In addition to the pleasure of reading well-crafted prose, I also enjoy coming across words, phrases and aphorisms that I find apt:
1) In his current book Wind Sprints, Joseph Epstein catalogues the reasons he doesn’t like certain cuisines. He nailed my own dislike of Korean food, labeling it “too hot and blatant.”
Exactly: every Koreandish I’ve ever tried — not many, I admit, but including such losers as their bbq beef and kimchee — is blatant. Then I wondered if one could apply simmilarly appropriate adjectives to other styles of cooking. There is comfort food; is there complacent food? politically correct food? homeopathically sound food?
2) In an essay on the withdrawal of many Russians from the repressive politics of their nation, I found this useful expression: “But many more Russians have simply turned away from politics, and gone into what Russians half-jokingly call internal emigration.”
That phrase exactly describes my own attitude toward current American politics. There are many fruitful lands out there which better reward my efforts and attention.
3) And finally, Samuel Johnson on the fluid nature of power in human affairs: “Power is always gradually stealing away from the many to the few, because the few are more vigilant and consistent.”
3a) And on the subject of power, here’s Epstein on homelessness: “I blame the number of beggars in America not on capitalism, but on the great human lottery, which awards less skill, little power of forming good habits, and simple bad luck to a small but, it now seems, not insignificant number of people in every society.”
Any gems from your current reads?