Nov 262018
 

I think of wild animals in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing—not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually, rarity is all they are made of. The condor is an icon of extinction. There is little else to it now but being the last of its kind. And in this lies the diminution of the world. How can you love something, how can you fight to protect it, if all it means is loss?

—Helen MacDonald, H Is for Hawk

Nov 172018
 

These were choice documents to me. I read them over and over again with unabated interest. They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind, and died away for want of utterance.

–Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of…
 Douglass on Reading  Nov 17, 2018  Commonplace Book Tagged with:
Oct 282018
 

Every society contains its monsters: people damaged or disturbed enough, or misdirected enough, to inflict cruelty on others. A central purpose of society—its families, its schools, its civic and faith organizations, its official and unofficial political leadership—is precisely to encourage the good, and buffer and limit the bad, in what is always the wide range of human possibility.

Thus the harshest condemnation of leaders and organizations is for those who do the reverse: revving up and cheering on the worst in human instincts, which often come out as abuse of the weak and the other.

James Fallows
 James Fallows on Monsters  Oct 28, 2018  Commonplace Book Tagged with:
Jul 082018
 

I stare about me, trying to etch into this journal the sense of Shey that is so precious, aware that all such effort is in vain; the beauty of this place must be cheerfully abandoned, like the wild rocks in the bright water of its streams. Frustration at the paltriness of words drives me to write, but there is more of Shey in a single sheep hair, in one withered sprig of everlasting, than in all these notes; to strive for permanence in what I think I have perceived is to miss the point.

—Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

Jun 232018
 

This is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called “visions,” the whole so-called “spirit-world,” death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted by Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard