This is for a nook in a library, and to amuse a neighbor, a relative, a friend, who may take pleasure in associating and conversing with me again in this image. Others have taken courage to speak of themselves because they found the subject worthy and rich; I, on the contrary, because I have found mine so barren and so meager that no suspicion of ostentation can fall upon my plan.

— Montaigne, “On Giving the Lie”


More than once, too, I have pleased myself with the notion that somewhere there is good Company which will like this small sententious Book—these Thoughts (if I may call them so) dipped up from that phantasmagoria or phosphorescence which, by some unexplained process of combustion, flickers over the large lump of gray soft matter in the bowl of my skull.

— Logan Pearsall Smith, All Trivia: A Collection of Reflections & Aphorisms


The musical progressives of his time, their ears and minds full of Wagner’s epochal agenda for opera and art and humanity, condemned Brahms’s art as “the private thoughts of a clever man,” writing only for the private thoughts of his listeners. But after the betrayals of this century by one epochal agenda after another, the private thoughts of a private craftsman may be the best thing we have left.

— Jan Swafford, Johannes Brahms: A Biography