May 02 2017

True Democracy

I wave away, with wild gestures, that merely dingy and spiteful democracy which consists in declaring that every throne is only a chair. The true democracy consists in declaring that every chair is a throne.

- G.K. Chesterton

February 04 2017

Giving Attention

There was a young couple strolling along half a block ahead of me. The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance, I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn’t. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really? This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.
—Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (the voice is that of the character John Ames)

October 03 2016

Very deep as well as very funny

I just came across this quatrain by Lord Bowen, a 19th century English judge.

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.

March 21 2015

On Anger

The early Sages said: Anyone who becomes angry is like one who worships idols. They also said: Whenever one becomes angry, if he is a wise man, his wisdom leaves him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy leaves him... This is the way of the righteous: They accept humiliation, but do not humiliate others; they listen when they are shamed, but they do not answer; they do this with love and are joyous in their sufferings.

- Moses Maimonides

February 25 2015

Renoir vs. Beethoven

A revealing anecdote from Jean Renoir about his father, the great painter Auguste Renoir.

"Whose music is that?" [His father asked Jean.]


"What a relief.  I was afraid for a minute it was that imbecile Beethoven . . . Beethoven is positively indecent the way he tells about himself.  He doesn't spare us either the pain in his heart or in his stomach.  I have often wished I could say to him: what's it to me if you're deaf?"

That says a lot about the painting of Renoir and the music of Beethoven!


November 14 2014

How We Solve the Problem of Evil

In a piece describing his return to Sarajevo after the war, [Aleksandar Hemon] tells of staying with an old aunt in a room pockmarked by shrapnel and bullets since the apartment had been in the direct sight line of a Serbian sniper. His aunt, a devout Catholic, continued to believe in essential human goodness, despite all the contrary evidence around her. She felt the sniper who shot at her and her husband was essentially a good man, because during the siege, she said, he often fired over their heads to warn them that he was watching and that they shouldn’t move about so carelessly in their own apartment.

- Charles Simic

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