Goethe is always pithy

From Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four (and, in what I’m calling a minor Mandela Effect, there is apparently a definite article in front of ‘Four’ that I never before noticed):

“And I,” said Holmes, “shall see what I can learn from Mrs. Bernstone, and from the Indian servant, who, Mr. Thaddeus tell me, sleeps in the next garret. Then I shall study the great Jones’s methods and listen to his not too delicate sarcasms. ‘Wir sind gewohnt dass die Menschen verhoehnen was sie nicht verstehen.‘ Goethe is always pithy.”

The quote is from Faust part 1, scene 3 (around line 1200).  In (poorly rendered) fuller form it goes:

Wir sind gewohnt, daß die Menschen verhöhnen,
Was sie nicht verstehn,
Daß sie vor dem Guten und Schönen,
Das ihnen oft beschwerlich ist, murren;

We are used to seeing that men scorn
what they do not understand,
that before the good and the beautiful
that to them often seems wearisome, they grumble;

The universe is one great set of reference books from which he picks and chooses as his restless mind veers on

From Philip K Dick’s The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (somewhere in ch.9):

The son, his son, my husband, subordinated to an intellectual matter-I could never, myself, view it that way. This amounts to a depersonalization of Jeff Archer; he is converted into an instrument, a device for learning; why, he is converted into a talking book. Like all these books that Tim forever reaches for, especially in moments of crisis. Everything worth knowing can be found in a book; conversely, if Jeff is important he is important not as a person but as a book; it is books for books’ sakes then, not knowledge, even, for the sake of knowledge. The book is the reality. For Tim to love and appreciate his son, he must-as impossible as this may seem-he must regard him as a kind of book. The universe to Tim Archer is one great set of reference books from which he picks and chooses as his restless mind veers on, always seeking the new, always turning away from the old; it is the very opposite of that passage from Faust that he read; Tim has not found the moment where he says, “Stay”; it is still fleeing from him, still in motion.

A nice addition to Alberto Manguel’s ‘world as a book’ theme in Library At Night (or History of Reading?, I enjoy him but he re-uses the same material so much it’s hard to keep straight).  Though – to use Goethe against Dick’s Goethe – this restlessness itself feels much in the questing spirit of the angel’s

He who strives always to the utmost
Him we can redeem

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