Sometimes you encounter someone who seems to really hit the nail on the head in terms of how they see the world. The brilliance of these moments is that — especially if you tend to be a social outlier — you’re given the gift of knowing you’re not alone. There are people who not only see the world as you do, but see it even more clearly and intelligently than you ever could.
Leon Wieseltier appeared on The Colbert Report last Tuesday (Oct 7), and I was so blown away by his words that I kept rewinding and rewinding so I could write it all down and record here what he said.
I was especially impressed by his ten-word critique of modern society!
You sometimes hear the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It’s most frequently attributed to Albert Einstein although it is sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin or author Rita Mae Brown.
None of them said any such thing. And poor Albert, he gets more silly quotes (incorrectly) attributed to him than anyone else. I suppose the idea is that, if Einstein said it, it must be right. I’m not sure the actual author is known, but the quote is commonly found in Alcoholics (and others) Anonymous where it references the repeated addictive behavior.
I’ve always thought the insane thing was the quote itself.
It’s poetry week here at con carne! To balance out the seriousness of Henley’s Invictus last time, here’s something a bit more whimsical. And much older; Andrew Marvell ‘s To His Coy Mistress pre-dates Henley by a good 200 years. Yet, both poems are about overcoming obstacles.
It must be said that the obstacles in question here are a bit different from the “bludgeonings of chance” that concern Henley. Marvell has something else entirely on his mind! And while Henley speaks of staying the course against all odds, Marvell’s advice is more carpe diem.
So for a little fun on Friday, I give you…
I was involved in a discussion not long ago that reminded me of the Henley poem, Invictus. Not that I needed a lot of reminding; the poem has been near and dear to my heart since high school.
I’m not very conversant with poetry, but I’ve run into a few “pomes” over the years that have really grabbed me. (In other words, this is one place where I don’t know art, but I know what I like.)
In the past I’ve published copies of favorite poems on my personal website, and I’ve always intended to write about them in a blog article. For this poem especially, no time like the present.
Earlier this week I finished re-reading what might be my favorite Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, Soul Music. When I introduced you to Pratchett and Discworld I mentioned that each novel has its own theme. Nearly all the novels use the same groups of characters, but each revolves around a unique theme (and usually one of the character groups, although cross-over is frequent).
Soul Music is about “music with rocks in it” (in other words: rock music). It’s technically one of the “Death” novels (which is to say that the Discworld avatar of Death is the main character), but it prominently features the Wizards in supporting roles.
And Death’s grand-daughter, Susan. And the spirit of Buddy Holly.
“We’ve arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1995
I ran across the above quote on a blog, and it really hit home on a point I’ve been pondering and struggling with recently. It has to do with that line about how “almost no one understands science and technology.” It has to do with how weary I am of living in that world.
But rather than rant about it, here are some other quotes I like from a truly great man and wonderful scientist.
It’s a gray skies snowy Sunday afternoon, the fireplace is turned on, Bull Durham is on the TV machine, and I’d rather play with POV-Ray, snooze or get back to reading Terry Pratchett‘s Going Postal than spend hours working on a blog post. Sunday should be a day of rest or, at least, of difference.
I’m not particularly stuck on Sundays; my Lutheran background programs me for Sundays, but there are other ways to keep a Sabbath.
I do think it’s important to observe one day a week that is tuned differently than your other days. I think it’s mentally and spiritually healthy to change your pace one day a week. Dedicating a day helps insure following the practice.
Saturday thousands died for my amusement; today my desiderata is pax and nepenthe, so I thought I would share a Desiderata with you.
This is a post I have mixed feelings about writing. One purpose this blog serves is to document my life and me. It’s a way of leaving something behind, of scrawling, “Kilroy was here,” on the walls of the interweb. There are no children to carry on a legacy, so this is what I have.
If I am to do that honestly, it means writing about the dark, hard stuff as well as the fun, light stuff. I’ve thought about writing this post for a while, but was looking for the right time (which, of course, is just a delaying tactic). Yesterday I mentioned yet another moment of life synchronicity. To the extent I believe the universe “tells” me anything, it’s not hard to imagine it’s suggesting that I post this now.
I’ve been wanting to get back to the drier, more technical stuff, but I’m finding it a challenge to write. There’s research required for one thing, double-checking facts, and sometimes diagrams to find or create. Writing technical material in a way that’s interesting and accessible is tough! The personal stuff flows much more readily. (And doesn’t require the fact-checking!)
So this post is about my alter-ego: Quasimodo.