On Paris

Much has been written about “the other Paris” (or, to be realistic, “the other Parises”), but Julian Green (sometimes written as Julien Green) sums it up nicely:

Paris is a city that might well be spoken of in the plural, as the Greeks used to speak of Athens, for there are many Parises, and the tourists’ Paris is only superficially related to the Paris of the Parisians. The foreigner driving through Paris from one museum to another is quite oblivious to the presence of a world he brushes past without seeing. Until you have wasted time in a city, you cannot pretend to know it well. The soul of a big city is not to be grasped so easily; in order to make contact with it, you have to have been bored, you have to have suffered a bit in those places that contain it. Anyone can get hold of a guide and tick off all the monuments, but within the very confines of of Paris there is another city as difficult to access as Timbuktu once was.

From Paris, by Julian Green (published 1991).

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Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 10:09 am  Comments (2)  
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Bullshit

Does anyone really believe what P.R. people say?

The realms of advertising and public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept. And in these realms there are exquisitely sophisticated craftsmen who – with the help of advanced and demanding techniques of market research, of public opinion polling, of psychological testing, and so forth – dedicate themselves tirelessly to getting every word and image they produce exactly right.

From On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt (published 2005)

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 8:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Progress

Prescient words from the memoirs of Julius Caesar, as related by Nadeem Aslam in the context of modern-day Afghanistan:

The immense power of the druids was the weakness of the Celtic polity. No nation that is ruled by priests drawing their authority from supernatural sanctions is capable of true progress.

From The Wasted Vigil, by Nadeem Aslam (published 2008).

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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