Foucault's Pendulum Quotes

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Foucault's Pendulum Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
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Foucault's Pendulum Quotes (showing 1-30 of 191)
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“There are four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics…Cretins don’t even talk; they sort of slobber and stumble…Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation…Fools don’t claim that cats bark, but they talk about cats when everyone else is talking about dogs. They offend all the rules of conversation, and when they really offend, they’re magnificent…Morons never do the wrong thing. They get their reasoning wrong. Like the fellow who says that all dogs are pets and all dogs bark, and cats are pets, too, therefore cats bark…Morons will occasionally say something that’s right, but they say it for the wrong reason…A lunatic is easily recognized. He is a moron who doesn’t know the ropes. The moron proves his thesis; he has logic, however twisted it may be. The lunatic on the other hand, doesn’t concern himself at all with logic; he works by short circuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars…There are lunatics who don’t bring up the Templars, but those who do are the most insidious. At first they seem normal, then all of a sudden…”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“As the man said, for every complex problem there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Any fact becomes important when it's connected to another.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“We were clever enough to turn a laundry list into poetry.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Each of us is sometimes a cretin, a fool, a moron, or a lunatic. A normal person is just a reasonable mix of these components, these four ideal types.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“How clear everything becomes when you look from the darkness of a dungeon.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I believe all sin, love, glory are this: when you slide down the knotted sheets, escaping from Gestapo headquarters, and she hugs you, there, suspended, and she whispers that she's always dreamed of you. The rest is just sex, copulation, the perpetuation of the vile species.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Well, Diotallevi and I are planning a reform in higher education. A School of Comparative Irrelevance, where useless or impossibe courses are given. The school's aim is to turn out scholars capable of endlessly increasing the number of unnecessary subjects.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I don't know, maybe we're always looking for the right place, maybe it's within reach, but
we don't recognize it. Maybe to recognize it, we have to believe in it.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I should be at peace. I have understood. Don't some say that peace comes when you understand? I have understood. I should be at peace. Who said that peace derives from the contemplation of order, order understood, enjoyed, realized without residuum, in joy and truimph, the end of effort? All is clear, limpid; the eye rests on the whole and on the parts and sees how the parts have conspired to make the whole; it perceives the center where the lymph flows, the breath, the root of the whys...”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“You are always born under the wrong sign, and to live in this world properly you have to rewrite your own horoscope day by day.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I will tell you the deeper significance of this, which otherwise might seem a banal hydraulic joke. Caus knew that if one fills a vessel with water and seals it at the top, the water, even if one then opens a hole in the bottom, will not come out. But if one opens a hole in the top, also, the water spurts out below."
"Isn't that obvious?" I said. "Air enters at the top and presses the water down."
"A typical scientific explanation, in which the cause is mistaken for the effect, or vice versa. The question is not why the water comes out in the second place, but why it refuses to come out in the first case."
"And why does it refuse?" Garamond asked eagerly.
"Because, if it came out, it would leave a vacuum in the vessel, and nature abhors a vacuum. Nequaquam vacui was a Rosicrucian principle, which modern science has forgotten."
"Excuse me," Belbo said to Agliè, "but your argument is simply post hoc ergo ante hoc. What follows causes what came before.
You must not think linearly. The water in these fountains doesn't. Nature doesn't; nature knows nothing of time. Time is an invention of the West.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Idiot. Above her head was the only stable point in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum's business. A moment later the couple went off -- he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter -- their first and last encounter -- with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“You live on the surface," Lia told me years later. "You sometimes seem profound, but it's only because you piece a lot of surfaces together to create the impression of depth, solidity. That solidity would collapse if you try to stand it up.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“What did I really think fifteen years ago? A nonbeliever, I felt guilty in the midst of all those believers. And since it seemed to me that they were in the right, I decided to believe, as you might decide to take an aspirin: It can't hurt and you might get better.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“But if there is no cosmic Plan? What a mockery, to live in exile when no one sent you there. Exile from a place, moreover, that does not exist.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“They dwell in my light, while I dwell in unbearable darkness, the source of that light.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“I was the type who looked at discussions of What Is Truth only with a view toward correcting the manuscript. If you were to quote "I am that I am," for example, I thought that the fundamental problem was where to put the comma, inside the quotation marks or outside.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“You don't fall in love because you fall in love; you fall in love because of the need, desperate, to fall in love. when you feel that need, you have to watch your step: like having drunk a philter, the kind that makes you fall in love with the first thing you meet. It could be a duck-billed platypus.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“From shit, thus, I extract pure Shinola”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Not bad, not bad at all," Diotallevi said. "To arrive at the truth through the painstaking reconstruction of a false text.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“The belief that time is a linear, directed sequence running from A to B is a modern illusion. In fact, it can also go from B to A, the effect producing the cause.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“We'll have to see," Belbo said. He rummaged in his drawer and took out some sheets of paper. "Potio-section..." He looked at me, saw my bewilderment. "Potio-section, as everybody knows, of course, is the art of slicing soup. No, no," he said to Diotallevi. "It's not the department, it's a subject, like Mechanical Avunculogratulation or Pylocatabasis. They all under the same heading of Tetrapyloctomy."

"What's tetra...?" I asked.

"The art of splitting hairs four ways. This is the department of useless techniques. Mechanical Avunculogratulation, for example, is how to build machines for greeting uncles. We're not sure, though, if Pylocatabasis belongs, since it's the art of being saved by a hair. Somehow that doesn't seem completely useless."

"All right, gentlemen," I said, "I give up. What are you two talking about?"

"Well, Diotallevi and I are planning a reform in higher education. A School of Comparative Irrelevance, where useless or impossible courses are given. The school's main is to turn out scholars capable of endlessly increasing the number of unnecessary subjects.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“You're innocent, Casaubon. You ran away instead of throwing stones, you got your degree, you didn't shoot anybody. Yet a few years ago I felt you, too, were blackmailing me. Nothing personal, just generational cycles. And then last year, when I saw the Pendulum, I understood everything."

"Everything?"

"Almost everything. You see, Casaubon, even the Pendulum is a false prophet. You look at it, you think it's the only fixed point in the cosmos. but if you detach it from the ceiling of the Conservatoire and hang it in a brothel, it works just the same. And there are other pendulums: there's one in New York, in the UN building, there's one in the science museum in San Francisco, and God knows how many others. Wherever you put it, Foucault's Pendulum swings from a motionless point while the earth rotates beneath it. Every point of the universe is a fixed point: all you have to do is hang the Pendulum from it."

"God is everywhere."

"In a sense, yes. That's why the Pendulum disturbs me. It promises the infinite, but where to put the infinite is left to me. So it isn't enough to worship the Pendulum; you still have to make a decision, you have to find the best point for it. And yet..."

"And yet?"

"And yet... You're not taking me seriously by any chance, are you, Casaubon? No, I can rest easy; we're not the type to take things seriously.... Well, as I was saying, the feeling you have is that you've spent a lifetime hanging the Pendulum in many paces, and it's never worked, but there, in the Conservatoire, it works.... Do you think there are special places in the universe? On the ceiling of this room, for example? No, nobody would believe that. You need atmosphere. I don't know, maybe we're always looking for the right place, maybe it's within reach, but we don't recognize it. Maybe, to recognize it, we have to believe in it. Well, let's go see Signor Garamond."

"To hang the Pendulum?"

"Ah, human folly! Now we have to be serious. If you are going to be paid, the boss must see you, touch you, sniff you, and say you'll do. Come, let the boss touch you; the boss's touch heals scrofula.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Whoever reflects on four things I would be better if he were never born: that which is above, that which is below, that which is before, that which is after.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
“Everything is repeated, in a circle. History is a master because it teaches us that it doesn't exist. It's the permutations that matter.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

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