The fly strikes against the window-pane until at last she learns that, though invisible, there is an obstacle there.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Giotto had some very ugly children. Someone having asked him why he made such lovely faces in his paintings and such ugly children in his life, he answered, “My children are night work. My pictures are my day work.”

– Paul Gauguin, Gauguin’s Intimate Journals

The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.

― Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1853)


What Samantha Allen learned from the SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies: (1) Gaydar exists, and there’s a word for it in Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian, and Korean. (2) There’s little evidence to support the theory that some transgender women are straight men turned on by the thought of being female. (3) Transgender elders with dementia may forget they’ve transitioned and revert to the gender assigned to them at birth.

According to the National Crime Agency, “in 2015, the average age of suspects in cyber crime investigations was 17 years old, compared to 37 in drugs cases and 39 in economic crime cases.”

Mary M.W. Billington on living with an eye patch in a big city: “We all know there are certain groups of people for whom we are expected to give up our seats on a crowded subway: children, pregnant women, the elderly. Apparently, for some people, otherwise-healthy 20-somethings with eye patches also make this list.”

Apparently the original slogan for L’Oréal had been “Because I’m worth it.” I think it was lucky for the company, if not for its customers, that they improved upon this. The fact that the persona in the picture is worth it is a given. It stares us in the face. But that by itself is merely dispiriting. […] It does not trigger the thought that we too can buy the magic, go to the ball, meet the prince, and live on our pedestal happily ever after. But being told that we are worth all that is a different matter. Human beings only have to be told things to half believe them, and our vanities are evidently always on a hair trigger. […]

Alas, people do not fall over in love and admiration when you buy the new lipstick. They have their own lives to live. The magic doesn’t work, and the consumer inevitably fails. But in her imagination, the solution may be—to try again! Harder! Perhaps the next facial cream or lipstick, hair color or self-tanning gel will do the trick. If pampering the self does not work at first, try it again. Do it more thoroughly, whatever it costs. And so a dismal, infinite regress of unfulfilled hopes, discontent, and disappointment opens in front of the poor supplicant, but a nice infnite regress of profit for the supplier. One wants to shout that the deluded customer can and should think of herself as worth more than the haggard chaser of illusions that she risks becoming, but one’s voice is unlikely to compete with the illusions.

– Simon Blackburn, Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love (2014)

It is true that women are catching up with men in the historically masculine department of sexual opportunism […] But it’s not true that men parade around in their skivvies as a means to attaining power, at least not men in mainstream heterosexual American culture—they don’t have to. […] While Janet Jackson introduced Americans to her right nipple at the notorious 2004 Super Bowl half-time show, Justin Timberlake’s wardrobe managed not to malfunction. Not one male Olympian has found it necessary to show us his penis in the pages of a magazine. Proving that you are hot, worthy of lust, and—necessarily—that you seek to provoke lust is still exclusively women’s work.

– Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2005)