Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy

“I always write in the morning. […] In the morning one’s head is particularly fresh. The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking while still in bed or during the walk.”

— Leo Tolstoy, qtd. in The Guardian

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“Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The cold became intense. In the main street, at the corner of the court, some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers’ and grocers’ trades became a splendid joke: a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor’s household should; and even the little tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets, stirred up to-morrow’s pudding in his garret, while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef.”

— Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’

“In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims, because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one’s maxims is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits.”

— Henri-Frédéric Amiel, undated entry from Journal Intime (trans. Mary Augusta Ward)

“Why, then, did [Ludwig Wittgenstein] so strongly discourage pupils from becoming teachers of philosophy? I think it was because Wittgenstein knew from his own experience that in philosophical thinking there are long periods of darkness and confusion when one just has to wait. In philosophy above all things there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. Wittgenstein had a great horror of what Schopenhauer once described as ‘professorial philosophy by philosophy professors’: people having to go on talking when really they knew in their own heart that they had nothing of value to say.”

— M. O’C. Drury, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Symposium. Assessments of the Man and the Philosopher

“It’s getting closer. This aspect of my work — writing for the public and making images — has been going on for about a dozen years, and in that time I’ve understood more and more that all of it is of a piece. I used to think they were really separate. Now I realize that looking at the world, making images, writing about images, writing about things that are not images, all of it is an attempt to testify to having been here and seen certain things, having looked at the world with a kind eye but an eye that is not ignoring questions of justice and history. And that’s why Blind Spot is a book of text and images.”

— Teju Cole, qtd. in The Millions