Just 3 Quotes: Something Else


3 quotes from 3 books. Sent weekly.



“In literary terms, we might identify substitution with ‘metaphor,’ as the historian and philosopher of mathematics Reviel Netz does. ‘Mathematics,’ he says, ‘can only become truly interesting and original when it involves the operation of seeing something as something else.’’

99 Variations on a Proof, by Philip Ording (2019)

“Every significant emergent technology inevitably enters the world of language as a new metaphor, a way of framing or illuminating some aspect of reality that was harder to grasp before the metaphor began to circulate.“

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson (2016)

“If categorization is central to thinking, then what mechanism carries it out? Analogy is the answer.”

Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, by Douglas Hofstadter (2011)

Void If Detached: Choices


3 quotes from 3 books. Sent weekly.



“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”

The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973)

“The word ‘decision’ comes from the Latin word caedere, which means ‘to cut.’ When we decide to pursue one thing, we necessarily cut away another. If there's no cutting, we haven't made any decision at all.“

Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life, by Luke Burgis (2021)

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig-tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath (1963)

Just 3 Quotes: Paradigm Shift


3 quotes from 3 books. Sent weekly.



“Not only did the Apaches survive the Spanish attacks, but amazingly, the attacks served to make them even stronger. When the Spanish attacked them, the Apaches became even more decentralized and even more difficult to conquer. When the Spanish destroyed their villages, the Apaches might have surrendered if the villages had been crucial to their society. But they weren't. Instead, the Apaches abandoned their old houses and became nomads.“

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom (2008)

“In every paradigm, scientists discover a logical structure that makes sense of a portion of the world and gives them an intellectual foundation to which they cling until the discrepancies and inconsistencies grow so unsettling as to force them to break with tradition and alter some of their cherished ideas.”

Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen, by Mark Buchanan (2000)

“The fundamental equations of general relativity are nonlinear—already a signal, we know by now, that chaos lurks. ‘People aren’t always well versed in its methods,’ says Janna Levin, an astrophysicist and cosmologist at Barnard College of Columbia University. ‘Theoretical physics in particular is built on the notion of fundamental symmetries,’ she notes. ‘For that reason, I think it’s been a difficult paradigm shift for theoretical physics to embrace.’”

Chaos: Making A New Science, by James Gleick (1987)

Just 3 Quotes: In Memoriam


3 quotes from 3 books. Sent weekly.


—“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one?”

—“Of course. Who said it?”

—“I don’t know.”

—“He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he’s intelligent. He simply doesn’t mention them.”

—“I don’t know. It’s hard to see inside the head of the brave.”

—“Yes. That’s how they keep that way.”

A Farewell To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway (1929)

“Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (1990)

“It seemed obvious that their former hopes, their warlike dreams, their constant waiting for the enemy had been no more than a pretext to give life some significance.”

The Tartar Steppe, by Dino Buzzati (1940)

Just 3 Quotes: Matter


3 quotes from 3 books. Sent weekly.



“Wrapping a present with paper gives it a crispness and pristineness that emphasize the newness and value of the present inside. Paper is strong enough to protect the present when it is sent through the mail, but so weak that even a baby can rip it open. That moment of opening transports the object inside from obscurity to celebrity in a few seconds. The unwrapping of a present is akin to the act of birth; a new life for the object begins.“

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World, by Mark Miodownik (2013)

“About half the nitrogen in you came out of a Haber-Bosch factory. Don't worry: Nitrogen is nitrogen, the atoms in Haber-Bosch ammonia are precisely the same as the atoms in the best natural manure, and they all come, one way or another, from the air you breathe—but half the nitrogen in your blood, your skin and hair, your proteins and DNA, is synthetic.”

The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler, by Thomas Hager (2008)

“Dark matter behaves like ordinary matter in terms of its gravitational properties—it’s attractive and it clusters, but we don’t know what it’s made of. The stuff we do know about—protons, neutrons, ordinary atoms and molecules—appear to comprise only about 5 percent of the mass of the universe.”

The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos, edited by John Brockman (2012)

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