“He is, or has been, in many ways a great man. But for this very reason he is odd. It is only petty men who seem normal.”
—Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
“But if art… is a harmony parallel to nature, as I’ve said, then the exploration of nature should be no less exciting and no less spiritually rewarding than the function of art. I mean, it’s the same field. When one’s bliss is actually science… it has to be. I remember that when I was in prep school, biology was the thing that grabbed me, and now I think of mythology as a function of biology, a statement of the impulse system and the organs. Not something that’s made up in the head. What’s made up in the head is the fiction; what comes out of [the heart] is a myth.”
—Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey
“[Heidegger’s students] found him funny, but he did not share the joke because his sense of humour was somewhere between peculiar and non-existent. It didn’t matter: his clothes, his rustic Swabian accent and his seriousness only heightened his mystique.”
—Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe, a delightful book I almost didn’t read and a much more pleasurable, informative read than the philosophers it describes.
“While perhaps unintuitive, research that examines the differences between meaning and happiness finds that the things that give us a sense of meaning don’t necessarily make us happy. Moreover, people who report having meaningful lives are often more interested in doing things for others, while those who focus mostly on doing things for themselves report being only superficially happy.”
—Dan Ariely, Payoff. Here is a previous post on hearing him speak about Predictably Irrational in Seattle.
“Her response to any performance, any work of art, was the desire to make another, to make her own.”
—A.S. Byatt, The Children’s Book, which is on the whole both marvelous and exasperating.