Notable Quotables: Literature

(Notable Quotables is a meme originally brought to you by the Bewitched Bookworms. Every Monday you’re invited to share a favorite quote or two from the books you’ve been reading.)

I got a copy of Jack Murnighan’s Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature’s 50 Greatest Hits awhile back, and greatly enjoyed it. Not only does Murnighan give great information about each of the “hits,” he also has some moments of total epic-ness, as exemplified in this quote:

“Some literature is necessary precisely because we don’t and can’t scientifically understand our own brains. Yes, you’ll tell me, there’s a field called neuroscience for that, but I just don’t buy the second half of the word. Science? Please. We’re talking about the brain here, not what keeps a skyscraper standing or how to span the Hudson. We might know how it fires, how trauma can deprive us of functionality, what sections light up when we think about torrid sex or hot fudge sundaes, but how an aggregate of molecules, responding to electric signals through nervelike ganglia, can reason and err and invent and suffer and remember and dream and long — no. No matter how clear the MRIs are and how many electrodes they hook up, the magic of what makes the meat conscious, capable of thinking and feeling—much less of loving—is going to remain obscure. By the time man understands man, another organism will have taken our place as the highest species in the known, and it won’t understand itself either.”

A fantastic combination of snark, wittiness, intelligence, and incredible insight. I think I want to marry this man (don’t tell Best Friend).

What are you reading this week?

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