Edward Gibbon (on consultation)

“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.”

Edward Gibbon (1737  – 1794)was an English historian, most famous for The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. To be entirely self-centred, I’m not sure if this quote tells me more about my lack of understanding or my dropping out of genius school. It does remind me that nobody can do my most important work — whatever that is — but me. This idea may express an outdated, super-individualistic view of exceptional accomplishment, and it might not.

Fireworks End. (Maybe.)

I knew I should’ve gone to bed earlier. Young friends had warned us Friday night that Sunday would be the last Big Day of the Chinese lunar new year blast. Another one?! we gasped, mostly for laughs but not entirely.

Bombs away. Happy bombs!

At 5:50 a.m., the first of the bombs went off, not far from our apartment. I was shaken out of sleep a few more times, finally giving up by about eight. There was subdued grumbling in apartment 902, and really, it wasn’t nearly so intrusive as other Big Days had been, certainly nothing like “xiao nian” (“little year”, a week before the New Year), the New Year’s eve and day themselves, or “wu tian five days later. The above links are to irritated pieces I wrote in the midst or aftermath of this or that bombardment.

But if I had had a little more detachment, a touch more grace, I might have also written something like what follows.

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Robert Frost (on (not)thinking)

“Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.

Robert Frost, 1874-1963, American poet, in a quote I’ve saved for years.* It makes for a fine back-to-the-future companion to my own, decidedly-less-concise March ’13 ramblings about the nature of thinking and not-thinking, here. I fear that our predominant culture — infotainment, media saturation, the obsession with the unimportant — makes the mature arts of reflection and profound knowing ever more difficult to cultivate. The Baha’is are doing some wonderful grassroots work to counter this tendency. The more I think about it, the more revolutionary, counter-cultural and necessary it appears. I don’t know much about the great Frost’s spiritual inclinations, but I think he’d dig the methodology, the “promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep”.

* Faithful readers of this site may have noticed that I’m gradually re-posting quotes that appeared over the years on the earlier incarnation of, and we’re up to 2010 already as of March 9, 2013. Hurray!