A Quote

posted 1 year ago contains 2 notes

The Dragon In My Garage

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage.”
Suppose… I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself….
“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle—but no dragon.
“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.
“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”
You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.
“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”
Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.
“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”
You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.
“Good idea, except she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.”
And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it is true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.

The only thing you’ve really learned from my insistence that there’s a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You’d wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I’ve seriously underestimated human fallibility…

Now another scenario: Suppose it’s not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you’re pretty sure don’t know each other, all tell you they have dragons in their garages—but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we’re disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I’d rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren’t myths after all…

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they’re never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself: On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon’s fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such “evidence”—no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it—is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.”

Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author (1934-1996), The Demon Haunted World, Random House, 1995.

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A Post

posted 2 years ago in Universe Knowledge Science Biography contains 19 notes

Dutch-Austrian-German nuclear physicist Fritz Houtermans and Robert d’Escourt Atkinson were the first two people to understand that thermonuclear reactions are the sun’s energy source (1929). There is a story about Houtermans and his girlfriend Charlotte Riefenstahl:

"One summer evening he was feeling exhilarated as he strolled down a quiet street in the old university town of Gottingen, Germany. His girlfriend was at his side. She sensed his mood, looked up at the night sky and said softly;
“Look up at the stars. Aren’t they beautiful?
“Yes, and right now, I’m the only man in the world who knows why they shine.

— Sources: Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe, pp 67-8, Radiation, Writing the Biography of a Living Scientist: Hans Bethe

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A Post

posted 3 years ago in Cognition relativity contains 1 note

Parable of the blind men and elephant (the manifold nature of truth)

"A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable". So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said "This being is like a drain pipe".

For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “I perceive the shape of the elephant to be like a pillar”. And in the case of the one who placed his hand upon its back said, “Indeed, this elephant is like a throne”.

Now, each of these presented a true aspect when he related what he had gained from experiencing the elephant. None of them had strayed from the true description of the elephant. Yet they fell short of fathoming the true appearance of the elephant.”

Two of the many references to this parable are found in Tattvarthaslokavatika of Vidyanandi (9th century) and Syādvādamanjari of Ācārya Mallisena (13th century). Mallisena uses the parable to argue that immature people deny various aspects of truth; deluded by the aspects they do understand, they deny the aspects they don’t  understand. “Due to extreme delusion produced on account of a partial viewpoint, the immature deny one aspect and try to establish another.

— The ancient Jain texts. Two of the many references to this parable are found in Tattvarthaslokavatika of Vidyanandi (9th century) and Syādvādamanjari of Ācārya Mallisena (13th century). ☞ See also: Anekantavada

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A Quote

posted 3 years ago in Funny Life Philosophy contains 17 notes and reblogged from amiquote

"Deep Thought computer’s” answer for the question about Life, the Universe, and Everything”

“They shrugged at each other. Fook composed himself. “O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us….” he paused, “The Answer.”
“The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?”
“Life!” urged Fook.
“The Universe!” said Lunkwill.
“Everything!” they said in chorus.
Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection.
“Tricky,” he said finally.
“But can you do it?”
Again, a significant pause.
“Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.”
“There is an answer?” said Fook with breathless excitement.
“Yes,” said Deep Thought. “Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer. But, I’ll have to think about it.”
Ford glanced impatiently at his watch.
“How long?” he said.
“Seven and a half million years.”
Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other.
“Seven and a half million years!” they cried in chorus.
“Yes.” said Deep Thought.

[Seven and a half million years later…. Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their ancestors continue what they started]

“We are the ones who will hear,” said Phouchg, “the answer to the great question of Life….!” “The Universe…!” said Loonquawl.
“And Everything…!”
“Shhh,” said Loonquawl with a slight gesture. “I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!” There was a moment’s expectant pause while panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.

“Good Morning,” said Deep Thought at last.
“Er..good morning, O Deep Thought” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…”
“An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.”
The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.
“There really is one?” breathed Phouchg.
“There really is one,” confirmed Deep Thought.
“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?”
“Yes.”
Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl.
“I am.”
“Now?”
“Now,” said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.
“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.”
“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”
“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.
“Yes! Now…”
“All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.
“Tell us!”
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Yes..!”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Yes…!”
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Yes…!”
“Is…”
“Yes…!!!…?”
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Harmony Books, 1980

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A Quote

posted 3 years ago in Artists Biography contains 16 notes

'You are interested in Van Gogh?'

‘Very much.’

‘Why?’

‘He was a great painter.’

‘So they say. I haven’t seen any of his pictures.’

His bony finger taps the empty glass. I fill it obediently.

‘Well then. Van Gogh. He is dead.’

‘But you knew him.’

‘No one knew him. He lived alone, like a dog. People were afraid of him.’

‘Why?’

‘He ran around in the fields with these huge canvases. Boys used to throw stones at him. I didn’t. I was too small. Three or four.’

‘So you didn’t like him?’

‘He was very funny. His hair was like a carrot.’

The old man burst out laughing. He laughs long, heartily and with satisfaction.

‘He was a very funny man. Il était drôle. His hair was like a carrot. I remember it well. You could see it from a distance.’ That is more or less the end of the little man’s memories about the prophet.

(…)

The patron did not know the master, but he remembers a family story often told by his mother. One afternoon this crazy painter rushed into their vineyard shouting for them to buy a painting. They barely managed to shove him beyond the gate. ‘He wanted only fifty francs,’ the patron concludes with a deep melancholy.”

Zbigniew Herbert, Barbarian in the Garden (1962), “Arles”, tr. Michael March & Jaroslaw Anders, Manchester: Carcanet, 1985, pp. 31-32. (via msodradek)

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A Quote

posted 3 years ago in Traveling Curiosity Life Future contains 8 notes and reblogged from amiquote

(Marco Polo travelling, Miniature from the Book The Travels of Marco Polo" (“Il milione”), originally published during Polos lifetime c. 1254 - January 8, 1324)

Marco Polo imagined answering (or Kublai Khan imagined his answer) that the more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there; and he retraced the stages of his journey, and he came to know the port from which he had set sail, and the familiar places of his youth, and the surroundings of home, and a little square of Venice where he gamboled as a child.

At this point Kublai Khan interrupted him or imagined interrupting him, or Marco Polo imagined himself interrupted, with a question such as: “You advance always with your head turned back?” or “Is what you see always behind you?” or rather “Does your journey take place only in the past?”

All this so that Marco Polo could explain or imagine explaining or be imagined explaining or succeed finally in explaining to himself that what he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveler’s past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past. Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.

Marco enters a city; he sees someone in a square living a life or an instant that could be his; he could now be in that man’s place, if he had stopped in time, long ago; or if, long ago, at a crossroads, instead of taking one road he had taken the opposite one, and after long wandering he had come to be in the place of that man in that square. By now, from that real or hypothetical past of his, he is excluded; he cannot stop; he must go on to another city, where another of his pasts awaits him, or something perhaps that had been a possible future of his and is now someone else’s present. Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.

“Journeys to relive your past?” was the Khan’s question at this point, a question which could also have been formulated: “Journeys to recover your future?

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (translated by William Weaver)

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A Photo

posted 3 years ago in Creativity Dreams Mind brain contains 9 notes available in high-res and reblogged from mhsteger

(Photo: J. M. Barrie (born 9 May, 1860; died 19 June, 1937), pictured above in a 1906 photograph with Michael Llewelyn Davies (1900-1921), one of the inspirations for Barrie’s Lost Boys)

"I don’t know whether you have ever seen a map of a person’s mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child’s mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose. It would be an easy map if that were all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers, the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and so on, and either these are part of the island or they are another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing, especially as nothing will stand still.Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other’s nose, and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.’
— from J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1904)

(Photo: J. M. Barrie (born 9 May, 1860; died 19 June, 1937), pictured above in a 1906 photograph with Michael Llewelyn Davies (1900-1921), one of the inspirations for Barrie’s Lost Boys)

"I don’t know whether you have ever seen a map of a person’s mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child’s mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose. It would be an easy map if that were all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers, the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and so on, and either these are part of the island or they are another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing, especially as nothing will stand still.

Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other’s nose, and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.’

— from J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1904)

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A Quote

posted 3 years ago in Dreams Life contains 10 notes

“I’m the king of Salem,” the old man (Melchizedek) had said.

“Why would a king be talking with a shepherd?” the boy asked, awed and embarrassed.

“For several reasons. But let’s say that the most important is that you have succeeded in discovering your Personal Legend.”

The boy didn’t know what a person’s “Personal Legend” was.

“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.

“At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.”

None of what the old man was saying made much sense to the boy. But he wanted to know what the “mysterious force” was; the merchant’s daughter would be impressed when he told her about that!

“It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

“Even when all you want to do is travel? Or marry the daughter of a textile merchant?”

“Yes, or even search for treasure. The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist, New York: HarperCollins, 1998,  p. 21. Translated by Alan R. Clarke. Originally published in the Portuguese as O Alquimista, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Editora Rocco Ltd., 1988.

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A Quote

posted 3 years ago in Emotions Dreams Creativity contains 6 notes

Richard P. Feynman on watching himself fall asleep and dream

“Now to the philosophy class. The course was taught by an old bearded professor named Robinson, who always mumbled. I would go to the class, and he would mumble along, and I couldn’t understand a thing. The other people in the class seemed to understand him better, but they didn’t seem to pay any attention. I happened to have a small drill, about one-sixteenth-inch, and to pass the time in that class, I would twist it between my fingers and drill holes in the sole of my shoe, week after week.

Finally one day at the end of class, Professor Robinson went “wugga mugga mugga wugga wugga…” and everybody got excited! They were all talking to each other and discussing, so I figured he’d said something interesting, thank God! I wondered what it was?

I asked somebody, and they said, “We have to write a theme, and hand it in in four weeks.”

“A theme on what?”

“On what he’s been talking about all year.”

I was stuck. The only thing that I had heard during that entire term that I could remember was a moment when there came this upwelling, “muggawuggastreamofconsciousnessmugga wugga,” and phoom!—it sank back into chaos.

This “stream of consciousness” reminded me of a problem my father had given to me many years before. He said, “Suppose some Martians were to come down to earth, and Martians never slept, but instead were perpetually active. Suppose they didn’t have this crazy phenomenon that we have, called sleep. So they ask you the question: ‘How does it feel to go to sleep? What happens when you go to sleep? Do your thoughts suddenly stop, or do they move less aanndd lleeessss rraaaaapppppiidddddllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? How does the mind actually turn off?’”

I got interested. Now I had to answer this question: How does the stream of consciousness end, when you go to sleep?

So every afternoon for the next four weeks I would work on my theme. I would pull down the shades in my room, turn off the lights, and go to sleep. And I’d watch what happened when I went to sleep.

Then at night, I’d go to sleep again, so I had two times each day when I could make observations—it was very good!

At first I noticed a lot of subsidiary things that had little to do with falling asleep. I noticed, for instance, that I did a lot of thinking by speaking to myself internally. I could also imagine things visually.

Then, when I was getting tired, I noticed that I could think of two things at once. I discovered this when I was talking internally to myself about something, and while I was doing this, I was idly imagining two ropes connected to the end of my bed, going through some pulleys, and winding around a turning cylinder, slowly lifting the bed. I wasn’t aware that I was imagining these ropes until I began to worry that one rope would catch on the other rope, and they wouldn’t wind up smoothly. But I said, internally, “Oh, the tension will take care of that,” and this interrupted the first thought I was having, and made me aware that I was thinking of two things at once.

I also noticed that as you go to sleep the ideas continue, but they become less and less logically interconnected. You don’t notice that they’re not logically connected until you ask yourself, “What made me think of that?” and you try to work your way back, and often you can’t remember what the hell did make you think of that!

So you get every illusion of logical connection, but the actual fact is that the thoughts become more and more cockeyed until they’re completely disjointed, and beyond that, you fall asleep.

After four weeks of sleeping all the time, I wrote my theme, and explained the observations I had made. At the end of the theme I pointed out that all of these observations were made while I was watching myself fall asleep, and I don’t really know what it’s like to fall asleep when I’m not watching myself. I concluded the theme with a little verse I made up, which pointed out this problem of introspection:

I wonder why. I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder!

We hand in our themes, and the next time our class meets, the professor reads one of them: “Mum bum wugga mum bum…” I don’t know what that guy wrote either, but at the end of it, he goes:

Uh wugga wuh. Uh wugga wuh.
Uh wugga wugga wugga.
I wugga wuh uh wugga wuh
Uh wugga wugga wugga.

“Aha!” I say. “That’s my theme!” I honestly didn’t recognize it until the end.

After I had written the theme I continued to be curious, and I kept practicing this watching myself as I went to sleep. One night, while I was having a dream, I realized I was observing myself in the dream. I had gotten all the way down into the sleep itself!”

Richard P. Feynman in  Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman!”: adventures of a curious character, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997,  p. 46. First published New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1985. 1985. via Entersection

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A Quote

posted 3 years ago in Cognition relativity contains 7 notes

In the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were the truths and they were all beautiful. (…)

There was the truth of virginity and the truth of passion, the truth of wealth and of poverty, of thrift and of profligacy, of carelessness and abandon. Hundreds and hundreds were the truths and they were all beautiful.

And then the people came along. Each as he appeared snatched up one of the truths and some who were quite strong snatched up a dozen of them.

It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.

Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

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A Photo

posted 3 years ago in Nature contains 15 notes and reblogged from mhsteger

Jean Giono (born 30 March, 1895; died 8 October, 1970) pictured above with Lucien Jacques (1891-1961) (right) in the uplands of Provence, in a 1942 photograph.
From the opening of the third part of Song of the Earth (Le chant du monde), by Jean Giono (via mhsteger)

"It was the great disorder of spring.  The fir forests puffed up clouds from their trees.  The clearings smoked like ash-heaps.  The mist ascended across the fan-like branches; it emerged from the forest like smoke from a camp-fire.  As it hovered aloft, thousands of similar curls of mist hovered beneath the forest like thousands of camp-fires, as if all the gipsies in the work were camping there.  It was only spring rising out of the earth.Little by little the cloud of mist took on a dark colour, as if reflecting the heavy branches.  It also had the heaviness of that great mass of trees; it throbbed like them and carried the smell of their bark and of the ground.  It weighed down on the hollow vales, resting on a rim of new grass.The pastures, furrowed by new-born springs, sang a muffled, velvet song.  The tall trees creaked as they swayed to and fro like masts of ships.  A black wind arrived from the east.  It brought with it one storm after another and extraordinary sunlight.  The clouds in the vales throbbed under it, and then suddenly tore themselves away from their bed and bounded into the wind.  Heavy grey rains drove across the sky.  Everything was blurred over: mountains and forests.  The rain hung from the north wind like long hairs from the belly of a he-goat.  It sang in the trees and sailed noiselessly across the open pastures.  Then came the sun, a thick, three-coloured sun, more russet than a fox’s coat, and so heavy and hot that it quenched everything, noise and motion alike.  The wind rose in the sky.  Everything was steeped in silence.  The branches, as yet without leaves, sparkled with a thousand tiny silver flames, and under each flame a new bud swelled in a glittering raindrop.  At times, a heavy smell of sap and bark rose in the still air.  Rain that had already fallen started pattering from the branches to the ground.  The new rain drove through the firs.  The wind came down again with all its weight, and black splashes of rain swept across the sun, over the whole countryside lying beneath far-flung rainbows.”
— from The Song of the World (2000; originally published in 1934; translated from the French by Henri Fluchère, Geoffrey Myers)

Jean Giono (born 30 March, 1895; died 8 October, 1970) pictured above with Lucien Jacques (1891-1961) (right) in the uplands of Provence, in a 1942 photograph.

From the opening of the third part of Song of the Earth (Le chant du monde), by Jean Giono (via mhsteger)

"It was the great disorder of spring.  The fir forests puffed up clouds from their trees.  The clearings smoked like ash-heaps.  The mist ascended across the fan-like branches; it emerged from the forest like smoke from a camp-fire.  As it hovered aloft, thousands of similar curls of mist hovered beneath the forest like thousands of camp-fires, as if all the gipsies in the work were camping there.  It was only spring rising out of the earth.

Little by little the cloud of mist took on a dark colour, as if reflecting the heavy branches.  It also had the heaviness of that great mass of trees; it throbbed like them and carried the smell of their bark and of the ground.  It weighed down on the hollow vales, resting on a rim of new grass.

The pastures, furrowed by new-born springs, sang a muffled, velvet song.  The tall trees creaked as they swayed to and fro like masts of ships.  A black wind arrived from the east.  It brought with it one storm after another and extraordinary sunlight.  The clouds in the vales throbbed under it, and then suddenly tore themselves away from their bed and bounded into the wind.  Heavy grey rains drove across the sky.  Everything was blurred over: mountains and forests.  The rain hung from the north wind like long hairs from the belly of a he-goat.  It sang in the trees and sailed noiselessly across the open pastures.  Then came the sun, a thick, three-coloured sun, more russet than a fox’s coat, and so heavy and hot that it quenched everything, noise and motion alike.  The wind rose in the sky.  Everything was steeped in silence.  The branches, as yet without leaves, sparkled with a thousand tiny silver flames, and under each flame a new bud swelled in a glittering raindrop.  At times, a heavy smell of sap and bark rose in the still air.  Rain that had already fallen started pattering from the branches to the ground.  The new rain drove through the firs.  The wind came down again with all its weight, and black splashes of rain swept across the sun, over the whole countryside lying beneath far-flung rainbows.”


— from The Song of the World (2000; originally published in 1934; translated from the French by Henri Fluchère, Geoffrey Myers)

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A Quote

posted 4 years ago in Philosophy Tales contains 7 notes

Once upon a time there was a photographer. He was a splendid photographer; he did profiles and full-faces, three-quarter and full-length portraits; he could develop and fix, tone and print them. He was the deuce of a fellow! But he was always discontented, for he was a philosopher, a great philosopher and a discoverer. His theory was that the world was upside down. It was plainly proved by the plate in the developer. Everything that was on the right side of the original, now appeared on the left; everything that was dark, became light; light became shade; blue turned into white, and silver buttons looked as dark as iron. The world was upside down.

He had a partner, quite an ordinary man, full of petty characteristics. For instance, he smoked cigars all day long; he never shut a door; he put his knife into his mouth, instead of using his fork; he wore his hat in the room; he cleaned his nails in the studio, and in the evening he drank three glasses of beer.

He was full of faults!

The philosopher, on the other hand, was perfect, and therefore he nursed resentment against his imperfect brother; he would have liked to dissolve the partnership, but he could not, because their business held them together; and because they were bound to remain in partnership, the resentment of the philosopher turned into an unreasonable hatred. It was dreadful!

When the spring came they decided to take a lodging in a summer resort, and the partner was despatched to find one. He did find one. And one Saturday they departed together on a steamer.

The philosopher sat all day long on deck and drank punch. He was a very stout man and suffered from several things; his liver was out of order, and there was something wrong with his feet, perhaps rheumatism, or some similar disease. When they arrived, they crossed the bridge and went ashore.

“Is this the place?” asked the philosopher.

“A very little walk will take us there,” answered the partner.

They went along a footpath, full of roots, and the path ended abruptly before a stile. They had to climb over it. Then the road became stony, and the philosopher complained of his feet, but he forgot all about his pains when they came to another stile. After that, all trace of the road disappeared; they walked on the bare rock through shrubs and bilberry bushes.

Behind the third fence stood a bull, who chased the philosopher to the fourth stile, where he arrived in a bath of perspiration, which opened all the pores of his skin. When they had crossed the sixth stile, they could see the house. The philosopher went in and immediately stepped on to the verandah.

“Why are there so many trees?” he asked. “They interrupt the view.”

“But they shelter the house from the strong sea-breezes,” answered the partner.

“And the place looks like a churchyard; why, the house stands in the centre of a pine-wood.”

“A very healthy spot,” replied the partner.

Then they wanted to go and bathe. But there was no proper bathing-place, in the philosophical sense of the word. There was nothing but the stony ground and mud.

After they had bathed the philosopher felt thirsty, and wanted to drink a glass of water at the spring. It was of a reddish-brown colour, and had a peculiar, strong taste. It was no good. Nothing was any good. And meat was unobtainable, there was nothing to be had but fish.

The philosopher grew gloomy and sat down under a pumpkin to deplore his fate. But there was no help for it. He had to stay, and his partner returned to town to look after the business during his friend’s absence.

Six weeks passed and then the partner returned to his philosopher.

He was met on the bridge by a slender youth with red cheeks and a sunburnt neck. It was the philosopher, rejuvenated and full of high spirits.

He jumped over the six stiles and chased the bull.

When they were sitting on the verandah, the partner said to him:—

“You are looking very well, what sort of a time have you had?”

“Oh! an excellent time!” said the philosopher. “The fences have taken off my fat; the stones have massaged my feet; the mud-baths have cured me of my rheumatism; the plain food has cured my liver, and the pine-trees my lungs; and, could you believe it, the brown spring-water contained iron, just what I wanted!”

“Well, you old philosopher,” said the partner, “don’t you understand that from the negative you get a positive, where all the shade becomes light again? If you would only take such a positive picture of me and try and find out what faults I do not possess, you would not dislike me so much. Only think: I don’t drink, and therefore I am able to manage the business; I don’t steal; I never talk evil of you behind your back; I never complain; I never make white appear black; I am never rude to the customers; I rise early in the morning; I clean my nails so as to keep the developer clean; I leave my hat on so that no hairs shall fall on the plates; I smoke so as to purify the air of poisonous gases; I keep the door ajar so as not to make a noise in the studio; I drink beer in the evening so as to escape the temptation of drinking whisky; and I put the knife into my mouth because I am afraid of pricking myself with the fork.”

“You really are a great philosopher,” said the photographer, “henceforth we will be friends! Then we shall get on in life!”

August Strindberg, "Photographer and Philosopher" from In Midsummer Days, and Other Tales, 1900, (translated from the Swedish by Ellie Schleussner) (via mhsteger)

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A Photo

posted 4 years ago in Tales contains 48 notes available in high-res and reblogged from liquidnight

Tom Gauld - Characters for an Epic Tale (via Diskursdisko)

Tom Gauld - Characters for an Epic Tale (via Diskursdisko)

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A Photo

posted 4 years ago in Illustrations Paradoxes contains 6 notes available in high-res

(This manuscript - one of the British Library’s best - loved treasures - is the  original version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll,  the pen-name of Charles Dodgson, an Oxford mathematician.)


"Now for the evidence," said the King, "and then the sentence."
"No!" said the Queen, "first the sentence, and then the evidence!"
"Nonsense!" cried Alice, so loudly that everybody jumped, "the idea of having the sentence first!"

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground

(This manuscript - one of the British Library’s best - loved treasures - is the original version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, the pen-name of Charles Dodgson, an Oxford mathematician.)

"Now for the evidence," said the King, "and then the sentence."

"No!" said the Queen, "first the sentence, and then the evidence!"

"Nonsense!" cried Alice, so loudly that everybody jumped, "the idea of having the sentence first!"

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground

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A Quote

posted 4 years ago in Poetry Storytelling

Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale.

I have not seen thy sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter;
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy young life’s hearafter —
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.

A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing —
A simple chime, that served to time
The rhythm of our rowing —
Whose echoes live in memory yet,
Though envious years would say ‘forget’.

Come, hearken then, ere voice of dread,
With bitter tidings laden,
Shall summon to unwelcome bed
A melancholy maiden!
We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find out bedtime near.

Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
The storm-wind’s moody madness —
Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow
And childhood’s nest of gladness.
The magic words shall hold thee fast:
Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.

And though the shadow of a sigh
May tremble through the story,
For ‘happy summer days’ gone by,
And vanish’d summer glory —
It shall not touch with breath of bale
The pleasance of our fairy-tale.

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there

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“To be a person is to have a story to tell.“ — Isak Dinesen

“What makes humans unique, perhaps more than anything else, is that we are a linguistically adept story-telling species. That is why so many different forms of mythology have captivated our cultural imaginations since the dawn of recorded history.
We are a linguistically adept story-telling species because telling stories is one of the chief ways we give shape to our experience and thus ultimately direct our behavior. As Terrence Deacon puts it, “We tell stories about our real experiences and invent stories about imagined ones, and we even make use of these stories to organize our lives. In a real sense, we live our lives in this shared virtual world”
Joe Carroll, The Adaptive Function of Literature and the Other Arts

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