Peter Høeg · 416 pages
Rating: (34.1K votes)
“To want to understand is an attempt to recapture something we have lost.”
“Do you know what the mathematical expression is for longing? ... The negative numbers. The formalization of the feeling that you are missing something.”
“I feel the same way about solitude as some people feel about the blessing of the church. It's the light of grace for me. I never close my door behind me without the awareness that I am carrying out an act of mercy toward myself.”
“When my mother didn't come back I realized that any moment could be the last. Nothing in life should simply be a passage from one place to another. Each walk should be taken as if it is the only thing you have left. You can demand something like this of yourself as an unattainable ideal. After that, you have to remind yourself about it every time you're sloppy about something. For me that means 250 times a day.”
“Falling in love has been greatly overrated. Falling in love consists of 45 percent fear of not being accepted, 45 percent manic hope that this time the fear will be put to shame and a modest 10 percent frail awareness of the possibility of love.
I don't fall in love any more. Just like I don't get the mumps.”
“There is one way to understand another culture. Living it. Move into it, ask to be tolerated as a guest, learn the language. At some point understanding may come. It will always be wordless. The moment you grasp what is foreign, you will lose the urge to explain it. To explain a phenomenon is to distance yourself from it.”
“We think there are limits to the dimensions of fear. Until we encounter the unknown. Then we can all feel boundless amounts of terror.”
“There's a look of mischief in his eyes. 'Smilla. Why is it that such an elegant and petite girl like you has such a rough voice.'
I'm sorry,' I say, 'if I give you the impression that it is only my mouth that's rough. I do my best to be rough all over.”
“Confronted with people who have power, and who enjoy using it, I turn into a different person, a baser and meaner one.”
“Some thoughts have glue on them.----Smilla”
“There are mornings when it feels as if you rise up to the surface through a mud bath. With your feet stuck in a block of cement. When you know that you’ve expired in the night and have nothing to be happy about except the fact that at least you’ve already died so they can’t transplant your lifeless organs.”
“Nothing corrupts like happiness. It makes us think that since we share this moment, we can also share the past.”
“No one who has lived side by side with animals that have plenty of room can ever visit the zoo.”
“Grief is a gift, something you have to earn.”
“The body's pain is so paper-thin and insignificant compared to that of the mind.”
“Whining is a virus, a lethal, infectious, epidemic disease.”
“Es gibt nur eine Art und Weise, eine andere Kultur zu verstehen. Sie zu leben. In sie einzuziehen, darum zu bitten, als Gast geduldet zu werden, die Sprache zu lernen. Irgendwann kommt dann vielleicht das Verständnis. Es wird dann immer wortlos sein. In dem Moment, in dem man das Fremde begreift, verliert man den Drang, es zu erklären. Ein Phänomen erklären heißt, sich davon entfernen.”
“With age I have voluntarily chosen certain limitations. I don't have the energy to start over again. To learn new skills or fight my own personality or figure out diesel engines.”
“As far as I'm concerned, you could send all the cars in the world through a compactor and shoot them out through the stratosphere and put them in orbit around Mars. Except, of course, the taxis that have to be at my disposal when I need them.”
“It's a phenomenon that I've often observed without understanding it. Inside someone another person can exist, a fully formed, generous, and trustworthy individual who never comes to light except in glimpses, because he is surrounded by a corrupt, dyed-in-the-wool, repeat offender.”
“The cookies combine butter and spices in such a way that you could eat a hundred of them and only realize how sick you are after it's too late.”
“Cantor illustrated the concept of infinity for his students by telling them that there was once a man who had a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, and the hotel was fully occupied. Then one more guest arrived. So the owner moved the guest in room number 1 into room number 2; the guest in room number 2 into number 3; the guest in 3 into room 4, and so on. In that way room number 1 became vacant for the new guest.
What delights me about this story is that everyone involved, the guests and the owner, accept it as perfectly natural to carry out an infinite number of operations so that one guest can have peace and quiet in a room of his own. That is a great tribute to solitude.”
“Maybe I should give up and go back the way I came. But I stay. I detest fear. I hate being scared. There is only one path to fearlessness. It’s the one that leads into the mysterious center of the terror.”
“Falling in love has been greatly overrated. Falling in love consists of forty-five per cent fear of not being accepted and forty-five per cent manic hope that this time the fear will be put to shame, and a modest ten per cent frail awareness of the possibility of love. [...]
Falling in love is a form of madness. Closely related to hatred, coldness, resentment, intoxication, and suicide.”
“Влюбванията са силно преувеличени. Влюбванията се състоят от 45 процента ужас, че ще ни отхвърлят, 45 процента маниакална надежда, че точно този път ужасът ще излезе неоправдан, и още десет жалки процента призрачно чувство за възможна любов.”
“I've had the privilege of learning foreign languages. Instead of merely speaking a watered-down form of my mother tongue, like most people, I'm also helpless in two or three other languages.”
“If you consider all the unpleasantness you encounter while you're alive, it seems improbable that it would all come to an end simply because you're dead.”
“Ако някой ме попита какво ме прави истински щастлива, ще отговоря: числата. Снегът, ледът и числата.
... системата на числата е като човешкият живот. Първо са естествените числа. Те са цели положителни. Числата на малките деца. Но човешкото съзнание се разширява. Детето открива тъгата, а знаеш ли какъв е математическият израз на тъгата?
Отрицателните числа. Усещането за нещо липсващо. Съзнанието се разширява безспирно и расте и детето открива празнините. Между камъните, между мъха по камъните, между хората. И между числата. И знаеш ли накъде води това?Към дробите. Целите числа плюс дробите дават рационалните числа. Но съзнанието не спира дотук. То иска да стигне отвъд здравия разум. Прибягва до толкова абсурдното действие като извличане на корен.
И получава ирационалните числа...
...Това е вид лудост. Защото ирационалните числа са безкрайни. Не може да се изпишат като отношение на цели числа. Те принуждават съзнанието да се стреми към безграничното. А прибавиш ли ирационалните числа към рационалните, получаваш реалните числа. И няма край. Няма никакви граници. Защото на сцената излиза разширяването на реалните числа с имагинерните, квадратните корени на отрицателните числа. Числа,които не можем да си представим, числа, които нормалното съзнание не може да обхване. А щом прибавим имагинерните числа към реалните, получаваме комплексните числа. Това е цифровата система, която прави възможно пълното изследване на формирането на ледените кристали. И е като огромна открита територия. Хоризонтите. Човек върви към тях, а те непрекъснато се отдалечават.
Такава е Гренландия, това е, без което не мога да живея!”
“It is rather odd to find Dunbar referring to dance as useless: ‘dancing, a phenomenon that probably ranks, along with smiling and laughter’, he writes, ‘as one of the most futile of all human universals’.126 I say it is odd because he of all people ought to be able to see past its apparent uselessness to the individual, to its supposed usefulness to the group. Perhaps he does, and calls it ‘futile’ tongue in cheek. But I'd rather agree with him, nonetheless, that smiling, laughter and dance are – gloriously – useless: how many of us really believe that when we dance, laugh, or smile we do so ultimately because of some dreary utility to the group to which we belong? Perhaps there is no end in view. Perhaps these spontaneous behaviours are pointless, with no purpose beyond themselves, other than that they express something beyond our selves. Perhaps, indeed, the fact that so many of our distinguishing features are so ‘useless’ might make one think. Instead of looking, according to the manner of the left hemisphere, for utility, we should consider, according to the manner of the right hemisphere, that finally, through intersubjective imitation and experience, humankind has escaped from something worse even than Kant's ‘cheerless gloom of chance’: the cheerless gloom of necessity.”
“Summer crushes happen all the time, right? Because you feel far away from the real world, everything seems more...possible. Every person seems more vital.”
“Is there any way to explain the fact that sometimes my kids respond when I ask them to do something and sometimes I can’t seem to get through?”
“If I sequenced my own genome and showed it to a geneticist, she would be able to say approximately where on the planet I or my ancestors came from by matching variants in my genome with the geographic patterns of variants across the globe. She would not, however, be able to tell whether I was smart or dumb, tall or short, or almost anything else that matters with respect to how I function as a human being. Indeed, despite the fact that most efforts to understand the genome have sprung from efforts to combat disease, for the vast majority of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, our current understanding allows us only to assign vague probabilities to the likelihood that an individual will develop them.”
“I have to talk to him,” I said flatly. “I forbid it.” Every cell in my being bristled. I practically shouted, “You what?” “For. Bid. It.” “You did not just say that to me.”
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