345: Do You Ever Reflect How You Pass Your Life?

Live always in the best company when you read. No one in youth thinks on the value of time. Do you ever reflect how you pass your life? If you live to seventy-two, which I hope you may, your life is spent in the following manner: An hour a day is three years; this makes twenty-seven years sleeping, nine years dressing, nine years at table, six years playing with children, nine years walking, drawings and visiting, six years shopping and three years quarrelling.

(Sydney Smith; quoted in J.E.C. Welldon, “The Art of Reading Books,” The National Review, Vol. XXIII, 1894, p. 215).

345: Do You Ever Reflect How You Pass Your Life?

344: The World of Hicks and Slobs.

He was a far more voracious reader than I, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least thirty years. “That’s the only kind of book I can trust,” he said.

“It’s not that I don’t believe in contemporary literature,” he added, “but I don’t want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short.”

“What kind of authors do you like?” I asked, speaking in respectful tones to this man two years my senior. “Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens,” he answered without hesitation.

“Not exactly fashionable.”

“That’s why I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs.

(Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood. New York: Vintage Books, 2000, pp. 30–31).

344: The World of Hicks and Slobs.

343: A Regra Importante.

Evita as longas discussões, sobretudo com pessoas dispersas, que juntam argumentos sobre argumentos, sem ordem e sem disciplina, misturando juízos apenas de gosto com algumas pseudo-idéias mal-formadas e mal-assimiladas. Evita essas discussões, que não são em nada benéficas. Se não for possível conduzir o colóquio com alguém em boa ordem, segundo boa lógica, cuidadosa e bem organizada, é preferível que te cales. Sempre sê disciplinado no trabalho mental. Essa é a regra importante, e nunca ceder às fogosidades do pensamento em conversas diluídas, dispersas, em que se fala de tudo e não se fala de nada.

(Mário Ferreira dos Santos, Curso de Integração Pessoal. São Paulo: Livraria e Editôra Logos, 1964, pp. 183–184).

343: A Regra Importante.

342: New Birth.

We come now to particular manners of plagiarism. We have said, generally, that it is innocent where there is an improvement; but this must depend upon the degree of improvement; if it outweighs the merit of the original passage, an author would cheat himself by saying he had his idea from another (for a reader will not take the trouble to examine a detail of the case, and allot each his portion of merit); if, on the contrary, the merit of the improvement is slight in proportion to that of the original, he who conceals his original commits plagiarism. It is highly expedient, that a man of great genius should plagiarize; — that he should regenerate the thoughts of his inferiors, giving them the cast of his own mind in order that they may put on immortality after their new birth: but in so doing he should, for his own sake, conform to the above rule of avowal. Thus the treasures of poetry would descend from hand to and, improved by every succession. Isolated ideas, originating with men of scanty imagination, would not be merged in the barrenness of their works, like the Arabian rivulets in the sand, but bring their tribute to some great stream, quæ labitur et labetur, &c. deriving permanency and affording strength.

(Henry Taylor, “Recent Poetical Plagiarisms and Imitations,” The London Magazine, Vol. VIII, 1823, p. 598).

342: New Birth.

341: A Man Who is Without Mirth.

In human affairs whatever is against reason is a sin. Now it is against reason for a man to be burdensome to others, by offering no pleasure to others, and by hindering their enjoyment […] Now a man who is without mirth, not only is lacking in playful speech, but is also burdensome to others, since he is deaf to the moderate mirth of others. Consequently they are vicious, and are said to be boorish or rude.

(St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, Vol. 13. London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1921, p. 302).

341: A Man Who is Without Mirth.

340: The Echo of Man’s Malicious Mirth.

Laughter, we are told, freshens our exhausted spirits and disposes us to good will — which is true. It is also true that laughter quiets our uneasy scruples, and disposes us to simple savagery. Whatever we laugh at, we condone, and the echo of man’s malicious mirth rings pitilessly through the centuries. Humor which has no scorn, wit which has no sting, jests which have no victim, these are not the pleasantries which have aroused Promethean laughter, nor fed the comic sense of a conventionalized rather than a civilized world. “Our being,” says Montaigne, “is cemented with sickly qualities; and whoever should divest man of the seeds of those qualities would destroy the fundamental conditions of life.”

(Agnes Repplier, “Cruelty and Humor,” The Yale Review, Vol. VI, No. 3, April 1917, p. 547).

340: The Echo of Man’s Malicious Mirth.

339: The Alphabet of Giants.

Architecture is the alphabet of giants; it is the largest system of symbols ever made to meet the eyes of men. A tower stands up like a sort of simplified statue, of much more than “heroic size”. A facade is rightly called a face; it has something of the character of a huge human face fading or simplifying itself into the formality of a diagram; we see it in the childish sketches of a cottage with windows for eyes and the front-door for a mouth. We feel as if architecture were a simplified art of statuary and portraiture, just as the statuary and portraiture of ancient Egypt or Nineveh really were simplified and stiffened almost to the severity of architecture. It is as if a monolith were a headless body, or a dome were a hairless skull. Seen for a moment in this light, or this twilight, all architecture takes on mysterious lines of life and a movement as of signals. Nor is this merely fanciful, for it inheres in much of our habitual language on the subject. We say that a spire points to the sky, as if it really lifted a finger. We say that windows look over a landscape, as if windows were really eyes.

(G.K. Chesterton, “The Alphabet of Giants,” The Illustrated London News, Vol. CLXV, 1924, p. 104).

339: The Alphabet of Giants.