Excerpts from Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco

I realized I haven’t done an excerpt post in a long while, and I have a few good books stored up in my drafts folder.  This is an Umberto Eco novel (my favourite novel by him is the Name of the Rose, but I didn’t save any excerpts from that one, and it’s everyone’s favourite anyway).

So many things run through your mind when you are hiding alone inside a periscope.

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.

A tall guy with a Tartar mustache said I was a fascist. I’ll never forget him. He later shaved his head and now belongs to a commune where they weave baskets.

Morons will occasionally say something that’s right, but they say it for the wrong reason.

Every great thinker is someone else’s moron.

“Casaubon, do you love them?”  “I’m doing my thesis on them.  If you do your thesis on syphilis, you end up loving even the Spirochaeta pallida.”

“They all fall under the heading of Tetrapyloctomy.”  “What’s tetra…?” I asked.  “The art of splitting a hair four ways. This is the department of useless techniques.”

A genius cannot bear not being loved; he must immediately seduce the dissenter, make the dissenter love him.

We always have to blame our failures on somebody else, and dictatorships always need an external enemy to bind their followers together. As the man said, for every complex problem there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong.

Who said stories have to have a moral? But, now that I think about it, maybe the moral is that sometimes, to prove something, you have to die.

The true initiate is he who knows that the most powerful secret is a secret without content, because no enemy will be able to make him confess it, no rival devotee will be able to take it from him.

“When you eat the peach, the velvet of the skin makes shudders run from your tongue to your groin.  Dinosaurs once grazed here.  Then another surface covered theirs.  And yet, like Belbo when he played the trumpet, when I bit into the peach I understood the Kingdom and was one with it.  The rest is only cleverness.  Invent; invent the plan Casaubon.  That’s what everyone has done, to explain the dinosaurs and the peaches.”

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