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Quote of the Week

George Mikes (1912-1987)

On the Continent learned persons love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge; in England only uneducated people show off their knowledge, and nobody quotes Latin and Greek authors in the course of the conversation, unless he has never read them.

(George Mikes: How To Be An Alien)


Photo credit: Fortepan/Becságh István/Forgács Károly, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Originally I had another quote in mind for today… but terrible boredom arising out of lockdown reminded me of Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

Quote of the Week

The ennui is overwhelming.

(Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,
original radio series, series 1, episode 6)

The Archives of the Indies (El archivo de las Indias)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

Scholars from all over the world come here [the Archivo de las Indias in Seville] to sniff around, to browse, to conduct secret investigations, because these portfolios contain everything to do with the colonies – per geographical region, per historical period, everything. EVERYTHING: cadastres, letters of supplication, custodial sentences, decrees, financial accounts, reports of military campaigns, letters from governors overseas, negotiations, plans for the layout of new cities, maps. That must be what God’s memory looks like: every centimetre, every second of every man and every spot on the face of the earth, described and recorded.

Eruditos de todo el mundo vienen aquí [el Archivo de las Indias en Sevilla] a buscar, a rastrear, a realizar el trabajo de detective secreto, porque en estos carpetones está, por épocas, por colonias, todo, TODO: catastros, súplicas, sentencias, órdenes, proyectos, informes de campañas, cartas de gobernadores, partes de navegación, censos o como se llamaran entonces, negociaciones, planos de ciudad, mapas. A algo así debe de parecerse la memoria de Dios, cada centímetro y cada minuto de cada lugar y cada hombre descrito y conservado.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago / El desvío a Santiago)


In Britain, they remember their war dead in a way they don’t in my country. They remember the dead not only on war monuments, which is to be expected, but also in handwritten registers lying open in small chapels, in the list of names carved on a stone stone plaque on the wall of a railway station… everywhere.

My grandfather was a nameless conscript who went missing in action in a country he never wished to see, in a war which was not of his choosing. He never married his fiancée, my grandmother, he never saw his son, my father, who was born posthumously, he didn’t even pass on his surname.

So today’s quote, from an 18th century French author, about remembering your war dead touches me.

Quote of the Week

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

I would like the names of those who die for their country to be recorded and preserved in churches, in registers that would serve as a wellspring of pride and nobility.

(Montesquieu: Persian Letters)

One Century a Minute (Un siglo por minuto)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

Zaragoza. Apart from two nuns and an old lady, I am the only visitor in the Bellas Artes Museum, which has a section devoted to archaeology. The nuns overtake me at the rate of one century a minute and then I am truly alone in the prehistory of Spain.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

Zaragoza. Junto a dos monjas y una anciana, soy el único visitante en el museo de Bellas Artes, que albergaba también un departamento de arqueología. Las monjas me adelantan a una velocidad de un siglo por minuto y entonces es cuando estoy realmente sólo en la prehistoria española.

(Cees Nooteboom: El desvío a Santiago)


Travel Notes (Notas de viaje)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Anonymus, the unnamed notary of King Béla III and author of the Gesta Hungarorum, c. 1200 (Statue in Ópusztaszer)

For I never passed one single day while I was on my travels without writing some notes, not even when I was at sea, in storms, or in the Holy Land; and in the desert I have frequently written as I sat on an ass or a camel; or at night, while the others were asleep, I would sit and put into writing what I had seen.

(Felix Fabri: The Wanderings of Felix Fabri)

Porque nunca pasé ni un solo día de viaje sin escribir algunas notas, ni siquiera cuando estaba en el mar, en las tormentas, o en la Tierra Santa; y en el desierto he escrito frecuentemente sentado sobre un asno o un camello; o por la noche, mientras los demás dormían, me sentaba y ponía por escrito lo que había visto.

(Félix Fabri: Peregrinaciones)

Note regarding the author picture: 
No image survives of the good friar Felix Fabri (1441-1502), therefore he is represented above by a statue of an unnamed monk: the notary of King Béla III, author of Gesta Hungarorum, the history of the Hungarians, circa 1200.
The statue can be found in Ópusztaszer, Hungary.

Nota sobre la ilustración del autor:
No sobrevive ninguna imagen del buen fraile Félix Fabri (1441-1502), por lo que está representado aquí arriba por una estatua de un monje sin nombre: el notario del rey Béla III, autor de Gesta Hungarorum, la historia de los húngaros, hacia 1200.
La estatua está en Ópusztaszer, Hungría.


The Sage (El sabio)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Lao Tzu (6th century BC) [public domain via Wikipedia]

The five colors blind the eyes of man;
The five musical notes deafen the ears of man;
The five flavors dull the taste of man;
Horse-racing, hunting and chasing madden the minds of man;
Rare, valuable goods keep their owners awake at night.

Therefore the Sage:
Provides for the belly and not the eye.
Hence, he rejects the one and accepts the other.

(Lao Tzu: Tao Te King, 12)

Los cinco colores ciegan al hombre.
Los cinco sonidos ensordecen al hombre.
Los cinco sabores embotan al hombre.
La carrera y la caza ofuscan al hombre.
Los tesoros corrompen al hombre.

Por eso, el sabio atiende al vientre y no al ojo.
Por eso, rechaza esto y prefiere aquello. 

(Lao-Tse: Tao te king,  XII)

Pueblo Contaminado de Ficciones (People Contaminated by Fiction)

Quote of the Week

Mario Vargas Llosa (1936-)

Un pueblo contaminado de ficciones es más difícil de esclavizar que un pueblo aliterario o inculto. La literatura es enormemente útil porque es una fuente de insatisfacción permanente; crea ciudadanos descontentos, inconformes. Nos hace a veces más infelices, pero también nos hace mucho más libres.

A people contaminated by fiction is more difficult to enslave than an illiterate or uneducated people. Literature is enormously useful because it’s a source of permanent dissatisfaction; it creates discontented, non-conformist citizens. At times it makes us unhappier, but it also makes us much freer. 

Mario Vargas Llosa
(El País, 17/09/2015)


Better Manic Than Boring

Quote of the Week

Eddie Huang (1982- )

I think my mom is manic, but Chinese people don’t believe in psychologists. We just drink more tea when things go bad. Sometimes I agree; I think we’re all overdiagnosed. Maybe that’s just how we are, and people should leave us alone. My mom was entertaining! If you met my family, you’d prescribe Xanax for all of them, but then what? We’d be boring.

(Eddie Huang: Fresh Off the Boat)


Quote of the Week:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

When the body sinks into death, the essence of man is revealed. Man is a knot, a web, a mesh into which relationships are tied. Only those relationships matter. The body is an old crock that nobody will miss. I have never known a man to think of himself when dying. Never.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

Three Things You Should Never Give Advice About

Quote of the Day

Eberhard VI Count of Württemberg (1447-1504)

There are three acts in a man’s life which no one ought either to advise another to do or not to do. The first is to contract matrimony, the second is to go to the wars, the third is to visit the Holy Sepulchre. I say that these acts are good in themselves, but they may easily turn out ill; and when this is so, he who gave the advice comes to be blamed as if he were the cause of its turning out ill.

(Eberhard VI Count of Württemberg,
quoted by Felix Fabri in The Wanderings of Felix Fabri)

España: Europa y no Europa (Spain: Europe & Yet Not Europe)

La cita del día / Quote of the Day

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

España es brutal, anárquica, egocéntrica, cruel; España está dispuesta a ponerse la soga al cuello por disparates, es caótica, sueña, es irracional. Conquistó el mundo y no supo qué hacer con él, está enganchada a su pasado medieval, árabe, judío y cristiano, y está allí con sus caprichosas ciudades acostadas en esos infinitos paisajes vacíos como un continente que está unido a Europa y no es Europa. Quien haya hecho sólo los itinerarios obligados no conoce España. Quien no haya intentado perderse en la complejidad laberíntica de su historia no sabe por dónde viaja.

(Cees Nooteboom: El desvíó a Santiago)

Spain is brutish, anarchic, egocentric, cruel. Spain is prepared to face disaster on a whim, she is chaotic, dreamy, irrational. Spain conquered the world and then did not know what to do with it, she harks back to her Medieval, Arab, Jewish and Christian past and sits there impassively like a continent that is appended to Europe and yet is not Europe, with her obdurate towns studding those limitless empty landscapes. Those who know only the beaten track do not know Spain. Those who have not roamed the labyrinthine complexity of her history do not know what they are travelling through.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

Never Love a Wild Thing

Quote of the Week

Truman Capote (1924-1984)

‘Never love a wild thing, Mr Bell,’ Holly advised him. ‘That was doc’s mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up, Mr Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.’

(Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Sorpresa (Surprise)

La cita del día / Quote of the Day

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)


Quote of the Week

Laurie Lee (1914-1997)

When a shell hit the ground and exploded near by, the snow rose in the air like a dirty ghost, and hung there spikily billowing, before collapsing into the ground again. Such apparitions increased all around me, lifting, hovering and falling, together with the brutal rending and peeling back of the air, and the knowledge that under bombardment one has no courage.

(Laurie Lee: A Moment of War)


El carácter español (The Spanish Character)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week

Cees Nooteboom bw
Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

El carácter español tiene algo monacal, incluso en sus grandes reyes hay un dejo de anacoreta: Felipe y Carlos construyeron monasterios para ellos mismos y vivie- ron durante mucho tiempo de espaldas al mundo que debían dirigir. Quien ha viajado mucho por España está acostumbrado y espera en medio de la nada un enclave, un oasis, un sitio vuelto hacia dentro, amurallado, a modo de fortaleza, en el que el silencio y la ausencia de los demás causa estragos en las almas.

(Cees Nooteboom: El desvío a Santiago)

The Spanish character has something monastic about it, even in their great monarchs there is a touch of the anchorite: both Philip and Charles built monasteries for themselves and spent much time in seclusion, turning their backs to the world they were required to govern. Anyone who has travelled widely through Spain is accustomed to such surprise encounters, and indeed anticipates them: in the middle of nowhere an enclave, an oasis, a walled , fortress-like, introverted spot, where silence and the absence of others wreak havoc in the souls of men.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

Short Swords (Espadas Pequeñas)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Plutarch (c. 46 AD – c. 120 AD)

The younger Agis, when Demades said that the jugglers who swallow swords use the Spartan swords because of their shortness, retorted, “But all the same the Spartans reach their enemies with their swords.”

(Plutarch: Morals, Vol. III, Sayings of Spartans)

Agis, el joven, cuando Demades dijo que los prestidigitadores se tragaban las espadas espartanas por lo pequeñas que eran, dijo: «Y, sin embargo, los espartanos alcanzan a los enemigos con sus espadas».

(Plutarco: Obras morales y de costumbres, III. Máximas de espartanos)

Freedom of Conscience

Quote of the Day

A somewhat Machiavellian argument for the freedom of conscience from the 18th century. 🙂

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

It is useless to claim that it is not in the prince’s interest to permit several religions coexist in his realm. If every sect in the world assembled there together, it would in no way harm the prince, because there is not a single religion that does not prescribe obedience, and preach submission. 

(Montesquieu: Persian Letters, Letter 83)