March 30, 2008: Nordhoff & Hall on Learning at Sea - 3 Comments

I've never, ever wanted to run away and make my fortune as a sailor until I read this paragraph. Is that weird?

"'Lieutenant Bligh,' he said, in his musing, abstracted way, 'desires me to instruct you in some of your duties. Navigation, nautical astronomy, and trigonometry he will teach you himself, since we have no schoolmaster on board, as on a man-of-war. And I can assure you that you will not sup til you have worked out the ship's position each day. You will be assigned to one of the watches, to keep order when the men are at the braces or aloft. You will see that the hammocks are stowed in the morning, and report the men whose hammocks are badly lashed. Never lounge against the guns or the ship's side, and never walk the deck with your hands in your pockets. You will be expected to go aloft with the men to learn how to bend canvas and how to reef and furl a sail, and when the ship is at anchor you may be placed in charge of one of the boats. And, last of all, you are the slave of those tyrants, the master and master's mates.'"

- Nordhoff & Hall, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1933.

March 19, 2008: Tolstoy on Parenting - 3 Comments

"It's true what papa says, that when we were being brought up there was one extreme - we were kept in the attic, while the parents lived on the first floor; now it's the opposite - the parents go to the store-room and the children to the first floor. Parents mustn't have any life now, everything's given to the children."

- Tolstoy (trans. P&V), Anna Karenina, 1878

March 17, 2008: Tertullian on Idolatry - 0 Comments

"The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry. For, although each single fault retains its own proper feature, although it is destined to judgment under its own proper name also, yet it is marked off under the general account of idolatry. . . [All murder and adultery, for example are idolatry, for they arise because something is loved more than God - yet in turn, all idolatry is murder for it assaults God, and all idolatry is also adultery for it is unfaithfulness to God] . . . Thus it comes to pass, that in idolatry all crimes are detected, and in all crimes idolatry."

-- Tertullian (with notes by Tim Keller), On Idolatry, 220ish

March 15, 2008: Tolstoy on Happiness & One-ness in Marriage - 0 Comments

"Vronsky, meanwhile, despite the full realization of what he had desired for so long, was not fully happy. He soon felt that the realization of his desire had given him only a grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the eternal error people make in imagining that happiness is the realization of desires."

"Only then did he understand clearly for the first time what he had not understood when he had led her out of the church after the wedding. He understood not only that she was close to him, but that she no longer knew where she ended and he began. He understood it by the painful feeling of being split which he experienced at that moment. He was offended at first, but in that same instant he felt that he could not be offended by her, that she was him. In the first moment he felt like a man who, having suddenly received a violent blow from behind, turns with vexation and a desire for revenge to find out who did it, and realizes that he has accidentally struck himself, that there is no one to be angry with and he must endure and ease the pain."

- Tolstoy (trans. P&V), Anna Karenina, 1878

March 1, 2008 - Dillard on Innocence - 0 Comments

"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead--as if innocence had ever been---and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to see the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been."
- Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm, 1977