— Donna Tartt, The Secret History (via theinwardsources)
— Sheila Jeffreys, Beauty and Misogyny p. 99 (via tastyhumanburgers)
As most schools are set up today, learning is compulsory. It is an “Ought: even worse, a Must, enforced by regular hours and rigid discipline. And the young sneer at the Oughts and resist the Musts with all their energy. The feeling often lasts through a lifetime. For too many of us, learning appears to be a surrender of our own will to external direction, a sort of enslavement.
This is a mistake. Learning is a natural pleasure, inborn and instinctive, one of the essential pleasures of the human race. Watch a small child, at an age too young to have had any mental habits implanted by training. But if the pleasure of learning is universal, why are there so many dull, incurious people in the world? It is because they were made dull by isolation, by surrender to routine; sometimes, too, by the pressure of hard work and poverty; or by the toxin of riches, with all their ephemeral and trivial delights. With luck, resolution and guidance, however, the human mind can survive not only poverty but even wealth.
This pleasure is not confined to learning from textbooks, which are too often tedious. But it does include learning from books. Sometimes, when I stand in a big library like the Library of
Congress, or Butler Library at Columbia, and gaze round me at the millions of books, I feel a sober, earnest delight hard to convey except by a metaphor. These are not lumps of lifeless
paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice, as inaudible as the streams of sound conveyed by electric waves beyond the range of our hearing; and just as the
touch of button on our stereo will fill the room with music, so by opening one of these volumes, one can call into range a voice far distant in time and space, and hear it speaking, mind to mind,
heart to heart.But, far beyond books, learning means keeping the mind open and active to receive all kinds of experience. One of the best-informed men I ever knew was a cowboy who rarely read a
newspaper and never a book but who had ridden many thousands of miles through one of the western states. He knew his state as thoroughly as a surgeon knows the human body. He loved it, and understood it. Not a mountain, not a canyon that had not much to tell him; not a change in the weather that he could not interpret. s for reading books, this contains two different delights. One is the pleasure of apprehending the unexpected, such as when one meets a new author who has a new vision of the world. The other pleasure is of deepening one’s knowledge of a special field. One might enjoy reading about the Civil War, and then be drawn to a particularly moving part of it-the underground railway, say, which carried escaping slaves northward to freedom. One would then
be impelled to visit the chief way stations along the route, reconstructing the lives of those resolute organizers and thankful fugitives.
Many people have played themselves to death, or eaten and drunk themselves to death. Nobody has ever thought himself to death. The chief danger confronting us is not age. It is
laziness, sloth, routine, stupidity, forcing their way in like wind through the shutters, seeping into the cellar like swamp water.
Many who avoid learning, or abandon it, find that life is drained dry. They spend 30 years in a club chair looking glumly out at the sand and the ocean; on a porch swing waiting for
somebody to drive down the road. But that is not how to live.
No learner has ever run short of subjects to explore. The pleasures of learning are indeed pleasures. In fact, the word should be changed. The true name is happiness. You can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
— Highet, G., The immortal profession: The joys of teaching and learning (1976)
It is a common misconception that the ‘L’ in Samuel L Jackson’s name is an abbreviation of his middle name. In actuality, It is a roman numeral, indicating that he is the 50th descendant in the line of Samuel Jacksons, who have guarded our race since the ancient times.