“Biography first convinces us of the fleeing of the Biographied.”

–Emily Dickinson

Tagged , ,


“Finally, of course, I am very struck by the fact that once you introduce the system of the law as a device (the protection of the status quo by legal means), you finish up not with society against criminals but with two gangs: one called the police and the other called the criminals. The police wear a different kind of hat, but they have now become an army. I am, for instance, very unpleasantly struck by the fact that in my home state of California the policemen look as if they were soldiers. Policemen are not soldiers, they are guardians of the law. They are not in a campaign against crime.”

                                          –Jacob Bronowski, Silliman Memorial Lectures (1967)

Tagged , ,

Proper Lead

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

                                                                                          –Mark Twain

Tagged ,


“Yet who reads to bring about an end, however desirable? Are there not some pursuits that we practise because they are good in themselves, and some pleasures that are final? And is not this among them? I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards—their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble—the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.'”

                                                                                     –Virginia Woolf

Tagged ,


“The imagination is an exaggerating and exclusive faculty: it takes from one thing to add to another: it accumulates circumstances together to give the greatest possible effect to a favourite object. The understanding is a dividing and measuring faculty: it judges of things, not according to their immediate impression on the mind, but according to their relations to one another. The one is a monopolizing faculty, which seeks the greatest quantity of present excitement by inequality and disproportion; the other is a distributive faculty, which seeks the greatest quantity of ultimate good, by justice and proportion. The one is an aristocratical, the other a republican faculty.”

                                                                                  –William Hazlitt

Tagged ,

“Listen to my hands”

“Listening is still the key.”

                    –Jim Hall

Tagged , ,


“Most people say that the purpose of poetry is communication: that sounds as if one could be contented simply by telling somebody whatever it is one has noticed, felt or perceived. I feel it is a kind of permanent communication better called preservation, since one’s deepest impulse in writing (or, I must admit, painting or composing) is to my mind not ‘I must tell everybody about that’ (ie responsibility towards other people) but ‘I must stop that from being forgotten if I can’ (ie responsibility towards subject).”

                                                                      –Philip Larkin

Tagged ,

Heroic Prose

“For why be discouraged, one of the thieves was saved, that is a generous percentage.”

“Why not piety and pity both, even down below? Why not mercy and Godliness together? A little mercy in the stress of sacrifice, a little mercy to rejoice against judgement.”

                                                             –Samuel Beckett

Tagged ,

Readers’ Advisory

“The mechanical devices that supposedly bring us together—television and the press, the telephone and the computer network—do so on a level and in a manner that are anything but nourishing to the spirit.” (Jacques Barzun)

“If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.” (Ernest Hemingway)

Tagged , ,

I.M. Geoffrey HIll

“So it is required; so we bear witness…”

Tagged , ,