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Aphorisms

 

Invitation

If you are a dreamer, come in,

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .

If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in!

Come in!

-Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk Ends, 1974

 

Choice

 

The character Louis Levy says, "We are the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, that human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. It is only we with our capacity to love that gives meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even to find joy from simple things like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations will understand more."

 

Woody Allen Crimes and Misdemeanors

One of the last remaining freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.

Victor Frankel

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didnít do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

Silence

 

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. . . . Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.

Jean Arp (1887-1948), French-German artist, poet. On My Way, "Sacred Silence" (ed. by Robert Motherwell, 1948).

 

What is a television apparatus to man, who has only to shut his eyes to see the most inaccessible regions of the seen and the never seen, who has only to imagine in order to pierce through walls and cause all the planetary Baghdads of his dreams to rise from the dust.

Salvador Dali (1904-89), Spanish painter. The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, ch. 11 (1948).

 

Be still with yourself

Until the object of your attention

Affirms your presence

 

Minor White

Mirrors Messages Manifestations

 

Shit

Since man's highest mission on earth is to spiritualize everything, it is his excrement in particular that needs it most.

Salvador Dali (1904-89), Spanish painter. Diary of a Genius (1966), entry for 2 Sept. 1952.

 

What makes shit such a universal joke is that it's an unmistakeable reminder of our duality, of our soiled nature and of our will to glory. It is the ultimate lese-majeste.

John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. "Muck and Its Entanglements" in Harper's (New York, May 1989; repr. in Keeping a Rendezvous as "A Load of Shit," 1992).

 

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work . . . I want to achieve it through not dying.

Woody Allen (b. 1935), U.S. filmmaker. Quoted in: Edward Lax, Woody Allen and his Comedy, ch. 12 (1975).

 

Idealism

 

Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British novelist. Quoted in: New York Herald Tribune (25 Nov. 1963).

 

Mockery

No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.

Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Kostka, in The Joke, pt. 6, ch. 18 (1967; tr. 1982).

Pioneers of Modern Sensibility

Jews and homosexuals are the outstanding creative minorities in contemporary urban culture. Creative, that is, in the truest sense: they are creators of sensibilities. The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony.

Susan Sontag (b. 1933), U.S. essayist. Against Interpretation, "Notes on 'Camp'," note 51 (1966; first published 1964).

Rock Journalism

 

Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read.

Frank Zappa (1940-93), U.S. rock musician. Chicago Tribune (18 Jan. 1978).

 

Pop Music

A lot of pop music is about stealing pocket money from children.

Ian Anderson (b. 1947), British rock musician. Rolling Stone (New York, 30 Nov. 1989).

Marriage

 

"You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone through they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart and the oak tree and the cyprus grow not in each others shadow."

 

Mike Stivic and Gloria Bunker's wedding vow written by Khalil Gibran

 

 

Marriage accustomed one to the good things, so one came to take them for granted, but magnified the bad things, so they came to feel as painful as a grain in one's eye. An open window, a forgotten quart of milk, a TV set left blaring, socks on the bathroom floor could become occasions for incredible rage. And something happened sexually in marriage-the swearing to forsake all others, despite its slight observance, had a profound effect. Some people felt trapped by it, impelled to assert what they called freedom. Some accepted it like a rein, and in the effort to avoid pain in the form of hopeless desire, cut off occasions of desire, avoided having long talks at parties with attractive members of the opposite sex. In time, all feeling for the opposite sex was cut off, and intercourse limited to the barest politenesses. . . . But something happened to you when you did that, a kind of death seeped up from the genitals to the rest of the body, till it showed in the eyes, the gestures, in a certain lifelessness.

Marilyn French (b. 1929), U.S. author, critic. Mira, in The Women's Room, ch. 5, sct. 12 (1977).

 

 

Seriousness

 

Seriousness is stupidity sent to college.

P. J. O'Rourke (b. 1947), U.S. journalist. Give War A Chance, "A Serious Problem" (1992).

 

I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.

Susan Sontag (b. 1933), U.S. essayist. Quoted in: Time Out (London, 19 Aug. 1992).

 

Trust

 

The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.

Henry Lewis Stimson (1867-1930), U.S. statesman. Quoted in: International Herald Tribune (Paris, 30 Sept. 1992).

 

 

Intelligence

 

Reason is man's faculty for grasping the world by thought, in contradiction to intelligence, which is man's ability to manipulate the world with the help of thought. Reason is man's instrument for arriving at the truth, intelligence is man's instrument for manipulating the world more successfully; the former is essentially human, the latter belongs to the animal part of man.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980), U.S. psychologist. The Sane Society, ch. 3, "The Need for a Frame of Orientation and Devotion-Reason vs. Irrationality" (1955).

 

Genius

What is the nature of scientific genius? Dr. Francis Crick (who with Dr.James Watson discoverded the structure of DNA) was perhaps offering an answer in his response to a different question, that of whether he enjoyed his life. "I cannot do better," he said, than to quote from a lecture by the painter John Minton "in which he said of his own artistic creations, `The important thing is to be there when the picture is painted.' And this, it seems to me, is partly a matter of luck and partly good judgment, inspiration and persistent application."

Crick, Who Discovered DNA Structure With Watson, Dies

New York Times Published: July 29, 2004

 

Love

 

If thou must love me, let it be for nought

Except for love's sake only. Do not say,

I love her for her smile . . . her look . . . her way

Of speaking gently . . . for a trick of thought

That falls in well with mine, and, certes, brought

A sense of pleasant ease on such a day-

For these things in themselves, Beloved, may

Be changed, or change for thee-and love so

wrought,

May be unwrought so.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), English poet. Sonnets from the Portuguese, Sonnet 14.

 

To see you naked is to recall the Earth.

Federico GarcÌa Lorca (1899-1936), Spanish poet, playwright. Casida de la Mujer Tendida.

 

Happiness

 

One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (b. 1918), Russian novelist. Shulubin, in Cancer Ward, pt. 2, ch. 10 (1968).

 

Pain

"Oh, hold on; there's plenty of pain here - but it don't kill.

There's plenty of suffering here, but it don't last. You see,

happiness ain't a THING IN ITSELF - it's only a CONTRAST with

something that ain't pleasant. That's all it is. There ain't a

thing you can mention that is happiness in its own self - it's only

so by contrast with the other thing. And so, as soon as the

novelty is over and the force of the contrast dulled, it ain't

happiness any longer, and you have to get something fresh. Well,

there's plenty of pain and suffering in heaven - consequently

there's plenty of contrasts, and just no end of happiness."

 

-Mark Twain From Captain Stromfields Visit to Heaven

 

Inner Peace

 

There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death. Any attempt to prove otherwise constitutes unacceptable behavior.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1951), U.S. journalist. Metropolitan Life, "Manners" (1978).

 

Circumcision

 

Circumcision is startling, all right, particularly when performed by a garlicked old man upon the glory of a newborn body, but then maybe that's what the Jews had in mind and what makes the act seem quintessentially Jewish and the mark of their reality. Circumcision makes it clear as can be that you are here and not there, that you are out and not in-also that you're mine and not theirs. . . . Quite convincingly, circumcision gives the lie to the womb-dream of life in the beautiful state of innocent prehistory, the appealing idyll of living "naturally," unencumbered by man-made ritual. To be born is to lose all that. The heavy hand of human values falls upon you right at the start, marking your genitals as its own.

Philip Roth (b. 1933), U.S. novelist. Nathan Zuckerman writing to Maria, in The Counterlife, ch. 5 (1986).

 

Parenting

Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion-picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word "collectible" as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1951), U.S. journalist. Social Studies, "Parental Guidance" (1981).

 

Justice

 

justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (b. 1918), Russian novelist. Letter, Oct. 1967, from Solzhenitsyn to three students (published in Solzhenitsyn: A Documentary Record, "The Struggle Intensifies," ed. by Leopold Labedz, 1970).

 

Dignity

 

Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself.

George Santayana (1863-1952), U.S. philosopher, poet. Spinoza's Ethics, Introduction (1910).

The West

Out where the handclasp's a little stronger,

Out where the smile dwells a little longer,

That's where the West begins.

Arthur Chapman (1873-1935), U.S. poet, author. Out Where the West Begins, st. 1.

 

Vegetarianism

 

ìIf God had meant for us to be vegetarians he wouldnít have made animals out of meat.

-Steve Fromholtz

http://www.utopiarescue.com/laura_bush.htm

 

Your body

I have put on a little weight, and I still have The Spot. But that's O.K. As Deepak says, "Your body is just the place your memories call home."

from June 13, 2001 LIBERTIES Inside Al Gore's Head

By MAUREEN DOWD

 

Life

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 24

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Lifeís but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale 28

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

 

William Shakespeare (1564-1616). The Tragedy of Macbeth.

Act V Scene V

Trust

"the great enemy of truth is often not the lie --deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."

John F. Kennedy

Government

The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Ronald Reagan (b. 1911), U.S. Republican politician, president. Address, 15 Aug. 1986, to the White House Conference on Small Business.

Politics

"You think I'm going to bother to vote," sneers one woman. "Look at where I live," she gestures around her at the rundown center of town. "You think I' m going to stand here listening to them in their Versace suits, saying 'read my lips' until they're in power? Then we'll never hear from them again; they'll just screw us."

Stunned in Sderot

By LEORA EREN FRUCHT Jerusalem Post Nov. 14, 2002

And it's impossible not to have politics; politics is our attempt to reconcile all the different forces in society. Everybody in society has a different viewpoint and interest, and the task of politics is to find the least bad way of reconciling them all, of coexisting without killing each other.

Michael Frayn The Art of Theater XV
http://www.parisreview.com/tpr168/frayn.html
Interviewed by Shusha Guppy
Issue 168
Winter, 2003

Cosmology

Einstein famously said that "the theory determines the observation." He meant that in an experiment what you tend to observe is what either confirms or disconfirms the theory you started with.

""Ninety percent of science fiction is crap. But then, 90 percent of everything is crap." - Theodore Sturgeon

 

"If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people He gives it to."

-- Old Irish Saying

Publicity

Without publicity a terrible thing happens: nothing.

-- P.T. Barnum

 

ART

 

Any work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), Polish-born English novelist. The Nigger of the Narcissus, Preface (1897). Conrad continued, "Art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect."

Solutions

Ivan has sought in vain for a systematic approach to creativity. The poor best he has involves symmetry and taxonomy.

Examine the symmetry of the problem, and you may find a symmetry for the solution.

Build a taxonomy of the problem, and you may discover new combinations to explore.

"So how do I build a taxonomy? Divide your problem into a few separate features: hair color, height, temperature, cost, or whatever. Think of each feature as a separate dimension: blonde, red, brown, or black hair; tall or short; warm or cold; costly, moderate, or cheap. The combinations of dimensions form the boxes of your taxonomy. For example, there is the box for red haired, tall, cold, and costly. Think about each box separately. One of them may surprise you with a fresh idea. A good taxonomy has a handful of axes and fewer than 100 boxes so you can think about each in turn."

-Ivan E. Sutherland

Moderation

OUR BELOVED children, our children whose blood is being spilled in the name of homeland and country, I want you to live. I pray to the Lord of wisdom to allow you to grow up happy, healthy, free to live your lives as you choose. Free of hatred and prejudice. Loyal to your conscience and the voice of human nature that seeks pleasure but knows how to be considerate of others and live within the boundaries of law and order.

There is nothing wrong or criminal about wanting to live, loving life and sanctifying it. I ask the Lord of reason and mercy to give us the wisdom to desert the path of zealotry and prefer respectful dialogue.

ON TARGET: Why do they choose death?

By Tallie Lipkin-Shahak

4-22-02

 

Friendship

 

No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious,

none better suited to the cure of all our temporal

ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation

in time of trouble, and with whom we may share our

happiness in time of joy.

 

Saint Ailred of Rivaulx (1109 - 1166)

Historian and abbot

http://home.gwi.net/~mdmpsyd/index.htm

 

BUSINESS OPERATING PRINCIPLES

 

These principles serve as guidelines for how we choose to live our values in interaction with others:

 

  • Be open, honest and direct
  • Show respect & appreciation
  • Demonstrate accountability
  • Create a supportive environmentPromote learning, balance & well-being
  • Honor commitments

Turningpoints.com

Jewish business

The Jews generally give value. They make you pay; but they deliver the goods. In my experience the men who want something for nothing are invariably Christians.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Anglo-Irish playwright, critic. The Nobleman, in Saint Joan, sc. 4.

Pride of Ownership

Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, said once that; "in the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car."

The Universe

Once you've discovered it's easy to make a universe out of an ounce of vacuum, why not make a bunch of them?" asked Dr. Craig Hogan, a cosmologist at the University of Washington.

In fact, Dr. Guth said, "Inflation pretty much forces the idea of multiple universes upon us."

Moreover, there is no reason to expect that these universes will be identical. Even within our own bubble, tiny random nonuniformities in the primordial raw material would cause the cosmos to look different from place to place. If the universe is big enough, Dr. Tegmark and others say, everything that can happen will happen, so that if we could look out far enough we would eventually discover an exact replica of ourselves.

 

October 29, 2002 New York Times
A New View of Our Universe: Only One of Many

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured

with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass

Religion

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.

That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.

 

Albert Einstein

 

There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

 

William Shakespeare

Hamlet

We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde

 

Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began, it cannot answer the question: Why does it bother to exist? I don't know the answer to that.

Stephen Hawking

 

Black Holes and Baby UniversesOutside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.

Inside of a dog, itís too dark to read.

 

Groucho Marx

 

 

 

Junichi Saga's book Confessions of a Yakuza provides material for Bob Dylan's album Love and Theft

He has told his publisher, Tokyo-based Kodansha International, that while he would prefer to be credited as a source for Dylan's songs, he has "absolutely no plans to sue." There are no plans for a reprinted edition, either.

"Why would I sue? To take something that made people around the world happy and try to exploit it for money -- that's poverty," Saga said.

July 8, 2003, 2:33PM

Japanese book may be inspiration for Dylan's songs

By KENJI HALL

Associated Press

 

 

 

Why in the World is There a World?

 

Daniel Rabchinskey from Mexico City, Mexico wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Hello, first let me extend my gratitude for sharing your wisdom in this way. The life we live is not only made for the 80 or so years that we are here; as I have been taught, it is like a passage for the world to come. But why did G-d give us this life instead of giving us our direct existence in the world to come, where we will experience pleasure multiplied by the millions? The reason is so that we appreciate what we have fought to get to. The thing is, why don't we appreciate things if they did not cost us anything? I'd say that it is because G-d made us that way; He can do it all. So the question is: Why didn't G-d make us in a way that we would appreciate everything even if we did not work for it, so that we could be "born" from the beginning in the world to come? Shalom.

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Daniel Rabchinskey,

 

Your question is asked by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in The Way of G-d, and is also addressed by Rabbi Yosef Karo in Maggid Meisharim. The gist of what they say is as follows: The purpose of Creation is chesed, kindness. G-d wants to bestow the greatest possible good upon created beings. The ultimate and greatest good is G-d Himself. Therefore, the ultimate good available to created beings is closeness to G-d. Closeness to God requires compatibility and similarity to G-d. Therefore beings must have free will and not be created already similar, as this would be dissimilar to G-d (i.e., G-d acts because He chooses to do so, not because He is coerced). So that the creatures (humans) must be in a world in which there is choice so that the human can be as "G-dlike" as possible. The good has to be internal not external, just as God is intrinsically good. The only way for us to internalize and be intrinsically good is to do it through challenge and free will, and therefore, this world was created.

 

from ask the rabbi

20 February 1999; Issue #227

http://ohr.edu/ask/ask227.htm#Q

 

 

The Onion: Tell me about the song "1974." You seem to be suggesting that that year was a turning point in history and equating it with our own.

 

Robyn Hitchcock: Well, what that song is about really is reclaiming dead time. Most of your life isn't spent actually locked in mortal combat with space beings or having multiple orgasms or drowning in a swimming pool. It's spent screwing up little balls of paper and throwing them into the wastepaper basket and just missing, or wondering whether you bought any milk. You're in a shop and you wonder whether you need to buy any more milk, or if there's some in the fridge back home. This is if you live in the West and you live the kind of middle-class existence that I've always lived that isn't hand-to-mouth. You can survive. A lot of time is really pretty dull, or it seems that way to me. I always thought 1974... Although I personally had a very dramatic 1974, I had a very strong sense of inertia. The '60s had run out of steam, and the '80s hadn't counter-attacked yet. So I just wanted to mention all this stuff which happened that didn't even matter, really. Some of it is more dramatic than others, but really it was, like I said, funky denim wonderland. Everybody was smoking weed, but it didn't make any difference any more. Nobody pretended that drugs were a sacrament, or for enlightenment; they were just another alternative to booze, you know? People had long hair, but so what? The Vietnam War was drawing to a close. Nixon was kicked out, which was very dramatic, but... I think I was trying to celebrate the kind of nothingness of the year and say that, nonetheless, it was a year in my life, and in lots of other people's lives. And this is what your life is made of. It's made of, like I said, molecules of time you thought you'd shed forever. Because your life isn't a dress rehearsal. This is it. And what have you done with it when it's gone? Can you even remember it? Does it matter? So I just wanted to kind of touch base with a piece of the past.

 

http://www.theonionavclub.com/avclub3413/avfeature3413.html