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Norman Cousins

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A book is like a piece of rope; it takes on meaning only in connection with the things it holds together.
--
15 April 1978

 
Norman Cousins

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Take away the love and the anger,
And a little piece of hope holding us together.
Looking for a moment that'll never happen,
Living in the gap between past and future.
Take away the stone and the timber,
And a little piece of rope won't hold it together.

 
Kate Bush
 

Faith has a saving connection with Christ. Christ is on the shore, so to speak, holding the rope, and as we lay hold of it with the hand of our confidence, He pulls us to shore; but all good works having no connection with Christ are drifted along down the gulf of fell despair.

 
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
 

When a miner looks at the rope that is to lower him into the deep mine, he may coolly say, "I have faith in that rope as well made and strong." But when he lays hold of it, and swings down by it into the tremendous chasm, then he is believing on the rope. Then he is trusting himself to the rope. It is not a mere opinion — it is an act. The miner lets go of every thing else, and bears his whole weight on those well braided strands of hemp. Now that is faith.

 
Theodore L. Cuyler
 

I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.

 
Cecil Rhodes
 

Young girls sometimes make use of the expression: “Reading books to read one’s self.” They prefer a book that resents some resemblance to their own circumstances and experiences. It is true that we can never understand except through ourselves. Yet, when we want to understand a book, it should not be our aim to discover ourselves in that book, but to grasp clearly the meaning which its author has sought to convey through the characters presented in it. We reach through the book to the soul that created it. And when we have learned as much as this of the author, we often wish to read more of his works. We suspect that there is some connection running through the different things he has written and by reading his works consecutively we arrive at a better understanding of him and them. Take, for instance, Henrik Ibsen’s tragedy, “Ghosts.” This earnest and profound play was at first almost unanimously denounced as an immoral publication. Ibsen’s next work, “An Enemy of the People,” describes, as is well known the ill-treatment received by a doctor in a little seaside town when he points out the fact that the baths for which the town is noted are contaminated. The town does not want such a report spread; it is not willing to incur the necessary expensive reparation, but elects instead to abuse the doctor, treating him as if he and not the water were the contaminating element. The play was an answer to the reception given to “Ghosts,” and when we perceive this fact we read it in a new light. We ought, then, preferably to read so as to comprehend the connection between and author’s books. We ought to read, too, so as to grasp the connection between an author’s own books and those of other writers who have influenced him, or on whom he himself exerts an influence. Pause a moment over “An Enemy of the People,” and recollect the stress laid in that play upon the majority who as the majority are almost always in the wrong, against the emancipated individual, in the right; recollect the concluding reply about that strength that comes from standing alone. If the reader, struck by the force and singularity of these thoughts, were to trace whether they had previously been enunciated in Scandinavian books, he would find them expressed with quite fundamental energy throughout the writings of Soren Kierkegaard, and he would discern a connection between Norwegian and Danish literature, and observe how an influence from one country was asserting itself in the other. Thus, by careful reading, we reach through a book to the man behind it, to the great intellectual cohesion in which he stands, and to the influence which he in his turn exerts. p. 40-43

 
Georg Brandes
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