He was a Spartan in all things, inner and outer, and had no time for pleasing decor, soft furnishings, superfluous embellishment, or unnecessary words. To him what mattered was the truth. Everything else was mere froth. What would it have been like to meet him? Turing was tallish 5 feet 10 inches and broadly built.
He looked strong and fit. You might have mistaken his age, as he always seemed younger than he was.
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He was good-looking but strange. If you came across him at a party, you would certainly notice him.
It was the whole package. Part of it was the unusual noise he made. It was his way of preventing people from interrupting him, while he thought out what he was trying to say. If you crossed the room to talk to him, you would have probably found him gauche and rather reserved.
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He was shy, a man of few words. Polite small talk did not come easily to him. He might — if you were lucky — smile engagingly, his blue eyes twinkling, and come out with something quirky that would make you laugh. He might ask you, in his rather high-pitched voice, whether you think a computer could ever enjoy strawberries and cream or could make you fall in love with it.
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Like everyone else, Turing craved affection and company, but he never seemed to quite fit in anywhere. He was bothered by his own social strangeness — although, like his hair, it was a force of nature he could do little about. Occasionally he could be very rude. Originally featured in April — read the original article here.
In April of , Twain — who famously believed that any claim of originality was merely misguided narcissism — offers this humorous lament on religion as a manifestation of human egotism:. The human race … sits up nine nights in the week to admire its own originality. It is sensitive upon this point. We deal in a curious and laughable confusion of notions concerning God. We divide Him in two, bring half of Him down to an obscure and infinitesimal corner of the world to confer salvation upon a little colony of Jews — and only Jews, no one else — and leave the other half of Him throned in heaven and looking down and eagerly and anxiously watching for results.
We reverently study the history of the earthly half, and deduce from it the conviction that the earthly half has reformed, is equipped with morals and virtues, and in no way resembles the abandoned, malignant half that abides upon the throne. We conceive that the earthly half is just, merciful, charitable, benevolent, forgiving, and full of sympathy for the sufferings of mankind and anxious to remove them.
Apparently we deduce this character not by examining facts, but by diligently declining to search them, measure them, and weigh them. The earthly half requires us to be merciful, and sets us an example by inventing a lake of fire and brimstone in which all of us who fail to recognize and worship Him as God are to be burned through all eternity. And not only we, who are offered these terms, are to be thus burned if we neglect them, but also the earlier billions of human beings are to suffer this awful fate, although they all lived and died without ever having heard of Him or the terms at all.
This exhibition of mercifulness may be called gorgeous. We have nothing approaching it among human savages, nor among the wild beasts of the jungle. An early proponent of the conviction that evidence should outweigh mythology , he continues:.
There is no evidence that there is to be a Heaven hereafter. According to the hearsay evidence the character of every conspicuous god is made up of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, sorrow for all suffering and desire to extinguish it. Opposed to this beautiful character — built wholly upon valueless hearsay evidence — it is the absolute authentic evidence furnished us every day in the year, and verifiable by our eyes and our other senses, that the real character of these gods is destitute of love, mercy, compassion, justice and other gentle and excellent qualities, and is made up of all imaginable cruelties, persecutions and injustices.
The hearsay character rests upon evidence only — exceedingly doubtful evidence.
- Contested Pasts: The Politics of Memory (Routledge Studies in Memory and Narrative).
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The real character rests upon proof — proof unassailable. Do I think the Christian religion is here to stay? Why should I think so? There had been a thousand religions before it was born. They are all dead. There had been millions of gods before ours was invented. Swarms of them are dead and forgotten long ago. Our is by long odds the worst God that the ingenuity of man has begotten from his insane imagination — and shall He and his Christianity be immortal against the great array of probabilities furnished by the theological history of the past? I think that Christianity and its God must follow the rule.
They must pass on in their turn and make room for another God and a stupider religion.
Or perhaps a better [one] than this? That is not likely.
History shows that in the matter of religions we progress backward and not the other way. Originally featured in October — full article here. While his journey to cultural acclaim in America was in many ways a story of hope, it was also one underpinned by profound sadness and loss that would come to permeate his work. After the Bolshevik Revolution, when Nabokov was only eighteen, his family was forced to flee their hometown of St. As refugees in nomadic exile, they finally settled in Berlin in What few realize — and what Pitzer reveals through newly-declassified intelligence files and rigorously researched military records — is that Nabokov wove serious and unsettling political history into the fabric of his fiction, which had gone undetected for decades: until now.
Without my cats, I would have fallen right in.
And then, one day, Tibby disappears. You can never know your cat. In fact, you can never know anyone as completely as you want.
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In another meditation, she argues for the existential and creative value of presence : What I want is to be fully present in my life — to be really where you are, contemporary with yourself in your life, giving full attention to the world, which includes you. In another passage, she considers how taking responsibility empowers rather than disempowers us: I want to feel as responsible as I possibly can.
The conversation, in which Sontag reaches unprecedented depths of self-revelation, also debunks some misconceptions about her public image as an intellectual in the dry, scholarly sense of the term: Most of what I do, contrary to what people think, is so intuitive and unpremeditated and not at all that kind of cerebral, calculating thing people imagine it to be. Click image for details. Goodman paints a portrait of Bly: She was a young woman in a plaid coat and cap, neither tall nor short, dark nor fair, not quite pretty enough to turn a head: the sort of woman who could, if necessary, lose herself in a crowd.
She offers a necessary disclaimer, enveloped in a thoughtful meta-disclaimer: One must always keep in mind that these writers and the people around them may have, at some point, embellished the facts. James Joyce in his white coat James Joyce wrote lying on his stomach in bed, with a large blue pencil, clad in a white coat, and composed most of Finnegans Wake with crayon pieces on cardboard.
Johnson cites Quentin, who was known for his wry family humor : This led Virginia to feel that her own pursuit might appear less arduous than that of her sister unless she set matters on a footing of equality. But by far the most bizarre pet-related habit comes from Colette , who enlisted her dog in a questionable procrastination mechanism: Colette would study the fur of her French bulldog, Souci, with a discerning eye. In one letter, written on July 27, , Calvino contributes one of his many insights on writing : To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being just as Proust, Radiguet and Fitzgerald did: what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it.