Monday, November 09, 2009

Discuss 12

'I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.'
Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. I know lots of things I could paraphrase for you.

  2. 'I hate Croations. Tell me vat you know.' Friedrich Rainer

  3. A book that furnishes no quotations is no book -- it is a plaything. -- Thomas Love Peacock

    But of course you can have too much of a good thing, which was maybe Emerson's point.

  4. Emerson's entry is:

    March-May, 1849. Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote. I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.

    The one before it is:

    April 4, 1849. Imbecility & Energy. The key to the age is this thing, & that thing, & that other, as the young orators describe. I will tell you the key to all ages, Imbecility: imbecility in the vast majority of men at all times & in every man, even heroes, in all but certain eminent moments victims of mere gravitation, custom, fear, sense. This gives force to the strong, that the others have no habit of selfreliance or original action.

  5. Rus, I hate people who quote Emerson without telling us what they know.

  6. A collection of anecdotes and maxims is the greatest treasure for a man of the world, as long as he knows how th weave the former into apposite points of the course of the conversation, and to recall the latter on fitting occasions.

    Goethe, after Schiller had bred the arse off him over a couple of beers.

  7. Bot of a Freudian slip there, Malty.

    "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are." -- J.A. B-S

    Hmmn ... stem ginger biscuits ...

  8. Hi Peter,

    How about people who mis-quote Emerson?

    I had to rush off to work, but thought that as far as I got in my thinking this morning was worth adding to the discussion. That people quote this sentence of Emerson's out of context seems interesting, and that it is more often misquoted, tailored, seems interesting as well.

    But the idea that people tend to look to quote someone else when asked about immortality, is an indication that the question is striking close to a mystery. How does one formulate into words whether there is mortality or not, or that one doesn't know. Religions can grow out of this question.

    When I was a life skills instructor, the residents or clients that I would work with had both mental and physical disabilities. With two such diagnoses, a person could get into this skilled nursing facility. These mental illnesses could dramatically change a person, the personality--head injuries, schizophrenia, and so forth. Alzheimers is a common illness, that can seem to alter who the person is. So on one hand, we can wonder whether one's being can even make it through this one full lifetime--never mind into immortality.

    On the other hand, there are the reincarnation religions, which can lead to the idea that we are all each other, only going through our different earthly existences together, simply entering at different space-time points. We might all be the same immortal "I".

    And then there's every belief that's in between. We could ask if each moment is entered into immortality, or maybe each moment with certain aspects. The question really brings religious beliefs home, and into the moment. As it relates to AI, we might ask if we could ever create a machine that would take its place alongside us humans, to ask if it too just might be immortal.