1. From Jim Holt’s review of Michael Frayn’s new book on existence: I like the last parenthetical sentence.
“In philosophy, you can be a “realist” or you can be an “idealist.” You are a realist if you believe that the universe exists independently of our minds, and that it would be more or less the same even if we weren’t around to observe it. You are an idealist if you believe that reality is somehow mentally generated, that we “make” the world.
Idealism may seem a little daft at first blush. Yet even die-hard realists will concede that some aspects of the world — color and fragrance, for example, or humor — are projected onto it by our mental activity; in a universe devoid of mind, nothing would be red or sweet-smelling or funny. Indeed, modern physics tells us that solidity itself is an illusion, that the seemingly real objects around us — rocks and trees, tables and chairs — are mostly empty space. And if you take a closer look at the more provocative claims associated with idealism, they’re not always as outrageous as they sound. When idealists say that we “make the stars,” they don’t mean that we make them the way a brickmaker makes a brick; rather, they mean that we make them conceptually, right down to the elementary particles of which they consist. (But how, you ask, could we have made the sun if it was around long before we were? By making time too, the idealist knowingly replies.)”
2. From a magazine in a doctor’s office:
“Beware of people who, early on in a relationship, tell you they’ll never ever do anything to hurt you. They’re denying to themselves the future actions they can already dimly divine.”
3. From The Jew of Malta, which I saw this past week, a classy line:
“Thou hast committed fornication, but that was in another land and, besides, the wench is dead.”
Would that all our sins of commission and omission could so easily be set aside.