Wandering – Hermann Hesse

You see, I’m approaching a pass in the Alps, and here the northern, German architecture, and the German countryside, and the German language come to an end.

How lovely it is to cross such a boundary. The wandering man becomes a primitive man in so many ways, in the same way that the nomad is more primitive than the farmer. But the longing to get on the other side of everything already settled, this makes me, and everybody like me, a road sign to the future. If there were many other people who loathed the borders between countries as I do, then there would be no more wars and blockades. Nothing on earth is more disgusting, more contemptible than borders. They’re like cannons, like generals: as long as peace, loving kindness and peace go on, nobody pays any attention to them — but as soon as war and insanity appear, they become urgent and sacred. While the war went on, how they were pain and prison to us wanderers. Devil take them!

Once again I love deeply everything at home, because I have to leave it. Tomorrow I will love other roofs, other cottages. I won’t leave my heart behind me, as they say in love letters. No, I am going to carry it with me over the mountains, because I need it, always. I am a nomad, not a farmer. I am an adorer of the unfaithful, the changing, the fantastic. I don’t care to secure my love to one bare place on this earth. I believe that what we love is only a symbol. Whenever our love becomes too attached to one thing, one faith, one virtue, then I become suspicious.

“L’exil et le royaume – Albert Camus

“Une belle journée commençait, mais Jonas ne s’en apercevait pas. Il avait retourné la toile contre le mur. Épuise, il attendait, assis, les mains offertes sur ses genoux. Il se disait que maintenant il ne travaillerait plus jamais, il était heureux. Il entendait les grognements de ses enfants, des bruits d’eau, les tintements de la vaisselle. Louise parlait. Les grandes vitres vibraient au passage d’un camion sur le boulevard. Le monde était encore là, jeune, adorable : Jonas écoutait la belle rumeur que font les hommes. De si loin, elle ne contrariait pas cette force joyeuse en lui, son art, ces pensées qu’il ne pouvait pas dire, à jamais silencieuses, mais qui le mettaient au-dessus de toutes choses, dans un air libre et vif. Les enfants couraient à travers les pièces, la fillette riait, Louise aussi maintenant, dont il n’avait pas entendu le rire depuis longtemps. Il les aimait ! Comme il les aimait ! Il éteignit la lampe et, dans l’obscurité revenue, là, n’était-ce pas son étoile qui brillait toujours ? C’était elle, il la reconnaissait, le cœur plein de gratitude, et il la regardait encore lorsqu’il tomba, sans bruit.

“ Ce n’est rien, déclarait un peu plus tard le médecin qu’on avait appelé. Il travaille trop. Dans une semaine, il sera debout. – Il guérira, vous en êtes sûr ? disait Louise, le visage défait. – Il guérira. » Dans l’autre pièce, Rateau regardait la toile, entièrement blanche, au centre de laquelle Jonas avait seulement écrit, en très petits caractères, un mot qu’on pouvait déchiffrer, mais dont on ne savait s’il fallait y lire solitaire ou solidaire.”


On Feynman – Gates

Incidentally, Feynman wasn’t famous just for being a great teacher and a world-class scientist; he was also quite a character. He translated Mayan hieroglyphics. He loved to play the bongos. While helping develop the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, he entertained himself by figuring out how to break into the safes that contained top-secret research. (Feynman cultivated this image as a colorful guy. His colleague Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel Prize–winner in his own right, once remarked, “Feynman was a great scientist, but he spent a great deal of his effort generating anecdotes about himself.”)

Here are some suggestions if you’d like to know more about Feynman or his work:

  • The Messenger Lectures on Physics. These are the talks that first captivated me back in the 1980s and that you see briefly in the video above. The site is a few years old, but you can watch for free along with some helpful commentary.
  • Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher is a collection of the most accessible parts of Feynman’s famous Caltech lectures on physics.
  • He recounted his adventures in two very good books, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? You won’t learn a lot about physics, but you’ll have a great time hearing his stories.

Jubal utan Jag – Strindberg

Så kom en vacker dag en handelsresande, som förr varit teatersångare, och när han fick höra Klang, så blev han så förtjust att han bjöd Klangen ut på en kolifej om aftonen.
Och de slog käglor, de åt kräftor med dill, de drack punsch, och de sjöng framför allt.
Mellan skål och vägg och när de druckit duskål sade handelsresanden:
– Varför går du inte till teatern?
– Jag? svarte Klang; inte kan jag nu det?
– Du skall säga: jag vill! så kan du.
Det var en ny lärdom, ty sedan han var tre år, hade unge Klang inte begagnat orden ”jag” och ”vill”.
Nu tordes han varken vilja eller önska, och han bad icke få bli frestad mera.
Men handelsresanden kom igen, många gånger, och hade storsångare med sig. Frestelsen blev för stark; och Klangen tog sitt parti en afton, då han blivit applåderad av en riktig professor.
Så tog han avsked av patronen, och vid ett glas tackade han sin vän handelsresanden, som återgivet honom självförtroendet och viljan; ”viljan, denna järnstång i ryggen, som håller människan upprätt att hon icke faller ner på de fyra”. Och aldrig skulle han glömma sin vän, som lärt honom tro på sig själv.

The Problems of Philosophy, THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY – Bertrand Russell

HAVING now come to the end of our brief and very incomplete review of the problems of philosophy, it will be well to consider, in conclusion, what is the value of philosophy and why it ought to be studied. It is the more necessary to consider this question, in view of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling, hair-splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible.

This view of philosophy appears to result, partly from a wrong conception of the ends of life, partly from a wrong conception of the kind of goods which philosophy strives to achieve. Physical science, through the medium of inventions, is useful to innumerable people who are wholly ignorant of it; thus the study of physical science is to be recommended, not only, or primarily, because of the effect on the student, but rather because of the effect on mankind in general. This utility does not belong to philosophy. If the study of philosophy has any value at all for others than students of philosophy, it must be only indirectly, through its effects upon the lives of those who study it. It is in these effects, therefore, if anywhere, that the value of philosophy must be primarily sought. Continue reading ”The Problems of Philosophy, THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY – Bertrand Russell”