Bottoning Up

Turns out my extremely well-traveled friend Alison (she's been to Kazakhstan!) is a fan of Alain de Botton, a writer whose books I've recently read and - somewhat to my surprise, given his rather flowery and self-conscious style - thoroughly enjoyed. I promised to send her a few lines (his or others') I'd liked in the two books I'd read, but then I thought to post them instead, given that they might pique interest in his books. Viz.,

Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness (Pantheon, 2006)

p. 98: Stendhal: "Beauty is the promise of happiness."

p. 100: Stendhal: "There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness."

p. 100: "Architecture can arrest transient and timid inclinations, amplify and solidify them, and thereby grant us more permanent access to a range of emotional textures which we might otherwise have experienced only accidentally and occasionally."

p. 123: "As we write so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us."

p. 168: "As the ways in which we are unbalanced alters, so our attention will continue to be drawn to new parts of the spectrum of taste, to new styles which we will declare beautiful on the basis that they embody in a concentrated form what now lies in shadow within us."

p. 247: "Our designs go wrong because our feelings of contentment are woven from fine and unexpected filaments."

p. 249: "The places we call beautiful are, by contrast, the work of those rare architects with the humility to interrogate themselves adequately about their desires and the tenacity to translate their fleeting apprehensions of joy into logical plans - a combination that enables them to create environments that satisfy needs we never consciously knew we even had."

Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel (Pantheon, 2002)

p. 54: "Journeys are the midwives of thought. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is before our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, and new thoughts, new places."

p. 69: "If I call the Schipol sign exotic, it is because it succeeds in suggesting, vaguely but intensely, that they country that made it and that lies beyond the uitgang [exit] may in critical ways prove more congenial than my own to my temperament and concerns. The sign is a promise of happiness."

p. 95: Flaubert on Egypt: "Stupidity is an immovable object you can't ry to attck it without being broken by it... In Alexandria, a certain Thompson, of Sunderland, has inscribed his name in letters six feet high on Pompey's Pillar. You can read it from a quarter of a mile away. You can't see the pillar without seeing Thompson's name and consequently thinking of Thompson... All imbeciles are more or less Thompsons from Sunderland."

p. 116: "Curiosity might be pictured as being made up of chains of small questions extending outwards, sometimes over huge distances, from a central hub composed of a few blunt, large questions."

p. 117: "Unfortunately for the traveller, most objects don't come affixed with the question that will generate the excitement they deserve."

p. 147: "Unhappiness can stem from having only one perspective to play with."

p. 218: John Ruskin on sketching: "The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. It does the bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly a man, no harm to go slow; for this glory is not at all in going, but in being."

p. 222: "Drawing brutally shows up our previous blindness to the appearance of things."

Forecast: Significant blowing and drifting, with the possibility of heavy accumulation in rural areas.