Nadia shook her head, marveling at the capacity people had for ignoring what they had in common, and fighting bitterly over whatever small differences existed between them. She

Much of human language is said to be fundamentally metaphorical. This is not good news. Metaphor, according to Aristotle, is an intuitive perception of a similarity in dissimilar things.

But sometimes it seems to me that people just like to hold on to their grievances. Righteous indignation is like some kind of drug or religious mania, addictive and stupidifying.

Some of the gardeners, Nanao said, worked according to the precepts of Muso Soseki, others according to other Japanese Zen masters; others still to Fu Hsi, the legendary inventor of the Chinese system of geomancy called feng shui; others to Persian gardening gurus, including Omar Khayyam; or to Leopold or Jackson, or other early American ecologists, like the nearly forgotten biologist Oskar Schnelling; and so on. These

But long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: The less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them; while on the other hand, to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new.

Mozart’s pet starling once revised a phrase he wrote. The bird sang it after he played it on the piano, but changed all the sharps to flats. Mozart described it happening in the margin of the score. ‘That was beautiful!’ he wrote. When the bird died, he sang at its funeral, and read a poem to it.

To conclude and temporarily halt this train of thought, how does any entity know what it is? Hypothesis: by the actions it performs. There is a kind of comfort in this hypothesis. It represents a solution to the halting problem. One acts, and thus finds out what one has decided to do.

The triviality of the current scene usually put her off, but now she supposed that the politics of the moment always looked petty and stupid; only later did it take on the look of respectable statecraft, of immutable History.

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