Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Quote of the Day

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August 22, 2017 at 7:30 am

The roundabout method

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We either put forth our labor just before the goal is reached, or we, intentionally, take a roundabout way. That is to say, we may put forth our labor in such a way that it at once completes the circle of conditions necessary for the emergence of the desired good, and thus the existence of the good immediately follows the expenditure of the labor; or we may associate our labor first with the more remote causes of the good, with the object of obtaining, not the desired good itself, but a proximate cause of the good; which cause, again, must be associated with other suitable materials and powers, till, finally—perhaps through a considerable number of intermediate members—the finished good, the instrument of human satisfaction, is obtained…

A peasant requires drinking water. The spring is some distance from his house. There are various ways in which he may supply his daily wants. First, he may go to the spring each time he is thirsty and drink out of his hollowed hand…Second, he may take a log of wood, hollow it out into a kind of pail, and carry his day’s supply from the spring to his cottage…But there is still a third way; instead of felling one tree he fells a number of trees, splits and hollows them, lays them end for end, and so constructs a runnel or rhone which brings a full head of water to his cottage. Here, obviously, between expenditure of the labor and the obtaining of the water we have a very roundabout way, but then, the result is ever so much greater. Our peasant needs no longer to take his weary way from house to well with the heavy pail on his shoulder, and yet he has a constant and full supply of the freshest water at his very door…

That roundabout methods lead to greater results than direct methods is one of the most important and fundamental propositions in the whole theory of production. It must be emphatically stated that the only basis of this proposition is the experience of practical life. Economic theory does not and cannot show a priori that it must be so; but the unanimous experience of all the technique of production says that it is so. And this is sufficient; all the more that the facts of experience which tell us this are commonplace and familiar to everybody.

Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, The Positive Theory of Capital

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August 21, 2017 at 7:30 am

The price of repression

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Men came to the idea of exclusive black slavery by gradually enslaving the workers, as was the world’s long custom, and then gradually conceiving certain sorts of work and certain colors of men as necessarily connected…Today in larger cycle and more intricate detail we are passing through certain phases of a similar evolution. Today we have the caste idea—again not a sudden full grown conception but one being insidiously but consciously and persistently pressed upon the nation. The steps toward it which are being taken are: first, political disfranchisement, then vocational education with the distinct idea of narrowing to the uttermost of the vocations in view, and finally a curtailment of civil freedom of travel, association, and entertainment, in systematic effort to instill contempt and kill self-respect…

This is the problem of today, and what is its mighty answer? It is this great word: The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

W.E.B. Du Bois, “Evolution of the Race Problem”

Written by nevalalee

August 20, 2017 at 7:30 am

The agreement of components

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Truth is, according to Gibbs, not a stream that flows from a source, but an agreement of components. In a poem, these components are, not the words or images, but the relations between the words and images. Truth is an accord that actually makes the whole “simpler than its parts”; as he was fond of saying. Originality is important before the accord is reached; it is the most vivid of the means in a poem, and the daring of the images allows the reader to put off his emotional burden of association with the single words, allows him to come fresh to memory and to discovery. But when the whole poem has taken its effect—even its first effect—then the originality is absorbed into a sense of order, and order then becomes the important factor.

Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry

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August 19, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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August 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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You can be an artist without visual images, a reader without eyes, a mass of erudition with a bad elementary memory. In almost any subject your passion for the subject will save you. If you only care enough for a result, you will almost certainly attain it. If you wish to be rich, you will be rich; if you wish to be learned, you will be learned; if you wish to be good, you will be good. Only you must, then, really wish these things, and wish them with exclusiveness, and not wish at the same time a hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.

William James, “Memory”

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August 17, 2017 at 7:30 am

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Quote of the Day

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Magic provides primitive man…with a definite mental and practical technique which serves to bridge over the dangerous gaps in every important pursuit or critical situation. It enables man to carry out with confidence his important tasks, to maintain his poise and his mental integrity in fits of anger, in the throes of hate, of unrequited love, of despair and anxiety. The function of magic is to ritualize man’s optimism, to enhance his faith in the victory of hope over fear.

Bronisław Malinowski, Magic, Science, and Religion

Written by nevalalee

August 16, 2017 at 7:30 am

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