The most important thing had always been what other people thought-appearances before herself or her family. And righteous about it. Time and again Matt had insisted that what others thought about you wasn't the only thing in life. But it did no good. Norma had to dress well; the house had to have fine furniture; Charlie had to be kept inside so that other people wouldn't know anything was wrong.
I started out the evening with every intention of being pleasant and making friends. But these days I have trouble getting through to people. I don’t know if it’s me or them, but any attempt at conversation usually fades away in a minute or two, and the barriers go up. Is it because they are afraid of me? Or is it that deep down they don’t care and I feel the same about them?
I've learned that intelligence alone doesn't mean a damned thing. Here in your university, intelligence, education, knowledge, have all become great idols. But I know now there's one thing you've all overlooked: intelligence and education that hasn't been tempered by human affection isn't worth a damn.
If I didn't understand what was happening at the time, he says, then it doesn't matter. I'm no more to blame than the knife is to blame in a stabbing, or the car in a collision. "But I'm not an inanimate object," I argued. "I'm a person."He looked confused for a moment and then laughed. "Of course, Charlie. But I wasn't referring to now. I meant before the operation."Smug, pompous—I felt like hitting him too. "I was a person before the operation. In case you forgot—""Yes, of course, Charlie. Don't misunderstand. But it was different..." And then he remembered that he had to check some charts in the lab.
They all think I’m killing myself at this pace, but what they don’t understand is that I’m living at a peak of clarity and beauty I never knew existed. Every part of me is attuned to the work. I soak it up into my pores during the day, and at night—in the moments before I pass off into sleep—ideas explode into my head like fireworks. There is no greater joy than the burst of solution to a problem.
And he has the teacher's fear of being surpassed by the student, the master's dread of having the disciple discredit his work. (Not that I am in any real sense Nemur's student or disciple as Burt is.) I guess Nemur's fear of being revealed as a man walking on stilts among giants is understandable.
Strauss shook his head. "The point I've been trying to make is that this money is intended for research. No one can ever know in advance if a project is going to result in something useful. Results are often negative. We learn what something is not—and that is as important as a positive discovery to the man who is going to pick up from there. At least he knows what not to do.