"Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we

read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the

tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers,

our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes

desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive

from the same source. There is no mystery about the origins of things. We are all part of

creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover

what is already there."

Henry Miller



"If things are not clear, do nothing."

Gerald Loeb

The Battle For Investment Survival


"Stupidity well packaged can sound like wisdom."

Burton Malkiel

A Random Walk Down Wall Street


"How can men take joy in nonsense? They do so, wherever there is laughter- in fact,

one can almost say that wherever there is happiness there is joy in nonsense. It gives us

pleasure to turn experience into its opposite, to turn purposefulness into purposelessness,

necessity into arbitrariness, in such a way that the process does no harm and is performed

simply out of high spirits. For it frees us momentarily from the forces of necessity,

purposefulness, and experience, in which we usually see our merciless masters. We can

laugh and play when the unexpected (which usually frightens us and makes us tense) is

discharged without doing harm. It is the slaves' joy at Saturnalia."

Friedrich Nietzsche

Human, All Too Human


"It takes two to invent anything. The one makes up combinations; the other chooses,

recognizes what he wishes and what is important to him in the mass of things which the

former has imparted to him. What we call genius is much less the work of the first one

than the readiness of the second one to grasp the value of what has been laid before him

and to choose it. "

Paul Valery


"The poet is he who inspires, rather than he who is inspired."

Paul Eluard


"To make two bald statements: There's nothing sentimental about a machine, and: A

poem is a small (or large) machine made of words...When a man makes a poem...[i]t isn't

what he says that counts as a work of art, it's what he makes."

William Carlos Williams,

Introduction to The Wedge


"There was this kid poet, and he wrote and wrote. He rubbed the magic lamp until

the poetic self-abuse police threatened to come impound him. And still nothing happened.

The incantation seemed defective. Then they put the kid in front of this terminal and

initiated him into the secret syntax. A few simple rules, combined in a few elegant ways,

and blamm-o. The thing works. It runs. the world does move. The rules churn. The

descriptions step their way through their own internal logic. The lines of code set more

switches, change more states. Commands produce results.

The word made flesh.

Spiegel flinched. Don't mock me.

I'm not mocking."

Richard Powers

Plowing The Dark


"....chance alone is the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere.

Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of

evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible

or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one

compatible with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition (or the

hope) that conceptions about this should, or ever could, be revised."

Jacques Monod

Chance & Necessity


"To chaos, law destroys; to law, chaos."

John Fowles

The Aristos


" ...'disorder, yes, my boy, disorder, is the quintessence of your very life! Of your

whole physical and metaphysical being! Why, it's your very soul...millions, trillions of

intricate folds...plunging deep down into the gray matter, complex, subjacent,

evasive...limitless! That's Harmony...all nature! A flight into the imponderable! And

nothing else! Put your wretched thoughts in order...! That's where to begin. Not with

grotesque, material, negative, obscene substitutions, but with the essential, that's what I'm

getting at. Are you going to assault the brain, correct it, scrape it, mutilate it, force it to

comply with an assortment of stupid rules? carve it up geometrically? recompose it

according to the rules of your excruciating idiocy?...Arrange it in slices? like an Epiphany

cake? with a prize in the middle. Tell me that. I'm asking you. Frankly? Would that by

any good? Would it make sense? Heaven help us! There's no doubt about it...your soul is

overwhelmed by errors. It makes you, like so many others, a unanimous nonentity. Great

instinctive disorder is the father of fertile thoughts! It's the beginning of

everything...Once the propitious moment has passed there's no hope...You, I'm afraid,

will spend your whole life in the garbage pail of reason...So much the worse for your!

You're a numbskull...a nearsighted, blind, preposterous, deaf, one-armed dolt!...befouling

my magnificent disorder with your vicious reflections. In Harmony...resides the worlds

only joy! The only deliverance! The only truth!...Harmony! Find Harmony, that's the

ticket!...Do you hear me...? Like a brain, neither more nor less! Order! Pah! Order! Rid

men of that word, that thing. Accustom yourself to Harmony and Harmony will reward

you. You'll find everything you've been looking for so long on the highways of the

world...and far more! Many other things...! A brain...that's what the whole lot of you will

find! Yes!...Have I made myself clear? That's not what you're after? You and your kind?

An inane ambush of pigeonholes! A barricade of brochures! A house of the dead! A

chartist necropolis! No, never! Here everything is in movement! Swarming with life!

You're not satisfied! It stirs, it quivers! Just touch it! Put out your little finger. Everything

comes to life. Everything trembles instantly! Asking only to surge up! to blossom! to

shine! I don't live by destroying. I take life as it comes! Do you take me for a cannibal...?

Never!...Bent on reducing it to my chickenshit concepts? Pah! Everything shakes?

Everything topples? Splendid! I have no desire to count stars 1! 2! 3! 4! and 5! I'm not

the kind that thinks he's entitled to do anything he pleases. The right to shrink! rectify!

corrupt! prune! transplant!...No!...where would I get it?...From the Infinite?...From life

itself? It's not natural, my boy! It's not natural! It's infamous meddling!...I prefer to keep

on good terms with the Universe! I take it as I find it!...I'll never rectify it! No! The

Universe is master of its own house! I understand it! It understands me! It gives me a

hand when I ask it! When I'm through with it, I drop it! That's the long and short of

it...It's a cosmogonic question! I have no orders to give! You have no orders! He has no

orders!...Bah! Bah! Bah!...'

He got sore as hell, like somebody who's definitely in the wrong... "

Louis-Ferdinand CŽline

Death On The Installment Plan


"There are only two things in the world - semantics and nothing."

Erhard Werner

as quoted in: A. Bry



"Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing. "

Robert Charles Benchley


"...Brahman is the cause of the many. There is no other cause. And yet Brahman is

independent of the law of causation."




"As to what pertains to manifestation, the Principle causes the succession of its

phases, but is not this succession. It is the author of causes and effects, but is not the

causes and effects."

Chuang Tzu

The Book Of Chuang Tzu


"You cannot take hold of it, but equally you cannot get rid of it,

And while you can do neither, it goes on its own way."

Yung-chia Ta-shih


"A 'bit' of information is definable as a difference which makes a difference. Such

a difference, as it travels and undergoes successive transformation in a circuit, is an

elementary idea."

Gregory Bateson

Steps To An Ecology Of Mind


"Because information does not inform unless it is received, it does not exist until it

is consumed. It exists only in its assimilation and dies when it becomes redundant.

Information is intrinsically sacrificial. What seemed mad and illogical in the old order of

production becomes sane and logical in the new order of semiotic consumption. So, for

example, the 'insanity' of sacrifice, of giving something for nothing, becomes the royal

road to the sublime, not an altruistic act of self-denial."

James Ogilvy

Living Without A Goal


"A type has rightly come to be recognized as a mental realisation with no bone and flesh

embodiment;...the race becomes, as it were, a great amoeboid form, with its prepondering

variations thrown out as pseudopodia feeling towards adaptation."

Arthur Keith

The modes of origin of the carotid and subclavian arteries from the arch of

the aorta in some of the higher primates, Journal of Anatomy & Physiology, 29:453-58


"Power is nothing if not the power to choose...there is all the difference between

deciding and choosing...Perhaps every human act involves a chain of calculations of what

a system engineer would call decision nodes. But the difference between a mechanical act

and an authentically human one is that the latter terminates at a node whose decisive

parameter is not 'Because you told me to' but 'Because I chose to'. "

Joseph Weizenbaum

Computer Power And Human Reason


"we must look at all acts of perception as acts of creativity. "

Gerald Edelman

How We Know

Nobel Conference, 1985


"...effective searching procedures become, when the search-space is sufficiently

large, indistinguishable from true creativity."

Richard Dawkins

As quoted in: Kevin Kelly

Out Of Control


"The program found in the head of the average poet, after all, was written by the

poet's civilization, and that civilization was in turn programmed by the civilization which

preceded it, and so on to the very Dawn Of Time, when those bits of information that

concerned the poet-to-be were still swirling about in the primordial chaos of the cosmic

deep. Hence in order to program a poetry machine, one would first have to repeat the

entire universe from the beginning."

Stanislaw Lem

The Cyberiad


"The first umpire ,. . .a man of small knowledge of how meanings are made, says I

calls 'em as they are. The second umpire, knowing something about human perception

and its limitations, says 'I calls 'em as I sees 'em.' The third umpire, having studied at

Cambridge with Wittgenstein himself, says 'Until I calls em, they ain't.' "

Neil Postman

Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk


"Symptoms can become criteria."

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations


"'But how can a rule shew me what I have to do at this point? Whatever I do is, on

some interpretation, in accord with the rule.'- That is not what we ought to say, but rather:

any interpretation still hangs in the air along with what it interprets, and cannot give it

any support. Interpretations by themselves do not determine meaning. "

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations


"Our mistake is to look for an explanation where we ought to look at what happens

as a 'protophenomenon'. "

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations


"I think one reason why the attempt to find an explanation is wrong is that we have

only to put together in the right way what we know, without adding anything, and the

satisfaction we are trying to get from the explanation comes of itself."

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough


"In the use of words one might distinguish 'surface grammar' from 'depth

grammar'.What immediately impresses itself upon us about the use of a word is the way

it is used in the construction of the sentence, the part of its use- one might say- that can be

taken in by the ear.------- And now compare the depth grammar, say of the word 'to

mean', with what its surface grammar would lead us to suspect. No wonder we find it

difficult to know our way about."

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations


"I caught this insight on the way and quickly seized the rather poor words that were

closest to hand to pin it down lest it fly away again. And now it has died of these arid

words and shakes and flaps in them - and I hardly know any more when I look at it how I

could ever have felt so happy when I caught this bird."

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gay Science


"Once, when the holy man of Toganoo was journeying along a road he encountered

a man washing a horse by a river. 'Ashi, ashi', said the man. ['Ashi' means 'leg'. The man

is telling the horse to lift its leg.] The holy man stopped in his tracks and exclaimed 'How

inspiring! Some deed of virtue in a previous existence has brought this man

enlightenment! He is reciting the invocation aji,aji! [The priest believes or pretends that

the man is saying aji, the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, which has a religious

significance for the priest.] I wonder whose horse it might be? Such piety overcomes me!'

When he asked about the owner, the man replied 'The horse belongs to Lord Fushš.'

'Splendid!' cried the holy man. 'This is truly a case of ajo hon fushš. [The formula ajo hon

fushš means that there is no beginning of creation; that is, that the world has always

existed. The washing man's phonological prime brings the holy formula to the priest's

mind.] What a fortunate link you have established with the Way of the Buddha!' He

wiped away the tears of gratitude."


Essays In Idleness


"Repetition always commits us to imagining an unknown cause, so true is it that in

the popular consciousness, the aleatory is always distributive, never repetitive: chance is

supposed to vary events; if it repeats them, it does so in order to signify something

through them; to repeat is to signify...."

Roland Barthes

Structure of the Fait-Divers


"Our mistake is to look for an explanation where we ought to look at what happens

as a 'protophenomenon'. "

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations


"Any arrangement of acts and events is comic which gives us, in a single

combination, the illusion of life and the distinct impression of a mechanical


Henri Bergson



"A portion of the mind abundantly commissured to other portions works almost

mechanically. It sinks to a condition of a railway junction. But a portion of mind almost

isolated, a spiritual peninsula, or cul-de-sac, is like a railway terminus. Now mental

commisures are habits. Where they abound, originality is not needed and is not found; but

where they are in defect, spontaneity is set free. Thus, the first step in the Lamarckian

evolution of mind is the putting of sundry thoughts into situations in which they are free

to play."

Charles Peirce

Evolutionary Love


"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight.

Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."

John Cage


"But just think of the unfathomable laziness of man; all the schemes which are

supposed to keep him awake and watchful end up by putting him to sleep. We wear a

hairshirt the way we might wear a monocle; we sing matins the way other people play

golf. If only scientists today, instead of constantly inventing new means to make life

easier, would devote their resourcefulness to producing instruments for rousing man out

of his torpor! There are machine guns, of course, but that's going a bit too far..."

Rene Daumal

Mount Analogue



I want objects

Like pagan alcohol

To scrawl the stomach of reason

And the cock's crow

To curse the sun

The devil's pastime

Whims what happiness

I proceed entirely

at random.

Francis Picabia


"All messages and parts of messages are like phrases or segments of equations

which a mathematician puts in brackets. Outside the brackets there maybe a qualifier or

multiplier which will alter the whole tenor of the phrase. Moreover, these qualifiers can

always be added, even years later. They do not have to precede the phrase inside the

brackets. Otherwise, there could be no psychotherapy...What exists today are only

messages about the past that we call memories, and these messages can always be framed

and modulated from moment to moment."

Gregory Bateson

Steps To An Ecology Of Mind


"That is how man's anguish ends- in masterly conjuring tricks: pure poetry, pure

music, pure thought. The last man- who has freed himself from all belief, from all

illusions, and has nothing more to expect or to fear- sees the clay of which he is made

reduced to spirit, and this spirit has no soil left for its roots, from which to draw its sap.

The last man has emptied himself; no more seed, no more excrement, no more blood.

Everything having turned into words, every set of words into musical jugglery, the last

man goes even further: he sits in his utter solitude and decomposes the music into mute

mathematical equations."

Nikos Kazantzakis

Zorba, The Greek


"We will never get a calculus to do all that a natural language such as Inuktitut or

French does because not all the moves in a natural language are analytic: sometimes

thoughts are connected by tonal associations; images; family resemblances. Not every

linguistic impulse is disintegrative; some clear and expressible thoughts aim at a tapestry,

rather than a complex, or a peak.

Many of our finest expressions slip through the lattice of even the most most

powerful algebra."

Jan Zwicky

Lyric Philosophy


"Who else but the naive poet is able to pucker his lips to kiss that old sourpuss, the

world? "

Irving Layton

As quoted in: The Montreal Gazette

October 19, 1985