A well known author said something like: within the detail is the world?
May 19, 2016 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Hello MetaFilter. I recently came across a succinct (single sentence) quote by , I think, a famous author (perhaps began with a J? Joyce?). It beautifully expressed the idea that: "within the single detail is the world" or "everything is contained within a tiny detail" I can't find it via Google. Please could you help me to find the correct quotation? I think it should be fairly well known. Many thanks.
posted by Speculatist to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is this it?

William Blake
"To See a World
(Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence"

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
posted by theora55 at 12:28 PM on May 19, 2016

Thank you theora55 - but no - that's not it. I think (perhaps incorrectly) it's more modern than that. Thank you for helping with my ridiculous quest.
posted by Speculatist at 12:33 PM on May 19, 2016

Possibly: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” - Carl Sagan
posted by marginaliana at 12:56 PM on May 19, 2016

Thank you marginaliana - similar length / rhythm - but did not mention food.
posted by Speculatist at 1:07 PM on May 19, 2016

Presumably not what you're going for, but just to rule it out: "The details are not the details. They make the design." --Charles Eames
posted by kimota at 1:12 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book." - James Joyce (in reference to Ulysses)
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:14 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you kimota and the return of the thin white sock - but those are not it. I'm sorry and thank you.
posted by Speculatist at 1:29 PM on May 19, 2016

"God is in the details" By Ludwig Mies van der Rohe?
posted by MoseyMe at 1:36 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi MoseyMe. Thank you, but no - it's a longer sentence than that.
posted by Speculatist at 1:40 PM on May 19, 2016

[Hi Speculatist, moderator here - just a note, the convention at AskMetafilter is that the asker doesn't address each comment as it comes in. Just let folks answer and you can mark ones that you find most useful/correct, and limit your followups to necessary clarifications. Thanks!]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:53 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

My feeling is that this could be James, but a search of the New York edition prefaces (the easiest group of texts to search, and ones in which he is discussing art critically, so good candidates) doesn't turn up anything like it.
posted by praemunire at 2:24 PM on May 19, 2016

"The details...that's what the world is made of."
-Wes Anderson
posted by MoseyMe at 2:31 PM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

David Bohm: "In some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe."
posted by suedehead at 4:04 PM on May 19, 2016

Probably not this, but from John Donne's The Good Morrow:

...love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. ..
posted by lollusc at 6:35 PM on May 19, 2016

Is it Walt Whitman? “I see the world in a blade of grass, the universe in a single grain of sand..."
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 6:42 PM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

God is in the details. anon
posted by fixedgear at 7:05 PM on May 19, 2016

I am large, I contain multitudes. - Walt Whitman
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:29 AM on May 20, 2016

Maybe, from Ulysses:
He found in the world without as actual what was in his world within as possible. Maeterlinck says: If Socrates leave his house today he will find the sage seated on his doorstep. If Judas go forth tonight it is to Judas his steps will tend. Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.
posted by felix grundy at 9:11 AM on May 20, 2016

(Ah, sorry, focused on the Joyce and missed the one sentence bit.)
posted by felix grundy at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2016

*Probably* not this quote (author doesn't start with a J), but your question makes me think of a line from the Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet":

"'From a drop of water,' said [Holmes], 'a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it.'"
posted by pittcatt at 4:53 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thank you everybody. Of these, the Whitman quote is the most similar to my faulty memory.
posted by Speculatist at 5:15 PM on May 24, 2016

"In one drop of water are found the secrets of all the endless oceans."
-Kahlil Gibran
posted by smokysunday at 2:32 PM on June 6, 2016

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