Gems from a life of Reading

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Think Like a Freak (Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner)
– Highlight on page 160 | Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 9:05 AM

[in answering the question of why scammers say they are from Nigeria when this is a well-known scam]

“If your first instinct was to think that the Nigerian scammers are stupid, perhaps you have been convinced as Cormac Herley was, that this is exactly the kind of stupid we should all aspire to be. Their ridiculous e-mails are in fact quite brilliant at getting the scammers’ massive garden to weed itself.”

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Think Like a Freak (Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner)
– Highlight on page 104 | Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 9:01 AM

[after explaining why kids are often harder to deceive with magic tricks than adults, then finally mentioning that their height gives them a different vantage point]

“…This is a perfectly Freakish illustration of how, by seeing things from a literally new angle, you can sometimes gain an edge in solving a problem.”

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Think Like a Freak (Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner)
– Highlight on page 88 | Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 8:59 AM

“Kids are not afraid to share their wildest ideas. As long as you can tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one, generating a boatload of ideas, even outlandish ones, can only be a good thing. When it comes to generating ideas, the economic concept of “free disposal” is key. Come up with a terrible idea? – no problem, just don’t act on it.”

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Think Like a Freak (Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner)
– Highlight on page 50 | Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 8:56 AM

“…a mountain of evidence suggests that teacher skill has less influence on a student’s performance than a completely different se of factors: namely, how much kids have learned from their parents, how hard they work at home, and weather the parents have instilled an appetite for education.”

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Think Like a Freak (Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner)
– Highlight on page 27-28 | Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 8:50 AM

“But let’s say you are excellent at a given thing, a true master of your domain… Does this mean you are also more likely to excel in a different domain?

A sizable body of research says the answer is no. The takeaway here is simple but powerful: just because you’re great at something doesn’t mean you’re good at everything. Unfortunately, this fact is routinely ignored by those who engage in … ultracrepidarianism or the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge or competence.”

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In Pursuit of the Unknown (Ian Stewart)
– Highlight on page 204 | Saturday, June 7, 2014, 11:36 AM

“Entropy is like heat: it is defined in terms of a change in state… Ththe difference in entropy between [two] states is the total change in the quntityt” heat divided by temperature’. for a small step along the path between the states, entropy S is related to heat q and temp T by the differential equation dS = dq/dT. The change in entropy is the change in heat per unity temperature…

“The second law says: the entropy of isolated systems must always increase. dS>=0.”

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In Pursuit of the Unknown (Ian Stewart)
– Highlight on page 282 | Saturday, June 7, 2014, 11:29 AM

“Edwin Jaynes, an expert in statistical mechanics, summed up the relationship: thermodynamic entropy itself should not be identified with missing information without specifying the right context… Just as entropy increase places constrains on the efficiency of steam engines, the entropic interpretation of information places constraints on the efficiency of computations. For example, it must take at least 5.8 x 10^-23 Joules of energy to flip a bit from 0 to 1 or vice versa… (at the temperature of helium, method independent.)”

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In Pursuit of the Unknown (Ian Stewart)
– Highlight on page 320 | Saturday, June 7, 2014, 11:22 AM

“Some scientists, especially those with backgrounds in computing think it’s time we abandoned traditional equations altogether, especially continuum ones like ordinary differential equations. The future is discrete, it comes in whole numbers, and the equations should give way to algorithms…”

“…it is still entirely credible that we might soon find new laws of nature based on discrete, digital structures and systems. The future may consist of algorithms…”

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Designing the Internet of Things (Adrian McEwen & Hakim Cassimally)
– Highlight on page 37 | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 11:22 AM

“Affordances provide strong clues to the operations of things… When affordances are taken advantage of, the user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, label, or instructions required. Complex things may require expiration, but simple things should not….” – The Design of Everyday Things, MIT PRESS, 1988

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Designing the Internet of Things (Adrian McEwen & Hakim Cassimally)
– Note on page 36 | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 11:19 AM

The idea of “Graceful Degradation” is beautiful and should also be one of the many considerations when designing something.

“This technique involves aiming to provide a fully featured experience if the client is capable of it but then falling back – potentially in a number of levels – to a less feature-rich experience on less capable clients.”

A more relatable example might be that when escalators break, they become stairs.

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Designing the Internet of Things (Adrian McEwen & Hakim Cassimally)
– Hightlight on page 27 | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 9:23 AM

For a technology to be adopted, it has to make its way inside the manufactured normalcy field. As a result, the successful user-experience designer is the one who presents users with an experience which doesn’t stretch the boundaries of their particular normalcy field too far, even if the underlying technology being employed is a huge leap ahead of the norm.

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Designing the Internet of Things (Adrian McEwen & Hakim Cassimally)
– Note on page 26 | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 9:18 AM

Re: Calm and Ambient Technology

Designing with this in mind leads to ideas like the wall-mounted LED-embedded local map. This can be optimized for bike rental availability (or set the default to the most common question: busses, trains, traffic, etc.) Include some type of interaction for: is coffee open anywhere? Food?

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Designing the Internet of Things (Adrian McEwen & Hakim Cassimally)
– Note on page 3 | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 9:13 AM

Experience Design – taking the perspective of the user as the focus and optimize the best solution from there

Service Design – Broadest view of the system in its entirety

Interaction Design – Focusing on the interaction of the various parts of the system

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Turing’s Cathedral (George Dyson)
– Highlight on page 3 | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 9:05 AM

A digital universe – whether 5 kilobytes or the entire Internet – consists of two species of bits: differences in space, and differences in time. Digital computers translate between these two forms of information – structure and sequence –
according to definite rules. Bits that are embodied as structure (varying in space, invariant across time) we perceive as memory, and bits that are embodied as sequence (varying in time, invariant across space) we perceive as code. Gates are the intersections where bits span both worlds at the moments of transition from one instant to the next.

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Turing’s Cathedral (George Dyson)
– Highlight on page xv | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 9:01 AM

The use of bd for binary digit dates this piece of paper… before the abbreviation of binary digit to bit.

“In the beginning ,” according to Neal Stephenson, “was the command line.”

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Turing’s Cathedral (George Dyson)
– Highlight on page xi | Saturday, April 19, 2014, 8:59 AM

In answering the Entscheidungsproblem, Turing proved that there is no systematic way to tell, by looking at a code, what that code will do.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 68 | Sunday, April 8, 2014, 7:05 PM

As a rule a neologism needs fie years of solid evidence for admission to the cannon. … Once added, a word cannot come out.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Note on page 84 – 133 | Sunday, April 8, 2014, 7:17 PM

In the seventeenth-century, a species of number were invented, called logarithm. “It was number as tool.”

Charles Babbage thinks about steam and/or the “work” involved with computation. This is the first conception of the “speed of acomputer”. Think about a mechanical umber machine. A transmission meets a clock and notice the units of “speed”: rotations or cycles per second.

He thought it must operate faster than human thought!

He says knowledge is power, literally. Knowledge is the generator of physical force.

Calculation is the application of science to the art of life!

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 68 | Sunday, April 8, 2014, 7:05 PM

As a rule a neologism needs fie year sod solid evidence for admission to the cannon. … Once added, a word cannot come out.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 66 | Sunday, April 8, 2014, 7:03 PM

The dictionary…implies that all words, taken together, form an interlocking structure: interlocking, because all words are defined in terms of other words.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 32 | Sunday, April 8, 2014, 7:00 PM

There is a progression from pictographic, writing the picture; to ideographic, writing the idea; and then logographic, writing the word.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 26 | Sunday, March 17, 2014, 11:34 PM

H = n log(S)

Where ‘H’ is the amount of information. ’n’ is the number of symbols in a message and finally ’S’ is the total number of symbols in the language.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 25 | Monday, March 17, 2014, 11:33 PM

[w/r/t African Talking Drums]

“…allocate extra bits for disambiguation and error correction.”

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 23 | Sunday, March 16, 2014, 5:52 PM

[paraphrased]

the phoneme – The smallest acoustic unit that makes a difference in [a word’s] meaning.

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 10 | Sunday, March 16, 2014, 5:50 PM

“The whole universe is thus seen as a computer-a cosmic information-processing machine.”

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The Information: A history, a theory, a flood (James Gleick)
– Highlight on page 4 | Sunday, March 16, 2014, 5:49 PM

[paraphrased]

Bit – A unit for measuring information. (Claude Shannon)

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 7 | Loc. 216-18 | Added on Thursday, June 23, 2011, 03:38 AM

Silence is only supposed to happen as a manifestation of supreme actualization, where both parties are so at peace with their emotional connection that it cannot be expressed through the rudimentary tools of the lexicon; otherwise, silence is proof that the magic is gone and the relationship is over (hence the phrase “We just don’t talk anymore”).

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Philosophy Now (Anja Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 810-11 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 04:28 PM

forced by the deliberate oddness of his words to stop trying to understand them in the usual ‘everyday’ way, and let the meaning show itself to me.

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Philosophy Now (Anja Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 955-56 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 04:32 PM

Wittgenstein wrote that the aim of his philosophy was “to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle”

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The Wise (derKi Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 65-67 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 04:53 PM

The sun and the moon acted as reliable guides from the very beginning: They soon discovered the phases of the moon and its cycle; then noticed the sun’s voyage on the eastern horizon between far north and far south which allowed them to mark the equinoxes and the solstices.

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The Wise (derKi Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 98-99 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 04:55 PM

Simply, precession is the movement of the rotational axis of the earth that completes its cycle in approximately 26,000 years.

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The Wise (derKi Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 584-85 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 05:54 PM

In moments of deep perception, you may become aware of the role of consciousness in creating our own reality.

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The Wise (derKi Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 788-90 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 06:00 PM

After all the efforts I put into my own enlightenment, I understand that enlightenment is to know how precious life is. We should blend with life as much as we can. Life is a great balancing act, and we are enlightened as long as we keep this balance.

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The Wise (derKi Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 808 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 06:01 PM

Nothing changes unless we internalize what we read and apply it in our lives. So you read a book. So what?

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The Wise (derKi Publications)
– Highlight Loc. 898-99 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 06:03 PM

People with unrealized dreams are those who have yet to make up their minds. Your dreams cannot come true if you have nothing clear in your mind.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 13 | Loc. 309-12 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 06:08 PM

My goal—and probably the initial goal of most people who buy The Sims—was to create a perfect replica of the life I already have. I would build a character who looked just like me, and I would name him “Chuck Klosterman.” I would design his home exactly like my own, and I would have him do all the things I do every day. Perhaps I unconsciously assumed I would learn something about myself through this process, although I have no idea what that could possibly be.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 14 | Loc. 323-26 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 06:10 PM

The same goes for anyone who claims to be “creative.” If you define your personality as creative, it only means you understand what is perceived to be creative by the world at large, so you’re really just following a rote creative template. That’s the opposite of creativity. Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all the time.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 15 | Loc. 336-37 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 06:13 PM

Seinfeld was about nothing, but its underlying message was that nothingness still has a weight and a mass and a conflict.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 36 | Loc. 685-86 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 10:02 PM

Within the reality of one specific fiction, how do other fictions exist?

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 41 | Loc. 795 | Added on Friday, June 24, 2011, 10:09 PM

Big Brother was a failed experiment, and I know why: They don’t use music.

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A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole)
– Highlight Loc. 3477 | Added on Sunday, June 26, 2011, 04:32 PM

Every asylum in this nation is filled with poor souls who simply cannot stand lanolin, cellophane, plastic, television, and subdivisions.”

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 70 | Loc. 1286-91 | Added on Sunday, June 26, 2011, 09:38 PM

Certainly, there is a formula to being relentlessly dynamic. There’s a shockingly simple equation to being über-interesting, and it works with every subject imaginable. The formula is as follows: When discussing any given issue, always do three things. First, make an intellectual concession (this makes the listener feel comfortable). Next, make a completely incomprehensible—but remarkably specific—“cultural accusation” (this makes you insightful). Finally, end the dialogue by interjecting slang lexicon that does not necessarily exist (this makes you contemporary).

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A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole)
– Highlight Loc. 4056-57 | Added on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 08:35 PM

Because it was Saturday, Levy Pants had ceased its assaults upon the concept of free enterprise for the weekend.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 142-44 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 12:09 PM

(From Note No. 3281, “Note on These Notes”: “Practice turning whatever pain or plainness you’re feeling or that’s feeling you into something Better. Learn some handicraft . . . that gets you out of bed, rising, shining, showing all your better self—the one that reaches and is reached in turn by the better selves lodged within the selves around you.”)

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 860-68 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:15 PM

“What you do is more important than what you say,” Greg Blatt, who is the C.E.O. of I.A.C., and a former C.E.O. of Match.com, told me. (Blatt not only runs the company; he’s also a client. He is one of those guys who say they enjoy dating.) You may specify that you’d like your date to be blond or tall or Jewish or a non-smoking Democrat, but you may have a habit of reaching out to pot-smoking South Asian Republicans. This is called “revealed preference,” and it is the essential element in Match’s algorithmic process. Match knows what’s right for you—even if it doesn’t really know you. After taking stock of your stated and revealed preferences, the software finds people on the site who have similar dissonances between the two, and uses their experiences to approximate what yours should be. You may have sent introductory messages to only two people, and marked a few others with a wink—a nonverbal expression of interest—but Match will have hundreds of people in its database who have done a lot more on the site, and whose behavior yours seems to resemble. From them, depending on the degree of correlation, the software extrapolates about you.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 915-16 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:20 PM

The dating profile, like the Facebook or Myspace profile, is a vehicle for projecting a curated and stylized version of oneself into the world.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 970-72 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:27 PM

the answer to the question “Do you like the taste of beer?” is more predictive than any other of whether you’re willing to have sex on a first date. (That is, people on OK Cupid who have answered yes to one are likely to have answered yes to the other.)

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 977-79 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:27 PM

He found that women generally prefer it when in photos men are looking away from the camera (hypothesis: less intimidating), and that men prefer the opposite (they want a woman’s full attention).

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 988 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:29 PM

To the extent that OK Cupid has any abiding faith, it is in mathematics.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 999-1001 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:31 PM

In no other milieu do so many people, from such a broad demographic swath, willingly answer so many intimate questions. It is a gold mine for social scientists. In the past nine months, OK Cupid has sold its raw data (redacted or made anonymous to protect the privacy of its customers) to half a dozen academics.

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
– Highlight on Page 51 | Loc. 789-92 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 02:37 PM

Finally, in the nineteenth century, as the British Empire was increasingly expanding, several English scientists, admirals, and merchants believed that an institution was needed to create a map of the world based on observation rather than on imagination, an organization that detailed both the contours of the earth and everything that lay within them. And so, in 1830, the Royal Geographical Society of London was born.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 1012-13 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 03:46 PM

All four founders maintain profiles on OK Cupid, but they are all married, and they all met their wives the analogue way.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 1030-32 | Added on Friday, July 01, 2011, 03:48 PM

The Coynes’ marriage has a whiff of a phantom variable that the matching algorithms don’t seem to take into account: fate. Serendipity and coincidence are the photosynthesis of romance, hinting at some kind of supernatural preordination, the sense that two people are made for each other.

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
– Highlight on Page 76 | Loc. 1168-70 | Added on Saturday, July 02, 2011, 08:32 PM

Occasionally, Fawcett and Chivers came upon a footbridge—strung together with palmetto slats and cables—that stretched more than a hundred yards over a gorge and swung wildly in the wind, like a shredded flag. The mules, too scared to pass, had to be blindfolded.

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
– Highlight on Page 81 | Loc. 1257-58 | Added on Saturday, July 02, 2011, 08:42 PM

the longest officially recorded one is twenty-seven feet nine inches. (At that length, a single anaconda can still weigh over half a ton and, because of its elastic jaw muscles, swallow a deer whole.)

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
– Highlight on Page 95 | Loc. 1473-74 | Added on Saturday, July 02, 2011, 09:17 PM

If a member of the party fell overboard, he could not grab onto a raft without capsizing it. The only honorable course was to drown.

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
– Highlight on Page 251 | Loc. 4012-14 | Added on Saturday, July 09, 2011, 01:00 AM

As Vajuvi came to retrieve us, I asked him how long he had owned a television. “Only a few years,” he said. “At first, all everyone did is stare at it in a trance. But now I control the generator, and it is on only a few hours a week.”

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (David Grann)
– Highlight on Page 252 | Loc. 4022-24 | Added on Saturday, July 09, 2011, 01:01 AM

“You must always be careful in the jungle,” Vajuvi said. “I listen to my dreams. If I have a dream of danger, then I stay in the village. Many accidents happen to white people because they don’t believe their dreams.”

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 118 | Loc. 2080-82 | Added on Saturday, July 09, 2011, 01:31 AM

“How often have I said,” asked coke-addict Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of Four, “that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” This is true; I am nothing if not logical.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 154 | Loc. 2521-23 | Added on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 11:46 PM

Darth Vader tells Skywalker he has to make a decision: He can keep fighting a war he will probably lose, or he can compromise his ethics and succeed wildly. Many young adults face a similar decision after college, and those seen as “responsible” inevitably choose the latter path.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 155 | Loc. 2542-44 | Added on Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 12:49 AM

our whole demographic was comprised of cynical optimists. Whenever my circa-1993 friends and I would sit around and discuss the future, there was always the omnipresent sentiment that the world was on the decline, but we were somehow destined to succeed individually.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 164 | Loc. 2688-89 | Added on Thursday, July 14, 2011, 02:30 PM

And what I liked was the way it presented the idea of objectivity vs. perception, which is ultimately what the “What is reality” quandary comes down to.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 189 | Loc. 3080-81 | Added on Saturday, July 16, 2011, 03:37 AM

The metaphoric newness of serial killing has nothing to do with chronology; it has to do with its meaning. At least culturally, there is something accelerated about the notion of killing strangers for no valid reason.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 201 | Loc. 3274-78 | Added on Saturday, July 16, 2011, 03:38 AM

It should be noted that certain experts disagree with me on this point; some are prone to classify one genre of serial killers as “mission-oriented,” which means they aspire to kill specific people (such as hookers) in order to improve society. Other classifications include “visionary motive” types (who imagine voices inside their head), “thrill-oriented” killers (who find the process of murder exciting), and “lust killers” (who actively get a sexual thrill from torture and execution).

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 207 | Loc. 3380-81 | Added on Saturday, July 16, 2011, 03:42 PM

only a select few are aware that most of what’s in a newspaper is either fact-plus-fiction or truth-minus-fact, which evens out to be just about the same thing.

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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)
– Highlight on Page 227 | Loc. 3688-93 | Added on Saturday, July 16, 2011, 04:52 PM

honest people would admit that they actually thought about dying a lot more than they thought about fucking. Much to my surprise, everyone insisted that they fantasize about sex constantly and never dream about being killed, which seems insane to me. Relatively speaking, having sex is so easy. People do it all the time. It’s so pedestrian; fantasies about making love are rarely necessary and usually contrived. However, dying is always original. It’s always a onetime limited engagement, and (depending on your theology) it’s either the defining moment of existence or the final corporeal sensation in the universe’s most remarkable coincidence. How can anyone not be consumed by that?

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 1116-19 | Added on Thursday, July 21, 2011, 07:35 PM

Dalio is different. He spends most of his time trying to figure out how economic and financial events fit together in a coherent framework. “Almost everything is like a machine,” he told me one day when he was rambling on, as he often does. “Nature is a machine. The family is a machine. The life cycle is like a machine.” His constant goal, he said, was to understand how the economic machine works.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 1143 | Added on Thursday, July 21, 2011, 07:37 PM

“Pain + Reflection = Progress.”

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 1167-68 | Added on Thursday, July 21, 2011, 07:40 PM

“It’s just a mental exercise in which you are clearing your mind,” he said. “Creativity comes from open-mindedness and centeredness—seeing things in a nonemotionally charged way.”

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 204-7 | Added on Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 10:08 PM

time pressure tends to close minds, not open them. Under time pressure, negotiators tend to rely more on stereotypes and cognitive shortcuts. They don’t consider as wide a range of alternatives, and are more likely to jump to conclusions based on scanty evidence. Time pressure also reduces the chances that an agreement will be what psychologists call “integrative”—taking everyone’s interests and values into account.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 186 | Added on Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 10:27 PM

Whitman believed that his existence could be “comprehended at no time by its parts, at all times by its unity.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 306-7 | Added on Tuesday, August 02, 2011, 07:06 PM

the vast majority retained “a sense of the existence of their lost limb that was more vivid, definite and intrusive than that of its truly living fellow member.” The bodily illusion was more real than the body.

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The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 125 | Added on Wednesday, August 03, 2011, 10:35 PM

It is a little-known fact that only female mosquitoes bite.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 375-76 | Added on Thursday, August 04, 2011, 01:49 AM

Our subjective emotions, he said, were the “unscientific half of existence.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 435 | Added on Friday, August 05, 2011, 04:48 PM

general, higher levels of conductance in the skin signal nervousness.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 478-79 | Added on Friday, August 05, 2011, 04:53 PM

We are the poem, his poem says, that emerges from the unity of the body and the mind. That fragile unity—this brief parenthesis of being—is all we have. Celebrate it.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 567-68 | Added on Saturday, August 20, 2011, 07:06 PM

Herbert Spencer, the Victorian biologist who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 673-74 | Added on Saturday, August 20, 2011, 07:18 PM

it is always possible “to throw the whole force of one’s soul towards the achievement of some possible better.” You can always change your life.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 684-85 | Added on Sunday, August 21, 2011, 12:10 AM

As Thomas Huxley disdainfully declared, “We are conscious automata.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 859-60 | Added on Sunday, August 21, 2011, 07:07 PM

(This is also why your left hand and right hand have different fingerprints.)

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 881-82 | Added on Sunday, August 21, 2011, 07:10 PM

“Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 925-27 | Added on Monday, August 22, 2011, 07:30 PM

It sounds so easy: all you have to do is obey the whims of your senses. This isn’t a science experiment, Escoffier seems to be saying, this is hedonism. Let pleasure be your guide.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 960-67 | Added on Monday, August 22, 2011, 07:35 PM

What is it about denatured protein (denaturing is what happens to meat and bones when you cook them Escoffier’s way) that we find so inexplicably appealing? The answer is umami, the Japanese word for “delicious.” Umami is what you taste when you eat everything from steak to soy sauce. It’s what makes stock more than dirty water and deglazing the essential process of French cooking. To be precise, umami is actually the taste of L-glutamate (C5H9NO4), the dominant amino acid in the composition of life. L-glutamate is released from life-forms by proteolysis (a shy scientific word for death, rot, and the cooking process). While scientists were still theorizing about the health benefits of tripe, Escoffier was busy learning how we taste food. His genius was getting as much L-glutamate on the plate as possible. The emulsified butter didn’t hurt either.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 5944-46 | Added on Monday, August 22, 2011, 07:40 PM

Embarrassed food manufacturers often hide the addition of MSG by calling it autolyzed yeast extract on their labels (other pseudonyms for MSG include glutavene, calcium ca-seinate, and sodium caseinate).

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1072 | Added on Monday, August 22, 2011, 07:47 PM

“The customer,” Escoffier warned in his cookbook, “finds that the dish is flat and insipid unless it is served absolutely boiling hot.”

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 915-18 | Added on Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 03:27 PM

When biologists started speaking of a “genetic code,” what they meant was a key for translating sentences written in the four-letter DNA alphabet into twenty-letter protein texts. Most of the tools for finding that key came not from biology or chemistry but from areas of mathematics and computer science. Proposed solutions were judged by how efficiently a code could store and transmit information—the kinds of criteria that an engineer might apply in designing a communications protocol for a computer network.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1157-59 | Added on Friday, August 26, 2011, 09:01 PM

Although Escoffier spent eighteen hours a day behind a hot stove, crafting his collection of sauces, he realized that what we taste is ultimately an idea, and that our sensations are strongly influenced by their context.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1229 | Added on Friday, August 26, 2011, 09:08 PM

This is the power of good cooking: it invents a new kind of desire.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1235-36 | Added on Friday, August 26, 2011, 09:09 PM

As Escoffier warned at the start of his cookbook, “No theory, no formula, and no recipe can take the place of experience.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1370-71 | Added on Sunday, September 04, 2011, 06:49 PM

Cajal was right. Our memories exist as subtle shifts in the strength of synapses, which make it easier for neurons to communicate with one another.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 1510-11 | Added on Friday, September 16, 2011, 01:32 PM

The opposite case of three higher neighbors describes points along a valley bottom—a line known to topographers and crossword solvers as a thalweg.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 1514 | Added on Friday, September 16, 2011, 01:33 PM

A saddle is special: it is the only kind of point that lies both on a ridgeline and on a thalweg.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1433-34 | Added on Friday, September 16, 2011, 01:39 PM

(As Proust put it, “The only paradise is paradise lost.”)

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1434-35 | Added on Friday, September 16, 2011, 01:40 PM

Our memories are not like fiction. They are fiction.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 1641-43 | Added on Sunday, September 18, 2011, 02:10 AM

If you are searching for your lost car keys, they are always in the last place you look—because, of course, there’s no reason to go on looking once they’re found.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 1670-72 | Added on Sunday, September 18, 2011, 02:12 AM

In northwestern Wyoming, in Grand Teton National Park, Two Ocean Creek splits into Atlantic Creek and Pacific Creek, with the Continental Divide running right through the point of bifurcation.

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Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 39 | Loc. 767-68 | Added on Sunday, September 18, 2011, 02:27 AM

It’s such an encouragement just to get a cheerful greeting. Nothing comes of hatred.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 1781-82 | Added on Sunday, September 18, 2011, 11:59 PM

Number theorists have another word for the same concept: integers that have many small factors are called “smooth” numbers.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 26 | Loc. 476-78 | Added on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 12:59 PM

For 360 minutes per diem, we receive unconscious reinforcement of the deep thesis that the most significant quality of truly alive persons is watchableness, and that genuine human worth is not just identical with but rooted in the phenomenon of watching.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 27 | Loc. 484-87 | Added on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 01:01 PM

One big claim of this essay is going to be that the most dangerous thing about television for U.S. fiction writers is that we don’t take it seriously enough as both a disseminator and a definer of the cultural atmosphere we breathe and process, that many of us are so blinded by constant exposure that we regard TV the way Reagan’s lame F.C.C. chairman Mark Fowler professed to see it in 1981, as “just another appliance, a toaster with pictures.”

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 34 | Loc. 615-17 | Added on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 10:00 PM

For Metafiction, in its ascendant and most important phases, was really nothing more than a single-order expansion of its own great theoretical nemesis, Realism: if Realism called it like it saw it, Metafiction simply called it as it saw itself seeing itself see it.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 35 | Loc. 630-32 | Added on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 10:03 PM

It is ironic that an extremely canny and unattractive self-consciousness is necessary to create TV performers’ illusion of unconscious appeal. That products presented as helping you express individuality can afford to be advertised on television only because they sell to enormous numbers of people. And so on.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 37 | Loc. 663-65 | Added on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 10:07 PM

Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests. It’s all about syncretic diversity: neither medium nor Audience is faultable for quality.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 38 | Loc. 680-81 | Added on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 10:10 PM

But something is malignantly addictive if (1) it causes real problems for the addict, and (2) it offers itself as a relief from the very problems it causes.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 2072-73 | Added on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 07:05 PM

Computer science has reached a rough consensus on this issue: easy problems can be solved in “polynomial time,” whereas hard problems require “exponential time.”

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 2094 | Added on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 07:09 PM

Each NP-complete problem is a skeleton key to the entire class NP.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 2239-40 | Added on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 07:39 PM

as Aulenbach noted, is for A to make the first choice and thereafter let each captain take two turns in a row. Computer experiments clearly confirm the superiority of the ABBA rule over ABAB.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 2346-47 | Added on Friday, September 23, 2011, 11:22 PM

(“No SSNs with an area number of ‘666’ have been or will be assigned”),

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 2362-63 | Added on Friday, September 23, 2011, 11:24 PM

Chicago’s O’Hare airport is ORD because it was once called Orchard Field.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 2511-15 | Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 03:08 AM

The general formula for a numeral in any place-value notation goes something like this: . . . d3r3 + d2r2 + d1r1 + d0r0 . . . Here r is the base, or radix, and the coefficients di are the digits of the number.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 53 | Loc. 923-41 | Added on Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 02:30 AM

One of the things that makes the people on television fit to stand the Megagaze is that they are, by ordinary human standards, extremely pretty. I suspect that this, like most television conventions, is set up with no motive more sinister than to appeal to the largest possible Audience—pretty people tend to be more appealing to look at than non-pretty people. But when we’re talking about television, the combination of sheer Audience size and quiet psychic intercourse between images and oglers starts a cycle that both enhances pretty people’s appeal and erodes us viewers’ own security in the face of gazes. Because of the way human beings relate to narrative, we tend to identify with those characters we find appealing. We try to see ourselves in them. The same I.D.-relation, however, also means that we try to see them in ourselves. When everybody we seek to identify with for six hours a day is pretty, it naturally becomes more important to us to be pretty, to be viewed as pretty. Because prettiness becomes a priority for us, the pretty people on TV become all the more attractive, a cycle which is obviously great for TV. But it’s less great for us civilians, who tend to own mirrors, and who also tend not to be anywhere near as pretty as the TV-images we want to identify with. Not only does this cause some angst personally, but the angst increases because, nationally, everybody else is absorbing six-hour doses and identifying with pretty people and valuing prettiness more, too. This very personal anxiety about our prettiness has become a national phenomenon with national consequences. The whole U.S.A. gets different about things it values and fears. The boom in diet aids, health and fitness clubs, neighborhood tanning parlors, cosmetic surgery, anorexia, bulimia, steroid-use among boys, girls throwing acid at each other because one girl’s hair looks more like Farrah Fawcett’s than another… are these supposed to be unrelated to each other? to the apotheosis of prettiness in a televisual culture? It’s not paranoid or hysterical to acknowledge that television in enormous doses affects people’s values and self-perception in deep ways. Nor that televisual conditioning influences the whole psychology of one’s relation to himself, his mirror, his loved ones, and a world of real people and real gazes. No one’s going to claim that a culture all about watching and appearing is fatally compromised by unreal standards of beauty and fitness. But other facets of TV-training reveal themselves as more rapacious, more serious, than any irreverent fiction writer would want to take seriously.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 54 | Loc. 942-44 | Added on Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 02:33 AM

It’s widely recognized that television, with its horn-rimmed battery of statisticians and pollsters, is awfully good at discerning patterns in the flux of popular ideologies, absorbing those patterns, processing them, and then re-presenting them as persuasions to watch and to buy.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 58 | Loc. 1009-12 | Added on Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 02:40 AM

There’s an obverse way, of course, to make commercials resemble programs. Have programs start to resemble commercials. That way the ads seem less like interruptions than like pace-setters, metronomes, commentaries on the shows’ theory. Invent a Miami Vice, where there’s little annoying plot to interrupt but an unprecedented emphasis on appearances, visuals, attitude, a certain “look.”

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 66 | Loc. 1149-50 | Added on Friday, October 07, 2011, 08:55 PM

DeLillo exposed image, signal, data and tech as agents of spiritual chaos and not social order.

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Group Theory in the Bedroom, and Other Mathematical Diversions (Brian Hayes)
– Highlight Loc. 3095-3100 | Added on Sunday, October 09, 2011, 04:52 PM

To make sense of all this turning and flipping, the first thing we need is some clear notation. A mattress can be rotated around any of three orthogonal axes. I could label the axes x, y, and z, but I’d just forget which is which, so it seems better to adopt the terminology of aviation. If you think of a mattress as an airplane flying toward the headboard of the bed, then the three axes are designated roll, pitch, and yaw. The roll axis is parallel to the longest dimension of the mattress (from head to foot), the pitch axis runs along the next-longest dimension (from side to side), and the yaw axis passes through the shortest dimension (top to bottom).

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 1896-97 | Added on Saturday, November 05, 2011, 04:44 PM

The exact same neurons respond when we actually see a mountain and when we just imagine a mountain. There is no such thing as immaculate perception.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 96 | Loc. 1628-30 | Added on Saturday, November 05, 2011, 05:02 PM

we Fairgoers don’t have to deal with the business of breeding and feeding our meat; our meat simply materializes at the corn-dog stand, allowing us to separate our healthy appetites from fur and screams and rolling eyes. We tourists get to indulge our tender Animal Rights feelings with our tummies full of bacon.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2053-54 | Added on Sunday, November 13, 2011, 03:58 PM

Schoenberg was unrepentant: “If it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, it is not art.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2068-69 | Added on Sunday, November 13, 2011, 04:01 PM

(Hair cells are sensitive to sounds of atomic dimensions. We can literally hear Brownian motion, the random jostle of atoms.)

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 208-9 | Added on Monday, November 14, 2011, 04:18 AM

outside the men’s room whose little yellow sign warned bilingually of wet floors, the cursive name something beginning with M, Morris or Maurice, the man fitted to his job like a man to the exact pocket of space he displaces)

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 4 | Loc. 182-86 | Added on Friday, November 18, 2011, 06:04 AM

Averaging stamps out diversity, reducing anything to its simplest terms. In so doing, we run the risk of oversimplifying, of forgetting the variations around the average. Hitching one’s attention to these variations rather than the average is a sure sign of maturity in statistical thinking. One can, in fact, define statistics as the study of the nature of variability. How much do things change? How large are these variations? What causes them?

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 329-35 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:38 AM

men who look at their watches out of reflex, men with red foreheads all mashed standing in a metal chute as the props’ hum descends the tonal scale and ventilation ceases, this the type of commuter airplane whose stairs must be rolled up alongside before the door opens, for legal reasons. The glazed impatience of businessmen standing closer to strangers than they would ever choose to, chests and backs nearly touching, suit bags slung over shoulders, briefcases knocking together, more scalp than hair, breathing one another’s smells. Men who cannot bear to wait or stand still forced to stand still all together and wait, men with calfskin Day-Timers and Franklin Quest Time Management certificates and the classic look of unwilled tight confinement, the look of a local merchant on the verge of an SSI-withholding lapse, undercapitalized, illiquid, trying to cover the monthly nut, fish thrashing in the nets of their own obligations.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 356-61 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:42 AM

disappeared following Sylvanshine’s second REC Christmas party, when his wife (i.e., Mrs. Bussy) had suddenly appeared in the midst of the revel in an off-white nightie and identical unzipped Kmart parka and approached the Assistant Regional Commissioner for Examinations and, speaking slowly and atonally and with total conviction, told him that her husband Mr. Bussy had said that he (the ARCE) had the potential to be a really truly evil person if he grew a somewhat larger set of balls, Bussy one week thereafter gone so abruptly that his umbrella remained hanging from the Pod’s communal coatrack for almost a quarter until someone finally took it down.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 391-94 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:45 AM

the driver’s queries/threats through the apartment door, a scam that resided in Claude Sylvanshine’s awareness only because a number of independent Philadelphia commercial carriage operators had proposed heavy Schedule C losses under the proviso ‘Losses Through Theft of Service’ and detailed this type of scam as prevalent on the poorly typed or sometimes even handwritten attachments required to explain unusual or specific C-deductions like this,

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2224-25 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:50 AM

We don’t make music, Plato said, we find it. While reality appears noisy, hidden in the noise is an essential harmony,

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2236-37 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:52 AM

music really begins when that order collapses.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2237 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:52 AM

We make art out of the uncertainty.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2255-57 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:54 AM

the brain’s unique talent: its ability to change itself. The auditory cortex, like all our sensory areas, is deeply plastic. Neuroscience, stealing vocabulary from music, has named these malleable cells the corticofugal network, after the fugal form Bach made famous.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight Loc. 2259-62 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:54 AM

One of the central functions of the corticofugal network is what neuroscience calls egocentric selection. When a pattern of noises is heard repeatedly, the brain memorizes that pattern. Feedback from higher-up brain regions reorganizes the auditory cortex, which makes it easier to hear the pattern in the future. This learning is largely the handiwork of dopamine, which modulates the cellular mechanisms underlying plasticity.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Note Loc. 2261 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:55 AM

this is just like learning or “recognizing” something.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 141 | Loc. 2270-71 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:58 AM

(Dopamine is also the chemical source of our most intense emotions, which helps to explain the strange emotional power of music, especially when it confronts us with newness and dissonance.)

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 142 | Loc. 2293-97 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:03 AM

How do we escape this neurological trap? By paying attention to art. The artist is engaged in a perpetual struggle against the positive-feedback loop of the brain, desperate to create an experience that no one has ever had before. And while the poet must struggle to invent a new metaphor and the novelist a new story, the composer must discover the undiscovered pattern, for the originality is the source of the emotion. If the art feels difficult, it is only because our neurons are stretching to understand it.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 143 | Loc. 2311-12 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:05 AM

Music is that feeling. The Rite of Spring was the first symphonic work to celebrate this fact. It is the sound of art changing the brain.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 144 | Loc. 2315-17 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:10 AM

Words are finite organs of the infinite mind. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 10 | Loc. 289-90 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:21 AM

In short, variable traffic conditions mess up our well-laid schedules, and that ought to upset us more than the average journey time.

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 16 | Loc. 357-58 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:29 AM

in elevator lobbies, for example, distort people’s sense of the amount of waiting time; we tend not to count time spent looking at our reflection as waiting time.

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Note on Page 16 | Loc. 358 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:29 AM

not to mention people watching.

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 17 | Loc. 364-65 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:30 AM

Signs show estimated waiting times that “intentionally turn out to be longer than the actual time waited,” according to Bruce Laval, a former Disney executive.

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 19 | Loc. 405-6 | Added on Saturday, November 19, 2011, 01:34 AM

Like ramp metering, FastPass also works by stamping out variability, in that guests are being spaced out as they arrive.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 161 | Loc. 2743-45 | Added on Thursday, December 01, 2011, 06:31 AM

An academic definition of Lynchian might be that the term “refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.”

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A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
– Highlight Loc. 224-26 | Added on Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 03:44 PM

In fact the whole apartment, which six years ago had seemed like a way station to some better place, had ended up solidifying around Sasha, gathering mass and weight, until she felt both mired in it and lucky to have it—as if she not only couldn’t move on but didn’t want to.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 204 | Loc. 3395-96 | Added on Friday, December 09, 2011, 09:42 PM

This point is worth emphasizing. Lynch’s movies are not about monsters (i.e. people whose intrinsic natures are evil) but about hauntings, about evil as environment, possibility, force.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 205 | Loc. 3419-23 | Added on Friday, December 09, 2011, 09:47 PM

For example, the supposed ethical structure Lynch is most applauded for is the “Seamy Underside” structure, the idea that dark forces roil and passions seethe beneath the green lawns and PTA potlucks of Anytown, USA. 53 American critics who like Lynch applaud his “genius for penetrating the civilized surface of everyday life to discover the strange, perverse passions beneath” and his movies for providing “the password to an inner sanctum of horror and desire” and “evocations of the malevolent forces at work beneath nostalgic constructs.”

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 208 | Loc. 3456-57 | Added on Friday, December 09, 2011, 09:53 PM

“penetrating the civilized surface of everyday life to discover the strange, perverse passions beneath.”

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 5883-87 | Added on Saturday, January 14, 2012, 09:58 PM

The love is not the love one feels for a job or a lover or any of the loci of intensity that most of us choose to say we love. It’s the sort of love you see in the eyes of really old people who’ve been happily married for an incredibly long time, or in religious people who are so religious they’ve devoted their lives to religious stuff: it’s the sort of love whose measure is what it has cost, what one’s given up for it. Whether there’s “choice” involved is, at a certain point, of no interest… since it’s the very surrender of choice and self that informs the love in the first place.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 235 | Loc. 3752 | Added on Sunday, January 15, 2012, 05:05 PM

that strange mix of caution and abandon we call courage.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 152 | Loc. 2435-38 | Added on Monday, January 16, 2012, 09:16 PM

“To see the things in a new way that is really difficult, everything prevents one, habits, schools, daily life, reason, necessities of daily life, indolence, everything prevents one, in fact there are very few geniuses in the world.”

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 155 | Loc. 2488-89 | Added on Monday, January 16, 2012, 09:35 PM

“The meaning of a word is its use in the language.” [Gertrude Stein]

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 6323-25 | Added on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 03:16 AM

This on-the-edge moment’s exquisiteness is something like the couple seconds between knowing you’re going to sneeze and actually sneezing, some kind of marvelous distended moment of transferring control to large automatic forces.

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 60 | Loc. 1008-9 | Added on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 03:30 AM

A model is an attempt to describe the unknowable by using that which is known:

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 61 | Loc. 1026 | Added on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 03:33 AM

George Box, one of our most preeminent industrial statisticians, has observed, “All models are wrong but some are useful.”

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A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
– Highlight on Page 99 | Loc. 1596-97 | Added on Monday, January 23, 2012, 05:00 AM

Bennie’s office was awesome, and I don’t mean that in the male teenage skateboarding sense—I mean it in the old-fashioned literal sense.

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Numbers Rule Your World : The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do (Kaiser Fung)
– Highlight on Page 67 | Loc. 1106-7 | Added on Thursday, January 26, 2012, 01:52 PM

psychometricians— statisticians specializing in education.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 56 | Loc. 885-86 | Added on Wednesday, February 01, 2012, 04:20 AM

The sun overhead like a peephole into hell’s own self-consuming heart.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 67 | Loc. 1071-77 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 06:22 AM

That’s why I’m making it a point to violate protocol and address you here directly, as my real self; that’s why all the specific identifying data about me as a real person got laid out at the start of this Foreword. So that I could inform you of the truth: The only bona fide ‘fiction’ here is the copyright page’s disclaimer—which, again, is a legal device: The disclaimer’s whole and only purpose is to protect me, the book’s publisher, and the publisher’s assigned distributors from legal liability. The reason why such protections are especially required here—why, in fact, the publisher has insisted upon them as a precondition for acceptance of the manuscript and payment of the advance—is the same reason the disclaimer is, when you come right down to it, a lie.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 8895-96 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 06:24 AM

As my own counsel has observed, corporate attorneys are not paid to be totally rational, but they are paid to be totally cautious.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 70 | Loc. 1082-83 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 06:30 AM

The Pale King is, in other words, a kind of vocational memoir.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 77 | Loc. 1183-84 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 06:44 AM

(1a) Naive people are, more or less by definition, unaware that they’re naive.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 77 | Loc. 1196-98 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 06:46 AM

(6) The moral system of a college fraternity turns out to be classically tribal, i.e., characterized by a deeply felt sense of honor, discretion, and loyalty to one’s so-called ‘brothers,’ coupled with a complete, sociopathic lack of regard for the interests or even humanity of anyone outside that fraternal set.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 85 | Loc. 1303-4 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 07:03 AM

The memoir-relevant point here is that I learned, in my time with the Service, something about dullness, information, and irrelevant complexity. About negotiating boredom as one would a terrain, its levels and forests and endless wastes.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 85 | Loc. 1307-8 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 07:04 AM

There may, though, I opine, be more to it… as in vastly more, right here before us all, hidden by virtue of its size.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 86 | Loc. 1311-12 | Added on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 01:26 PM

bureaucracy as ‘the only known parasite larger than the organism on which it subsists,’

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 136 | Loc. 2093-98 | Added on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 03:47 AM

‘But the whole dark genius of corporations is that they allow for individual reward without individual obligation. The workers’ obligations are to the executives, and the executives’ obligations are to the CEO, and the CEO’s obligation is to the Board of Directors, and the Board’s obligation is to the stockholders, who are also the same customers the corporation will screw over at the very earliest opportunity in the name of profit, which profits are distributed as dividends to the very stockholders-slash-customers they’ve been fucking over in their own name. It’s like a fugue of evaded responsibility.’

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 143 | Loc. 2235-43 | Added on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 04:33 AM

‘And not only that, but everybody who knows me or even knows I exist will die, and then everybody who knows those people and might even conceivably have even heard of me will die, and so on, and the gravestones and monuments we spend money to have put in to make sure we’re remembered, these’ll last what—a hundred years? two hundred?—and they’ll crumble, and the grass and insects my decomposition will go to feed will die, and their offspring, or if I’m cremated the trees that are nourished by my windblown ash will die or get cut down and decay, and my urn will decay, and before maybe three or four generations it will be like I never existed, not only will I have passed away but it will be like I was never here, and people in 2104 or whatever will no more think of Stuart A. Nichols Jr. than you or I think of John T. Smith, 1790 to 1864, of Livingston, Virginia, or some such. That everything is on fire, slow fire, and we’re all less than a million breaths away from an oblivion more total than we can even bring ourselves to even try to imagine, in fact, probably that’s why the manic US obsession with production, produce, produce, impact the world, contribute, shape things, to help distract us from how little and totally insignificant and temporary we are.’

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War and Peace (Cambridge World Classics) Critical Edition (Annotated) (Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy / Complete Works of Leo Tolstoi) (Leo Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoi, Cambridge World Classics, Christopher Hong, Louise Maude and Aylmer Maude)
– Highlight Loc. 736-38 | Added on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 04:59 AM

Prince Vasili always spoke languidly, like an actor repeating a stale part. Anna Pavlovna Scherer on the contrary, despite her forty years, overflowed with animation and impulsiveness. To be an enthusiast had become her social vocation and, sometimes even when she did not feel like it, she became enthusiastic in order not to disappoint the expectations of those who knew her.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 166 | Loc. 2609-11 | Added on Saturday, March 03, 2012, 12:43 AM

The worst part was then starting to hear my mother recount all these memories and anecdotes of my own childhood, and realizing that she actually remembered much more of my early childhood than I did, as though somehow she’d seized or confiscated memories and experiences that were technically mine.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 174 | Loc. 2749-50 | Added on Saturday, March 03, 2012, 12:59 AM

He did not speak or act in a nervous way, but there was a vibe of intense tension about him—I can remember him seeming to give off a slight hum when at rest.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 182 | Loc. 2883-84 | Added on Saturday, March 03, 2012, 01:13 AM

If you really look at something, you can almost always tell what type of wage structure the person who made it was on.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 184 | Loc. 2919-20 | Added on Saturday, March 03, 2012, 01:16 AM

not only do I sort of dislike Steve, which in all honesty I do, but part of the reason I dislike him is that when I listen to him on the phone it makes me see similarities and realize things about myself that embarrass me,

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 190 | Loc. 3024-25 | Added on Saturday, March 03, 2012, 06:57 AM

riding the CTA train and staring at both the passing scene and my own faint reflection superimposed on it in the window

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 196 | Loc. 3117 | Added on Saturday, March 03, 2012, 07:07 AM

The truth is that northern, central, and southern Illinois are practically different countries, culturally speaking.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 208 | Loc. 3315-17 | Added on Sunday, March 04, 2012, 06:57 AM

advice—even wise advice—actually does nothing for the advisee, changes nothing inside, and can actually cause confusion when the advisee is made to feel the wide gap between the comparative simplicity of the advice and the totally muddled complication of his own situation and path.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 219 | Loc. 3500-3503 | Added on Sunday, March 04, 2012, 04:07 PM

This was partly due to the substitute’s presentation, which was rapid, organized, undramatic, and dry in the way of people who know that what they are saying is too valuable in its own right to cheapen with concern about delivery or ‘connecting’ with the students. In other words, the presentation had a kind of zealous integrity that manifested not as style but as the lack of it. I felt that I suddenly, for the first time, understood the meaning of my father’s term ‘no-nonsense,’ and why it was a term of approval.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 225 | Loc. 3599-3601 | Added on Sunday, March 04, 2012, 04:22 PM

Just like its mirror opposite across the transom, Garnier 311’s floor was tiled in an institutional tan-and-brown pattern that was either checkerboard or interlocking diamonds, depending on one’s angle or perspective.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 255 | Loc. 4101-3 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:22 AM

The school smelled of adhesive paste, rubber boots, sour cafeteria food, and a warm biotic odor of many bodies and the fixative of the tile floor as three hundred mammals slowly warmed the rooms throughout the day. Most of the teachers were sexless females, old (meaning older than my mother) and severe but not unkind,

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 9083-84 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:26 AM

In other words, incongruities like these are complex and puzzling but not really all that important unless you’re invested in the geographical minutiae of Peoria (the possibility of which I have decided I can safely presume is remote).

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 9085-88 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:27 AM

I’m not going to be one of those memoirists who pretends to remember every last fact and thing in photorealist detail. The human mind doesn’t work that way, and everyone knows it; it’s an insulting bit of artifice in a genre that purports to be 100 percent ‘realistic.’ To be honest, I think you deserve better, and that you’re intelligent enough to understand and maybe even applaud it when a memoirist has the integrity to admit that he’s not some kind of eidetic freak.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 259 | Loc. 4138-42 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:33 AM

I am about art here, not simple reproduction. What logorrheic colleagues like Fogle failed to understand is that there are vastly different kinds of truth, some of which are incompatible with one another. Example: A 100 percent accurate, comprehensive list of the exact size and shape of every blade of grass in my front lawn is ‘true,’ but it is not a truth that anyone will have any interest in. What renders a truth meaningful, worthwhile, & c. is its relevance, which in turn requires extraordinary discernment and sensitivity to context, questions of value, and overall point—otherwise we might as well all just be computers downloading raw data to one another.)

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 260 | Loc. 4148-50 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:38 AM

In general, my attitude toward bureaucracies was the same as that of most ordinary Americans: I hated and feared them (i.e., bureaucracies) and basically regarded them as large, grinding, impersonal machines—that is, they seemed rigidly literal and rule-bound the same way machines are, and just about as dumb.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 263 | Loc. 4192 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:44 AM

Empiricism has its limits.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 9131-34 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:46 AM

boy had also spent the first several minutes after I’d boarded and gotten settled staring wide-eyed at the condition of the side of my face, making no effort to hide or disguise the clinical interest with which little children stare, all of which I’d of course seen (and in some ways almost appreciated) out of the corner of my eye.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 9139-41 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:52 AM

having one character inform another of stuff they both actually already know, in order to get this information across to the reader—which I’ve always found irksome in the extreme, not to mention highly suspicious in a ‘nonfiction’ memoir, although it is true [if mysterious] that mass-market readers seem not to mind being jerked around this way)

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 265 | Loc. 4229-30 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:54 AM

Incorporated in 1845 and perhaps best known as the birthplace of barbed wire in 1873, Peoria

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War and Peace (Cambridge World Classics) Critical Edition (Annotated) (Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy / Complete Works of Leo Tolstoi) (Leo Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoi, Cambridge World Classics, Christopher Hong, Louise Maude and Aylmer Maude)
– Highlight Loc. 1260-61 | Added on Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 03:03 PM

Everything from the table napkins to the silver, china, and glass bore that imprint of newness found in the households of the newly married.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 285 | Loc. 4500 | Added on Wednesday, March 07, 2012, 11:43 PM

gazing into the middle distance as though at the end of a pier.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 301 | Loc. 4719-20 | Added on Thursday, March 08, 2012, 11:44 PM

The idea that people feel just one basic emotion at a time is a further contrivance of memoirs.

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War and Peace (Cambridge World Classics) Critical Edition (Annotated) (Complete Works of Leo Tolstoy / Complete Works of Leo Tolstoi) (Leo Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoi, Cambridge World Classics, Christopher Hong, Louise Maude and Aylmer Maude)
– Highlight Loc. 1508-9 | Added on Saturday, March 10, 2012, 12:01 PM

Silence ensued.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 9396-97 | Added on Saturday, March 10, 2012, 12:41 PM

I learned, were ‘turdnagels,’ which term referred to low-grade or seasonal IRS support staff tasked mainly to inputting or extracting data on the REC’s computer systems.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 308 | Loc. 4799-4800 | Added on Saturday, March 10, 2012, 12:49 PM

which, when his eye caught mine (I having forgotten, in my interest, that sight lines are by definition two-way)

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 320 | Loc. 4944-46 | Added on Sunday, March 11, 2012, 11:34 AM

Their employee handbooks contained a full-color photo of the Service’s National Computer Center in Martinsburg WV, one of whose three layers of perimeter fencing was electrified and had to have its base swept up every morning during equinoctial bird migrations.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 342 | Loc. 5357-58 | Added on Monday, March 12, 2012, 08:53 PM

‘Information per se is really just a measure of disorder.’ Sylvanshine’s head popped up at this.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 360 | Loc. 5649-54 | Added on Thursday, March 15, 2012, 08:36 AM

‘Not much thus far. Tall silvery guy. Silver hair rigidly parted. The sort of older man you’d say “distinguished” or “formerly handsome.” Medium-tallish I’d say. Nose looked a bit big but that was in moving profile.’ ‘Hey Claude, seriously, is there some process by which you decide I want to hear aesthetic appraisals? Is there reasoning by which somewhere inside you decide this is useful data to have in Mel’s head when he starts working with these people? Don’t strain now, but think about it and sometime tell me the process by which you decide I have to wait through incidentals on dress and carriage before I hear material that’s going to help me do my job here.’

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 363 | Loc. 5716-17 | Added on Thursday, March 15, 2012, 08:46 AM

Small picture of a cat on her desk, but no visible cat hair on the sweater. Odd.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 369 | Loc. 5828 | Added on Thursday, March 15, 2012, 03:59 PM

‘Aren’t we brave in absentia.’

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 383 | Loc. 6036-37 | Added on Friday, March 23, 2012, 10:44 AM

The phantom of the hallucination of repetitive concentration held for too long a time, like saying a word over and over until it kind of melted and got foreign.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 385 | Loc. 6066-67 | Added on Friday, March 23, 2012, 10:53 AM

Smith puts it as that when anything assumes sufficient relevance it finds its name. The name springs up under cultural pressure. Really quite interesting when you consider it.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 395 | Loc. 6211-12 | Added on Saturday, March 24, 2012, 02:17 PM

Her hands were strong and soft and when she felt the boy’s back he felt as if she were asking it questions and answering them all at the same time.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 182 | Loc. 2901-2 | Added on Saturday, March 24, 2012, 05:15 PM

Just as a novelist creates a narrative, a person creates a sense of being. The self is simply our work of art, a fiction created by the brain in order to make sense of its own disunity.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 189 | Loc. 3007-8 | Added on Saturday, March 24, 2012, 05:27 PM

But that reality—the world seen without a self—is exactly what we can never see.

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Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Jonah Lehrer)
– Highlight on Page 190 | Loc. 3022-24 | Added on Saturday, March 24, 2012, 07:47 PM

To say that we should drop the idea of truth as out there waiting to be discovered is not to say that we have discovered that, out there, there is no truth. —Richard Rorty

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 434 | Loc. 6746 | Added on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 06:41 PM

His self-possession allowed him to be and act precisely as he was.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 454 | Loc. 7043-44 | Added on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 12:25 PM

‘someone who finds you interesting seems then suddenly, almost by virtue of their interest in you, more interesting to you. That is a very interesting dimension to it also.’

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 485 | Loc. 7647-48 | Added on Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 11:03 PM

Drinion himself unaware of the levitating thing by definition, since it is only when his attention is completely on something else that the levitation happens.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 511 | Loc. 8107-9 | Added on Wednesday, April 04, 2012, 10:29 PM

She played on this knife-edge most of the time—giving a false impression that was nevertheless concrete and tightly controlled. It felt like art. The issue was not destruction. Just as total order is dull, so is chaos dull: There’s nothing informing about a mess.

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The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 8689-97 | Added on Thursday, April 12, 2012, 03:53 PM

What happened to make him realize that the Niceness of his childhood was actually sadistic, pathological, selfish? That other people, too, want to feel nice and do favors, that he’d been massively selfish about generosity? In a college sport, did he keep letting other team score out of ‘niceness,’ and got a visit from a referee—someone dressed all in black and white, like Irrelevant Chris Fogle’s Jesuit in college—who very bluntly told him he was full of shit and that true decency was very different from pathological generosity, because pathological generosity did not take into account the feelings of the people who were the object of the generosity? Stecyk had caused traffic jams at 4-way stops by always letting everyone else go first? Or referee magically gives Stecyk insight into how his mother had felt when Stecyk got up very early every morning to do her housekeeping for her—like she was useless, like the family felt she was incompetent, etc. Stecyk tells David Wallace the story of the butterfly—if you let it out of the cocoon when it seems to be struggling and dying, then its wings don’t get strengthened and it can’t survive.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 9 | Loc. 254-62 | Added on Thursday, April 12, 2012, 04:40 PM

“And also,” the driver said, facing the mirror, “please remember: things are not what they seem.” Things are not what they seem, Aomame repeated mentally. “What do you mean by that?” she asked with knitted brows. The driver chose his words carefully: “It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? People do not ordinarily climb down the emergency stairs of the Metropolitan Expressway in the middle of the day—especially women.” “I suppose you’re right.” “Right. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. I’ve had that experience myself. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.”

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 16 | Loc. 433-36 | Added on Saturday, April 14, 2012, 05:25 PM

“Well, well,” Komatsu said, and then, as if he found this all rather boring, he released a stream of smoke through his pursed lips. Tengo had known Komatsu too long to be deceived by such a display, however. Komatsu was a man who often adopted an expression that was either unrelated to—or exactly the opposite of—what he was actually feeling. And so Tengo was prepared to wait him out.

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A Mathematician’s Apology (Canto) (G. H. Hardy)
– Highlight Loc. 462-63 | Added on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 08:55 PM

A MAN who sets out to justify his existence and his activities has to distinguish two different questions. The first is whether the work which he does is worth doing; and the second is why he does it, whatever its value may be.

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This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 53 | Loc. 172 | Added on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 05:55 AM

“Learning how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.

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This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 54 | Loc. 174-75 | Added on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 05:57 AM

It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.

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This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 115 | Loc. 361-63 | Added on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 06:06 AM

And the so-called “real world” will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called “real world” of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 38 | Loc. 946-48 | Added on Monday, June 25, 2012, 03:01 AM

He earned a high salary, but he couldn’t use it now that he was dead. He wore Armani suits and drove a Jaguar, but finally he was just another ant, working and working until he died without meaning. The very fact that he existed in this world would eventually be forgotten.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 55 | Loc. 1364-66 | Added on Friday, June 29, 2012, 07:13 PM

Not bad, thought Aomame. She liked the fact that he had not chosen Chivas Regal or some sophisticated single malt. It was her personal view that people who are overly choosy about the drinks they order in a bar tend to be sexually bland. She had no idea why this should be so.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Note on Page 56 | Loc. 1389 | Added on Friday, June 29, 2012, 07:17 PM

It’s funny how people hate getting stood up but love getting laid…

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 4 | Loc. 124-25 | Added on Sunday, July 01, 2012, 05:51 PM

James Wallace received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1963 from Cornell University, writing his dissertation (on the topic of pleasure) under the direction of Norman Malcolm, a close friend and disciple of Wittgenstein’s.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 5 | Loc. 140-43 | Added on Sunday, July 01, 2012, 05:54 PM

“What I didn’t know then was that a mathematical experience was aesthetic in nature, an epiphany in Joyce’s original sense. These moments appeared in proof-completions, or maybe algorithms. Or like a gorgeously simple solution you suddenly see after filling half a notebook with gnarly attempted solutions. It was really an experience of what I think Yeats called ‘the click of a well-made box.’ The word I always think of it as is ‘click.’ ”

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 6 | Loc. 149-51 | Added on Sunday, July 01, 2012, 05:54 PM

Like the doctrine of determinism, its better-known metaphysical cousin, fatalism holds that it is not in our power to do anything other than what we actually end up doing.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 10 | Loc. 222-24 | Added on Sunday, July 01, 2012, 10:14 PM

Each modality, in its own way, concerns strictures that are eternal and unchanging: something that is physically impossible is never the case at any time or place in the actual world we inhabit; something that is logically impossible is never the case at any time or place in any world we can conceive of.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 11 | Loc. 242-44 | Added on Sunday, July 01, 2012, 10:17 PM

A discerning observer of language, Wallace noted that there is a subtle indicator of this distinction already at work in English: the fine differentiation in meaning between “I couldn’t have done [such and so]” and “I can’t have done [such and so].”

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 22 | Loc. 412 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 05:02 PM

“cerebration & emotion, abstraction & lived life, transcendent truth-seeking & daily schlepping.”

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 26 | Loc. 482-85 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 05:19 PM

On the other hand, Wittgenstein can get some purchase on this question. He draws an analogy between the “I” (and the external world) and the eye (and the visual field): Though I cannot see my own eye in my visual field, the very existence of the visual field is nothing other than the working of my eye; likewise, though the philosophical self cannot be located in the world, the very experience of the world is nothing other than what it is to be an “I.”

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 28 | Loc. 503-7 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 05:47 PM

The novelist Jonathan Franzen, one of Wallace’s close friends, has said that he and Wallace agreed that the fundamental purpose of fiction was to combat loneliness. The paradox for Wallace was that to be a writer called for spending a lot of time alone in one’s own head, giving rise to the feeling, as he wrote in “The Empty Plenum,” “that one’s head is, in some sense, the whole world, when the imagination becomes not just a more congenial but a realer environment than the Big Exterior of life on earth.”

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 29 | Loc. 519-21 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 05:53 PM

The shift in imagery is from language as a picture to language as a tool. This is the point of the Wittgensteinian mantra “meaning as use”: If you want to understand the meaning of a word or phrase or gesture, you don’t try to figure out what it represents; you try to figure out how to use it in real life.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 29 | Loc. 527-30 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 05:59 PM

The meaning of words is their use; the use of words is a matter of following rules; and following rules is entirely a social affair. There cannot be thought apart from the use of language—and language can operate only within a set of social practices. Thus there is no private thought without a corresponding public reality. “An ‘inner process,’ ” as Wittgenstein put it, “stands in need of outward criteria.” To phrase it in Cartesian terms: I think, therefore I am part of a community of others.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 31 | Loc. 554-55 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 06:02 PM

(Wallace’s metafictional joke is that, for Lenore, as a character in a novel, there really isn’t any reality other than language.)

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 33 | Loc. 592-94 | Added on Monday, July 02, 2012, 06:07 PM

There was a palpable strain for Wallace between engagement with the world, in all its overwhelming fullness, and withdrawal to one’s own head, in all its loneliness. The world was too much, the mind alone too little. “You can’t be anything but contemptible living for yourself,” Costello said, summing up the dilemma. “But letting the world in—that sucks too.”

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Note on Page 51 | Loc. 807 | Added on Thursday, July 05, 2012, 06:06 PM

I think it is here where there is a certain fogginess of future events that, if properly clarified or (are created\controlled), we can “create our or live to the fullest potential of our future”. Hence the usefullness of “imagining sucessful circumstances or outcomes of our endevors.” Here, if we can clarify our future enough through visualization, we can almost certainly know and live-out our future.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 114 | Loc. 2766-67 | Added on Sunday, July 08, 2012, 05:17 PM

It was a stillness so profound one had to adjust one’s hearing to it.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 131 | Loc. 3154-55 | Added on Monday, July 09, 2012, 05:22 PM

The people who came here were apparently not concerned that the author later suffered from alcoholism and killed himself with a hunting rifle.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 173 | Loc. 4156-59 | Added on Friday, July 20, 2012, 02:32 AM

Komatsu raised the hand that had a cigarette tucked between the fingers. “Think of it this way, Tengo. Your readers have seen the sky with one moon in it any number of times, right? But I doubt they’ve seen a sky with two moons in it side by side. When you introduce things that most readers have never seen before into a piece of fiction, you have to describe them with as much precision and in as much detail as possible. What you can eliminate from fiction is the description of things that most readers have seen.”

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 200 | Loc. 4817-18 | Added on Sunday, July 22, 2012, 05:22 PM

Something told him, however, that it was not going to be that simple, and he knew that bad premonitions have a far higher accuracy rate than good ones.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 210 | Loc. 5081-82 | Added on Sunday, July 22, 2012, 05:54 PM

When he woke up the next day, the world was still there, and things were already moving forward, like the great karmic wheel of Indian mythology that kills every living thing in its path.

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Oblivion: Stories (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 1402-4 | Added on Tuesday, August 07, 2012, 07:08 PM

The facts about the words were simply there, much the way a knowledge of how your tummy feels and where your arms are are there regardless of whether you’re paying attention to these parts or not. They were simply part of the whole peripheral environment in which I sat.

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What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” (Erwin Schrödinger, Roger Penrose and Roger Penrose)
– Highlight on Page 5 | Loc. 202-6 | Added on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 01:40 PM

periodic crystals. To a humble physicist’s mind, these are very interesting and complicated objects; they constitute one of the most fascinating and complex material structures by which inanimate nature puzzles his wits. Yet, compared with the aperiodic crystal, they are rather plain and dull. The difference in structure is of the same kind as that between an ordinary wallpaper in which the same pattern is repeated again and again in regular periodicity and a masterpiece of embroidery, say a Raphael tapestry, which shows no dull repetition, but an elaborate, coherent, meaningful design traced by the great master.

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What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” (Erwin Schrödinger, Roger Penrose and Roger Penrose)
– Highlight on Page 17 | Loc. 360-62 | Added on Monday, October 15, 2012, 02:14 AM

You have to multiply observations, in order to eliminate the effect of the Brownian movement of your instrument. This example is, I think, particularly illuminating in our present investigation. For our organs of sense, after all, are a kind of instrument. We can see how useless they would be if they became too sensitive.

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Oblivion: Stories (David Foster Wallace)
– Note Loc. 1806 | Added on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 05:00 PM

I think I love drugs to the same extent I hate reality.

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What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” (Erwin Schrödinger, Roger Penrose and Roger Penrose)
– Highlight on Page 21 | Loc. 417-21 | Added on Saturday, October 20, 2012, 02:30 PM

It is these chromosomes, or probably only an axial skeleton fibre of what we actually see under the microscope as the chromosome, that contain in some kind of code-script the entire pattern of the individual’s future development and of its functioning in the mature state. Every complete set of chromosomes contains the full code; so there are, as a rule, two copies of the latter in the fertilized egg cell, which forms the earliest stage of the future individual.

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What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” (Erwin Schrödinger, Roger Penrose and Roger Penrose)
– Highlight on Page 22 | Loc. 427-28 | Added on Saturday, October 20, 2012, 02:31 PM

They are law-code and executive power — or, to use another simile, they are architect’s plan and builder’s craft — in one.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 330 | Loc. 7890-94 | Added on Monday, October 22, 2012, 07:42 PM

The large crown of his head formed an abnormally flat bald area with lopsided edges. It was reminiscent of a military heliport that had been made by cutting away the peak of a small, strategically important hill. Tengo had seen such a heliport in a Vietnam War documentary. Around the borders of the flat, lopsided area of his head clung thick, black, curly hair that had been allowed to grow too long, hanging down shaggily over the man’s ears. Ninety-eight people out of a hundred would probably be reminded by it of pubic hair. Tengo had no idea what the other two would think.

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What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” (Erwin Schrödinger, Roger Penrose and Roger Penrose)
– Highlight on Page 38 | Loc. 652-53 | Added on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 10:27 PM

The fact that two individuals may be exactly alike in their outward appearance, yet differ in their inheritance, is so important that an exact differentiation is desirable. The geneticist says they have the same phenotype, but different genotype.

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What Is Life?: with “Mind and Matter” and “Autobiographical Sketches” (Erwin Schrödinger, Roger Penrose and Roger Penrose)
– Highlight on Page 38 | Loc. 654-55 | Added on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 10:27 PM

A recessive allele influences the phenotype only when the genotype is homozygous.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Note on Page 365 | Loc. 8689 | Added on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 12:22 AM

ok so are we to realize now that what he is typing is aomames perspective or world written to compliment his own world and thus he lives in the quote un quote real world

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 463 | Loc. 11028-29 | Added on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 07:09 PM

If you don’t believe in the world, and if there is no love in it, then everything is phony.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 464 | Loc. 11044-46 | Added on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 07:12 PM

The so-called Little People—or some kind of manifestations of will—certainly do have great power. But the more they use their power, the more another power automatically arises to resist it. In that way, the world maintains a delicate balance. This fundamental principle is the same in any world.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 463 | Loc. 11037-38 | Added on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 07:13 PM

“In this world there are the so-called Little People. Or at least, that is what they are called in this world. But they do not always have a shape or a name.”

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 464 | Loc. 11063-64 | Added on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 07:16 PM

For it is just as sinful from the standpoint of nature and of truth to be above oneself as to be below oneself.’

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 475 | Loc. 11343-44 | Added on Friday, October 26, 2012, 11:43 AM

It was the special smell of life that could only be exuded by flesh still in the process of formation, like the smell of dew-laden flowers in midsummer.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 478 | Loc. 11415-16 | Added on Friday, October 26, 2012, 11:48 AM

Or was this a new erection, following the relaxation of the first (like Prime Minister So-and-So’s Second Cabinet)?

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 621 | Loc. 14709-11 | Added on Monday, October 29, 2012, 02:20 PM

Number one on the list now was a diet book entitled Eat as Much as You Want of the Food You Love and Still Lose Weight. What a great title. The whole book could be blank inside and it would still sell.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 695 | Loc. 16459-62 | Added on Saturday, November 03, 2012, 10:51 PM

So he always kept his mouth shut. He kept his ears open and listened closely to whatever anyone else had to say, aiming to learn something from everything he heard. This habit eventually became a useful tool. Through this, he discovered a number of important realities, including this one: most people in the world don’t really use their brains to think. And people who don’t think are the ones who don’t listen to others.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 706 | Loc. 16732-36 | Added on Saturday, November 03, 2012, 11:09 PM

Aomame vanished, as they say, like smoke. Without a trace. And the Azabu Willow House is locked up tight as a bank vault. Nothing I can do to get in. Which leaves only one door. It looks like I’ll be sticking with Tengo for the time being, Ushikawa decided. There’s no other choice—a perfect example of the process of elimination. So perfect an example, it makes me want to print it up in a pamphlet and hand it out to people on the street. Hi, how are you? Check out the process of elimination.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 730 | Loc. 17279-81 | Added on Monday, November 05, 2012, 02:16 AM

From Ushikawa’s perspective, they were irretrievably shallow. To him, their minds were dull, their vision narrow and devoid of imagination, and all they cared about was what other people thought. More than anything, they were completely lacking in the sort of healthy skepticism needed to attain any degree of wisdom.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 731 | Loc. 17292-96 | Added on Monday, November 05, 2012, 02:17 AM

He would passionately argue in support of the proposition, then argue—just as vigorously—against it. He could identify equally with either of the two positions and was completely and sincerely absorbed by whatever position he happened to be supporting at the moment. Before he had realized it, these exercises had given him the talent to be skeptical about his own self, and he had come to the recognition that most of what is generally considered the truth is entirely relative. Subject and object are not as distinct as most people think.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 750 | Loc. 17731-32 | Added on Wednesday, November 07, 2012, 03:27 PM

People who have finished work and are on the way home all walk the same way.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 861 | Loc. 20343-49 | Added on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 08:21 PM

“Your father may have had a secret that he took with him to the other side. And that seems to be causing you confusion. I think I can understand how you feel. But you shouldn’t peep anymore into that dark entrance. Leave that up to cats. If you keep doing so, you will never go anywhere. Better to think about the future.” “The hole has to be closed up,” Tengo said. “Exactly,” Kumi said. “The owl says the same thing. Do you remember the owl?” “Of course.” The owl is the guardian deity of the woods, knows all, and gives us the wisdom of the night.

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1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
– Highlight on Page 883 | Loc. 20931-35 | Added on Thursday, November 15, 2012, 08:52 PM

Tengo is a bachelor, and teaches math at a cram school. He lives in a neat, humble little apartment. He cooks, irons, and is writing a long novel. Aomame envied Tamaru. If it were possible, she would like to get into Tengo’s apartment like that, when he was out. Tengo’s Tengo-less apartment. In the deserted silence she wanted to touch each and every object there—check out how sharp his pencils were, hold his coffee cup, inhale the odor of his clothes. She wanted to take that step first, before actually coming face-to-face with him.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 42 | Loc. 653-54 | Added on Monday, December 17, 2012, 04:05 PM

certain presuppositions made almost universally in contemporary philosophy yield a proof that fatalism is true, without any recourse to theology or physics.

This is professor Talor’s thesis.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 43 | Loc. 659-61 | Added on Monday, December 17, 2012, 04:07 PM

any proposition whatever is either true or, if not true, then false. This is simply the standard interpretation, tertium non datur, of the law of excluded middle, usually symbolized (p  v -p), which is generally admitted to be a necessary truth.

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Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will (David Foster Wallace)
– Note on Page 43 | Loc. 666 | Added on Monday, December 17, 2012, 04:10 PM

this means that by no means did someone have to have had ingested cyonide if they were dead but if one does ingest cyonide then they will be dead.

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Oblivion: Stories (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight Loc. 1870-72 | Added on Thursday, December 20, 2012, 02:28 PM

all there ever was to look at as the narrative unfolded were the rear portions of their heads and necks, which he said appeared average and unremarkable and difficult to extrapolate anything from, which is the way the backs of strangers’ heads on airliners nearly always look. Though of course there are exceptions.

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 7 | Loc. 67-68 | Added on Thursday, December 27, 2012, 11:21 AM

Anyway, that’s one example of a Federer Moment, and that was merely on TV—and the truth is that TV tennis is to live tennis pretty much as video porn is to the felt reality of human love.

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 8 | Loc. 82-83 | Added on Thursday, December 27, 2012, 11:24 AM

Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 20 | Loc. 191-92 | Added on Thursday, December 27, 2012, 01:16 PM

he looks like what he may well (I think) be: a creature whose body is both flesh and, somehow, light.

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 21 | Loc. 205-7 | Added on Thursday, December 27, 2012, 01:19 PM

tennis is actually more a game of micrometers: vanishingly tiny changes around the moment of impact will have large effects on how and where the ball travels. The same principle explains why even the smallest imprecision in aiming a rifle will still cause a miss if the target’s far enough away.

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page ii | Loc. 3244-47 | Added on Thursday, December 27, 2012, 01:45 PM

It’s hard to describe—it’s like a thought that’s also a feeling. One wouldn’t want to make too much of it, or to pretend that it’s any sort of equitable balance; that would be grotesque. But the truth is that whatever deity, entity, energy, or random genetic flux produces sick children also produced Roger Federer, and just look at him down there. Look at that.

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Both Flesh and Not: Essays (David Foster Wallace)
– Highlight on Page 33 | Loc. 326-28 | Added on Thursday, December 27, 2012, 01:47 PM

Genius is not replicable. Inspiration, though, is contagious, and multiform—and even just to see, close up, power and aggression made vulnerable to beauty is to feel inspired and (in a fleeting, mortal way) reconciled.