uplifting us above ourselves

Where the mind is able to function in an orderly fashion, progressively developing, this activity takes on the significance of a work of art, a human aesthetics. As one grows more aware of this resonance of knowledge in an aesthetics of the mind, as one’s eagerness to learn is matched by an acceleration in the growth of one’s knowledge, a diffuse Prometheanism of a sort associates itself with learning. We learn in general from others and from books; but learning here becomes ours in a deeper sense, uplifting us above ourselves, above ordinary nature.

Bachelard, Gaston. Fragments of a Poetics of Fire. Trans. Kenneth Haltman. Dallas: The Dallas Institute Publications, 1988. 73.

in the company of

We have lived illustrious, friend Ermolao, and to posterity shall live, not in the schools of the grammarians and teaching-places of young minds, but in the company of the philosophers, conclaves of sages, where the questions of debate are not concerning the mother of Andromache or the sons of Niobe and suck light trifles, but of things human and divine.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

English translation from Symonds, J.A. Renaissance in Italy, 1897, II, pp. 241-2. in Yates, Frances. Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1964. 162.

a thousand years

Brothers, nobody should say or think: “What is the sense of bothering with copying by haand when the art of printing has brought to light so many important books; a huge library can be acquired inexpensively.” …

All of you know the difference between a manuscript and a printed book. The word written on parchment will last a thousand years. The printed word is on paper. How long will it last? The most you can expect a book of paper to survive is two hundred years. Yet, there are many who think they can entrust their works to paper. Only time will tell.

Yes, many books are now available in print, but no matter how many books will be printed, there will always be some left unprinted and worth copying. No one will ever be able to locate and buy all printed books. Even if all works ever written would appear in print, the devoted scribe should not relax in his zeal. On the contrary, he will guarantee the permanence to useful printed books by copying them. His labor will render mediocre books better, worthless ones more valuable, and perishable ones more lasting. …

…he must not cease copying just because the art of printing has been invented.

Johannes Trithemius, In Praise of Scribes (De Laude Scriptorum). Ed., Klaus Arnold. Trans., Roland Behrendt. Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1974. 63.


draws a circle around the circle/abridged into a word

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Every general law only a particular fact of some more general law presently to disclose itself. There is no outside, no inclosing wall, no circumference to us. The man finishes his story,—how good! how final! how it puts a new face on all things! He fills the sky. Lo, on the other side rises also a man and draws a circle around the circle we had just pronounced the outline of the sphere. The already is our first speaker not man, but only a first speaker. His only redress is forthwith to draw a circle outside of his antagonist. And so men do by themselves. The result of to-day, which haunts the mind and cannot be escaped, will presently be abridged into a word, and the principle that seemed to explain nature will itself be included as one example of a bolder generalization. In the thought of to-morrow there is a power to upheave all thy creed, all the creeds, all the literatures of the nations, and marshal thee to a heaven which no epic dream has yet depicted. Every man is not so much a workman in the world as he is a suggestion of that he should be. Men walk as prophecies of the next age.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Circles,” Essays and English Traits, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Charles W Eliot, ed. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company, 1909. Volume 5: 157.