any of the other artists, great or small, who have left some kind of memorial behind them.
George Santayana's The Sense of Beauty
p.43 - Nothing has less to do with the real merit of a work of imagination than the capacity of all men to appreciate it; the true test is the degree and kind of satisfaction it can give to him who appreciates it most.
p. 65 - On the other hand those who pursue happiness conceived merely in the abstract and conventional terms, as money, success, or respectability, often miss that real and fundamental part of happiness which flows from the senses and imagination.
p. 71 - The child who enjoys his rattle or his trumpet has aesthetic enjoyment, of however rude a kind; but the master of technique who should give a performance wholly without sensuous charm would be a gymnast and not a musician, and the author whose novels and poems should be merely expressive, and interesting only by their meaning and moral, would be a writer of history or philosophy, but not an artist.
Buster Keaton's autobiography, My Wonderful World of Slapstick
p. 27 - After our first roughneck routine my mother, as usual, played a saxophone solo. This day the Yale students applauded her modest effort vigorously enough to rock the theatre. After she took about six bows Pop stepped to the footlights and told them with a wink, "Don't spoil her boys. She's hard enough to handle now." Whereupon one of the Old Eli cutups, sitting in the front row, yelled, "I agree with you friend. She stinks!" My infuriated father promptly picked me up and threw me at the young man with unerring accuracy, hitting him in the stomach and breaking three of his ribs. My slap shoe socked the Yale man next to him in the face, breaking two of his front teeth. I was uninjured, which surprised neither Pop nor me. It never occurred to either of us that I could get hurt no matter where he threw me.
William Hammond's A Treatise on Insanity (1883)
p.43 - Painters, sculptors, musicians, mathematicians, poets, and men of letters generally, not infrequently exhibit eccentricities of dress, conduct, manner, or ideas, which not only merely add to their notoriety, but often make them either the laughing stocks of their fellow-men or objects of fear or disgust to all who are brought into contact with them.
William Maples and Michael Browning, Dead Men Do Tell Tales
p.133 - When it was finally removed and examined, Ted Bundy's brain looked like anyone else's.
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