Knowledge is awareness, and to it are many paths, not all of them paved with logic. But sometimes one is guided through the maze by intuition. One is led by something felt on the wind, something seen in the stars, something that calls from the wasteland to the spirit.
Today you can buy the Dialogues of Plato for less than you would spend on a fifth of whiskey, or Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for the price of a cheap shirt. You can buy a fair beginning of an education in any bookstore with a good stock of paperback books for less than you would spend on a week's supply of gasoline.
When at the typewriter I am no longer where I site but am away across the mountains, in ancient cities or on the Great Plains among the buffalo. Often I think of what pitiful fools are those who use mind-altering drugs to seek feelings they do not have, each drug taking a little more from what they have of mind, leaving them a little less. Give the brain encouragement from study, from thinking, from visualizing, and no drugs are needed.
Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn't really like, or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else.
I have read my books by many lights, hoarding their beauty, their wit or wisdom against the dark days when I would have no book, nor a place to read. I have known hunger of the belly kind many times over, but I have known a worse hunger: the need to know and to learn.
Books are the perfect Time Machine. By the simple act of opening a book you can, in an instant, be travelling up a jungle river without once being bitten by mosquitoes, or you can almost die of thirst in the desert while holding a cold drink in your hand, or dine in the finest restaurants and never have to worry about paying the bill, or ride the wild country of our western frontier and never worry about losing your scalp to a raiding party.
Without books we should very likely be a still-primitive people living in the shadow of traditions that faded with years until only a blur remained, and different memories would remember the past in different ways. A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever.Without books we should very likely be a still-primitive people living in the shadow of traditions that faded with years until only a blur remained, and different memories would remember the past in different ways. A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever.
The only power source a book needs is you. If you have to leave for a few minutes you have not lost the story. It is waiting for you when you return. You can pick up a book and resume reading at any time, after a few minutes, a few days, even a few years. A television picture or a movie might be lost forever, but your book is waiting.
A true gentleman is at a disadvantage in dealing with women. Women are realists, and their tactics are realistic, so no man should be a gentleman where women are concerned unless the women are very, very old or very, very young. Women admire gentlemen, and sleep with cads.
. . . What do you wish to be? What would you like to become?” I did not know, and I told her so, but the question worried me. Should I know? “There is time,” she said, “but the sooner you know, the sooner you can plan. To have a goal is the important thing, and to work toward it. Then, if you decide you wish to do something different, you will at least have been moving, you will have been going somewhere, you will have been learning.
When I was a small boy I often went to the woods to lie on the grass in the shade. Somehow I had come to believe the earth could give me wisdom, but it did not. Yet I learned a little about animals and learned it is not always brave to make a stand. It is often foolish. There is a time for courage and a time for flight.