Rigorously trained in several philosophical schools, he had realized early on in his university career that, however admirable any one of them, none was sufficient to explain life in the world. In fact, even when combined they were miserably inadequate. He had no patience with Marxism, Julianism, socialism, and the other economic faiths that endeavored not merely to explain everything but to reorder and replace that which had come into being in spite of a thousand philosophies, ten thousand theories, and uncountable millennia of nature, necessity, and chance.
“Everyone has a self-made pass for travel through the terror and sadness of the world, and because, in the end, nothing is sufficient, everyone wants to share his own method, hoping for strength in numbers.”
“Mortality is like the cold. It cannot be altered by human conceit or solidarity, and at the end you will be on your knees, in shock and amazement, and then you’ll have only one sword, one shield, one great thing to carry you through.”
Alessandro waited to hear what that was, but his father would not say. “If you don’t discover it yourself, it will be nothing more than an exhortation from me.” — Mark Helprin
If you do not do that intellectual work yourself, if you are just content to swallow whatever flotsam washes up on your sheltered shore, then it won’t carry you anywhere. Not a goddamn inch.