Anime Short Quotes

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Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.
John Grogan (Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog)
Let's face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.
George Orwell (Animal Farm)
In every way that counted, I was dead. Inside somewhere maybe I was screaming and weeping and howling like an animal, but that was another person deep inside, another person who had no access to the lips and face and mouth and head, so on the surface I just shrugged and smile and kept moving. If I could have physically passed away, just let it all go, like that, without doing anything, stepped out of life as easily as walking through a door I would have done. But I was going to sleep at night and waking in the morning, disappointed to be there and resigned to existence.
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
I have no affinity for animals. I don’t hate animals and I would never hurt an animal; I just don’t actively care about them. When a coworker shows me cute pictures of her dog, I struggle to respond correctly, like an autistic person who has been taught to recognize human emotions from flash cards. In short, I am the worst.
Tina Fey (Bossypants)
And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.
Mary Oliver (Dog Songs: Poems)
In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate.
Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies)
They were maps that lived, maps that one could study, frown over, and add to; maps, in short, that really meant something.
Gerald Durrell (My Family and Other Animals (Corfu Trilogy, #1))
How To Be An Explorer Of The World 1. Always Be LOOKING (notice the ground beneath your feet.) 2. Consider Everything Alive & Animate 3. EVERYTHING Is Interesting. Look Closer. 4. Alter Your Course Often. 5. Observe For Long Durations (and short ones). 6. Notice The Stories Going On Around You. 7. Notice PATTERNS. Make CONNECTIONS. 8. DOCUMENT Your Findings (field notes) In A VAriety Of Ways. 9. Incorporate Indeterminacy. 10. Observe Movement. 11. Create a Personal DIALOGUE With Your Environment. Talk to it. 12. Trace Things Back to Their ORIGINS. 13. Use ALL of the Senses In Your Investigations.
Keri Smith (How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum)
He laughs. "Put some clothes on so you don't scare poor Kiara with your morning hard-on." I look down at my shorts. Sure enough, I've got la tengo dura in front of Kiara and Tuck. Shit. I reach out for the first thing I can grab and put it in front of me to shield myself from view. It happens to be one of Kiara's stuffed animals, but I don't have much choice right now. "That's Kiara's Mojo," Tuck says, laughing. "Get it? Mojo?
Simone Elkeles (Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2))
Filling with food, Warming with clothes, Living leisurely without learning, It is little short of animals.
Mencius (Mencius)
The gift of the Holy Ghost...quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.
Parley P. Pratt
My favorite quote: The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land... In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
Aldo Leopold
And on the subject of naming animals, can I just say how happy I was to discover that the word yeti, literally translated, apparently means "that thing over there." ("Quick, brave Himalayan Guide - what's that thing over there?" "Yeti." "I see.")
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
Not bad in short, though the last one [understanding the language of animals], isn't half as useful as you might expect, since when all's said and done the language of the beasts tends to revolve around: a) the endless hunt for food, b) finding a warm bush to sleep in the evening, and c) the sporadic satisfication of certain glands. (Many would argue that the language of human kind boils down to this too)
Jonathan Stroud (The Ring of Solomon (Bartimaeus, #0.5))
Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.
George Orwell (Animal Farm)
Alone among the animals, humans seek meaning in their lives by killing and dying for the sake of nonsensical dreams.
John Gray (The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom)
Man makes history; woman is history. The reproduction of the species is feminine: it runs steadily and quietly through all species, animal or human, through all short-lived cultures. It is primary, unchanging, everlasting, maternal, plantlike, and cultureless. If we look back we find that it is synonymous with life itself.
Oswald Spengler (Aphorisms)
In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games. Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional. History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable. Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it; depleting himself to create fake gods, he feverishly adopts them: his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike.
Emil M. Cioran (A Short History of Decay)
We stopped to browse in the cases, and now that William - with his new glasses on his nose - could linger and read the books, at every title he discovered he let out exclamations of happiness, either because he knew the work, or because he had been seeking it for a long time, or finally because he had never heard it mentioned and was highly excited and titillated. In short, for him every book was like a fabulous animal that he was meeting in a strange land.
Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose)
If a potato can produce vitamin C, why can't we? Within the animal kingdom only humans and guinea pigs are unable to synthesize vitamin C in their own bodies. Why us and guinea pigs? No point asking. Nobody knows.
Bill Bryson (At Home: A Short History of Private Life)
The storytelling mind is allergic to uncertainty, randomness, and coincidence. It is addicted to meaning. If the storytelling mind cannot find meaningful patterns in the world, it will try to impose them. In short, the storytelling mind is a factory that churns out true stories when it can, but will manufacture lies when it can’t.
Jonathan Gottschall (The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human)
The girl stood in the center of the large four-poster bed. She wore a nightgown and robe that Cordelia had generously, and unknowingly, donated. Anything of Emily’s would have been far too short and too small. Her honey-colored hair fell over her shoulders in messy waves and her similarly colored eyes were almost black with wildness, her pupils unnaturally dilated. Fear. He felt it roll off her in great waves. It shimmered around her in a rich red aura Griff knew he alone could see, as it was viewable only on the Aetheric plane. She was afraid of them and, like a trapped animal, her answer to fear was to fight rather than flee. Interesting. She was certainly a sight to behold. Normally she was probably quite pretty, but right now she was…she was… She was bloody magnificent. That’s what she was. Except for the blood, of course.
Kady Cross (The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1))
A short time later, when the carpenter was taking measurements for the coffin, through the window they saw a light rain of tiny yellow flowers falling. They fell on the town all through the night in a silent storm, and they covered the roofs and blocked the doors and smothered the animals who slept outdoors. So many flowers fell from the sky that in the morning the streets were carpeted with a compact cushion and they had to clear them away with shovels and rakes so that the funeral procession could pass by.
Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)
My father did not become the bad guy for me. Not yet. That day I hated my mother for killing my father, but also for all the reasons you cannot say. Part of my child brain hated her because she wasn’t young enough or even beautiful enough. Because she wasn’t strong enough. Or because she was too strong. Because she was so complex where my father was not. I hated my mother, in short, for being a woman.
Lisa Taddeo (Animal)
Don’t let the daily routine kill your creativity. Remember who you were before you got that job.
Morr Meroz (Making an Animated Short)
it was montage that gave birth to film as an art, setting it apart from mere animated photography, in short, creating a language.
André Bazin (What is Cinema?: Volume 1)
In short, we evolved, like other animals, to win the reproduction game. That contest has a single aim, to leave as many descendants as possible.
Jared Diamond (The Rise And Fall Of The Third Chimpanzee: how our animal heritage affects the way we live)
Winter came in days that were gray and still. They were the kind of days in which people locked in their animals and themselves and nothing seemed to stir but the smoke curling upwards from clay chimneys and an occasional red-winged blackbird which refused to be grounded. And it was cold. Not the windy cold like Uncle Hammer said swept the northern winter, but a frosty, idle cold that seeped across a hot land ever lookung toward the days of green and ripening fields, a cold thay lay uneasy during during its short stay as it crept through the cracks of poorly constucted houses and forced the people inside huddled around ever-burning fires to wish it gone.
Mildred D. Taylor (Let the Circle Be Unbroken (Logans, #5))
Old friend, there are people—young and old—that I like, and people that I do not like. The former are always in short supply. I am turned off by humorless fanaticism, whether it's revolutionary mumbo-jumbo by a young one, or loud lessons from scripture by and old one. We are all comical, touching, slapstick animals, walking on our hind legs, trying to make it a noble journey from womb to tomb, and the people who can't see it all that way bore hell out of me.
John D. MacDonald (Dress Her in Indigo (Travis McGee #11))
Whales are silly once every two years. The young are called short-heads or baby blimps. Many whale romances begin in Baffin's bay and end in Procter and Gamble's factory, Staten Island.
Will Cuppy (How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes)
Things started going wrong, as far as Zhaanat was concerned, when places everywhere were named for people—political figures, priests, explorers—and not for the real things that happened in these places—the dreaming, the eating, the death, the appearance of animals. This confusion of the chimookomaanag between the timelessness of the earth and the short span here of mortals was typical of their arrogance.
Louise Erdrich (The Night Watchman)
We are all animals of this planet. We are all creatures. And nonhuman animals experience pain sensations just like we do. They too are strong, intelligent, industrious, mobile, and evolutional. They too are capable of growth and adaptation. Like us, firsthand foremost, they are earthlings. And like us, they are surviving. Like us they also seek their own comfort rather than discomfort. And like us they express degrees of emotion. In short like us, they are alive.
Joaquin Phoenix
...maybe strength in the 21st century isn't about's about the capacity to evoke....the ability to spark the enduring bonds of shared values, intrinsic motivation, and mutually committed perseverance. It is, in short, not the power merely to command, subordinate, demean, insult — and then crow about it with impunity. It's the power to inspire, animate, infuse, spark, evoke — and then connect, link, and collaborate, to be a force multiplier.
Umair Haque
Dear brother, I feel what Pa and Ma instinctively think about me (I don’t say reasonably). There’s a similar reluctance about taking me into the house as there would be about having a large, shaggy dog in the house. He’ll come into the room with wet paws — and then, he’s so shaggy. He’ll get in everyone’s way. And he barks so loudly. In short — it’s a dirty animal. Very well — but the animal has a human history and, although it’s a dog, a human soul, and one with finer feelings at that, able to feel what people think about him, which an ordinary dog can’t do. And I, admitting that I am a sort of dog, accept them as they are. Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, Nuenen, 15 December 1883
Vincent van Gogh
The weather had freshened almost to coldness, for the wind was coming more easterly, from the chilly currents between Tristan and the Cape; the sloth was amazed by the change; it shunned the deck and spent its time below. Jack was in his cabin, pricking the chart with less satisfaction than he could have wished: progress, slow, serious trouble with the mainmast-- unaccountable headwinds by night-- and sipping a glass of grog; Stephen was in the mizentop, teaching Bonden to write and scanning the sea for his first albatross. The sloth sneezed, and looking up, Jack caught its gaze fixed upon him; its inverted face had an expression of anxiety and concern. 'Try a piece of this, old cock,' he said, dipping his cake in the grog and proffering the sop. 'It might put a little heart into you.' The sloth sighed, closed its eyes, but gently absorbed the piece, and sighed again. Some minutes later he felt a touch upon his knee: the sloth had silently climbed down and it was standing there, its beady eyes looking up into his face, bright with expectation. More cake, more grog: growing confidence and esteem. After this, as soon as the drum had beat the retreat, the sloth would meet him, hurrying toward the door on its uneven legs: it was given its own bowl, and it would grip it with its claws, lowering its round face into it and pursing its lips to drink (its tongue was too short to lap). Sometimes it went to sleep in this position, bowed over the emptiness. 'In this bucket,' said Stephen, walking into the cabin, 'in this small half-bucket, now, I have the population of Dublin, London, and Paris combined: these animalculae-- what is the matter with the sloth?' It was curled on Jack's knee, breathing heavily: its bowl and Jack's glass stood empty on the table. Stephen picked it up, peered into its affable bleary face, shook it, and hung it upon its rope. It seized hold with one fore and one hind foot, letting the others dangle limp, and went to sleep. Stephen looked sharply round, saw the decanter, smelt to the sloth, and cried, 'Jack, you have debauched my sloth.
Patrick O'Brian (H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey & Maturin #3))
And I think the answer is that we are, in reality, terribly frail animals. And we don't like to be reminded of how frail we are—how delicate the balances are inside our own bodies, how short our stay on Earth, and how easily it is ended.
Michael Crichton (Sphere)
Come closer to me,” he commanded. She began to get to her feet, giving him the opportunity to force her down again. “No. I want you to crawl over here on your hands and knees.” Jace watched the power of his words place invisible constraints on Camille’s body. She fell down to her knees and crawled on the floor like an animal. In that moment, he was her master; in that moment, everything seemed natural and right in the world. He was the yin to her yang, pulling both of them into perfect equilibrium.
Edith Warner (Don't Forget Your Lines)
The Arboretum’s overgrown grass rustled. The branches of an apple tree shook as though an animal had jumped from one to the next. A wind slid up my thighs, in the night, under my short nightgown. Crickets and cicadas made a sound like distant laughing children, the laugh track to a sitcom that didn’t end. It was like the grass was full of tiny giggling babies. So beautiful, and creepy.
Monica Drake (The Folly of Loving Life)
But if you write a version of Ragnarok in the twenty-first century, it is haunted by the imagining of a different end of things. We are a species of animal which is bringing about the end of the world we were born into. Not out of evil or malice, or not mainly, but because of a lopsided mixture of extraordinary cleverness, extraordinary greed, extraordinary proliferation of our own kind, and a biologically built-in short-sightedness.
A.S. Byatt (Ragnarok)
May the cheering contemplation of the glorious hope set before us—support and animate us to improve our short interval on earth, and fill us with a holy ambition of shining as lights in this evil world, to the praise and glory of His grace—who has called us out of darkness, into His glorious light!
John Newton (Collected Letters)
So, what is my prescription for good health? In short, it is about the multiple health benefits of consuming plant-based foods, and the largely unappreciated health dangers of consuming animal-based foods, including all types of meat, dairy and eggs.
T. Colin Campbell (The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health)
If the use of animal food be, in consequence, subversive to the peace of human society, how unwarrantable is the injustice and the barbarity which is exercised toward these miserable victims. They are called into existence by human artifice that they may drag out a short and miserable existence of slavery and disease, that their bodies may be mutilated, their social feelings outraged. It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Look into their eyes and tell them "I'm sorry, you have to die, but I need to eat". Look into their eyes, and tell them "I know there is an abundance of plant based foods I could eat, but I would still rather eat you". Look into their eyes and tell them "I know I don't NEED to eat you, but I am going to pay someone else to murder you anyway" Look into their eyes and tell them "I'm sorry you lived a short enslaved, abused and tortured life, but I don't care because I am selfish" Look into their eyes and tell them " I love my cat/dog, but your life doesn't matter as much" Go ahead, take a look into their eyes and tell them that!
Jenn V Keller-Lowe
A dam inside my own heart opened up, and the feelings of heaviness and unease lifted like wind against the winter sky. I loved him. I loved his slow wit and his gruff demeanor and his tender disposition. I loved his endless empathy and his world-weary cynicism and his innocence. I loved that he was a walking, breathing paradox. I loved his lank hair and his iron earring and the tooth missing at the back of his mouth. I loved the way he laughed, music incomparable to any song, and the way he smiled, like you could see the child in him and the animal in him and the man in him all at once. I loved that he listened to crappy music, the kind that made me want to put my head through a wall, and I loved the charcoal stains on his knuckles and the pencils he tucked behind his ears. I loved that he told me to shut up as though I could actually say anything. I loved that he made me feel as though I could. I loved his short fingers and his rough palms and his long legs and his flat belly. I loved that he liked to read Kerouac but didn't know how to pronounce Kerouac. I loved his brown skin and his blue tattoos and his tempestuous blue eyes. I loved that he loved the land. I loved him. I loved him. Oh, God. I loved him.
Rose Christo (Looks Over (Gives Light, #2))
It was a short session of the simple being-ness that he had long coveted for The Afterlife. What Glynis had called "doing nothing," The smelling and seeing and hearing and small noticings of sheer animal presence in the world surely constituted activity of a sort, perhaps the most important kind. This was a form of companionship that he'd been especially cherishing with Glynis of late: devoid of conversation, but so surprising in its contrast to being by yourself.
Lionel Shriver (So Much for That)
Desire, to know why, and how, curiosity; such as is in no living creature but man: so that man is distinguished, not only by his reason; but also by this singular passion from other animals; in whom the appetite of food, and other pleasures of sense, by predominance, take away the care of knowing causes; which is a lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure.
Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan)
Mythology was not about theology, in the modern sense, but about human experience. People thought that gods, humans, animals and nature were inextricably bound up together, subject to the same laws, and composed of the same divine substance. There
Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth)
In my short stay I realized that without a deep understanding of human psychology, without the acceptance that we are all crazy, irrational, impulsive, emotionally driven animals, all the raw intelligence and mathematical logic in the world is little help in the fraught, shifting interplay of two people negotiating.
Chris Voss (Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It)
If you want to see philosophy in action, pay a visit to a robo-rat laboratory. A robo-rat is a run-ofthe-mill rat with a twist: scientists have implanted electrodes into the sensory and reward areas in the rat’s brain. This enables the scientists to manoeuvre the rat by remote control. After short training sessions, researchers have managed not only to make the rats turn left or right, but also to climb ladders, sniff around garbage piles, and do things that rats normally dislike, such as jumping from great heights. Armies and corporations show keen interest in the robo-rats, hoping they could prove useful in many tasks and situations. For example, robo-rats could help detect survivors trapped under collapsed buildings, locate bombs and booby traps, and map underground tunnels and caves. Animal-welfare activists have voiced concern about the suffering such experiments inflict on the rats. Professor Sanjiv Talwar of the State University of New York, one of the leading robo-rat researchers, has dismissed these concerns, arguing that the rats actually enjoy the experiments. After all, explains Talwar, the rats ‘work for pleasure’ and when the electrodes stimulate the reward centre in their brain, ‘the rat feels Nirvana’. To the best of our understanding, the rat doesn’t feel that somebody else controls her, and she doesn’t feel that she is being coerced to do something against her will. When Professor Talwar presses the remote control, the rat wants to move to the left, which is why she moves to the left. When the professor presses another switch, the rat wants to climb a ladder, which is why she climbs the ladder. After all, the rat’s desires are nothing but a pattern of firing neurons. What does it matter whether the neurons are firing because they are stimulated by other neurons, or because they are stimulated by transplanted electrodes connected to Professor Talwar’s remote control? If you asked the rat about it, she might well have told you, ‘Sure I have free will! Look, I want to turn left – and I turn left. I want to climb a ladder – and I climb a ladder. Doesn’t that prove that I have free will?
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
She told us about the goddess called Persephone, who was forced to spend half a year in the darkness deep underground. Winter happened when she was trapped inside the earth. The days shrank, they became cold and short and dark. Living things hid themselves away. Spring came when she was released and made her slow way up to the world again. The world became brighter and bolder in order to welcome her back. It began to be filled with warmth and light. The animals dared to wake, they dared to have their young. Plants dared to send out buds and shoots. Life dared to come back.
David Almond (Skellig (Skellig, #1))
The questions of God – meaning in Milton’s phrase “The god who hung the stars like lamps in heaven” – I don’t think psychedelics can address that definitively, but there is another god, a goddess, the goddess of biology, the goddess of the coherent animal human world, the world of the oceans, the atmosphere, and the planet. In short, our world! The world that we were born into, that we evolved into, and that we came from. That world, the psychedelics want to connect us up to… Our individuality, as people and as a species, is an illusion of bad language that the psychedelics dissolve into the greater feeling of connectedness that underlies our being here, and to my mind that’s the religious impulse. It’s not a laundry list of moral dos and don’ts, or a set of dietary prescriptions or practices: it’s a sense of connectedness, responsibility for our fellow human beings and for the earth you walking around on, and because these psychedelics come out of that plant vegetable matrix they are the way back into it.
Terence McKenna
my experience is that when undergoing severe physical labor the mind is not at all active. One thinks of the particular problem in hand or perhaps the mind just wanders not performing coherent thought. As to missing various phases of civilized life, one has no time to miss anything save food or sleep or rest. In short one becomes little more than a rational animal.
David Grann (The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon)
We are a species of animal which is bringing about the end of the world we were born into. Not out of evil or malice, or not mainly, but because of a lopsided mixture of extraordinary cleverness, extraordinary greed, extraordinary proliferation of our own kind, and a biologically built-in short-sightedness.
A.S. Byatt
He admired bears because everyone was afraid to disturb them while they slept and fish were so in love with bears that they jumper right into their mouths. He ate meat and never felt bad about it unless he saw how the animal was slaughtered or if the meat was not cooked properly but he thought thrice about killing bus.
Robb Todd
Earthborn animals do this thing, inside their brains—a sort of firing-off of synapses, controlled insanity. While they’re asleep. The part of their brain that records sight or sound, it’s firing off every hour or two while they sleep; even when all the sights and sounds are complete random nonsense, their brains just keep on trying to assemble it into something sensible. They try to make stories out of it. It’s complete random nonsense with no possible correlation to the real world, and yet they turn it into these crazy stories. And then they forget them. All that work, coming up with these stories, and when they wake up they forget almost all of them. But when they do remember, then they try to make stories about those crazy stories, trying to fit them into their real lives. …They change what their stories mean. They transform things so that the same memory can mean a thousand different things. Even from their dreams, sometimes they make up out of that randomness something that illuminates everything. …Even if the vast majority of them are wrong, even if ninety-nine of every hundred is stupid and wrong, out of those thousands of ideas that still leaves them with a hundred good ones. That’s how they make up for being so stupid and having such short lives and small memories.
Orson Scott Card (Xenocide (Ender's Saga, #3))
I mention all this to make the point that if you were designing an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going and keep a record of where it has been, you wouldn't choose human beings for the job. But here's an extremely salient point: we have been chosen, by fate or Providence or whatever you wish to call it. It's an unnerving thought that we may be living the universe's supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously. Because we are so remarkably careless about looking after things, both when alive and when not, we have no idea-- really none at all-- about how many things have died off permanently, or may soon, or may never, and what role we have played in any part of the process. In 1979, in the book The Sinking Ark, the author Norman Myers suggested that human activities were causing about two extinctions a week on the planet. By the early 1990s he had raised the figure to about some six hundred per week. (That's extinctions of all types-- plants, insects, and so on as well as animals.) Others have put the figure ever higher-- to well over a thousand a week. A United Nations report of 1995, on the other hand, put the total number of known extinctions in the last four hundred years at slightly under 500 for animals and slightly over 650 for plants-- while allowing that this was "almost certainly an underestimate," particularly with regard to tropical species. A few interpreters think most extinction figures are grossly inflated. The fact is, we don't know. Don't have any idea. We don't know when we started doing many of the things we've done. We don't know what we are doing right now or how our present actions will affect the future. What we do know is that there is only one planet to do it on, and only one species of being capable of making a considered difference. Edward O. Wilson expressed it with unimprovable brevity in The Diversity of Life: "One planet, one experiment." If this book has a lesson, it is that we are awfully lucky to be here-- and by "we" i mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp. We have arrived at this position of eminence in a stunningly short time. Behaviorally modern human beings-- that is, people who can speak and make art and organize complex activities-- have existed for only about 0.0001 percent of Earth's history. But surviving for even that little while has required a nearly endless string of good fortune. We really are at the beginning of it all. The trick, of course, is to make sure we never find the end. And that, almost certainly, will require a good deal more than lucky breaks.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
Today’s Darwinists will tell you that the task of humanity is to take charge of evolution. But ‘humanity’ is only a name for a ragtag animal with no capacity to take charge of anything. By destabilizing the climate, it is making the planet less hospitable to human life. By developing new technologies of mass communication and warfare, it has set in motion processes of evolution that may end up displacing it.
John Gray (The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom)
Know your load. That’s rule numero uno in this business, which is why I make them count the penguins out in front of me one at a time. I’m not going to be the schmuck who shows up in Orlando two birds short of a dinner party....I know I’m pulling out of Houston with exactly forty-two Gentoo penguins, seventeen Jamaican land iguanas, four tuataras from New Zealand, and a pair of rare, civet-like mammals called linsangs. No more, no less.
Jacob M. Appel (Scouting for the Reaper)
The next morning I told Mom I couldn't go to school again. She asked what was wrong. I told her, “The same thing that’s always wrong.” “You’re sick?” “I'm sad.” “About Dad?” “About everything.” She sat down on the bed next to me, even though I knew she was in a hurry. “What's everything?” I started counting on my fingers: “The meat and dairy products in our refrigerator, fistfights, car accidents, Larry–” “Who's Larry?” “The homeless guy in front of the Museum of Natural History who always says ‘I promise it’s for food’ after he asks for money.” She turned around and I zipped her dress while I kept counting. “How you don’t know who Larry is, even though you probably see him all the time, how Buckminster just sleeps and eats and goes to the bathroom and has no ‘raison d’etre’, the short ugly guy with no neck who takes tickets at the IMAX theater, how the sun is going to explode one day, how every birthday I always get at least one thing I already have, poor people who get fat because they eat junk food because it’s cheaper…” That was when I ran out of fingers, but my list was just getting started, and I wanted it to be long, because I knew she wouldn't leave while I was still going. “…domesticated animals, how I have a domesticated animal, nightmares, Microsoft Windows, old people who sit around all day because no one remembers to spend time with them and they’re embarrassed to ask people to spend time with them, secrets, dial phones, how Chinese waitresses smile even when there’s nothing funny or happy, and also how Chinese people own Mexican restaurants but Mexican people never own Chinese restaurants, mirrors, tape decks, my unpopularity in school, Grandma’s coupons, storage facilities, people who don’t know what the Internet is, bad handwriting, beautiful songs, how there won’t be humans in fifty years–” “Who said there won't be humans in fifty years?” I asked her, “Are you an optimist or a pessimist?” She looked at her watch and said, “I'm optimistic.” “Then I have some bed news for you, because humans are going to destroy each other as soon as it becomes easy enough to, which will be very soon.” “Why do beautiful songs make you sad?” “Because they aren't true.” “Never?” “Nothing is beautiful and true.
Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
To hell with you. You just don't want to admit it. Those people, they're animals. They want to see someone's brains on the road, that's why they turn out. They'd just as soon see yours." "That isn't the point," McVries said calmly. "Didn't you say you went to see the Long Walk when you were younger?" "Yes, when I didn't know any better!" "Well, that makes it okay, doesn't it?" McVries uttered a short, ugly-sounding laugh. "Sure they're animals. You think you just found out a new principle? Sometimes I wonder just how naive you really are. The French lords and ladies used to screw after the guillotinings. The old Romans used to stuff each other during the gladiatorial matches. That's entertainment, Garraty. It's nothing new." He laughed againd. Garraty stared at him, fascinated. [...] "Death is great for the appetites," McVries said. [...] "But even that's not the real point of this little expedition, Garraty. The point is, they're the smart ones. They're not getting thrown to the lions. They're not staggering along and hoping they won't have to take a shit with two warnings against them. You're dumb, Garraty. You and me and Pearson and Barkovitch and Stebbins, we're all dumb. Scramm's dumb because he thinks he understands and he doesn't. Olson's dumb because he understood too much too late. They're animals, all right. But why are you so goddam sure that makes us human beings?" He paused, badly out of breath. [...] "Then why are you doing it? Garraty asked him. "If you know that much, and if you're that sure, why are you doing it?" "The same reason we're all doing it," Stebbins said. He smiled gently, almost lovingly. His lips were a little sun-parched; otherwise, his face was still unlined and seemingly invincible. "We want to die, that's why we're doing it. Why else, Garraty? Why else?
Richard Bachman (The Long Walk)
Surveys have shown that ranking very close to the fear of death is the fear of public speaking. Why would someone feel profound fear, deep in his or her stomach, about public speaking, which is so far from death? Because it isn’t so far from death when we link it. Those who fear public speaking actually fear the loss of identity that attaches to performing badly, and that is firmly rooted in our survival needs. For all social animals, from ants to antelopes, identity is the pass card to inclusion, and inclusion is the key to survival. If a baby loses its identity as the child of his or her parents, a possible outcome is abandonment. For a human infant, that means death. As adults, without our identity as a member of the tribe or village, community or culture, a likely outcome is banishment and death. So the fear of getting up and addressing five hundred people at the annual convention of professionals in your field is not just the fear of embarrassment—it is linked to the fear of being perceived as incompetent, which is linked to the fear of loss of employment, loss of home, loss of family, your ability to contribute to society, your value, in short, your identity and your life. Linking an unwarranted fear to its ultimate terrible destination usually helps alleviate that fear. Though you may find that public speaking can link to death, you’ll see that it would be a long and unlikely trip.
Gavin de Becker (The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence)
The Eternal may meet us in what is, by our present measurements, a day, or (more likely) a minute or a second; but we have touched what is not in any way commensurable with lengths of time, whether long or short. Hence our hope finally to emerge, if not altogether from time (that might not suit our humanity) at any rate from the tyranny, the unilinear poverty, of time, to ride it not to be ridden by it, and so to cure that always aching wound ('the wound man was born for') which mere succession and mutability inflict on us, almost equally when we are happy and when we are unhappy. For we are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. 'How he's grown!' we exclaim, 'How time flies!' as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the very wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed: unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.
C.S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms)
If a curiously selective plague came along and killed all people of intermediate height, 'tall' and 'short' would come to have just as precise a meaning as 'bird' or 'mammal'. The same is true of human ethics and law. Our legal and moral systems are deeply species-bound. The director of a zoo is legally entitled to 'put down' a chimpanzee that is surplus to requirements, while any suggestion that he might 'put down' a redundant keeper or ticket-seller would be greeted with howls of incredulous outrage. The chimpanzee is the property of the zoo. Humans are nowadays not supposed to be anybody's property, yet the rationale for discriminating against chimpanzees in this way is seldom spelled out, and I doubt if there is a defensible rationale at all. Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our attitudes, the abortion of a single human zygote can arouse more moral solicitude and righteous indignation than the vivisection of any number of intelligent adult chimpanzees! [T]he only reason we can be comfortable with such a double standard is that the intermediates between humans and chimps are all dead.
Richard Dawkins (The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design)
In all these assaults on the senses there is a great wisdom — not only about the addictiveness of pleasures but about their ephemerality. The essence of addiction, after all, is that pleasure tends to desperate and leave the mind agitated, hungry for more. The idea that just one more dollar, one more dalliance, one more rung on the ladder will leave us feeling sated reflects a misunderstanding about human nature — a misunderstanding, moreover, that is built into human nature; we are designed to feel that the next great goal will bring bliss, and the bliss is designed to evaporate shortly after we get there. Natural selection has a malicious sense of humor; it leads us along with a series of promises and then keeps saying ‘Just kidding.’ As the Bible puts it, ‘All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.’ Remarkably, we go our whole lives without ever really catching on. The advice of the sages — that we refuse to play this game — is nothing less than an incitement to mutiny, to rebel against our creator. Sensual pleasures are the whip natural selection uses to control us to keep us in the thrall of its warped value system. To cultivate some indifference to them is one plausible route to liberation. While few of us can claim to have traveled far on this route, the proliferation of this scriptural advice suggests it has been followed some distance with some success.
Robert Wright (The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are - The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology)
Most Eugenists are Euphemists. I mean merely that short words startle them, while long words soothe them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, however obviously they mean the same thing. Say to them "The persuasive and even coercive powers of the citizen should enable him to make sure that the burden of longevity in the previous generation does not become disproportionate and intolerable, especially to the females"; say this to them and they will sway slightly to and fro like babies sent to sleep in cradles. Say to them "Murder your mother," and they sit up quite suddenly. Yet the two sentences, in cold logic, are exactly the same. Say to them "It is not improbable that a period may arrive when the narrow if once useful distinction between the anthropoid homo and the other animals, which has been modified on so many moral points, may be modified also even in regard to the important question of the extension of human diet"; say this to them, and beauty born of murmuring sound will pass into their face. But say to them, in a simple, manly, hearty way "Let's eat a man!" and their surprise is quite surprising. Yet the sentences say just the same thing.
G.K. Chesterton (Eugenics and Other Evils : An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State)
Plants began the process of land colonization about 450 million years ago, accompanied of necessity by tiny mites and other organisms which they needed to break down and recycle dead organic matter on their behalf. Larger animals took a little longer to emerge, but by about 400 million years ago they were venturing out of the water, too. Popular illustrations have encouraged us to envision the first venturesome land dwellers as a kind of ambitious fish—something like the modern mudskipper, which can hop from puddle to puddle during droughts—or even as a fully formed amphibian. In fact, the first visible mobile residents on dry land were probably much more like modern woodlice, sometimes also known as pillbugs or sow bugs. These are the little bugs (crustaceans, in fact) that are commonly thrown into confusion when you upturn a rock or log.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
One such monster lived around 600 B.C. and was the slave of a Greek nobleman named Iadmon who lived on Samos. This unfortunate was a hunchback described as having "an enormous head with slit eyes, a long, misshaped countenance, a large mouth and bowed legs." A servant girl meeting him asked in horror, "Are you a baboon?" Because he was cut off from humanity by his revolting appearance, this monster made friends with animals. He told numerous short tales with animal heroes illustrating the weaknesses of people. His stories were so biting and his looks so disgusting that he was finally killed by a mob. His name was Aesop.
Daniel P. Mannix (Freaks)
History and literature rebuke our self-sufficiency; that's one reason why we ought to study them. It's not so much that people of olden times were the finest exemplars of higher humanity, for they too fell short of their ideals, as must all who aspire to higher things--that's what ideals are for. It's that we have abandoned those ideals once animating our civilization, refusing to learn them anew with each generation. We have assumed their transfer to be automatic. We have not indeed jettisoned the hope and drive that keep us working for a better world (that's the good news), but we have forgotten to cultivate ourselves as individuals.
Tracy Lee Simmons (Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin)
Masses of warring men animated the horizon, crashing into stubborn ranks, churning in melee. The air didn’t so much thunder as hiss with the sound of distant battle, like a sea heard through a conch shell, Martemus thought—an angry sea. Winded, he watched the first of Conphas’s assassins stride up behind Prince Kellhus, raise his short-sword … There was an impossible moment—a sharp intake of breath. The Prophet simply turned and caught the descending blade between his thumb and forefinger. “No,” he said, then swept around, knocking the man to the turf with an unbelievable kick. Somehow the assassin’s sword found its way into his left hand. Still crouched, the Prophet drove it down through the assassin’s throat, nailing him to the turf. A mere heartbeat had passed.
R. Scott Bakker (The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing, #2))
My darling, what a cat they have! Something perfectly stupendous. Siamese, in colour dark beige, or taupe, with chocolate paws and the tail the same. Moreover, his tail is comparatively short, so his croup has something of a little dog, or rather, a kangaroo, and that’s its colour, too. And that special silkiness of short fur, and some very tender white tints on its folds, and wonderful clear-blue eyes, turning transparently green towards evening, and a pensive tenderness of its walk, a sort of heavenly circumspection of movement. An amazing, sacred animal, and so quiet – it’s unclear what he is looking at with those eyes filled to the brim with sapphire water.
Vladimir Nabokov
A black Carrera came into the driveway and stopped behind the limo. This must be the director. They guy knew cars, alright. The driver came out of the car. Dare normally didn’t pay attention to a fellow guy’s looks but he did this time. Fuck, he isn’t fat, short, bald and ugly. Celine greeted the guy. They hugged each other and started talking animatedly. His nostrils flared. His fists started to clench but he willed them to relax. Get your shit together, you idiot. That’s the fuckin’ director who’d help Ben with your damn script.
Eve Montelibano (Megastar (The Stars Trilogy #1))
I’m Still Here Your heart has been heavy since that day— The day you thought I went away— I haven’t left you I never would— You just can’t see me, though I wish that you could. It might ease the pain that you feel in your heart— The pain that you’ve felt since you’ve believed us to part. Try and think of it this way, it might help you see— That I am right here with you and always will be. Remember the times we were out in the yard, You could not always see me yet I hadn’t gone far. That’s how it is now when you look for my face I’m still right beside you still filling my place. I find it to be so very sad, That seeing and believing seem to go hand in hand, The love and the loyalty the warmth that I gave, You felt them, did not see them, but you believed just the same. I walk with you now like I walked with you then— My pain is now gone and I lead once again. My eyes always following you wherever you roam— Making sure you’re okay and you’re never alone. Our time was too short yet for me it goes on— I won’t ever leave you, I’ll never be gone. I live in your heart as you live in mine— An endearing love that continues to shine. The day will come and together we’ll be, And you’ll say take me home boy, and once again I will lead. Until that day comes don’t think that I’ve gone— I’m right here beside you, and my love it lives on.
Sylvia Browne (All Pets Go To Heaven: The Spiritual Lives of the Animals We Love)
Being nearly four years old, she was certainly a child: and children are human (if one allows the term "human" a wide sense): but she had not altogether ceased to be a baby: and babies are of course not human--they are animals, and have a very ancient and ramified culture, as cats have, and fishes, and even snakes: the same in kind as these, but much more complicated and vivid, since babies are, after all, one of the most developed species of the lower vertebrates. In short, babies have minds which work in terms and categories of their own which cannot be translated into the terms and categories of the human mind. It is true that they look human--but not so human, to be quite fair, as many monkeys. Subconsciously, too, every one recognizes they are animals--why else do people always laugh when a baby does some action resembling the human, as they would at a praying mantis? If the baby was only a less-developed man, there would be nothing funny in it, surely.
Richard Hughes (A High Wind in Jamaica)
If our life is ever really as beautiful as a fairy-tale, we shall have to remember that all the beauty of a fairy-tale lies in this: that the prince has a wonder which just stops short of being fear. If he is afraid of the giant, there is an end of him; but also if he is not astonished at the giant, there is an end of the fairy-tale. The whole point depends upon his being at once humble enough to wonder, and haughty enough to defy. So our attitude to the giant of the world must not merely be increasing delicacy or increasing contempt: it must be one particular proportion of the two–which is exactly right. We must have in us enough reverence for all things outside us to make us tread fearfully on the grass. We must also have enough disdain for all things outside us, to make us, on due occasion, spit at the stars. Yet these two things (if we are to be good or happy) must be combined, not in any combination, but in one particular combination. The perfect happiness of men on the earth (if it ever comes) will not be a flat and solid thing, like the satisfaction of animals. It will be an exact and perilous balance; like that of a desperate romance. Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
The animal does not rebel against its own kind. Consider animals: how just they are, how well-behaved, how they keep to the time-honored, how loyal they are to the land that bears them, how they hold to their accustomed routes, how they care for their young, how they go together to pasture, and how they draw one another to the spring. There is not one that conceals its overabundance of prey and lets its brother starve as a result. There is not one that tries to enforce its will on those of its own kind. Not a one mistakenly imagines that it is an elephant when it is a mosquito. The animal lives fittingly and true to the life of its species, neither exceeding nor falling short of it. He who never lives his animal must treat his brother like an animal. Abase yourself and live your animal so that you will be able to treat your brother correctly. You will thus redeem all those roaming dead who strive to feed on the living. And do not turn anything you do into a law, since that is the hubris of power.
C.G. Jung (The Red Book: Liber Novus)
The essence of the evening was captured by a question from the audience. Someone asked: “What would it take to change your worldview?” My answer was simple: Any single piece of evidence. If we found a fossilized animal trying to swim between the layers of rock in the Grand Canyon, if we found a process by which a new huge fraction of a radioactive material’s neutrons could become protons in some heretofore fantastically short period of time, if we found a way to create eleven species a day, if there were some way for starlight to get here without going the speed of light, that would force me and every other scientist to look at the world in a new way. However, no such contradictory evidence has ever been found—not any, not ever.
Bill Nye (Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation)
It is a natural human impulse to think of evolution as a long chain of improvements, of a never-ending advance towards largeness and complexity – in a word, towards us. We flatter ourselves. Most of the real diversity in evolution has been small-scale. We large things are just flukes – an interesting side branch. Of the twenty-three main divisions of life, only three – plants, animals and fungi – are large enough to be seen by the human eye33, and even they contain species that are microscopic. Indeed, according to Woese, if you totalled up all the biomass of the planet – every living thing, plants included – microbes would account for at least 80 per cent of all there is34, perhaps more. The world belongs to the very small – and it has done for a very long time.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
We must be careful to make a distinction between the intellectual and the person of intellectual achievement. The two are very, very different animals. There are people of intellectual achievement who increase the sum of human knowledge, the powers of human insight, and analysis. And then there are the intellectuals. An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others. Starting in the early twentieth century, for the first time an ordinary storyteller, a novelist, a short story writer, a poet, a playwright, in certain cases a composer, an artist, or even an opera singer could achieve a tremendous eminence by becoming morally indignant about some public issue. It required no intellectual effort whatsoever. Suddenly he was elevated to a plane from which he could look down upon ordinary people. Conversely — this fascinates me — conversely, if you are merely a brilliant scholar, merely someone who has added immeasurably to the sum of human knowledge and the powers of human insight, that does not qualify you for the eminence of being an intellectual.
Tom Wolfe
It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man. If he is more than a popular story-teller it may take humanity a generation to absorb and grow accustomed to the new geography with which the scientist or artist presents us.... In short, like the herd animals we are, we sniff warily at the strange one among us. If he is fortunate enough finally to be accepted, it is likely to be after a trial of ridicule and after the sting has been removed from his work by long familiarization and bowdlerizing, when the alien quality of his thought has been mitigated or removed.
Loren Eiseley (The Night Country)
Even if we ourselves are not personally scandalized by the notion of other animals as close relatives, even if our age has accommodated to the idea, the passionate resistance of so many of us, in so many epochs and cultures, and by so many distinguished scholars, must say something important about us. What can we learn about ourselves from an apparent error so widespread, propagated by so many leading philosophers and scientists, both ancient and modern, with such assurance and self-satisfaction? One of several possible answers: A sharp distinction between humans and "animals" is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them--without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. With untroubled consciences, we can render whole species extinct--for our perceived short-term benefit, or even through simple carelessness. Their loss is of little import: Those beings, we tell ourselves, are not like us. An unbridgeable gap gas thus a practical role to play beyond the mere stroking of human egos. Darwin's formulation of this answer was: "Animals whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equals.
Carl Sagan (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors)
LOOK, I’M ONLY IN THIS FOR THE PIZZA. The publisher was like, “Oh, you did such a great job writing about the Greek gods last year! We want you to write another book about the Ancient Greek heroes! It’ll be so cool!” And I was like, “Guys, I’m dyslexic. It’s hard enough for me to read books.” Then they promised me a year’s supply of free pepperoni pizza, plus all the blue jelly beans I could eat. I sold out. I guess it’s cool. If you’re looking to fight monsters yourself, these stories might help you avoid some common mistakes—like staring Medusa in the face, or buying a used mattress from any dude named Crusty. But the best reason to read about the old Greek heroes is to make yourself feel better. No matter how much you think your life sucks, these guys and gals had it worse. They totally got the short end of the Celestial stick. By the way, if you don’t know me, my name is Percy Jackson. I’m a modern-day demigod—the son of Poseidon. I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old-school hard-luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. Let’s pick twelve of them. That should be plenty. By the time you finish reading about how miserable their lives were—what with the poisonings, the betrayals, the mutilations, the murders, the psychopathic family members, and the flesh-eating barnyard animals—if that doesn’t make you feel better about your own existence, then I don’t know what will. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion-skin cape. Polish your shield, and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.
Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes (A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide))
These are among the people I've tried to know twice, the second time in memory and language. Through them, myself. They are what I've become, in ways I don't understand but which I believe will accrue to a rounded truth, a second life for me as well as them. Cracking jokes in the mandatory American manner of people self-concious about death. This is the humor of violent surprise. How do you connect things? Learn their names. It was a strange conversation, full of hedged remarks and obscure undercurrents, perfect in its way. I was not a happy runner. I did it to stay interested in my body, to stay informed, and to set up clear lines of endeavor, a standard to meet, a limit to stay within. I was just enough of a puritan to think there must be some virtue in rigorous things, although I was careful not to overdo it. I never wore the clothes. the shorts, tank top, high socks. Just running shoes and a lightweight shirt and jeans. I ran disguised as an ordinary person. -When are you two going to have children? -We're our own children. In novels lately the only real love, the unconditional love I ever come across is what people feel for animals. Dolphins, bears, wolves, canaries. I would avoid people, stop drinking. There was a beggar with a Panasonic. This is what love comes down to, things that happen and what we say about them. But nothing mattered so much on this second reading as a number of spirited misspellings. I found these mangled words exhilarating. He'd made them new again, made me see how they worked, what they really were. They were ancient things, secret, reshapable.The only safety is in details. Hardship makes the world obscure. How else could men love themselves but in memory, knowing what they know? The world has become self-referring. You know this. This thing has seeped into the texture of the world. The world for thousands of years was our escape, was our refuge. Men hid from themselves in the world. We hid from God or death. The world was where we lived, the self was where we went mad and died. But now the world has made a self of its own.
Don DeLillo (The Names)
Perhaps the deepest indication of our slavery is the monetization of time. It is a phenomenon with roots deeper than our money system, for it depends on the prior quantification of time. An animal or a child has “all the time in the world.” The same was apparently true for Stone Age peoples, who usually had very loose concepts of time and rarely were in a hurry. Primitive languages often lacked tenses, and sometimes lacked even words for “yesterday” or “tomorrow.” The comparative nonchalance primitive people had toward time is still apparent today in rural, more traditional parts of the world. Life moves faster in the big city, where we are always in a hurry because time is scarce. But in the past, we experienced time as abundant. The more monetized society is, the more anxious and hurried its citizens. In parts of the world that are still somewhat outside the money economy, where subsistence farming still exists and where neighbors help each other, the pace of life is slower, less hurried. In rural Mexico, everything is done mañana. A Ladakhi peasant woman interviewed in Helena Norberg-Hodge’s film Ancient Futures sums it all up in describing her city-dwelling sister: “She has a rice cooker, a car, a telephone—all kinds of time-saving devices. Yet when I visit her, she is always so busy we barely have time to talk.” For the animal, child, or hunter-gatherer, time is essentially infinite. Today its monetization has subjected it, like the rest, to scarcity. Time is life. When we experience time as scarce, we experience life as short and poor. If you were born before adult schedules invaded childhood and children were rushed around from activity to activity, then perhaps you still remember the subjective eternity of childhood, the afternoons that stretched on forever, the timeless freedom of life before the tyranny of calendar and clocks. “Clocks,” writes John Zerzan, “make time scarce and life short.” Once quantified, time too could be bought and sold, and the scarcity of all money-linked commodities afflicted time as well. “Time is money,” the saying goes, an identity confirmed by the metaphor “I can’t afford the time.” If the material world
Charles Eisenstein (Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition)
Though we became experimental creatures of our own devising, it’s important to bear in mind that we had no inkling of this process, let alone its consequences, until only the last six or seven of our 100,000 generations. We have done it all sleepwalking. Nature let a few apes into the lab of evolution, switched on the lights, and left us there to mess about with an ever-growing supply of ingredients and processes. The effect on us and the world has accumulated ever since. Let’s list a few steps between the earliest times and this: sharp stones, animal skins, useful bits of bone and wood, wild fire, tame fire, seeds for eating, seeds for planting, houses, villages, pottery, cities, metals, wheels, explosives. What strikes one most forcefully is the acceleration, the runaway progression of change - or to put it another way, the collapsing of time. From the first chipped stone to the first smelted iron took nearly 3 million years; from the first iron to the hydrogen bomb took only 3,000.
Ronald Wright (A Short History of Progress)
He pauses, swipes a matchstick on a column. It bursts into flame. “I tell you, you must take risks in my studio.” He finds a cigarette behind his ear and lights it. “I tell you not to be timid. I tell you to make the choices, make the mistakes, big, terrible, reckless mistakes, really screw it all up. I tell you it is the only way.” An affirmative murmur. “I say this, yes, but I still see so many of you afraid to cut in.” He begins to pace, slowly like a wolf, which is definitely his mirror animal. “I see what you are doing. When you leave yesterday, I go from work to work. You feel like Rambo maybe with the drills, the saws. You make lots of noise, lots of dust, but very few of you have found even this much”—he pinches two fingers together—“of your sculptures. Today this changes.” He walks over to a short blond-haired girl. “May I, Melinda?” “Please,
Jandy Nelson (I'll Give You the Sun)
George Williams, the revered evolutionary biologist, describes the natural world as “grossly immoral.” Having no foresight or compassion, natural selection “can honestly be described as a process for maximizing short-sighted selfishness.” On top of all the miseries inflicted by predators and parasites, the members of a species show no pity to their own kind. Infanticide, siblicide, and rape can be observed in many kinds of animals; infidelity is common even in so-called pair-bonded species; cannibalism can be expected in all species that are not strict vegetarians; death from fighting is more common in most animal species than it is in the most violent American cities. Commenting on how biologists used to describe the killing of starving deer by mountain lions as an act of mercy, Williams wrote: “The simple facts are that both predation and starvation are painful prospects for deer, and that the lion's lot is no more enviable. Perhaps biology would have been able to mature more rapidly in a culture not dominated by Judeo-Christian theology and the Romantic tradition. It might have been well served by the First Holy Truth from [Buddha's] Sermon at Benares: “Birth is painful, old age is painful, sickness is painful, death is painful...”” As soon as we recognize that there is nothing morally commendable about the products of evolution, we can describe human psychology honestly, without the fear that identifying a “natural” trait is the same as condoning it. As Katharine Hepburn says to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.
Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature)
The world – whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we've just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we've got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world – it is astonishing. But ‘astonishing’ is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We’re astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we've grown accustomed to. Now the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se and isn't based on comparison with something else. Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like ‘the ordinary world,’ ‘ordinary life,’ ‘the ordinary course of events’ … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.
Wisława Szymborska
I suspect that you cannot recall any truly significant action in your life that wasn’t governed by two very simple rules: staying away from something that would feed bad, or trying to accomplish something that would feel good. This law of approach and avoidance dictates most of human and animal behavior from a very early age. The forces that implement this law are positive and negative emotions. Emotions make us do things, as the name suggests (remove the first letter from the word). They motivate our remarkable achievements, incite us to try again when we fail, keep us safe from potential harm, urge us to accomplish rewarding and beneficial outcomes, and compel us to cultivate social and romantic relationships. In short, emotions in appropriate amounts make life worth living. They offer a healthy and vital existence, psychologically and biologically speaking. Take them away, and you face a sterile existence with no highs or lows to speak of. Emotionless, you will simply exist, rather than live.
Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams)
With the best of intentions, the generation before mine worked diligently to prepare their children to make an intelligent case for Christianity. We were constantly reminded of the superiority of our own worldview and the shortcomings of all others. We learned that as Christians, we alone had access to absolute truth and could win any argument. The appropriate Bible verses were picked out for us, the opposing positions summarized for us, and the best responses articulated for us, so that we wouldn’t have to struggle through two thousand years of theological deliberations and debates but could get right to the bottom line on the important stuff: the deity of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, the role and interpretation of Scripture, and the fundamentals of Christianity. As a result, many of us entered the world with both an unparalleled level of conviction and a crippling lack of curiosity. So ready with the answers, we didn’t know what the questions were anymore. So prepared to defend the faith, we missed the thrill of discovering it for ourselves. So convinced we had God right, it never occurred to us that we might be wrong. In short, we never learned to doubt. Doubt is a difficult animal to master because it requires that we learn the difference between doubting God and doubting what we believe about God. The former has the potential to destroy faith; the latter has the power to enrich and refine it. The former is a vice; the latter a virtue. Where would we be if the apostle Peter had not doubted the necessity of food laws, or if Martin Luther had not doubted the notion that salvation can be purchased? What if Galileo had simply accepted church-instituted cosmology paradigms, or William Wilberforce the condition of slavery? We do an injustice to the intricacies and shadings of Christian history when we gloss over the struggles, when we read Paul’s epistles or Saint Augustine’s Confessions without acknowledging the difficult questions that these believers asked and the agony with which they often asked them. If I’ve learned anything over the past five years, it’s that doubt is the mechanism by which faith evolves. It helps us cast off false fundamentals so that we can recover what has been lost or embrace what is new. It is a refining fire, a hot flame that keeps our faith alive and moving and bubbling about, where certainty would only freeze it on the spot. I would argue that healthy doubt (questioning one’s beliefs) is perhaps the best defense against unhealthy doubt (questioning God). When we know how to make a distinction between our ideas about God and God himself, our faith remains safe when one of those ideas is seriously challenged. When we recognize that our theology is not the moon but rather a finger pointing at the moon, we enjoy the freedom of questioning it from time to time. We can say, as Tennyson said, Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be; They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.15 I sometimes wonder if I might have spent fewer nights in angry, resentful prayer if only I’d known that my little systems — my theology, my presuppositions, my beliefs, even my fundamentals — were but broken lights of a holy, transcendent God. I wish I had known to question them, not him. What my generation is learning the hard way is that faith is not about defending conquered ground but about discovering new territory. Faith isn’t about being right, or settling down, or refusing to change. Faith is a journey, and every generation contributes its own sketches to the map. I’ve got miles and miles to go on this journey, but I think I can see Jesus up ahead.
Rachel Held Evans (Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions)
The end of this short story could be a rather disturbing thing, if it came true. I hope you like it, and if you do, be sure to COMMENT and SHARE. Paradoxes of Destiny? Dani! My boy! Are you all right? Where are you? Have you hurt yourself? Are you all right? Daniiii! Why won’t you answer? It’s so cold and dark here. I can’t see a thing… It’s so silent. Dani? Can you hear me? I shouldn’t have looked at that text message while I was driving… I shouldn’t have done it! I'm so stupid sometimes! Son, are you all right?... We really wrecked the car when we rolled it! I can’t see or hear a thing… Am I in hospital? Am I dead…? Dani? Your silence is killing me… Are you all right?! I can see a glimmer of light. I feel trapped. Dani, are you there? I can’t move. It’s like I’m wrapped in this mossy green translucent plastic. I have to get out of here. The light is getting more and more intense. I think I can tear the wrapping that’s holding me in. I'm almost out. The light is blinding me. What a strange place. I've never seen anything like it. It doesn’t look like Earth. Am I dead? On another planet? Oh God, look at those hideous monsters! They’re so creepy and disgusting! They look like extraterrestrials. They’re aliens! I'm on another planet! I can’t believe it. I need to get the hell out here. Those monsters are going to devour me. I have to get away. I’m so scared. Am I floating? Am I flying? I’m going to go higher to try to escape. I can’t see the aliens anymore and the landscape looks less terrifying. I think I've made it. It’s very windy. Is that a highway? I think I can see some vehicles down there. Could they be the extraterrestrials’ transport? I’m going to go down a bit. I see people! Am I on Earth? Could this be a parallel universe? Where could Dani be? I shouldn’t have looked at that text message while I was driving. I shouldn’t… That tower down there looks a lot like the water tank in my town… It’s identical. But the water tank in my town doesn’t have that huge tower block next to it. It all looks very similar to my neighborhood, but it isn’t exactly the same: there are a lot of tower blocks here. There’s the river… and the factory. It’s definitely my neighborhood, but it looks kind of different. I must be in a parallel universe… It’s amazing that I can float. People don’t seem to notice my presence. Am I a ghost? I have to get back home and see if Dani’s there. God, I hope he’s safe and sound. Gabriela must be out of her mind with the crash. There’s my house! Home sweet home. And whose are those cars? The front of the house has been painted a different color… This is all so strange! There’s someone in the garden… Those trees I planted in the spring have really grown. Is… is that… Dani? Yes, yes! It’s Dani. But he looks so different… He looks older, he looks… like a big boy! What’s important is that he’s OK. I need to hug him tight and tell him how much I love him. Can he see me if I’m a ghost? I'll go up to him slowly so I don’t scare him. I need to hold him tight. He can’t see me, I won’t get any closer. He moved his head, I think he’s started to realize I’m here… Wow I’m so hungry all of a sudden! I can’t stop! How are you doing, son?! It’s me! Your dad! My dear boy? I can’t stop! I'm too hungry! Ahhhh, so delicious! What a pleasure! Nooo Daniii! Nooooo!.... I’m your daaaad!... Splat!... “Mum, bring the insect repellent, the garden’s full of mosquitoes,” grunted Daniel as he wiped the blood from the palm of his hand on his trousers. Gabriela was just coming out. She did an about turn and went back into her house, and shouted “Darling, bring the insect repellent, it’s on the fireplace…” Absolute cold and silence… THE END (1) This note is for those who have read EQUINOX—WHISPERS OF DESTINY. This story is a spin-off of the novel EQUINOX—WHISPERS OF DESTINY and revolves around Letus’s curious theories about the possibility of animal reincarnation.
Gonzalo Guma (Equinoccio. Susurros del destino)
Isn’t it complicated to be human, though?” she said. “Animals seem to give up their lives so naturally…And after all, I grew up, I married John, I had Debby. So knowing, being able to understand and forecast and even predict an approximate date, shouldn’t make any difference. I guess consciousness makes individuals of us, and as individuals we lose the old acceptance…” “The one thing,” Marian said in a voice that went suddenly small and tight, “the thing I can hardly bear sometimes is that I won’t ever see her grow up. She’ll have to do it without whatever I could have given her.” “Time, too, time and everything that one could do in it, and the chance of wasting or losing or never even realizing it. It’s so important to us because we see it so close. We’re individuals, we’re full of ourselves, and so we’re bad historians. We get crazy and anxious because all of sudden there’s so little time left to be loving and generous as we wish we’d always been and always intended to be…do you suppose I feel the shortness of time because I want to experience everything and feel everything that the race has ever felt? Because there’s so much to feel and I’m greedy?
Wallace Stegner (All the Little Live Things)
They lost their sense of reality, the notion of time, the rhythm of daily habits. They closed the doors and windows again so as not to waste time getting undressed and they walked about the house as Remedios the Beauty had wanted to do and they would roll around naked in the mud of the courtyard, and one afternoon they almost drowned as they made love in the cistern. In a short time they did more damage than the red ants: they destroyed the furniture in the parlor, in their madness they tore to shreds the hammock that had resisted the sad bivouac loves of Colonel Aureliano Buendía and they disemboweled the mattresses and emptied them on the floor as they suffocated in storms of cotton. Although Aureliano was just as ferocious a lover as his rival, it was Amaranta ?rsula who ruled in that paradise of disaster with her mad genius and her lyrical voracity, as if she had concentrated in her love the unconquerable energy that her great-great-grandmother had given to the making of little candy animals. And yet, while she was singing with pleasure and dying with laughter over her own inventions, Aureliano was becoming more and more absorbed and silent, for his passion was self-centered and burning. Nevertheless, they both reached such extremes of virtuosity that when they became exhausted from excitement, they would take advantage of their fatigue. They would give themselves over to the worship of their bodies, discovering that the rest periods of love had unexplored possibilities, much richer than those of desire. While he would rub Amaranta ?rsula’s erect breasts with egg whites or smooth her elastic thighs and peach-like stomach with cocoa butter, she would play with Aureliano’s portentous creature as if it were a doll and would paint clown’s eyes on it with her lipstick and give it a Turk’s mustache with her eyebrow pencil, and would put on organza bow ties and little tinfoil hats. One night they daubed themselves from head to toe with peach jam and licked each other like dogs and made mad love on the floor of the porch, and they were awakened by a torrent of carnivorous ants who were ready to eat them alive.
Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)
My mother delayed my enrollment in the Fascist scouts, the Balilla, as long as possible, firstly because she did not want me to learn how to handle weapons, but also because the meetings that were then held on Sunday mornings (before the Fascist Saturday was instituted) consisted mostly of a Mass in the scouts' chapel. When I had to be enrolled as part of my school duties, she asked that I be excused from the Mass; this was impossible for disciplinary reasons, but my mother saw to it that the chaplain and the commander were aware that I was not a Catholic and that I should not be asked to perform any external acts of devotion in church. In short, I often found myself in situations different from others, looked on as if I were some strange animal. I do not think this harmed me: one gets used to persisting in one's habits, to finding oneself isolated for good reasons, to putting up with the discomfort that this causes, to finding the right way to hold on to positions which are not shared by the majority. But above all I grew up tolerant of others' opinions, particularly in the field of religion, remembering how irksome it was to hear myself mocked because I did not follow the majority's beliefs. And at the same time I have remained totally devoid of that taste for anticlericalism which is so common in those who are educated surrounded by religion. I have insisted on setting down these memories because I see that many non-believing friends let their children have a religious education 'so as not to give them complexes', 'so that they don't feel different from the others.' I believe that this behavior displays a lack of courage which is totally damaging pedagogically. Why should a young child not begin to understand that you can face a small amount of discomfort in order to stay faithful to an idea? And in any case, who said that young people should not have complexes? Complexes arise through a natural attrition with the reality that surrounds us, and when you have complexes you try to overcome them. Life is in fact nothing but this triumphing over one's own complexes, without which the formation of a character and personality does not happen.
Italo Calvino (Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings)
The Chorus Line: The Birth of Telemachus, An Idyll Nine months he sailed the wine-red seas of his mother's blood Out of the cave of dreaded Night, of sleep, Of troubling dreams he sailed In his frail dark boat, the boat of himself, Through the dangerous ocean of his vast mother he sailed From the distant cave where the threads of men's lives are spun, Then measured, and then cut short By the Three Fatal Sisters, intent on their gruesome handcrafts, And the lives of women also are twisted into the strand. And we, the twelve who were later to die by his hand At his father's relentless command, Sailed as well, in the dark frail boats of ourselves Through the turbulent seas of our swollen and sore-footed mothers Who were not royal queens, but a motley and piebald collection, Bought, traded, captured, kidnapped from serfs and strangers. After the nine-month voyage we came to shore, Beached at the same time as he was, struck by the hostile air, Infants when he was an infant, wailing just as he wailed, Helpless as he was helpless, but ten times more helpless as well, For his birth was longed-for and feasted, as our births were not. His mother presented a princeling. Our various mothers Spawned merely, lambed, farrowed, littered, Foaled, whelped and kittened, brooded, hatched out their clutch. We were animal young, to be disposed of at will, Sold, drowned in the well, traded, used, discarded when bloomless. He was fathered; we simply appeared, Like the crocus, the rose, the sparrows endangered in mud. Our lives were twisted in his life; we also were children When he was a child, We were his pets and his toythings, mock sisters, his tiny companions. We grew as he grew, laughed also, ran as he ran, Though sandier, hungrier, sun-speckled, most days meatless. He saw us as rightfully his, for whatever purpose He chose, to tend him and feed him, to wash him, amuse him, Rock him to sleep in the dangerous boats of ourselves. We did not know as we played with him there in the sand On the beach of our rocky goat-island, close by the harbour, That he was foredoomed to swell to our cold-eyed teenaged killer. If we had known that, would we have drowned him back then? Young children are ruthless and selfish: everyone wants to live. Twelve against one, he wouldn't have stood a chance. Would we? In only a minute, when nobody else was looking? Pushed his still-innocent child's head under the water With our own still-innocent childish nursemaid hands, And blamed it on waves. Would we have had it in us? Ask the Three Sisters, spinning their blood-red mazes, Tangling the lives of men and women together. Only they know how events might then have had altered. Only they know our hearts. From us you will get no answer.
Margaret Atwood (The Penelopiad)
The father and daughter made their way north, through unknown sylvan paradises where only the owls and skunks know their way around. The hard work of paddling non-stop for many hours had long since stopped being difficult for Saweyimew. In spite of her beauty and grace, her back had grown strong and sinewy from years of canoe trips. She reveled in the exhilaration it always brought her, after the first few hours left her body insensible to pain or discomfort. Warm and tingly, lulled into peaceful contemplation by hours of the rhythmic paddling, the smell of the water, exotic blooms, animal musk. It all combined as one to make her feel so alive. Especially when it rained, and her body steamed against the cool drops, feeling invincible against the elements. The mountain of her father's back was like a rock against anything nature could throw against them. The stream of fragrant pipe-smoke still flowing from his lips, regardless of any obstacle. She felt at that moment, nothing would ever stop her father's pipe from smoking. Nothing, not death, not any force of the living or spirit world, would ever still her father's heart. Rain cleansing her to the core, she was a spring of raw power and self-reliance, paddling against all adversity--their master completely. Her father's daughter. At times like that, when it rained, she entirely understood and shared her father's outlook on life.
Alexei Maxim Russell (Forgotten Lore: Volume II)
Some gifted people have all five and some less. Every gifted person tends to lead with one. As I read this list for the first time I was struck by the similarities between Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities and the traits of Sensitive Intuitives. Read the list for yourself and see what you identify with: Psychomotor This manifests as a strong pull toward movement. People with this overexcitability tend to talk rapidly and/or move nervously when they become interested or passionate about something. They have a lot of physical energy and may run their hands through their hair, snap their fingers, pace back and forth, or display other signs of physical agitation when concentrating or thinking something out. They come across as physically intense and can move in an impatient, jerky manner when excited. Other people might find them overwhelming and they’re routinely diagnosed as ADHD. Sensual This overexcitability comes in the form of an extreme sensitivity to sounds, smells, bright lights, textures and temperature. Perfume and scented soaps and lotions are bothersome to people with this overexcitability, and they might also have aversive reactions to strong food smells and cleaning products. For me personally, if I’m watching a movie in which a strobe light effect is used, I’m done. I have to shut my eyes or I’ll come down with a headache after only a few seconds. Loud, jarring or intrusive sounds also short circuit my wiring. Intellectual This is an incessant thirst for knowledge. People with this overexcitability can’t ever learn enough. They zoom in on a few topics of interest and drink up every bit of information on those topics they can find. Their only real goal is learning for learning’s sake. They’re not trying to learn something to make money or get any other external reward. They just happened to have discovered the history of the Ming Dynasty or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and now it’s all they can think about. People with this overexcitability have intellectual interests that are passionate and wide-ranging and they study many areas simultaneously. Imaginative INFJ and INFP writers, this is you. This is ALL you. Making up stories, creating imaginary friends, believing in Santa Claus way past the ordinary age, becoming attached to fairies, elves, monsters and unicorns, these are the trademarks of the gifted child with imaginative overexcitability. These individuals appear dreamy, scattered, lost in their own worlds, and constantly have their heads in the clouds. They also routinely blend fiction with reality. They are practically the definition of the Sensitive Intuitive writer at work. Emotional Gifted individuals with emotional overexcitability are highly empathetic (and empathic, I might add), compassionate, and can become deeply attached to people, animals, and even inanimate objects, in a short period of time. They also have intense emotional reactions to things and might not be able to stomach horror movies or violence on the evening news. They have most likely been told throughout their life that they’re “too sensitive” or that they’re “overreacting” when in truth, they are expressing exactly how they feel to the most accurate degree.
Lauren Sapala (The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World's Rarest Type)
Think for a moment about the Agricultural Revolution from the viewpoint of wheat. Ten thousand years ago wheat was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East. Suddenly, within just a few short millennia, it was growing all over the world. According to the basic evolutionary criteria of survival and reproduction, wheat has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the earth. In areas such as the Great Plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of miles without encountering any other plant. Worldwide, wheat covers about 870,000 square miles of the globe’s surface, almost ten times the size of Britain. How did this grass turn from insignificant to ubiquitous? Wheat did it by manipulating Homo sapiens to its advantage. This ape had been living a fairly comfortable life hunting and gathering until about 10,000 years ago, but then began to invest more and more effort in cultivating wheat. Within a couple of millennia, humans in many parts of the world were doing little from dawn to dusk other than taking care of wheat plants. It wasn’t easy. Wheat demanded a lot of them. Wheat didn’t like rocks and pebbles, so Sapiens broke their backs clearing fields. Wheat didn’t like sharing its space, water and nutrients with other plants, so men and women laboured long days weeding under the scorching sun. Wheat got sick, so Sapiens had to keep a watch out for worms and blight. Wheat was attacked by rabbits and locust swarms, so the farmers built fences and stood guard over the fields. Wheat was thirsty, so humans dug irrigation canals or lugged heavy buckets from the well to water it. Sapiens even collected animal faeces to nourish the ground in which wheat grew.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
The case I’ve presented in this book suggests that humans are undergoing what biologists call a major transition. Such transitions occur when less complex forms of life combine in some way to give rise to more complex forms. Examples include the transition from independently replicating molecules to replicating packages called chromosomes or, the transition from different kinds of simple cells to more complex cells in which these once-distinct simple cell types came to perform critical functions and become entirely mutually interdependent, such as the nucleus and mitochondria in our own cells. Our species’ dependence on cumulative culture for survival, on living in cooperative groups, on alloparenting and a division of labor and information, and on our communicative repertoires mean that humans have begun to satisfy all the requirements for a major biological transition. Thus, we are literally the beginnings of a new kind of animal.1 By contrast, the wrong way to understand humans is to think that we are just a really smart, though somewhat less hairy, chimpanzee. This view is surprisingly common. Understanding how this major transition is occurring alters how we think about the origins of our species, about the reasons for our immense ecological success, and about the uniqueness of our place in nature. The insights generated alter our understandings of intelligence, faith, innovation, intergroup competition, cooperation, institutions, rituals, and the psychological differences between populations. Recognizing that we are a cultural species means that, even in the short run (when genes don’t have enough time to change), institutions, technologies, and languages are coevolving with psychological biases, cognitive abilities, emotional responses, and preferences. In the longer run, genes are evolving to adapt to these culturally constructed worlds, and this has been, and is now, the primary driver of human genetic evolution. Figure 17.1.
Joseph Henrich (The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter)
If we analyse the classes of life, we readily find that there are three cardinal classes which are radically distinct in function. A short analysis will disclose to us that, though minerals have various activities, they are not "living." The plants have a very definite and well known function-the transformation of solar energy into organic chemical energy. They are a class of life which appropriates one kind of energy, converts it into another kind and stores it up; in that sense they are a kind of storage battery for the solar energy; and so I define THE PLANTS AS THE CHEMISTRY-BINDING class of life. The animals use the highly dynamic products of the chemistry-binding class-the plants-as food, and those products-the results of plant-transformation-undergo in animals a further transformation into yet higher forms; and the animals are correspondingly a more dynamic class of life; their energy is kinetic; they have a remarkable freedom and power which the plants do not possess-I mean the freedom and faculty to move about in space; and so I define ANIMALS AS THE SPACE-BINDING CLASS OF LIFE. And now what shall we say of human beings? What is to be our definition of Man? Like the animals, human beings do indeed possess the space-binding capacity but, over and above that, human beings possess a most remarkable capacity which is entirely peculiar to them-I mean the capacity to summarise, digest and appropriate the labors and experiences of the past; I mean the capacity to use the fruits of past labors and experiences as intellectual or spiritual capital for developments in the present; I mean the capacity to employ as instruments of increasing power the accumulated achievements of the all-precious lives of the past generations spent in trial and error, trial and success; I mean the capacity of human beings to conduct their lives in the ever increasing light of inherited wisdom; I mean the capacity in virtue of which man is at once the heritor of the by-gone ages and the trustee of posterity. And because humanity is just this magnificent natural agency by which the past lives in the present and the present for the future, I define HUMANITY, in the universal tongue of mathematics and mechanics, to be the TIME-BINDING CLASS OF LIFE.
Alfred Korzybski (Manhood of Humanity: The Science and Art of Human Engineering (Classic Reprint))
The charge that Anarchism is destructive, rather than constructive, and that, therefore, Anarchism is opposed to organization, is one of the many falsehoods spread by our opponents. They confound our present social institutions with organization; hence they fail to understand how we can oppose the former, and yet favor the latter. The fact, however, is that the two are not identical. “The State is commonly regarded as the highest form of organization. But is it in reality a true organization? Is it not rather an arbitrary institution, cunningly imposed upon the masses? “Industry, too, is called an organization; yet nothing is farther from the truth. Industry is the ceaseless piracy of the rich against the poor. “We are asked to believe that the Army is an organization, but a close investigation will show that it is nothing else than a cruel instrument of blind force. “The Public School! The colleges and other institutions of learning, are they not models of organization, offering the people fine opportunities for instruction? Far from it. The school, more than any other institution, is a veritable barrack, where the human mind is drilled and manipulated into submission to various social and moral spooks, and thus fitted to continue our system of exploitation and oppression. “Organization, as WE understand it, however, is a different thing. It is based, primarily, on freedom. It is a natural and voluntary grouping of energies to secure results beneficial to humanity. “It is the harmony of organic growth which produces variety of color and form, the complete whole we admire in the flower. Analogously will the organized activity of free human beings, imbued with the spirit of solidarity, result in the perfection of social harmony, which we call Anarchism. In fact, Anarchism alone makes non-authoritarian organization of common interests possible, since it abolishes the existing antagonism between individuals and classes. “Under present conditions the antagonism of economic and social interests results in relentless war among the social units, and creates an insurmountable obstacle in the way of a co-operative commonwealth. “There is a mistaken notion that organization does not foster individual freedom; that, on the contrary, it means the decay of individuality. In reality, however, the true function of organization is to aid the development and growth of personality. “Just as the animal cells, by mutual co-operation, express their latent powers in formation of the complete organism, so does the individual, by co-operative effort with other individuals, attain his highest form of development. “An organization, in the true sense, cannot result from the combination of mere nonentities. It must be composed of self-conscious, intelligent individualities. Indeed, the total of the possibilities and activities of an organization is represented in the expression of individual energies. “It therefore logically follows that the greater the number of strong, self-conscious personalities in an organization, the less danger of stagnation, and the more intense its life element. “Anarchism asserts the possibility of an organization without discipline, fear, or punishment, and without the pressure of poverty: a new social organism which will make an end to the terrible struggle for the means of existence,—the savage struggle which undermines the finest qualities in man, and ever widens the social abyss. In short, Anarchism strives towards a social organization which will establish well-being for all. “The germ of such an organization can be found in that form of trades unionism which has done away with centralization, bureaucracy, and discipline, and which favors independent and direct action on the part of its members.
Emma Goldman (Anarchism and Other Essays)