Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Source of it All

"Coastal people never really know what the ocean symbolizes to landlocked inland people—what a great distant dream it is, present but unseen in the deepest levels of subconsciousness, and when they arrive at the ocean and the conscious images are compared with the subconscious dream there is a sense of defeat at having come so far to be so stopped by the mystery that can never be fathomed. The source of it all."

- Robert M. Pirsig (1928 - )

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Living Light

"There is the motion, the actual wave and radiation of the darted beam: not the dull universal daylight, which falls on the landscape without life, or direction, or speculation, equal on all things and dead on all things; but the breathing, animated, exulting light, which feels, and receives, and rejoices, and acts — which chooses one thing, and rejects another — which seeks, and finds, and loses again — leaping from rock to rock, from leaf to leaf, from wave to wave — glowing, or flashing, or scintillating, according to what it strikes; or, in its holier moods, absorbing and enfolding all things in the deep fullness of its repose, and then again losing itself in bewilderment, and doubt, and dimness ... It is the living light, which breathes in its deepest, most entranced rest, which sleeps, but never dies."

- John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

Postscript: Ruskin's quote was inspired by his devotion to J. M. W. Turner's art (as is my Synesthetic Landscape that appears above it). I have been thinking of Turner lately because I've started reading what is turning out to be a magnificent new biography: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner, by Franny Moyle (Penguin Press, Oct 2016).

Monday, November 21, 2016


“Imagination should be used,
not to escape reality,
but to create it.”

- Colin Wilson (1931 - 2013)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Speaking of Greater Forces

"Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction - so easy to lapse into - that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us."

-  Robert Macfarlane (1976 - )

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seashore of the Mind

"Sit in reverie
and watch the
changing color of
the waves that break
upon the idle
seashore of the mind."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Multiplicity of Worlds

"No one thing shows the greatness and power of the human intellect or the loftiness and nobility of man more than his ability to know and to understand fully and feel strongly his own smallness. When, in considering the multiplicity of worlds, he feels himself to be an infinitesimal part of a globe which itself is a negligible part of one of the infinite number of systems that go to make up the world, and in considering this is astonished by his own smallness, and in feeling it deeply and regarding it intently, virtually blends into nothing, and it is as if he loses himself in the immensity of things, and finds himself as though lost in the incomprehensible vastness of existence, with this single act of thought he gives the greatest possible proof of the nobility and immense capability of his own mind, which, enclosed in such a small and negligible being, has nonetheless managed to know and understand things so superior to his own nature, and to embrace and contain this same intensity of existence and things in his thought."

-  Giacomo Leopardi (1798 - 1837)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Structure, Connections, and Information

"In an extreme view, the world can be seen as only connections, nothing else. We think of a dictionary as the repository of meaning, but it defines words only in terms of other words. I liked the idea that a piece of information is really defined only by what it's related to, and how it's related. There really is little else to meaning. The structure is everything. There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons? Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected."

- Tim Berners-Lee (1955 - )