Quotes from ‘Light’

He had emptied himself yet again of his story, as sinners do to their priests. 10


Grief is agony and then if it goes on long enough it is a consolation, for if we are in it we need look for nothing else. It is company, it is complete, it is certain.30


There are stories told by wanderers who return and tell what they have seen and others by those who stay at home and gather what is already known. And then there is another different kind of story in which the teller can see through the pattern of others’ movements and thoughts himself looking back at him the way a face appears in the veins of a stone or in a bank of cloud. I haven’t stories like the first two kinds because I don’t come from a single place in the world. 43


[…] between a man and a woman there is a moment before which everything is possible and after which everything is lost. 56


I know this fear – the fear of losing for ever what we do not yet and may never have. 56


Has anyone before tried to cure a broken heart with physics? 84


Even after forty years I cannot make peace with my memory of her. With her I had rapture. 117


I feel them moving around me, all his different possible selves. Which is the true one? The physicist Erwin Schrödinger said that a thing unobserved will propagate endless possibilities about what will become of it, but once this collection of possibilities is observed – say by a measuring device in an experiment – all the possibilities except one disappear and only one thing remains. 165


And so physics has moved through time, a beautiful, harmonious and nearly complete picture of all that is elaborated by one physicist undermined in turn by a troublesome discovery made by another. 176


Dialetics. Love. Are they illusions? Or is it that I expect of them the wrong thing? I don’t know yet. 176


There are more words, I think, for longing than for rapture. Or at least they are more easily found. 191


They found that something could be two contradictory things at once – that light, for example, could be both a particle, or a substance, and a wave, or a pattern of energy. It was whatever you wanted it to become.259


The more scientists looked at the world the more it disappeared. 259


My poor young friend. He looks for a Pole in Finland and certainty in physics. 260


[…] but just here and now in the twilight of this city of Copernicus I feel it all churning and boiling and dancing around me, all the billions of tiny particles, creation, then annihilation and then creation again. This world which just now I meet and feel again where nothing is lost and everything is changed. There are no things, there are only forces, processes, movement. I know this, and I get some taste of the loveliness of it. You cannot hold a single thing to you for it must break and fall away. That is its nature. 264


The world is bigger and harder and more wondrous than our attempts to ensnare it. 266


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