Complex Life Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Complex Life. Here they are! All 200 of them:

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
Confucius
Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.
Harvey Pekar
Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.
Oscar Wilde
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
Walt Disney Company
Free yourself from the complexities and drama of your life. Simplify. Look within. Within ourselves we all have the gifts and talents we need to fulfill the purpose we've been blessed with.
Steve Maraboli (Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act. You simply don’t know what you believe, before that. You are too complex to understand yourself.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
There is one purpose to life and one only: to bear witness to and understand as much as possible of the complexity of the world- its beauty, its mysteries, its riddles.
Anne Rice (Servant of the Bones)
You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books)
She’s kept her love for him as alive as the summer they first met. In order to do this, she’s turned life away. Sometimes she subsists for days on water and air. Being the only known complex life-form to do this, she should have a species named after her. Once Uncle Julian told me how the sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti said that sometimes just to paint a head you have to give up the whole figure. To paint a leaf, you have to sacrifice the whole landscape. It might seem like you’re limiting yourself at first, but after a while you realize that having a quarter-of-an-inch of something you have a better chance of holding on to a certain feeling of the universe than if you pretended to be doing the whole sky. My mother did not choose a leaf or a head. She chose my father. And to hold on to a certain feeling, she sacrificed the world.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
When people complain of your complexity, they fail to remember that they made fun of your simplicity.
Michael Bassey Johnson
Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
I never knew anybody . . . who found life simple. I think a life or a time looks simple when you leave out the details.
Ursula K. Le Guin (The Birthday of the World and Other Stories (Hainish Cycle, #9))
Complex question can only be solved by patience.
Hlovate (Contengan Jalanan)
Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It's as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. so when I'm observing that's what I'm watching for. The choices people make
Louise Penny (Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1))
No story is a straight line. The geometry of a human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and the bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws.
Pat Conroy (Beach Music)
Life is complex. Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another...The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness.
M. Scott Peck
...in real life I always seem to have a hard time winding up a conversation or asking somebody to leave, and sometimes the moment becomes so delicate and fraught with social complexity that I'll get overwhelmed trying to sort out all the different possible ways of saying it and all the different implications of each option and will just sort of blank out and do it totally straight -- 'I want to terminate the conversation and not have you be in my apartment anymore' -- which evidently makes me look either as if I'm very rude and abrupt or as if I'm semi-autistic and have no sense of how to wind up a conversation gracefully...I've actually lost friends this way.
David Foster Wallace (Consider the Lobster and Other Essays)
I don't see why human people make such a heavy trip out of sex. It isn't anything complex, it is simply the best thing in life, even better than food.
Robert A. Heinlein (Friday)
Ah, art! Ah, life! The pendulum swinging back and forth, from complex to simple, again to complex. From romantic to realistic, back to romantic.
Ray Bradbury (The October Country)
Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex.
M. Scott Peck
When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.
Benjamin Hoff (The Tao of Pooh)
The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland—a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth—can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth.
Slavoj Žižek
But fear of making mistakes can itself become a huge mistake, one that prevents you from living, for life is risky and anything less is already a loss.
Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost)
It's definitely difficult being a woman and growing up a girl. When you're graceful, people say you lack personality; when you're serene, people say you're boring; when you're confident, people say you're arrogant; when you're feminine, people say you're too girly; and when you climb trees, people say you're too much of a tomboy! As a woman, you really need to develop a very strong sense of self and the earlier you can do that, the better! You have to be all the things that you are, without allowing other people's ignorance change you! I realized that they don't know what grace is, they can't identify serenity, they have inferiority complexes, they are incapable of being feminine, and they don't know how to climb trees!
C. JoyBell C.
There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
From innumerable complexities we must grow to simplicity; we must become simple in our inward life and in our outward needs.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (Education and the Significance of Life)
Words can be worrisome, poeple complex, motives and manners unclear, grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear.
Neil Gaiman (Blueberry Girl)
As we live and as we are, Simplicity - with a capital "S" - is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.
Frank Lloyd Wright (The Natural House)
This was her life. Not the life she had once dreamed of, not a life her younger self would ever have imagined or desired, but the life she was living, with all its complexities. This was her life, built with care and attention, and it was good.
Kim Edwards (The Memory Keeper's Daughter)
The brain does not create consciousness, but conciousness created the brain, the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
One of the things that we were trying to do with this show was the complexities of relationships and love. There is both passion and longing and a bittersweet quality to it that is a part of life.
Tim Burton (Tim Burton's Corpse Bride: An Invitation to the Wedding)
Free yourself from the complexities of your life! A life of simplicity and happiness awaits you.
Steve Maraboli (Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
The ideal art, the noblest of art: working with the complexities of life, refusing to simplify, to "overcome" doubt.
Joyce Carol Oates (The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982)
All of life in its complexity and beauty is forever minted in the gold of words.
Yevgeny Zamyatin (We)
The complexities of adult life get in the way of the truth.
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
It is tempting when looking at the life of anyone who has committed suicide to read into the decision to die a vastly complex web of reasons; and, of course, such complexity is warranted. No one illness or event causes suicide; and certainly no one knows all, or perhaps even most, of the motivations behind the killing of the self. But psychopathology is almost always there, and its deadliness is fierce. Love, success, and friendship are not always enough to counter the pain and destructiveness of severe mental illness
Kay Redfield Jamison (Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide)
In situations of captivity the perpetrator becomes the most powerful person in the life of the victim, and the psychology of the victim is shaped by the actions and beliefs of the perpetrator.
Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
This much I'm certain of: it doesn't happen immediately. You'll finish [the book] and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You'll be sick or feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won't matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you'll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how. You'll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place ... You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You'll care only about the darkness and you'll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you're some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you'll be afraid to look away, you'll be afraid to sleep. Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you'll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You'll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you'll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you've got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name. And then the nightmares will begin.
Mark Z. Danielewski (House of Leaves)
Simplicity is complex. It's never simple to keep things simple. Simple solutions require the most advanced thinking.
Richie Norton
His sudden mad love for Sibyl Vane was a psychological phenomenon of no small interest. There was no doubt that curiosity had much to do with it, curiosity and the desire for new experiences; yet it was not a simple but rather a very complex passion.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
There is nothing more beautiful than living a simple life in this complex universe!
Mehmet Murat ildan
A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books)
You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give. In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm. If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love "in the bank" to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
I’ve had a lot of practice. The Pack contains thirty-two species in seven tribes, each with their own hang-up. Jackals and coyotes pick fights with wolves, because they have an inferiority complex and think they’ve got something to prove. Wolves believe themselves to be superior, marry the wrong people, and then refuse to divorce them because they cling to their ‘mating for life’ idiocy. Hyenas listen to nobody, screw everything, and break out in berserk rages at some perceived slight against one of their own. Cats randomly refuse to follow orders to prove they can. That’s my life. I’ve been at this for fifteen years now. You’re easy by comparison.
Ilona Andrews (Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3))
The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, 'Seek simplicity and distrust it.
Alfred North Whitehead (The Concept of Nature: The Tarner Lectures Delivered in Trinity College, 11/1919)
My waking life probably gave my subconscious an inferiority complex.
Jordan Castillo Price (Criss Cross (PsyCop, #2))
The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable, event. Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle.
Michael Denton (Evolution: A Theory In Crisis)
This life is so complex that we rarely get to be the people we are truly meant to be. Instead, we wear masks and put up walls to keep from dealing with the fear of rejection, the feeling of regret, the very idea that someone may not love us for who we are deep in our core, that they might not understand the things that drive us.
Catherine Doyle (Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1))
Beauty is not in complexity but it's in simplicity.
Debasish Mridha
Perhaps we all lose our sense of reality to the precise degree to which we are engrossed in our own work, and perhaps that is why we see in the increasing complexity of our mental constructs a means for greater understanding, even while intuitively we know that we shall never be able to fathom the imponderables that govern our course through life.
W.G. Sebald (The Rings of Saturn)
We are accustomed to live in hopes of good weather, a good harvest, a nice love-affair, hopes of becoming rich or getting the office of chief of police, but I've never noticed anyone hoping to get wiser. We say to ourselves: it'll be better under a new tsar, and in two hundred years it'll still be better, and nobody tries to make this good time come tomorrow. On the whole, life gets more and more complex every day and moves on its own sweet will, and people get more and more stupid, and get isolated from life in ever-increasing numbers.
Anton Chekhov
When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central focus of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life.
Judith Lewis Herman (Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror)
It was simple. It was complex. It was savage; it was elegant. It was a dance; it was a war. It was finite and eternal. It was life.
Rick Yancey (The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2))
Learning to live with ambiguity is learning to live with how life really is, full of complexities and strange surprises..:
James Hollis (What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life)
I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong. But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than to suffer reality. I don't think anything is the opposite of love. Reality is unforgivingly complex.
Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)
I hope when people ask what you're going to do with your English degree and/or creative writing degree you'll say: 'Continue my bookish examination of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire;' or maybe just: 'Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters.' And then smile very serenely until they say, 'Oh.
Cheryl Strayed (Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar)
The sad truth is that man's real life consists of a complex of inexorable opposites—day and night, birth and death, happiness and misery, good and evil. We are not even sure that one will prevail against the other, that good will overcome evil, or joy defeat pain. Life is a battleground. It always has been and always will be; and if it were not so, existence would come to an end.
C.G. Jung (Man and His Symbols)
There was no solution, save that universal solution which life gives to all questions, even the most complex and insolvable: One must live in the needs of the day--that is, forget oneself.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
What if the meaning of life on earth is not eternal progress toward some unspecified goal—the engineering and production of more and more powerful technologies, the development of more and more complex and abstruse cultural forms? What if these things just rise and recede naturally, like tides, while the meaning of life remains the same always—just to live and be with other people?
Sally Rooney (Beautiful World, Where Are You)
The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie there in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win—you pass the test. If you are mentally weak for that moment and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail. Though it seems small, that weakness translates to more significant decisions. But if you exercise discipline, that too translates to more substantial elements of your life.
Jocko Willink (Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win)
I know what cancer was. How is it like humankind?" Sek Hardeen's perfectly modulated, softly accented tones showed a hint of agitation. "We have spread out through the galaxy like cancer cells through a living body, Duré. We multiply without thought to the countless life forms that must die or be pushed aside so that we may breed and flourish. We eradicate competing forms of intelligent life.
Dan Simmons (The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2))
All life is part of a complex relationship in which each is dependent upon the others, taking from, giving to and living with all the rest.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau
We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world. Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know about and don’t understand. [...] There are always new things to find out if you go looking for them.
David Attenborough
Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won't matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
Each of us is leading a difficult life, and when we meet people we are seeing only a tiny part of the thinnest veneer of their complex, troubled existences. To practise anything other than kindness towards them, to treat them in any way save generously, is to quietly deny their humanity.
Derren Brown (Confessions of a Conjuror)
Jake once said on stage that Jonny was the mighty in their storm, and now I see that Jake is my mighty storm. He’s broken and complex, and no one knows him like I do, or ever will. He needs me. He’s my storm to calm. And I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing just that.
Samantha Towle (The Mighty Storm (The Storm, #1))
I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these hard and fast rules.
Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere's Fan)
Why pamper life's complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?
Morrissey
As the complexity of the material universe reaches critical mass, a primordial certainty echoes throughout creation in a loud, simultaneous proclamation: We are one!
Ron Garan (Floating in Darkness - A Journey of Evolution)
You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park / Congo)
we would understand much more about life’s complexities if we applied ourselves to an assiduous study of its contradictions, instead of wasting time on identities and coherences, seeing as these have a duty to provide their own explanations.
José Saramago (The Cave)
I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing faster and faster every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I'm starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life's sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. It is dreadful. But since it's my own choices that'll lock me in, it seems unavoidable--if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them.
David Foster Wallace (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments)
Nature may reach the same result in many ways. Like a wave in the physical world, in the infinite ocean of the medium which pervades all, so in the world of organisms, in life, an impulse started proceeds onward, at times, may be, with the speed of light, at times, again, so slowly that for ages and ages it seems to stay, passing through processes of a complexity inconceivable to men, but in all its forms, in all its stages, its energy ever and ever integrally present. A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe, so intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes in Nature. In no way can we get such an overwhelming idea of the grandeur of Nature than when we consider, that in accordance with the law of the conservation of energy, throughout the Infinite, the forces are in a perfect balance, and hence the energy of a single thought may determine the motion of a universe.
Nikola Tesla
Always, the eye sees more than the mind can comprehend, and we go through life self-blinded to much that lies before us. We want a simple world, but we live in a magnificently complex one, and rather than open ourselves to it, we perceive the world through filters that make it less daunting.
Dean Koontz (Relentless)
The point is... to live one's life in the full complexity of what one is, which is something much darker, more contradictory, more of a maelstrom of impulses and passions, of cruelty, ecstacy, and madness, than is apparent to the civilized being who glides on the surface and fits smoothly into the world.
Thomas Nagel
Fiction isn't bad. It is vital. Without commonly accepted stories about things like money, states or corporations, no complex human society can function. We can't play football unless everyone believes in the same made-up rules, and we can't enjoy the benefits of markets and courts without similar make-believe stories. But stories are just tools. They shouldn't become our goals or our yardsticks. When we forget that they are mere fiction, we lose touch with reality. Then we begin entire wars `to make a lot of money for the cooperation' or 'to protect the national interest'. Corporations, money and nations exist only in our imagination. We invented them to serve us; why do we find ourselves sacrificing our life in their service.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous. By reducing the choices of action to “a war against” whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off. This is puerile, misleading, and degrading. In stories, it evades any solution but violence and offers the reader mere infantile reassurance. All too often the heroes of such fantasies behave exactly as the villains do, acting with mindless violence, but the hero is on the “right” side and therefore will win. Right makes might.
Ursula K. Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1))
Rebecca was an academic star. Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she'd invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words--"friend" and "real" and "story" and "change"--words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks. Some, like "identity" and "search" and "cloud," had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had "American" become an ironic term? How had "democracy" come to be used in an arch, mocking way?
Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad)
I hate wise men because they are lazy, cowardly, and prudent. To the philosophers' equanimity, which makes them indifferent to both pleasure and pain, I prefer devouring passions. The sage knows neither the tragedy of passion, nor the fear of death, nor risk and enthusiasm, nor barbaric, grotesque, or sublime heroism. He talks in proverbs and gives advice. He does not live, feel, desire, wait for anything. He levels down all the incongruities of life and then suffers the consequences. So much more complex is the man who suffers from limitless anxiety. The wise man's life is empty and sterile, for it is free from contradiction and despair. An existence full of irreconcilable contradictions is so much richer and creative. The wise man's resignation springs from inner void, not inner fire. I would rather die of fire than of void.
Emil M. Cioran (On the Heights of Despair)
What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consiousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression and with all this yet to die. It seems like a hoax, which is why one type of cultural man rebels openly against the idea of God. What kind of deity would crate such a complex and fancy worm food?
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
It {Darwin's theory of evolution] was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, naturally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life. The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
Douglas Adams (The Salmon of Doubt (Dirk Gently, #3))
War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous. By reducing the choices of action to “a war against” whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off.
Ursula K. Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1))
Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are looking for a marriage partner who will 'fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.' And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that you will ever find the right person to marry.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter to me what your position is. You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.
Toni Morrison
Life always holds in store surprises that are more complex and unforeseeable than any dream, and the secret is to let them come and not block them with castles in the air.
Álvaro Mutis (Die Abenteuer und Irrfahrten des Gaviero Maqroll : die sieben Maqroll-Romane)
The beautiful wooden board on a stand in my father’s study. The gleaming ivory pieces. The stern king. The haughty queen. The noble knight. The pious bishop. And the game itself, the way each piece contributed its individual power to the whole. It was simple. It was complex. It was savage; it was elegant. It was a dance; it was a war. It was finite and eternal. It was life.
Rick Yancey (The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2))
Oh, the most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room. There is this complexity which seems to me to be part of the meaning of existence and everything we value.
Chinua Achebe
Love transforms and love cures;but,sometimes,love builds deadly traps and can end up destroying a person who had resolved to give him or herself completely.What is this complex feeling which,deep down,is the only reason we continue to live,struggle and improve?
Paulo Coelho (Like the Flowing River)
The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.
Scott Woods
I love this world," he added. "That is what rules my life. When I die, I want to have done all in my power to leave it in a better state than it was when I found it. At the same time I know that this can never be. The world has grown so complex that one voice can do little to alter it any longer. That doesn't stop me from doing what I can, but it makes the task hard. The successes are so small, the failures so large and many. It's like trying to stem a storm with one's bare hands.
Charles de Lint (The Little Country)
The soul of wit may become the very body of untruth. However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situation. On such a theme one can be brief only by omission and simplification. Omission and simplification help us to understand - but help us, in many cases, to understand the wrong thing; for our comprehension may be only of the abbreviator's neatly formulated notions, not of the vast, ramifying reality from which these notions have been so arbitrarily abstracted.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
Love? I always thought love was just something that ate away your sanity, left you with an inferiority complex, and filled you with jealousy...and bitterness. Noi-chan told me all about love... and now I know the truth. Love is an illusion. Nothing more than that. Anyway, it has nothing to do with me. <3 So many people get hung up on love while life passes them by.
Tomoko Hayakawa (The Wallflower, Vol. 19 (The Wallflower, #19))
The complexities of adult life get in the way of the truth. The great philosophers have always been able to clear away the complexities and see simple distinctions - simple once they are stated, vastly difficult before. If we are to follow them we too must be childishly simple in our questions - and maturely wise in our replies.
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
Increasing consciousness = increasing complexity.
Ken Wilber (Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening)
All idealisation makes life poorer. To beautify it is to take away its character of complexity — it is to destroy it.
Joseph Conrad (The Secret Agent)
He believed that he must, that he could and would recover the good things, the happy things, the easy tranquil things of life. He had made mistakes, but he could overlook these. He had been a fool, but that could be forgiven. The time wasted--must be relinquished. What else could one do about it? Things were too complex, but they might be reduced to simplicity again. Recovery was possible.
Saul Bellow
Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.
Ann Patchett
If there is no fate and our interactions depend on such a complex system of chance encounters, what potentially important connections do we fail to make? What life changing relationships or passionate and lasting love affairs are lost to chance?
Simon Pegg (Nerd Do Well)
The brain is heavily influenced by genes. But from birth through young adulthood, the part of the human brain that most defines us (frontal cortex) is less a product of the genes with which you started life than of what life has thrown at you. Because it is the last to mature, by definition the frontal cortex is the brain region least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. This must be so, to be the supremely complex social species that we are. Ironically, it seems that the genetic program of human brain development has evolved to, as much as possible, free the frontal cortex from genes.
Robert M. Sapolsky (Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst)
When my husband had an affair with someone else I watched his eyes glaze over when we ate dinner together and I heard him singing to himself without me, and when he tended the garden it was not for me. He was courteous and polite; he enjoyed being at home, but in the fantasy of his home I was not the one who sat opposite him and laughed at his jokes. He didn't want to change anything; he liked his life. The only thing he wanted to change was me. It would have been better if he had hated me, or if he had abused me, or if he had packed his new suitcases and left. As it was he continued to put his arm round me and talk about being a new wall to replace the rotten fence that divided our garden from his vegetable patch. I knew he would never leave our house. He had worked for it. Day by day I felt myself disappearing. For my husband I was no longer a reality, I was one of the things around him. I was the fence which needed to be replaced. I watched myself in the mirror and saw that I was mo longer vivid and exciting. I was worn and gray like an old sweater you can't throw out but won't put on. He admitted he was in love with her, but he said he loved me. Translated, that means, I want everything. Translated, that means, I don't want to hurt you yet. Translated, that means, I don't know what to do, give me time. Why, why should I give you time? What time are you giving me? I am in a cell waiting to be called for execution. I loved him and I was in love with him. I didn't use language to make a war-zone of my heart. 'You're so simple and good,' he said, brushing the hair from my face. He meant, Your emotions are not complex like mine. My dilemma is poetic. But there was no dilemma. He no longer wanted me, but he wanted our life Eventually, when he had been away with her for a few days and returned restless and conciliatory, I decided not to wait in my cell any longer. I went to where he was sleeping in another room and I asked him to leave. Very patiently he asked me to remember that the house was his home, that he couldn't be expected to make himself homeless because he was in love. 'Medea did,' I said, 'and Romeo and Juliet and Cressida, and Ruth in the Bible.' He asked me to shut up. He wasn't a hero. 'Then why should I be a heroine?' He didn't answer, he plucked at the blanket. I considered my choices. I could stay and be unhappy and humiliated. I could leave and be unhappy and dignified. I could Beg him to touch me again. I could live in hope and die of bitterness. I took some things and left. It wasn't easy, it was my home too. I hear he's replaced the back fence.
Jeanette Winterson (Sexing the Cherry)
With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have.
H.P. Lovecraft (From Beyond / The Haunter of the Dark)
The first seven years of the Joshua tree's life, it's just a vertical stem. No branches," she told me while we were hiking. "It takes years before it blossoms. And every branching stem stops growing after it blossoms, so you've got this complex system of dead areas and new growth." I used to think about that, sometimes, when I wondered what parts of her might still be alive.
Karen M. McManus (One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1))
You were hurt, and you reacted. You were in an unhealthy situation in more ways than one, and you panicked and cleansed everything with fire. Don’t dismiss your emotions and your self-protection as just a fucked-up decision. Don’t reduce something so complex and real and important to nothing.
Talia Hibbert (Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1))
To be careless in making decisions is to naively believe that a single decision impacts nothing more than that single decision, for a single decision can spawn a thousand others that were entirely unnecessary or it can bring peace to a thousand places we never knew existed.
Craig D. Lounsbrough (Flecks of Gold on a Path of Stone: Simple Truths for Life's Complex Journey)
Miracles do happen. You must believe this. No matter what else you believe about life, you must believe in miracles. Because we are all, every one of us, living on a round rock that spins around and around at almost a quarter of a million miles per hour in an unthinkably vast blackness called space. There is nothing else like us for as far as our telescopic eyes can see. In a universe filled with spinning, barren rocks, frozen gas, ice, dust, and radiation, we live on a planet filled with soft, green leaves and salty oceans and honey made from bees, which themselves live within geometrically complex and perfect structures of their own architecture and creation. In our trees are birds whose songs are as complex and nuanced as Beethoven’s greatest sonatas. And despite the wild, endless spinning of our planet and its never-ending orbit around the sun–itself a star on fire–when we pour water into a glass, the water stays in the glass. All of these are miracles.
Augusten Burroughs (This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.)
There is, in fact, no way back either to the wolf or to the child. From the very start there is no innocence and no singleness. Every created thing, even the simplest, is already guilty, already multiple. It has been thrown into the muddy stream of being and may never more swim back again to its source. The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life. Nor will suicide really solve your problem [...] You will, instead, embark on the longer and wearier and harder road of life. You will have to multiply many times your two-fold being and complicate your complexities still further. Instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have to absorb more and more of the world and at last take all of it up in your painfully expanded soul, if you are ever to find peace. This is the road that Buddha and every great man has gone, whether consciously or not, insofar as fortune has favored his quest.
Hermann Hesse
I think life's too complex to be an accident.
Alexandra Adornetto
When people dis fantasy—mainstream readers and SF readers alike—they are almost always talking about one sub-genre of fantastic literature. They are talking about Tolkien, and Tolkien's innumerable heirs. Call it 'epic', or 'high', or 'genre' fantasy, this is what fantasy has come to mean. Which is misleading as well as unfortunate. Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature. His oeuvre is massive and contagious—you can't ignore it, so don't even try. The best you can do is consciously try to lance the boil. And there's a lot to dislike—his cod-Wagnerian pomposity, his boys-own-adventure glorying in war, his small-minded and reactionary love for hierarchical status-quos, his belief in absolute morality that blurs moral and political complexity. Tolkien's clichés—elves 'n' dwarfs 'n' magic rings—have spread like viruses. He wrote that the function of fantasy was 'consolation', thereby making it an article of policy that a fantasy writer should mollycoddle the reader. That is a revolting idea, and one, thankfully, that plenty of fantasists have ignored. From the Surrealists through the pulps—via Mervyn Peake and Mikhael Bulgakov and Stefan Grabiński and Bruno Schulz and Michael Moorcock and M. John Harrison and I could go on—the best writers have used the fantastic aesthetic precisely to challenge, to alienate, to subvert and undermine expectations. Of course I'm not saying that any fan of Tolkien is no friend of mine—that would cut my social circle considerably. Nor would I claim that it's impossible to write a good fantasy book with elves and dwarfs in it—Michael Swanwick's superb Iron Dragon's Daughter gives the lie to that. But given that the pleasure of fantasy is supposed to be in its limitless creativity, why not try to come up with some different themes, as well as unconventional monsters? Why not use fantasy to challenge social and aesthetic lies? Thankfully, the alternative tradition of fantasy has never died. And it's getting stronger. Chris Wooding, Michael Swanwick, Mary Gentle, Paul di Filippo, Jeff VanderMeer, and many others, are all producing works based on fantasy's radicalism. Where traditional fantasy has been rural and bucolic, this is often urban, and frequently brutal. Characters are more than cardboard cutouts, and they're not defined by race or sex. Things are gritty and tricky, just as in real life. This is fantasy not as comfort-food, but as challenge. The critic Gabe Chouinard has said that we're entering a new period, a renaissance in the creative radicalism of fantasy that hasn't been seen since the New Wave of the sixties and seventies, and in echo of which he has christened the Next Wave. I don't know if he's right, but I'm excited. This is a radical literature. It's the literature we most deserve.
China Miéville
If you live your life to please everyone else, you will continue to feel frustrated and powerless. This is because what others want may not be good for you. You are not being mean when you say NO to unreasonable demands or when you express your ideas, feelings, and opinions, even if they differ from those of others.
Beverly Engel (The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- And Start Standing Up for Yourself)
Labeling yourself is not only self-defeating, it is irrational. Your self cannot be equated with any one thing you do. Your life is a complex and ever-changing flow of thoughts, emotions, and actions. To put it another way, you are more like a river than a statue. Stop trying to define yourself with negative labels—they
David D. Burns (Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy)
The middle path makes me wary. . . . But in the middle of my life, I am coming to see the middle path as a walk with wisdom where conversations of complexity can be found, that the middle path is the path of movement. . . . In the right and left worlds, the stories are largely set. . . . We become missionaries for a position . . . practitioners of the missionary position. Variety is lost. Diversity is lost. Creativity is lost in our inability to make love with the world.
Terry Tempest Williams (Leap)
That's the thing with a diary, though. In order to record your life, you sort of need to live it. Not at your desk, but beyond it. Out in the world where it's so beautiful and complex and painful that sometimes you just need to sit down and write about it.
David Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002)
We love films because they make us feel something. They speak to our desires, which are never small. They allow us to escape and to dream and to gaze into eyes that are impossibly beautiful and huge. They fill us with longing. But also. They tell us to remember; they remind us of life. Remember, they say, how much it hurts to have your heart broken. Remember about death and suffering and the complexities of living. Remember what it is like to love someone. Remember how it is to be loved. Remember what you feel in this moment. Remember this. Remember this.
Nina LaCour (Everything Leads to You)
I learned that the world of men as it exists today is a bureaucracy. This is an obvious truth, of course, though it is also one the ignorance of which causes great suffering. “But moreover, I discovered, in the only way that a man ever really learns anything important, the real skill that is required to succeed in a bureaucracy. I mean really succeed: do good, make a difference, serve. I discovered the key. This key is not efficiency, or probity, or insight, or wisdom. It is not political cunning, interpersonal skills, raw IQ, loyalty, vision, or any of the qualities that the bureaucratic world calls virtues, and tests for. The key is a certain capacity that underlies all these qualities, rather the way that an ability to breathe and pump blood underlies all thought and action. “The underlying bureaucratic key is the ability to deal with boredom. To function effectively in an environment that precludes everything vital and human. To breathe, so to speak, without air. “The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable. “It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.
David Foster Wallace (The Pale King)
The first language humans had was gestures. There was nothing primitive about this language that flowed from people’s hands, nothing we say now that could not be said in the endless array of movements possible with the fine bones of the fingers and wrists. The gestures were complex and subtle, involving a delicacy of motion that has since been lost completely. During the Age of Silence, people communicated more, not less. Basic survival demanded that the hands were almost never still, and so it was only during sleep (and sometimes not even then) that people were not saying something or other. No distinction was made between the gestures of language and the gestures of life. The labor of building a house, say, or preparing a meal was no less an expression than making the sign for I love you or I feel serious. When a hand was used to shield one’s face when frightened by a loud noise something was being said, and when fingers were used to pick up what someone else had dropped something was being said; and even when the hands were at rest, that, too, was saying something. Naturally, there were misunderstandings. There were times when a finger might have been lifted to scratch a nose, and if casual eye contact was made with one’s lover just then, the lover might accidentally take it to be the gesture, not at all dissimilar, for Now I realize I was wrong to love you. These mistakes were heartbreaking. And yet, because people knew how easily they could happen, because they didn’t go round with the illusion that they understood perfectly the things other people said, they were used to interrupting each other to ask if they’d understood correctly. Sometimes these misunderstandings were even desirable, since they gave people a reason to say, Forgive me, I was only scratching my nose. Of course I know I’ve always been right to love you. Because of the frequency of these mistakes, over time the gesture for asking forgiveness evolved into the simplest form. Just to open your palm was to say: Forgive me." "If at large gatherings or parties, or around people with whom you feel distant, your hands sometimes hang awkwardly at the ends of your arms – if you find yourself at a loss for what to do with them, overcome with sadness that comes when you recognize the foreignness of your own body – it’s because your hands remember a time when the division between mind and body, brain and heart, what’s inside and what’s outside, was so much less. It’s not that we’ve forgotten the language of gestures entirely. The habit of moving our hands while we speak is left over from it. Clapping, pointing, giving the thumbs-up, for example, is a way to remember how it feels to say nothing together. And at night, when it’s too dark to see, we find it necessary to gesture on each other’s bodies to make ourselves understood.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
He resented such questions as people do who have thought a great deal about them. The superficial and slipshod have ready answers, but those looking this complex life straight in the eye acquire a wealth of perception so composed of delicately balanced contradictions that they dread, or resent, the call to couch any part of it in a bland generalization. The vanity (if not outrage) of trying to cage this dance of atoms in a single definition may give the weariness of age with the cry of youth for answers the appearance of boredom.
Peter De Vries (The Blood of the Lamb)
We don’t have to do anything at all to die. We can hide in a cupboard under the stairs our whole life and it’ll still find us. Death will show up wearing an invisible cloak and it will wave a magic wand and whisk us away when we least expect it. It will erase every trace of our existence on this earth and it will do all this work for free. It will ask for nothing in return. It will take a bow at our funeral and accept the accolades for a job well done and then it will disappear. Living is a little more complex. There’s one thing we always have to do. Breathe. In and out, every single day in every hour minute and moment we must inhale whether we like it or not. Even as we plan to asphyxiate our hopes and dreams still we breathe. Even as we wither away and sell our dignity to the man on the corner we breathe. We breathe when we’re wrong, we breathe when we’re right, we breathe even as we slip off the ledge toward an early grave. It cannot be undone. So I breathe. I count all the steps I’ve climbed toward the noose hanging from the ceiling of my existence and I count out the number of times I’ve been stupid and I run out of numbers.
Tahereh Mafi (Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2))
The psychological and physiological mechanism of love is so complex that at a certain period in his life a young man must concentrate all his energy on coming to grips with it, and in this way he misses the actual content of the love: the woman he loves. (In this he is much like a young violinist who cannot concentrate on the emotional content of a piece until the technique required to play it comes automatically.)
Milan Kundera (The Joke)
I hope that you will listen, but not with the memory of what you already know; and this is very difficult to do. You listen to something, and your mind immediately reacts with its knowledge, its conclusions, its opinions, its past memories. It listens, inquiring for a future understanding. Just observe yourself, how you are listening, and you will see that this is what is taking place. Either you are listening with a conclusion, with knowledge, with certain memories, experiences, or you want an answer, and you are impatient. You want to know what it is all about, what life is all about, the extraordinary complexity of life. You are not actually listening at all. You can only listen when the mind is quiet, when the mind doesn't react immediately, when there is an interval between your reaction and what is being said. Then, in that interval there is a quietness, there is a silence in which alone there is a comprehension which is not intellectual understanding. If there is a gap between what is said and your own reaction to what is said, in that interval, whether you prolong it indefinitely, for a long period or for a few seconds - in that interval, if you observe, there comes clarity. It is the interval that is the new brain. The immediate reaction is the old brain, and the old brain functions in its own traditional, accepted, reactionary, animalistic sense. When there is an abeyance of that, when the reaction is suspended, when there is an interval, then you will find that the new brain acts, and it is only the new brain that can understand, not the old brain
Jiddu Krishnamurti
I now believe there is a God...I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.
Antony Flew
I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. With the laugh comes the tears and in developing motion pictures or television shows, you must combine all the facts of life — drama, pathos and humor.
Walt Disney Company
I have been around for so long, and I've seen so many things. When you live as long as I do, you begin to see patterns in life. When I look into the future, I am looking into these patterns. You creatures are not as complex as you make yourselves out to be.
Kazu Kibuishi (The Stonekeeper's Curse (Amulet, #2))
Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It’s as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. So when I’m observing, that’s what I’m watching for. The choices people make.
Louise Penny (Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1))
Tea is an act complete in its simplicity. When I drink tea, there is only me and the tea. The rest of the world dissolves. There are no worries about the future. No dwelling on past mistakes. Tea is simple: loose-leaf tea, hot pure water, a cup. I inhale the scent, tiny delicate pieces of the tea floating above the cup. I drink the tea, the essence of the leaves becoming a part of me. I am informed by the tea, changed. This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed: all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose. There is only the tea, and me, converging.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I'm going to go out on a limb here. I've thought a lot about this one, as a feminist, and as an author. How should traditional roles be portrayed? In fantasy literature there is a school of thought that holds that women must be treated precisely like men. Only the traditional male sphere of power and means of wielding power count. If a woman is shown in a traditionally female role, then she must be being shown as inferior. After a lot of thought, and some real-life stabs at those traditional roles, I've come to firmly disagree with this idea. For an author to show that only traditional male power and place matter is to discount and belittle the hard and complex lives of our peers and our ancestresses.
Sarah Zettel (Mapping the World of Harry Potter: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Explore the Bestselling Series of All Time)
There were profound reasons for his attachment to the sea: he loved it because as a hardworking artist he needed rest, needed to escape from the demanding complexity of phenomena and lie hidden on the bosom of the simple and tremendous; because of a forbidden longing deep within him that ran quite contrary to his life's task and was for that very reason seductive, a longing for the unarticulated and immeasurable, for eternity, for nothingness. To rest in the arms of perfection is the desire of any man intent upon creating excellence; and is not nothingness a form of perfection?
Thomas Mann (Death in Venice and Other Tales)
The import is not the kind of work woman does, but rather the quality of the work she furnishes. She can give suffrage or the ballot no new quality, nor can she receive anything from it that will enhance her own quality. Her development, her freedom, her independence, must come from and through herself. First, by asserting herself as a personality, and not as a sex commodity. Second, by refusing the right to anyone over her body; by refusing to bear children, unless she wants them; by refusing to be a servant to God, the State, society, the husband, the family, etc., by making her life simpler, but deeper and richer. That is, by trying to learn the meaning and substance of life in all its complexities, by freeing herself from the fear of public opinion and public condemnation. Only that, and not the ballot, will set woman free, will maker her a force hitherto unknown in the world, a force for real love, for peace, for harmony; a force of divine fire, of life-giving; a creator of free men and women. from Woman Suffrage- 1910
Emma Goldman (Anarchism and Other Essays)
Animals! the object of insatiable interest, examples of the riddle of life, created, as it were, to reveal the human being to man himself, displaying his richness and complexity in a thousand kaleidoscopic possibilities, each of them brought to some curious end, to some characteristic exuberance.
Bruno Schulz (The Street of Crocodiles)
If one really has confidence in oneself, one doesn’t feel the need to boast. It’s because one’s feeling of inferiority is strong that one boasts. One feels the need to flaunt one’s superiority all the more. There’s the fear that if one doesn’t do that, not a single person will accept one “the way I am.” This is a full-blown superiority complex.
Ichiro Kishimi (The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness)
The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable... It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.
David Foster Wallace (The Pale King)
The gravitational waves of the first detection were generated by a collision of black holes in a galaxy 1.3 billion light-years away, and at a time when Earth was teeming with simple, single-celled organisms. While the ripple moved through space in all directions, Earth would, after another 800 million years, evolve complex life, including flowers and dinosaurs and flying creatures, as well as a branch of vertebrates called mammals. Among the mammals, a sub-branch would evolve frontal lobes and complex thought to accompany them. We call them primates. A single branch of these primates would develop a genetic mutation that allowed speech, and that branch—Homo Sapiens—would invent agriculture and civilization and philosophy and art and science. All in the last ten thousand years. Ultimately, one of its twentieth-century scientists would invent relativity out of his head, and predict the existence of gravitational waves. A century later, technology capable of seeing these waves would finally catch up with the prediction, just days before that gravity wave, which had been traveling for 1.3 billion years, washed over Earth and was detected. Yes, Einstein was a badass.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry)
What does a word mean? And a life? In the end, it seems to me, the same thing. Just as a word can have many dimensions, many nuances, great complexity, so, too, can a person, a life. Language is the mirror, the principal metaphor. Because ultimately the meaning of a word, like that of a person, is boundless, ineffable.
Jhumpa Lahiri (In Other Words)
The explanations for the things we do in life are many and complex. Supposedly mature adults should live by logic, listen to their reason. Think things out before they act. But maybe they never heard what Dr. London told me one, Freud said that for the little things in life we should react according to our reason. But for really big decisions, we should heed what our unconscious tells us.
Erich Segal
The whole idea of it makes me feel like I'm coming down with something, something worse than any stomach ache or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-- a kind of measles of the spirit, a mumps of the psyche, a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul. You tell me it is too early to be looking back, but that is because you have forgotten the perfect simplicity of being one and the beautiful complexity introduced by two. But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit. At four I was an Arabian wizard. I could make myself invisible by drinking a glass of milk a certain way. At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince. But now I am mostly at the window watching the late afternoon light. Back then it never fell so solemnly against the side of my tree house, and my bicycle never leaned against the garage as it does today, all the dark blue speed drained out of it. This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself, as I walk through the universe in my sneakers. It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends, time to turn the first big number. It seems only yesterday I used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light. If you cut me I could shine. But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life, I skin my knees. I bleed.
Billy Collins
Extrapolated, technology wants what life wants: Increasing efficiency Increasing opportunity Increasing emergence Increasing complexity Increasing diversity Increasing specialization Increasing ubiquity Increasing freedom Increasing mutualism Increasing beauty Increasing sentience Increasing structure Increasing evolvability
Kevin Kelly (What Technology Wants)
Science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call 'soul' or 'spirit,' is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the 'soul' or the 'spirit' ceases likewise. I expressed these ideas long before the behaviorists, led by Pavlov in Russia and by Watson in the United States, proclaimed their new psychology. This apparently mechanistic conception is not antagonistic to an ethical conception of life.
Nikola Tesla (Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla)
You could see the signs of female aging as diseased, especially if you had a vested interest in making women too see them your way. Or you could see that a woman is healthy if she lives to grow old; as she thrives, she reacts and speaks and shows emotion, and grows into her face. Lines trace her thought and radiate from the corners of her eyes as she smiles. You could call the lines a network of 'serious lesions' or you could see that in a precise calligraphy, thought has etched marks of concentration between her brows, and drawn across her forehead the horizontal creases of surprise, delight, compassion and good talk. A lifetime of kissing, of speaking and weeping, shows expressively around a mouth scored like a leaf in motion. The skin loosens on her face and throat, giving her features a setting of sensual dignity; her features grow stronger as she does. She has looked around in her life and it shows. When gray and white reflect in her hair, you could call it a dirty secret or you could call it silver or moonlight. Her body fills into itself, taking on gravity like a bather breasting water, growing generous with the rest of her. The darkening under her eyes, the weight of her lids, their minute cross-hatching, reveal that what she has been part of has left in her its complexity and richness. She is darker, stronger, looser, tougher, sexier. The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold.
Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an indispensable companion to all those who are keen to make sense of life in an infinitely complex and confusing Universe, for though it cannot hope to be useful or informative on all matters, it does at least make the reassuring claim, that where it is inaccurate it is at least definitively inaccurate. In cases of major discrepancy it's always reality that's got it wrong. This was the gist of the notice. It said "The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate." This has led to some interesting consequences. For instance, when the Editors of the Guide were sued by the families of those who had died as a result of taking the entry on the planet Tralal literally (it said "Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal for visiting tourists: instead of "Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal of visiting tourists"), they claimed that the first version of the sentence was the more aesthetically pleasing, summoned a qualified poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty and hoped thereby to prove that the guilty party in this case was Life itself for failing to be either beautiful or true. The judges concurred, and in a moving speech held that Life itself was in contempt of court, and duly confiscated it from all those there present before going off to enjoy a pleasant evening's ultragolf.
Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1))
Victimhood gives us great moral superiority and entitles us to unquestioning sympathy while exempting us from examining any single one of our actions. A victim is utterly devoid of responsibility or blame. This of course leaves us vulnerable as we will carry on engaging in precisely the behaviour which provoked an unacceptable response.
Belinda Brown
We modern human beings are looking at life, trying to make some sense of it; observing a 'reality' that often seems to be unfolding in a foreign tongue--only we've all been issued the wrong librettos. For a text, we're given the Bible. Or the Talmud or the Koran. We're given Time magazine, and Reader's Digest, daily papers, and the six o'clock news; we're given schoolbooks, sitcoms, and revisionist histories; we're given psychological counseling, cults, workshops, advertisements, sales pitches, and authoritative pronouncements by pundits, sold-out scientists, political activists, and heads of state. Unfortunately, none of these translations bears more than a faint resemblance to what is transpiring in the true theater of existence, and most of them are dangerously misleading. We're attempting to comprehend the spiraling intricacies of a magnificently complex tragicomedy with librettos that describe the barrom melodramas or kindergarten skits. And when's the last time you heard anybody bitch about it to the management?
Tom Robbins (Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas)
I began dividing life in absolutes... Things and people were either perfectly bad, or perfectly good, and when life didn't obey this black-and-white rule, when things or people were complex or contradictory, I pretended otherwise. I turned every defeat into a disaster, every success into an epic triumph, and separated all people into heroes or villains. Unable to bear ambiguity, I built a barricade of delusions against it.
J.R. Moehringer (The Tender Bar: A Memoir)
So it seems as though this part of us that is living a life on Earth is only a small piece or splinter of a much larger us. That we are many rather than one, or rather pieces of a more complex whole. We are only able to focus on the splinter we perceive as our totality. That is a good thing, because if we were aware of the complexity of it we would not be able to function in this world or reality. We are only able to see the facade that masks a much larger picture. Only now are we being allowed to peek behind the veil.
Dolores Cannon (The Convoluted Universe, Book 1)
This principle - that your spouse should be capable of becoming your best friend - is a game changer when you address the question of compatibility in a prospective spouse. If you think of marriage largely in terms of erotic love, then compatibility means sexual chemistry and appeal. If you think of marriage largely as a way to move into the kind of social status in life you desire, then compatibility means being part of the desired social class, and perhaps common tastes and aspirations for lifestyle. The problem with these factors is that they are not durable. Physical attractiveness will wane, no matter how hard you work to delay its departure. And socio-economic status unfortunately can change almost overnight. When people think they have found compatibility based on these things, they often make the painful discovery that they have built their relationship on unstable ground. A woman 'lets herself go' or a man loses his job, and the compatibility foundation falls apart.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
The Nazis are not justified by saying, Don't you know that there is more than just the issue of the Jews? The issues are more complex than that! What of the poor in this country, who cannot afford housing? What about the sick and malnourished? Don't you care about these people? Don't you claim to be a follower of Jesus?! Supporting a murderous political agenda with such an argument is tragic! And what do we know about Obama? He is the single most anti-life proponent that has ever run for the office of president.
Joseph Bayly
We need to return from the self-centred concept of sincerity to the other-centred concept of truth. We are not isolated free choosers, monarchs of all we survey, but benighted creatures sunk in a reality whose nature we are constantly and overwhelmingly tempted to deform by fantasy. Our current picture of freedom encourages a dream-like facility; whereas what we require is a renewed sense of the difficulty and complexity of the moral life and the opacity of persons. We need more concepts in terms of which to picture the substance of our being; it is through an enriching and deepening of concepts that moral progress takes place. Simone Weil said that morality was a matter of attention not of will. We need a new vocabulary of attention.
Iris Murdoch
It’s called being in love. It’s more frightening than confronting your deepest fear and opens you to being hurt beyond the physical plane.” He placed a hand over his heart. “It might seem as though it’s a weakness to you but it is proof that we are more than numbers, experiments, or whatever else Mercile intended us to be. It takes bravery and strength to feel such strong emotions for one person when we were denied from birth the chance to ever care about anything or anyone. I’m not saying it’s easy or painless. It is probably one of the most complex things I’ve experienced. Jessie is my life. My heart beats for her and I will admit to all that I wouldn’t want to go on if I lost her. The unmated ones don’t understand and are currently looking confused or horrified. I’m hopeful they’ll know the ups and downs of falling in love one day. It’s a gift and a curse at times but everyone should experience it. It’s a part of life and we are survivors.
Laurann Dohner (Moon (New Species, #10))
Ask yourself what you would require to be motivated to undertake the job, honestly, and listen to the answer. Don’t tell yourself, “I shouldn’t need to do that to motivate myself.” What do you know about yourself? You are, on the one hand, the most complex thing in the entire universe, and on the other, someone who can’t even set the clock on your microwave. Don’t over-estimate your self-knowledge.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
I could probably write a book on the complexities of our relationship, on my constantly shifting emotions, my ever-changing mind, but let's just say that nothing is ever as black and white as it seems, that love is not only blind but pathetic too. It can make us into victims and fools, reduce us to the kind of people who infuriate us on soap operas, the kind you want to scream at for allowing the creep or bitch to walk all over them.
J.M. Morris (Fiddleback)
In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned.
Annie Dillard (Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters)
Imagine a life-form whose brainpower is to ours as ours is to a chimpanzee’s. To such a species, our highest mental achievements would be trivial. Their toddlers, instead of learning their ABCs on Sesame Street, would learn multivariable calculus on Boolean Boulevard. Our most complex theorems, our deepest philosophies, the cherished works of our most creative artists, would be projects their schoolkids bring home for Mom and Dad to display on the refrigerator door.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier)
A powerful AI system tasked with ensuring your safety might imprison you at home. If you asked for happiness, it might hook you up to a life support and ceaselessly stimulate your brain's pleasure centers. If you don't provide the AI with a very big library of preferred behaviors or an ironclad means for it to deduce what behavior you prefer, you'll be stuck with whatever it comes up with. And since it's a highly complex system, you may never understand it well enough to make sure you've got it right.
James Barrat (Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era)
What do we know,” he had said, “of the world and the universe about us? Our means of receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects infinitely narrow. We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers.
H.P. Lovecraft
Its substance was known to me. The crawling infinity of colours, the chaos of textures that went into each strand of that eternally complex tapestry…each one resonated under the step of the dancing mad god, vibrating and sending little echoes of bravery, or hunger, or architecture, or argument, or cabbage or murder or concrete across the aether. The weft of starlings’ motivations connected to the thick, sticky strand of a young thief’s laugh. The fibres stretched taut and glued themselves solidly to a third line, its silk made from the angles of seven flying buttresses to a cathedral roof. The plait disappeared into the enormity of possible spaces. Every intention, interaction, motivation, every colour, every body, every action and reaction, every piece of physical reality and the thoughts that it engendered, every connection made, every nuanced moment of history and potentiality, every toothache and flagstone, every emotion and birth and banknote, every possible thing ever is woven into that limitless, sprawling web. It is without beginning or end. It is complex to a degree that humbles the mind. It is a work of such beauty that my soul wept... ..I have danced with the spider. I have cut a caper with the dancing mad god.
China Miéville (Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1))
I have spent a lifetime looking for remedies to all manner of life's problems -- personal, social, political, global. I am deeply suspicious of those who offer simple solutions and statements of absolute certainty or who claim full possession of the truth. Yet I have grown equally skeptical of those who suggest that all is too nuanced and complex for us to learn any lessons, that there are so many sides to every thing that we can pursue knowledge every day of our lives and still know nothing for sure. I believe we can recognize truth when we see it, just not a first and not without ever relenting in our efforts to learn more. This is because the goal we seek, and the good we hope for, comes not as some final reward but as the hidden companion to our quest. It is not what we find, but the reason we cannot stop looking and striving, that tells us why we are here.
Madeleine K. Albright (Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948)
If my nightmare is a culture inhabited by posthumans who regard their bodies as fashion accessories rather than the ground of being, my dream is a version of the posthuman that embraces the possibilities of information technologies without being seduced by fantasies of unlimited power and disembodied immortality, that recognizes and celebrates finitude as a condition of human being, and that understands human life is embedded in a material world of great complexity, one on which we depend for our continued survival.
N. Katherine Hayles (How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics)
Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any once place is always replete with new improvisations.
Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)
Most people believe they have a clear idea of what's right and wrong. Many say they know how they'll act, or how they'll handle an extreme situation. But to be honest, no one knows. Not really. Even if you say, 'I'll never do this or that.' it actually might not be true. Because no one of us truly knows what we'll do when the circumstances become so overwhelming and complex that we can't even tell right from wrong. And then there are the totally unforeseen situations, when life deals cards you never expected, or when something's that's considered wrong morphs into something right and your mind determines that what once was the rule is not written in stone.
Lurlene McDaniel (Breathless)
One person looks around and sees a universe created by a god who watches over its long unfurling, marking the fall of sparrows and listening to the prayers of his finest creation. Another person believes that life, in all its baroque complexity, is a chemical aberration that will briefly decorate the surface of a ball of rock spinning somewhere among a billion galaxies. And the two of them could talk for hours and find no great difference between one another, for neither set of beliefs make us kinder or wiser.
Mark Haddon (The Red House)
The bad psychological material is not a sin but a disease. It does not need to be repented of, but to be cured. And by the way, that is very important. Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God's eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing does dome tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God's eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend. It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man's choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man's psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
And Ross again knew himself to be happy-in a new and less ephemeral way than before. He was filled with a queer sense of enlightnment. It seemed to him that all his life had moved to this pinpoint of time down the scattered threads of twenty years; from his old childhood running thoughtless and barefoot in the sun on Hendrawna sands, from Demelza's birth in the squarlor of a mining cottage, from the plains of Virginia and the trampled fairgrounds of Redruth, from the complex impulses which had governed Elizabeth's choice of Francis and from the simple philosophies of Demelza's own faith, all had been animated to a common end-and that end a moment of enlightenment and understanding and completion. Someone--a Latin poet--had defined eternity as no more than this: to hold and possess the whole fullness of life in one moment, here and now, past and present and to come. He thought: if we could only stop here. Not when we get home, not leaving Trenwith, but here, here reaching the top of the hill out of Sawle, dusk wiping out the edges of the land and Demelza walking and humming at my side.
Winston Graham (Ross Poldark (Poldark, #1))
I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there, in prison, that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. I certainly wasn’t seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students. My home made education gave me, with every additional book that I read, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America. Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me from London asking questions. One was, “What’s your alma mater?” I told him, “Books.” You will never catch me with a free fifteen minutes in which I’m not studying something I feel might be able to help the black man.
Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)
Why would anyone who is deeply satisfied with reality, with real life as it is lived, dedicate himself to something as insubstantial and fanciful as the creation of fictional realities? Naturally, those who rebel against lie as it is, using their ability to invent different lives and different people, may do so for any number of reasons, honorable or dishonorable, generous or selfish, complex or banal. The nature of this basic questioning of reality, which to my mind lies at the heart of every literary calling, doesn't matter at all. What matters is that the rejection be strong enough to fuel the enthusiasm for a task as quixotic as tilting at windmills – the slight-of-hand replacement of the concrete, objective world of life as it is lived with the subtle and ephemeral world of fiction.
Mario Vargas Llosa (Letters to a Young Novelist)
Planning complex, beautiful meals and investing one's heart and time in their preparation is the opposite of self-indulgence. Kitchen-based family gatherings are process-oriented, cooperative, and in the best of worlds, nourishing and soulful. A lot of calories get used up before anyone sits down to consume. But more importantly, a lot of talk happens first, news exchanged, secrets revealed across generations, paths cleared with a touch on the arm. I have given and received some of my life's most important hugs with those big oven-mitt potholders on both hands.
Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life)
What would I like to get away from? Complexity. Anxiety. A feeling I've had my whole life that at any given time there's something I'm forgetting, some detail or chore, something that I'm supposed to be doing or should have already done. That nagging sensation - I get up with it, I go through the day with it, I go to sleep with it. When I was a kid, I had a habit of coming home from school on Friday afternoons and immediately doing my homework. So I'd wake up on Saturday morning with this wonderful sensation, a clean, open feeling of relief and possibility and calm. There'd be nothing I had to do. Those Saturday mornings, they were a taste of real freedom that I've hardly ever experienced as an adult. I never wake up in Elmsford with the feeling that I've done my homework.
Lionel Shriver (So Much for That)
For human nature is such that grief and pain - even simultaneously suffered - do not add up as a whole in our consciousness, but hide, the lesser behind the greater, according to a definite law of perspective. It is providential and is our means of surviving in the camp. And this is the reason why so often in free life one hears it said that man is never content. In fact it is not a question of a human incapacity for a state of absolute happiness, but of an ever-insufficient knowledge of the complex nature of the state of unhappiness; so that the single name of the major cause is given to all its causes, which are composite and set out in an order of urgency. And if the most immediate cause of stress comes to an end, you are grievously amazed to see that another one lies behind; and in reality a whole series of others. So that as soon as the cold, which throughout the winter had seemed our only enemy, had ceased, we became aware of the hunger; and repeating the same error, we now say: "If it was not for the hunger!...
Primo Levi (If This Is a Man • The Truce)
Gossiping is essential for survival because the complex mechanics of social interactions are constantly changing, so we have to make sense of this ever-shifting social terrain. This is Level II consciousness at work. But once we hear a piece of gossip, we immediately run simulations to determine how this will affect our own standing in the community, which moves us to Level III consciousness. Thousands of years ago, in fact, gossip was the only way to obtain vital information about the tribe. One’s very life often depended on knowing the latest gossip.
Michio Kaku (The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind)
Changes in Meaning: Finally, chronically traumatized people lose faith that good things can happen and people can be kind and trustworthy. They feel hopeless, often believing that the future will be as bad as the past, or that they will not live long enough to experience a good future. People who have a dissociative disorder may have different meanings in various dissociative parts. Some parts may be relatively balanced in their worldview, others may be despairing, believing the world to be a completely negative, dangerous place, while other parts might maintain an unrealistic optimistic outlook on life
Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
If you have the power to hit people over the head whenever you want, you don’t have to trouble yourself too much figuring out what they think is going on, and therefore, generally speaking, you don’t. Hence the sure-fire way to simplify social arrangements, to ignore the incredibly complex play of perspectives, passions, insights, desires, and mutual understandings that human life is really made of, is to make a rule and threaten to attack anyone who breaks it. This is why violence has always been the favored recourse of the stupid: it is the one form of stupidity to which it is almost impossible to come up with an intelligent response. It is also of course the basis of the state.
David Graeber (Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology)
Brother Cavil: In all your travels, have you ever seen a star go supernova? ... I have. I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the Universe. Other stars, other planets and eventually other life. A supernova! Creation itself! I was there. I wanted to see it and be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum. With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air. ... I don't want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I want to - I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can't even express these things properly because I have to - I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the wind of a supernova flowing over me! I'm a machine! And I can know much more! I can experience so much more. But I'm trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!
Ronald D. Moore
The single most important human insight to be gained from this way of comparing societies is perhaps the realization that everything could have been different in our own society – that the way we live is only one among innumerable ways of life which humans have adopted. If we glance sideways and backwards, we will quickly discover that modern society, with its many possibilities and seducing offers, its dizzying complexity and its impressive technological advances, is a way of life which has not been tried out for long. Perhaps, psychologically speaking, we have just left the cave: in terms of the history of our species, we have but spent a moment in modern societies. (..) Anthropology may not provide the answer to the question of the meaning of life, but at least it can tell us that there are many ways in which to make a life meaningful.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology, Culture and Society))
The neurons that do expire are the ones that made imitation possible. When you are capable of skillful imitation, the sweep of choices before you is too large; but when your brain loses its spare capacity, and along with it some agility, some joy in winging it, and the ambition to do things that don't suit it, then you finally have to settle down to do well the few things that your brain really can do well--the rest no longer seems pressing and distracting, because it is now permanently out of reach. The feeling that you are stupider than you were is what finally interests you in the really complex subjects of life: in change, in experience, in the ways other people have adjusted to disappointment and narrowed ability. You realize that you are no prodigy, your shoulders relax, and you begin to look around you, seeing local color unrivaled by blue glows of algebra and abstraction.
Nicholson Baker (The Mezzanine)
Their [girls] sexual energy, their evaluation of adolescent boys and other girls goes thwarted, deflected back upon the girls, unspoken, and their searching hungry gazed returned to their own bodies. The questions, Whom do I desire? Why? What will I do about it? are turned around: Would I desire myself? Why?...Why not? What can I do about it? The books and films they see survey from the young boy's point of view his first touch of a girl's thighs, his first glimpse of her breasts. The girls sit listening, absorbing, their familiar breasts estranged as if they were not part of their bodies, their thighs crossed self-consciously, learning how to leave their bodies and watch them from the outside. Since their bodies are seen from the point of view of strangeness and desire, it is no wonder that what should be familiar, felt to be whole, become estranged and divided into parts. What little girls learn is not the desire for the other, but the desire to be desired. Girls learn to watch their sex along with the boys; that takes up the space that should be devoted to finding out about what they are wanting, and reading and writing about it, seeking it and getting it. Sex is held hostage by beauty and its ransom terms are engraved in girls' minds early and deeply with instruments more beautiful that those which advertisers or pornographers know how to use: literature, poetry, painting, and film. This outside-in perspective on their own sexuality leads to the confusion that is at the heart of the myth. Women come to confuse sexual looking with being looked at sexually ("Clairol...it's the look you want"); many confuse sexually feeling with being sexually felt ("Gillete razors...the way a woman wants to feel"); many confuse desiring with being desirable. "My first sexual memory," a woman tells me, "was when I first shaved my legs, and when I ran my hand down the smooth skin I felt how it would feel to someone else's hand." Women say that when they lost weight they "feel sexier" but the nerve endings in the clitoris and nipples don't multiply with weight loss. Women tell me they're jealous of the men who get so much pleasure out of the female body that they imagine being inside the male body that is inside their own so that they can vicariously experience desire. Could it be then that women's famous slowness of arousal to men's, complex fantasy life, the lack of pleasure many experience in intercourse, is related to this cultural negation of sexual imagery that affirms the female point of view, the culture prohibition against seeing men's bodies as instruments of pleasure? Could it be related to the taboo against representing intercourse as an opportunity for a straight woman actively to pursue, grasp, savor, and consume the male body for her satisfaction, as much as she is pursued, grasped, savored, and consumed for his?
Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth)
Within this Christian vision for marriage, here's what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, "I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, 'I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!'" Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse then should give him- or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
In the 1890s, when Freud was in the dawn of his career, he was struck by how many of his female patients were revealing childhood incest victimization to him. Freud concluded that child sexual abuse was one of the major causes of emotional disturbances in adult women and wrote a brilliant and humane paper called “The Aetiology of Hysteria.” However, rather than receiving acclaim from his colleagues for his ground-breaking insights, Freud met with scorn. He was ridiculed for believing that men of excellent reputation (most of his patients came from upstanding homes) could be perpetrators of incest. Within a few years, Freud buckled under this heavy pressure and recanted his conclusions. In their place he proposed the “Oedipus complex,” which became the foundation of modern psychology. According to this theory any young girl actually desires sexual contact with her father, because she wants to compete with her mother to be the most special person in his life. Freud used this construct to conclude that the episodes of incestuous abuse his clients had revealed to him had never taken place; they were simply fantasies of events the women had wished for when they were children and that the women had come to believe were real. This construct started a hundred-year history in the mental health field of blaming victims for the abuse perpetrated on them and outright discrediting of women’s and children’s reports of mistreatment by men. Once abuse was denied in this way, the stage was set for some psychologists to take the view that any violent or sexually exploitative behaviors that couldn’t be denied—because they were simply too obvious—should be considered mutually caused. Psychological literature is thus full of descriptions of young children who “seduce” adults into sexual encounters and of women whose “provocative” behavior causes men to become violent or sexually assaultive toward them. I wish I could say that these theories have long since lost their influence, but I can’t. A psychologist who is currently one of the most influential professionals nationally in the field of custody disputes writes that women provoke men’s violence by “resisting their control” or by “attempting to leave.” She promotes the Oedipus complex theory, including the claim that girls wish for sexual contact with their fathers. In her writing she makes the observation that young girls are often involved in “mutually seductive” relationships with their violent fathers, and it is on the basis of such “research” that some courts have set their protocols. The Freudian legacy thus remains strong.
Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men)
I don’t think the world should assume that we are all natural mothers. And it does. I don’t think it’s such a big thing anymore, but the idea that you sacrifice everything for your children—it’s a load of rubbish. It leads to very destructive living and thinking, and it has a much worse effect on children than if you go out and live your own life. You’re meant to adore your children at all times, and you’re not meant to have a bad thought about them. That’s facism, you know, and it’s elevating the child at the expense of the mother. It’s like your life is not valid except in fulfilling this child’s needs. What about all your needs, your desires, your wants, your problems? They’re going to come out anyway, so it’s better they’re acknowledged straight off. Having said that, I really do believe that children have to be protected. They have to be loved. Somewhere between the two, I think, something needs to be sorted out. The relationship between parent and child is so difficult and so complex. There’s every emotion there. We mostly only acknowledge the good ones. If we were allowed to talk about the other ones, maybe it would alleviate them in some way
Marina Carr
We don't really want to get what we think that we want. I am married to a wife and relationship with her are cold and I have a mistress. And all the time I dream oh my god if my wife were to disappear - I'm not a murderer but let us say- that it will open up a new life with the mistress.Then, for some reason, the wife goes away, you lose the mistress. You thought this is all I want, when you have it there, you turn out it was a much more complex situation. It was not to live with the mistress, but to keep her as a distance as on object of desire about which you dream. This is not an excessive example, I claim this is how things function. We don't really want what we think we desire
Slavoj Žižek
In sharp contrast with our culture, the Bible teaches that the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. That means that love is more fundamentally action than emotion. But in talking this way, there is a danger of falling into the opposite error that characterized many ancient and traditional societies. It is possible to see marriage as merely a social transaction, a way of doing your duty to family, tribe and society. Traditional societies made the family the ultimate value in life, and so marriage was a mere transaction that helped your family's interest. By contrast, contemporary Western societies make the individual's happiness the ultimate value, and so marriage becomes primarily an experience of romantic fulfillment. But the Bible sees GOD as the supreme good - not the individual or the family - and that gives us a view of marriage that intimately unites feelings AND duty, passion AND promise. That is because at the heart of the Biblical idea of marriage is the covenant.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
A person spends years coming into his own, developing his talent, his unique gifts, perfecting his discriminations about the world, broadening and sharpening his appetite, learning to bear the disappointments of life, becoming mature, seasoned-finally a unique creature in nature, standing with some dignity and nobility and transcending the animal condition; no longer driven, no longer a complex reflex, not stamped out of any mold. And then the real tragedy, as Andre Malraux wrote in The Human Condition: that it takes sixty years of incredible suffering and effort to make such an individual, and then he is good only for dying. This painful paradox is not lost on the person himself-least of all himself. He feels agonizingly unique, and yet he knows that this doesn't make any difference as far as ultimates are concerned.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
The problem is, it's just not enough to live according to the rules. Sure, you manage to live according to the rules. Sometimes it's tight, extremely tight, but on the whole you manage it. Your tax papers are up to date. Your bills paid on time. You never go out without your identity card (and the special little wallet for your Visa!). Yet you haven’t any friends. The rules are complex, multiform. There’s the shopping that needs doing out of working hours, the automatic dispensers where money has to be got (and where you so often have to wait). Above all there are the different payments you must make to the organizations that run different aspects of your life. You can fall ill into the bargain, which involves costs, and more formalities. Nevertheless, some free time remains. What’s to be done? How do you use your time? In dedicating yourself to helping people? But basically other people don’t interest you. Listening to records? That used to be a solution, but as the years go by you have to say that music moves you less and less. Taken in its widest sense, a spot of do-it-yourself can be a way out. But the fact is that nothing can halt the ever-increasing recurrence of those moments when your total isolation, the sensation of an all-consuming emptiness, the foreboding that your existence is nearing a painful and definitive end all combine to plunge you into a state of real suffering. And yet you haven’t always wanted to die. You have had a life. There have been moments when you were having a life. Of course you don't remember too much about it; but there are photographs to prove it. This was probably happening round about the time of your adolescence, or just after. How great your appetite for life was, then! Existence seemed so rich in new possibilities. You might become a pop singer, go off to Venezuela. More surprising still, you have had a childhood. Observe, now, a child of seven, playing with his little soldiers on the living room carpet. I want you to observe him closely. Since the divorce he no longer has a father. Only rarely does he see his mother, who occupies an important post in a cosmetics firm. And yet he plays with his little soldiers and the interest he takes in these representations of the world and of war seems very keen. He already lacks a bit of affection, that's for sure, but what an air he has of being interested in the world! You too, you took an interest in the world. That was long ago. I want you to cast your mind back to then. The domain of the rules was no longer enough for you; you were unable to live any longer in the domain of the rules; so you had to enter into the domain of the struggle. I ask you to go back to that precise moment. It was long ago, no? Cast your mind back: the water was cold.
Michel Houellebecq (Whatever)
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden & Civil Disobedience)
I cannot leave this subject as though its just treatment wholly depended either on our own pledges or economic facts. The policy of reducing Germany to servitude for a generation, of degrading the lives of millions of human beings, and of depriving a whole nation of happiness should be abhorrent and detestable, - abhorrent and detestable, even if it were possible, even if it enriched ourselves, even if it did not sow the decay of the whole civilized life of Europe. Some preach it in the name of Justice. In the great events of man's history, in the unwinding of the complex fates of nations Justice is not so simple. And if it were, nations are not authorized, by religion or by natural morals, to visit on the children of their enemies the misdoings of parents of rulers.
John Maynard Keynes (The Economic Consequences of the Peace)
It was not the sorrowful, lovely piece she had once played for Dorian, and it was not the light, dancing melodies she'd played for sport; it was not the complex and clever pieces she had played for Nehemia and Chaol. This piece was a celebration—a reaffirmation of life, of glory, of the pain and beauty in breathing. Perhaps that was why she'd gone to hear it performed every year, after so much killing and torture and punishment: as a reminder of that she was, of what she struggled to keep. Up and up it built, the sound breaking from the pianoforte like the heart-song of a god, until Rowan drifted over to stand beside the instrument, until she whispered to him, “Now,” and the crescendo shattered into the world, note after note after note. The music crashed around them, roaring through the emptiness of the theater. The hollow silence that had been inside her for so many months now overflowed with sound. She brought the piece home to its final explosive, triumphant chord. When she looked up, panting slightly, Rowan's eyes were lined with silver, his throat bobbing. Somehow, after all this time, her warrior-prince still managed to surprise her. He seemed to struggle for words, but he finally breathed, “Show me—show me how you did that.” So she obliged him.
Sarah J. Maas (Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4))
What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as "play" is perhaps what he Himself takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance. We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Bashō we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash--at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance. For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.
Thomas Merton (New Seeds of Contemplation)
Reclaiming ourselves usually means coming to recognize and accept that we have in us both sides of everything. We are capable of fear and courage, generosity and selfishness, vulnerability and strength. These things do not cancel each other out but offer us a full range of power and response to life. Life is as complex as we are. Sometimes our vulnerability is our strength, our fear develops our courage, and our woundedness is the road to our integrity. It is not an either/or world. It is a real world. In calling ourselves "heads" or "tails," we may never own and spend our human currency, the pure gold of which our coin is made. But judgment may heal over time. One of the blessings of growing older is the discovery that many of the things I once believed to be my shortcomings have turned out in the long run to be my strengths, and other things of which I was unduly proud have revealed themselves in the end to be among my shortcomings. Things that I have hidden from others for years turn out to be the anchor and enrichment of my middle age. What a blessing it is to outlive your self-judgments and harvest your failures.
Rachel Naomi Remen (Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal)
There was nothing worse, Veppers thought, than a loser who’d made it. It was just part of the way things worked – part of the complexity of life, he supposed – that sometimes somebody who absolutely deserved nothing more than to be one of the down-trodden, the oppressed, the dregs of society, lucked out into a position of wealth, power and admiration. At least people who were natural winners knew how to carry themselves in their pomp, whether their ascendancy had come through the luck of being born rich and powerful or the luck of being born ambitious and capable. Losers who’d made it always let the side down. Veppers was all for arrogance – he possessed the quality in full measure himself, as he’d often been informed – but it had to be deserved, you had to have worked for it. Or at the very least, an ancestor had to have worked for it. Arrogance without cause, arrogance without achievement – or that mistook sheer luck for true achievement – was an abomination. Losers made everybody look bad. Worse, they made the whole thing – the great game that was life – appear arbitrary, almost meaningless. Their only use, Veppers had long since decided, was as examples to be held up to those who complained about their lack of status or money or control over their lives: look, if this idiot can achieve something, so can anybody, so can you. So stop whining about being exploited and work harder. Still, at least individual losers were quite obviously statistical freaks. You could allow for that, you could tolerate that, albeit with gritted teeth. What he would not have believed was that you could find an entire society – an entire civilization– of losers who’d made it.
Iain Banks (Surface Detail (Culture #9))
Even the wolf has two, and more than two, souls in his wolf's breast, and he who desires to be a wolf falls into the same forgetfulness as the man who sings: "If I could be a child once more!" He who sentimentally sings of blessed childhood is thinking of the return to nature and innocence and the origin of things, and has quite forgotten that these blessed children are beset with conflict and complexities and capable of all suffering. There is, in fact, no way back either to the wolf or to the child. From the very start there is no innocence and no singleness. Every created thing, even the simplest, is already guilty, already multiple. It has been thrown into the muddy stream of being and may never more swim back again to its source. The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life. Nor will suicide really solve your problem, unhappy Steppenwolf. You will, instead, embark on the longer and wearier and harder road of life. You will have to multiply many times your two-fold being and complicate your complexities still further. Instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have to absorb more and more of the world and at last take all of it up in your painfully expanded soul, if you are ever to find peace.
Hermann Hesse (Steppenwolf)
Do not despise your inner world. That is the first and most general piece of advice I would offer… Our society is very outward-looking, very taken up with the latest new object, the latest piece of gossip, the latest opportunity for self-assertion and status. But we all begin our lives as helpless babies, dependent on others for comfort, food, and survival itself. And even though we develop a degree of mastery and independence, we always remain alarmingly weak and incomplete, dependent on others and on an uncertain world for whatever we are able to achieve. As we grow, we all develop a wide range of emotions responding to this predicament: fear that bad things will happen and that we will be powerless to ward them off; love for those who help and support us; grief when a loved one is lost; hope for good things in the future; anger when someone else damages something we care about. Our emotional life maps our incompleteness: A creature without any needs would never have reasons for fear, or grief, or hope, or anger. But for that very reason we are often ashamed of our emotions, and of the relations of need and dependency bound up with them. Perhaps males, in our society, are especially likely to be ashamed of being incomplete and dependent, because a dominant image of masculinity tells them that they should be self-sufficient and dominant. So people flee from their inner world of feeling, and from articulate mastery of their own emotional experiences. The current psychological literature on the life of boys in America indicates that a large proportion of boys are quite unable to talk about how they feel and how others feel — because they have learned to be ashamed of feelings and needs, and to push them underground. But that means that they don’t know how to deal with their own emotions, or to communicate them to others. When they are frightened, they don’t know how to say it, or even to become fully aware of it. Often they turn their own fear into aggression. Often, too, this lack of a rich inner life catapults them into depression in later life. We are all going to encounter illness, loss, and aging, and we’re not well prepared for these inevitable events by a culture that directs us to think of externals only, and to measure ourselves in terms of our possessions of externals. What is the remedy of these ills? A kind of self-love that does not shrink from the needy and incomplete parts of the self, but accepts those with interest and curiosity, and tries to develop a language with which to talk about needs and feelings. Storytelling plays a big role in the process of development. As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves. As we grow older, we encounter more and more complex stories — in literature, film, visual art, music — that give us a richer and more subtle grasp of human emotions and of our own inner world. So my second piece of advice, closely related to the first, is: Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others.
Martha C. Nussbaum
What, more realistically, is this “mutation,” the “new man”? He is the rootless man, discontinuous with a past that Nihilism has destroyed, the raw material of every demagogue’s dream; the “free-thinker” and skeptic, closed only to the truth but “open” to each new intellectual fashion because he himself has no intellectual foundation; the “seeker” after some “new revelation,” ready to believe anything new because true faith has been annihilated in him; the planner and experimenter, worshipping “fact” because he has abandoned truth, seeing the world as a vast laboratory in which he is free to determine what is “possible”; the autonomous man, pretending to the humility of only asking his “rights,” yet full of the pride that expects everything to be given him in a world where nothing is authoritatively forbidden; the man of the moment, without conscience or values and thus at the mercy of the strongest “stimulus”; the “rebel,” hating all restraint and authority because he himself is his own and only god; the “mass man,” this new barbarian, thoroughly “reduced” and “simplified” and capable of only the most elementary ideas, yet scornful of anyone who presumes to point out the higher things or the real complexity of life.
Seraphim Rose (Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age)
Habits are undeniably useful tools, relieving us of the need to run a complex mental operation every time we’re confronted with a new task or situation. Yet they also relieve us of the need to stay awake to the world: to attend, feel, think, and then act in a deliberate manner. (That is, from freedom rather than compulsion.) If you need to be reminded how completely mental habit blinds us to experience, just take a trip to an unfamiliar country. Suddenly you wake up! And the algorithms of everyday life all but start over, as if from scratch. This is why the various travel metaphors for the psychedelic experience are so apt. The efficiencies of the adult mind, useful as they are, blind us to the present moment. We’re constantly jumping ahead to the next thing. We approach experience much as an artificial intelligence (AI) program does, with our brains continually translating the data of the present into the terms of the past, reaching back in time for the relevant experience, and then using that to make its best guess as to how to predict and navigate the future. One of the things that commends travel, art, nature, work, and certain drugs to us is the way these experiences, at their best, block every mental path forward and back, immersing us in the flow of a present that is literally wonderful—wonder being the by-product of precisely the kind of unencumbered first sight, or virginal noticing, to which the adult brain has closed itself. (It’s so inefficient!) Alas, most of the time I inhabit a near-future tense, my psychic thermostat set to a low simmer of anticipation and, too often, worry. The good thing is I’m seldom surprised. The bad thing is I’m seldom surprised.
Michael Pollan (How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence)
Among the many forms of alienation, the most frequent one is alienation in language. If I express a feeling with a word, let us say, if I say "I love you," the word is meant to be an indication of the reality which exists within myself, the power of my loving. The word "love" is meant to be a symbol of the fact love, but as soon as it is spoken it tends to assume a life of its own, it becomes a reality. I am under the illusion that the saying of the word is the equivalent of the experience, and soon I say the word and feel nothing, except the thought of love which the word expresses. The alienation of language shows the whole complexity of alienation. Language is one of the most precious human achievements; to avoid alienation by not speaking would be foolish -- yet one must be always aware of the danger of the spoken word, that it threatens to substitute itself for the living experience. The same holds true for all other achievements of man; ideas, art, any kind of man-made objects. They are man's creations; they are valuable aids for life, yet each one of them is also a trap, a temptation to confuse life with things, experience with artifacts, feeling with surrender and submission.
Erich Fromm (Marx's Concept of Man)
FOR THE DYING May death come gently toward you, Leaving you time to make your way Through the cold embrace of fear To the place of inner tranquillity. May death arrive only after a long life To find you at home among your own With every comfort and care you require. May your leave-taking be gracious, Enabling you to hold dignity Through awkwardness and illness. May you see the reflection Of your life’s kindness and beauty In all the tears that fall for you. As your eyes focus on each face, May your soul take its imprint, Drawing each image within As companions for the journey. May you find for each one you love A different locket of jeweled words To be worn around the heart To warm your absence. May someone who knows and loves The complex village of your heart Be there to echo you back to yourself And create a sure word-raft To carry you to the further shore. May your spirit feel The surge of true delight When the veil of the visible Is raised, and you glimpse again The living faces Of departed family and friends. May there be some beautiful surprise Waiting for you inside death, Something you never knew or felt, Which with one simple touch, Absolves you of all loneliness and loss, As you quicken within the embrace For which your soul was eternally made. May your heart be speechless At the sight of the truth Of all belief had hoped, Your heart breathless In the light and lightness Where each and everything Is at last its true self Within that serene belonging That dwells beside us On the other side Of what we see.
John O'Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Invocations and Blessings)
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)
Everything is temporary, almost like a passing fase, some of laughter Some of pain. What we would do, If we had the chance to explore What we had taken for Granted the very day before, Some would say I'm selfish, To hold a little sadness in my eyes, But they don't feel the sorrow When I can't do, all that helps me feel alive. I can express my emotions, but I can't run wild and free, My mind and soul would handle it but hell upon my hip, ankle and knees, This disorder came about, as a friendship said its last goodbyes, Soooo this is what I got given for all the years I stood by? I finally stand still to question it, life it is in fact? What the fuck is the purpose of it all if you get stabbed in the back? And after the anger fills the air, the regret takes it places, I never wanted to be that girl, Horrid, sad and faded... So I took with a grain of salt, my new found reality, I am not of my pain, the disability doesnt define me. I find away to adjust, also with the absence of my friend, I trust the choices I make, allow my heart to mend. I pick up the pieces I retrain my leg, I find where I left off And I start all over again, You see what happens... When a warrior gets tested; They grow from the ashes Powerful and invested. So I thank all this heartache, As I put it to a rest, I move forward with my life And I'll build a damn good nest.
Nikki Rowe
The theory of phlogiston was an inversion of the true nature of combustion. Removing phlogiston was in reality adding oxygen, while adding phlogiston was actually removing oxygen. The theory was a total misrepresentation of reality. Phlogiston did not even exist, and yet its existence was firmly believed and the theory adhered to rigidly for nearly one hundred years throughout the eighteenth century. ... As experimentation continued the properties of phlogiston became more bizarre and contradictory. But instead of questioning the existence of this mysterious substance it was made to serve more comprehensive purposes. ... For the skeptic or indeed to anyone prepared to step out of the circle of Darwinian belief, it is not hard to find inversions of common sense in modern evolutionary thought which are strikingly reminiscent of the mental gymnastics of the phlogiston chemists or the medieval astronomers. To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of one thousand volumes, containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt - the paradigm takes precedence!
Michael Denton (Evolution: A Theory In Crisis)
At this point there's something I should explain about myself, which is that I don't talk much, probably too little, and I think this has been detrimental to my social life. It's not that I have trouble expressing myself, or no more than people generally have when they're trying to put something complex into words. I'd even say I have less trouble than most because my long involvement with literature has given me a better-than-average capacity for handling language. But I have no gift for small talk, and there's no point trying to learn or pretend; it wouldn't be convincing. My conversational style is spasmodic (someone once described it as "hollowing"). Every sentence opens up gaps, which require new beginnings. I can't maintain any continuity. In short, I speak when I have something to say. My problem, I suppose - and this may be an effect of involvement with literature - is that I attribute too much importance to the subject. For me, it's never simply a question of "talking" but always a question of "what to talk about". And the effort of weighing up potential subjects kills the spontaneity of dialogue. In other words, when everything you say has to be "worth the effort", it's too much effort to go on talking. I envy people who can launch into a conversation with gusto and energy, and keep it going. I envy them that human contact, so full of promise, a living reality from which, in my mute isolation, I feel excluded. "But what do they talk about?" I wonder, which is obviously the wrong question to ask. The crabbed awkwardness of my social interactions is a result of this failing on my part. Looking back, I can see that it was responsible for most of my missed opportunities and almost all the woes of solitude. The older I get, the more convinced I am that this is a mutilation, for which my professional success cannot compensate, much less my "rich inner life." And I've never been able to resolve the conundrum that conversationalists pose for me: how do they keep coming up with things to talk about? I don't even wonder about it anymore, perhaps because I know there's no answer.
César Aira
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Most people are afflicted with an inability to say what they see or think. They say there’s nothing more difficult than to define a spiral in words; they claim it is necessary to use the unliterary hand, twirling it in a steadily upward direction, so that human eyes will perceive the abstract figure immanent in wire spring and a certain type of staircase. But if we remember that to say is to renew, we will have no trouble defining a spiral; it’s a circle that rises without ever closing. I realize that most people would never dare to define it this way, for they suppose that defining is to say what others want us to say rather than what’s required for the definition. I’ll say it more accurately: a spiral is a potential circle that winds round as it rises, without ever completing itself. But no, the definition is still abstract. I’ll resort to the concrete, and all will become clear: a spiral is a snake without a snake, vertically wound around nothing. All literature is an attempt to make life real. All of us know, even when we act on what we don’t know, life is absolutely unreal in its directly real form; the country, the city and our ideas are absolutely fictitious things, the offspring of our complex sensation of our own selves. Impressions are incommunicable unless we make them literary. Children are particularly literary, for they say what they feel not what someone has taught them to feel. Once I heard a child, who wished to say that he was on the verge of tears, say not ‘I feel like crying’, which is what an adult, i.e., an idiot, would say but rather, ’ I feel like tears.’ And this phrase -so literary it would seem affected in a well-known poet, if he could ever invent it - decisively refers to the warm presence of tears about to burst from eyelids that feel the liquid bitterness. ‘I feel like tears’! The small child aptly defined his spiral. To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming- like worms when a rock is lifted - under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
This story takes place a half a billion years ago-an inconceivably long time ago, when this planet would be all but recognizable to you. Nothing at all stirred on the land except the wind and the dust. Not a single blade of grass waved in the wind, not a single cricket chirped, not a single bird soared in the sky. All these things were tens of millions of years away in the future. But of course there was an anthropologist on hand. What sort of world would it be without an anthropologist? He was, however a very depressed and disillusioned anthropologist, for he'd been everywhere on the planet looking for someone to interview, and every tape in his knapsack was as blank as the sky. But one day as he was moping alongside the ocean he saw what seemed to be a living creature in the shallows off shore. It was nothing to brag about, just sort of a squishy blob, but it was the only prospect he'd seen in all his journeys, so he waded out to where it was bobbing in the waves. He greeted the creature politely and was greeted in kind, and soon the two of them were good friends. The anthropologist explained as well as he could that he was a student of life-styles and customs, and begged his new friend for information of this sort, which was readily forthcoming. ‘And now’, he said at last, ‘I'd like to get on tape in your own words some of the stories you tell among yourselves.’ ‘Stories?’ the other asked. ‘You know, like your creation myth, if you have one.’ ‘What is a creation myth?’ the creature asked. ‘Oh, you know,’ the anthropologist replied, ‘the fanciful tale you tell your children about the origins of the world.’ Well, at this, the creature drew itself up indignantly- at least as well as a squishy blob can do- and replied that his people had no such fanciful tale. ‘You have no account of creation then?’ ‘Certainly we have an account of creation,’ the other snapped. ‘But its definitely not a myth.’ ‘Oh certainly not,’ the anthropologist said, remembering his training at last. ‘Ill be terribly grateful if you share it with me.’ ‘Very well,’ the creature said. ‘But I want you to understand that, like you, we are a strictly rational people, who accept nothing that is not based on observation, logic, and scientific method.’ ‘"Of course, of course,’ the anthropologist agreed. So at last the creature began its story. ‘The universe,’ it said, ‘was born a long, long time ago, perhaps ten or fifteen billion years ago. Our own solar system-this star, this planet, and all the others- seem to have come into being some two or three billion years ago. For a long time, nothing whatever lived here. But then, after a billion years or so, life appeared.’ ‘Excuse me,’ the anthropologist said. ‘You say that life appeared. Where did that happen, according to your myth- I mean, according to your scientific account.’ The creature seemed baffled by the question and turned a pale lavender. ‘Do you mean in what precise spot?’ ‘No. I mean, did this happen on land or in the sea?’ ‘Land?’ the other asked. ‘What is land?’ ‘Oh, you know,’ he said, waving toward the shore, ‘the expanse of dirt and rocks that begins over there.’ The creature turned a deeper shade of lavender and said, ‘I cant imagine what you're gibbering about. The dirt and rocks over there are simply the lip of the vast bowl that holds the sea.’ ‘Oh yes,’ the anthropologist said, ‘I see what you mean. Quite. Go on.’ ‘Very well,’ the other said. ‘For many millions of centuries the life of the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But little by little, more complex forms appeared: single-celled creatures, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on.’ ‘But finally,’ the creature said, turning quite pink with pride as he came to the climax of his story, ‘but finally jellyfish appeared!
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Ishmael, #1))