- "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
- "Next to the indeterminacy principle, I have learned in recent years to loathe most the term 'holistic,' a meaningless signifier empowering the muddle of all the useful distinctions human thought has labored at for two thousand years."
— Roger Lambert, a character in John Updike's Roger's Version
- "This morning on the radio I heard excerpts of Senator John
Edwards' speech to his supporters after finishing second in
the Iowa caucuses:
"You and I will build together. We will say 'no' to kids going
to bed hungry, 'no' to kids who don't have the clothes to keep
them warm, and 'no' to Americans working full time and living
I thought that's what Democrats have been accusing Republicans
of saying to these people for years?"
— a posting in rec.humor.funny .
- "Andrea told me she was transported to Jua'rez dozens of times. During one visit, when she was about 7 years old, the trafficker took her to the Radisson Casa Grande Hotel, where there was a john waiting in the room. The john was an older American man, and he read Bible passages to her before and after having sex with her."
— Peter Landesman, "The Girls Next Door" [on sex-trafficking], New York Times Magazine, Jan 25, 2004, p. 38. [via alt.quotations]
- "A worthwhile university or college is quite simply one in which the student is brought into personal contact with, is made vulnerable to, the aura and the threat of the first class. In the most direct sense, this is a matter of proximity, of sight and hearing. The institution, particularly in the humanities, should not be too large. The scholar, the significant teacher ought to be readily visible. We cross his or her daily path. The consequence, as in the Periclean polis, in medieval Bologna or nineteenth-century Tübingen, is one of implosive and cumulative contamination. The whole is energised beyond its eminent parts. By unforced contiguity, the student, the young researcher, will (or should be) infected. He will catch the scent of the real thing. I resort to sensory terms because the impact can be physical. Thinkers, the erudite, mathematicians or theoretical and natural scientists are beings possessed. They are in the grup of a mastering unreason.
What could, by the lights of the utilitarian or hedonistic commonwealth, be more irrational, more against the grain of common sense, than to devote one's existence to, say, the conservation and classification of archaic Chinese bronzes, to the solution of Fermat's last theorem, to the comparative syntax of Altaic languages (many now defunct), or to hair's-breadth nuances in modal logic? The requisite abstentions from distraction, the imperative labours, the tightening of nerve and brain to a constancy and pitch far beyond the ordinary, entail a pathological stress. The 'mad professor' is the caricature, as ancient as Thales falling into the well, of a certain truth. There is something of a cancer, of autism in the necessary negations of common life, with its dishevelled inconsequence and waste motion."
— George Steiner, Errata: An examined life.
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