“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. There must be the will to produce a superior thing.”
— John Ruskin
Hofstadter is a theoretical physicist, an AI skeptic, a proud Hoosier, a literary scholar, and a strange loop. He also coined Hofstadter’s Law, which states that things always take longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
He describes himself as pilingual: he speaks English, French, and Italian, “with several other languages having small to tiny fractional values,” adding up to 3.1415…
Here are some of his potentially untranslatable puns:
“A mistress is halfway between a mister and a mattress.”
“Parking is such street sorrow.”
Boids, “a documentary on artificial robot-birds, whose title draws on ‘android’, ‘humanoid,’ etc, while also doing a stereotyped Brooklyn accent on ‘birds’”
“In larger things we are convivial
What causes trouble is the trivial.”
— Richard Armour
Or, when someone keeps saying “Yes, but...”
Especially when it comes to fuzzy concepts:
Sharp distinctions regarding fuzzy concepts are meaningless.
(somewhere on the Internet)
The following quote from Disco Elysium (one of many notable examples) sounded vaguely familiar in its wording:
Secrets are the currency of human relations.
A quick search unearthed this strikingly similar one:
“Stories are the currency of human relationships.”
— Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting (1997)
And of course, as is fitting for such a game, we have a possible inspiration from Karl Marx with his “Die Logik ist das Geld des Geistes”, or “Logic is the money of the mind.”
So which is it then – secrets, stories, logic? Or disco?
“Success in research needs four Gs: Glück, Geduld, Geschick, und Geld [luck, patience, skill, and money].”
— Paul Ehrlich
Precision and correctness are like opposing forces. It’s easy to satisfy one if you ignore the other. The converse of vaporous academic writing is the bold, but false, rhetoric of demagogues. Useful writing is bold, but true.
It’s also two other things: it tells people something important, and that at least some of them didn’t already know.
Telling people something they didn’t know doesn’t always mean surprising them. Sometimes it means telling them something they knew unconsciously but had never put into words. In fact those may be the more valuable insights, because they tend to be more fundamental.
― Paul Graham, essay (2020)
“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”
― Carl Jung
Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.
— Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (1843)
Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favourable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they have not time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which they have access, or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying.
― John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1868)