August 28: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in 1749



“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him are extant. A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August in 1782 after first taking up residence there in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drangliterary movement. During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe served as a member of the Duke’s privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions, oversaw the reopening of silver mines in nearby Ilmenau, and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena. He also contributed to the planning of Weimar’s botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace, which in 1998 were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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August 26: Guillaume Apollinaire was born in 1880

Guillaume Apollinaire


“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire


Born Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki
26 August 1880
Rome, Italy
Died 9 November 1918 (aged 38)
Paris, France
Occupation Poet, writer, art critic


Guillaume Apollinaire (August 26,1880 in Rome – November 9, 1918 in Paris) was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic of Polish descent. His novels were mostly erotic.

Apollinaire is considered one of the foremost poets of the early 20th century, as well as one of the most impassioned defenders of Cubism and a forefather of Surrealism. He is credited for coining the term Cubism (1911) to describe the works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, the terms “Orphism” (1912) to describe the works of Frantisek Kupka, and the term “Surrealism” (1917) to describe the works of Eric Satie. He wrote one of the earliest works described as Surrealist, the play The Breasts of Tiresias(1917), which was used as the basis for the 1947 opera Les mamelles de Tirésias.

Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 at age 38.

Guillaume Apollinaire Selections from Alcools (youtube video)


  • Mirabeau Bridge
  • Palace
  • Marizibill
  • The Farewell
  • Night Wind
  • Autumn
  • Rosemonde
  • Clair de Lune
  • Sickly Autumn
  • Hunting Horns

Alcools (Alcohol) is a collection of poems by the French author Guillaume Apollinaire. His first major collection, it was published in 1913.

It was listed @ #17 on Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century


“How slow life is, how violent is hope.”
Guillaume Apollinaire

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can not, we’re afraid!” They responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can not, We will fall!” They responded.
” Come to the edge, “he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire

“Joy always came after pain.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire

Without poets, without artists … everything would fall apart into chaos. There would be no more seasons, no more civilizations, no more thought, no more humanity, no more life even; and impotent darkness would reign forever. Poets and artists together DETERMINE the features of Their age, and the future meekly conforms Their edit it.
“- Guillaume Apollinaire, Selected Writings

“People quickly grow accustomed this being the slaves of mystery.”
Guillaume Apollinaire, The Cubist Painters

“Now you are walking in Paris all alone in the crowd As herds of bellowing buses drive by Love’s anguish Tightens your throat As if you were never to be loved again If you lived in the old days you would enter a monastery You are ashamed when you discover yourself reciting a prayer You make fun of yourself and like the fire of Hell your laughter crackles The sparks of your laugh gild the depths of your life It’s a painting hanging in a dark museum And sometimes you go and look at it close up,“- Guillaume Apollinaire, Zone

August 19: Blaise Pascal died in 1662

blaise pascal

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”
― Blaise Pascal


Born 19 June 1623
Auvergne, France
Died 19 August 1662 (aged 39)
Paris, France
Residence France
Nationality French
Religion Roman Catholic
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Main interests
  • Theology
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
Notable ideas

Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662) was a French mathematician,physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector inRouen. Pascal’s earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method.

In 1642, while still a teenager, he started some pioneering work on calculating machines. After three years of effort and fifty prototypes, he built 20 finished machines (called Pascal’s calculators and later Pascalines) over the following ten years, establishing him as one of the first two inventors of the mechanical calculator.

Pascal was an important mathematician, helping create two major new areas of research: he wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of 16, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following Galileo and Torricelli, in 1646, he refutedAristotle’s followers who insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. Pascal’s results caused many disputes before being accepted.

In 1646, he and his sister Jacqueline identified with the religious movement within Catholicism known by its detractors as Jansenism. His father died in 1651. Following a religious experience in late 1654, he began writing influential works on philosophy and theology. His two most famous works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées, the former set in the conflict between Jansenists and Jesuits. In that year, he also wrote an important treatise on the arithmetical triangle. Between 1658 and 1659 he wrote on the cycloid and its use in calculating the volume of solids.

Pascal had poor health, especially after his 18th year, and his death came just two months after his 39th birthday.

Unsung Philosophers: Blaise Pascal – Nice tribute from youtube

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) Pensées (from


“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
(Letter 16, 1657)”
― Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

“I would prefer an intelligent hell to a stupid paradise.”
― Blaise Pascal

“Kind words don’t cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”
― Blaise Pascal

“You always admire what you really don’t understand.”
― Blaise Pascal

“I lay it down as a fact that if all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world.”
― Blaise Pascal

“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.”
― Blaise Pascal, De l’art de persuader

“Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”
― Blaise Pascal

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”
― Blaise Pascal

“When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.”
― Blaise Pascal

“The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

“Man’s sensitivity to the little things and insensitivity to the greatest are the signs of a strange disorder.”
― Blaise Pascal

“It is man’s natural sickness to believe that he possesses the truth.”
― Blaise Pascal

“The greater intellect one has, the more originality one finds in men. Ordinary persons find no difference between men.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

“If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . . . There are two equally dangerous extremes: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason.”
Blaise Pascal, Pensées


August 18: Roman Polanski was born in 1933

roman polanski

Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater


Born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański
18 August 1933 (age 82)
Paris, France
Residence France
Citizenship Polish (by birth) and French (by naturalization)
Alma mater National Film School in Łódź
Occupation Actor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1954–present
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass(1959–1962; divorced)
  • Sharon Tate (1968–1969; her death)
  • Emmanuelle Seigner (1989–present)
Children 2 (daughter and son)

Roman Polanski (born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański; 18 August 1933) is a Polish and, since 1976, naturalized-French film director, producer, writer, and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States, he is considered one of the few “truly international filmmakers.” Polanski’s films have inspired diverse directors, including the Coen brothers, Wes AndersonDavid FincherAtom EgoyanDarren AronofskyPark Chan-wookSean DurkinAbel Ferrara, and Wes Craven.

Clive James interview

Clive James and Polanski chat rather casually about life in the ghetto and the murder of his wife Sharon Tate over escargot and wine. He shares that his interest in movies started when he lived in the Kraków Ghetto, when he was able to look through the barbed wire and see projections of newsreels in the square.

After his escape, he would frequent the cinema — ironically to watch German films, which he described as “lousy.” He goes on to say that one of the first films that “struck” him was Robin Hood, an American film. Once he got a taste, he began to read book after book on filmmaking.

roman polanski a film memoir

Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir (2011) – documentary


In Paris, one is always reminded of being a foreigner. If you park your car wrong, it is not the fact that it’s on the sidewalk that matters, but the fact that you speak with an accent.

I can only say that whatever my life and work have been, I’m not envious of anyone-and this is my biggest satisfaction.

Normal love isn’t interesting. I assure you that it’s incredibly boring.

I don’t really know what is shocking. When you tell the story of a man who is beheaded, you have to show how they cut off his head. If you don’t, it’s like telling a dirty joke and leaving out the punch line.

My films are the expression of momentary desires. I follow my instincts, but in a disciplined way.

If you have a great passion it seems that the logical thing is to see the fruit of it, and the fruit are children.

You have to show violence the way it is. If you don’t show it realistically, then that’s immoral and harmful. If you don’t upset people, then that’s obscenity.

Whenever I get happy, I always have a terrible feeling.


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1965 Berlin Film Festival Silver Berlin Bear-Extraordinary Jury Prize Repulsion Won
1966 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Cul-de-sac Won
1968 Academy Award Best Screenplay Rosemary’s Baby Nominated
1974 Academy Award Academy Award for Best Director Chinatown Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Director Won
British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Best Direction Won
1979 César Award César Award for Best Picture Tess Won
César Award for Best Director Won
Academy Award Best Director Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film Won
Golden Globe Award for Best Director—Motion Picture Nominated
2002 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or The Pianist Won
British Academy of Film and Television Arts(BAFTA) Best Film Won
Best Director Won
Academy Awards Best Director Won
Best Picture Nominated
César Award César Award for Best Director Won
César Award for Best Film Won
2004 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema Won
Argentine Film Critics Association Best Foreign Film The Pianist Nominated
2009 Zürich Film Festival Golden Icon Award Lifetime achievement Won
2010 Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Director The Ghost Writer Won
European Film Awards Best Film Won
Best Director Won
Best Screenwriter Won
Lumières Awards Best Director Won
Best Screenwriter Won
2011 César Award César Award for Best Director Won
César Award for Best Screenwriter Won
2014 César Award César Award for Best Film Venus in Fur Nominated
César Award for Best Director Won
César Award for Best Screenwriter Nominated

Other awards

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • 1980: Tess nominated for Best Direction
  • 1980: Tess nominated for Best Foreign Film
  • 1974: Chinatown nominated for Best Film
  • 1971: Macbeth nominated for Best Direction
  • 1971: Macbeth nominated for Best Film
  • 1965: Repulsion nominated for Best Direction
  • 1965: Repulsion nominated for Best Screenwriting

Venice Film Festival

  • 1966: Cul De Sac nominated for National Syndication of Italian Film Journalists
  • 1962: Knife in the Water won for Fipresci Prize

August 18: B. F. Skinner died in 1990

American author and psychologist B. F. Skinner (1904 - 1990) sits with his hands behind his head, February 26, 1968. (Photo by Sam Falk/New York Times Co./Getty Images)


“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.”
― B.F. Skinner

Born 20 March 1904
Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
Died 18 August 1990 (aged 86)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Fields Psychology, linguistics,philosophy
Institutions University of Minnesota
Indiana University
Harvard University
Alma mater Hamilton College
Harvard University
Known for Operant conditioning
operant conditioning chamber
radical behaviorism
Influences Charles Darwin
Ivan Pavlov
Ernst Mach
Jacques Loeb
Edward Thorndike
William James
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Henry David Thoreau
Notable awards National Medal of Science (1968)

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990), commonly known as B. F. Skinner, was an American psychologistbehaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974.

Skinner considered free will an illusion and human action dependent on consequences of previous actions. If the consequences are bad, there is a high chance that the action will not be repeated; however if the consequences are good, the actions that led to it will become more probable. Skinner called this the principle of reinforcement.

Skinner called the use of reinforcement to strengthen behavior operant conditioning, and he considered the rate of response to be the most effective measure of response strength. To study operant conditioning he invented the operant conditioning chamber, also known as the Skinner Box, and to measure rate he invented the cumulative recorder. Using these tools he and C. B. Ferster produced his most influential experimental work, which appeared in the book Schedules of Reinforcement.

Skinner developed a philosophy of science that he called radical behaviorism, and founded a school of experimental research psychology—the experimental analysis of behavior. He imagined the application of his ideas to the design of a human community in his utopian novel Walden Two, and his analysis of human behavior culminated in his work Verbal Behavior.

Skinner was a prolific author who published 21 books and 180 articles. Contemporary academia considers Skinner a pioneer of modern behaviorism along with John B. Watson and Ivan Pavlov.

A June 2002 survey listed Skinner as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.

B. F. Skinner – About Behaviorism (1977)

B. F. Skinner on education


“A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying. ”

“The only geniuses produced by the chaos of society are those who do something about it. Chaos breeds geniuses. It offers a man something to be a genius about.”

“Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.”

“A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.”

“No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out, it’s wiped out.”

“We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.”

“Some of us learn control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blaming our failure on being born the wrong way.”

“The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.”

“A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.”

“At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.”

“If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.”

“A scientist may not be sure of the answer, but he’s often sure he can find one. And that’s a condition which is clearly not enjoyed by philosophy.”

“Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless. It enslaves him almost before he has tasted freedom. The ‘ologies’ will tell you how its done Theology calls it building a conscience or developing a spirit of selflessness. Psychology calls it the growth of the superego.

Considering how long society has been at it, you’d expect a better job. But the campaigns have been badly planned and the victory has never been secured.”

“We do not choose survival as a value, it chooses us.”

“Democracy is the spawn of despotism. And like father, like son. Democracy is power and rule. It’s not the will of the people, remember; it’s the will of the majority.”

“Men build society and society builds men.”

bf skinner