Mark Rowlands · 256 pages
Rating: (1.8K votes)
“In the end, it is our defiance that redeems us. If wolves had a religion – if there was a religion of the wolf – that it is what it would tell us.”
“What is best about our lives -the moments when we are, as we would put it, at our happiest- is both pleasant and deeply unpleasant. Happiness is not a feeling; it is a way of being. If we focus on the feelings, we will miss the point.”
“Civilization is only possible for deeply unpleasant animals. It is only an ape that can be truly civilized.”
“Philosophers should be offered condolences rather than encouragement.”
“Cheaters never prosper, we tell ourselves. But the ape in us knows it's not true. Clumsy, untutored, cheats never prosper. They are discovered and suffer the consequences [...]But what we apes despise is the clumsiness of their effort, the ineptness, the gaucherie. The ape in us does not despise the cheating itself; [...]”
“When you play each point as it comes, or play each delivery on its own merits, you are doing just that: playing. But when the value of each point or delivery becomes instrumental, what you are doing is work.”
“It is consciousness that brings both suffering and enjoyment to the world.”
“It is a common misconception — pervasive and tenacious, but a misconception nonetheless — that arses are made for sitting on. It seems, instead, they are made for running.”
“On every long run that has gone right, there comes a point where thinking stops and thoughts begin.”
“It is therefore not implausible that there is a connection between the rhythm of the body involved in running and the presence of the brain activity involved in higher cognitive functions.”
“You choke when your focus switches from the individual point you are playing or delivery you are facing and start worrying about your situation in the wider context of the game — or, indeed, how you fared on previous points or even in previous games.”
“antidote to choking or the yips is always the same: focus on this moment, this point, this delivery and nothing else.”
“The function of religion is to make us feel better, by peddling a lie. The function of philosophy, and a carefully chosen birthday card, is to make us feel worse, by telling the truth. And the truth is of course: we get worse.”
“In a similar vein, Taoism identifies freedom with wu wei: acting without acting.”
“The key to building distance in the long run is the ability of the mind to lie to the body — and be convincing.”
“We do other creatures an injustice and ourselves a disservice when we forget from where our intelligence came. It did not come for free. In our distant evolutionary past we went down a certain road, a road that wolves, for whatever reason, did not travel. We can be neither blamed nor congratulated for the road we took. There was no choice involved. In evolution, there never is. But while there is no choice involved, there are consequences. Our complexity, our sophistication, our art, our culture, our science, our truths—our, as we like to see it, greatness: all of this we purchased, and the coin was schemes and deception. Machination and mendacity lie at the core of our superior intelligence, like worms coiled at the core of an apple.”
“Love has many faces. And if you love, you have to be strong enough to look upon all of them. The essence of philia is, I think, far harsher, far crueller, than we care to admit. There is one thing without which philia cannot exist; and this is not a matter of feeling but of the will. Philia—the love appropriate to your pack—is the will to do something for those who are of your pack, even though you desperately don’t want to do it, even though it horrifies and sickens you, and even though you may ultimately have to pay a very high price for it, perhaps heavier than you can bear. You do this because that is what is best for them. You do this because you must. You may never have to do this. But you must always be ready to do it. Love is sometimes sickening. Love can damn you for all eternity. Love will take you to hell. But if you are lucky, if you are very lucky, it will bring you back again.”
“A zoologist from another universe, where we can suppose the two laws do not apply, might justifiably classify most earthly fauna as subspecies of worm. We are superstructures built on and around our alimentary canal — on and around the worm that we once were.”
“Bad things need to be addressed, but good things do not. That is why consciousness will tend to focus on the bad.”
“The marathon lane is largely empty, mostly silent: the road of the damned rather than the saved.”
“A hole is defined by its edges, and these are not part of the hole. So a hole can exist only if there is something that is not a hole.”
“In tutte le corse lunghe ben riuscite, arriva il punto in cui smetto di pensare, e a quel punto cominciano i pensieri. A volte sono insignificanti, a volte no. Correre è lo spazio aperto dove vanno a giocare i pensieri. Non corro per pensare. Ma quando corro, i pensieri arrivano. Non sono esterni alla corsa, come una sorta di premio o di valore aggiunto. Fanno parte di quel che è la corsa stessa, della sua essenza. Quando il mio corpo corre, anche i miei pensieri corrono e in un modo che ha ben poco a che fare con i miei stratagemmi o le mie scelte.”
“Running, in other words, removed an important constraint on our development as a species.”
“The meaning of life — that is something for a simpler time.”
“Nietzsche tells us: be strong. What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
“Running, I shall argue, is a way of understanding what is important or valuable in life.”
“On the long run, there is an experience of freedom, of a certain sort — the freedom of spending time with the mind.”
“Pheidippides ran twenty-six miles from Marathon to Athens with news of the Greek victory.”
“The place that gave us the marathon also gave us philosophy. That place was the city-state of Athens in the fourth and fifth centuries BCE.”
“Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly what a wretched outcast I was. —The Monster, Frankenstein”
“ART IS MADE BY ORDINARY PEOPLE. Creatures having only virtues can hardly be imagined making art. It’s difficult to picture the Virgin Mary painting landscapes. Or Batman throwing pots. The flawless creature wouldn’t need to make art.”
“What if I have bad breath?' I asked.
'Chew on some gum,' she said.
'What if I can't find his tongue?'
'Back off on your tongue until you can feel his.'
'What if he throws up in my mouth?'
'Um, that would just be gross.”
“Our collective energies make miracles happen, not the stone idol.”
“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
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