Book Notes: Perspective

Perspective is another quick hitting section. It incorporates small notes from a variety of books the seemed to offer something different then  my current viewpoint of the world, in a way that didn’t fit with other categories. It involves historical, cosmological, and philosophical quotes. I will again list the books included in this section by order of appearance.

  • Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
  • Alain de Button, How Proust Can Change Your Life
  • Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis
  • Yuval Noah Harai, Sapiens
  • Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics For People In a Hurry
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  • Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning
  • Sam Harris, Waking Up

Other posts in Book Notes Series

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

“And when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

How Proust Can Change Your Life

Alain de Botton

“The reader uses the book as a lens to gaze into his own life. Art is not a way to distract us from our life but to affect our lives properly. Like seeing someone you know in a face or character in a book”

“Our pilgrimage is idolatrous because it privileges the place Proust happened to grow up in rather than his manner of considering it, an oversight that the corpulent Michelin man encourages because he fails to recognize that the worth of sights is dependent more on the quality of ones vision than on the object being viewed.”

The Happiness Hypothesis

Jonathan Haidt

There is nothing good or bad, just how the mind views it.

This view lines up well with how a narrow frame, or unjust comparison can trick our mind into believing something that may not be true.

“Who sees all beings in his own Self, and his own self in all beings, loses all fear.”


Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind

Yuval Noah Harari

7 different species of humans lived in prehistoric times

“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.”

The above quote is heavy on perspective. The seven different species of humans note is better explained with, “[…] our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable […]”

In 2002, after terror attacks 9/11, the avg. person was more likely to kill themselves than be killed by another human. 741,000 human violence to 873,000 suicides

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere

Pico Iyer

Going nowhere.. isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.

Pico Iyer is referring to slowing down, stopping, looking,  and listening. Meditation is a simple way to explore what he is talking about.

“Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.”

Astrohphysics For People In a Hurry

Neil deGrasse Tyson

The cosmos provides the supreme perspective. It recreates a viewpoint on our existence that cannot be matched. The following notes, or facts, help me place humans, Earth, and myself somewhere in space and time in a way that other Earthly topics can’t quite do.

The whole universe started out at 1 trillionth the size of a period.

Dark Matter:

– Dark matter accounts for 6 times the force that keeps matter together. This calculated using total gravity produced by mass of large objects like galaxies


– Dark matter and velocity of outlier objects or planets. Dark matter doesn’t respond to light or gravity the way the laws oh physics expect it to. It could be a misunderstanding of gravity or some totally new existence yet to be discovered in the cosmos.


– Can’t account for 85% of the energy for gravity

Dark Energy:

– Dark energy is the force that’s accelerating the universe as it expands

– Force issues from the void of space

– 1998, supernova were observed to have different brightness than before

– These supernovas are used to measure distances

– Einstein’s lambda “naturally” accounted for variability of further supernova being 15% further away than before

– Two ways to measure distance, luminosity and speed of recession from Milky Way

– Hubble showed that distance objects race away faster than closer objects

– So by measuring the speed of recession one can deduce distance

– If those two five different distances something is wrong

– Dark energy is permeating a repelling force in the gravity

– Dark energy responsible for 68% of all the mass-energy in the universe, dark matter comprises 27%, and matter only 5%

The cosmic perspective is humble

The cosmos perspective is spiritual—even redemptive—but not religious

The cosmic perspective enables us to grasp in the same thought, the large and small

The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out making us susceptible to believing anything we’re told

The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold lonely hazardous place forcing us to reassess the value of all humans to one another

The cosmic perspective shows earth to be a mote. But it’s a precious mote and for the moment it’s the only home we have.

The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae, but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them

The cosmic perspective enables us to see beyond our circumstances, allowing us to transcend the primal search for food, shelter and a mate.

The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space where there is no air a flag will not wave, an indication that perhaps flag waving and space exploration do not mix

The cosmic perspective not only embraces our genetic kinship with all life on earth but also values our chemical kinship with any yet to be discovered life in the universe, as well as our atomic kinship with the universe itself

Neil deGrasse Tyson ended his book with the piece above on ‘The Cosmological Perspective”.

Walden: And Other Writings

Henry David Thoreau

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Man’s Search For Meaning

Viktor Frankl

Commonplace truth – “No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.”

Viktor Frankl was telling about a fellow prisoner in a Holocaust work camp that was using his identity as a former prison camp inmate to justify his actions. Viktor Frankl thought that actions were still wrong, and to have that perspective (which is amplified after hearing about the camp life in the previous pages) is wisdom that can’t be touched.

[Men who walked through huts and gave out there last bread, comforting others] “They offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms, to choose one attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way.”

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Sam Harris

“We need not come to the end of the path to experience the benefits of walking it.”

Other Quotes:

The quotes below I have come across, but can’t remember where I saw them.

“If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started. And when I started, I was desperately wishing to be where I am now.”

“If you can’t be happy with what you have, nothing you ever get will make you happy.”

-Mike Rowe

“Making the best of things is a damn poor way of dealing with them. My life has been a series of escapes from that quicksand.”
-Rose Wilder Lane

On to the last section.. Meaning


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