When We Read

When we read, we are not looking for new ideas, but to see our own thoughts given the seal of confirmation on the printed page. The words that strike us are those that awake an echo in a zone we have already made our own—the place where we live—and the vibration enables us to find fresh starting points within ourselves.

Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living, translated by A. E. Murch.

The only advantage to studying is to take delight in all the things that other people haven’t said.

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith.

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Foliage without Fruit

Erudition can produce foliage without bearing fruit.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Wastebooks, translated By R. J. Hollingdale.

To read is to let someone else work for you – the most delicate form of exploitation.

Emil Cioran, Anathemas and Admirations, translated by Richard Howard.

Reading is merely a surrogate for yourself; it means letting someone else direct your thoughts. Many books, moreover, serve merely to show you how many ways there are of being wrong, and how far astray you yourself would go if you followed their guidance. You should read only when your ow thoughts dry up which will of course happen frequently enough even to the best heads; but to banish your own thoughts so as to take up a book is a sin against the holy ghost; it is like deserting a untrammeled nature to look at a herbarium or engravings of landscapes…If anyone spends almost the whole day reading…he gradually loses the capacity for thinking…This is the case with many learned persons; they have read themselves stupid.

Arthur Schopenhauer, ‘On Thinking for Yourself‘, from Essays and Aphorisms, translated and selected by R. J. Hollingdale.