Nuggets and Aphorisms
Food for thought. These first appeared in Amit Varma's blog, India Uncut
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
No one's there, and he's bugging me
As I was going up the stair"Antigonish", by Hughes Mearns.
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish, he'd go away
Note: I'd originally mistakenly picked up from somewhere that this ditty was by John Donne. My mistake. Sorry. J Alfred Prufrock 2 kindly sent me an email pointing out my mistake, as well as another ditty by Mearns:
As I was sitting in my chair,
I knew the bottom wasn't there,
Nor legs nor back, but I just sat,
Ignoring little things like that.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Virtue isn't urgent
Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.St Augustine, before his conversion to Christianity. From Confessions, VIII vii, translated by Henry Chadwick.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
From crime to culture
If only one person in the world held down a terrified, struggling, screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with a septic blade, and sewed her back up, leaving only a tiny hole for urine and menstrual flow, the only question would be how severely that person should be punished, and whether the death penalty would be a sufficiently severe sanction. But when millions of people do this, instead of the enormity being magnified millions-fold, suddenly it becomes ‘culture’, and thereby magically becomes less, rather than more, horrible, and is even defended by some Western ‘moral thinkers’, including feminists.Donald Symons, writing about moral relativism. Quoted in The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Political rhetoric, by its very nature, blurs the distinction between assessment and abuse.From an editorial in the Telegraph (Kolkata), May 26, 2005.
The evil that men do
Men never do evil so openly and contentedly as when they do it from religious conviction.Blaise Pascal, from Pensées. Click here for downloads.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
The worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them.George Orwell, in one of my favourite essays, "Politics and the English language". Collected in the fine anthology, Essays, among others.
Monday, May 23, 2005
What do you want?
A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.Arthur Schopenhauer, quoted in Albert Einstein's Ideas and Opinions.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
The awe of understanding
I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.Douglas Adams on why natural selection is a better explanation for the world than any that religion can provide. He came to this conclusion, famously, after reading Richard Dawkins's book, The Selfish Gene. Quoted in Dawkins's A Devil's Chaplain; the interview where Adams said these words is here.
Speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but love.Francis Bacon, quoted in Style by FL Lucas.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Not every exotic thing is a foreign thing.Paul Berman in Terror and Liberalism.