The first thing to meet our eyes [on a Himalayan expedition in 1902] was what, suppose we had landed in the country of Brobdignag, only more, so, might have been the lace handkerchief of a Super-Glumdalclitch left out to dry. It was a glittering veil of brilliance of the hillside; but closer inspection, instead of destroying the illusion, made one exclaim with increased enthusiasm.
The curtain had been formed by crystalline deposits from a hot spring (38.3° centigrade). The incrustation is exquisitely white and exquisitely geometrical in every detail. The burden of the cynicism of my six and twenty years fell from me like a dream. I trod the shining slopes; they rustled under my feet rather as snow does in certain conditions. (The sound is strangely exhilarating.) It is a voluptuous flattery like the murmurous applause of a refined multitude, with the instinctive ecstatic reverence of a man conscious of his unworthiness entering paradise. At the top of the curtain is the basin from which it proceeds, the largest of several similar formations. It is some thirty-one feet in diameter, an almost perfect circle. The depth in the middle is little over two feet. It is a bath for Venus herself.
I had to summon my consciousness of godhead before venturing to invade it. The water steams delicately with sulphurous emanations, yet the odour is subtly delicious. Knowles, the doctor and I spent more than an hour and a half reposing in its velvet warmth, in the intoxicating dry mountain air, caressed by the splendour of the sun. I experienced all the ecstasy of the pilgrim who has come to the end of his hardships. I felt as if I had been washed clean of all the fatigues of the journey. In point of fact, I had arrived, despite myself, at perfect physical condition. I had realized from the first that the proper preparation for a journey of this sort is to get as fat as possible before starting, and stay as fat as possible as long as possible. I was now in the condition in which Pfannl had been at Srinagar. I could have gone forty-eight hours without turning a hair. — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography (1929)
There was a lot of drinking. One sunny morning [Dylan] Thomas and friends were in a field above Newlyn, sampling a “champagne wine tonic” sold by a local herbalist. Thomas talked and talked, then stopped abruptly. “Someone’s boring me,” he said. “I think it’s me.”
After his Vassar reading, Thomas stayed with a staff member at the college, Vernon Venable. He and his hosts sat up half the night, talking and drinking. When he finally retired, Venable sat on the bed while Thomas launched into a drunken account of his unhappiness. According to Venable, it went on for hours — “just misery, misery, misery, which seemed to me so pervasive that it had no source except a psychological source. That is, the man was deeply neurotic.” Venable is unable to remember details, except that part of the monologue was concerned with his love for Caitlin [Thomas, his wife]. In effect, says Venable, he was declaring that life was a nightmare and he couldn’t stand it. […]
In the morning Venable said goodbye to his guest, then discovered to his annoyance that Thomas had stolen his best white shirt. — Dylan Thomas, Paul Ferris (1977) (ch. 7, “Caitlin”, and ch. 10, “Laugharne and America”)
“H.P. Lovecraft were really underrated in terms of the sixties bands from the West Coast.” — Psychic Hi-Fi: Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Favourite Albums, The Quietus, 23i2014.
• He Say, He Sigh, He Sow #23 — an earlier engagement by Genesis P. Orridge in terms of issues around “in terms of” (dot dot dot)
Morrissey’s stag night, like sim. Descriptive of a public house peopled entirely by broken men of indeterminate age staring silently at their half-empty pint glasses. […]
mortal adj. Refreshed (qv) within an inch of one’s life.
mortal combat n. Fighting between intoxicated fellows. Or occasionally, in the case of certain self-sufficient Harold Ramps (qv), between a single intoxicated fellow. — from Roger’s Profanisaurus: Das Krapital, The Revolutionary Dictionary of Bad Language (Viz 2010)
“If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.” — John von Neumann
This quote is popular on web pages about von Neumann, and about computing and mathematics generally. It is apparently not from a published work of von Neumann’s, but Franz L. Alt recalls it as a remark made from the podium by von Neumann as keynote speaker at the first national meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1947. The exchange at that meeting is described at the end of Alt’s brief article “Archaeology of computers: Reminiscences, 1945–1947”, Communications of the ACM, volume 15, issue 7, July 1972, special issue: Twenty-fifth anniversary of the Association for Computing Machinery, p. 694. Alt recalls that von Neumann “mentioned the ‘new programming method’ for ENIAC and explained that its seemingly small vocabulary was in fact ample: that future computers, then in the design stage, would get along on a dozen instruction types, and this was known to be adequate for expressing all of mathematics…. Von Neumann went on to say that one need not be surprised at this small number, since about 1,000 words were known to be adequate for most situations of real life, and mathematics was only a small part of life, and a very simple part at that. This caused some hilarity in the audience, which provoked von Neumann to say: ‘If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.’ ”
• Source of John von Neumann quote
• Matematyka jest najpotężniejszym intelektualnym wehikułem, jaki kiedykolwiek został skonstruowany, za pomocą którego uciekamy przed czasem, lecz nie ma powodu przypuszczać, że mogłaby kiedyś umożliwić tego rodzaju ucieczkę, jaką ucieleśnia pogoń za Absolutem. — Leszek Kołakowski
• Mathematics is the most powerful intellectual vehicle that has ever been constructed, by means of which we flee ahead of time, but there is no reason to suppose that it could someday enable the kind of escape embodied by the pursuit of the Absolute. — Leszek Kołakowski
“Adonis, M. Cytheris, and M. Menelaus, is indescribable; the eyes are pained as they gaze upon it; yet there is said to be an unnamed species from the emerald mountains of Bogota, of which a single specimen is in a private cabinet in London, which is far more lustrous than these.” — The Romance of Natural History (1861), Philip Henry Gosse
Ὁ γαρ ἡδονής και ἀλγηδόνος ἧλος, ὃς πρὸς το σώμα τήν ψυχην προσηλοῖ, μέγιστον κακὸν ἔχειν ἔοικε, τὸ τα αἰσθητά ποιεῖν ἐναργέστερα τῶν νοητῶν, καὶ καταβιάζεσθαι καὶ πάθει μᾶλλον ἢ λόγῳ κρίνειν τήν διάνοιαν.
• ΠΡΟΒΛΗΜΑ Β’. Πώς Πλάτων ἔλεγε τον θεὸν άεὶ γεωμετρεῖν.
Nam voluptatis et doloris ille clavus, quo animus corpori affigitur, id videtur maximum habere malum, quod sensilia facit intelligibilibus evidentiora, vimque facit intellectui, ut affectionem magis quam rationem in judicando sequatur.
• QUÆSTIO II: Qua ratione Plato dixerit, Deum semper geometriam tractare.
For the nail of pain and pleasure, which fastens the soul to the body, seems to do us the greatest mischief, by making sensible things more powerful over us than intelligible, and by forcing the understanding to determine them rather by passion than by reason.
• Plutarch’s Symposiacs, QUESTION II: What is Plato’s Meaning, When He Says that God Always Plays the Geometer?
“He that will not set himself proudly at the top of all things; but will consider the Immensity of this Fabrick, and the great variety, that is to be found in this little and inconsiderable part of it, which he has to do with, may be apt to think, that in other Mansions of it, there may be other, and different intelligent Beings, of whose Faculties, he has as little Knowledge or Apprehension, as a worm shut up in one drawer of a Cabinet, hath of the Senses or Understanding of a Man.” — John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), viâ David Wootton’s The Invention of Science (2015)
The title of this incendiary intervention is intended to suggest the idea of Locke’s ideas acting as a rocket-fuel for the imagination like LOX or lox, meaning “liquid oxygen explosive; later interpreted as representing liquid oxygen” (OED).
Mull (island) Arg. Malaios c. 150. Pre-Celtic island name. (The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names)
• Place of Glades — a review of The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names, A.D. Mills (1991)