Tag Archives: Self Knowledge

Marginalia, no.261

When one has weighed the sun in a balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?

~ Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Quantum mechanics has it that the act of observing a system alters that system. Electrons, they say, are constrained by observation to behave like particles rather than waves. I don’t fully understand this, but I wonder about applying the “observer effect” more broadly. It may be that stars and planets droop with the gravity of a million gazes, that celebrities can’t help but make fools of themselves, and that introspection will get you no closer to self knowledge than watching reality TV.


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Marginalia, no.209

She was a lifelong conservative and member of the Republican Party.

~ Wikipedia entry for Ginger Rogers

Certain people seem always to have known who they are and what they’re about. It’s tempting for persons like me – persons who feel like we’re being constantly reintroduced to ourselves – to write them off as creatures of frigid imagination, unseduceable to the vital possibilities. I’m sure that’s wrong. But descriptions like the above (even sans the absurdity of a ‘Party Affiliation’ line on Baby Ginger’s birth certificate) never convince. Human is the only thing we can spend our whole life being – and that only by luck and hard work.

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