commonplace book

Bort, Stephen  (1955 – ).  “It is what it is; it ain’t what it ain’t; it can be what it can be; it won’t never be what it won’t never be.”  2012.

——  “This world has no shortage of idiots.”  2012.

Bradbury, Ray (1921-2012).  “There is more than one way to burn a book.  And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.  Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-Day Adventist, Women’s Lib/Republican, Mattachine/Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse.  Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme. …

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics.  The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws.  But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule.  If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own.  If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent type-writers.  If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture.  If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” so it shapes “Zoot,” may the belt unravel and the pants fall. …

… digression is the soul of wit.  Take philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Ham-let’s father’s ghost and what stays is dry bones.  Laurence Sterne said it once:  Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading!  Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page.  Restore them to the writer — he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.”  Fahrenheit 451.  “Ray Bradbury’s Coda.”  1979.

James, William  (1842-1910). “… in the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. …

Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. …

Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain. …

Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day.  The Principles of Psychology.  “Habit.”  1891.

Japanese Proverb.  “Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare.”

Orwell, George  (1903-1950).  “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’  All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.  When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. . . .”  Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays.  “Politics and the English Language.”  1945

Philippians 4:7 (KJV).  “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding

Pindar  (ca. 522–443 BC).  Learn and become who you are.”  Ode: Pythian 2,  Line 72  Tr.  Diane Svarlian.

Reade, Charles (1814-1884).  “Not a day passes over the earth, but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.  Of these obscure heroes, philosophers, and martyrs, the greater part will never be known till that hour, when many that are great shall be small, and the small great; but of others the world’s knowledge may be said to sleep:  their lives and characters lie hidden from nations in the annals that record them. The general reader cannot feel them, they are presented so curtly and coldly:  they are not like breathing stories appealing to his heart, but little historic hailstones striking him but to glance off his bosom:  nor can he understand them; for epitomes are not narratives, as skeletons are not human figures.

. . .

Here is told, with harsh brevity, the strange history of a pair,  who lived untrumpeted, and died unsung, four hundred years ago; and lie now, as unpitied, in that stern page, as fossils in a rock.”  The Cloister and the Hearth.  “Chapter 1.”  1861.

Seneca, Lucius Annaeus  (ca. 4 B.C. – 65 A.D.).  “The archer must know what he is seeking to hit; then he must aim and control the weapon by his skill.  Our plans miscarry because they have no aim.  When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”  Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales: Volume II.  “Epistle LXXI:  On The Supreme Good.”  Tr. Richard M. Gummere.

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