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“Because carvers revere the god of unseen effort, of hidden work, of the back of things. The god of assiduousness, reigning over obsessives and perfectionists. Writers who delete whole chapters in the slender hope that what’s gone will shine through what’s left. Computer scientists who write beautiful code, programs that are more elegant than necessity demands. Why stop there? The cleaner who does more than an employer will ever notice, the night nurse who holds the hand of the unconscious stranger. If you’re looking for glamour, you’ve come to the wrong place, but it’s where you’ll find two old carvers whose serenity seemed to flower out of a lifetime of scrupulous work. Maybe it explains their venerable age, too. Somewhere I read of a study that identified not optimism or happiness or serenity or sociability as the psychological trait most predictive of longevity, but a more homespun one: conscientiousness.”

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source: The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making (New York: Viking, 2012), 111.

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medium: Memoir

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.'”

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source: “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 139.

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medium: Nonfiction

“Insult my sexual prowess, my intellect, but not my pancakes.”

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source: “He’s Sensitive About the Pancakes,” by Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times, March 25, 2010.

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medium: interview

notes: Richard Melville Hall is known by his stage name Moby. About his name, he said: "The basis for Richard Melville Hall—and for Moby—is that supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-granduncle." (CNN)

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