Archive for April, 2011

Everything is Possible in History

April 26, 2011

“I do not believe in the absolute determinism of history. On the contrary, I believe that all life, and consequently the life of history, is made up of simple moments, each of them relatively undetermined in respect of the previous one, so that in it reality hesitates, walks up and down, and is uncertain whether to decide for one or other of various possibilities. It is this metaphysical hesitancy which gives to everything living its unmistakable character of tremulous vibration. The rebellion of the masses may, in fact, be the transition to some new, unexampled organisation of humanity, but it may also be a catastrophe of human destiny. There is no reason to deny the reality of progress, but there is to correct the notion that believes this progress secure. It is more in accordance with facts to hold that there is no certain progress, no evolution, without the threat of “involution,” of retrogression. Everything is possible in history; triumphant, indefinite progress equally with periodic retrogression. For life, individual or collective, personal or historic, is the one entity in the universe whose substance is compact of danger, of adventure. It is, in the strict sense of the word, drama.” (José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses)

To be Surprised, to Wonder, is to Begin to Understand

April 26, 2011

“To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man. The gesture characteristic of his tribe consists in looking at the world with eyes wide open in wonder. Everything in the world is strange and marvellous to well-open eyes. This faculty of wonder is the delight refused to your football “fan,” and, on the other hand, is the one which leads the intellectual man through life in the perpetual ecstasy of the visionary. His special attribute is the wonder of the eyes. Hence it was that the ancients gave Minerva her owl, the bird with ever-dazzled eyes.” (José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses)

Why Reading on the Kindle Makes Me Sad

April 14, 2011

It makes me sad, to begin with, that whereas we open a book, we “slide and release the power switch to wake” the Kindle. The physical sense of progression is lost. All we get is an abstract representation of it, at the bottom of the screen (not page). Indeed, there are no pages. Imagine: “Read locations 5,232–6,170 of Democracy in America.” Books vary in size and thickness, in the quality of the paper, the design of the page, the choice of font. But the stuff on the Kindle? Imagine: shelves bending under the weight of colorful, sizable books; one shelve with four kindles.