Wallace often seemed so desperate to protect himself from the world, I wonder if he'd experienced death or loss close up at any point?
Green shakes her head: "No – his grandfather, his aunt – but no. He couldn't bear the idea of the dogs dying. And he used to say to me all the time, at night: 'Don't die.'" She pauses for a long time. "That's a hard thing to think about," she says. "It is hard to remember tender things tenderly."
Wallace once said, in a quote often employed in the obituaries, that he would attempt to "communicate what it felt to be human or he would die trying".
Article from The Guardian
“ Looking back, I saw that for my whole conscious life I had not understood either myself or my strivings. What had seemed for so long beneficial now turned out in actuality to be fatal, and I had been striving to go in the opposite direction to that which was truly necessary to me. But just as the waves of the sea knock the inexperienced swimmer off his feet and keep tossing him back on to the shore, so also was I painfully tossed back on dry land by the blows of misfortune. And it was only because of this that I was able to travel the path which I had always really wanted to travel. It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there rotting on prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts."
- The Gulag Archipelago — An Existential Life: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
"Homo sapiens [are] a tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree."
"We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life's continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are."
— Stephen Jay Gould (The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History)
"I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
— Stephen Jay Gould
"Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter"