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Blake Crouch — Recursion (2019)

How does one define a “simple” memory anyway? Is there even such a thing when it comes to the human condition? Consider the albatross that landed on the platform during her run this morning. It’s a mere flicker of thought in her mind that will one day be cast out into that wasteland of oblivion where forgotten memories die. And yet it contains the smell of the sea. The white, wet feathers of the bird glistening in the early sun. The pounding of her heart from the exertion of the run. The cold slide of sweat down her sides and the burn of it in her eyes. Her wondering in that moment where the bird considered home in the unending sameness of the sea.

When every memory contains a universe, what does simple even mean?

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Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

Our brains have become so flexible that much of their time is spent in dealing with their own activities, consciously or unconsciously.

…It is quite possible for people filled with self-doubt to recognize this trait in themselves, and to begin to doubt their self-doubt itself.

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Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992)

What a disturbing concept of existence: Just when you’re most in harmony with your environment, that’s when the ice you’re skating on begins to thin. What you should have been emphasizing, had you been able, is early escape from optimum adaptation–a deliberate fall from grace contrived by the well-adjusted, the elective self-humbling of the mighty. The meaning of “overspecialized” becomes clear. But this is a strategy, we well know from everyday human experience, that privileged populations are almost never willing to embrace.

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Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool – Peak (2016)

Deliberate practice is all about the skills. You pick up the necessary knowledge in order to develop the skills; knowledge should never be an end in itself.

(Posted because I find it an interesting claim. I agree with the first part, under the assumption that you are pursuing development of a skill. But that is not always the goal, so the last part is far too sweeping.)

National Geographic (Aug. 2019)

“This place is very, very boring,” the Bihari girl declared within a minute. “My teachers are boring. What do I do?”

I laughed.

Ambition and intelligence shone in her eyes. …

Where will she end up? Where will we? Nobody knows. The important thing on this road we share is to keep walking. And not be afraid.

Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (1847)

“It is a village school; your scholars will be only poor girls–cottagers’ children–at the best, farmers’ daughters. Knitting, sewing, reading, writing, ciphering, will be all you will have to teach. What will you do with your accomplishments? What with the largest portion of your mind–sentiments–tastes?”

“Save them till they are wanted. They will keep.”

Clive Barker – intro to Sandman, vol. 2 (1990)

He doesn’t tell straightforward, read-it-and-forget-it tales; he doesn’t supply pat moral solutions. Instead he constructs stories like some demented cook might make a wedding cake, building layer upon layer, hiding all kinds of sweet and sour in the mix. The characters who populate these tales are long past questioning the plausibility of the outrages Mr. Gaiman visits upon normality. They were born into this maelstrom and know no other reality.