…ψάμμος ἀριθμὸν περιπέφευγεν… — Πίνδαρου Ολυμπιόνικος ΙΙ, 98
“…the sand escapes all numbering…” — Pindar, Second Olympian Ode, line 98
H. Rider Haggard describes fractals:
Out of the vast main aisle there opened here and there smaller caves, exactly, Sir Henry said, as chapels open out of great cathedrals. Some were large, but one or two — and this is a wonderful instance of how nature carries out her handiwork by the same unvarying laws, utterly irrespective of size — were tiny. One little nook, for instance, was no larger than an unusually big doll’s house, and yet it might have been a model for the whole place, for the water dropped, tiny icicles hung, and spar columns were forming in just the same way. — King Solomon’s Mines, 1885, ch. XVI, “The Place of Death”
• Il sole, con tutti quei pianeti che girano intorno ad esso e da esso dipendono, può ancora maturare un grappolo d’uva come se non vi fosse nient’altro da fare in tutto l’universo. — Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642.
• “The sun, with all those planets turning around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”
• “By the time I was twenty-four I had constructed a complete system of philosophy. It rested on two principles: The Relativity of Things and The Circumferentiality of Man. I have since discovered that the first was not a very original discovery. It may be that the other was profound, but though I have racked my brains I cannot for the life of me remember what it was.” — W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (1938), sec. 66.
“SSV are not the Sisters. Their official full name is SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW. Could this possibly stand for ‘Screw Shareholder Value — not so much a band as another opportunity to waste money on drugs and ammunition, courtesy of the idiots at Time Warner’? Surely not. That would require a comma.” — Andrew Eldritch.
• Cognitio nostra est adeo debilis quod nullus philosophus potuit unquam perfecte investigare naturam unius muscae: unde legitur quod unus philosophus fuit triginta annis in solitudine, ut cognosceret naturam apis. — Sancti Thomae de Aquino Expositio in Symbolum Apostolorum (1273).
• Our knowledge is so weak that no philosopher has ever perfectly discovered the nature of a single fly, whence we read that one philosopher was thirty years in the wilderness that he might know the nature of a bee. Thomas Aquinas, The Apostles’ Creed.
• They were going over a passage that, in Joyce’s opinion, was “still not obscure enough”, and inserting Samoyed words into it. — Gordon Bowker, James Joyce: A Biography (2012), pp. 448-9.
“What he said often had double and even triple meanings so that, while the rest of us speak and think in single notes, he thought in chords.” — Robert Trivers on W.D. Hamilton, Vignettes of Famous Evolutionary Biologists, Large and Small, Unz Review, 27/iv/2015.
When the biologist E.O. Wilson was asked by a friend what to do about the ants that had invaded his kitchen, Wilson said: “Watch where you step.” — Christopher Potter, How to Make a Human Being: A Body of Evidence (2014), pg. 214
“After a million years or so, those screens are about to be removed, and once they have gone, then, for the first time, men will really know what it is to be alive.” — Extreme Metaphors: Collected Interviews with J.G. Ballard, 1967-2008, ed. Simon Sellars and Dan O’Hara (2012).
“A fertile imagination is better than any drug.” — Ibid.
• Vermilion Glands — review of The Inner Man: The Life of J.G. Ballard (W&N 2011)