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Eine große Rede läßt sich leicht auswendig lernen und noch leichter ein großes Gedicht. Wie schwer würde es nicht halten, eben so viel ohne allen Sinn verbundene Wörter, oder eine Rede in einer fremden Sprache zu memorieren. Also Sinn und Verstand kömmt dem Gedächtnis zu Hülfe. Sinn ist Ordnung und Ordnung ist doch am Ende Übereinstimmung mit unserer Natur. Wenn wir vernünftig sprechen, sprechen wir nur immer unser Wesen und unsere Natur. Um unserm Gedächtnisse etwas einzuverleiben suchen wir daher immer einen Sinn hineinzubringen oder eine andere Art von Ordnung. Daher Genera und Species bei Pflanzen und Tieren, Ähnlichkeiten bis auf den Reim hinaus. Eben dahin gehören auch unsere Hypothesen, wir müssen welche haben, weil wir sonst die Dinge nicht behalten können. Dies ist schon längst gesagt, man kömmt aber von allen Seiten wieder darauf. So suchen wir Sinn in die Körperwelt zu bringen. Die Frage aber ist, ob alles für uns lesbar ist. Gewiß aber läßt sich durch vielen Probieren, und Nachsinnen auch eine Bedeutung in etwas bringen was nicht für uns oder gar nicht lesbar ist. So sieht man im Sand Gesichter, Landschaften usw. die sicherlich nicht die Absichten dieser Lagen sind. Symmetrie gehört auch hieher. Silhouette im Dintenfleck pp. Auch die Stufenleiter in der Reihe der Geschöpfe, alles das ist nicht in den Dingen, sondern in uns. Überhaupt kann man nicht genug bedenken, daß wir nur immer uns beobachten, wenn wir die Natur und zumal unsere Ordnungen beobachten.
A great speech is easy to learn by heart and a great poem is easier still. How hard it would be to memorize as many words linked together senselessly, or a speech in a foreign tongue! Sense and understanding are thus critical to the function of memory. Sense is order and order is in the final analysis conformity with our nature. When we speak reasonably, it is our being and our nature that speaks. When we want to incorporate something into our memory, we always search for a sense or another kind of order as a tool to that end. That is why we utilize the notions of genus and species in the case of plants and animals. The practice of forming hypotheses must be considered in this same light: we are obliged to have them because otherwise we would be unable to retain things. And while this is frequently observed, we must return to it again and again. The question is whether everything is legible to us. Certainly experiment as well as reflection enable us to introduce a significance into what is not legible, either to us or at all: thus we see faces or landscapes in the sand, though they are certainly not there. The introduction of symmetry belongs here too, seeing silhouettes in inkblots, for instance. Likewise the gradation we establish in the order of creatures: truly, all of this is not to be found in the things themselves, but in us. In general we cannot recall too often that when we observe nature, and especially the ordering of nature, it is always ourselves alone we are observing.
–Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Sudelbuch ‘J,’ No. 392 (1789) in: Schriften und Briefe, vol. 1, p. 710 (W. Promies ed. 1968)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average amount of time a child spends in Santa Claus’s lap at Macy’s (in seconds):
Beer does not cause beer bellies.
Following the arrest of at least 10 clowns in Kentucky and Alabama, Tennesseans were warned that clowns could be “predators” and Pennsylvanians were advised not to interact with what one police chief described as “knuckleheads with clown-like clothes on.”
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”