Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (1847)

“Now he has his back toward me,” thought I, “and he is occupied, too; perhaps, if I walk softly, I can slip away unnoticed.”

I trod on an edging of turf, that the crackle of the pebbly gravel might not betray me; he was standing among the beds at a yard or two distant from where I had to pass; the moth apparently engaged him. “I shall get by very well,” I meditated. As I crossed his shadow, thrown long over the garden by the moon, not yet risen high, he said quietly, without turning,

“Jane, come and look at this fellow.”

E. B. White – Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976 (1937)

Somewhere a peasant saves his broken spade for the government collector; somewhere a bride melts down her wedding ring for God and country; somewhere someone’s old family sedan goes to its great adventure. The iron we could not quite destroy will serve destruction yet. Scrap iron, scrap steel, scrap gold. Scrap life.

“Scrap Iron”


Ansel Adams – The Camera (1980)

Too many people merely do what they are told to do. The greatest satisfaction derives from the realization of your individual potential, perceiving something in your own way and expressing it through adequate understanding of your tools. Take advantage of everything; be dominated by nothing except your convictions. Do not lose sight of the essential importance of craft; every worthwhile human endeavor depends on the highest levels of concentration and mastery of basic tools.

Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (1847)

I wrestled with my own resolution; I wanted to be weak that I might avoid the awful passage of further suffering I saw laid out for me; and conscience, turned tyrant, held passion by the throat, told her, tauntingly, she had yet but dipped her dainty foot in the slough, and swore that with that arm of iron he would thrust her down to unsounded depths of agony.


J.R.R. Tolkien – The Return of the King (1955)

‘I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.’

‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.’

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

…Natásha unconsciously felt this delicacy and so found great pleasure in his society. But she was not even grateful to him for it; nothing good on Pierre’s part seemed to her to be an effort, it seemed so natural for him to be kind to everyone that there was no merit in his kindness.

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

“Why?” is always the most difficult question to answer. You know where you are when someone asks you “What’s the time?” or “When was the battle of 1066?” or “How do these seatbelts work that go tight when you slam the brakes on, Daddy?” The answers are easy and are, respectively, “Seven-thirty-five in the evening,” “Ten-fifteen in the morning,” and “Don’t ask stupid questions.”

(from Hockney’s Alphabet)


Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool – Peak (2016)

Deliberate practice is all about the skills. You pick up the necessary knowledge in order to develop the skills; knowledge should never be an end in itself.

(Posted because I find it an interesting claim. I agree with the first part, under the assumption that you are pursuing development of a skill. But that is not always the goal, so the last part is far too sweeping.)


J.R.R. Tolkien – The Two Towers (1954)

…I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.

Faramir, to Frodo