The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
- Meditations, Marcus Aurelius Antonius
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
-As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Gerard Manley Hopkins
We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information.
- The Library of Babel, Jorges Louis Borges
“One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather.”
Already you could see through the dust on the ponies’ hides the painted chevrons and the hands and rising suns and birds and fish of every device like the shade of old work through sizing on a canvas and now too you could hear about the pounding of the unshod hooves the piping of the quena, flutes made from human bones, and some among the company had begun to saw back on their mounts and some to mill in confusion when up from the offside of those ponies there rose a fabled horde of mounted lancers and archers bearing shields bedight with bits of broken mirrorglass that cast a thousand unpieced suns against the eyes of their enemies. A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained weddingveil and some in headgear of cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.
Oh my god, said the sergeant.
- Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy, pg 52.
You will reply that reality hasn't the slightest need to be of interest. And I'll answer you that reality may avoid the obligation to be interesting, but that hypotheses may not.
- Death and the Compass, Jorges Louis Borges
Nothing is built on stone; all is built in sand. But we must build as if the sand were stone.
- Jorges Louis Borges
Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.
- Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
I know of scarcely anything so apt to impress the imagination as the wonderful form of cosmic order expressed by the “Law of Frequency of Error”. The law would have been personified by the Greeks and deified, if they had known of it. It reigns with serenity and in complete self-effacement, amidst the wildest confusion. The huger the mob, and the greater the apparent anarchy, the more perfect is its sway. It is the supreme law of Unreason. Whenever a large sample of chaotic elements are taken in hand and marshaled in the order of their magnitude, an unsuspected and most beautiful form of regularity proves to have been latent all along.
- Natural Inheritance, Sir Francis Galton
(describing the Central Limit Theorem)
Among Chuang-tzu’s many skills he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not yet begun. “I need another five years” said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew the crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.
- Six Memo’s, Italo Calvino, pg 54
The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continued extinction of personality… it is in this depersonalization that art may be said to approach the condition of science.
– T. S. Eliot
Whether depersonalization may ever be transcendent or is fated to remain a mask held against one’s pained obsession with personality, may well be an unanswerable question.
– Modern Poetics, James Scully, pg 11
“Some colleagues, a tiny bit envious of his intuitions, a few priests, more acquainted with the many evils of our time, some subalterns, clerks, and his superiors too, insisted he read strange books: from which he drew all those words that mean nothing, or almost nothing, but which serve better than others to dazzle the naïve, the ignorant… But practical action takes something else! Notions and philosophizing are to be left to scribblers: the practical experience of the police stations and the homicide squad is quite another thing: it takes plenty of patience, and charity, and a strong stomach; and when the whole shoot match of the Italians isn’t tottering, a sense of responsibility, prompt decision, civil moderation; yes, yes, and a firm hand. On him, on Don Ciccio, these objections, just as they were, had no effect; he continued to sleep on his feet, philosophize on an empty stomach, and pretend to smoke his half-cigarette which had, always, gone out.”
-That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana, Carlo Emilio Gadda
We are not the owners of thoughts as we are owners of our representations.
- Logical Investigations, Frege
If I were forced to choose between my country and my friend, I hope I would be brave enough to choose my friend.
- E.M. Forster
Better beware of notions like genius and inspiration; they are a sort of magic wand and should be used sparingly by anybody who wants to see things clearly.
- Notes on the novel, José Ortega y Gasset
I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Don’t just read it; fight it! Ask your own questions, look for your own examples, discover your own proofs. Is the hypothesis necessary? Is the converse true? What happens in the classical special case? What about the degenerate cases? Where does the proof use the hypothesis?
- I want to be a mathematician, Paul Halmos
This presentation is a two-fold action: action on the part of the other, and action on its own part. In so far as it is the action of the other, each seeks the death of the other…the prove themselves and each other through a life-and-death struggle…The individual who has not risked his life may well be recognized as a person, but he has not attained to the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness. Similarly, just as each stakes his own life, so each must seek the other’s death, for it values the other no more than itself…
- Hegel P.O.S pg 113-114
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
-Invictus, William Ernest Henley
I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
- John Adams
And I cherish more than anything else the analogies, my most trustworthy masters. They know all the secrets of Nature, and ought least to be neglected in Geometry.
– Johannes Kepler
From the viewpoint of political theory, history is a laboratory for arguments.
– Between Facts and Norms, Habermas pg. 447
Tell them I've had a wonderful life.
- L. W.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.
The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings.
- The Library of Babel, Jorges Louis Borges
Love is like racing across the frozen tundra on a snowmobile which flips over, trapping you underneath. At night, the ice-weasels come.
- Matt Groening
It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it hurts, it eats. It shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the id. Everywhere it is machines – real ones, not figurative ones – machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections.
- Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze & Guattari
We must be careful about what we pretend to be.
- Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut
I have become too abstract and would like to use this diary to re-educate myself to the story-telling, through paying respect to daily life.
– Robert Musil
A man who wants the truth becomes a scientist; a man who wants to give free play to his subjectivity may become a writer; but what should a man do who wants something in between?
- The Man without Qualities, Robert Musil
…say stupid shit. Barf out the fucking-around-omaniacal schizoflow.
– Felix Guattari
Things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.
- Albert Einstein
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
-Song of Myself, Walt Whitman
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
- Anon. corollary to Clarke's third law, c.f. Terence Tao
What a hell
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din
Barbarian and infernal, a phantasma
Monstrous in color, motion, shape, sight, sound!
...with buffoons against buffoons
Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys,
Blue-breeched, pink vested, with high towering plumes.–
All moveables of wonder, from all parts,
Are here – Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-word, Clock-word, all the marvelous craft
Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o’-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things...
-The Prelude, William Wordsworth
On ear and ear two noises too old to end
Trench – right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.
Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeined score
In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.
How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
-The Sea and the Skylark, Gerard Manley Hopkins
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lighten'd:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
-Tintern Abbey, William Wordsworth
El original es infiel a la traducción.
- Jorges Louis Borges
"How can one learn the truth by thinking? As one learns to see a face better if one draws it."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
It is the very one who wants to write down his dream who is obliged to be extremely wide awake.
– Paul Valéry on Science
The polymorphic visions of the eyes and the spirit are contained in uniform lines of small or capital letters, periods, commas, parentheses – pages of signs packed as closely together as grains of sand, representing the many-colored spectacle of the world on a surface that is always the same and always different, like dunes shifted by the desert wind.
- Six Memos, Italo Calvino pg 99
There is an altar but no pulpit.
– W. B. Yeats.
"The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tent-show whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others."
- Cormac McCarthy
TOP 10 Most Used NOUNS in the English Language:
- Oxford English Dictionary
Vexed a bit, Unwin stopped him. "Please - let's not multiply the mysteries. Mysteries ought to be simple. Remember Poe's purloined letter, remember Zangwill's locked room." "Or complex," volleyed Dunraven, “REMEMBER THE UNIVERSE”
- Douglas Adams, Hitchicker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“Discoursing is like coursing.”
At last they’ll find us - one winter’s night - in open country, beneath a sad roof drummed by a monotonous rain.
- F. T. Marinetti, MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM
Time and Space died yesterday.
- F. T. Marinetti, MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
- Ezra Pound
And every science, when we understand it not as an instrument of power and domination but as an adventure in knowledge pursued by our species across the ages, is nothing but this harmony, more or less vast, more or less rich from one epoch to another, which unfurls over the course of
generations and centuries, by the delicate counterpoint of all the themes appearing in turn, as if summoned from the void.
- Alexandre Grothendieck, Récoltes et Semailles, pg. 20
If there is one thing in mathematics that fascinates me more than anything else (and doubtless always has), it neither “number” or “size”, but always form. And among the thousand-and-one faces whereby form chooses to reveal itself to us, the one that fascinates me more than any other and continues to fascinate me, is the structure hidden in mathematical things.
- Alexandre Grothendieck, Récoltes et Semailles, pg. 27
Grothendieck suggested, “All right, take 57.”
He likens his approach to mathematics to as sea: “The sea advances imperceptibly and without sound, nothing seems to happen and nothing is disturbed, the water is so far off one hardly hears it. But it ends up surrounding the stubborn peninsula, then an island, then an islet, which itself it submerged, as if dissolved by the ocean stretching away as far as the eye can sea.”
- Alexandre Grothendieck, Récoltes et Semailles, pg. 553
Today I am no longer, as I once was, the prisoner of interminable tasks, which so often prevented me from leaping into the unknown, mathematical or otherwise. The time of tasks for me is over. If age has brought me anything, it is lightness.
- Alexandre Grothendieck, Esquisse d’un Programme
We want ‘poems that kill.
Assassin poems, Poems that shoot
guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys
and take their weapons leaving them dead.
- Amiri Baraka, Black Arts, 1969
The view that machines cannot give rise to surprises is due, I believe, to a fallacy to which philosophers and mathematicians are particularly subject. This is the assumption that as soon as a fact is presented to a mind all consequences of that fact spring into the mind simultaneously with it. It is a very useful assumption under many circumstances, but one too easily forgets that it is false.
- Alan Turing
"Since then I've had the chance, in the world of mathematics that bid me welcome, to meet quite a number of people, both among my "elders" and among young people in my general age group, who were much more brilliant, much more "gifted" than I was. I admired the facility with which they picked up, as if at play, new ideas, juggling them as if familiar with them from the cradle -- while for myself I felt clumsy, even oafish, wandering painfully up an arduous track, like a dumb ox faced with an amorphous mountain of things that I had to learn (so I was assured), things I felt incapable of understanding the essentials or following through to the end. Indeed, there was little about me that identified the kind of bright student who wins at prestigious competitions or assimilates, almost by sleight of hand, the most forbidding subjects. In fact, most of these comrades who I gauged to be more brilliant than I have gone on to become distinguished mathematicians. Still, from the perspective of 30 or 35 years, I can state that their imprint upon the mathematics of our time has not been very profound. They've all done things, often beautiful things, in a context that was already set out before them, which they had no inclination to disturb. Without being aware of it, they've remained prisoners of those invisible and despotic circles which delimit the universe of a certain milieu in a given era. To have broken these bounds they would have had to rediscover in themselves that capability which was their birth-right, as it was mine: the capacity to be alone."
- Alexandre Grothendieck