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Links 1 through 10 of 570 Nick Fitzsimons's Bookmarks

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All poetry can do, in the end, is make the world bearable. It's engineering that gets you to the moon.

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Over time, the feeling of certainty ossifies, then fossilizes. It becomes a relic. We remember the answer, and we carry the same certainty with us, but we no longer remember why we were certain. Slowly, it dawns on us that we don’t even understand the problem. We only know the solution. We are on the mountaintop but we don’t remember the road up, nor can we find a way down; sometimes, we even begin to suspect that, with respect to our problematic valley down there, we’re actually on the wrong peak altogether.

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To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out — since our self-image is untenable — their false notion of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Helen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan; no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous. At the mercy of those we cannot but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed

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Often, too, this lack of a rich inner life catapults them into depression in later life. We are all going to encounter illness, loss, and aging, and we’re not well prepared for these inevitable events by a culture that directs us to think of externals only, and to measure ourselves in terms of our possessions of externals.

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