Saturday, May 16, 2009

The only thing that never fails

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes to biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough."

--T.H. White, The Once and Future King


  1. This is wonderful! Thanks for posting.

  2. Wow, This gives a lot to think about; very true.

  3. I've held off posting this quote for years--I assumed everyone was already familiar with it--since I somehow knew of it without ever having reading White.

    I'm glad y'all like it. :)

  4. So true. And it is such a wonderful book. Of course, he also told Arthur "There is no owl" when it was sitting on his head.;) That became a catchphrase in this house for years. Thanks for sharing.

  5. A beautiful reminder of why I loved this book so much. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Some of the best advice ever penned--it's been so long since I read this book, it's due for a reread for sure.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.