“I suppose, Sirs, that you are so glutted with this banquet of various literary dishes that the food you eat continues to rise. Indeed ye sit crammed with dainties, for many served up to you a mixed feast of precious and varied discourse and persuade you to look with contempt on ordinary fare. What shall I do now? Shall I allow what I had prepared to lie uneaten and spoil, or shall I expose it in the middle of the market for sale to retail dealers at any price it will fetch? Who in that case will want any part of my wares or who would give twopence for my writings, unless his ears were stopped up?”

—Agathias, 6th century C.E.

“Nobody means by a word precisely and exactly what his neighbour does, and the difference, be it ever so small, vibrates, like a ripple in water, throughout the entire language. Thus all understanding is always t the same time a not-understanding, all concurrence in thought and feeling at the same time a divergence.”

—Wilhelm Von Humboldt, Humboldt: ‘On Language’. (trans. Peter Heath)

“Letters morphed into emails, and for a long time emails had all the depth and complexity of letters. They were a beautiful new form that spliced together the intimacy of what you might write from the heart with the speed of telegraphs. Then emails deteriorated into something more like text messages (the first text message was sent in 1992, but phones capable of texting spread later in the 1990s). . . .I think of that lost world, the way we lived before these new networking technologies, as having two poles: solitude and communion. The new chatter puts us somewhere in between, assuaging fears of being alone without risking real connection. It is a shallow between two deep zones, a safe spot between the dangers of contact with ourselves, with others.”

—Rebecca Solnit, “Diary“, London Review of Books 35, no 16 (2013)

‘For we are made of lines. We are not only referring to lines of writing. Lines of writing conjugate with other lines, life lines, lines of luck or misfortune, lines productive of the variation of the line of writing itself, lines that are between the lines of writing.’

— Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

[There is satisfaction in returning to a work you once found all but incomprehensible, and read as poetry, only to find that this time perhaps your thinking has in some senses caught up and you are able to read with greater clarity, or that is at least how it feels. It’s probably illusory.]

“I know that knowledge can transform us, that truth is not only a way of deciphering the world (and maybe what we call truth doesn’t decipher anything) but that if I know the truth I will be changed. . . . Or maybe I’ll die but I think that is the same anyway for me. . . . You see, that’s why I really work like a dog and I worked like a dog all my life. I am not interested in the academic status of what I am doing because my problem is my own transformation. . . . This transformation of one’s self by one’s knowledge is, I think, something rather close to the aesthetic experience.”

—Michel Foucault, The Minimalist Self, 1982 interview by Stephen Riggins, in Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984

“the strange and difficult notion that reading is subject not to the text as its law, but to the law to which the text is subject. The law forces the reader to betray the text or deviate from it in the act of reading, in the name of a higher demand that can yet be reached only by way of the text.”

—J. Hillis Miller, The Ethics of Reading