Baudelaire on Genius


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August 25, 2012
By Bret

"Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will."
--Charles Baudelaire, from The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays

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P.D. James on Modernity and Tradition


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December 27, 2011
By Bret

"We live in an age notable for a kind of fashionable silliness and imbued with a restless desire for change.

It sometimes seems that nothing old, nothing well-established, nothing which has evolved through centuries of experience and loving use escapes our urge to diminish, revise or abolish it.

Above all every organisation has to be relevant—a very fashionable word—to the needs of modern life, as if human beings in the twenty-first century are somehow fundamentally different in their needs and aspirations from all previous generations.

A country which ceases to value and learn from its history, neglects its language and literature, despises its traditions and is unified only by a common frenetic drive for getting and spending and for material wealth, will lose more than its nationhood; it will lose its soul."

--P.D. James, from “Through All the Changes Scenes of Life: Living with the Prayer Book”

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Later Wittgenstein on Philosophy


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July 21, 2011
By Bret

"When we do philosophy we are like savages, primitive people, who hear the expressions of civilized men, put a false interpretation on them, and then draw the queerest conclusions from it."
--Ludwig Wittgenstein (via Fors Clavigera)

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Dare Greatly


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June 11, 2011
By Bret

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

--Theodore Roosevelt, from his speech "Citizenship In A Republic"

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Humility in the wrong place


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October 6, 2009
By Bret

"What we suffer from to-day is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed....

...the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether."

G.K. Chesterton, from Orthodoxy

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