Archive for October, 2018

October 28, 2018

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October 27, 2018

“It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle — they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.”
~ “An Introduction to Mathematics”, A.N. Whitehead.

October 27, 2018

“Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word; but it is not a language taken to pieces and dead in the dictionary, but the language put together into a most significant and universal sense. I wish to learn this language, not that I may know a new grammar, but that I may read the great book that is written in that tongue.”
~ R.W. Emerson

October 17, 2018

“When one speaks of Michelangelo — says Grimm — woods, clouds, seas, and mountains disappear, and only what is formed by the spirit of man remains behind; and he quotes a few slight words from a letter of his to Vasari as the single expression in all he has left of a feeling for nature. […] Of the whole story of the creation he has painted only the creation of the first man and woman.”
~ “The Renaissance: studies in art and poetry”, Walter Pater.

October 17, 2018

“One of the strongest characteristics of that outbreak of the reason and the imagination, of that assertion of the liberty of the heart, in the middle age, which I have termed a medieval Renaissance, was its antinomianism, its spirit of rebellion and revolt against the moral and religious ideas of the time. In their search after the pleasures of the senses and the imagination, in their care for beauty, in their worship of the body, people were impelled beyond the bounds of Christian ideal; and their love became sometimes a strange idolatry, a strange rival religion. […] More and more, as we come to mark changes and distinctions of temper in what is often in one all-embracing confusion called the middle age, that rebellion, that sinister claim for liberty of heart and thought, comes to the surface. […] The note of defiance, of the opposition of one system to another, is sometimes harsh.”
~ “The Renaissance: studies in art and poetry”, Walter Pater.

October 17, 2018

” ‘Simple persons’ — as Michelangelo replied in his rough way to the querulous criticism of Julius the Second, that there was no gold on the figures of the Sistine Chapel — ‘Simple persons, who wore no gold on their garments.’ ”
~ “The Renaissance: studies in art and poetry”, Walter Pater.

October 14, 2018

“All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobbler’s trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar’s garret. Yet line for line and point for point your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build therefore your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

October 14, 2018

“We must trust the perfection of the creation so far as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy. […] Nature is already, in its forms and tendencies, describing its own design.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

October 12, 2018

“Although we humans cut nature up in different ways, and we have different courses in different departments, such compartmentalization is really artificial. […] The imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man.”
~ Richard Feynman

October 2, 2018

Green man over a church window in Fountains Abbey (from Wikipedia)

“The best read naturalist who lends an entire and devout attention to truth, will see that there remains much to learn of his relation to the world, and that it is not to be learnt by any addition or subtraction or other comparison of known quantities, but is arrived at by untaught sallies of the spirit, by a continual self-recovery, and by entire humility. He will perceive that there are far more excellent qualities in the student than preciseness and infallibility; that a guess is often more fruitful than an indisputable affirmation, and that a dream may let us deeper into the secret of nature than a hundred concerted experiments. […] Nor has science sufficient humanity, so long as the naturalist overlooks that wonderful congruity which subsists between man and the world; of which he is lord, not because he is the most subtle inhabitant, but because he is its head and heart, and finds something of himself in every great and small thing, in every mountain stratum, in every new law of color, fact of astronomy, or atmospheric influence which observation or analysis lays open.”

“The visible creation is the terminus or the circumference of the invisible world. ‘Material objects,’ said a French philosopher, ‘are necessarily kinds of scoriae of the substantial thoughts of the Creator, which must always preserve an exact relation to their first origin; in other words, visible nature must have a spiritual and moral side.’ […] Nature always speaks of spirit. It suggests the absolute. It is a perpetual effect. It is a great shadow pointing always to the sun behind us. The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship. […] The noblest ministry of nature is to stand as the apparition of god. It is the organ through which the universal spirit speaks to the individual, and strives to lead back the individual to it. […] That spirit does not build up nature around us, but puts it forth through us, as the life of the tree puts forth new branches and leaves through the pores of the old.”

“Xenophanes complained in his old age, that, look where he would, all things hastened back to Unity. […] The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself. He cannot be a naturalist until he satisfies all the demands of the spirit.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson