As a child I was really into fantasy books with elves and goblins and swords, and I went through a phase for a few years when I was reading endless series. But in the end I became totally fed-up with all these sub-Tolkien rip-offs because they all end up doing the same old things and there's no rigour to it.
In the broad light of day mathematicians check their equations and their proofs, leaving no stone unturned in their search for rigour. But, at night, under the full moon, they dream, they float among the stars and wonder at the miracle of the heavens. They are inspired. Without dreams there is no art, no mathematics, no life.
The great trick of regarding small departures from the truth as the truth itself - on which is founded the entire integral calculus - is also the basis of our witty speculations, where the whole thing would often collapse if we considered the departures with philosophical rigour.
Georg C. Lichtenberg
Her virtues, graced with external gifts, Do breed love's settled passions in my heart; And like as rigour of tempestuous gusts Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide, So am I driven by breath of her renown Either to suffer shipwreck or arrive Where I may have fruition of her love.
Besides it is an error to believe that rigour is the enemy of simplicity. On the contrary we find it confirmed by numerous examples that the rigorous method is at the same time the simpler and the more easily comprehended. The very effort for rigor forces us to find out simpler methods of proof.
Modern economics is sick. Economics has increasingly become an intellectual game played for its own sake and not for its practical consequences for understanding the economic world. Economists have converted the subject into a sort of social mathematics in which analytical rigour is everything and practical relevance is nothing.
It really is worth the trouble to invent a new symbol if we can thus remove not a few logical difficulties and ensure the rigour of the proofs. But many mathematicians seem to have so little feeling for logical purity and accuracy that they will use a word to mean three or four different things, sooner than make the frightful decision to invent a new word.
The Theatre of Cruelty has been created in order to restore to the theatre a passionate and convulsive conception of life, and it is in this sense of violent rigour and extreme condensation of scenic elements that the cruelty on which it is based must be understood. This cruelty, which will be bloody when necessary but not systematically so, can thus be identified with a kind of severe moral purity which is not afraid to pay life the price it must be paid.
Eric Schlosser's book on the economy and strategies of the fast-food business should be read by anyone who likes to take their children to fast-food restaurants. I shall certainly never do that again. He employs a long, cold burn, a quiet and impassioned accumulation of detail, with calm, wit and clarity. (...) Fast Food Nation is witness to the rigour and seriousness of the best American journalism, readable, reliable and extremely carefully done.
I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold the principles received by me when I was sane, not mad - as I am now. Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth - so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane - quite insane, with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations are all I have at this hour to stand; there I plant my foot.
Some writers are the kind of solo violinists who need complete silence to tune their instruments. Others want to hear every member of the orchestra-they'll take a cue from a clarinet, from an oboe, even. I am one of those. My writing desk is covered in open novels. I read lines to swim in a certain sensibility, to strike a particular note, to encourage rigour when I'm too sentimental, to bring verbal ease when I'm syntactically uptight. I think of reading like a balanced diet; if your sentences are baggy, too baroque, cut back on fatty Foster Wallace, say, and pick up Kafka, as roughage. If your aesthetic has become so refined it is stopping you from placing a single black mark on white paper, stop worrying so much about what Nabokov would say; pick up Dostoyevsky, patron saint of substance over style.
I had, therefore, to resign myself to commissioning a duplicate from a jeweller in Madrid. They did the work very nicely. The claws are curiously shaped, but the true marvel is the stone; it is so very limpid and weighs many carats, but notice also how it is hollowed out! You see that drop of green oil which takes the place of the internal tear? It is a drop of poison, an Indian toxin which strikes so rapidly and so corrosively that it only requires to come into momentary contact with one of a man's mucous membranes to rob him of his senses and induce rigour mortis. 'It is instant death, certain but painless suicide, that I carry in this emerald. One bite' - and Ethal made as if to raise the ring to his lips - 'and with a single bound one has quit the mundane world of base instincts and crude works, to enter eternity. 'Look upon the truest of friends: a deus ex machina which defies public opinion and cheats the police of their prey... ' He laughed briefly. 'After all, we live in difficult times, and today's magistrates are so very meticulous. Salute as I do, my dear friend, the poison which saves and delivers. It is at your service, if ever the day should come when you are weary of life!