Fast reading of a great novel will get us the plot. It will get us names, a shadowy idea of characters, a sketch of settings. It will not get us subtleties, small differentiations, depth of emotion and observation, multilayered human experience, the appreciation of simile and metaphor, any sense of context, any comparison with other novels, other writers. Fast reading will not get us cadence and complexities of style and language. It will not get us anything that enters not just the conscious mind but the unconscious. It will not allow the book to burrow down into our memory and become part of ourselves, the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom and vicarious experience which helps to form us as complete human beings. It will not develop our awareness or add to the sum of our knowledge and intelligence. Read parts of a newspaper quickly or an encyclopaedia entry, or a fast-food thriller, but do not insult yourself or a book which has been created with its author's painstakingly acquired skill and effort, by seeing how fast you can dispose of it.
Unix is not so much a product as it is a painstakingly compiled oral history of the hacker subculture. It is our Gilgamesh epic: a living body of narrative that many people know by heart, and tell over and over again-making their own personal embellishments whenever it strikes their fancy. The bad embellishments are shouted down, the good ones picked up by others, polished, improved, and, over time, incorporated into the story. [... ] Thus Unix has slowly accreted around a simple kernel and acquired a kind of complexity and asymmetry about it that is organic, like the roots of a tree, or the branchings of a coronary artery. Understanding it is more like anatomy than physics.
Inner Awareness is often gained in incremental steps at first. The distraction of the perceived physical world dictates this. However, once one realizes this process, a new skill in 'awareness recognition' emerges... and like riding a bike for the first time, one peddles faster, gaining confidence in their new skill, a skill that will take them much farther than any distraction previously experienced
It was at this time that backgammon was invented and began to be popular. It is a kind of paradigm of how wealth is acquired, which in this world is not the reward of intelligence or ability, just as luck is not a product of skill... If luck favours the player, he gets what he wants; if it doesn't, a skilled and prudent man cannot win that which fortune only bestows on whom it likes. It is thus that the good things of this world are apportioned by chance.
A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner, neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulness and happiness. The storms of adversity, like those of the ocean, rouse the faculties, and excite the invention, prudence, skill, and fortitude of the voyager. The martyrs of ancient times, in bracing their minds to outward calamities, acquired a loftiness of purpose and a moral heroism worth a lifetime of softness and security.
Determining when not to overestimate and when not to underestimate is a crucial skill that is not easily acquired. But it's unspeakably important to be able to know when not to underestimate, for example, another person's affections towards you; but then also when not to overestimate the same thing. If only we could all have radar that could tune into these two measures of living, we'd name it something like "humameter" or "give-a-shit-o-meter." Either way, unnamed or named, I've learned that this is among the most important skills accomplishable by mankind. Insecurities should not be allowed to dictate how we determine the amount of value another person has placed on us; fears should not be let in to tell us how much or how little of worth we have in someone else's eyes.