Tag Archives: notes

Notes on Michal Stawicki’s ‘Trickle down mindset’

Title: Trickle down mindset: The missing element in your personal success
Author: Michal Stawicki
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stawicki - trickle down

This is the most ‘indie’ of books I’ve reviewed so far. Its message is important enough for me to suggest you read it yourself. What he says is something I’d want to better inculcate in my life. Basically, ‘Trickle down mindset’ is a matter of being consistent in your character and beliefs, so that all your actions are a reflection of such a mindset. This isn’t so much a ‘how to’ detailing specific actions — although Stawicki gives ideas, a lot, based on his experience — but rather a guide to thinking that in turn determines your behavior.

Whatever one reads or hears from other people has an effect, depending on nobody but the self:
The difference between the information that changed my life and the information that didn’t was simple: I either rejected or accepted and took ownership of the ideas presented in the books I had read.
– Location 332-333 (Amazon Kindle edition)

Even if we don’t always realize it, we already have the key to improving problematic aspects of our lives. You probably have something you’re good at, or at least, better at than most people you know.
Choose at least one area you are not satisfied with in your life and one in which you feel confident and successful. Ask yourself, ‘What am I doing on daily basis to deserve such output? What do I do every day that determines this effect?’
– Location 721-722

Stawicki repeats the importance of consistency, in that everything about our organism is connected:
There is no area in your life that can be neglected without damaging your whole person. There is no improvement you can make in your life that won’t improve you as a whole.
– Location 766-767

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.
– Location 1500-1501

There is a lot more Stawicki has given me to think about. Ultimately, clichéd as it may sound, wherever I am in life is my responsibility.

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy ‘Trickle down mindset’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.

Notes on Gene Sharp’s ‘From dictatorship to democracy’

Title: From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation
Author: Gene Sharp

gene sharp democracy

Gene Sharp doesn’t pretend that overthrowing dictatorships is easy. To forgo violence against violent oppressors doesn’t seem possible. But ‘From dictatorship to democracy’ is based on, and has provided a basis for, nonviolent revolution, rooted in the idea that even the most ruthless of tyrants requires loyal subjects.

Violent strategy has its pitfalls:
Even when successful, guerrilla struggles often have significant long-term negative structural consequences. Immediately, the attacked regime becomes more dictatorial as a result of its countermeasures. If the guerrillas should finally succeed, the resulting new regime is often more dictatorial than its predecessor due to the centralizing impact of the expanded military forces and the weakening or destruction of the society’s independent groups and institutions during the struggle — bodies that are vital in establishing and maintaining a democratic society.
– Location 172-176, Amazon Kindle edition

It is public support for their dictatorship, that a revolution erodes:
[W]ithdrawal of popular and institutional cooperation with aggressors and dictators diminishes, and may sever, the availability of the sources of power on which all rulers depend.
– Location 378-379

Sharp emphasizes the role of clubs and organizations that are not within the immediate or official reach of the dictatorship, for changing people’s perceptions.
If the dictatorship has been largely successful in destroying or controlling the society’s independent bodies, it will be important for the resisters to create new independent social groups and institutions, or to reassert democratic control over surviving or partially controlled bodies.
– Location 424-426

A dictator’s military, through which his whims are enforced, can be divided by those who recognize the long-term uncertainty of a regime, or who simply lose the stomach for violence.
[T]he stark brutality of the regime against the clearly nonviolent actionists politically rebounds against the dictators’ position, causing dissention in their own ranks as well as fomenting support for the resisters among the general population, the regime’s usual supporters, and third parties.
– Location 559-561

Eventually, a dictator catches wind of a growing opposition, which he could do little about.
The general outlines of the grand strategy would become known to the dictators in any case and knowledge of its features potentially could lead them to be less brutal in their repression, knowing that it could rebound politically against themselves. Awareness of the special characteristics of the grand strategy could potentially also contribute to dissension and defections from the dictators’ own camp.
– Location 877-880

At a time when authoritarianism rears its head all around the world, Sharp’s thesis, of great power ultimately residing in the people, is of practical importance.

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy ‘From dictatorship to democracy’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.

Notes on Teresa of Avila’s ‘The interior castle’

Title: The interior castle
Author: Teresa of Avila
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teresa avila - interior castle

Mysticism is a big interest of mine, and I admire mystics who have attempted to write about their experiences, particularly Teresa of Avila. I regret that I don’t know who translated this edition of Teresa’s most mystical work. It wasn’t mentioned in this ‘Christian Classics Treasury’ e-book, from which I also read ‘The cloud of unknowing’ and John of the Cross’ ‘Dark night of the soul.’ If you know, please write me.

The aforementioned castle is a metaphor of sorts for whatever it is in our mind that is perceived in certain precious moments. Maybe Teresa considered it a literal place, but she also concedes that the mansions which encompass the castle are more than the seven that she describes, indicating their existence to be akin to dreams, the quantities of which are not definite.

Teresa distinguishes between each mansion in terms of the quality of pleasure and pain involved, as well as the implicit knowledge she derives from each. As a non-mystic, at least not on the same neurotic level as this saint, I am easily confused by the distinctions. This should not matter; what is important is the states of mind that could be gleaned from Teresa’s experiences. It is clear that her upbringing played a large part in the particular manifestations she hallucinated, but her absolute certainty of the truth of such beings also renders her accounts more vivid and powerful.

Where there is true humility, even if God never grants the soul favours, He will give it peace and resignation to His will, with which it may be more content than others are with favours.
– Location 3200-3202, Amazon Kindle edition

Whatever it was that Teresa experienced, her descriptions, she clarified, were meant figuratively:
[A]s this heavenly water begins to flow from this source of which I am speaking — that is, from our very depths — it proceeds to spread within us and cause an interior dilation and produce ineffable blessings, so that the soul itself cannot understand all that it receives there. The fragrance it experiences, we might say, is as if in those interior depths there were a brazier on which were cast sweet perfumes; the light cannot be seen, nor the place where it dwells, but the fragrant smoke and the heat penetrate the entire soul, and very often, as I have said, the effects extend even to the body. Observe — and understand me here — that no heat is felt, nor is any fragrance perceived: it is a more delicate thing than that; I only put it in that way so that you may understand it. People who have not experienced it must realize that it does in very truth happen; its occurrence is capable of being perceived, and the soul becomes aware of it more clearly than these words of mine can express it. For it is not a thing that we can fancy, nor, however hard we strive, can we acquire it, and from that very fact it is clear that it is a thing made, not of human metal, but of the purest gold of Divine wisdom. In this state the faculties are not, I think, in union, but they become absorbed and are amazed as they consider what is happening to them.
– Location 3451-3460

Her explanations serve to help us understand that ascetics are actually quite filled with joy, however subtle, that makes the foregoing of ‘worldly’ pleasures not just easy, but a relief. Everyone has experienced the tirelessness and lack of hunger while in a state of excitement and anticipation over some novel thing. Spiritual experiences such as Teresa’s are even more sustainable, though they may be borne of, or lead to, illness.
The better he gets to know the greatness of God, the better he comes to realize the misery of his own condition; having now tasted the consolations of God, he sees that earthly things are mere refuse; so, little by little, he withdraws from them and in this way becomes more and more his own master.
– Location 3573-3575

… see God and shall ourselves be as completely hidden in His greatness as is this little worm in its cocoon.
– Location 3750
Her ‘cocoon’ metaphor really resonates with me, even as the ecstasies she experienced are clearly of an extreme kind my constitution is not sensitive enough for. The ‘cocoon’ is what I call that occasional experience while meditating, where awareness is no less, but I nonetheless feel apart from, or at peace with, my thoughts and desires. Its arrival is not summoned, but the mind suddenly ‘clicks’ and I know I’m there. The sensual enjoyment of the cocoon is only a secondary motivation to attain it.

Let the tears come when God is pleased to send them: we ourselves should make no efforts to induce them. They will leave this dry ground of ours well watered and will be of great help in producing fruit; but the less notice we take of them, the more they will do, because they are the water which comes from Heaven. When we ourselves draw water, we tire ourselves by digging for it, and the water we get is not the same; often we dig till we wear ourselves out without having discovered so much as a pool of water, still less a wellspring.
– Location 4569-4572

Teresa’s insights were not merely aesthetic but also moral:
[T]here are always a few little worms which do not reveal themselves until, like the worm which gnawed through Jonas’s ivy, they have gnawed through our virtues. Such are self-love, self-esteem, censoriousness (even if only in small things) concerning our neighbours, lack of charity towards them, and failure to love them as we love ourselves.
– Location 3858-3860

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy ‘Top 7 Catholic classics,’ which contains this edition of ‘The interior castle,’ on Amazon, here.
This article is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.

Notes on ‘Reflections on the dawn of consciousness’

Title: Reflections on the dawn of consciousness: Julian Jaynes’s bicameral mind theory revisited
Author: Various, edited by Marcel Kuijsten
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kuijsten ed - relections

When this book came out in 2006, it was the first full-length book on Jaynes since his book, ‘The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind,’ was published 30 years earlier. It’s a little uneven in terms of insight. And for a fan like me, who’s rather versed in the main points of the theory, it gets tiring to be given a summary of Jaynes’ main points with each chapter (although the different phrasings used to expound it may be helpful in grasping each author’s unique interpretation).

Marcel Kuijsten, the book’s editor, contributes an article as well, where, among other things, he dismisses the notion that representational paintings from cavemen involved consciousness:
If a 3-year-old autistic child with no language ability and incapable of abstract thought can create drawings such as Nadia’s, citing the cave art of 30,000 years ago as evidence of the emergence of the modern mind becomes highly problematic.
– Location 1862-1863

Kuijsten points out how the emergence of consciousness may be yet ongoing.
Vestiges of the bicameral mind — our longing for absolute guidance and external control — make us susceptible to charismatic leaders, cults, trends, and persuasive rhetoric that relies on slogans to bypass logic.
– Location 2212-2213

Brian McVeigh, another well-known Jaynes scholar speaks in an intentionally crude manner when he says:
[S]ocial life is a matter of controlling or being controlled.
– Location 3465-3466
I myself believe that what we see as social control has been changing to a matter of social cooperation, as facilitated by conscious action.

Explaining further, McVeigh says:
[W]hen one is not being oneself — e.g., acting, lying, deceiving — the subject (“I”) and object (“me”) aspects of self are separated because the former is carefully monitoring and managing the latter.
– Location 3498-3499
The ‘I-me’ relationship is social in origin and social in operation: as between two people, the ‘I’ controls/commands/communicates with the ‘me.’
– Location 3503-3504

It is easy to take our consciousness for granted as present in beings that share common physical and mental traits. Jan Sleutels says:
[O]ur incorrigibly intuitive knowledge of consciousness is necessarily restricted to present consciousness without revealing anything about the earlier history of the mind.
– Location 5212-5213

For anyone whose understanding of the world has been shaken by Jaynes’ original book, there are some great articles in this collection that cite developments post-‘The origin of consciousness,’ specifically John Hamilton’s report on a select group of hallucinating modern-day quadriplegics, Michael Carr’s presentation of bicameral behavior in Ancient China, and Scott Greer’s enumeration of things Aristotle said that made an impact on the writing of Jaynes’ book.

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy ‘Reflections on the dawn of consciousness’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.

Notes on Neil Gaiman’s ‘The view from the cheap seats’

Title: The view from the cheap seats: Selected nonfiction
Author: Neil Gaiman
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gaiman - view

When I was 14, Neil Gaiman became the first author whom I idolized, for his work on ‘The sandman.’ He sparked my early interest in Shakespeare and mythologies, and is responsible for countless happy days of my youth. I have been rather remiss in keeping up with his work over the past decade, but I knew I’d get a lot from reading this collection of his nonfiction, some of which I’d read previously.

In ‘The pornography of genre, or the genre of pornography,’ Gaiman points out how a lack of preconceptions can stimulate creativity:
I suspect I’m at my most successful and ambitious and foolish and wise as a writer when I have no idea what sort of thing it is that I’m writing. When I don’t know what a lover of things like this would expect, because nobody’s ever loved anything like this before: when for good or for evil, I’m out there on my own. And at that point, when I only have myself as a first reader, then genre, or lack thereof, becomes immaterial.
– Location 1036-1040 (Amazon Kindle version)

The following phenomenon can happen in a span of a couple of years, and applies to other forms of art as well:
What makes a book an adult book is, sometimes, that it depicts a world that’s only comprehensible if you are an adult yourself. Often the adult book is not for you, not yet, or will only be for you when you’re ready. But sometimes you will read it anyway, and you will take from it whatever you can. Then, perhaps, you will come back to it when you’re older, and you will find the book has changed because you have changed as well, and the book is wiser, or more foolish, because you are wiser or more foolish than you were as a child.
– Location 1628-1632

Not having to be liked is enormously liberating.
– Location 3407-3408

I heard a similar sentiment in Joe Rogan’s podcast episode with Henry Rollins:
I learned early on that most of the people at the top of their professions—and I’m not talking about comics here, I’m talking about everything—were the nicest people, easy to deal with, and with little side to them. And I also learned that the people who were most insistent on having VIP status, on making a loud noise about everything—the kind of people who would actually say things like “Do you know who I am?”—were the second-division talents, the ones who hadn’t made it, the ones who never would.
– Location 3731-3734

[M]ost interesting art gets made by people who don’t know the rules, and have no idea that certain things simply aren’t done.
– Location 4498-4499

The Moth, as their website says, is about people going up on stage to tell true stories. Here is Neil’s take on it:
The strange thing about Moth stories is that none of the tricks we use to make ourselves loved or respected by others work in the ways you would imagine they ought to. The tales of how clever we were, how wise, how we won, they mostly fail. The practiced jokes and the witty one-liners all crash and burn up on a Moth stage.
– Location 5637-5639

From Gaiman’s article on the Syrian war:
I realize I have stopped thinking about political divides, about freedom fighters or terrorists, about dictators and armies. I am thinking only of the fragility of civilization.

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy Neil Gaiman’s ‘The view from the cheap seats’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.

Notes on Alfred Adler’s ‘What life could mean to you’

Title: What life could mean to you
Author: Alfred Adler
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Just last December 2016, I discovered a large collection of 99-cent books, 99-cent volumes even, on Amazon, and suddenly the number of public-domain classics within my reach has expanded. Sure, there are typos to watch out for in these recently digitized works, but this is a minor issue to the increased availability of ideas from the past. One of the first books I began reading was Alfred Adler’s ‘What life could mean to you,’ one book of four in the Amazon Kindle edition. The book has had an immediate impact in the way I perceive my actions, and has challenged me to go about my tasks with society in mind. These writing and musical projects I have on my site, can’t be limited to my own personal enjoyment and vanity; if there is something worthwhile in my art, I have to face the world with it, and this means being more outgoing with the way I do promotions. I should never be satisfied with my solitude, with merely loving some vague distant idea of humanity to come rather than real, specific people.

All failures — neurotics, psychotics, criminals, drunkards, problem children, suicides, perverts and prostitutes — are failures because they are lacking in fellow-feeling and social interest. They approach the problems of occupation, friendship and sex without the confidence that they can be solved by cooperation. The meaning they give to life is a private meaning: no one else is benefited by the achievement of their aims and their interest stops short at their own persons. Their goal of success is a goal of mere fictitious personal superiority and their triumphs have meaning only to themselves.
– Location 188-192

The mark of all true ‘meanings of life’ is that they are common meanings — they are meanings in which others can share, and meanings which others can accept as valid.
– Location 204-205

If a human being, in the meaning he gives to life, wishes to make a contribution, and if his emotions are all directed to this goal, he will naturally be bound to bring himself into the best shape for contribution. He will fit himself for his goal; he will train himself in social feeling and he will gain skill from practice.
– Location 217-219

[T]here is probably something of a mistake always involved when we take particular experiences as the basis for our future life.
– Location 266-267

No imperfection of organs compels a mistaken style of life. We never find two children whose glands have the same effects on them. We can often see children who overcome these difficulties and who, in overcoming them, develop unusual faculties for usefulness.
– Location 279-281

The striving for superiority remains flexible; and, indeed, the nearer to health and normality an individual is, the more he can find new openings for his strivings when they are blocked in one particular direction. It is only the neurotic who feels, of the concrete expressions of his goal, ‘I must have this or nothing.’
– Location 841-843

[O]ut of the incalculable number of impressions which meet an individual, he chooses to remember only those which he feels, however darkly, to have a bearing on his situation.
– Location 999-1000

‘Good’ and ‘bad’, like other expressions of character, have meaning only in a social context; they are the result of training in a social environment, among our fellow men, and they imply a judgment, ‘conducive to the welfare of others’, or ‘opposed to the welfare of others.’
– Location 2202-2204

[T]he first rule in treatment, ‘Never do anything you don’t like.’ This seems to be very modest, but I believe that it goes to the root of the whole trouble. If a melancholiac is able to do anything he wants, whom can he accuse? What has he got to revenge himself for?
– Location 3314-3316

This world is my world. I must act and organize, not wait and expect.
– Location 3358

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy Alfred Adler’s ‘What life could mean to you’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.
You can write me at paul@paulspurpose.com.

Notes on E.R. Dodds’ ‘The Greeks and the irrational’

Title: The Greeks and the irrational
Author: E.R. Dodds
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I read this 1951 work primarily because Julian Jaynes’ book ‘The origin of consciousness…,’ a great favorite of mine, seemed to be greatly influenced by it. ‘The Greeks and the irrational’ is a type of book I’m not used to reading, with its setting in Ancient Greece, which I’ve read little about. My lack of familiarity with the subject matter was partly made up for by the interest it aroused in me to read, among other writers, Plato.

It’s unfortunate that there is yet no edition that translates the original Greek contained in Dodds’ book, so much was said that was lost on me. But I still managed to learn a lot.

[E]rror in the sciences is only another name for the progressive approximation to truth.
– Location 46 (Amazon Kindle edition)

[T]he inward monition, or the sudden unaccountable feeling of power, or the sudden unaccountable loss of judgement, is the germ out of which the divine machinery developed.
– Location 309-310

A lot of what I read in the book was in light of Jaynes’ masterpiece. So when Dodds would discuss the nature of divine experience, I would think of bicameral theory.
[F]or Homeric man the thumos tends not to be felt as part of the self: it commonly appears as an independent inner voice.
– Location 337

Dodds was able to see that the Greeks experienced reality differently from us in the 21st century:
[I]f character is knowledge, what is not knowledge is not part of the character, but comes to a man from outside. When he acts in a manner contrary to the system of conscious dispositions which he is said to ‘know,’ his action is not properly his own, but has been dictated to him.
– Location 354-356

Man, I take it, feeds his dead for the same sort of reason as a little girl feeds her doll; and like the little girl, he abstains from killing his phantasy by applying reality-standards.
– Location 2747-2748

According to Dodds, even Plato conceded that an ‘enlightened’ view was not for all people.
What Jacob Burckhardt said of nineteenth-century religion, that it was ‘rationalism for the few and magic for the many,’ might on the whole be said of Greek religion from the late fifth century onwards.
– Location 3823-3824

[I]t is not always easy to decide where Plato is expressing a personal faith and where he is merely using a traditional language.
– Location 4145-4146

Plato’s universe was a graded one: as he believed in degrees of truth and reality, so he believed in degrees of religious insight.
– Location 4671

[R]itual is usually older than the myth by which people explain it, and has deeper psychological roots.
– Location 5364-5365

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy E.R. Dodds’ ‘The Greeks and the irrational’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.
You can write me at paul@paulspurpose.com.

Notes on Erich Maria Remarque’s ‘All quiet on the western front’

Title: All quiet on the western front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque, translated by A.W. Wheen
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Author Erich Maria Remarque’s story is more famous as an Oscar-winning movie (1930), which holds up very well today. The book goes into greater detail about Remarque’s experience as a German soldier in World War I.

The beauty of a work that deromanticized nationalism so plainly, has not prevented further escalations of conflict over the decades, but I am sure such a classic will find its receptive audience in a more peaceful civilization.

Most of the following quotes are from the protagonist Paul Baumer.

On armchair nationalism:
While they continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. But for all that we were no mutineers, no deserters, no cowards—they were very free with all these expressions. We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see.
– Page 13, Location 152-155

[A] declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing-drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be much simpler and more just than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting.
– Page 41, Location 414-417

Paul’s growing alienation from the world he once knew:
[W]hen I hear the word ‘peace-time,’ it goes to my head: and if it really came, I think I would do some unimaginable thing—something, you know, that it’s worth having lain here in the muck for. But I can’t even imagine anything.
– Page 87, Location 859-860

We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.
– Page 88, Location 867-869

We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down—now, for the first time in three days we can see his face, now for the first time in three days we can oppose him; we feel a mad anger. No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and to be revenged.
– Page 113, Location 1099-1102

It is strange that all the memories that come have these two qualities. They are always completely calm, that is predominant in them; and even if they are not really calm, they become so. They are soundless apparitions that speak to me, with looks and gestures silently, without any word—and it is the alarm of their silence that forces me to lay hold of my sleeve and my rifle lest I should abandon myself to the liberation and allurement in which my body would dilate and gently pass away into the still forces that lie behind these things.
– Page 120, Location 1163-1167

To-day we would pass through the scenes of our youth like travellers. We are burnt up by hard facts; like tradesmen we understand distinctions, and like butchers, necessities. We are no longer untroubled—we are indifferent. We might exist there; but should we really live there? We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost.
– Page 123, Location 1186-1189

When a man has seen so many dead he cannot understand any longer why there should be so much anguish over a single individual.
– Page 181, Location 1748-1749

‘State, State’—Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, ‘Gendarmes, police, taxes, that’s your State;—if that’s what you are talking about, no, thank you.’ ‘That’s right,’ says Kat, ‘you’ve said something for once, Tjaden. State and home-country, there’s a big difference.’
– Page 205, Location 1957-1960

Paul stabs a Frenchman to death, and being left alone with the corpse allows hims to grasp the gravity of his act:
Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony—Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy? If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother just like Kat and Albert.
– Page 223, Location 2139-2141

How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.
– Page 263, Location 2527-2529

I often sit over against myself, as before a stranger, and wonder how the unnameable active principle that calls itself to life has adapted itself even to this form. All other expressions lie in a winter sleep, life is simply one continual watch against the menace of death;—it has transformed us into unthinking animals in order to give us the weapon of instinct—it has reinforced us with dullness, so that we do not go to pieces before the horror, which would overwhelm us if we had clear, conscious thought—it has awakened in us the sense of comradeship, so that we escape the abyss of solitude—it has lent us the indifference of wild creatures, so that in spite of all, we perceive the positive in every moment, and store it up as a reserve against the onslaught of nothingness. Thus we live a closed, hard existence of the utmost superficiality, and rarely does an incident strike out a spark.
– Page 274, Location 2604-2610

For more notes on books I’ve read, visit https://paulspurpose.com/tag/notes/.
Buy Erich Maria Remarque’s ‘All quiet on the western front’ on Amazon, here.
This document is guided by the fair-use doctrine, and is for the purpose of critiquing and educating.