Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Walk in the Rain

I find it good to be out this still, dark, mizzling afternoon; my walk or voyage is more suggestive and profitable than in bright weather.  The view is contracted by the misty rain, the water is perfectly smooth, and the stillness is favorable to reflection.  I am more open to impressions, more sensitive (not calloused or indurated by sun and wind), as if in a chamber still.  My thoughts are concentrated; I am all compact.  The solitude is real, too, for the weather keeps other men at home.  This mist is like a roof and walls over and around, and I walk with a domestic feeling.  The sound of a wagon going over an unseen bridge is louder than ever, and so of other sounds.  I am compelled to look at near objects.  All things have a soothing effect; the very clouds and mists brood over me.  My power of observation and contemplation is much increased.  My attention does not wander.  The world and my life are simplified.  What now of Europe and Asia?
- Henry David Thoreau, Journals, November 7, 1855

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Marxism & the US

Marxism in this country had ever been an eccentric and quixotic passion.  One oppressed class after another had seemed finally to miss the point.  The have-nots, it turned out, aspired mainly to having.

- Joan Didion, “The Women’s Movement” (1972)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Most Important Fact in All History

 The abject patience of the oppressed is perhaps the most inexplicable, as it is also the most important, fact in all history.
- Aldous Huxley, “Boundaries of Utopia” (1931)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Life at Sea

If I could have secured this advantage without the horrid prolonged trials that produced it, I might have gladly become a sailor.  I love moving water, I love ships, I love the sharp definition, the concentrated humanity, the sublime solitude of life at sea.  The dangers of it only make present to us the peril inherent in all existence, which the stupid, ignorant, untravelled land-worm never discovers; and the art of it, so mathematical, so exact, so rewarding to intelligence appeals to courage and clears the mind of superstition, while filling it with humility and true religion.  Our world is a cockleshell in the midst of overwhelming forces and everlasting realities; but those forces are calculable and those realities helpful, if we can manage to understand and obey them.
George Santayana, The Background of My Life (1944)

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Barbarian Invaders

A nation may beget its own barbarian invaders.
- Wilhelm Röpke, International Economic Disintegration (1942)