|Can a smoker smell books? Paul's humor at work.|
|Can a smoker smell books? Paul's humor at work.|
Because, if you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people. Science has given us a lot of facts about the average person, and one of the most reliable of these facts is that the average person doesn’t see herself as average. Most students see themselves as more intelligent than the average student, most business managers see themselves as more competent than the average business manager, and most football players see themselves as having better “football sense” than their teammates. Ninety percent of motorists consider themselves to be safer-than-average drivers, and 94 percent of college professors consider themselves to be better-than-average teachers. Ironically, the bias toward seeing ourselves as better than average causes us to see ourselves as less biased than average, too. As one research team concluded, “Most of us appear to believe that we are more athletic, intelligent, organized, ethical, logical, interesting, fair-minded, and healthy—not to mention attractive—than the average person.”
This tendency to think of ourselves as better than others is not necessarily a manifestation of our unfettered narcissism but may instead be an instance of a more general tendency to think of ourselves as different from others—often for better but sometimes for worse. When people are asked about generosity, they claim to perform a greater number of generous acts than others do; but when they are asked about selfishness, they claim to perform a greater number of selfish acts than others do. [Etc., etc.]
|Bookstores make for odd bedfellows|
|Frosted 2-layer cake|
|Piece of cake|
|Left after first night|
The moving of stones is the course of history, and of rubble and forgetting.
– W. S. Merwin, The Mays of Ventadorn (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2002)
The thicket of brambles had grown over the path to the front door, which faced south toward the road, and had made its way up onto the roof, into the tiles. To the left of the parched front door buried in its thorny tangle, another, older doorway, like a barn entrance, had been bricked up.... I peered through the hole into the half-dark of an empty, ruined room.
Stones lie wherever they are as though they had always been there. Our awareness of our own pace in time keeps us from recognizing that the motions of stones are akin to those of snowflakes and molecules, and to us the moment in which they lie seems like an unchanging condition, and they come to exemplify permanence. So the Venus de Milo looks to us as tough she had never had arms at all, and the ruin appears to have been the truth of the chateau from the beginning.
...the awareness of the deep past was inseparable from the lure of the land, which soon held me there, and the structures themselves appeared to me as palimpsests of unsounded age....
“All events are linked together in the best of all possible worlds; for after all, if you had not been expelled from a fine castle with great kicks in the backside for love of Mademoiselle Cunégonde, if you had not been subjected to the Inquisition, if you had not traveled about America on foot, if you had not given the Baron a great blow with your sword, if you had not lost all your sheep from the good country of Eldorado, you would not be here eating candied citrons and pistachios.”
“That is very well said,” replied Candide, “but we must cultivate our garden.”
“Men,” said the angel Jesrad, “pass judgment on everything without knowing anything; of all men you were the one who most deserved to be enlightened.”
Zadig asked his permission to speak. “I mistrust myself,” he said, “but may I venture to ask you to clear up one doubt for me? Would it not have been better to have corrected that child and made him virtuous than to drown him?”
Jesrad replied, “If he had been virtuous and if he had lived, his destiny was to be assassinated himself, together with the wife he was to marry and the child that was to be born to them.”
“But,” said Zadig, “what? Then it is necessary that there be crimes and misfortunes? And the misfortunes fall on the good!”
“The wicked,” replied Jesrad, “are always unhappy. They serve to test a small number of just men scattered over the earth, and there is no evil out of which some good is not born.”
“But,” said Zadig, “what if there were nothing but good, and no evil?”
“Then,” replied Jesrad, “this earth would be another earth, the chain of events would be another order of wisdom; and that other order, which would be perfect, can exist only in the eternal abode of the Supreme Being, whom evil cannot approach. He has created millions of worlds, not one of which can resemble another. This immense variety is an attribute of his immense power. There are not two leaves of a tree on earth, or two globes in the infinite fields of the heavens, that are alike; and everything you see on the little atom on which you were born had to be, in its appointed place and time, according to the immutable orders of him who embraces all. Men think that this child who has just perished fell into the water by chance, that it was by a similar chance that that house burned down; but there is no chance; all is test, or punishment, or reward, or foreseeing."
That is why I have called my paper a consideration, a word which first meant seeing the stars together as significant constellations, in relation to one another.
Her first impression was that he was the picture of gloom—dressed in shabby clerical garb, a dark look on his crinkled face, doubtless a volume of dusty sermons clutched in his ancient hand.
“I only felt that if Sir John Middleton were a more affable sort – the type to throw parties or host picnics – your younger characters might be thrown together with more frequency.”
“I confess I had not yet given much thought to the character of Sir John,” said Jane. “But I think you are right. And it should not take much rewriting to set him on a course to host picnics and balls aplenty.”
Almost without thinking ... Sophie had walked to Cecil Court, a short pedestrian lane between Charing Cross Road and St. Martin’s Lane that was lined on both sides with bookshops. Cecil Court, with its rows of tall glass windows framed by green painted woodwork and filled with displays of every type of book imaginable, was the heart of London’s secondhand book trade. The world seemed to move more slowly here....
“If you mail a rare stamp it becomes worthless. If you drink a bottle of rare wine, you’re left with some recycling. But if you read a rare book it’s still there, it’s still valuable, and it’s achieved the full measure of its being. A book is to be read, whether it’s worth five pounds or five thousands pounds.”