On Thinking


He had become so caught up in building sentences that he had almost forgotten the barbaric days when thinking was like a splash of colour landing on the page. —Edward St. Aubyn, Mother’s Milk


Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. —William Butler Yeats


Neither concern yourself about consistency. The moment you putty and plaster your expressions to make them hang together, you have begun a weakening process. Take it for granted that the truths will harmonise; and as for the falsities and mistakes, they will speedily die of themselves. If you must be contradictory, let it be clean and sharp as the two blades of scissors meet. —Ralph Waldo Emerson


The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. —F. Scott Fitzgerald [#]


Extremism of any kind is characterized by a very high need for closure and a distaste for ambiguity. —Jamie Holmes [#]


I, like Jeff Flake, am haunted by doubt, by the certainty of uncertainty and the consequent possibility of injustice. I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about Oliver Cromwell’s famous letter to the Church of Scotland in which he implored, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.” I also spent some time with Learned Hand’s similar maxim, “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.” We all need to think it possible that we may be mistaken; we all need to be not too sure that we are right. —Benjamin Witts [#]