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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Vincent Scully

Architectural Historian

I've never been able to write fiction because I can't make up plots. And the American habit of writing autobiographical fiction disturbs me, so I don't do that. And I got tired of English criticism. When I was in college -- and I had wonderful teachers -- but the New Critics were just coming in. And that whole development of the preoccupation with theory over -- Over what? Over experience maybe is what I mean -- was beginning, and it put me off. I didn't want to use words that way. I wasn't interested in writing about works of art, literature, that way. So I think, actually, the reason that I did go into art history after the war was I wanted to apply words to something else. I wanted a verbal experience applied to a visual experience. And history of art, if it's anything in human aesthetics, really is the study of that interface between visual experience and literary experience. And there is an interface and they do affect each other. And that's what interested me actually all my life, is the working along that fault of movement and perception and change: where the literary and the visual, the physical and the verbal interact.
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Glenn Seaborg

Discoverer of Plutonium

Glenn Seaborg: Not giving up, and as I say, this is a corny word, but hard work. Again, not as a sacrifice. I liked it. It was what I wanted to do. I never thought, my gosh, now I have to go back to the laboratory. That's where I wanted to be. Nevertheless, that's where I was and it was hard work. Working, doing research nearly all of my waking hours. I took time out to go to the movies and dancing. I went to the city where the big bands were playing in those days with girlfriends and so forth, but my number one priority was to do the research and work out the problems and get the results and interpret it and write papers and write review articles and so forth.
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John Sexton

Education & Law

On Saturdays he had the habit of coming in, and he would always make soup for us from leftovers from the night before, and the four of us would get together, and he would tell stories. And he'd already discussed the three cases of my co-clerks for First Monday -- there were four cases. No discussion on Michael M. And as we're getting up after the stories, he said nothing. And I said, "Chief, could we discuss Michael M.?" And he looks at me, he says, "You mean that case you got so wrong?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Sure." He said, "Come on into the chambers" -- into his inner office. He said, "You'll just get me ready for Brennan." And I went in, and he took this piece of my work -- you know, eight-and-a-half by 11, about a 20-page memo. There's a big zero in felt-tip pen on the first page. And as I paged through it, different -- in the margin -- there's these balloon question marks, some big, some small. He says, "You see those question marks?" He says, "Whenever I disagree with something, I put a question mark." There must have been 30 question marks in this memo. He said, "The larger the question mark, the more I disagree." And he turns back to the zero, and he points at it, and he says, "That's the period at the bottom of the question mark." I said, "Oh my God." So I said, "Sir, could we discuss this so that I get instruction, at least." And so, he says, "Oh, of course." He said, "Come on. Come on." And we started discussing it. And I have to tell you, for years -- now the guards have changed -- but for years the guards remembered the shouting match, because they could hear it through the double doors. And I had gone into a zone. I didn't realize what I was doing. It's the Chief Justice of the United States. He's across -- he's closer than we are. And we're shouting, and he's beet red, and I'm shouting back as if I'm in an argument with my brother-in-law or something.
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John Sexton

Education & Law

John Sexton: I was taught that teaching is the noblest vocation. And I've now been in the classroom -- I started teaching when I was 17, so this is my 45th year of teaching. I've never had a sabbatical, never wanted a sabbatical. I never had a semester where I didn't teach at least one course. The rewards of teaching are remarkable. And they're almost ineffable. I mean, some of the most important of the rewards of teaching are ineffable. To be here today, for example, and to be surrounded, after the panel on which I and Larry Summers and the others participated, and to catch, out of the corner of my eye, a woman who was my student in 1987, and to remember specifically the conversation where she decided to come to NYU -- to get the hug from her, to feel that I was part of what created the being that she is, with the extraordinary work that she's doing -- to be just a small part of that; to have her just say, "Thank you." This is an amazing thing to a teacher. But it's something that happens, if you've been teaching as long as I have, and have had as many thousands of students as I've had, it happens with some regularity. And it just -- it's something that keeps you young, it's something that reminds you that what you're doing -- if you test yourself on the proposition, "Am I living a useful life?" -- it's useful. And it just keeps you happy all the time.
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John Sexton

Education & Law

It's also important because it keeps you humble. I've never made it out of the first class of a semester without doing less well than I would have liked to have done for my students. I've never had a perfect semester. I've had some classes that I wouldn't try to do over again, but of course that's a different -- I've had some semesters I wouldn't try to do over again. That's a different test. That says, did I do -- you know, in the upper register of my capacities. But it's wonderful always to be reminded how one could do better. And, of course, I feel that deeply now because I'm not able to do as much with my students as I am because of the constraints that are on me all the time. But there's this wonderful kind of uplifting, energizing part that comes with teaching, and to be excited about ideas yourself, to see the excitement develop in others. And then there's this humbling part. But it's a beautiful kind of humbling. It's not a painful humbling.
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