Yi-Fu Tuan

Chinese-American geographer

Yi-Fu Tuan (born 5 December 1930) is a Chinese-American writer and geographer.

Yi-Fu Tuan

QuotesEdit

  • In contrast to the flux and muddle of life, art is clarity and enduring presence. In the stream of life, few things are perceived clearly because few things stay put. Every mood or emotion is mixed or diluted by contrary and extraneous elements. The clarity of art—the precise evocation of mood in the novel, or of summer twilight in a painting—is like waking to a bright landscape after a long fitful slumber, or the fragrance of chicken soup after a week of head cold.
    • Passing Strange and Wonderful: Aesthetics, Nature, and Culture, ch. 10 (1993).
  • America is a much newer experiment in human living, one with moral concerns at its core. In this respect it differs from Europe, which has preferred sophistication and worldly wisdom to "righteousness," and resembles China, which saw the universe itself as essentially a moral order. However materialistic Americans may be in their economic pursuits, their ceremonies emphasize the material far less than European societies have. America has imposing official architecture. Washington, D.C., boasts a radial baroque stateliness. Yet one of its most important buildings, the White House, is a modest dwelling, its scale far smaller than that of the palaces of Europe and Asia.
    • Shadows and Light, epilogue, Passing Strange and Wonderful: Aesthetics, Nature, and Culture (1993).
  • Young children distinguish between good people and bad people, but, unless explicitly taught, they do not distinguish between foreigner and native.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 13 (2012).
  • ...the Oxford system, which did not require students to take set courses or be tested except at the end of three years, encouraged them to read widely, attend public lectures on all sorts of subjects, and above all, talk to one another in small gatherings until dawn breaks or until they ran out of shillings to put in the gas meter. Without knowing it I acquired a well-rounded, if undisciplined, liberal arts education.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 15 (2012).
  • Unlike a small village, the city speaks loud and clear of history, of being the terminus of a long, cumulative process.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 19 (2012).
  • Children learn early in life that they cannot always count on their parents’ attention much less their smiles, a lesson in human unpredictability that has to be learned over and over again.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 28 (2012).
  • for humans, no matter what the warmth and duration of human contact and what the size of the group, a periodic sense of isolation is inescapable; it is no less than the human condition.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 43 (2012).
  • The ease with which a man can lose his sense of self-worth and fall into the pit of self-abasement is a deeply disturbing psychological fact. Asymmetry of power doesn’t have to be extreme for it to happen. All that is required is for it to seem implacable.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 59 (2012).
  • Only God creates ex nihilo. Humans can only create out of something that already exists, which means there has to be an earlier destruction phase.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 61 (2012).
  • Ideally, society is a dance, and every society has its own choreography that is passed down the generations.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 72 (2012).
  • At the highest level of achievement, classical music has the feel of an intimate conversation between two individuals and a mass celebration of our common humanity.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 84 (2012).
  • Stars define civilization, as no single natural feature on Earth--tree, rock, stream, or mountain--can be said to define cultures.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 87 (2012).
  • Words designate, but they also evoke a sense of something, and, when they do, they function as metaphors. ...Metaphors enrich life, making it more vivid.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 94 (2012).
  • We may speak loosely of a ‘sense of time,’ but there is no such sensory organ. Time is something we experience and construct. Time is experienced--is felt--when we wait, expect, or hope.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 100 (2012).
  • To forgive is to erase a past, depriving it of its power to stain the present.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 108 (2012).
  • We have no trouble naming the basic physical needs of food, shelter, and sex, nor the basic social needs of care, respect, and love. Can there also be a spiritual need that goes beyond even love as it is commonly understood to something for which the words that most readily come to mind are goodness, the Good, or God? Absent food, shelter, and sex, we die. Absent care, respect, and love, we live--barely. Absent that deep and insatiable spiritual yearning for the Good that certain stories and fables prefigure? We live, and indeed we may live well, in full, societal approbation and self-congratulatory glow, except, perhaps, in those uncanny moments--the sudden chill in the air, a pinched feeling in the heart, or even a stumble over the curb that reminds us of the abyss beneath the pavement on which we so unconcernedly walk.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 113 (2012).
  • People who have ‘music’ in their souls are fun to be with.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 114 (2012).
  • If each person can achieve greatness, so can each fall into baseness.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 120 (2012).
  • Experience takes time and calls for patience.
    • Humanist Geography: An Individual's Search for Meaning, p. 129 (2012).

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