The World is a Song

I sense the world might be more dreamlike, metaphorical, and poetic than we currently believe—but just as irrational as sympathetic magic when looked at in a typically scientific way. I wouldn’t be surprised if poetry—poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs—is how the world works. The world isn’t logical, it’s a song.

– David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries. 

Doing Great Things

If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I want to remember this quote whenever I’m frustrated that I can’t save the country from itself, or the world from its history. Truly “Great People” are very rare, and I am certainly not one of them, but I am a small man who can act in a great way, and so I choose to. Hell, it’s better than being one of these big men who act so loudly in such small ways…

One of the small things I do every year is review college scholarship application essays for I’m reviewing some now, and I rediscovered this quote in one of the essays. There is so much suffering out there, and there are so many inspiring people fighting against it for themselves and on behalf of others. I choose to align myself with those who struggle against suffering: that’s the future I want for my country.


Boundaries, after all–of custom, of language, of what is and is not permitted–not only function to keep others out but also keep those inside from expanding.

– Elena Poniatowska in interview, “The Art of Fiction No. 238,” The Paris Review No. 224 (Spring 2018).

A Toast

Well raise another round boys and have another glass
be thankful for today knowing it will never last
still let’s leave the world laughing when our eulogies are read
may we all get to heaven before the devil knows we’re dead.

– Turnpike Troubadours, “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead”

On Theoretical Models

In pursuing the objective to generalize theoretical models we must ask ourselves whether greater detail in formulating the contributing processes is warranted by truncation errors, by sensitivity of the results to detail, by the resulting increase in computational complexity and time, and by ignorance of the way these processes really work.

– Joseph Smagorinsky. “General Circulation Experiments with the Primitive Equations: I. The Basic Experiment.” Monthly Weather Review, 91.3 (1963): 99–164.

To Rule Forever

To rule forever, it is necessary only to create, among the people one would rule, what we call…Bad History. Nothing will produce Bad History more directly nor brutally, than drawing a Line…through the midst of a People,— to create thus a Distinction betwixt ’em,— ’tis the first stroke.— All else will follow as if predestined, unto War and Devastation.

– Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon

What’s Boring

Q: What things bore you?

Roberto Bolaño: The empty discourse of the Left. I take for granted the empty discourse of the Right.

– From an interview with Monica Maristain for Playboy Magazine, republished in Between Parenthesis as “The End: Distant Star.”

Swimmin’ Time

In the distance is the gloom of the end of days, when the sun calls home its wandering rays, when all of the iron has gone to rust, and every living thing has turned to dust. There won’t be anyone left to float your boat, they all went to high ground while their vessels still float, they scream God’s will but you know it’s a lie, by your own book it says by fire next time; the golden eggs cracked open, and there was nothing inside. Cast all dispersions build a levee of lies. I can see it comin’: bite down on the leather, and close your eyes, there’s nothin’ to be done that can turn the tide. The money in your eyes has left you blind. You’ll be the one drownin’ when it’s swimmin’ time

– Shovels and Rope, “Swimmin’ Time”