I always thought it was “Read at WILL”

“The critic said that once a year he read Kim; and he read Kim, it was plain, at whim: not to teach, not to criticize, just for love—he read it, as Kipling wrote it, just because he liked to, wanted to, couldn’t help himself. To him it wasn’t a means to a lecture or article, it was an end; he read it not for anything he could get out of it, but for itself. And isn’t this what the work of art demands of us? The work of art, Rilke said, says to us always: You must change your life. It demands of us that we too see things as ends, not as means—that we too know them and love them for their own sake. This change is beyond us, perhaps, during the active, greedy, and powerful hours of our lives; but duringthe contemplative and sympathetic hours of our reading, our listening, our looking, it is surely within our power, if we choose to make it so, if we choose to let one part of our nature follow its natural desires. So I say to you, for a closing sentence, Read at whim! read at whim!”
― Randall Jarrell


“Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you’d think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise.”

Lewis Thomas in Lives of a Cell (HT Skeeter Leard)


“I’m just about to junk the whole left/ right taxonomy as useless and indeed an active impediment to thought and action. Why should we be dominated by a political labeling system based on where people sat in the Constituent Assembly in Versailles in 1789…?”

– Alexander Cockburn


Brad has reminded me of the late great impossible Barry Hannah. An almost random quote (sometimes I think he wrote only quotable phrases):

“Walthall bought an ancient Jaguar sedan for nothing, and when it ran,
smelling like Britain on the skids or the glove of a soiled duke…”


Something sent by Teddy Moritz, who read it in a book called Defending Jacob, though the quote itself is from the 1921 textbook A General Theory of Human Violence. Despite its seriousness and truth there is just a bit of an air of Wodehouse in the language…

“Let us be practical in our expectations of the Criminal Law….(For) we have merely to imagine, by some trick of time travel, meeting our earliest hominid ancestor, Adam, a proto-man, short of stature, luxuriantly furred, newly bipedal, foraging about on the African savannah three million or so years ago. Now, let us agree that we may pronounce whatever  laws we like for this clever little creature, still it would be unwise to pet him.”