Cover of book The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods

The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods

by: A. G. Sertillanges, Mary Ryan

Check out the book on Amazon | your public library.
Recommendation: From Cal Newport's Deep work.
139 Highlights | 107 Notes
  • Location: viii
    ...might be put off when they read Sertillanges' advice to take notes on file cards!
    Note: zettelkasten?
  • Location: xviii
    Do you want to do intellectual work? Begin by creating within you a zone of silence, a habit of recollection, a will to renunciation and detachment which puts you entirely at the disposal of the work; acquire that state of soul unburdened by desire and self-will which is the state of grace of the intellectual worker. Without that you will do nothing, at least nothing worth while.
    Note: 'state of soul unburdened by desire and self-will' - no distractions, no pressure of the big other , 'a zone of silence, a habit of recollection, a will to renunciation and detachment' - physical quiet and mental quiet, and a commitment to focus, 'state of grace of the intellectual worker' - Flow state (Mihaly CCsikszentmihalyi)
  • Location: xix
    ...that the man of vocation should put away and deliberately forget his everyday man; that he should throw off everything of him: his frivolity, his irresponsibility, his shrinking from work, his material ambitions, his proud or sensual desires, the instability of his will or the disordered impatience of his longings, his over-readiness to please and his antipathies, his acrimonious moods and his acceptance of current standards, ...
    Note: all the distractions - mental, emotional, familial
  • Location: 9
    The very constraint will make you concentrate better, you will learn the value of time, you will take eager refuge in those rare hours during which, the claims of duty satisfied, you can turn to your ideal and enjoy the relaxation of some chosen activity after the labor imposed by the hard necessity of getting a livelihood.
    Note: on how constraints on your time to do your side projects can actually be useful
  • Location: 10
    There are books everywhere and only a few are necessary.
    Note: Why we should read less - take heart, books, articles, blog posts - everything. Is Medium really useful? The nautilus subscription - is that really useful? How about Intelligent Tuesday?
  • Location: 11
    Have you two hours a day? Can you undertake to keep them jealously, to use them ardently, and then, being of those who have authority in the Kingdom of God, can you drink the chalice of which these pages would wish to make you savor the exquisite and bitter taste?
    Note: Mark out 2 hrs a day, commit to it. Guard it. And during that time, focus deeply - without distractions. Savor the hard work, the difficulty. Can you savor missing out on what the rest are doing because you get to do your precious work.
  • Location: 19
    Truth visits those who love her, who surrender to her, and this love cannot be without virtue.
    Note: This sounds like something from Seneca's Moral Letters
  • Location: 21
    On what, first and foremost, does all the effort of study depend? On attention, which delimits the field for research, concentrates on it, brings all our powers to bear on it; next, on judgement, which gathers up the fruit of investigation.
    Note: What does 'study' mean? To take in, decide what to assimilate and what to spit out
  • Location: 27
    Or else they abandon the study demanded by their obligations and take up some other that flatters their inclination, and their loss of quality is the same.
    Note: On being a dilettante. What can happen if you 'follow your passion', and your passion keeps changing all the time. However, there is a period of exploration where this is a valid strategy. Once the exploration ends, and you decide on your area of study, this dilettant-ism? will be counter productive.
  • Location: 30
    Details are nothing: facts are nothing: the important things are the dependences, the transmissions of influence, the connecting links, the exchanges, which constitute the life of nature.
    Note: Really? What does he mean by this? Facts are not useful unless shared, and thought upon and exchanged to mean much more?
  • Location: 34
    He himself advances the following propositions which look materialistic: “The different dispositions of men for the operations of the soul depend on the different dispositions of their bodies.” “To a good bodily constitution corresponds the nobility of the soul. ”
    Note: On one hand, yes - a sound body helps thinking easier. But I'm not ok about the implications of the opposite - that if you don't have a sound body, for whatever reason, you are not suited for the intellectual work. Here, I make the common, but wrong argument - saying this is true doesn't make the opposite false.
  • Location: 37
    Live as much as possible in the open air. It is a recognized fact that attention — the nerve of study — is closely related to breathing, and for general health we know that plenty of oxygen is a first condition. Windows open or partly open day and night when prudence allows, frequent deep breating exercises, combined with movements that amplify them and make them normal, walks befor and after work or even combined with work according to the Greek tradition; all these practices are excellent.

    It is important to work in a position that gives free play to the lungs and does not compress the other organs. It is good from time to time to interrupt a spell of close application in order to breathe deeply, to stretch one's limbs in two or three rhythmic movements which relax the body and even prevent it from getting wrinkles. It has been found that slow and deep breaths, taken standing on tip-toe, with the window open, are still more effective as a relaxing agent.

    Note: Workouts, deep breathing ( like in Yoga - pranayama), beauty advice too! Try this - It has been found that slow and deep breaths, taken standing on tip-toe, with the window open
  • Location: 38
    Set aside every year, and secondarily in the course of the year, time for real vacations. By which I do not mean the entire absence of work &mddash; that would relax to excess faculties already sufficiently inclined to instability — but the predominance of rest, fresh air, and exercise outdoors.
    Note: Rest - vacations - lots of sleep, enough food, outdoor air and exercise
  • Location: 38
    Pay still more attention to your sleep. Take neither too much or too little. Too much will make you heavy, stupid, will slow up the blood and the power of thinking; too little will expose you to the risk of prolonging unduly the stimuation of work and dangerously superimposing strain upon strain. Watch yourself; in this question of sleep, as in that of food, find out how much you need and make a firm resolution to keep to it. There is no general rule.
    Note: Not too much sleep nor too little. So what is the right amount - differs from person to person. You have to study yourself and find out.
  • Location: 41
    … you must simplify your life.
    Note: essentialism?
  • Location: 42
    If you do not want to entertain knowledge as your guest, you do not need rare furniture, nor numerous servants. Much peace, a little beauty, certain conveniences that save time, are all that is necessary.
    Note: what you need
  • Location: 42
    Slacken the tempo of your life.
  • Location: 42
    Society life is fatal to study. … When one thinks of a man of genius, one does not imagine him dining out.
  • Location: 42, 43
    Do not let yourself get entangled in that mesh of occupations which little by little monopolizes time, thought, resources, powers. Conventions must not dictate to you. Be your own guide; obey your convictions. not mere custom; and the convictions of an intellectual must correspond to the goal at which he is aiming.
    Note: Understand the rules of society - are not rules - just custom. Think and decide which ones, and why you will follow them
  • Location: 43
    Money and attention squandered on trifles would be much better spent in collecting a library, providing for instructive travel or restful holidays, going to hear music which rekindles inspiration and so on
  • Location: 43
    Suppose you are of the number of those who have to earn their living otherwise by the work they love, how will you preserve the few hours at your disposal if your life is over-full? You must reduce matter to the minimum, so as to lighten and liberarte the spirit
  • Location: 45
    After the effort of work, a man is like a wounded soldier. He needs to be surrounded with care and quiet; do not force him, let him relax and encourage him.
    Note: A patriarchal thought. What of woman who wants to do this? The wounding after intellectual work is very real - but if this person is a woman, she does not have the privilege of someone else taking care of her, of catering to her needs - then what? How can one recover? How can this be set up for women?
  • Location: 45
    Children complicate life, but so sweetly that they should serve to give the worker fresh courage rather than to lessen his resources.
  • Location: 47
    Therefore, be slow to speak and slow to go to those places where people speak, because in many words the spirit is poured out like water; by your amiability to all, purchase the right really to frequent only a few whose society is profitable; avoid, even with these, the excessive familiarity which drags one down and away from one's purpose; do not run after news that occupiesthe mind to no purpose; do not busy yourself with the sayings and doings of the world, that is with such as have no moral or intellectual bearing; avoid useless comings and goings which waste hours and fill the mind with wandering thoughts.
    Note: think of you day to day, of what you do and who you do stuff with, Be intentional with it all.
  • Location: 48
    The most exquisite songs in nature are heard at night. The nightingale, the crystal-voiced toad, the cricket, sing in the darkness. The cock proclaims the day, and does not wait for it. All who bear a message, all poets, all seekers also and those who are on the alert to pick up the truths that lie scattered round us must plunge deep into the vast emptiness which is plentitude.
    Note: On night owls
  • Location: 51
    In the crowd one loses one's identity, unless one keeps firm hold of oneself, and this hold must first be created. In the crowd, one has no self-knowledge, being burdened by an alien self, that of the multitude.
    Note: echoing Robert Greene - The Laws of Human Nature
  • Location: 51
    Hygienists recommend three things for the body: the bath, the air bath, and the inward bath of pure water; I should like to add for the soul the bath of silence.
  • Location: 55
    One begins with enthusiasm, then as some difficulty arises, the demon of laziness whispers: What is the good? Our vision of the goal grows dim; the fruit of effort is too distant or appears too bitter; we have a vague sense of being duped. It is certain that the support of others, their example, the exchange of ideas, would be admirably efficacious against this gloomy mood;
    Note: Seth Godin - the pit of despair. How a group, like the mastermind group can help.
  • Location: 58
    It is painful to have to sacrifice precious hours in visits and on business which are themselves beneath our ideal; but since after all the course of the world is made to be compatible with virtue, we must conclude that virtue, intellectual or moral, will find its profit in these things.
    Note: On how it is ok to do the life stuff, even if it means less time to study
  • Location: 60
    Society is a book to read, even though a commonplace book, Solitude is a masterpiece; but remember the saying of Liebnitz, who found no book so bad that he coul not get something out of it.
  • Location: 61
    To speak for the sake of what must be said, to express a timely feeling or a useful idea and then to be silent, is the secret ofkeeping possession of yourself while giving something to others, instead of letting your own torch go out as it lights other torches.
    Note: Speak when you have something of matter to say, and not just to be saying something.... Talk only when it matters - JKGlei-hurry-slowly-rob walker
  • Location: 66
    I should like to see our man of study steadily engaged in some enterprise not too burdensome, to which he would devove a definite amount of time — not carried away by it, and yet taking a real and hearty interest in the results.
    Note: work, but detached work
  • Location: 67
    It seems to me to follow from all this that silence, retirement, the solitude useful to the thinker are realities modified by practical considerations, but inspired by a conviction of strict necessity.
    Note: What? I don't understand what this means.
  • Location: 73
    Would Newton have discovered gravitation, if his attention to the real had not made him observant and ready to percieve that apples fall like worlds?
    Note: Pay attention to all around you. Live outside your mind.
  • Location: 74
    So acquire the habit of being present at this activity of the material and moral universe. Learn to look; compare what is before you with your familiar or secret ideas.
    Note: Be present to the real world. And compare to your idea of world. In other words, keep observing the territory, and keep comparing the territory to your map. And update the map when you see a change in the territory / you make a new observation. Keep looking.
  • Location: 76
    By observing and listening — I do not mention reading because we shall come back to that — you will learn to reflect, you will assimilate and adapt to your own needs whatyou have acquired.
    Note: Observation - eric milton - Robert greene
  • Location: 77
    Since truth is everywhere and all things are connected, why not study each question in contact with kindred questions? Everything should contribute to our speciality. Everything should bear witness for or against our these.
    Note: Learn with links. Like Zettelkasten.
  • Location: 77
    To a large extent the universe is what we make of it. The painter everywhere sees form, color, movement, expression; the architect balances masses; the musician perceives rhythm and sound; the poets find subjects for metaphor; a thinker sees ideas in act
    Note: How does person A see their life? The real vs our perception of the world. Map vs territory. Looking at the same map with different filters - with a magnifying glass vs wide angle lens.
  • Location: 78
    To keep a part of one's thought always expectant is the great secret. Man's mind is a ruminant. The cow looks away into the distance, chews slowly, bites off here a tuft and there a twig, takes the whole field for her own, and the horizon as well, producing her milk from the field, feeding her dim soul on the horizon.
    Note: Ruminate on this
  • Location: 79
    If the desire for knowledge is well anchored and the passion for truth alight in you, if your conscious attention has often been brought to bear on those facts of life which are calculated to feed the flame and to satsify the desire, then you have turned your mind into a greyhound unleashed.
    Note: Desire for particular knowledge, if deep enough, and you fan the desire, you will work towards it at all times. So, do the work of desiring what you want greatly - like the affirmations
  • Location: 80
    Does a woman out walking get tired of watching for the admiration of the passers-by; a girl of being ready for a laugh, or a little boy of frolicking?
    Note: Interesting characterizations. Are they true today?
  • Location: 83
    Very often, gleams of light come in a few minutes' sleeplessness, in a second perhaps; you must fix them. To entrust them to the relaxed brain is like writing on water; there is every chance that on the morrow there will be no slightest trace left of any happening.
    Note: On night-time inspiration
  • Location: 83,84
    Do better than that. Have at hand a notebook or a box of slips. Make a note without waking up too fully, without turning on the light, if possible, then fall back into the shadows
    Note: Echoes Annie Lammot and so many other authors. #todo
  • Location: 84

    At other times, it is in the morning, on first awaking, that the flashes come.

    Every thinker has experienced instances of early morning lucidity that are sometimes surprising, almost miraculous.

    Quick to your notebook when such a piece of good fortune befalls you.

    Note: Morning inspiration. No phone. Peace and quiet. Solitude. Calm excitement. Notebook close by
  • Location: 85
    However, it is not enough to take care to gather the fruit. Sleep works of itself, but it works on existing material; it creates nothing; it is skilled in combining and simplifying, in bringing things to a head, but it can only work on the findings of experience and the labor of the day.
    Note: Do the work first, for inspiration to strike
  • Location: 86
    Call to your mind as you fall asleep — entrust to God and to your own soul — the question that is preoccupying you, the idea that is slow in developing its virtualities, or that eludes your grasp. Do not make any effort that would delay sleep. On the contrary, rest quietly in this thought: the universe is working for me; determinism is the slave of free will and will turn its millstone while I rest; I can suspend my effort; the heavens are revolving, and as they turn they set moving in my brain delicate machinery that I might put out of order; I sleep; nature keeps watch; God keeps watch, and tomorrow I shall gather a little of the fruit of their work.
    Note: Bring to mind, the puzzle you are trying to solve as you go to sleep, but not worry about solving it.
  • Location: 88
    Will not this man, emerging renewed and, as it were, reborn from the hours of unconsciousness, cast a rapid glance over his life as a whole, mark the point he has reached, map out the coming day, and so start out with springing step and clear mind on a new stage of his journey?
    Note: Morning map - map out what you need to do in the day, but also the arc of your projects, quarter, life - and make sure what you are doing is towards what you want out of life. I suspect this will be hard initially, but once it becomes a habit, this practice can be super helpful. #todo
  • Location: 90
    Meditation is so essential to the thinker that we need not urge it anew.
    Note: 3pm meditation session everyday? #todo
  • Location: 91
    Evening! how little, usually, people know about making it holy and quiet, about using it to prepase for really restorative sleep! How it is wasted, polluted, misdirected!
    Note: What makes for really restorative sleep for me? #to-journal
  • Location: 91
    Deep in a comfortable armchair well lit from behind, beside the fire, their family around them, quiet, or in the buzz of pleasant activity, they live awhile after having toiled all day. This is their moment; this is the moment of the man, when the specialist has done facing up with head and heart to innumerable difficulties.
    Note: Who lit the fire? Who's taking care of the pleasant activity? If the woman of the family wants to do the work, will the man take care of these 'pleasant' chores?
  • Location: 91,92
    An intellectual, if he does not need this mental compensation, needs the quietness even more. His evening should be a time of stillness, his supper a light reflection, his play the simple task of setting the day's work in order and preparing the morrow's.

    we must get ready in the evening, and we must prepare the night which, after its fashion, and without our intervention links together the periods of our conscious toil

  • Location: 92, 93
    Rest cannot be found in scattering one's energies. Rest means giving up all effort and withdrawing towards the fount of life; it means restoring our strength, not expending it foolishly.

    to let keen activity give way to a simple familiar routine, in a word, to cease willing up to a point so that the renunciation of night may begin.

    Note: Learn this
  • Location: 94
    … here we are speaking only of securing it, putting it on a stable basis, preserving it, guarding the “interior cell” against all that threatens to invade it.
    Note: Mark time, make it a habit, put boundaries to protect this time, enforce the boundaries diligently
  • Location: 94
    … but we must insist on this one thing: you must study yourself, consider what your life is, what it enables you to do, what it furthur excludes, what of itself it suggests for the hours of intense activity.
    Note: know thyself.
  • Location: 94, 95
    When you have only a few free hours and can place them at will, morning seems to deserve the preference. Night has renewed your strength; prayer has given you wings; peace reigns all about you and the buzzing swarm of distractions has not begun.
    Note: why choose mornings?
  • Location: 95
    But for certain people there may be counter-indications. If you sleep badly you may be upset and dull in the morning. Or solitude might be lacking and then you must wait for the hours of isolation.
    Note: why choose night?
  • Location: 95
    You want it to be a time of plentitude; then shut remote preparation out of it; make all the necessary arrangements beforehand; know what you want to do and how you want to do it; gather your materials, your notes, your books; avoid having to interrupt your work for trifles
    Note: Prepare before your alloted work time. What preparation? this note says it....
  • Location: 95
    Furthur, in order to keep this time for your work and to keep it really free, rise punctually and promptly; breakfast lightly; avoid futile conversations, useless calls, limit your correspondence to what is strictly necessary; gag the newspapers!
    Note: no phone, no email, no conversations if at all possible.
  • Location: 95, 96
    Avoid half-work more than anything. Do not imitate those people who sit long at their desks but let their minds wander. It is better to shorten the time and use it intensely, to increase its value, which is all that counts.
    Note: half-work = distracted work, pretend work. Follow this at work too.
  • Location: 96

    Do something, or do nothing at all. Do ardently whatever you decide to do; do it with your might; and let the whole of your activity be a series of vigorous fresh starts.

    That is the kind of work of which we speak when we say that two hours daily are enough to yield a tangible worthwhile result. Evidently, they are not much; but they really suffice if all the conditions are fulfilled;

    Note: What deep work looks like. 2hrs a day - every day - of deep work - on my learning and projects. But remember - don't scatter. #todo - find a learning/project philosophy to help not scatter efffort.
  • Location: 97
    He who knows the value of time always has enough; not being able to lengthen it, he intensifies its value; and first of all he does nothing to shorten it.
    Note: First no half-work. If tired, take a break. Be courageous to go against the grain. Then make good use of the time you do get.
  • Location: 98
    It is important, during the hours sacred to work, not only that you should not be disturbed, but that you should know you will not be disturbed; let perfect security on that score protect you, so that you can apply yourself intensely and fruitfully.
    Note: Enforce your boundaries fiercely - and make sure you know they will be respected. If at home you think they won't be, figure out a different environment where you know your boundaries will be respected - need for mental security and safety
  • Location: 102
    Comparative study: by that we mean widening our special work through bringing it into touch withn all kindred disciplines, and then linking these specialities and the whole group of them to generay philosophy and theology.
  • Location: 118

    Given certain conditions, the more one knows the better; but in fact, as these conditions cannot be realized, and today less than ever, the encyclopedic mind is an enemy of knowledge.

    True knowledge, (scientia, science in its fundamental sense) lies in depth rather than in superficial extent. Science is knowledge through causes, and causes go down deep like roots.

    Note: What is true knowledge. A 'generalist' is T-shaped. Have the grounding - the depth in one domain, and from there link to other domains.. as the spread increases, the thickness of the depth increases too.
  • Location: 119
    To overcome a difficulty is good; it must be done; but intellectual life must not be an unbroken series of acrobatic feats. It is very important to work in joy, therefore with relative ease, therefore in the direction of one's aptitudes. By going forward at first on different paths each one must discover himself, and when he has found out his special vocation, pursue it.
    Note: The 4% of flow - reference book `The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance' -
  • Location: 120
    In other words, we must understand everything, but in order to succeed in doing some one thing.
    Note: What T-shaped looks like
  • Location: 121

    It is a painful thing to say to oneself; by choosing one road I am turning my back on a thousand others.

    Do not be ashamed not to know what you could only know at the cost of scattering your attention.

  • Location: 127

    Nothing is so disastrous as to keep turning one's attention this way and that.

    Let your mind become a lens, thanks to the converging rays of attention; let your soul be all intent on whatever it is that is established in your mind as a dominant, wholly absorbing idea. Make an orderly series of your different studies, so as to throw yourself into them completely. Let each task take entire hold of you, as if it were the only one.

    Note: Focus. Plan. Execute one by one. No pressure of the big other when executing.
  • Location: 127, 128
    We must allow each thing its separate place, do it in its own time, provide all the conditions necessary for the work, devote to it the fullest resources at our disposal, and once it has been brought to a successful issue, pass on quietly to something else.
    Note: No pressure of the big other. Also, for me, add a step to acknowledge and celebrate the completion.
  • Location: 128, 129
    The soul of the true worker, in spite of his preoccupations and the number of them that may press one on the other, should always, between two earnest endeavors to surmount some obstacle, remain as peaceful and noble as the cloud masses on the horizon.
    Note: Stay calm. Don't get frantic, chasing all those TODOs, a time for everything, everything in its time.
  • Location: 129
    Every idea, provided it really is an idea, is infinitely rich; linked up with all others, it may revivify itself endlessly through them.
  • Location: 132
    Activity which is too intentional makes our intelligence less sure and less receptive; if we strive too anxiously, we remain shut up in ourselves, whereas to understand is to become other, and in happy receptivity to let truth pour in upon us.
    Note: Try but not too hard, try relaxedly without anxiety
  • Location: 133
    Profound work consists in this: to let the truth sink into one, to be quietly submerged by it, to lose oneself in it. not to think that one is thinking, nor that one exists, nor that anything in the world exists but truth itself. That is the blessed state of ecstasy.
    Note: in other words, Flow
  • Location: 138
    Our mind has this double tendency — to unify details so as to arrive at a comprehensive synthesis; and to lose the sense of unity by lingering too long with details. We must balance these two tendencies. The first corresponds to the aim of science, the second to our weakness. We must isolate things to penetrate them more deeply, but then we must unite them in order to better understand them.
    Note: Whoa! Great explanation.
  • Location: 145
    We never think entirely alone: we think in company, in a vast collaboration; we work with the workers of the past and of the present
  • Location: 146
    The first rule is to read a little.

    What we are proscribing is the passion for reading, the uncontrolled habit, the poisoning of the mind by excess of mental food, the laziness in disguise which prefers easy familiarity with others' thought to personal effort.

    Note: why reading too much is bad. Binge reading - is for comfort, self soothing, to take the easy path, not to do the hard work of my efforts, thought processes.
  • Location: 147
    The mind is dulled, not fed, by inordinate reading, it is made gradually incapable of reflection and concentration, and therefore of production; it grows inwardly extroverted, if one can so express oneself, becomes the slave of its mental images, of the ebb and flow of ideas on which it has eagerly fastened its attention. This uncontrolled delight is an escape from self; it ousts the intelligence from its function and allows it merely to follow point for point the thoughts of others, to be carried along in a stream of words, developments, chapters, volumes.
    Note: What happens when we read too much
  • Location: 147, 148
    … while the wise worker, preserving his self-control, calm and clear-headed, reads only what he wants to retain, retains only what will be useful, manages his brain prudently and does not abuse it by cramming it absurdly.

    Better go out of doors, read in the book of nature, breathe fresh air, relax. After the requisite activity, arrange for the requisite recreation, instead of automatically yielding to a habit which is intellectual only in its matter, which in itself is as commonplace as gliding down a slope or climbing hills aimlessly.

    Note: Agreed. But sometimes, one has to intentionally climb hills aimlessly ... sometimes one has to escape. The trick is, I think, to be intentional about it. Refer 'How to read a book' notes on intentional recreational reading.
  • Location: 148
    What you must principally cut down is the less solid and serious kind of reading. … One from time to time, if you like, as a recreation …
    Note: Maybe... think more about this.
  • Location: 149
    The principle of choice is already included in these first remarks. “What discernment we should exercise, ” said Nicole, “about the things that feed our mind and are to be the seed of our thoughts! For what we read unconcernedly today will recur to our minds when occasion arises and will rouse in us, even without our notice, thoughts that will be a source of salvation or ruin. … ”
    Note: Mind is a ruminant. What you read now, will surface in unexpected ways at unexpected times.
  • Location: 150
    Choose your books. Do not trust interested advertising and catchy titles. Have devoted and expert advisers. Go straight to the fountainhead to satisfy your thirst. Associate only with first-rate thinkers.

    Read only those books in which leading ideas are expressed at first hand.

    Note: how to choose a book
  • Location: 151
    The book is your elder; you must pay it honor, approach it without pride, read it without prejudice, bear with its faults, seek the grain in the chaff. But you are a free man, you remain responsible; hold back sufficiently to keep possession of your own soul and if need be to defend it.
    Note: read first without judgement. Then analyze critically, and keep only that which you find important / essential.
  • Location: 152
    There is fundamental reading, accidental reading, stimulating or edifying reading, recreative reading.

    Fundamental reading demands docility, accidental reading demands mental mastery, stimulating reading demands earnestness, recreative reading demands liberty.

    Note: kinds of reading - as per Sertillanges
  • Location: 155
    Each one should watch himself, note what hels him, keep at hand together his remedies for the sickness of the soul and not hesitate to go back and back to the same cordial or the same antidote until these have utterly lost their efficacy.
    Note: Know thyself. What nourishes you?
    • Climbing
    • Biking
    • Hiking
    • Physical activity out in nature
    • Hard physical work
    • Walks in nature / just walks
    • Transcribing notes
    • Stream of consciousness journaling
    • Brain storm journalling
    • Yoga
    • Listening to music
    • Listening to a podcast or an audiobook while driving
    • Hanging out by the ocean
    • Making things.
  • Location: 156
    One thing alone according to St. Thomas gives real rest: joy; to seek distraction in something boring would be a delusion.
    Note: Truth.
  • Location: 160
    The society of intelligent minds is always an exclusive society; reading gives us easier entrance to it
  • Location: 165
    The man who wants to acquire from his authors, not fighting qualities, but truth and penetration, must bring them to this spirit of conciliation and diligent harvesting, the spirit of the bee. … “ Every individual who is not creative,” writes Goethe, “has a negative, narrow, exclusive taste and succeeds in depriving creative being of its energy and life.”
    Note: open-mindedness -> creativity.
  • Location: 180
    There are in every subject-matter a few ideas that govern the whole, that are keys to everything; there are some also that govern life, and before these we must light the sanctuary lamp within our hearts.
    Note: Peter Kaufman???
  • Location: 181, 182
    St.Thomas proposes four rules.
    1. To set in order what one wants to remember;
    2. To apply the mind deeply to it;
    3. to think over it often;
    4. when one wants to recollect it, to take the chain of connections by one end, which will bring the rest with it.
    • Learning how to learn - chain of connections.
    • Also Steps for a zettelkasten system
  • Location: 182
    On the contrary, a series holds together and has power of resistance. …

    So when you want to remember, notice the connections and the reasons of things; analyze them; look for the wy and wherefore, observe the genealogy of happening, the order of succession, and their dependent consequences; imitate the procedure of mathematics in which necessity starts from the axiom and arrives at the most distant conclusions.

    Note: hang on a mesh of ideas - Learning how to learn.
  • Location: 183
    Be ready, as soon as you have read or heard the thing, to repeat it exactly in as far as you want to fix it in your memory. If it is a book, do not leave it without being able oto sum it up and to estimate its value.
    Note: Always summarize, rate and reason your rating for the book. Make it your own (How to read a book) #todo
  • Location: 186
    Notes, which are a sort of external memory, a “paper memory” Montaigne called them, must bear a very small proportion to reading; but they can cover more ground than memory, they can supply for it, and so take the strain off it and help work in a measure that is hard to assign.
    Note: From reading, distill notes - which can help with memory
  • Location: 187
    We can distinguish two kinds of notes, corresponding to the remote and the immediate preparation for our work. You read or reflect in order to form and feed your mind; ideas occur that it seems good to fix in the memory; you come across facts; various indications; which may be useful later on; you note them down.

    On the other hand, when you have to study a precise subject, to produce a definite piece of work, you try to gather material, you read what has been published on the question, you have recourse to all the sources of information at your disposal, you make your own reflections, and you do it all pen in hand.

    Note: Literature notes - How to take smart notes, zettelkasten
  • Location: 188
    Keep notes after thinking, and with moderation.
    Note: The zettel - read, summarize in your own words and make a note of it. The core atomic ideas
  • Location: 190
    Better still, it would be desirable that besides documentation properly so-called—facts, texts, or statistics—thenotes you take should be not only suited to you, but should be your own, and that they should be your own not only when they emanate from your thinking but also when they arise out of reading.
    Note: zettel
  • Location: 191
    Do not let your attention wander; do not linger by the way; have only your objective before your eyes, without regard to that of the author which might be different.
    Note: Adler, how to read a book
  • Location: 195
    How are notes to be classified? Famous men have adopted different systems. The best, in the long run, is the system that one has tried, tested by one's own needs and intellectual habits, and established by long practice.
  • Location: 195
    The plan of having a book in which the notes collected are written or pasted consecutively is very defective, because it allows for no classification, even with the help of leaving blank spaces of which the extent cannot be forseen.
    Note: kinds of organizing systems - commonplace book
  • Location: 195
    Different books for each subject remedy this drawback to some extent, but even that does not permit exact classification; and besides the notes do not readily lend themselves to use at the moment of writing.
    Note: kinds of organizing systems - commonplace book by subject
  • Location: 195
    One can have strong paper folders bearing a title, to hold notes of a particular category.
    Note: kinds of organizing systems - by category
  • Location: 196
    But it seems by far the most practical method, for most kinds of work, to keep notes on slips. Have a supply of slips of fairly strong paper, of a uniform size that you will decide on according to the average length of your notes.
    Note: zettelkasten - index card method
  • Location: 196
    When you make a note while reading, or thinking of your work, or in bed, etc., make it on a slip; or if you have none at hand, on a smaller bit of paper, on one side only, which you will paste on to a slip later. Having written your slip, you will put it in its place, unless you decide to wait awhile, according to the advice we gave a little way back.
    Note: zettelkasten - literature notes to zettels
  • Location: 197
    According to your catalog, if you have made one, in which every division or subdivision bears a serial letter or number, you can put your slips in order. When they are once arranged, you will find them again without any trouble at the moment of work.
    Note: zettelkasten - the slip box
  • Location: 199, 200

    You must write throughout the whole of your intellectual life.

    In the first place one writes for oneself, to see clearly into one's personal position and problems, to give definition to one's thoughts, to keep up and stimulate attention which sometimes flags if not kept on the alert by activity — to make a beginning on lines of investigation which prove to be necessary as onewirtes, to encourage oneself in an effort that would be wearisome in the absence of some visible result, lastly to form one's style and acquire that posession which puts the seal on all the others, the writer's art.

    When you write, you must publish, as soon as good judges think you are capable of it and you yourself feel some aptitude for that flight.

    Note: Why to write. Austin Kleon - publish.
  • Location: 200
    Père Gratry insists strongly on the efficacy of writing. He would like people always to meditate pen in hand; and to devote the untroubled morning hour to this contact of the mind with itself.
    Note: beautiful language. Write in the morning. Distill your thoughts.
  • Location: 208
    Cultivate the art of omission, of elimination, of simplification; that is the secret of strength.
    Note: what is strong writing.
  • Location: 209
    Style, and speaking more generally, all creative work require detachment. Our obsessing personality must be put aside, the world must be forgotten.
    Note: whom to write for
  • Location: 212
    You must also, I said, forget the public. “ The farther away from the reader a book is written the more powerful it is,“ said Père Gratry in Les Sources
    Note: whom to write for
  • Location: 213
    Seek the approval of God; be intent only on truth; for yourself and others; do not be a slave;
    Note: whom to write for
  • Location: 215
    The child is simple and detached because he has as yet no self-will, no pre-established positions, no artificial desires, no passions. His naïve confidence and direct speech have an immense interest for us. A mature man, enriched by experience, who should yet posess this simplicity of the child would be an admirable repository of truth, and his voice would reecho in the souls of his fellow men,
    Note: zen mind, beginner mind
  • Location: 215
    You must bring to your work constancy which keeps steadily at task; patience which bears difficulties will; perseverance which prevents the will from flagging.
  • Location: 217
    One is often tempted to lose time because 'it's not worthwhile settling down,' because 'it's just on the hour'. We forget that these odds and ends of time, which indeed do not lend themselves to anything serious, are just the moments for preparing the work or touching it up, for verifying references, looking up notes, sorting papers, etc.
    Note: make use of bits of time in-between, to prepare organize and plan. But plan this preparation ahead of time as well.
  • Location: 217, 218
    Even during real working hours, there is a temptation to interrupt our effort as soon as the slightest happening brings back the 'weariness' and rouses the 'distaste' of which Nicole spoke. The ruses of sloth are endless, like those of children. Looking for a word that will not come, one begins to sketch something on the margin of the paper and the drawing must be finished. Opening the dictionary, one is attracted by some curious word, then by another, and there one stays, tangled in a thicket. Your eyes fall on some object, you go to put it in its place, and you find yourself led on to waste a quarter os an hour on a trifle. Someone passes by; there is a friend in the next room; you think of a telephone call, or the newspaper comes, you glance at it, and you are soon lost in it. It may be even that one idea brings another in its train and that the work itself prevents you from working; some thought sets you dreaming and carries you away along the vistas of imagination.
    Note: Distractions - type of distractions. I fall prey to all of these :(
  • Location: 219
    If you are too tired, make a deliberate pause so as to pull yourself together. Nervous exhaustion would lead you nowhere.
    Note: breathe, walk , rest , nap
  • Location: 220
    It is the same with study. You must not yield to the first sense of fatigue; you must push on; you must force the inner energy to reveal itself. Little by little the mechanism gets into play, you adapt yourself, and a period of enthusiasm may follow on the first painful inertia.
    Note: deep work - is like muscle training
  • Location: 221
    Learn constancy by persistent application and by obstinately returning to the obstructed study; a day will come when the recurring fits of weariness will vanish; when moments of distaste will have little effect; you will have become a man; the inconstant worker a mere child.
  • Location: 222
    The laws of the brain are obscure; its workings depend but little on the will; when it refuses its service, what is to be done?
  • Location: 222, 223
    “Creations are realized at the price of a great deal of work,” said Michelangelo, “must in spite ofthe truth appear easy and effortless … The great rule is to take much trouble to produce things that seem to have cost none.”
    Note: make it look easy - Robert Greene - laws of human nature
  • Location: 224
    It is principally the length of time required that makes the art of thinkgin so forbidding and so out of proportion to the degree of courage that people ordinarily possess.
  • Location: 224
    Avoid the fuss and flurry of the man who is pressed for time. Hasten slowly. In the realm of mind, quiteness is better than speed.
    Note: This. #todo
  • Location: 225
    The consummation of steady constancy and patience is perseverance, which completes the work.
  • Location: 227
    Learn then, after having decided on your task, to stick to it with resourceful inflexibility; shut out even lesser duties, and still more, of course, all infidelity to your undertaking.
    Note: One thing. Essentialism
  • Location: 228
    Wisdom demands that one should face the obligation of finishing a thing when one is deliberating on the fitness of beginning it. Not to complete a work is to destroy it.
    Note: Ship it. Austin Kleon. Keep end in mind before beginning - raptitude. Always keep working, but towards a direction.
  • Location: 230
    An important bit of practical advice is in place here. When you have decided on a work, when you have clearly concieved and carefully prepared it, and are actually beginning, settle immediately by a vigorous effort the quality that it is to have. Do not count on going back over it.
    Note: At the start of the project, plan what the quality of the product in this particular iteration is going to be - and do that at each instant.
  • Location: 231
    … your cowardice today is a poor guarantee for your heroism tomorrow.
    Note: ouch. true. Don't burden your future self.
  • Location: 232
    Try to discern in every occurance the effort that befits you, the discipline you are capable of, the sacrifice you can make, the subject you can deal with, the thesis you can write, the book that you can read with profil, the public you can serve. Take measure of all these with humility and confidence. … Make up your mind to the best of your ability. Then throw yoursefl with your whole heart into your task.
  • Location: 233
    To proportion one's task to one's powers, to undertake to speak only when one knows, not to force oneself to think what one does not think, or to understand what one does not understand — to avoid the danger of missing the substance of things and disguising its absence under big words; all that is great wisdom.
  • Location: 239
    Music has this precious quality for the intellectual that as it conveys no precise ideas, it interferes with none. It awakens states of soul, from which each one in his particular task will draw what he wills.
  • Location: 241
    Learn to defend a thesis and to look at a sunrise, to bury yourself in profound abstractions and to play, like the Divine Master, with children. … Refuse to be a brain detached from its body, and a human being who has cut out his soul. Do not make monomania out of work.
  • Location: 242
    What is necessary every moment is to be where we ought to be and to do the thing that matters.
  • Location: 242
    Nothing must be in excess. Work, precisely because it is a duty, requires limitswhich maintain it in full vigor, make it lasting, and enable it to yield in the course of life the greatest total effect of which it is capable.
  • Location: 243
    Relaxation is a duty, like hygiene in which it is included, like the conservation of energy.
  • Location: 244
    The best way of all to relax would be, if possible, not to get tired; I mean, so to balance one's work that one operation would afford rest from another.
  • Location: 245
    By good organization it is possible to work intensively only when one is deliberately ready to do so, and in the intervals to get through many of these not very tiring tasks, which yet are indispensable, and therefore have of themselves a certain value of contemplation.

    This plan of arranging one's tasks according to the demands they make on the brain will have a double advantage: it will prevent overstrain, and will restore its pure value to intensive work.

  • Location: 247
    Secure yourself some leisure; do not exhaust yourself; work in tranquility and in spiritual joy; be free.
  • Location: 251
    To correct one's mistakes and to keep silence is the great maxim.
  • Location: 255
    A sense of altitude awes but also thrills the soul of the worker; he is like the mountaineer amid rocks and glaciers.
  • Location: 256
    The reward of work is to have produced it; the reward of effort is to have grown by it.
  • Location: 260
    Having made up your mind to pay the price, engrave your firm resolution, today if you have not done so already, on the tablets of your heart. I advise you also to write it down in black and white, legibly, and to put the words before your eyes. When you sit down to work, and after praying, you will renew your resolve each day. You will take care to note down especially what is least natural and most necessary for you — for you, as you are. If need be, you will repeat the formula aloud, so that your word may be more explicitly given to yourself.

    Then add, and repeat with full certainty: “If you do that, you will bear fruit and you will attain what you desire.“

    Note: todo