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Quotes

A fancy-free artist avoids pure mathematics not because he understands it and could say something about it if he liked, but because he instinctively inclines towards other things. Such violent inclinations and disinclinations are signs by which you can recognize the pettier souls. In great souls, and superior minds, such passions are not found. Every of us is merely an experiment, a waystation. But each of us should be on the way towards perfection, should be striving to reach the center, not the periphery. Remember this: one can be a strict grammarian or logician, and at the same time be full of imagination and music.
— Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

By the doctrine that truth is manifest I mean, you will recall, the optimistic view that truth, if put before us naked, is always recognizable as truth. Thus truth, if it does not reveal itself, has only to be unveiled, or dis-covered. Once this is done, there is no need for further argument. We have been given eyes to see the truth, and the 'natural light' of reason to see it by. [...]

[But] the simple truth is that truth is often hard to come by, and that once found it may easily be lost again. Erroneous beliefs may have an astonishing power to survive, for thousands of years, in defiance of experience, with or without the aid of any conspiracy.

— Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations

Huizi said to Zhuangzi, “I have a huge tree which people call the Stink Tree. The trunk is swollen and gnarled, impossible to align with any level or ruler. The branches are twisted and bent, impossible to align to any T-square or carpenter’s arc. Even if it were growing right in the road, a carpenter would not give it so much as a second glance. And your words are similarly big but useless, which is why they are rejected by everyone who hears them.”

Zhuangzi said, “[… You] have this big tree, and you worry that it’s useless. Why not plant it in our homeland of not-even-anything, the vast wilds of open nowhere? Then you could loaf and wander there, doing lots of nothing there at its side, and take yourself a nap, far-flung and unfettered, there beneath it. It will never be cut down by ax or saw. Nothing will harm it. Since it has nothing for which it can be used, what could entrap or afflict it?”

— Zhuangzi (tr. Brook Ziporyn)
There are no enemies in FEZ. No bosses, no combat. In fact, no conflict of any kind. You can die, but there is no penalty for doing so. FEZ aims to create a non-threatening world rich with ambiance, a pleasant place to spend time in.
The instructor can only impart a small portion of the teaching; only through ceaseless training can you obtain the necessary experience allowing you to bring these mysteries alive. Hence, do not chase after many techniques; one by one, make each technique your own.
— Morihei Ueshiba, Budō
There are some to whom the sense of a divine presence irradiating the soul is one of the most obvious things of experience.  In their view a man without this sense is to be regarded as we regard a man without a sense of humor.  The absence is a kind of mental deficiency.  We may try to analyze the experience as we analyze humor, and construct a theology, or it may be an atheistic philosophy, which shall put into scientific form what is to be inferred about it.  But let us not forget that the theory is symbolic knowledge whereas the experience is intimate knowledge.  And as laughter cannot be compelled by the scientific exposition of the structure of a joke, so a philosophic discussion of the attributes of God (or an impersonal substitute) is likely to miss the intimate response of the spirit which is the central point of the religious experience.
— Sir Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World
Let us assume that the problem with which we began was not a simple one, but was rather one of those perennial problems with which thinkers have struggled for centures, and about which good men have disagreed and can continue to disagree. We should recognize, on this assumption, that our task as syntopical readers is not merely to answer the questions ourselves—the questions that we have so carefully framed and ordered both to elucidate the discussion of the subject and the subject itself. The truth about a problem of this sort is not found so easily. In fact, we would probably be presumptuous to expect that the truth could be found in any one set of answers to the questions. Rather, it is to be found, if at all, in the conflict of opposing answers, many if not all of which may have persuasive evidence and convincing reasons to support them.
— Mortimer J Adler and Charles van Doren, How To Read A Book
You must consider what you are, seeking to know yourself, which is the most difficult task conceivable. From self-knowledge you will learn not to puff yourself up, like the frog who wanted to be as big as an ox.
— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote (tr. JM Cohen)
My crew
begged me to stop, and pleaded with me.

‘Please!
Calm down! Why are you being so insistent
and taunting this wild man? He hurled that stone
and drove our ship right back to land. We thought
that we were going to die. If he had heard us,
he would have hurled a jagged rock and crushed
our heads and wooden ship. He throws so hard!’

But my tough heart was not convinced; I was
still furious, and shouted back again.

‘Cyclops! If any mortal asks you how
your eye was mutilated and made blind,
say that Odysseus, the city-sacker,
Laertes' son, who lives in Ithaca,
destroyed your sight.’
— Homer, The Odyssey (tr. Emily Wilson)
Hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made.
— Lu Xun, My Old Home
I was brought up in the presence of the Bible, and I remember with affection what it was like to hold a dogmatic position on the statements of Christianity. I would now describe myself as a candid friend of Christianity. I still appreciate the seriousness which a religious mentality brings to the mystery and misery of human existence, and I appreciate the solemnity of religious liturgy as a way of confronting these problems.
— Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
In the very last bars, where the first note of the first triplet—G-sharp—in the orchestral part is changed to G-natural, while the piano runs through its entire compass in a powerful scale passage, [Liszt] suddenly jumped up, stretched himself to his full height, strode with theatrical gait and uplifted arm through the monastery hall, and literally bellowed out the theme. At that particular G-natural he stretched out his arm with an imperious gesture and exclaimed, “G, G, not G-sharp! Splendid! That’s the real thing!” And then, quite pianissimo and in parenthesis: “I had something of the kind the other day from Smetana.” He went back to the piano and played the whole thing over again. Finally he said in a strange, emotional way: “Keep on, I tell you. You have what is needed, and don’t let them frighten you.”
Perfection, it turns out, is no way to try to live. It is a child’s idea, a cartoon — this desire not to be merely good, not to do merely well, but to be faultless, to transcend everything, including the limits of yourself. It is less heroic than neurotic, and it doesn’t take much analysis to get to its ugly side: a lust for control, pseudofascist purity, self-destruction. Perfection makes you flinch at yourself, flinch at the world, flinch at any contact between the two. Soon what you want, above all, is escape: to be gone, elsewhere, annihilated.
First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. Second, we believe that the essential material to be addressed by a subject at this level is not the syntax of particular programming-language constructs, nor clever algorithms for computing particular functions efficiently, nor even the mathematical analysis of algorithms and the foundations of computing, but rather the techniques used to control the intellectual complexity of large software systems.
If something in you yourself says ‘you aren’t a painter’ — IT’S THEN THAT YOU SHOULD PAINT, old chap, and that voice will be silenced too, but precisely because of that. Anyone who goes to his friends and complains about his troubles when he feels like that loses something of his manliness, something of the best that’s in him. Your friends can only be those who fight against it themselves, rouse the active in you through their own example of action.
Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.
— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
© 2020 Noah Tye