Tuesday, April 3

When one is young, one thinks of love as the most important thing,' Professor Shan said, still facing the window. 'It's natural if you think so, though I do hope you've learned a few things from the books I've read to you. One could waste one's life pursuing a flower in the mirror, a moon in the river, but that is not what I want to see happen to you.
Yiyun Li

In Madeleine's face was a stupidity Mitchell had never seen before. It was the stupidity of all normal people. It was the stupidity of the fortunate and beautiful, of everybody who got what they wanted in life and so remained unremarkable.
 Jeffery Eugenides (The Marriage Plot)

He hated all the people who lived in air-conditioned houses with the windows permanently sealed, and drove air-conditioned cars to nine-to-five jobs in air-conditioned office buildings, that he said were little more than gussied-up prisons. Just the sight of these people on their way to work made him feel hemmed in and itchy.
The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls

There are two possibilities: either there is life out there on other planets or there is no life out there on other planets. They are both utterly extraordinary ideas! But, there is the possibility, a strong possibility, that there is nothing out there that is remotely like us. And we are behaving as if this, this planet—this extraodinary, utterly, utterly extraordinary little ball of life, is something we can just screw about with anyway we like. And maybe we can’t. Maybe we should be looking after it just a little bit better. Not for the world’s sake—we talked rather grandly about the saving the word, we don’t have to save the world, the world’s fine. The world has been through five periods of mass extinction. 65 million years ago when, as it seems, a comet hit the earth at the same time that there were vast volcanic eruptions in india. Which saw off the dinosaurs and something like 90% of life on the planet. Go back another, i think it’s 150 million years earlier than that, to the Permian Triassic Boundary; another, giant, giant, giant extinction.
The world has been through it many many time before. And what tends to happen, what happens invariably after each mass extinction, is that, there’s a huge amount of space available for new forms of life to suddenly emerge and flourish into it. Just as the extinction of the dinosaurs made way for us. Without that extinction we would not be here. So the world is fine, we don’t have to save the world—the world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about is whether or not the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us in it.
— Douglas Adams (Parrots, the Universe and Everything)

The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
Christopher Hitchens 

"To drive and then to stop. A motel. Another city. Anonymity. Freedom. It is a familiar fantasy, one that you have had since you were seventeen. You have never indulged it, never once gotten into a car and driven just to see where the road would take you, stopping when you felt like stopping, no destination, no time constraints. These have been moments in your life when such a thing might have been arranged. And yet you have never done it."
 - Anita Shreve, Testimony

Let everything happen to you 
Beauty and terror 
Just keep going 
No feeling is final
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Some lose all mind and become soul, insane.
Some lose all soul and become mind, intellectual.
Some lose both and become accepted.
— Charles Bukowski 

"All the time we are aware of millions of things around us - these changing shapes, these burning hills, the sound of the engine, the feel of the throttle, each rock and weed and fence post and piece of debris beside the road - aware of these things but not really conscious of them unless there is something unusual or unless they reflect something we are predisposed to see. We could not possibly be conscious of these things and remember all of them because our mind would be so full of useless details we would be unable to think. From all this awareness we must select, and what we select and call consciousness is never the same as the awareness because the process of selection mutates it. We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world."
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
By Robert M. Pirsig

"Millions of people never analyze themselves. Mentally they are mechanical products of the factory of their environment, preoccupied with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, working and sleeping, and going here and there to be entertained. They don’t know what or why they are seeking, nor why they never realize complete happiness and lasting satisfaction. By evading self-analysis, people go on being robots, conditioned by their environment. True self-analysis is the greatest art of progress."
— Paramahansa Yogananda 

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirement of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about."
— Charles Kingsley 
I wondered what the value was, in the Darwinian sense, of making fast friends like that. There must be some scientific significance to being a follower, to allowing yourself to be persuaded by fashion, opinion, doctrine and personality.
Hillary Thayer Hamann
(Anthropology of an American Girl)

 "Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber? Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why."
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five