Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning (2015)

Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.

“The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”


Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

In any case, a pretty good rule of thumb is this: Your estimate should be within ten percent of the correct answer—but this need apply only at the level of your perceptual reality. Therefore you are excused if you guessed that Rubik’s cube has 1018 positions, since 18 is pretty close to 19.5, which is about what the number of digits is.


John Dewey — Art as Experience (1934)

There are two sorts of possible worlds in which esthetic experience would not occur. In a world of mere flux, change would not be cumulative; it would not move toward a close. Stability and rest would have no being. Equally it is true, however, that a world that is finished, ended, would have no traits of suspense and crisis, and would offer no opportunity for resolution. Where everything is already complete, there is no fulfillment. We envisage with pleasure Nirvana and a uniform heavenly bliss only because they are projected upon the background of our present world of stress and conflict. Because the actual world, that in which we live, is a combination of movement and culmination, of breaks and re-unions, the experience of a living creature is capable of esthetic quality. The live being recurrently loses and reëstablishes equilibrium with his surroundings. The moment of passage from disturbance into harmony is that of intensest life. In a finished world, sleep and waking could not be distinguished. In one wholly perturbed, conditions could not even be struggled with. In a world made after the pattern of ours, moments of fulfillment punctuate experience with rhythmically enjoyed intervals.

(This reminds me of a quote or two by Carl Sagan.)

William Strunk Jr. – The Elements of Style (4th ed., 2000)

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.


Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992)

In attempting to understand who we are, every human culture has invented a corpus of myth. … There have also been those who hold that the gods have nothing to do with it. One of them, Nanrei Kobori, late Abbot of the Temple of the Shining Dragon, a Buddhist sanctuary in Kyoto, said to us

God is an invention of Man. So the nature of God is only a shallow mystery. The deep mystery is the nature of Man.


Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

One lesson we can learn from Sagoff’s and Varaldo’s laudable poetic accomplishments is the deceptiveness of the power of selection: If you do a good job in selecting what you need in order to accommodate your self-imposed constraints, you will appear to be in control of your medium, rather than the reverse.


National Geographic (Nov. 2017)

Their skulls, ornamented with crests and keels, and those great, gaping mouths achieved proportions Habib calls “ridiculous,” even “stupid.” … Pterosaurs, he told his questioner at that talk, “were giant flying murder heads.”

Richard Conniff, “Weirdest Wonders on Wings”