“It’s a fun digression to look at the numbers involved to get a sense of how large they are and to see why these statistical laws, like the law that entropy increases on average, are in practice exact. The number of ways of arranging things grows very very fast. If we have a deck of 2 cards, there are two possible arrangements. If there are 3 cards there are 6 possible arrangements and there are 24 possible arrangements of 4 cards. These numbers are small but they rapidly become much bigger than astronomical. The number of ways of arranging half a deck of cards is already about a billion times the age of the universe in seconds, and the rate at which the numbers grow keeps increasing. With numbers like these, “almost always” and “almost never” are “always” and “never” on the timescales that we experience.”—Rishidev Chaudhuri and Jason Merrill, “Entropy - A Primer”, 3quarksdaily(go on, bend your brain some)
“The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.”—Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim(possibly the best hangover description ever, courtesy of Vol. 1 Brooklyn)
For the first track on the collaborative split 7”, Hit & Run Vol. 1, Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens team up for this entirely re-imagined version of Thomas’ Where Was I from her new full length WITH LOVE. The split single is b/w Stevens’ brand new answer-back-track Here I Am! The pair perform on both songs, and both were recorded and mixed by Surfjam. Mastered by TW Walsh
“The advice I give my students is the same advice I give myself—forget definition, forget assumption, watch. We inhabit, we are part of, a reality for which explanation is much too poor and small. No physicist would dispute this, though he or she might be less ready than I am to have recourse to the old language and call reality miraculous. By my lights, fiction that does not acknowledge this at least tacitly is not true. Why is it possible to speak of fiction as true or false? I have no idea. But if a time comes when I seem not to be making the distinction with some degree of reliability in my own work, I hope someone will be kind enough to let me know.”—Marilynne Robinson, “Reclaiming a Sense of the Sacred”, The Chronicle of Higher Education(I just keep finding more!)
My point is that lacking the terms of religion, essential things cannot be said. Jefferson’s words acknowledge an essential mystery in human nature and circumstance. He does this by evoking the old faith that God knows us in ways we cannot know ourselves, and that he values us in ways we cannot value ourselves or one another because our intuition of the sacred is so radically limited. It is not surprising that the leader of a revolution taking place on the edge of a little-known continent, a man clearly intent on helping to create a new order of things, would attempt an anthropology that could not preclude any good course history might take. Jefferson says that we are endowed with “certain” rights, and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are “among these.” He does not claim to offer an exhaustive list. Indeed he draws attention to the possibility that other “unalienable” rights might be added to it. And he gives us that potent phrase “the pursuit of happiness.” We are to seek our well-being as we define our well-being and determine for ourselves the means by which it might be achieved.
This epochal sentence is a profound acknowledgment of the fact that we don’t know what we are. If Jefferson could see our world, he would surely feel confirmed in the intuition that led him to couch his anthropology in such open language. Granting the evils of our time, we must also grant the evils of his and the cultural constraints that so notoriously limited his vision. Yet, brilliantly, he factors this sense of historical and human limitation into a compressed, essential statement of human circumstance, making a strength and a principle of liberation of his and our radically imperfect understanding.
”—Marilynne Robinson, “A Common Faith”, Guernica(one of the few writers whose every sentence resonates with me completely. I can’t wait for the new essay collection, from which this one is excerpted.)
“For consumers, to embrace such products was to embrace the higher spirit of modernity—a lesson that Steve Jobs understood all too well. Jobs famously expressed his utter indifference to the customer, who in his view does not really know what he wants. Apple’s most incredible trick, accomplished by marketing as much as by philosophy, is to allow its customers to feel as if they are personally making history—that they are a sort of spiritual-historical elite, even if there are many millions of them. The purchaser of an Apple product has been made to feel like he is taking part in a world-historical mission, in a revolution-and Jobs was so fond of revolutionary rhetoric that Rolling Stone dubbed him “Mr. Revolution.”—Evgeny Morozov, “Form and Fortune”, The New Republic(a fantastic dissection of Jobs’s core tenets - this particular observation certainly necessitated some ruminating on my part)
“I have a precise, tactile memory of the first Oz book that came into my hands. It was the original 1910 edition of The Emerald City. I still remember the look and feel of those dark blue covers, the evocative smell of dust and old ink. I also remember that I could not stop reading and rereading the book. But “reading” is not the right word. In some mysterious way, I was translating myself to Oz, a place which I was to inhabit for many years while, simultaneously, visiting other fictional worlds as well as maintaining my cover in that dangerous one known as “real.” With The Emerald City, I became addicted to reading.”—Gore Vidal, “John Cotter on Gore Vidal”, Open Letters Monthly(substitute The Lord of the Rings for The Emerald City (and Middle-Earth for Oz) and this was my childhood)