Mined from my Kindle highlights. These are in reverse order, mostly recently read (reading) to least.

The Supermodel and the Brillo Box

By Don Thompson. (Amazon link)

I’ve only just started this book, but it’s excellent.

A quote of a quote:

On first visiting the Art Institute of Chicago and seeing Georgia O’Keefe’s giant Sky Above Clouds IV painting, the seven-year-old stared for a long time, turned to her mother and said, “Who drew it? I need to talk to her.” —Quintana Roo, daughter of novelist Joan Didion

On the sale of a stuffed bald eagle from a deceased collector’s estate

On the estate tax return, Sonnabend’s children, Nina Sundell and Antonio Homem, listed the market value of Canyon as zero. Their argument, and that of an appraiser they retained, was that Canyon had no value because it was a federal crime to deal in such an object. If there was no possible market for the work, all that could be done was to donate it to a museum. In 2012 they presented it to MoMA. Wrong about the market value, responded the Internal Revenue Service; Canyon had a high value “on the illicit market.” The IRS valued Canyon at $65 million, and levied $29.2 million in estate tax and another $11.7 million in penalties on the estate for their undervaluation. Ralph Lerner, the art lawyer representing the estate, said that there was not even a black market for such a work, but the IRS disagreed. “For example, a recluse billionaire in China might want to buy it and hide it.”

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë. (Amazon link)

On Joseph, the moralising servant of Wuthering Heights:

He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.

Advice from Nelly, the narrator:

‘Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.’

Metamorphosis and Other Stories

By Franz Kafka. (Amazon link)

I read Metamorphosis some time ago but hadn’t read many of the other short stories. This is actually the entirety of ‘The Next Village':

My grandfather used to say: ‘Life is astonishingly short. When I look back now it is all so condensed in my memory that I can hardly understand, for example, how a young man can decide to ride over to the next village, without his being afraid – quite apart from unfortunate accidents – that the whole span of a normal happy life is far from being adequate for such a ride.’

Destination Void

By Frank Herbert (Amazon link)

This is one of Herbert’s lesser known series, the Pandora Sequence. Like Dune, I think the first book is the best.

The characters are stuck on a malfunctioning ship, their only chance to survive is to create an artificial consciousness within the ship’s computer. This is an insight by the protagonist into the definition of consciousness:

For the first time, Bickel turned his thoughts onto the concept of consciousness as a shield—a way of protecting its possessor from the shocks of the unknown. It was an “I can do anything!” answer hurled at a universe that threatened you with everything.

The Bell Jar

By Sylvia Plath. (Amazon link)

For some reason I’d never heard of this book before, which evidently is the literary equivalent of living under a rock (which is about right for me).

On misogynists:

I began to see why woman-haters could make such fools of women. Woman-haters were like gods: invulnerable and chock-full of power. They descended, and then they disappeared. You could never catch one.

That moment:

For the first time in my life, sitting there in the sound-proof heart of the UN building between Constantin who could play tennis as well as simultaneously interpret and the Russian girl who knew so many idioms, I felt dreadfully inadequate. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.

The Logic of Scientific Discovery

By Karl Popper. (Amazon link)

On philosophers:

Some philosophers have made a virtue of talking to themselves; perhaps because they felt that there was nobody worth talking to. I fear the practice of philosophising on this somewhat exalted plane may be a symptom of the decline of rational discussion.

No doubt God talks mainly to Himself because He has no one worth talking to. But a philosopher should know that he is no more godlike than any other man.

On scientific theories:

Theories are nets cast to catch what we call ‘the world': to rationalize, to explain, and to master it. We endeavour to make the mesh ever finer and finer.

More on the relationship between theory and experiment:

And although I believe that in the history of science it is always the theory and not the experiment, always the idea and not the observation, which opens up the way to new knowledge, I also believe that it is always the experiment which saves us from following a track that leads nowhere: which helps us out of the rut, and which challenges us to find a new way.

I’d love to go on, but I’m going to stop now. What fun, I haven’t looked back through these notes from some time!