Friday, December 30, 2022

Quotes in 'The Art of Insight'

All my books contain quotes prefacing sections and chapters. These quotes are deliberately chosen to be connected to the themes I write about, or to subtly hint things without saying them explicitly. Below I've collected the quotes in the first third of The Art of Insight, which I'm finishing these days:

Take advice to ditch all adverbs lightly. —Ursula K. Le Guin

Enjoy and have others enjoy, without doing harm to yourself or anyone else; that is all there is to morality. —Nicolas Chamfort

I have sought only reasons to transcend our darkest nihilism. Not, I would add,  through virtue, nor because of some rare elevation of the spirit, but from an instinctive fidelity to a light in which I was born, and in which for thousands of years men have learned to welcome life even in suffering. —Albert Camus

Being a person is not a goal that can be achieved but a purpose to be sustained. —Martin Hägglund

It is not doctrines that console us in the end, but people: their example, their singularity, their courage and steadfastness, their being with us when we need them the most. In dark times, nothing so abstract as faith in History, Progress, Salvation, or Revolution will do us much good. These are doctrines. It is people we need, people whose examples show us what it means to go on, to keep going, despite everything. —Michael Ignatieff

The lover of life’s not a sinner. —Black Sabbath

To live well is to cope with the ways in which life is hard while finding enough in one’s life worth wanting. —Kieran Setiya

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. —Popularly, and probably posthumously attributed to Somerset Maugham

There are no absolute truths, there is nothing Good, Bad, True, Beautiful, or Just in itself, but only relatively, evaluated according to a clear and distinct plan [...] Think in terms of action, and base your actions on the effects they will have. —Michel Onfray

The word [normal] uses a power as old as Aristotle to bridge the fact/value distinction, whispering in your ear that what is normal is also right. —Ian Hacking

[There’s a] difference between defining beauty and defining what beauty does in the body. The latter question belongs to the realm of aesthetics, the study of bodies in proximity to beauty. —Chloé Cooper Jones

To cultivate [the] diverse elements of our existence means to nurture them as we would a garden. Just as a garden needs to be protected, tended, and cared for, so do ethical integrity, focused awareness, and understanding [...] There is no room for complacency, for they all bear a tag that declares: “Cultivate Me.” —Stephen Batchelor

Trees fall with spectacular crashes. But planting is silent and growth is invisible. —Richard Powers

We are ready to question the impersonality of a merely technical approach to data and to begin designing ways to connect numbers to what they really stand for: knowledge, behaviors, people. —Giorgia Lupi

I think of the wood warbler, a small citrus-colored bird fast disappearing from British forests. It is one thing to show the statistical facts about this species’ decline. It is another thing to communicate to people what experience of a wood that is made of light and leaves and song becomes something less complex, less magical, just less, once the warblers are gone. —Helen MacDonald

Objectivity of whatever kind is not the test of reality. It is just one way of understanding reality [...] Sometimes, in the philosophy of mind but also elsewhere, the truth is not to be found by travelling as far away from one persona perspective as possible. —Thomas Nagel