Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Words/Expressions from William James

stream of consciousness


one great blooming, buzzing confusion

bitch-goddess success


healthy minded

live option

the moral equivalent of war

These are cited by author Robert Richardson in his biography as originating with James.

In my dim past I learned that James was a philosopher who promoted pragmatism. I have always felt the appeal of pragmatism, to some extent. It must be in part due to his influence and also to my having been born and raised in the U. S.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some Quotes of William James

Richard Beck recommended a book to me William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism. Life is busy and it has taken me 6 weeks to read the first 300 pages, what with vacation and 10 hour work days and all.

Here's some good stuff. I googled William James and got some of these quotations from the Quotations Page:

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jesse Beams - Illustrious U. of VA Physics Prof

I met Dr. Jesse Beams during my time at the U. of VA. I've heard that he was in the running for a Nobel Prize and came very close. Here is a story about him. It was related by a technical staff member Milt Branham probably in 1976.

One day, in the morning, Jesse opened the door to a lab and found several students inside studying. He said "Boys, the morning is the best time to do research." (accent on first syllable).

Another day, in the afternoon, again he opens the door and says "Boys, the afternoon is the best time to do research."

One evening, yet again, he pokes his head in the lab and responds to guys there studying "Boys, the nightime is the best time to do research."

I was a young newlywed at the time I heard this and at the time was just starting out on my own research. This wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear. Thought it was depressing as well as the story that he would attend the first half of the Saturday UVA football games with his wife and then leave her and go back to the lab for the second half. I was a young man, a newlywed and wanted to have fun and live life.

He was still working in his bed in the hospital almost to the day he died.

I work all the time now and now I know perhaps how he felt. He was a great man. But, in the workaholic aspect I do not want to emulate him. I've been getting close lately though.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thank God for Failure

Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird quotes a poem by Bill Holm titled August in Waterton, Alberta.

Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off
the aspen tree a month too soon.
No use wind. All you succeed
in doing is making music, the noise
of failure growing beautiful

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Quote by John Haught

Developments in geology, evolutionary biology and cosmology have left no doubt that the whole of nature, and not just our planet and human history, have an essentially narrative character.

John Haught at Metanexus site.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Anne Lamott Attacks Reason

more thoughts regarding Bird by Bird

You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true.

What? My hero in high school was Mr. Spock. He was how we should ought to be. Rational and logical. My high school classmates were irrational. They didn't study. They laughed and joked when they should have been listening to the teacher. They were silly. They took risks with sex and alcohol. They weren't serious. They played too much. Oh that was an ancient world, the 1960's. It was a world that was still analog and not digital.

Well, the rational mind helps to give us truths. But that is not the end of it. Anne is right. It is not what nourishes us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Quote from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live an die. page 15

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Discovered in a Walnut Ridge AR Antique Store

Last Monday, while in Arkansas visiting my folks, we trekked a few miles down to road to Cross Roads Antiques in Walnut Ridge where I found a hardbound copy of the1994 book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Am half way through it. It talks about writing - how to do it - and I found it to be a great help to me already. Here's one quote, a bit of food for thought.

"One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around."

These are good things to do even if you are not a writer.

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