Echoes through time: no more actions or adventures in the world

you say, science itself will teach man (though to my mind it’s a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, and that he himself is something of the nature of a piano-key or the stop of an organ, and that there are, besides, things called the laws of nature; so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature. Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more actions or adventures in the world.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (Niccolo Machiavelli (1821 – 1881) , Notes from the Underworld, Part 1, chap. 6

Echoes through time: a reputation for generosity

If your generosity is good and sincere it may pass unnoticed and it will not save you from being reproached for its opposite. If you want to sustain a reputation for generosity, therefore, you have to be ostentatiously lavish; and a prince acting in that fashion will soon squander all his resources…

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), The Prince, chapter 16

Echoes through time: When books have all seized up

To Posterity

When books have all seized up like the book in graveyards
And reading and even speaking have been replaced
By other, less difficult media, we wonder if you
Will find flowers and fruit the same colour and taste
They held for us for whom they were framed in words,
And will your grass be green, your sky be blue,
Or will your birds be always wingless birds?

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963), Poems Selected by Michael Longley