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November 2019

“Today I am no longer, as I once was, the prisoner of interminable tasks, which so often prevented me from leaping into the unknown, mathematical or otherwise. The time of tasks for me is over. If age has brought me anything, it is lightness.”

— Alexandre Grothendieck, Esquisse d’un Programme, quoted in
http://www.ams.org/notices/200410/fea-grothendieck-part2.pdf, pages 1209-1210

October 2019

“I always think fatigue is a great Saver from Ambition and worldly values, when all else fails!”

— Stevie Smith, letter to J. C. Powys, 11 July 1952. Quoted in Frances Spalding, Stevie Smith: A Biography, W. W. Norton 1988, p. 203.

September 2019

“I too had said…that teaching ‘was a process trying to look like a result.’ As a careful and consequential thinker, or teacher, I was only twelve years or so in producing the corollary: ‘yes, but isn’t everything?’ like history, I meant, and life and the world entire.”

— Howard Nemerov, “In Conclusion,” from The Oak in the Acorn (1987), in A Howard Nemerov Reader, University of Missouri Press, 1991, p. 308.

August 2019

“Years later, Edith [Carow Roosevelt] explained that her aloofness was simply ‘a trick of manner’ to obscure her own perceived defects. While it may have deprived her of camaraderie, her tactic succeeded in establishing the distance and mystery that prevented humiliation.”

—Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, Simon & Schuster, 2013, p. 117.

July 2019

“However, the experts at Western Union can tell, and I suppose that is all that matters. If I knew what it was they did, and how they were able to tell time by the stars, I should be an expert at the Western Union. That is, of course, provided that I was socially acceptable to the present experts.”

—Robert Benchley, “What Time Is It? And What Of It” in Chips Off the Old Benchley, Harper and Brothers, 1949, p. 114.