201. “It’s not that students don’t “get” Kafka’s humor but that we’ve taught them to see humor as something you get-the same way we’ve taught them that a self is something you just have. No wonder they cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle.”
219. “This is PCE’s core fallacy – that a society’s mode of expression is productive of its attitudes rather than a product of those attitudes 63 – and of course it’s nothing but the obverse of the politically conservative SNOOT’s delusion that social change can be retarded by restricting change in standard usage.”
223. “There’s a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn’t happen all the time. It’s these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I’m in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don’t with other art.”
226. “Julie has told Faye that she believes lovers go through three different stages in getting really to know one another. First they exchange anecdotes and inclinations. Then each tells the other what she believes. Then each observes the relation between what the other says she believes and what she in fact does.”
228. “We may say, roughly, that a mathematical idea is ‘significant’ if it can be connected, in a natural and illuminating way, with a large complex of other mathematical ideas. Thus a serious mathematical theorem, a theorem which connects significant ideas, is likely to lead to important advances in mathematics itself and even in other sciences.”
229. “True heroism is a priori incompatible with audience or applause or even the bare notice of the common run of man. In fact,’ he said, ’the less conventionally heroic or exciting or adverting or even interesting or engaging a labor appears to be, the greater its potential as an arena for actual heroism, and therefore as a denomination of joy unequaled by any you men can yet imagine.”
230. “I think the language needs to find new ways to pull the reader. And my personal belief is a lot of it has to do with voice, and a feeling of intimacy between the writer and the reader. That sorta, given the atomization and loneliness of contemporary life – that’s our opening, and that’s’ our gift.”
234. “Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness, because it’s so socially repulsive, but it’s pretty much the same for all of us deep down. It’s our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: There is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute center of.”
239. “If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it.”
243. “That you just naturally want what we, your fathers, work night and day to make sure you want? Grow up, for Christ’s sake. Join the world. We produce what makes you want to need to consume. Advertising. Laxatives. HMO’s. Baking soda. Insurance. Your fears are built – and your wishes, on that foundation.”
246. “Between a cold kitchen window gone opaque with the stove’s wet heat and the breath of us, an open drawer, and the gilt ferrotype of identical boys flanking a blind vested father which hung in a square recession above the wireless’s stand, my Mum stood and cut off my long hair in the uneven heat.”
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