This is the fairest picture

This is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.

Mark Twain, Autobiography 1892

Among the four old bridges

Among the four old bridges that span the river, the Ponte Vecchio, that bridge which is covered with the shops of Jewellers and Goldsmiths, is a most enchanting feature in the scene. The space of one house, in the centre, being left open, the view beyond, is shown as in a frame; and that precious glimpse of sky, and water, and rich buildings, shining so quietly among the huddled roofs and gables on the bridge, is exquisite.

Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy 1846

Honest Broker

I do not regard the procuring of peace as a matter in which we should play the role of arbiter between different opinions…more that of an honest broker who really wants to press the business forward.

Otto von Bismarck

In my first publication

In my first publication I might have claimed that I had come to the conclusion, as a result of serious study of the literature and deep thought, that valuable antibacterial substances were made by moulds and that I set out to investigate the problem. That would have been untrue and I preferred to tell the truth that penicillin started as a chance observation. My only merit is that I did not neglect the observation and that I pursued the subject as a bacteriologist. My publication in 1929 was the starting-point of the work of others who developed penicillin especially in the chemical field.

Sir Alexander Fleming

But nothing of a nature foreign to the duties of my profession [clergyman]

But nothing of a nature foreign to the duties of my profession [clergyman] engaged my attention while I was at Leeds so much as the, prosecution of my experiments relating to electricity, and especially the doctrine of air. The last I was led into a consequence of inhabiting a house adjoining to a public brewery, where first amused myself with making experiments on fixed air [carbon dioxide] which found ready made in the process of fermentation. When I removed from that house, I was under the necessity making the fixed air for myself; and one experiment leading to another, as I have distinctly and faithfully noted in my various publications on the subject, I by degrees contrived a convenient apparatus for the purpose, but of the cheapest kind. When I began these experiments I knew very little of chemistry, and had in a manner no idea on the subject before I attended a course of chymical lectures delivered in the Academy at Warrington by Dr. Turner of Liverpool. But I have often thought that upon the whole, this circumstance was no disadvantage to me; as in this situation I was led to devise an apparatus and processes of my own, adapted to my peculiar views. Whereas, if I had been previously accustomed to the usual chemical processes, I should not have so easily thought of any other; and without new modes of operation I should hardly have discovered anything materially new.

Joseph Priestley

A conclusion

A conclusion is the place where you got tired thinking.

Martin H. Fischer

A drug

A drug is a substance which, if injected into a rabbit, produces a paper.

Otto Loew

I have told you more than I know

(1) I have told you more than I know about osteoporosis.

(2) What I have told you is subject to change without notice.

(3) I hope I raised more questions than I have given answers.

(4) In any case, as usual, a lot more work is necessary.

Fuller Albright

The terrible thing about the internet and Amazon

The terrible thing about the internet and Amazon is that they take the magic and happy chaos out of book shopping. The internet might give you what you want, but it won’t give you what you need.

Tom Hodgkinson

PG doesn’t usually comment on quotes, but, perhaps he’s missing something because he obtains all of his book pleasure from reading them. Lots and lot of them.

While one look at PG’s office would convince PG’s harshest observer that he tends to generate and work among quite a bit of chaos, there are no books buried there (he thinks). PG’s happiness sometimes arises from the chaos when he discovers a check made payable to him that he overlooked when it first arrived.

While the types of books PG likes to read change from time to time, he doesn’t think happy chaos or magic are involved in these changes.

I was doing a lecture for a group of students

I was doing a lecture for a group of students several months ago and I was talking about how long things can take… And a young woman raised her hand at the end of the lecture… and asked for some advice, because she had started a blog and she was hoping to get some pointers on how to get people to come to the blog, to read the blog, because she was feeling very discouraged — she’d been doing it for a while and people weren’t reading it. She wasn’t getting any traction. And so, of course, my first question was “How long have you been doing it?” And very sincerely, very earnestly, she said, “Six weeks.”

Debbie Millman

My problem

My problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity

Cory Doctorow

I was once told I am being arrogant as an Author

I was once told I am being arrogant as an Author just because I legally protect my books with copyrighting them and trademarking my titles and names. That’s not being Arrogant. It’s about being Smart. I went to law school And I’m married to a lawyer. It’s ingrained in me to fight the sh*t out of protecting what is mine even if it is perceived as “arrogant”. I’d rather be arrogant than stupid.

Kailin Gow

The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music

The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years.

David Bowie, New York Times, 2002

If you cannot

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

George Bernard Shaw

He who has no fools

He who has no fools, knaves, or beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning.

Old English proverb

Every man

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature’s what it’s all about

Nature’s what it’s all about, but our people have been brainwashed into thinking that life is a cell phone against your head and the TV on a beer commercial with hot chicks.

Tim Dorsey, Nuclear Jellyfish

The average TV commercial

The average TV commercial of sixty seconds has one hundred and twenty half-second clips in it, or one-third of a second. We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for thinking.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Teenagers

When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

Nora Ephron

According to most studies

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

Jerry Seinfeld

You can’t talk

You can’t talk your way out of a prob­lem you be­haved your­self into.

Stephen Covey

Liberty is the very last idea

Liberty is the very last idea that seems to occur to anybody, in considering any political or social proposal. It is only necessary for anybody for any reason to allege any evidence of any evil in any human practice, for people instantly to suggest that the practice should be suppressed by the police.

G.K. Chesterton

Men do not differ much

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.

G.K. Chesterton

That’s most interesting

That’s most interesting. But I was no more a mind-reader then than today. I was weeping for an altogether different reason. When I watched you dancing that day, I saw something else. I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go. That is what I saw. It wasn’t really you, what you were doing, I know that. But I saw you and it broke my heart. And I’ve never forgotten.

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Jay Gatsby

A series of quotes from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort ‘It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about—things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. “All right,” I said, “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”’

. . . .

Why they came East I don’t know. . . . I had no sight into Daisy’s heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.

. . . .

The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.

. . . .

He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.

. . . .

That’s my Middle West . . . the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark. . . . I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.

. . . .

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and . . . then retreated back into their money . . . and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

. . . .

You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow, she went on . . . “Everybody thinks so—the most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything . . . Sophisticated—God, I’m sophisticated!

. . . .

I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.

. . . .

In my younger . . . years my father gave me some advice . . . “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one . . . just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.

. . . .

‘Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,’ I thought; ‘anything at all. . . .’ Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.

. . . .

We drew in deep breaths . . . as we walked back . . . through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour, before we melted indistinguishably into it again.

. . . .

‘I married him because I thought he was a gentleman,’ she said finally. ‘I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe.’

. . . .

He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy.

. . . .

Neither of them can stand the person they’re married to…. What I say is, why go on living with them if they can’t stand them? If I was them I’d get a divorce and get married to each other right away.

. . . .

For a while I lost sight of Jordan Baker, and then in midsummer I found her again . . . . I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity.

. . . .

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—

. . . .

[H]e stretched out his arms toward the dark water. . . . I . . . distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far way. . . . When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished. . . .

I am

I am my heart’s undertaker. Daily I go and retrieve its tattered remains, place them delicately into its little coffin, and bury it in the depths of my memory, only to have to do it all again tomorrow.

Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls

The face of a lover

The face of a lover is an unknown, precisely because it is invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery, containing, like all mysteries, the possibility of torment.

James Baldwin

Synchronicity

Synchronicity is a term used by Carl Jung to describe coincidences that are related by meaningfulness rather than by cause and effect.

David Richo

Any coincidence

Any coincidence is worth noticing. You can throw it away later if it is only a coincidence.

Agatha Christie

Unintended Consequences 1 and 2

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.

Margaret J. Wheatley

The law of unintended consequences pushes us ceaselessly through the years, permitting no pause for perspective.

Richard Schickel

Farming is a matter of dirt and dung

Farming is a matter of dirt and dung. It is not the kind of thing we look to to find the meaning of human life. It is too ordinary, too inescapably a part of life to be interesting. We know that it has to be done, but see no reason to pay much attention to it. But it is just because farming is inescapably a part of human life that it may provide a clue to what is most basically human, and so a clue to our place within the cosmos.

Stephanie Nelson

The ultimate goal of farming

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

Masanobu Fukuoka

When tillage begins

When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.

Daniel Webster

No race can prosper

No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.

Booker T. Washington

August Rain

August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.

– Sylvia Plath

First they came

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller

A green hunting cap squeezed

A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly’s supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person’s lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one’s soul.

First paragraph of A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Hard times are coming

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an e-book six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.

Ursula K Le Guin

People don’t know

People don’t know they want to become an author until they meet me.

Lucas J. Robak