"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

It's all noted in our genes. God toys with us; He experiments with us in a test of reward and punishment, omniscience and free choice..... For me there also awaits somewhere an ovary and a womb that will give birth to my son or daughter. God is the sum total not only of all deeds but also of all the possibilities.

[On free will and fate in God.: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile: An Autobiographical Trilogy]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.25.2009

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There are no evil things. Death which man fears most is a great joy and a blessing to the just.

[There are no evil things.: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile: An Autobiographical Trilogy]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.25.2009

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"Everything man loves was created by the Almighty. Even the heretics love God. If a fruit is good and you love it, then you love the Creator of all the fruits since He invested it with all its flavor..... The sage recognizes the source of all the good things and he loves that source. When the fruit rots, you no longer love it, and when the woman grows old and sickly, the lecher runs from her. The fool will not give any thought to where everything stems from."

[Love God's creation is another way of loving God.: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile: An Autobiographical Trilogy]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.25.2009

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I have always imagined that Paradise will be some sort of library.

[The delight on knowing I am not alone in my little "paradise".: Jorge Luis Borges, ]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.24.2009

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Rape is a crime against sleep and memory; it's afterimage imprints itself like an irreversible image from the camera obscura of dreams,

[On rape.: Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.24.2009

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We have made a god of evolution, taking it not merely as a scientific rule but as a necessity that can't be stopped, hindered, or modified.

[On how evolution has become holy.: Thomas More, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.24.2009

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Every soul, big or small, the moment it passed the process of being cleansed in the fires of hell, found a place in Paradise-- each according to its origin and its deeds. All the heavens, all the upper worlds, all the spheres, all the angels and souls, were concerned with one thing-- to learn the secrets of the Torah, since God and the Torah and those who believed in the Torah, the Jews, were one and the same.... God Himself studied the Torah; that is to say, He studied His own depths. All the heavens, the entire entirety, were one great yeshivah.

[On paradise in the Torah.: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile: An Autobiographical Trilogy]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.23.2009

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Every human character appears only once in the history of human beings. And so does every event of love.

[On the event of love.: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile: An Autobiographical Trilogy]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.23.2009

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Without the Torah, the world would not exist. With the letters of the Torah, God has created Heaven and Earth.

[On the creation of the Word.: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile: An Autobiographical Trilogy]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.23.2009

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The new man seeks to triumph over the exigencies of human existence, but kneels before the altar of a vague god which he calls "nature." Nature is the glue that binds the new man to his former self. Nature serves as a formidable substitute for his lack of a genuine human core. The new man wants us to believe that nature makes no demands on us. The new man craves sophomoric abstractions. These abstractions are tailored to the fulfillment and satisfaction of his many irrational desires. Happiness at all cost. This is his panacea. Flexibility defines the paradoxical nature of the new man's ever expanding embrace of anti-values. The new man is never spontaneous. Instead, he thinks of himself as an innovator – except that this, too, he attacks self-consciously. The new man is cooler, chicer than man has ever been. Modish values are always on his radarscope. It appears that this entity only lives to promote fashionable emotions. This anti-historical entity has made himself into a straw god. Yet like the spouse that is the last to know, the new man does not suspect that he has already attained the status of post-humanity. Of course, the new man does not view himself as such. On the contrary, he sees himself as being on the cutting-edge of "progressive" enlightenment, of belonging to the next great wave of the future. Sadly, the new man ignores the meaning and history of the word progressive. "If God ever existed," the new man consoles himself, "it certainly would resemble me."

[On the "new man" and CS Lewis. : Pedro Blas Gonzalez, "Some Aspects of the New Man", The Intellectual Conservative, 31 March 2009]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.13.2009

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Our happiness during this final stage of our journey was so unruffled, so calm, that I can no longer recount any of it. The most beautiful works of men are implacably sorrowful. What would a narrative of happiness be like? All that can be described is what prepares it, and then what destroys it.

[On the missing narrative of happiness.: Andre Gide, The Immortalist]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.12.2009

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The latomie are ancient stone quarries, now public parks. Prosperina is the Latin form of Persephone, the earth goddess' daughter abducted by the ruler of the underworld to become his consort. Grief over the abduction cause the nymph Cyane to be transformed into a spring.

[On the ancient stone quarries called "latomie".: Andre Gide, The Immortalist]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.12.2009

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To be able to free oneself is nothing; the hard part is being able to live with one's freedom.

[Freedom ain't easy.: Andre Gide, The Immortalist]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.12.2009

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We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.

[On how to deal with our dark spots.: Albert Camus, The Rebel]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.12.2009

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This is what links the camps of the Soviet Union and those of Nazi Germany in the most profound sense of all: both regimes legitimated themselves, in part, by establishing categories of “enemies” or “sub-humans” whom they persecuted and destroyed on a mass scale.

[On the creation of "sub-humans".: Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.12.2009

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