Friday, August 31, 2007

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

--- Andre Gide. Quoted widely, but I have not found a source citation. Some versions have "new oceans" or "new continents" in place of "new lands". It's not in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, or's collection of quotation references. It may be apocryphal.

Update 21 Oct 2007: Bret Battey, with a little help from, found the reference: The Counterfeiters. In 1951 Knopf version in, either Page 49 or 326 (can't tell for sure from the listing).

Monday, August 20, 2007

The good has to happen first in our own hearts. Only then can goodness and purity come out of it. We can't give away what we don't have.

--- Ayya Khema, from the discourse "Talking to One Another," p. 50, Be an Island, 1999
If we're looking for outer conditions to bring us contentment, we're looking in vain. We have to find inner conditions conducive to contentment. One of them is independence - not financial independence, which may bring other hazards, but emotional independence from the approval of others. This entails knowling that we are trying to do the best we can, and if someone disapproves, that's just the way things are. . . .

To be independent also includes no looking for support from others. Sometimes the best we can do may be very good, sometimes it is mediocre. That too has to be accepted. . . . If we sometimes cannot do as well as we thought we could, that is also all right and no reason for discontentment.

Emotional independence requires having a loving heart. If we are looking for love, we are emotionally dependent and often discontented because we don't get what we want, or don't get enough of it. Even if we do get enough, we still cannot count on it to fill our needs. To look for love is a totally unsatisfactory and unfulfilling endeavor. What does work, however, is loving others, which brings emotional independence and contentment. Loving others is possible whether the other person reciprocates or not. Love has nothing to do with the other, but is a quality of our own hearts.

--- Ayya Khema, in the discourse "Harmonious Living," p. 41-41, in Be an Island, 1999

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He lives well who lives lightly,
hoards nothing,
lets go the air he breathes-
to draw in more

Peter Abbs, in The Flowering of Flint: Selected Poems, quoted in a review in the Economist, 11 Aug 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things.

--- Donald Knuth, Email (let's drop the hyphen)

In context:

I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I'd used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime.

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.

On the other hand, I need to communicate with thousands of people all over the world as I write my books. I also want to be responsive to the people who read those books and have questions or comments. My goal is to do this communication efficiently, in batch mode --- like, one day every three months. So if you want to write to me about any topic, please use good ol' snail mail and send a letter to the following address. . .

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Our evolutionary history determined that we become [sic] a cultural creature, but did not determine what kind of culture we would have. Hence our problem today is not whether to have a culture; it is what kind of culture to have.

--- Ervin Laszlo, The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time, Hampton Press 1996, Ch. 4, "The Systems View of Ourselves," p. 75
The music industry is growing. The record industry is not growing.

--- Edgar Bronfman, chairman of Warner Music, at a New York investor conference, June 2007, as quoted in "A change of tune," The Economist, July 5th 2007