“The born contemplative has to face the struggle for existence and social predominance without protection” — Aldous Huxley

The lack of a suitable vocabulary and an adequate frame of reference, and the absence of any strong and sustained desire to invent these necessary instruments of thought here are two sufficient reasons why so many of the almost endless potentialities of the human mind remained for so long unactualized. Another and, on its own level, equally cogent reason is this: much of the world’s most original and fruitful thinking is done by people of poor physique and of a thoroughly unpractical turn of mind. Because this is so, and because the value of pure thought, whether analytical or integral, has everywhere been more or less clearly recognized, provision was and still is made by every civilized society for giving thinkers a measure of protection from the ordinary strains and stresses of social life. The hermitage, the monastery, the college, the academy and the research laboratory; the begging bowl, the endowment, patronage and the grant of taxpayers’ money such are the principal devices that have been used by actives to conserve that rare bird, the religious, philosophical, artistic or scientific contemplative. In many primitive societies conditions are hard and there is no surplus wealth. The born contemplative has to face the struggle for existence and social predominance without protection. The result, in most cases, is that he either dies young or is too desperately busy merely keeping alive to be able to devote his attention to anything else. When this happens the prevailing philosophy will be that of the hardy, extraverted man of action.

— Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

Quotidian Miracles. “These invitations are the white rabbit leading you not deeper down but up and out” — Jed McKenna

…. What is it here in the seemingly materialistic universe that we can focus on so we can see through the cosmetic layer to what, if anything, lies below?

Glad you asked. Behold the Quotidan Miracle.

Not the miracle of birth or sunrise or cellphone-deflects-bullet kind of miracles, but the ordinary kind that we all experience all the time, like when the phone rings and it’s the person you were just thinking about. You can’t prove it, you can’t reproduce it, but you know it’s happened and you know it was more than mere coincidence because it happens too often and because you experience enough stuff like it that you know there’s more to it than meets the eye. Those are quotidian, workaday miracles, and that’s where you look. You look where you know there’s more than meets the eye.

…. Following the white rabbit is the point, not who’s on the phone or if it’s a good day to play the ponies.

…. The world is transparent and all you have to do to see through it is look. Quotidian miracles are visible bits of the subtle realm, breadcrumbs you can follow, invitations that most people reject but you can accept. The real Wonderland isn’t underground, it’s on the surface in full illumination, but we dwell in the subterranean darkness of slumberland. These invitations are the white rabbit leading you not deeper down but up and out.

— Jed McKenna, Dreamstate, 172-175

“An empathy wall is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can be make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is rooted in different circumstances” — Arlie Russell Hochschild

An empathy wall is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can be make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is rooted in different circumstances.

— Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

“Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies” — Andrew Piper

Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future.

— Andrew Piper, Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading

“The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink” — T.S. Eliot. Four Quotes about Writing and Bleeding

I write with the blood that goes to the ends of my fingers, and it is a very sensuous act.

— A. S. Byatt, Paris Review

 

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.

— T.S. Eliot

 

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

— Ernest Hemingway

 

I write so slowly that I could write in my own blood without hurting myself.

— Fran Lebowitz, Paris Review

“Would I start to resemble a book myself?” — Keith Miller

And slowly I arrived at a realization so startling I was almost afraid to believe it. I found, as I moved through this subterranean forest, that I could imagine a book, known or unknown, read or unread, and be certain of the path I would have to take to find it. … We all have titles, questions swept like sodden leaves into the corners of our minds, that we have little hope will ever be answered or solved, but that we cannot get rid of. Suddenly, I found myself in the orchard of answers. …

For a time, I wondered if I would simply stay here forever, reading, sampling the delicacies, hiding from the librarians — the ghost of the Library of Alexandria, a reformed thief in paradise. And I wondered what would become of my soul if I chose that path. … Would I start to resemble a book myself?

— Keith Miller, The Book of Flying

“You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it” — Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.

“Thoreau, Emerson recalls, had made it a principle to give no more time to writing than he had to walking” — Frederic Gros

Some decide to devote the same amount of time to writing as to reading. Thoreau, Emerson recalls, had made it a principle to give no more time to writing than he had to walking. To avoid the pitfalls of culture and libraries; for otherwise, what one writes is filled with the writing of others. For all that those others in turn had written on the books of yet others … Writing ought to be this: testimony to a wordless, living experience. No the commentary on another book, not the exegesis of another text. The book as witness … but witness in the sense of the baton in a relay race. Thus does the book, born out of experience, refer to that experience.

— Frederic Gros, A Philosophy of Walking