Fine Thought and the Threat of Extinction

And many of these sentences the reader will wish to commit to memory in order to carry them about like a favorite tune, to hum and to encourage and guide them through bad moments, boring conversations, or bouts of insomnia. Let me cite an example from one book good as any, Frances Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, at the point where he tells us that “learning endueth mens mindes with a true sence of the frailtie of their persons, the casualtie of their fortunes, and the dignitie of their soule and vocation.” Thinking produces its own endorphins, and encountering a fine thought is as thrilling as the sight of the bluebird, partly because both have been threatened with extinction.

- William H. Gass, "To A Young Friend Charges with Possession of the Classics", A Temple of Texts