Selected Quote
In looking back on my life I must confess that the bulk of the worth-while things in it are connected with friendship, which to me is all the more strange, when I think that I have lived my life chiefly struggling for material things, as do most of us, I fear.
A. G. Street (1932) Farmer's Glory, p. 238. Oxford University Press, reprinted edition 1983.
The ice has gone, the drought not yet come.
Christopher Norment (2012) In the Memory of the Map: A Cartographic Memoir, p. 231. University of Iowa Press.
I think of all the fossils held within the Grand Canyon, and elswehere on earth, of life's great path as told by the legions of the dead. I've read that the average life expectancy for a species is one to ten million years, and that 99.9 percent of all the species that ever lived are extinct. Ghosts, speaking to us acros great gulps of time, just as human deaths speak to us with their immediacy and force.
Christopher Norment (2012) In the Memory of the Map: A Cartographic Memoir, p. 171. University of Iowa Press.
I stoop to pick up a fossil brachiopod from a scatter of limestone debris, and death's terrible beauty is suddenly before me - the warp and weft of extinction and speciation, the extent to which death and time have crafted the cloth of this living world.
Christopher Norment (2012) In the Memory of the Map: A Cartographic Memoir, p. 173. University of Iowa Press.
Science still remains a dream, for it takes us no more than a few faltering steps toward understanding; graphs and charts create little more than an illusion of knowledge. There is no ultimate knowing. Beyond the facts, beyond science, is a domain of cloud, the universe of the mind, ever expanding as the universe itself.
George B. Schaller (1979) Stones of Silence: Journeys in the Himalaya, p. 243. University of Chicago Press.
Some writers are born only to help another writer to write one sentence.
Ernest Hemingway (1935) Green Hills of Africa, p. 21. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Naturalists should all work alone and some one else should correlate their findings for them.
Ernest Hemingway (1935) Green Hills of Africa, p. 21. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Biology used to be about plants, animals and insects, but five great revolutions have changed the way scientists think about life. ... The first five revolutions were the invention of the microscope, the systematic classification of the planet's living creatures, the theory of evolution, the discovery of the gene, and the discovery of the structure of DNA. ... I believe that the sixth revolution in biology is already under way, and it is to apply mathematical insight to biological processes.
Ian Stewart (2011) The Mathematics of Life, pp. 8 and 16. Basic Books, New York.
Now, as I tread the sandstone pavements around Sydney, I feel the power of long-spent sunbeams on my bare feet. Looking at the rock through a magnifying lens I can see the grains whose rounded edges caress my toes, and I realise that each one of the countless billions has been shaped by the power of the Sun that, over 300 million years ago, drew water from a primodrial ocean which then fell as rain on a distant mountain range. Bit by bit the rock crumbled and was carried into streams, until all that remained was rounded grains of quartz. A million times more energy must have gone into creating sand grains than has ever gone into all human enterprise.
Tim Flannery (2005) The Weathermakers, p. 78. HarperCollinsPublishers, New York.
I know that to a bee, the rose is not an object of beauty but a source of food; yet to both the bee and to me, the rose is sacred, if we mean by sacred a gift to be cherished and on which we depend. In the same sense, music is beauty to me.
Yehudi Menuhin (1980) Sound and Unsound. In: The Music of Man by Yehudi Menuhin and Curtis W. Davis, p. 271. Macdonald General Books, London, England.
That fools should venture where angels fear to tread is perhaps the ultimate justification for the existence of fools.
Yehudi Menuhin (1980) Introduction. In: The Music of Man by Yehudi Menuhin and Curtis W. Davis, p. viii. Macdonald General Books, London, England.
In the hearing of Beethoven's Eroica, in the presence of a portrait by Rembrandt, in the rhythm and import of a sonnet by Shakespeare, we are in direct contact with the truth and spirit of the creators, as surely as we are in a different dimension through the perception of Einstein who, paradoxically, while bringing science closer to metaphysics than ever before, fixed the human situation as forever relative.
Yehudi Menuhin (1980) Introduction. In: The Music of Man by Yehudi Menuhin and Curtis W. Davis, p. x. Macdonald General Books, London, England.
The collaboration of Earth scientists and biologists has achieved a new holistic understanding of how the Earth and its life forms have evolved together through time. It is one of humanity's greatest intellectual achievements. It ought to help us to persuade human societies to look beyond short-term issues alone, to where the real keys to the future may lie.
Aubrey Manning (2001) Time, Life and the Earth. In: The Age of the Earth: From 4004 BC to AD 2002, edited by C. L. E. Lewis and S. J. Knell, p. 263. Geological Society Special Publication No. 190. The Geological Society, London.
To come very near true theory and to grasp its precise application are two very different things as the history of science teaches us. Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it.
Alfred North Whitehead (1917) The Organization of Thought. Williams and Norgate, London.
Our galaxy is like an ecosystem, recycling gas through successive generations of stars, gradually building up the entire periodic table. Before our Sun even formed, several generations of fast-burning heavy stars could have been through their entire life cycles, transmuting pristine hydrogen into the basic building blocks of life - carbon, oxygen, iron and the rest. We are literally the ashes of long-dead stars.
Martin J. Rees (2001) Understanding the Beginning and the End. In: The Age of the Earth: From 4004 BC to AD 2002, edited by C. L. E. Lewis and S. J. Knell, p. 276. Geological Society Special Publication No. 190. The Geological Society, London.
There are three great frontiers in science: the very big, the very small, and the very complex.
Martin J. Rees (2001) Understanding the Beginning and the End. In: The Age of the Earth: From 4004 BC to AD 2002, edited by C. L. E. Lewis and S. J. Knell, p. 283. Geological Society Special Publication No. 190. The Geological Society, London.
But cosmology is also the grandest of the environmental sciences, and its third aim is to understand how a simple fireball evolved, over 10 to 15 billion years, into the complex cosmic habitat we find around us - how, on at least one planet around at least one star, creatures evolved able to wonder about it all. That is the challenge for the new millennium.
Martin J. Rees (2001) Understanding the Beginning and the End. In: The Age of the Earth: From 4004 BC to AD 2002, edited by C. L. E. Lewis and S. J. Knell, p. 283. Geological Society Special Publication No. 190. The Geological Society, London.
And the present time was like the level plain where men lose their belief in volcanoes and earthquakes, thinking to-morrow will be as yesterday, and the giant forces that used to shake the earth are for ever laid to sleep.
George Eliot (1860) The Mill on the Floss, p. 105. Routledge, London and New York.
Patience is the mother of joy. It is through patience that we can endure each other's company long enough to love, through patience that we can cooperate in a task, through patience that we can go from abysmally bad to almost all right, through patience that we can restrain ourselves from wasting our lives in anger and disappointment.
William Bryant Logan (2005) Oak: The Frame of Civilization, p. 181. W. W. Norton and Company, New York.
... literary eloquence is essential to liberal civilization; our heroes should be men and women possessed by the urgency of utterance, obsessed by the need to see for themselves and speak for us all.
Adam Gopnik (2009) Angels and and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, p. 22. A. A. Knopf, New York.
Nevertheless, he understood that hope resides in the future, while perspective and wisdom are almost always found by looking to the past.
Greg Mortenson (2009) Stones into Schools, p. 21. Viking Penguin, New York.
The defining achievement of the Industrial Revolution was creation of a society in which people were given the choice between starvation and wage labour.
Stan Rowe (2006) Earth Alive: Essays on Ecology, p. 195. NeWest Press, Edmonton.
When the goal and primary mark of the artist is originality - that is, being different from others, absent any aesthetic and ethical context - the results are bound to be bad or at least indifferent.
Stan Rowe (2006) Earth Alive: Essays on Ecology, p. 176. NeWest Press, Edmonton.
Artists and scientists, like the truly religious, creatively seek unifying experiences that make aesthetic and intellectual sense within Earth's mystifying milieu of sky, land, water, and organisms.
Stan Rowe (2006) Earth Alive: Essays on Ecology, p. 55. NeWest Press, Edmonton.
This, I thought, is how great visionaries and poets see everything - as if for the first time. Each morning they see a new world before their eyes; they do not really see it, they create it.
Nikos Kazantzakis (1961) Zorba the Greek, p.140. Faber and Faber, London.
... to quote is to continue a conversation from the past in order to give context to the present.
Alberto Manguel (2006) The Library at Night, p. 224. Alfred A. Knopf, Canada.
If there is a danger in the human trajectory, it is not so much in the survival of our own species as in the fulfillment of the ultimate irony of organic evolution: that in the instant of achieving self-understanding through the mind of man, life has doomed its most beautiful creations. And thus humanity closes the door to its past.
Edward O. Wilson (1992) The Diversity of Life, p. 344. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
The ideal scientist can be said to think like a poet, work like a clerk, and write like a journalist.
Edward O. Wilson (1984) Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species, p. 62. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Science has been dead wrong in the past, is dead wrong about some things now, and will be dead wrong about other things in the future. Scientific methods enable scientists to discover when they are wrong and to labor towards the truth, with many twists and turns along the way.
David Sloan Wilson (2007) Evolution for Everyone, p. 293. Delta Trade Paperbacks, New York, USA.
The crust of the earth is a vast museum; but the natural collections have been made only at intervals of time immensely remote.
Charles Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, p. 176. Illustrated edition, edited by David Quammen, Sterling, USA,
[Darwin] reminds us, as he painstakingly learned himself, that we, too, are animals, connected to life, past and present. That we are earthly residents, with the innate capacity for attentive, authentic relationships within the sum of life as we live, work, and play at the borders of nature, science, and culture. That we become alive and embodied in our attention to life's detail. That nothing in the natural world is beneath our notice.
Lyanda Lynn Haupt (2006) Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent, p. 265. Little, Brown and Company, New York, USA.
It might seem an obvious sort of thing to say, but there is a vast difference between the nature of a decent answer and that of a truly good question. An answer's origin is not difficult to pinpoint, rising, at least in part, from within the question that called it forth. But an eloquent question is much harder to come by, and far more surprising. ... In spite of what our teachers told us, there are stupid questions, but a good question, an evocative and intelligent question, is always startling and treasurable. The best questions arise from a different sphere, from the unknown place that music and poetry comes from, the realm of creativity and curiosity and clear blue ether.
Lyanda Lynn Haupt (2006) Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent, p. 85. Little, Brown and Company, New York, USA.
To combine a curiosity for science with love of the natural world is how humankind must live on earth now, and poetry should speak of it.
Poet Gillian Clarke (2008) "Beginning with Bendigeidfran" In: At the Source, p.13. Carcenet Press, Manchester, England, UK.
In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 69. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 66. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 50. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 134. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life...
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 118. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 135. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 135. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
Our life is frittered away by detail.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 135. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
I had three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 185. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
Henry David Thoreau (1854) Walden, p. 264. Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, New York, USA, 1986.
The face of the earth is a graveyard, and so it has always been. To earth each living thing restores when it dies that which has been borrowed to give form and substance to its brief day in the sun. From earth, in due course, each new living being receives back again a loan of that which sustains life. What is lent by the earth has been used by countless generations of plants and animals now dead, and will be required by countless others in the future. ... No plant or animal, nor any sort of either, can establish permanent right of possession in the materials that compose its physical body.
Paul B. Sears (1935) Deserts on the March, p. 3. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA. Fourth Edition, Tenth Printing, 1980.
Knowledge grows by many paths. One is the meticulous, detailed examination of a limited part of the whole; another is the scanning of larger and more complex aspects of the challenge to ignorance, in search of pattern. Those who follow these paths lose touch, each with the other, at their peril and that of truth.
Paul B. Sears (1935) Deserts on the March, p. 72. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA. Fourth Edition, Tenth Printing, 1980.
We smile at the specialist for knowing more and more about less and less, ignoring the spectacle of our restless selves speeding on wheels and wings and learning less and less about more and more.
Paul B. Sears (1935) Deserts on the March, p. 73. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA. Fourth Edition, Tenth Printing, 1980.
We have seen how vast stretches of natural vegetation have been looked upon as obstacles to humanity, and destroyed, when in fact they are not only an essential as safeguard to the normal occupations of agriculture and industry, but could have been in themselves an unfailing source of steady, dependable wealth.
Paul B. Sears (1935) Deserts on the March, p. 231. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA. Fourth Edition, Tenth Printing, 1980.
For the perspective of the newborn, which knows no planes of distance, we must substitute that of the mature, with its sense of continuity and proportion. We are not an insensible people, utterly brutish, concerned solely with today and incapable of thinking about tomorrow. But we need to remind ourselves in our quest for immediate subsistence and wealth that while a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, birds breed in pairs and nest in bushes.
Paul B. Sears (1935) Deserts on the March, p. 247. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA. Fourth Edition, Tenth Printing, 1980.
The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. ... Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.
T. H. White (1958) The Once and Future King, p.181. Fontana Books, Collins, Fifth Impression, 1967,
... no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth...
A quote from the poet Lucretius included by Francis Bacon in his essay 'On Truth', 1597.

Latest changes/additions to the list: June 2 2012. Number of quotations: 50
This presentation has been compiled and is © 1998-2012 by
Alwynne B. Beaudoin (bluebulrush@gmail.com)
Last updated June 2, 2012
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