Sunday, 5 August 2012

And So To Bed 2

"And so to bed." was a phrase well known from the Diaries of Samuel Pepys, and I have been using it to end the day with a quotation on Facebook to ponder. Sometimes it takes around 20 minutes to find a suitable quotation, and I try to adhere to the following principles:

1) it must not be one of the interminable short quotations that are continually posted on Facebook, usually attributed (and occasionally genuinely) to Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Rumi, etc - so not a soundbite quotation. It must not be too short, but not too long either.

2) it must be genuine, and not a fake, properly sourced

3) Most importantly, it must be something that makes you glimpse the world through the eyes of the writer, and if you agree with it, it will not be because it is saying something that just chimes with you, like the soundbites, but a quotation that hopefully opens your eyes to a different vision, yet a vision with which you can also say "that is true", or "I never thought of that in that way, but now that I see it..."

So here is a second set of quotations for which I've ended each evening, for those who have missed them going out on Facebook

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from John Ruskin:

No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour will make us one whit stronger, or happier, or wiser. There was always more in the world than man could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. It does a bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly a man, no harm to go slow; for his glory is not at all in going, but in being.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Erasmus:

Given a choice between a folly and a sacrament, one should always choose the folly—because we know a sacrament will not bring us closer to god and there's always the chance that a folly will.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is ― Richard Feynman:

Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Rudolf Steiner:

Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Richard Dawkins:

After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked—as I am surprisingly often—why I bother to get up in the mornings.

And so to bed... quotation for tonight is from Mark Twain:

Such is the history of it. Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. If the Eiffel Tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from George Mackay Brown (my favourite Orkney writer):

Into the hands of every unborn soul is put a lump of the original clay, for him to mould vessels – a bowl and a lamp – the one to sustain him, the other to lighten him through the twilight between two darknesses, birth and death. He refreshes himself, this Everyman, with mortal bread; he holds his lamp over rut and furrow and snow and stone, an uncertain flame. Now and then the honey of a hidden significance is infused into his being. By the vessels that he has moulded to his wants he calls this mystery of longing The–Immortal–Bread, The–Unquenchable–Light . . . At death he leaves behind the worn lamp and bowl, and (a peregrine spirit) seeks the table of the great Harvester, where all is radiance and laughter and feasting.

And some there are – God take pity on every soul born – that love their lamps and their bowls more than the source from which clay, corn and oil issue for ever; and, their vessels failing at last by reason of age or chance, they set out dark into the last Darkness, a drift of deathless waiting hungers . . .

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from J.B. Priestley:

We might say that this inner atmosphere, this weather in the soul, is just as much the secret of English humour as the outer atmosphere, the real weather, is the secret of our delectable English landscapes.

Our fields and woods and hills are more often than not covered with mists so light that they are nothing but a haze, in which hard edges are rubbed away and colours are softened and blended; the fields will suddenly be silvered, the woods will be full of a golden smoke, the hills will take on the bloom of ripe damsons, and the sky will be a wash of delicate colouring as if some water-colourist were for ever at work there; and this is the sensitive, the misty-eyed and faintly flushing face of England that is at once the despair and the delight of her artists.

The English mind is like this landscape of hers. There, too, is a haze, rubbing away the hard edges of ideas, softening and blending the hues of passion. Reason is there but it is not all-conquering and triumphant, setting up its pyramids and obelisks or marking out long straight roads down which the battalions of thought must march. The country does not show a face like a glaring map; nothing is clearly marked out, and no boundaries can be discovered; the solid earth is there but sunlight and mist have given it a vague enchantment.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from H.G. Wells, and is a description of the lunar surface:

As we saw it first it was the wildest and most desolate of scenes. We were in an enormous amphitheatre, a vast circular plain, the floor of the giant crater. Its cliff-like walls closed us in on every side. From the westward the light of the unseen sun fell upon them, reaching to the very foot of the cliff, and showed a disordered escarpment of drab and grayish rock... This was perhaps a dozen miles away, but at first no intervening atmosphere diminished in the slightest the minutely detailed brilliancy with which these things glared at us. They stood out clear and dazzling against a background of starry blackness that seemed to our earthly eyes rather a gloriously spangled velvet curtain than the spaciousness of the sky.

The eastward cliff was at first merely a starless selvedge to the starry dome. No rosy flush, no creeping pallor, announced the commencing day. Only the Corona, the Zodiacal light, a huge cone-shaped, luminous haze, pointing up towards the splendour of the morning star, warned us of the imminent nearness of the sun.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from C.S. Lewis:

"Let it go hence," they sang. "Let it go hence, dissolve and be no body. Drop it, release it, drop it gently, as a stone is loosed from fingers drooping over a still pool. Let it go down, sink, fall away. Once below the surface there are no divisions, no layers in the water yielding all the way down; all one and all unwounded is that element. Send it voyaging; it will not come again. Let it go down; the hnau rises from it. This is the second life, the other beginning. Open, oh coloured world, without weight, without shore. You are second and better; this was first and feeble. Once the worlds were hot within and brought forth life, but only the pale plants, the dark plants. We see their children when they grow today, out of the sun's light in the sad places. After, the heaven made grow another kind of worlds: the high climbers, the bright haired forests, cheeks of flowers. First were the darker, then the brighter. First was the worlds' brood, then the suns' brood."

This was as much of it as he contrived later to remember and could translate. As the song ended Oyarsa said: "Let us scatter the movements which were their bodies. So will Maleldil scatter all worlds when the first and feeble is worn."

He made a sign to one of the pfifltriggi, who instantly arose and approached the corpses. The hrossa, now singing again but very softly, drew back at least ten paces. The pfifltrigg touched each of the three dead in turn with some small object that appeared to be made of glass or crystal - and then jumped away with one of his froglike leaps. Ransom closed his eyes to protect them from a blinding light and felt something like a very strong wind blowing in his face, for a fraction of a second. Then all was calm again, and the three biers were empty.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from that great Orkney poet, George Mackay Brown (from Greenvoe)

The Lord of the Harvest took the black cloth from the niche where the horse-shoe had been secreted. The horse-shoe had vanished. In its place was a loaf and a bottle.

The Master Horsemen raised the Harvester to his feet. They put a white cloak over his shoulders. They brought him over to the niche where the whisky and the bread stood.

Slowly the sun heaved itself clear of the sea. The cliff below was alive with the stir and cry of birds. The sea moved and flung glories of light over Quoylay and Hrossey and Hellya, and all the skerries and rocks around. The smell of the earth came to them in the first wind of morning, from the imprisoned fields of the island; and the fence could not keep it back.

The Lord of the Harvest raised his hands. 'We have brought light and blessing to the kingdom of winter,' he said, 'however long it endures, that kingdom, a night or a season or a thousand ages. The word has been found. Now we will eat and drink together and be glad.' The sun rose. The stones were warm. They broke the bread.

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