But why this incessant search for meaning or interpretation? […] Music can have wonderful, formal, quasi-mathematical perfection, and it can have heartbreaking tenderness, poignancy, and beauty (Bach, of course, was a master at combining these). But it does not have to have any “meaning” whatever. One may recall music, give it the life of imagination (or even hallucination) simply because one likes it – this is reason enough.
Consciousness is both the most obvious and the most mysterious feature of our minds.
“I’d like to know if I could compare you to a summer’s day. Because–well, June 12th was quite nice, and… Oh. You’ve gone…”
Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It’s when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual.
It’s important to understand that while honor is an entitlement to respect–and shame comes when you lose that title–a person of honor cares first of all not about being respected but about being worthy of respect. Someone who just wants to be respected won’t care whether he is really living up to the code; he will just want to be thought to be living up to it. … For the honorable person, honor itself is the thing that matters, not honor’s rewards.
It ought to be an offense to be excruciating and unfunny in circumstances where your audience is almost morally obliged to enthuse.
In May I received an anonymous Mother’s Day card. This puzzled me. I would have noticed if I had ever had children, surely?
In October I found a notice saying, “Normal Service Will Be Resumed as Soon as Possible. Honest,” taped to the side of the goldfish tank. Two of the goldfish appeared to have been taken and replaced by identical substitutes.
In April I found a note on my bedside table apologizing for the problems in service, and assuring me that henceforward all faults in the universe had been remedied forever. WE APOLOGIZE OF THE INCONVENIENTS, it concluded.
In May I received another Mother’s Day card.
May tale, “A Calendar of Tales”
Elegance is more than just a frill in life; it is one of the driving criteria behind survival. Elegance is just another way of talking about getting at the essence of situations.
No person entering the third millennium may claim to have a liberal education who has not glimpsed, however briefly, the universe of general relativity.
The purpose of education is to learn to tell the truth, and mathematics—if taught for its own sake—promotes this end by helping students to sharpen their intuition, to learn to reason better, to recognize valid reasoning, and to write and say more precisely what they intend. Such an education is essential to freedom, for without knowing how to tell the truth one is easily boxed in by sophistries. … Nothing is more abhorrent to Plato than the Sophists who use their art of persuasion to empower themselves through deliberately deceptive arguments with no concern for truth or other ultimate ends such as goodness and beauty.