There have been many related sequential coincidences all throughout my life, incidents that by themselves would have led nowhere. Statistical- ly, the odds against the same or a related sequence of events happening to one individual are astronomically high. It is this series of incidents that have convinced me that God has had a hand in my life. I do not believe in fate. I do not believe in accidents.
I cannot and will not accept the theory that long sequences of unre- lated accidents determine world events. It is inconceivable that those with power and wealth would not band together with a common bond, a com- mon interest, and a long-range plan to decide and direct the future of the world. For those with the resources, to do otherwise would be totally irresponsible. I know that I would be the first to organize a conspiracy to control the outcome of the future, if I were such a person and a conspiracy did not yet exist. I would do it in an attempt to ensure the survival of the principles in which I believe, the survival of my family, my survival, and the survival of the human race, if for no other reason.
I believe, therefore, that a grand game of chess is being played on a level that we can barely imagine, and we are the pawns. Pawns are valu- able only under certain circumstances and are frequently sacrificed to gain an advantage. Anyone who has studied military strategy is familiar with the concept of sacrifice. Those who have seriously studied history have probably discovered the real reason we go to war on a regularly scheduled basis.
Ornithologist, Philatelist, Philanthropist
The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum on which it is written has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and it may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912.
On the fear of not fulfilling potential:
Talent is its own expectation, Jim: you either live up to it or it waves a hankie, receding forever. Use it or lose it, he say over the newspaper. I’m…I’m just afraid of having a tombstone that says HERE LIES A PROMISING OLD MAN. Potential maybe worse than none, Jim. Than no talent to fritter in the first place, lying around guzzling because I haven’t the balls to…God I’m I’m so sorry Jim. You don’t deserve to see me like this. I’m so scared, Jim. I’m so scared of dying without ever really being seen. Can you understand? Are you enough of a big thin prematurely stooped young bespectacled man, even with your whole life still ahead of you, to understand? Can you see I was giving it all I had?
On the challenge of focus and staying positive at the elite levels of competitiveness:
Then the concentration and character shit starts. Then they really come after you. This is the crucial plateau where character starts to matter. Focus, self-consciousness, the chattering head, the cackling voices, the chocking issue, fear versus whatever isn’t fear, self-image, doubts, reluctances, little tight-lipped cold-footed men inside your mind, cackling about fear and doubt, chinks in the mental armor.
On the idolatry of uniqueness that afflicts college students and addicts:
People of a certain age and level of like life-experience believe they’re immortal: college students and alcoholics/addicts are the worst: they deep-down believe they’re exempt from the laws of physics and statistics that ironly govern everybody else. They’ll piss and moan your ear off if somebody else fucks with the rules, but they don’t deep down see themselves subject to them, the same rules. And they’re constitutionally unable to learn from anybody else’s experience: if some jaywalking B.U. student does get his car towed, your other student’s or addict’s response to this will be to ponder just what imponderable difference makes it possible for that other guy to get splattered or towed and not him, the ponderer. They never doubt the difference — they just ponder it. It’s like a kind of idolatry of uniqueness.
On managing fear as an athlete, and why weaker opponents are especially scary:
Be a Student of the Game. Like most cliches of sport, this is profound. You can be shaped, or you can be broken. There is not much in between. Try to learn. Be coachable. Try to learn from everybody, especially those who fail. This is hard…Opponents. It’s all educational. How promising you are as a Student of the Game is a function of what you can pay attention to without running away. Nets and fences can be mirrors. And between nets and fences, opponents are also mirrors. This is why the whole thing is scary. This is why all opponents are scary and weaker opponents are especially scary. See yourself in your opponents. They will bring you to understand the Game. To accept the fact that the Game is about managed fear. That its object is to send from yourself what you hope will not return.
On love and self-worship:
“What if sometimes there is no choice about what to love? What if the temple comes to Mohammed? What if you just love? Without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?
Marath’s sniff held disdain: “Then in such a case your temple is self and sentiment. Then in such an instance you are a fanatic of desire, a slave to your individual subjective narrow self’s sentiments; a citizen of nothing. You become a citizen of nothing. You are by yourself and alone, kneeling to yourself. In a case such as this you become the slave who believes he is free. The most pathetic of bondage. Not tragic. No songs. You believe you would die twice for another but in truth would die only for your alone self, its sentiment.”
The last sentence contains a truism I haven’t heard before:
Hal some weeks back had acquiesced to Lyle’s diagnosis that Hal finds Ingersoll — this smart soft caustic kid, with a big soft eyebrowless face and unwrinkled thumb-joints, with the runty, cuddled look of a Mama’s boy from way back, a quick intelligence he squanders on an insatiable need to advance some impression of himself — that the kid so repels Hal because Hal sees in the kid certain parts of himself he can’t or won’t accept.
On how to present well in an Alcoholics Anonymous session:
The thing is it has to be the truth to really go over, here. It can’t be a calculated crowd-pleaser, and it has to be the truth unslanted, unfortified. And maximally unironic. An ironist in a Boston AA meeting is a witch in church. Irony-free zone. Same with sly disingenuous manipulative pseudo-sincerity. Sincerity with an ulterior motive is something these tough ravaged people know and fear, all of them trained to remember the coyly sincere, ironic, self-presenting fortifications they’d had to construct in order to carry on Out There, under the ceaseless neon bottle.
On what it’s like to be and feel depressed:
It’s the mornings after the spider-and-heights dreams that are the most painful, that it takes sometimes three coffees and two showers and sometimes a run to loosen the grip on his soul’s throat; and these post-dream mornings are even worse if he wakes unalone, if the previous night’s Subject is still there, wanting to twitter, or to cuddle and, like, spoon, asking what exactly is the story with the foggy inverted tumblers on the bathroom floor, commenting on his night-sweats, clattering around in the kitchen, making kippers or bacon or something more hideous and unhoneyed he’s supposed to eat with post-coital male gusto, the ones who have this thing about they call it Feeding My Man, wanting a man who can barely keep down A.M. honey-toast to east with male gusto, elbows out and sovelling, making little noises. Even when alone, unable to uncurl alone and sit slowly up and wing out the sheet and go to the bathroom, these darkest mornings start days that Orin can’t even bring himself for hours to think about how he’ll get through the day. These worst mornings with cold floors and hot windows and merciless light — the soul’s certainty that the day will have to be not traversed but sort of climbed, vertically, and then that going to sleep again at the end of it will be like falling, again, off something tall and sheer.
On the benefits of being “damaged” in terms of what people open up to you about:
Mario is basically a born listener. One of the positives to being visibly damaged is that people can sometimes forget you’re there, even when they’re interfacing with you. You almost get to eavesdrop. It’s almost like they’re like: If nobody’s really in there, there’s nothing to be shy about. That’s why bullshit often tends to drop away around damaged listeners, deep beliefs revealed, diary-type private reveries indulged out loud; and, listening, the beaming and brady-kinetic boy gets to forget an interpersonal connection he knows only he can truly feel, here.
Some of the pages are missing, with around 240 still remaining. The text is written from left to right, and most of the pages have illustrations or diagrams. Some pages are foldable sheets.
The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II. No one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text, and it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography. The mystery of the meaning and origin of the manuscript has excited the popular imagination, making the manuscript the subject of novels and speculation. None of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified.
The Voynich manuscript was donated by Hans P. Kraus to Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1969, where it is catalogued under call number MS 408.
ONE OF THE BEST SCENES OF THE NOVEL, THE ATHLETIC RECRUIT SPEAKS AND DEFENDS HIMSELF:
‘My application’s not bought,’ I am telling them, calling into the darkness of the red cave that opens out before closed eyes. ‘I am not just a boy who plays tennis. I have an intricate history. Experiences and feelings. I’m complex.’I read,’ I say. ‘I study and read. I bet I’ve read everything you’ve read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.” My instincts concerning syntax and mechanics are better than your own, I can tell, with due respect. But it transcends the mechanics. I’m not a machine. I feel and believe. I have opinions. Some of them are interesting. I could, if you’d let me, talk and talk. Let’s talk about anything. I believe the influence of Kierkegaard on Camus is underestimated. I believe Dennis Gabor may very well have been the Antichrist. I believe Hobbes is just Rousseau in a dark mirror. I believe, with Hegel, that transcendence is absorption. I could interface you guys right under the table,’ I say. ‘I’m not just a creatus, manufactured, conditioned, bred for a function.’
I open my eyes. ‘Please don’t think I don’t care.’