The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Shorter commonplaces

Bits and bobs that have no other home, unless I want to scribble them down in a notebook, which I would then probably lose. (Then they would not only be unhoused, they would be forgotten: thus defeating the purpose.)

‘Books that speak like the noise of multitudes reduce to despair by the sheer weight of their emptiness. They entertain us like the lights of the city streets at night, by hopes they cannot fulfil.’ —Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, ch. xiv

¶ 26 January 2023, around 17.33.

‘His desire for a career as a man of letters was not matched by his ability as an editor or as a writer of verse or prose’ —Dorothy Thompson, The Dignity of Chartism

¶ 11 January 2023, around 11.45.

‘…words are vessels that are filled with experience that overflows the vessels. The words point to an experience; they are not the experience’ —Erich Fromm, To Have or To Be? (Chapter V, Section 1: Being Active)

¶ 4 January 2023, around 13.26.

Underlining personalizes the book. The marks become traces of your interest.’ (124)

If the book is yours and it does not have antiquarian value, do not hesitate to annotate it. Do not trust those who say that you must respect books. You respect books by using them, not leaving them alone.’ (125f.) —Umberto Eco, How to Write a Thesis (trans. C. M. Farina & G. Farina)

¶ 23 November 2022, around 13.34.

Non mehercules ieiuna esse et arida volo, quae de rebus tam magnis dicentur; neque enim philosophia ingenio renuntiat. Multum tamen operae inpendi verbis non oportet.’ —Seneca, Epistulae Morales, 75.3

¶ 22 November 2022, around 7.45.

‘In their doctrine freedom of spirit is taken from man in the name of his own happiness; social eudaemonism is set up against liberty. If truth does not exist, then nothing is left but this compulsory organization of social happiness.’ —Berdyaev, Dostoevsky (trans. Attwater)

¶ 6 October 2022, around 16.38.

‘All genuine thought and art is to a certain extent an attempt to put big heads on small people: so it is no wonder the attempt does not always come off.’ —Schopenhauer

¶ 5 August 2022, around 6.05.

‘Arthur Symons was talking of some foreign city, carrying in his waistcoat pocket, as it were, the genius loci, anon to be embalmed in Pateresque prose. I forget whether this time it was Rome or Seville or Moscow or what…’ —Max Beerbohm, ‘First Meetings with W.B. Yeats

¶ 21 July 2022, around 8.57.

‘Nothing whatever, except a harsh and dismal superstition, prohibits enjoyment.’ —Spinoza, Ethics, pt.IV, Prop. 45, Schol. 2 (trans. George Eliot)

¶ 27 March 2022, around 13.55.

‘…it is true that I long syth haue redde and herde that the beste clerkes ben not the wysest men’ —Reynard the Fox (Caxton trans.)

¶ 20 March 2022, around 9.21.

‘Besides, there is nothing so plain boring as the constant repetition of assertions that are not true, and sometimes not even faintly sensible’ —J.L. Austin, Sense and Sensibilia, explaining why no one reads novels.

¶ 8 March 2022, around 16.38.

‘There are, first of all, people who have homes without offices: these are, paradoxically, either the very rich or the very poor.’ —Fredric Jameson, Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality

¶ 9 January 2022, around 12.08.

‘Good carpentry can make a secret door in any wall.’ —William James, from Essays in Psychical Research

¶ 25 October 2021, around 6.08.

‘The moment we allow ourselves to ask why some things are not otherwise, instead of endeavouring to account for them as they are, we shall never know where to stop; we shall be led into the grossest, and most childish absurdities’ —Malthus, ray of sunshine

‘Leisure is, without a doubt, highly valuable to man; but taking man as he is, the probability seems to be that, in the greater number of instances, it will produce evil rather than good.’ (ibid)

¶ 11 July 2021, around 13.23.

‘The superiority of intellectual to sensual pleasures consists rather in their filling up more time, in their having a larger range, and in their being less liable to satiety, than in their being more real and essential.’ —Malthus, in the midst of being cranky about Godwin

¶ 10 July 2021, around 5.45.

‘They were old maids. They weren’t cranky because they hadn’t had a man but because they’d had too many old books.’ —the gravedigger, qtd. in Ronald Blythe, Akenfield

¶ 12 February 2021, around 6.24.

ego hoc feci mm–MMXXIII · cc 2000–2023 M.F.C.