July Quotes

A random assortment of meaningful things said;

He who gives himself entirely to his fellow-men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them is pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden and on the Duty of Civil Disobedience (Quite right. A similar observation being…)

Every perfect thing lives somewhere in the neighborhood of dullness and is frequently mistaken for it by the insensitive.

Jan Tschichold, The Form Of The Book (Tschichold was a type and layout designer for Penguin. He did their most famous covers and layouts and designed the classic paperback ‘workhorse’ font, ‘Sabon’.)

When scholars study a thing, they strive
To kill it first, if it’s alive;
Then they have the parts and they’ve lost the whole,
For the link that’s missing was the living soul

Johann Goethe, Faust (Typical scientist: ‘Soul? Hahaha! What’s that?’)

This is the case with Plato, Descartes, Spinoza and Kant. Schopenhauer says that his system is a circle (he says an arch), and that to understand it it is necessary to go through it several times. In the case of weak thinkers like Hegel once you have taken the system apart, you come into direct contact with an empty person, from whom there is nothing to take. But the masses love a system. The masses want to seize on the whole truth, and since they cannot understand it, they readily believe it.

Tolstoy’s Diaries (The art is the man. Those who say you cannot judge a work by the artist are empty themselves. The only art that does not need the full person behind it is Nigellian.)

A book is a mirror. If an ape looks into it an apostle is unlikely to look out.

Georg Cristoph Lichtenburg, The Waste Books.

All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing.

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Molière (He — or rather the character who says this in the play — is correct, although ‘skill’ is misleading. Nietzsche said ‘I would believe only in a God who could dance.’ Could Nietzsche dance though? And if not, can we stop believing in him?)

Some people are always grumbling that roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.

Alphonse Karr (William Barker, the enlightened ghost who occasionally haunts me, says he likes to start his day by lathering himself up into a thrill of gratitude. ‘I’m sometimes just so glad that the building didn’t fall around my ears during the night, or that the colour blue still exists.’)

Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.

C.G. Jung (Yeah, I like that one. People with minor fears, anxieties and manias don’t need to suffer less — they need to suffer more.)

And finally, I’m a big fan of those QI books of ‘amazing facts’. You know the ones? Here are a few of my favourite:

Bovril was originally called ‘Johnston’s Fluid Beef ’.

In 1928, the Solomon Islands pidgin for ‘adjustable spanner’ was spanner he go walkabout and a ‘saw’ was this fella pull-him-he-come-push-him-he-go brother belong axe.

Squirting cold water into your left ear will make you feel less optimistic.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is explicitly illegal in Britain to use a machine gun to kill a hedgehog. (mowing down rabbits is fine)

37% of Britons think their jobs are meaningless and don’t contribute to the world. (only 37%?)

Perfume is as bad for your health as car exhaust. (Any woman who wears a lot of perfume is likely to be dangerously mad.).

And three that are all connected in an interesting way. See if you can see how:

Every electron in the universe knows about the state of every other electron.

The human brain takes in 11 million bits of information every second, but is only aware of 40.

No scientific experiment has ever been done (or could be done) to prove that time exists.