Quotes

I like quotes.  I am not sure why, but a good quote that fits the moment always takes precedence in my mind over something I myself may have been able to come up with.  I own several quote books that I reference on a regular basis, and I have a small journal that I record my favorites in.  This love for quotes was actually quite a recent development that was brought about by my search for something witty to put on the back of the letters that I wrote to friends.  (Yes, I still write the odd letter.  Very old fashioned but it makes getting the mail more interesting.)

I think there are two reasons why I like quotes so much.  First off, they are by definition, short, succinct, and to the point.  I am very much like this myself.  My unconscious modus operandi is to be as clear, precise and abbreviated as possible.  For example, in a conversation I often have to make a point of expressing what my brain has done with certain topics.  If I do not, I will blurt out some random conclusion that makes perfect sense in context to what I have been thinking, but has no bearing whatsoever on the direction that the topic took in the real discussion.  Quotes therefore are the sort of thing that I naturally gravitate towards and are similar to the way that I often express myself.  They are designed to make a point in a few words and then let the receiver think about how you got there and decide for themselves whether your statement is valid or not.

The second reason I think that I like quotes is that they are often on the clever and sometimes profound side.  (I grant that Multitudes are not profound, but I would hazard a guess that the slim majority is on the profound side.  Nothing is backing up that statement except my limited personal experience.)  I am very appreciative of clever writing and also of the profound.  I think that this has a great deal to do with the nature of my upbringing.  My dad is very funny, and has played a major part in the development of my sense of humor, while my mom is a fairly profound person herself, and unintentionally provokes thought on a regular basis.  (She likes wit as well, but is much more selective in what she would consider truly clever than most people I know.)

While there are many people that have written excellent quotes, I think that my all time favorite author of quotes has to be Mark Twain.  While I don’t always agree with the view he takes, I always like his turn of phrase.  He is very sarcastic, which probably a major part of why I like him, as I am a relatively sarcastic person; but he also has some very revealing insights into human nature.  As an example, here is a quote of his I ran across:

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

This is a good example of what I meant when I said that I don’t always agree with the view he takes, but appreciate his incite on human nature.  Why does the kid who does well in school get made fun of?  Is it not because his or her good example of study makes us feel bad if we aren’t trying our best?  Why does the kid who always does the right thing get labeled a goody-two-shoes and is avoided? Because they make us look bad and that is not what we desire.  In reality we should be inspired by good examples, but as he points out, more often than not our reaction is to take the easier road and try to ignore those on the high one.

 

So, that is why so many of my posts begin with quotes.  Now you know.  Ironically enough, as you may have noticed, this of all posts didn’t start with one.  Try as I might, I couldn’t find a quote about quotes within the time frame I had given myself.  So there you have it.  I’m quoteless on quotes.  (If any of you can amend this deficiency it would be appreciated. :-))

Wyatt Fairlead

 

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I Give Up

Maybe no one is like me.  It is entirely possible, but I think it is probable that I am not the only one who has ever felt guilty about buying books for their library.  For quite some time I would always feel bad about buying books.  Not because I thought that they were a waste, but because I thought that I would never actually read them.  There was a time when my logic ran like this.  “A book is made for reading, I have more things made for reading than I can handle at the moment, and therefore, another book is more than I can handle at the moment.”  Of course if you had asked me I would not have phrased it exactly like that, but that is the boiled down, bare bones train of thought.

During a certain period in my life, I bought very few books.  In reality, it had more to do with a few years obsession with Lego’s (which are horribly taxing on a young person’s finances) than a loss of interest in reading.  During that period, I actually got close to reading everything in my personal library.  Then I started going with my family and a friend once a year to the Green Valley Book Fair.  I have since given up any hope of reading all the books in my library.  I have made a fundamental change in my library philosophy.  It is now more like this.  “A book is made for reading.  I believe that everyone should have available to them things for reading, therefore, a book is something that I believe everyone should have available to them.”

Taking each book individually is what is important.  I am not saying that everything ever written is worth reading.  Quite the contrary.  As a matter of fact, my new philosophy is a good guide, in my opinion, to what books are worth reading.  That is because I can take a book and ask, “Do I think that this book should be available, within age appropriate limits of course, to anyone interested?”  If the answer is no, then that book is not worth having in my library.

To date my personal library consists of 192 books.  (I define this, as books designed to be read all the way through, i.e. dictionaries don’t count.  I also exclude any duplicates, of which I have several.)  I have only read 112 all the way through, making only 58% completed, which is a statistic that is increasingly shrinking. While I wish that I could read them all, I have resigned myself to the fact that it isn’t going to happen.  Books are worth having even if you will never read them personally, because you never know when you may run into the desire to look something up, or someone else expresses an interest in one of your books that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. Good books are something that should be available to those who want them.  That is what I believe and is how I justify myself whenever I pay hard earned capital for another potential dust collector.  I have officially raised my white flag of surrender.

Wyatt Fairlead

A Call for Discretion on Publication

Have you ever noticed how many people write books about themselves and their past troubles?  It might just be a personal bias, but it seems like whenever there is someone famous and they are in a scandal, or they retire, or they are voted out of office, or something along those lines, they write a book to tell about their grievances and experiences.

I believe that everyone has the right to write whatever they want about themselves, but I can’t help thinking to myself whenever I see a book like this come out, “Come on, you know they are just in it for the money, or they want to be in the limelight one last time.  It is just a publicity stunt.”  I may just be a skeptic or to judgmental or something, but often they write about such petty stuff.  I sometimes wish the publishers would ban ridiculous books from publication, even if they would sell well.

 

This was not a well thought through post, but I read a quote that poked a little pet peeve of mine so I thought I’d just throw it out there.  In reality, I guess that if someone feels misrepresented and they want to straighten it out, a book is a good option, but I can’t help being disillusioned by the suspicion that they are just in it for the publicity.  Feel free to point out where my view is entirely incorrect.  Anyway, when I read the quote and I couldn’t help laughing so here it is:

“Having been unpopular in high school is not a just cause for book publication.”

-Fran Lebowitz

Wyatt Fairlead

Favorite Authors

 

“Your favorite author does not necessarily have to have written your favorite work.”

Maxim of Wyatt Fairlead

            Not to long ago, my mom and I finished listening to the 800 Leagues on the Amazon, by Jules Verne.  When we finished it, I started to remember all the other books of his I have either read or listened to and began to realize that compared to other authors, he has a large chunk of my readership.  Granted I have read or listened to a relatively large number of books and I have read only seven books by him (give or take one that I might be forgetting); but I thought about it for a while and discovered that seven is a lot of books for only one author.  I can count the number of authors of whose works I have read that many on one hand.  The conclusion I came to is that, while I may not list any of his books in my top five favorite works, He would be in my top five favorite authors.  I have greatly enjoyed all the books by him that I have read and am always optimistic when starting one of his novels.  I suppose I have just been thinking since then about my favorite authors and what it is I like about them.  I can tend to get into ruts where I only read one genre, or only read from a certain author and it is always nice when I catch myself falling into one of these grooves to be able to go to one of my old trusty storytellers and say, “Pull me out!”

 

It is always neat to here what other people like as it can, and often does, broaden your horizons.  (And mine need broadening on a regular basis.) So, if you don’t mind me asking, who are some of your favorite authors and what is it you like about them?

Wyatt Fairlead

Who Are You?

“Every group has it’s own idiosyncrasies, but at a certain point we are all human.”

-D.L. Hughley

 

 

Here is a scenario I have come across several times this week.  I was listening to my mom tell a story about a friend of mine and after she had finished I just started to crack up and the first thought in my head was, “That is so like George.”  (It wasn’t a George, but for the sake of confidentiality, I renamed this person.)  It has occurred to me after these incidents to ask the question; what makes that action “like” that person?  The answer is in the word Idiosyncrasy.  Now, I have always thought of an idiosyncrasy as a bad or unusual habit, but all it really means is, a mode of behavior or way of thought that is peculiar to an individual.  We probably use the term quirks instead.  I have been thinking about it and have come to the conclusion that these quirks are what make us who we are.

So, based on the assumption that everyone has idiosyncrasies, which make up their personalities, I have been considering some of mine and how people must see me.  In other words, when I do something and some one says, “That is so you, Wyatt.”  What are the things that would elicit such a reaction?  Here are a couple of the things I could come up with, but I’m thinking that most of them may be an example of an idiosyncrasy as opposed to the root of the quirk itself.  Which actually brings up another thought; are the behaviors that we recognize as being distinct to someone idiosyncrasies, or are those behaviors just the out-working of true idiosyncrasies, thus narrowing the definition to the processes of the mind exclusively.  (And I may have just found another of my idiosyncrasies, namely evolving my thoughts into different one’s just as I sit here thinking and typing, and always looking for other possible explanations.  Or is that evolution just an example of an idiosyncratic thought process that is always critical and not readily accepting to what is being presented, no matter the source?)  Alright, enough of that, get on with it!!!  Anyway, here it goes.

 

Quirk 1:  I am a typically skeptical person.  I like to think things through and tend to try to find holes or problems with information, rather then to try to accommodate it into what I already know.  If I can’t find anything wrong with it, then I start to incorporate it into my view.

 

Quirk 2:  I am a somewhat energetic and talkative person, but tend to withdraw almost entirely when in new situations.

 

Quirk 3:  I am a terrible critic of myself.  I am my own worst nemesis in the sense that I am rarely satisfied with what I do.  (Especially in my more artistic endeavors.)

 

Quirk 4:  I am unfortunately; very critical of people I have difficulty getting along with.  If I clash with someone, there is very little they can do that my vexed mind can’t twist and destroy.  (Working on this.)

 

Quirk 5:  If I am a friend of someone however, I am relatively generous in my estimation of their actions, activities, etc.

 

Quirk 6:  On a much lighter note, I refuse to make my bed on a regular basis.  Unless, we are having guests and my room needs to look nice and neat, I see no reason to straighten something I am just going to ruin 14 hours later.  I am actually a very orderly clean person, and I keep everything more or less where it should be, but I will not bow to the tyrannical rule that would expend so much valuable time, and energy for no purpose. 🙂

 

Quirk 7:  I almost always set my alarm clock for one minute past the hour, based on the irrational fear that if I left it on the top of the hour, the components may not have registered the last change and actually be set for the last minute of the hour. (Ex.  I need to get up at 7:00.  I set the clock for 7:01 to make sure the clock is set for the beginning of the hour instead of being accidently stuck on 7:59.)

 

Quirk 8:  I am fascinated by secrecy.  I am not sure why, but I always get excited when I hear about codes and the like.  I have been like that as long as I can remember.  I have made up 2 different alphabets, (One secret to myself only and one I have shared with a few friends.) and several ciphers.

 

Quirk 9:  I am generally a precise person.  If I know that rounding is alright then I don’t mind doing it but it is hard for me to stop myself from correcting things that aren’t just so.

 

Quirk 10:  I hate being late.  I try to be as punctual as possible.  To me there is nothing worse than walking into church or some social gathering when you should have been there five minutes ago.

 

I’m sure that my friends and family could add a lot more, but these are a few that I thought of off the top of my head.  I guess my conclusion to this whole post would be that you should notice the things that you do on a regular basis and realize that those activities make up who you are.  They can be good and bad, a little strange or just normal, but it is worth, examining yourself occasionally, if only to find out like I have that you are very bizarre!

Wyatt Fairlead

 

Genius

“Genius it is said, is the ability to scrutinize the obvious.”

-Unknown

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance,- it is the illusion of knowledge.”

-Daniel J. Boorstin

I have been discovering these truths recently.  Have you ever thought you knew a great deal about a subject until someone who actually did know a great deal about the same subject started talking?  I tend to glance over things I know or have read and don’t pay attention to them at all, and usually those are the important, fundamentals which we feel instinctively, but haven’t taken the time to understand.

Wyatt Fairlead

Fahrenheit 451

In memory of Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012

It is interesting to read old books that are about what the future will be like.  There are several examples of these books and Fahrenheit 451 falls right into that category.  It always amazes me how close we are to some of the things portrayed in these old time once “science fiction” novels.  An example of this would be television screens that made up the entire surface of the wall, being written in the 1950’s.  But the power of books like these doesn’t lie in the predictions that we have already achieved, but more in what we have not yet done and where they predict we are heading.

Fahrenheit 451 is based on the premise that books are illegal; there is only one view on any given subject (if there is any view at all), and therefore no controversy and because of this, “happiness”.  This viewpoint is probably best summed up by the fire chief.  He is the man responsible for the crew of firemen who respond to alerts.  Not alerts of fires, but alerts of where fires need to be started, namely where books have been discovered.  Here is his explanation.

            Beatty peered at the smoke pattern he had put out on the air.  “Picture it.  Nineteenth century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion.  Then in the twentieth century, speed up your camera.  Books cut shorter.  Condensations.  Digests.  Tabloids.  Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending.”

“Classics cut to fifteen minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two minute book column, winding up at last as a ten or twelve line dictionary resume.  I exaggerate of course the dictionaries were used for reference.  But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet…was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors.  Do you see?  Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the last five centuries or more.”

“…  School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored.  Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work.  Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?”

“…Now lets take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more the minorities.  Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants…[the list continues].  The people in this book, this play, this T.V. serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere.  The bigger your market, Montag [the main character], the less you handle controversy, remember that!  All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean.  Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did.  Magazines become a nice blend of vanilla tapioca.  Books, so snobbish critics said, were dishwater.  No wonder books stopped selling, critics said.  But the public, knowing what they wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive.”

“… There you have it Montag.  It didn’t come from the government down.  There was no dictum no declaration, no censorship to start with, no!  Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.  Today thanks to them you can stay happy all the time.  You can read your comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals.”

“Yes, but what about the Firemen, then?” asked Montag.

“Ah,” Beatty leaned forward in the faint mist of smoke from his pipe.  “What more easily explained and natural?  With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers, instead if critics, knowers and imaginative creators, the word, ‘Intellectual’, of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.  You always dread the unfamiliar.  Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright’, did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him.  And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours?  Of course it was.  We must all be alike.  Not everyone born free and equal, like the Constitution says, but everyone made equal.  Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.  So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door? Burn it.  Take the shot from the weapon.  Breach man’s mind.  Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?  Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute.  And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely all over the world, (you were correct in your assumption the other night) there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes.  They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the understandable and rightful dread of our being inferior: official sensors, judges, and executors.  That’s you, Montag, and that’s me.”

“… Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo.  Burn it.  White People don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Burn it.  Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs?  The cigarette people are in tears? Burn the book.  Serenity Montag.  Peace Montag.  Take your fight outside, or better yet to the incinerator.  Funerals are unhappy and pagan?  Eliminate them, too.  Five minutes after a person is dead he is on the way to the Big Flue, the Incinerators serviced by helicopters all over the country.  Ten minutes after death a man’s a speck of black dust.  Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriums.  Forget them.  Burn all, burn everything.  Fire is bright and fire is clean.”

            You get the idea.  I was struck with these passages.  I leave it to you to decide if we are heading the same direction as this describes, (It is society that I am referring to.)  But, these are not new arguments.  These are the same sort of arguments that have been handed out by rulers and movements as a way to control society for centuries.  With the advent of the Internet, it is much more difficult to censor what is actually accessible to the public, (even though someone can without difficulty spy on what you look at.)  But never in history have people been so open to manipulation (through media of all kinds) as we are today.

All that having been said, it was interesting to read this book, and it gives me the excuse to spend more money on these wonderful works of combustible material than I already do.  There is nothing like a good old hardback.  🙂

Wyatt Fairlead