Probability Related Quotes

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…the sad part is, that I will probably end up loving you without you for much longer than I loved you when I knew you. Some people might find that strange. But the truth of it is that the amount of love you feel for someone and the impact they have on you as a person, is in no way relative to the amount of time you have known them.
Ranata Suzuki
I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.
Bertrand Russell (Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects)
If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity. If there's no relationship with nature then you become a killer; then you kill baby seals, whales, dolphins, and man either for gain, for "sport," for food, or for knowledge. Then nature is frightened of you, withdrawing its beauty. You may take long walks in the woods or camp in lovely places but you are a killer and so lose their friendship. You probably are not related to anything to your wife or your husband.
J. Krishnamurti
Perhaps it is not-being that is the true state, and all our dream of life is inexistent; but, if so, we feel that these phrases of music, these conceptions which exist in relation to our dream, must be nothing either. We shall perish, but we have as hostages these divine captives who will follow and share our fate. And death in their company is somehow less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps even less probable.
Marcel Proust
I've often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they're on, why they don't fall off it, how much time they've probably got here, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on. I tried to write one once. It was called Welcome to Earth. But I got stuck on explaining why we don't fall off the planet. Gravity is just a word. It doesn't explain anything. If I could get past gravity, I'd tell them how we reproduce, how long we've been here, apparently, and a little bit about evolution. I didn't learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I should have learned that in the first grade. A first grader should understand that his or her culture isn't a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society. Cultural relativity is defensible and attractive. It's also a source of hope. It means we don't have to continue this way if we don't like it.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The moment seemed endless, but it was probably only half that.
Steve Toltz (A Fraction of the Whole)
Somewhere in our DNA must lie the key mutation (or, more probably, mutations) that set us apart—the mutations that make us the sort of creature that could wipe out its nearest relative, then dig up its bones and reassemble its genome.
Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History)
If you've never done anything wrong it's probably because you have never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein (Relativity: The Special and the General Theory)
4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion... shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in fureâ. ...Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you... In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it... I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost... [Letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, advising him in matters of religion, 1787]
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
When anyone tells me that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself whether it be more probable that this person should either deceive or be deceived or that the fact which he relates should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other and according to the superiority which I discover, I pronounce my decision. Always I reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous than the event which he relates, then and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.
David Hume
If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it's useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then the next day you probably do much the same again—if to do that is human, if that's what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.... [T]he proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us." —"The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction
Ursula K. Le Guin (Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places)
With no relation to social status, class, background, whether it suits them or not, people yearn for a dream. Sustained by a dream, hurt by a dream, revived by a dream, killed by a dream. And even after being abandoned by a dream, it continues to smolder from the bottom of one's heart, probably until the verge of death. A man should envision such a lifetime once. A life spent as a martyr...to the God named "Dream". Ultimately, to be born, and then to simply live for no better reason...I can't abide such a life. They are...excellent troops. Together we have faced death so many times. They are my valuable comrades, devoting themselves to the dream I envision. But to me, a friend is...something else. Someone who would never depend on another's dream. Someone who wouldn't be compelled by anyone, but would determine and pursue his own reason to live...And should anyone trample that dream, he would oppose him body and soul, even if that threat were me myself. What I think a friend is...is one who is my "Equal".
Kentaro Miura (Berserk, Vol. 6 (Berserk, #6))
And yet I know I am too young, that we're too young, for me to live my life only as it relates to you. If you had asked me to marry you the night you first told me about your acceptance, I would have embraced Princeton as part of a larger plan that involved me. I probably would have reacted differently. I might even had said yes. Alas, you didn't ask me then. You made plans for your future without me in mind, And that's okay. But how can you now ask me to arrange my life around you?
Megan McCafferty
They don't make morgues with windows. In fact, if the geography allows for it, they hardly ever make morgues above the ground. I guess it's partly because it must be eisier to refrigerate a bunch of coffin-sized chambers in a room insulated by the earth. But that can't be all there is to it. Under the earth means a lot more than relative altitude. It's where dead things fit. Graves are under the earth. So are Hell, Gehenna, Hades, and a dozen other reported afterlives. Maybe it says somthing about people. Maybe for us, under the earth is a subtle and profound statement. Maybe ground level provides us with a kind of symbolic boundary marker, an artificial construct that helps us remember that we are alive. Mabye it helps us push death's shadow back from our lives. I live in a basement apartment and like it. What does that say about me? Probably that I overanalyze things.
Jim Butcher (Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5))
It happens to us once or twice in a lifetime to be drunk with some book which probably has some extraordinary relative power to intoxicate us and none other; and having exhausted that cup of enchantment we go groping in libraries all our years afterwards in the hope of being in Paradise again.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
But then, Cap'n Crunch in a flake form would be suicidal madness; it would last about as long, when immersed in milk, as snowflakes sifting down into a deep fryer. No, the cereal engineers at General Mills had to find a shape that would minimize surface area, and, as some sort of compromise between the sphere that is dictated by Euclidean geometry and whatever sunken treasure related shapes that the cereal aestheticians were probably clamoring for, they came up with this hard -to-pin-down striated pillow formation.
Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon)
And then he grins back, and I’m giddy and breathless and kind of unraveled. And I didn’t sleep at all last night. Not even for a second. I’ve basically been picturing this moment for ten hours, and now that it’s here, I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to say. Probably something awesome and witty and not school-related. Probably not: “Did you finish the chapter?
Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda)
I read the first chapter of A Brief History of Time when Dad was still alive, and I got incredibly heavy boots about how relatively insignificant life is, and how compared to the universe and compared to time, it didn't even matter if I existed at all. When Dad was tucking me in that night and we were talking about the book, I asked if he could think of a solution to that problem. "Which problem?" "The problem of how relatively insignificant we are." He said, "Well, what would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one millimeter?" I said, "I'd probably die of dehydration." He said, "I just mean right then, when you moved that single grain of sand. What would that mean?" I said, "I dunno, what?" He said, "Think about it." I thought about it. "I guess I would have moved one grain of sand." "Which would mean?" "Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?" "Which would mean you changed the Sahara." "So?" "So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for millions of years. And you changed it!" "That's true!" I said, sitting up. "I changed the Sahara!" "Which means?" he said. "What? Tell me." "Well I'm not talking about painting the Mona Lisa or curing cancer. I'm just talking about moving that one grain of sand one millimeter." "Yeah? If you hadn't done it, human history would have been one way..." "Uh-huh?" "But you did do it, so...?" I stood on the bed, pointing one of my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: "I changed the course of human history!" "That's right." "I changed the universe!" "You did." "I'm God!" "You're an atheist." "I don't exist!" I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cracked up together.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Maybe it is nothingness that is real and our entire dream is nonexistent, but in that case we feel that these phrases of music, and these notions that exist in relation to our dream, must also be nothing. We will perish, but we have for hostages these divine captives who will follow us and share our fate. And death in their company is less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps less probable.
Marcel Proust (Du côté de chez Swann (À la recherche du temps perdu, #1))
Another key commitment for succeeding with this strategy is to support your commitment to shutting down with a strict shutdown ritual that you use at the end of the workday to maximize the probability that you succeed. In more detail, this ritual should ensure that every incomplete task, goal, or project has been reviewed and that for each you have confirmed that either (1) you have a plan you trust for its completion, or (2) it’s captured in a place where it will be revisited when the time is right. The process should be an algorithm: a series of steps you always conduct, one after another. When you’re done, have a set phrase you say that indicates completion (to end my own ritual, I say, “Shutdown complete”). This final step sounds cheesy, but it provides a simple cue to your mind that it’s safe to release work-related thoughts for the rest of the day.
Cal Newport (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World)
The love object occupies the thoughts of the person diagnosed as 'in love' all the time despite the probability that very little is actually known about it. To it are ascribed all qualities considered by the obsessed as good, regardless of whether the object in question possesses those qualities in any degree. Expectations are set up which no human being could fulfill. Thus the object chosen plays a special role in relation to the go of the obsessed, who decided that he or she is the right or the only person for him. In the case of a male this notion may sanction a degree of directly aggressive behavior either in pursuing the object or driving off competition.
Germaine Greer (The Female Eunuch)
All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE. Heaven may ENCORE the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
One who is content with what he has, and who accepts the fact that he inevitably misses very much in life, is far better off than one who has much more but who worries about all he may be missing . . . the relative perfection which we must attain to in this life if we are to live as sons of God is not the twenty-four-hour-a-day production of perfect acts of virtue, but a life from which practically all the obstacles to God's love have been removed or overcome. One of the chief obstacles to this perfection of selfless charity is the selfish anxiety to get the most out of everything, to be a brilliant success in our own eyes and in the eyes of other men. We can only get rid of this anxiety by being content to miss something in almost everything we do. We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything else go, we will probably be able to retain the one thing necessary for us— whatever it may be. If we are too eager to have everything, we will almost certainly miss even the one thing we need. Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the "one thing necessary" may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.
Thomas Merton (No Man Is an Island)
Political economy tends to see work in capitalist societies as divided between two spheres: wage labor, for which the paradigm is always factories, and domestic labor – housework, childcare – relegated mainly to women. The first is seen primarily as a matter of creating and maintaining physical objects. The second is probably best seen as a matter of creating and maintaining people and social relations. [...] This makes it easier to see the two as fundamentally different sorts of activity, making it hard for us to recognize interpretive labor, for example, or most of what we usually think of as women’s work, as labor at all. To my mind it would probably be better to recognize it as the primary form of labor. Insofar as a clear distinction can be made here, it’s the care, energy, and labor directed at human beings that should be considered fundamental. The things we care most about – our loves, passions, rivalries, obsessions – are always other people; and in most societies that are not capitalist, it’s taken for granted that the manufacture of material goods is a subordinate moment in a larger process of fashioning people. In fact, I would argue that one of the most alienating aspects of capitalism is the fact that it forces us to pretend that it is the other way around, and that societies exist primarily to increase their output of things.
David Graeber (Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination)
One day or another, it is true, dust, supposing it persists, will probably begin to gain the upper hand over domestics, invading the immense ruins of abandoned buildings, deserted dockyards; and, at that distant epoch, nothing will remain to ward off night-terrors, for lack of which we have become such great book-keepers...
Georges Bataille (Encyclopaedia Acephalica: Comprising the Critical Dictionary & Related Texts (Archive 3))
I think everyone, at some time in his life, has this happen to him, comes face to face with the bitter realization that he has failed in something that means a tremendous amount and probably in a relation that is close to him. Life teaches you that you cannot attain real maturity until you are ready to accept this harsh knowledge, this limitation in yourself, and make the difficult adjustment. Either you must learn to allow someone else to meet the need, without bitterness or envy, and accept it; or somehow you must make yourself learn to meet it. If you refuse to accept the limitation in yourself, you will be unable to grow beyond this point.
Eleanor Roosevelt (You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life)
If you’re an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multitasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It’s up to you to use that independence to good effect.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
There is a saying that "paper is more patient than man";it came back to me on one of my slightly melancholy days,while I sat chin in hand,feeling too bored and limp even to make up my mind whether to go out or stay at home. Yes, there is no doubt that paper is patient and as I don't intend to show this cardboard-covered notebook,bearing the proud name of"diary",to anyone,unless I find a real friend,boy or girl,probably nobody cares.And now I come to the root of the matter,the reason for my starting a diary:it is that I have no such real friend. Let me put it more clearly,since no one will believe that a girl of thirteen feels herself quite alone in the world,nor is it so.I have darling parents and a sister of sixteen.I know about thirty people whom one might call friends--I have strings of boy friends,anxious to catch a glimpse of me and who,failing that,peep at me through mirrors in class.I have relations,aunts and uncles,who are darlings too,a good home,no--I don't seem to lack anything.But it's the same with all my friends,just fun and joking,nothing more.I can never bring myself to talk of anything outside the common round.We don't seem to be able to get any closer,that is the root of the trouble.Perhaps I lack confidence,but anyway,there it is,a stubborn fact and I don't seem to be able to do anything about it.
Anne Frank (Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl)
The only dream I ever had was the dream of New York itself, and for me, from the minute I touched down in this city, that was enough. It became the best teacher I ever had. If your mother is anything like mine, after all, there are a lot of important things she probably didn't teach you: how to use a vibrator; how to go to a loan shark and pull a loan at 17 percent that's due in thirty days; how to hire your first divorce attorney; what to look for in a doula (a birth coach) should you find yourself alone and pregnant. My mother never taught me how to date three people at the same time or how to interview a nanny or what to wear in an ashram in India or how to meditate. She also failed to mention crotchless underwear, how to make my first down payment on an apartment, the benefits of renting verses owning, and the difference between a slant-6 engine and a V-8 (in case I wanted to get a muscle car), not to mention how to employ a team of people to help me with my life, from trainers to hair colorists to nutritionists to shrinks. (Luckily, New York became one of many other moms I am to have in my lifetime.) So many mothers say they want their daughters to be independent, but what they really hope is that they'll find a well-compensated banker or lawyer and settle down between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-eight in Greenwich, Darien, or That Town, USA, to raise babies, do the grocery shopping, and work out in relative comfort for the rest of their lives. I know this because I employ their daughters. They raise us to think they want us to have careers, and they send us to college, but even they don't really believe women can be autonomous and take care of themselves.
Kelly Cutrone (If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You)
YOU KNOW HOW IT IS. YOU PICK UP A BOOK, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you. Not this time. Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/ haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other…. This one’s for you. With you know what, and you probably know why.
Neil Gaiman (Anansi Boys)
Every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror, I see a black face and I love it. Sure, I've been to Paris and grew up surfing, and yes, I speak like I'm in a commercial. But I'm just like the women you see walking on the side of the road with their laundry baskets and their Bibles. I'm just like the old men pedaling their rusty bicycles. I'm no different from the men who drive your tractors or the woman who probably raised you. I'm just like them, no better and no worse. I'm black, Remy, which means everything and nothing
Natalie Baszile (Queen Sugar)
For the first time in some years, I didn't care what Father said to me, even though I knew that by the end of the day my conscience would probably win out and I would end up apologizing to him as well.
M.L. LeGette
When people look at a dangerous violent criminal at the beginning of his developmental process rather than at the very end of it, they will see, perhaps unexpectedly, that the dangerous violent criminal began as a relatively benign human being for whom they would probably have more sympathy than antipathy.
Richard Rhodes (Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist)
Here then we are first to consider a book, presented to us by a barbarous and ignorant people, written in an age when they were still more barbarous, and in all probability long after the facts which it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous accounts, which every nation gives of its origin.
David Hume (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding)
The people in this country are in furious rages at each other after the last vote, she said, and the government we’ve got has done nothing to assuage it and instead is using people’s rage for its own political expediency. Which is a grand old fascist trick if ever I saw one, and a very dangerous game to play. And what’s happening in the United States is directly related, and probably financially related.
Ali Smith (Winter (Seasonal, #2))
I consider Anarchism the most beautiful and practical philosophy that has yet been thought of in its application to individual expression and the relation it establishes between the individual and society. Moreover, I am certain that Anarchism is too vital and too close to human nature ever to die. It is my conviction that dictatorship, whether to the right or to the left, can never work--that it never has worked, and that time will prove this again, as it has been proved before. When the failure of modern dictatorship and authoritarian philosophies becomes more apparent and the realization of failure more general, Anarchism will be vindicated. Considered from this point, a recrudescence of Anarchist ideas in the near future is very probable. When this occurs and takes effect, I believe that humanity will at last leave the maze in which it is now lost and will start on the path to sane living and regeneration through freedom.
Emma Goldman (Red Emma Speaks: An Emma Goldman Reader (Contemporary Studies in Philosophy and the Human Sciences))
I missed her smile…the way she would roll her eyes when she thought I was being ridiculous…the quiet way she almost tiptoed when she walked that gave her away as a ballerina…the fact that she could probably give me a fairly decent ass-kicking if she set her mind to it. I missed it all. I missed her.
M.A. George (Relativity (Proximity, #2))
When people related by blood were so careful with each other, when they were so very polite, there was soon nothing left to say. Only niceties that meant so little they might as well have been spoken to a complete stranger. Pass the butter, open the door, see you after school, there's rain again, it's sunny, it's cold. Has the dog eaten? Has the window been shut? Where are you going? Why is it I don't know you at all? Such statements did not add up to anything like a family...
Alice Hoffman (The Probable Future)
Happiness and goodness, according to canting moralists, stand in the relation of effect and cause. There was never anything less proved or less probable: our happiness is never in our own hands; we inherit our constitution; we stand buffet among friends and enemies; we may be so built as to feel a sneer or an aspersion with unusual keenness and so circumstanced as to be unusually exposed to them; we may have nerves very sensitive to pain, and be afflicted with a disease very painful. Virtue will not help us, and it is not meant to help us.
Robert Louis Stevenson (A Christmas Sermon)
The most effective alternative process [to punishment] is probably extinction. This takes time but is much more rapid than allowing the response to be forgotten. The technique seems to be relatively free of objectionable by-products. We recommend it, for example when we suggest that a parent 'pay no attention' to objectionable behavior on the part of his child. If the child's behavior is strong only because it has been reinforced by 'getting a rise out of' the parent, it will disappear when this consequence is no longer forthcoming. (p. 192)
B. F. Skinner (Science and Human Behavior)
As to the ancient historians, from Herodotus to Tacitus, we credit them as far as they relate things probable and credible, and no further: for if we do, we must believe the two miracles which Tacitus relates were performed by Vespasian, that of curing a lame man, and a blind man, in just the same manner as the same things are told of Jesus Christ by his historians. We must also believe the miracles cited by Josephus, that of the sea of Pamphilia opening to let Alexander and his army pass, as is related of the Red Sea in Exodus. These miracles are quite as well authenticated as the Bible miracles, and yet we do not believe them; consequently the degree of evidence necessary to establish our belief of things naturally incredible, whether in the Bible or elsewhere, is far greater than that which obtains our belief to natural and probable things.
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)
...Our conversation with the supermarket manager had been about as helpful as a New Jersey road sign, and if you've ever been there, you know the signs don't tell you the exit you're coming up to, they only point out the exits you've just missed. It puts parents in very foul moods--and since you're probably there to visit relatives, their mood was pretty touch and go to begin with.
Neal Shusterman (The Schwa Was Here (Antsy Bonano, #1))
The problem is that everything is relative. Happiness is based on expectations and we have the internet now. A whole world constantly asking us, "But is your life as perfect as this? Well, how about now? Is it as perfect as this? If it isn't, change it!!" The truth of course is, that if people really were as happy as they look on the internet, they wouldn't spend so much damn time on the internet. Because no one who's having a really good day spends half of it taking pictures of themselves. Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure. So, if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that's probably because it's full of shit.
Frederik Backman
I came to the conclusion that, even in life, unless I’m responding with my whole self—unless, in fact, I’m willing to be changed by you—I’m probably not really listening. But if I do listen—openly, naïvely, and innocently—there’s a chance, possibly the only chance, that a true dialogue and real communication will take place between us.
Alan Alda (If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating)
When you find human society disagreeable and feel yourself justified in flying to solitude, you can be so constituted as to be unable to bear the depression of it for any length of time, which will probably be the case if you are young. Let me advise you, then, to form the habit of taking some of your solitude with you into society, to learn to be to some extent alone even though you are in company; not to say at once what you think, and, on the other hand, not to attach too precise a meaning to what others say; rather, not to expect much of them, either morally or intellectually, and to strengthen yourself in the feeling of indifference to their opinion, which is the surest way of always practicing a praiseworthy toleration. If you do that, you will not live so much with other people, though you may appear to move amongst them: your relation to them will be of a purely objective character. This precaution will keep you from too close contact with society, and therefore secure you against being contaminated or even outraged by it. Society is in this respect like a fire—the wise man warming himself at a proper distance from it; not coming too close, like the fool, who, on getting scorched, runs away and shivers in solitude, loud in his complaint that the fire burns.
Arthur Schopenhauer (Essays and Aphorisms)
Perhaps you can relate to feeling in the middle, to having questions in the air. I don't know about you, but I hope to live a good story. To see things invisible and watch them come to life. The critics will probably always be there calling us fools or crooks, but we should just keep going. They can't see what we see and the are not the thing that drives us.
Jamie Tworkowski
In this he was like most Midwesterners. Directions are very important to them. They have an innate need to be oriented, even in their anecdotes. Any story related by a Midwesterner will wander off at some point into a thicket of interior monologue along the lines of "We were staying at a hotel that was eight blocks northeast of the state capital building. Come to think of it, it was northwest. And I think it was probably more like nine blocks. And this woman without any clothes on, naked as the day she was born except for a coonskin cap, came running at us from the southwest... or was it the southeast?" If there are two Midwesterns present and they both witnessed the incident, you can just about write off the anecdote because they will spend the rest of the afternoon arguing points of the compass and will never get back to the original story. You can always tell a Midwestern couple in Europe because they will be standing on a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection looking at a windblown map and arguing over which way is west. European cities, with their wandering streets and undisciplined alleys, drive Midwesterners practically insane.
Bill Bryson (The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America)
She could have wept. It was bad, it was bad, it was infinitely bad! She could have done it differently of course; the colour could have been thinned and faded; the shapes etherealised; that was how Paunceforte would have seen it. But then she did not see it like that. She saw the colour burning on a framework of steel; the light of a butterfly’s wing lying upon the arches of a cathedral. Of all that only a few random marks scrawled upon the canvas remained. And it would never be seen; never be hung even, and there was Mr Tansley whispering in her ear, “Women can’t paint, women can’t write ...” She now remembered what she had been going to say about Mrs Ramsay. She did not know how she would have put it; but it would have been something critical. She had been annoyed the other night by some highhandedness. Looking along the level of Mr Bankes’s glance at her, she thought that no woman could worship another woman in the way he worshipped; they could only seek shelter under the shade which Mr Bankes extended over them both. Looking along his beam she added to it her different ray, thinking that she was unquestionably the loveliest of people (bowed over her book); the best perhaps; but also, different too from the perfect shape which one saw there. But why different, and how different? she asked herself, scraping her palette of all those mounds of blue and green which seemed to her like clods with no life in them now, yet she vowed, she would inspire them, force them to move, flow, do her bidding tomorrow. How did she differ? What was the spirit in her, the essential thing, by which, had you found a crumpled glove in the corner of a sofa, you would have known it, from its twisted finger, hers indisputably? She was like a bird for speed, an arrow for directness. She was willful; she was commanding (of course, Lily reminded herself, I am thinking of her relations with women, and I am much younger, an insignificant person, living off the Brompton Road). She opened bedroom windows. She shut doors. (So she tried to start the tune of Mrs Ramsay in her head.) Arriving late at night, with a light tap on one’s bedroom door, wrapped in an old fur coat (for the setting of her beauty was always that—hasty, but apt), she would enact again whatever it might be—Charles Tansley losing his umbrella; Mr Carmichael snuffling and sniffing; Mr Bankes saying, “The vegetable salts are lost.” All this she would adroitly shape; even maliciously twist; and, moving over to the window, in pretence that she must go,—it was dawn, she could see the sun rising,—half turn back, more intimately, but still always laughing, insist that she must, Minta must, they all must marry, since in the whole world whatever laurels might be tossed to her (but Mrs Ramsay cared not a fig for her painting), or triumphs won by her (probably Mrs Ramsay had had her share of those), and here she saddened, darkened, and came back to her chair, there could be no disputing this: an unmarried woman (she lightly took her hand for a moment), an unmarried woman has missed the best of life. The house seemed full of children sleeping and Mrs Ramsay listening; shaded lights and regular breathing.
Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse)
I used to think, that when my old inner demons started creeping back into my life, that it was a sign of failure or moral weakness. But the saints have shown me that part of the human condition is to struggle with the same sins and suffering over and over again. Once I accepted the fact that I’d probably always have to be on guard against spiritual attacks related to food and my weight, I began to really recover.
Kate Wicker (Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body)
Indeed, if you look around you on a bus or in a park or cafe or any crowded place, most of the people you see are very probably relatives. When someone boasts to you that he is descended from William the Conqueror or the Mayflower Pilgrims, you should answer at once: "Me, too!" In the most literal and fundamental sense we are all family.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
Economics is the art of allocating scarce goods among competing demands. The conceit of Marxism was the thought that in Communism, economics would be "abolished"; this was why one did not have to think about the questions of relative privilege and social justice. But the point is that we still have to think about economics, and probably always will. The question, then, is whether we can arrive at a set of normative rules which seek to protect liberty, reward achievement and enhance the social good, within the constraints of "economics".
Daniel Bell (The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism)
Why am I so interested in politics? But if I were to answer you very simply, I would say this: why shouldn't I be interested? That is to say, what blindness, what deafness, what density of ideology would have to weigh me down to prevent me from being interested in what is probably the most crucial subject to our existence, that is to say the society in which we live, the economic relations within which it functions, and the system of power which defines the regular forms and the regular permissions and prohibitions of our conduct. The essence of our life consists, after all, of the political functioning of the society in which we find ourselves. So I can't answer the question of why I should be interested; I could only answer it by asking why shouldn't I be interested?
Michel Foucault
Jonathan Safran Foer’s 10 Rules for Writing: 1.Tragedies make great literature; unfathomable catastrophes (the Holocaust, 9/11) are even better – try to construct your books around them for added gravitas but, since those big issues are such bummers, make sure you do it in a way that still focuses on a quirky central character that’s somewhat like Jonathan Safran Foer. 2. You can also name your character Jonathan Safran Foer. 3. If you’re writing a non-fiction book you should still make sure that it has a strong, deep, wise, and relatable central character – someone like Jonathan Safran Foer. 4. If you reach a point in your book where you’re not sure what to do, or how to approach a certain scene, or what the hell you’re doing, just throw in a picture, or a photo, or scribbles, or blank pages, or some illegible text, or maybe even a flipbook. Don’t worry if these things don’t mean anything, that’s what postmodernism is all about. If you’re not sure what to put in, you can’t go wrong with a nice photograph of Jonathan Safran Foer. 5. If you come up with a pun, metaphor, or phrase that you think is really clever and original, don’t just use it once and throw it away, sprinkle it liberally throughout the text. One particularly good phrase that comes to mind is “Jonathan Safran Foer.” 6. Don’t worry if you seem to be saying the same thing over and over again, repetition makes the work stronger, repetition is good, it drives the point home. The more you repeat a phrase or an idea, the better it gets. You should not be afraid of repeating ideas or phrases. One particularly good phrase that comes to mind is “Jonathan Safran Foer.” 7. Other writers are not your enemies, they are your friends, so you should feel free to borrow some of their ideas, words, techniques, and symbols, and use them completely out of context. They won’t mind, they’re your friends, just like my good friend Paul Auster, with whom I am very good friends. Just make sure you don’t steal anything from Jonathan Safran Foer, it wouldn’t be nice, he is your friend. 8. Make sure you have exactly three plots in your novel, any more and it gets confusing, any less and it’s not postmodern. At least one of those plots should be in a different timeline. It often helps if you name these three plots, I often use “Jonathan,” “Safran,” and “Foer.” 9. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements in you writing, there should always be a strong lesson to be learned, such as “don’t eat animals,” or “the Holocaust was bad,” or “9/11 was really really sad,” or “the world would be a better place if everyone was just a little bit more like Jonathan Safran Foer.” 10. In the end, don’t worry if you’re unsuccessful as a writer, it probably wasn’t meant to be. Not all of us are chosen to become writers. Not all of us can be Jonathan Safran Foer.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Dr. Webb says that life is so full of complications and confusion that humans oftentimes find it hard to cope. This leads to people throwing themselves in front of trains and spending all their money and not speaking to their relatives and never going home for Christmas and never eating anything with chocolate in it. Life, he says, doesn't have to be so bad all the time. We don't have to be so anxious about everything. We can just be. We can get up, anticipate that the day will probably have a few good moments and a few bad ones, and then just deal with it. Take it all in and deal as best as we can.
John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back)
It seems to me that most people are impressed with just three things: how fast you can play, how high you can play, and how loud you can play. I find this a little exasperating, but I'm a lot more experienced now, and understand that probably less than 2 percent of the public can really hear. When I say hear, I mean follow a horn player through his ideas, and be able to understand those ideas in relation to the changes, if the changes are completely modern. Dixie is different - it's easier to follow, and rock is even simpler than Dixie, except for the music of a few really fine rock musicians (or variations thereof)...
Chet Baker (As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir)
The student thought again that if Vasilisa wept and her daughter was troubled, then obviously what he had just told them, something that had taken place nineteen centuries ago, had a relation to the present––to both women, and probably to this desolate village, to himself, to all people. . .The past, he thought, is connected with the present in an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of the other. And it seemed to him that he had just seen both ends of that chain: he touched one end, and the other moved. - The Student
Anton Chekhov (Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov)
As a child, if you found a role that fit your parent’s needs like a key in a lock, you probably would have quickly identified with this role-self. In the process, your true self would have become more invisible as you transformed into what your family system needed you to be. This kind of disinvestment from your true self can sabotage your intimate relationships as an adult. You can’t forge a deep and satisfying relationship from the position of a role-self. You have to be able to express enough of your true self to give the other person something real to relate to. Without that, the relationship is just playacting between two role-selves.
Lindsay C. Gibson (Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents)
Is there just one single love in a lifetime? Are all our lovers ― from the first to the last, including the most fleeting ― part of that unique love, and is each of them merely an expression of it, a variation, a particular version? In the same way that in literature there is just one true masterpiece to which different writers give a particular form (taking the twentieth century alone: Joyce, who explores everything happening inside his character;s head with microscopic precision; Proust, for whom the present is merely a memory of the past; Kafka, who drifts on the margins between dream and reality; the blind Borges, probably the one I relate to best, etc).
Dai Sijie (Once on a Moonless Night)
The pattern recognition theory of mind that I articulate in this book is based on a different fundamental unit: not the neuron itself, but rather an assembly of neurons, which I estimate to number around a hundred. The wiring and synaptic strengths within each unit are relatively stable and determined genetically—that is the organization within each pattern recognition module is determined by genetic design. Learning takes place in the creation of connections between these units, not within them, and probably in the synaptic strengths of the interunit connections.
Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed)
Class, I'd like us all to give a warm mayflower elementary welcome to your new friend and classmate Jing Jang!" "Jin Wang" "Jin wang!" "He and his family recently moved to our neighborhood all the way from China!" "San Francisco." "San Francisco!" "Yes, Timmy." "My momma says Chinese people eat dogs." "Now be nice, Timmy!" -km sure Jin doesn't do that! In fact, Jin's family probably stopped that sort of thing as soon as they came to the united states!" The only other asian in my class was Suzy Nakamura. When the class finally figured out that we weren't related, rumors began to circulate that suzy and I were arranged to be married on her thirteenth birthday. We avoided each other as much as possible. (30-31)
Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese)
One stretch of the gene is repeated a variable number of times, and the version with seven repeats (the “7R” form) produces a receptor protein that is sparse in the cortex and relatively unresponsive to dopamine. This is the variant associated with a host of related traits—sensation and novelty seeking, extroversion, alcoholism, promiscuity, less sensitive parenting, financial risk taking, impulsivity, and, probably most consistently, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).
Robert M. Sapolsky (Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst)
If I were to start a file on things nobody tells you about until you’re right in the thick of them, I might begin with miscarriages. A miscarriage is lonely, painful, and demoralizing almost on a cellular level. When you have one, you will likely mistake it for a personal failure, which it is not. Or a tragedy, which, regardless of how utterly devastating it feels in the moment, it also is not. What nobody tells you is that miscarriage happens all the time, to more women than you’d ever guess, given the relative silence around it. I learned this only after I mentioned that I’d miscarried to a couple of friends, who responded by heaping me with love and support and also their own miscarriage stories. It didn’t take away the pain, but in unburying their own struggles, they steadied me during mine, helping me see that what I’d been through was no more than a normal biological hiccup, a fertilized egg that, for what was probably a very good reason, had needed to bail out.
Michelle Obama (Becoming)
First, relax. ... And my second helpful hint is that you should not try to memorize anything you read in this book. ... My two words of advice are exemplified in what I call the Russian Novel Phenomenon. Every reader must have experienced that depressing moment about fifty pages into a Russian novel when we realize that we have lost track of all the characters, the variety of names by which they are known, their family relationships and relative ranks in the civil service. At this point we can give in to our anxiety, and start again to read more carefully, trying to memorize all the details on the offchance that some may prove to be important. If such a course is followed, the second reading is almost certain to be more incomprehensible than the first. The probable result: one Russian novel lost forever. But there is another alternative: to read faster, to push ahead, to make sense of what we can and to enjoy whatever we make sense of. And suddenly the book becomes readable, the story makes sense, and we find that we can remember all the important characters and events simply because we know what is important. Any re-reading we then have to do is bound to make sense, because at least we comprehend what is going on and what we are looking for.
Frank Smith
The first step is developing an open and critical mind, taking the doctrines that are standard and questioning them. Is the United Stated dedicated to democracy? Is Iran the greatest threat to world peace? Do we have a market system? Does the public relations industry try to promote choices or to restrict them? Anything you look at, every one of these things, you have to ask yourself: Is this true? A pretty good criterion is that if some doctrine is widely accepted without qualification, it's probably flawed.
Noam Chomsky (Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy (The American Empire Project))
Back then, she had to worry about the government tapping her phone. It still probably does, but all the other stuff's been outsourced. Now, instead of just a COINTELPRO operation, she’s got to worry about that and some dude stalking her relatives from his mother’s basement, and kids bombarding her with death threats because it makes them feel like part of the (terrorist) gang, and a troll farm in Russia using the Center as the next cause célèbre to whip up Nazis. All the people who really are a threat to the country; somehow they’ve been convinced to do its dirty work, more or less for free. She would admire it if it weren’t so damn horrific.
N.K. Jemisin (The City We Became (Great Cities, #1))
What do you mean?” He had an answer, and it involved her and his bed. Actually, it just involved her. He could fuck anywhere. She giggled. “The fact that you just asked that says everything. What are your hobbies?” “Cards. Riding.” He paused, reaching. Damn, this was harder than he thought. “Drinking.” “What about things not related to being the God of the Dead?” “Drinking is not related to being God of the Dead.” “It also isn’t a hobby. Unless you’re an alcoholic.” He was probably an alcoholic. “Then what are your hobbies?
Scarlett St. Clair (A Game of Fate (Hades Saga, #1))
She was one of the few stay-at-home moms in Ramsey Hill and was famously averse to speaking well of herself or ill of anybody else. She said that she expected to be “beheaded” someday by one of the windows whose sash chains she’d replaced. Her children were “probably” dying of trichinosis from pork she’d undercooked. She wondered if her “addiction” to paint-stripper fumes might be related to her “never” reading books anymore. She confided that she’d been “forbidden” to fertilize Walter’s flowers after what had happened “last time.
Jonathan Franzen (Freedom)
If you're an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you're focused on a project you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow, steady way, don't let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don't force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It's up to you to use that independence to good effect.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
What do I say to a whale, Galen?" I hiss. "Tell him to come closer." "No way." "Fine. Tell him to back up." I nod. "Right. Okay." I lace my fingers together to keep from wringing my hands raw. Even more than terror, I feel the insanity of the situation. I'm about to ask a fish the size of my house to make a U-turn. Because Galen, the man-fish behind me, doesn't speak humpback. "Uh, can you please back away from me?" I say. I sound polite, like I'm asking him to buy some Girl Scout cookies. I feel better in the few moments afterward because Goliath doesn't move. It proves Galen doesn't know what he's talking about. It proves this whale can't understand me, that I'm not some Snow White of the ocean. Except that, Goliath does start to turn away. I look back at Galen. "That's just a coincidence." Galen sighs. "You're right. He probably mistook us for a relative or something. Tell him to do something else, Emma.
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
I suppose it must be admitted that I was raised in a "dysfunctional" family, but in truth, I do not think I had any sense of that as I was growing up. Probably part of the reason was that all of my extended kin had families at least as dysfunctional as mine. Just to give a little of the flavor of it, my "Aunt Fern," who lived just across the street and was one of the most present and puissant female relatives in my life, was, to be genealogically precise, my mother's brother's, first wife's, second husband's, father's, 3rd, 4th, and 5th wife. (She married "Uncle Lew" three times in the course of her seven matrimonial ventures.)
Carlfred Broderick
It's hard to explain, but it's related to me know that for every moment of beauty this place gives me, I probably miss a thousand more. And I want them all. I swear I'd live on the dunes if I could. I was born out of my time. I should have been around during the end of the eighteenth century, when the Romantic Era kicked off, and writers and artists were obsessed with nature: the ocean, the mountains, the sky. And they believed in following their own path, experimenting, not blindly obeying rules. I found a quote by Henry David Thoreau- "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"...It made me cry. Urgency is so beautiful.
Kirsty Eagar (Night Beach)
It is acknowledged that father-daughter incest occurs on a large scale in the United States. Sexual abuse has now been included in child abuse legislation. A conservative estimate is that more than 1 million women have been sexually victimized by their fathers or other male relatives, but the true figure probably is much higher. Many victims still fear reporting incest, and families continued to collude to keep the situation secret. Issues of family privacy and autonomy remain troublesome even when incest is reported and must be resolved for treatment to be effective. " Mary de Chesnay J. Psychosoc. Nurs. Med. Health Sep. 22:9-16 Sept 1984 reprinted in Talbott's 1986 edition
John A. Talbott (Year Book of Psychiatry and Applied Mental Health (Volume 2008) (Year Books, Volume 2008))
The relation between the white and black races in Africa in many ways resembles the relation between the two sexes. If the one of the two sexes were told that they did not play any greater part in the life of the other sex than this other sex plays within their own existence, they would be shocked and hurt. […] If they (white people) had been told that they played no more important part in the lives of the Natives than the Natives played in their own lives, they would have been highly indignant and ill at ease. If you had told the Natives that they played no greater part in the life of the white people than the white people played in their lives, they would never have believed you, but would have laughed at you. Probably in Natives circles, stories are passing about, and being repeated, which prove the all-absorbing interest of the white people in the Kikuyu or Kavirondo, and their complete dependence upon them.
Karen Blixen (Out of Africa)
I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself. I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work. Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
One thus gets an impression that civilization is something which was imposed on a resisting majority by a minority which understood how to obtain possession of the means to power and coercion. It is, of course, natural to assume that these difficulties are not inherent in the nature or civilization itself but are determined by the imperfections of the cultural forms which have so far been developed. And in fact it is not difficult to indicate those defects. While mankind has made continual advances in its control over nature and may expect to make still greater ones, it is not possible to establish with certainty that a similar advance has been made in the management of human affairs; and probably at all periods, just as now once again, many people have asked themselves whether what little civilization has thus acquired is indeed worth defending at all. One would think that a re-ordering of human relations should be possible, which would remove the sources of dissatisfaction with civilization by renouncing coercion and the suppression of the instincts, so that, undisturbed by internal discord, men might devote themselves to the acquisition of wealth and its enjoyment. That would be a golden age, but it is questionable if such a state of affairs can be realized. It seems rather that every civilization must be built upon coercion and renunciation of instinct; it does not even seem certain that if coercion were to cease the majority of human beings would be prepared to undertake to perform the work necessary for acquiring new wealth. One has, I think, to reckon with the fact that there are present in all men destructive, and therefore anti-social and anti-cultural, trends and that in a great number of people these are strong enough to determine their behavior in human society.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion)
I steer clear of telling. I can't come out with it. The outlandish truth of me. How can I reveal this to someone innocent and unsuspecting? With those who know my story I talk freely about us.... But with others I keep it hidden, the truth. I keep it under wraps because I don't want to shock or make anyone distressed. But it's not like me to be cagey in my interactions.... But now I try to keep a distance from those who are innocent of my reality. At best I am vague. I feel deceitful at times. But I can't just drop it on someone, I feel--it's too horrifying, too huge. It's not that I should be honest with everyone, the white lies I tell strangers I don't mind. But there are those I see time and again, have drinks with, share jokes, and even they don't know. They see my cheery side. And I kick myself for being a fraud.... I can see, though, that my secrecy does me no favors. It probably makes worse my sense of being outlandish. It confirms to me that it might be abhorrent, my story, or that few can relate to it.
Sonali Deraniyagala (Wave)
I caution against communication because once language exist only to convey information, it is dying. In news articles the relation of the words to the subject is a strong one. The relation of the words to the writer is weak. (Since the majority of your reading has been newspapers, you are used to seeing language function this way). When you write a poem these relations must reverse themselves: The relation of the word to the subject must weaken – the relation of the words to the writer (you) must take on strength. This is probably the hardest thing about writing poems In a poem you make something up, say for example a town, but an imagined town is at least as real as an actual town. If it isn’t you may be in the wrong business. Our triggering subjects, like our words, come from obsessions we must submit to, whatever the social cost. It can be hard. It can be worse 40 years from now if you feel you could have done it and didn’t. RICHARD HUGO Public versus private poets: With public poets the intellectual and emotional contents of the words are the same for the reader as for the writer. With the private poet, the words, at least certain key words, mean something to the poet they don’t mean to the reader. A sensitive reader perceives this relation of poet to word and in a way that relation – the strange way the poet emotionally possesses his vocabulary – is one of the mysteries and preservative forces of the art. If you are a private poet, then your vocabulary is limited by your obsessions. In fact, most poets write the same poem over and over. (Wallace Stevens was honest enough not to try to hide it. Frost’s statement that he tried to make every poem as different as possible from the last one is a way of saying that he knew it couldn’t be).
Richard Hugo (The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing)
I don’t want to talk about me. We never talk about you. I probably don’t know anything about you. He laces his fingers into mine and rests our hands on his stomach. I move my fingertips in tiny circles and he sighs indulgently. “Sure you do. Go on, list everything.” “I know surface things. The color of your shirts. Your lovely blue eyes. You live on mints and make me look like a pig in comparison. You scare three-quarters of B and G employees absolutely senseless, but only because the other quarter haven’t met you yet.” He smirks. “Such a bunch of delicate sissies.” I keep ticking things off. “You’ve got a pencil you use for secret purposes I think relate to me. You dry clean on alternate Fridays. The projector in the boardroom strains your eyes and gives you headaches. You’re good at using silence to scare the shit out of people. It’s your go-to strategy in meetings. You sit there and stare with your laser-eyes until your opponent crumbles.” He remains silent. “Oh, and you’re secretly a decent human being.” “You definitely know more about me than anyone else.” I can feel a tension in him. When I look at his face, he looks shaken. My stalking has scared the ever-loving shit out of him. Unfortunately, the next thing I say sounds deranged. I want to know what’s going on in your brain. I want to juice your head like a lemon.
Sally Thorne (The Hating Game)
Fear My dictionary informs me that the word “fear” comes from the Old English word faer, which is related to the word faerie and means to cast enchantments. Faerie, or fairy, has roots in the word fae or fay, meaning of the Fates, or fate, which in turn is linked to faith, derived from the Latin word meaning to trust… He appeared, when I fist sumoned him, tall and stooped, big, hooded, and draped in mists and swathes of gray, from pale to almost black. There was a line between him and me. He walked over the line and stood just behind my left shoulder. He’s there now. He stoops and whispers in my ear, “Watch out!” “Don’t trust what you’re hearing,” “Slow down the car down,” “Trust the omens!” He is Fear. He warns me of probable danger, and I listen to him because he is always correct. Fear is your ally! It is your instinct to survive. Worry is a useless thing, it achieves nothing. Resolution is the key to success.
Lore de Angeles (Witchcraft: Theory and Practice)
In Old English, thou (thee, thine, etc.) was singular and you was plural. But during the thirteenth century, you started to be used as a polite form of the singular - probably because people copied the French way of talking, where vous was used in that way. English then became like French, which has tu and vous both possible for singulars; and that allowed a choice. The norm was for you to be used by inferiors to superiors - such as children to parents, or servants to masters, and thou would be used in return. But thou was also used to express special intimacy, such as when addressing God. It was also used when the lower classes talked to each other. The upper classes used you to each other, as a rule, even when they were closely related. So, when someone changes from thou to you in a conversation, or the other way round, it conveys a different pragmatic force. It will express a change of attitude, or a new emotion or mood.
David Crystal
The story of the angel announcing what the church calls the immaculate conception, is not so much as mentioned in the books ascribed to Mark, and John; and is differently related in Matthew and Luke. The former says the angel, appeared to Joseph; the latter says, it was to Mary; but either Joseph or Mary was the worst evidence that could have been thought of; for it was others that should have testified for them, and not they for themselves. Were any girl that is now with child to say, and even to swear it, that she was gotten with child by a ghost, and that an angel told her so, would she be believed? Certainly she would not. Why then are we to believe the same thing of another girl whom we never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where? How strange and inconsistent is it, that the same circumstance that would weaken the belief even of a probable story, should be given as a motive for believing this one, that has upon the face of it every token of absolute impossibility and imposture.
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)
Traditionally, most murders and violent crimes were relatively easy for law enforcement officials to comprehend. They resulted from critically exaggerated manifestations of feelings we all experience: anger, greed, jealousy, profit, revenge. Once this emotional problem was taken care of, the crime or crime spree would end. Someone would be dead, but that was that and the police generally knew who and what they were looking for. But a new type of violent criminal has surfaced in recent years—the serial offender, who often doesn't stop until he is caught or killed, who learns by experience and who tends to get better and better at what he does, constantly perfecting his scenario from one crime to the next. I say "surfaced" because, to some degree, he was probably with us all along, going back long before 1880s London and Jack the Ripper, generally considered the first modern serial killer. And I say "he" because, for reasons we'll get into a little later, virtually all real serial killers are male.
John E. Douglas (Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit)
All organisms vary. It is in the highest degree improbable that any given variety should have exactly the same relations to surrounding conditions as the parent stock. In that case it is either better fitted (when the variation may be called useful), or worse fitted, to cope with them. If better, it will tend to supplant the parent stock; if worse, it will tend to be extinguished by the parent stock. If (as is hardly conceivable) the new variety is so perfectly adapted to the conditions that no improvement upon it is possible,—it will persist, because, though it does not cease to vary, the varieties will be inferior to itself. If, as is more probable, the new variety is by no means perfectly adapted to its conditions, but only fairly well adapted to them, it will persist, so long as none of the varieties which it throws off are better adapted than itself. On the other hand, as soon as it varies in a useful way, i.e. when the variation is such as to adapt it more perfectly to its conditions, the fresh variety will tend to supplant the former.
Thomas Henry Huxley (Criticism on "The Origin of Species")
How can we tell whether the rules which we "guess" at are really right if we cannot analyze the game very well? There are, roughly speaking, three ways. First, there may be situations where nature has arranged, or we arrange nature, to be simple and to have so few parts that we can predict exactly what will happen, and thus we can check how our rules work. (In one corner of the board there may be only a few chess pieces at work, and that we can figure out exactly.) A second good way to check rules is in terms of less specific rules derived from them. For example, the rule on the move of a bishop on a chessboard is that it moves only on the diagonal. One can deduce, no matter how many moves may be made, that a certain bishop will always be on a red square. So, without being able to follow the details, we can always check our idea about the bishop's motion by finding out whether it is always on a red square. Of course it will be, for a long time, until all of a sudden we find that it is on a black square (what happened of course, is that in the meantime it was captured, another pawn crossed for queening, and it turned into a bishop on a black square). That is the way it is in physics. For a long time we will have a rule that works excellently in an over-all way, even when we cannot follow the details, and then some time we may discover a new rule. From the point of view of basic physics, the most interesting phenomena are of course in the new places, the places where the rules do not work—not the places where they do work! That is the way in which we discover new rules. The third way to tell whether our ideas are right is relatively crude but prob-ably the most powerful of them all. That is, by rough approximation. While we may not be able to tell why Alekhine moves this particular piece, perhaps we can roughly understand that he is gathering his pieces around the king to protect it, more or less, since that is the sensible thing to do in the circumstances. In the same way, we can often understand nature, more or less, without being able to see what every little piece is doing, in terms of our understanding of the game.
Richard P. Feynman (The Feynman Lectures on Physics)
The bartender is Irish. Jumped a student visa about ten years ago but nothing for him to worry about. The cook, though, is Mexican. Some poor bastard at ten dollars an hour—and probably has to wash the dishes, too. La Migra take notice of his immigration status—they catch sight of his bowl cut on the way home to Queens and he’ll have a problem. He looks different than the Irish and the Canadians—and he’s got Lou Dobbs calling specifically for his head every night on the radio. (You notice, by the way, that you never hear Dobbs wringing his hands over our border to the North. Maybe the “white” in Great White North makes that particular “alien superhighway” more palatable.) The cook at the Irish bar, meanwhile, has the added difficulty of predators waiting by the subway exit for him (and any other Mexican cooks or dishwashers) when he comes home on Friday payday. He’s invariably cashed his check at a check-cashing store; he’s relatively small—and is unlikely to call the cops. The perfect victim. The guy serving my drinks, on the other hand, as most English-speaking illegal aliens, has been smartly gaming the system for years, a time-honored process everybody at the INS is fully familiar with: a couple of continuing education classes now and again (while working off the books) to get those student visas. Extensions. A work visa. A “farm” visa. Weekend across the border and repeat. Articulate, well-connected friends—the type of guys who own, for instance, lots of Irish bars—who can write letters of support lauding your invaluable and “specialized” skills, unavailable from homegrown bartenders. And nobody’s looking anyway. But I digress…
Anthony Bourdain (Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook)
I always felt that someone, a long time ago, organized the affairs of the world into areas that made sense-catagories of stuff that is perfectible, things that fit neatly in perfect bundles. The world of business, for example, is this way-line items, spreadsheets, things that add up, that can be perfected. The legal system-not always perfect, but nonetheless a mind-numbing effort to actually write down all kinds of laws and instructions that cover all aspects of being human, a kind of umbrella code of conduct we should all follow. Perfection is crucial in building an aircraft, a bridge, or a high-speed train. The code and mathematics residing just below the surface of the Internet is also this way. Things are either perfectly right or they will not work. So much of the world we work and live in is based upon being correct, being perfect. But after this someone got through organizing everything just perfectly, he (or probably a she) was left with a bunch of stuff that didn't fit anywhere-things in a shoe box that had to go somewhere. So in desperation this person threw up her arms and said, 'OK! Fine. All the rest of this stuff that isn't perfectible, that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, will just have to be piled into this last, rather large, tattered box that we can sort of push behind the couch. Maybe later we can come back and figure where it all is supposed to fit in. Let's label the box ART.' The problem was thankfully never fixed, and in time the box overflowed as more and more art piled up. I think the dilemma exists because art, among all the other tidy categories, most closely resembles what it is like to be human. To be alive. It is our nature to be imperfect. The have uncategorized feelings and emotions. To make or do things that don't sometimes necessarily make sense. Art is all just perfectly imperfect. Once the word ART enters the description of what you're up to , it is almost getting a hall pass from perfection. It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection. In relation to my own work not being perfect, I just always point to the tattered box behind the couch and mention the word ART, and people seem to understand and let you off the hook about being perfect a go back to their business.
Brené Brown (Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead)
Today, and let us celebrate this fact, We can eat the light of our beloved, warmed by compassion or cooled by intellectual feeling. And if we are surprised, and some of us disappointed, that the light is now only green - well, such was the vital probability awaiting us. We have, after all, an increase in the energy available for further evolution; we can use the energy of our position relative to the probabilities in the future to reach the future we desire. The full use of this energy is just beginning to be explored, and we have the opportunity open to few generations to create our best opportunities. We must not slacken in our desire now if we desire a future. The pressure of probabilities on the present increases the momentum of evolution, and as the voluble helix turns, and turns us away from our improbable satiation, we can see that the shadow cast on the present from the future is not black but rainbowed, brilliant with lemon yellow, plum-purple, and cherry-red. I have no patience with those who say that their desire for light is satisfied. Or that they are bored. I have myself a still unsatisfied appetite for green: eucalyptus, celadon, tourmaline, and apple. ("Desire")
William S. Wilson (Why I Don't Write Like Franz Kafka)
Modern physics, having advanced into another world beyond conceivability, cannot dispense with the concept of a space-time continuum. Insofar as psychology penetrates into the unconscious, it probably has no alternative but to acknowledge the “indistinctness” or the impossibility of distinguishing between time and space, as well as their psychic relativity. The world of classical physics has not ceased to exist, and by the same token, the world of consciousness has not lost its validity against the unconscious… “Causality” is a psychologem (and originally a magic virtus) that formulates the connection between events and illustrates them as cause and effect. Another (incommensurable) approach that does the same thing in a different way is synchronicity. Both are identical in the higher sense of the term “connection” or “attachment.” But on the empirical and practical level (i.e., in the real world), they are incommensurable and antithetical, like space and time. […] I would now like to propose that instead of “causality” we have “(relatively) constant connection through effect,” and instead of synchronicity we have (relatively) constant connection through contingency, equivalence, or “meaning.
C.G. Jung
There is probably something good in every religion, the important thing is how you practice it. And this is when I found out that the most beautiful thing is to be able to live with a religion. Not just by displaying it and going to church and all, but by really being able to live some of these thoughts in your everyday life. This is a good thought. My problem right now is—and I just went to a Catholic service in connection with my daughter's something-or-another—and I got so damn annoyed by the fact that every text was about humility in relation to God. That's annoying, and I keep on being annoyed by it. Granted, the texts were written by people and not by God, but it's still so annoying. I don't see the meaning of you being humble just because you've been created by God and He has created all this. You can be humble toward life and toward other human beings and toward creativity and everything—and you are—but being humble toward the man who has created the whole circus? Of course, but you shouldn't have to prostrate yourself, and you do that in many religions—you crawl in the dust before these gods. Why? I can see why some king down here on earth might enjoy seeing people crawling before him, but if this guy is that great, then he shouldn't care whether I bow down before him or whether I play around with my dick at night—he shouldn't care a bit about anything like that. As long as I don't do anything that will harm his creation, as long as I don't kill, say, too many fish—well, he's OK with fish, they eat them in the Bible. But this thing about throwing yourself on the floor and exclaiming, "You're so great! You're so great!"—that's completely illogical. If you believe in him, then he's the greatest anyhow. You look at a tiny leaf and you'll get humble—everyone will—even some stupid redneck in an ugly car. You really have to be stupid not to be able to appreciate a thing like that—a little leaf is like looking into eternity. It's totally amazing! And you don't have to stand around in church every day proclaiming that you're a little sinner and worth nothing and he is everything. That's annoying. Sorry, I must have made my point by now.
Lars von Trier
In 2012, I turned fifty-six. Hugh and his longtime girlfriend took me out to dinner. On the way home I remembered a bit of old folklore—probably you’ve heard it—about how to boil a frog. You put it in cold water, then start turning up the heat. If you do it gradually, the frog is too stupid to jump out. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I decided it was an excellent metaphor for growing old. When I was a teenager, I looked at over-fifties with pity and unease: they walked too slow, they talked too slow, they watched TV instead of going out to movies and concerts, their idea of a great party was hotpot with the neighbors and tucked into bed after the eleven o’clock news. But—like most other fifty-, sixty-, and seventysomethings who are in relative good health—I didn’t mind it so much when my turn came. Because the brain doesn’t age, although its ideas about the world may harden and there’s a greater tendency to run off at the mouth about how things were in the good old days. (I was spared that, at least, because most of my so-called good old days had been spent as a full-bore, straight-on-for-Texas drug addict.) I think for most people, life’s deceptive deliriums begin to fall away after fifty. The days speed up, the aches multiply, and your gait slows down, but there are compensations. In calmness comes appreciation, and—in my case—a determination to be as much of a do-right-daddy as possible in the time I had left. That meant ladling out soup once a week at a homeless shelter in Boulder, and working for three or four political candidates with the radical idea that Colorado should not be paved over.
Stephen King (Revival)
We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some physical change, for instance, of climate. The proportional numbers of its inhabitants would almost immediately undergo a change, and some species might become extinct. We may conclude, from what we have seen of the intimate and complex manner in which the inhabitants of each country are bound together, that any change in the numerical proportions of some of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would most seriously affect many of the others. If the country were open on its borders, new forms would certainly immigrate, and this also would seriously disturb the relations of some of the former inhabitants. Let it be remembered how powerful the influence of a single introduced tree or mammal has been shown to be. But in the case of an island, or of a country partly surrounded by barriers, into which new and better adapted forms could not freely enter, we should then have places in the economy of nature which would assuredly be better filled up, if some of the original inhabitants were in some manner modified; for, had the area been open to immigration, these same places would have been seized on by intruders. In such case, every slight modification, which in the course of ages chanced to arise, and which in any way favoured the individuals of any of the species, by better adapting them to their altered conditions, would tend to be preserved; and natural selection would thus have free scope for the work of improvement.
Charles Darwin
The Sun King had dinner each night alone. He chose from forty dishes, served on gold and silver plate. It took a staggering 498 people to prepare each meal. He was rich because he consumed the work of other people, mainly in the form of their services. He was rich because other people did things for him. At that time, the average French family would have prepared and consumed its own meals as well as paid tax to support his servants in the palace. So it is not hard to conclude that Louis XIV was rich because others were poor. But what about today? Consider that you are an average person, say a woman of 35, living in, for the sake of argument, Paris and earning the median wage, with a working husband and two children. You are far from poor, but in relative terms, you are immeasurably poorer than Louis was. Where he was the richest of the rich in the world’s richest city, you have no servants, no palace, no carriage, no kingdom. As you toil home from work on the crowded Metro, stopping at the shop on the way to buy a ready meal for four, you might be thinking that Louis XIV’s dining arrangements were way beyond your reach. And yet consider this. The cornucopia that greets you as you enter the supermarket dwarfs anything that Louis XIV ever experienced (and it is probably less likely to contain salmonella). You can buy a fresh, frozen, tinned, smoked or pre-prepared meal made with beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, prawns, scallops, eggs, potatoes, beans, carrots, cabbage, aubergine, kumquats, celeriac, okra, seven kinds of lettuce, cooked in olive, walnut, sunflower or peanut oil and flavoured with cilantro, turmeric, basil or rosemary … You may have no chefs, but you can decide on a whim to choose between scores of nearby bistros, or Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Indian restaurants, in each of which a team of skilled chefs is waiting to serve your family at less than an hour’s notice. Think of this: never before this generation has the average person been able to afford to have somebody else prepare his meals. You employ no tailor, but you can browse the internet and instantly order from an almost infinite range of excellent, affordable clothes of cotton, silk, linen, wool and nylon made up for you in factories all over Asia. You have no carriage, but you can buy a ticket which will summon the services of a skilled pilot of a budget airline to fly you to one of hundreds of destinations that Louis never dreamed of seeing. You have no woodcutters to bring you logs for the fire, but the operators of gas rigs in Russia are clamouring to bring you clean central heating. You have no wick-trimming footman, but your light switch gives you the instant and brilliant produce of hardworking people at a grid of distant nuclear power stations. You have no runner to send messages, but even now a repairman is climbing a mobile-phone mast somewhere in the world to make sure it is working properly just in case you need to call that cell. You have no private apothecary, but your local pharmacy supplies you with the handiwork of many thousands of chemists, engineers and logistics experts. You have no government ministers, but diligent reporters are even now standing ready to tell you about a film star’s divorce if you will only switch to their channel or log on to their blogs. My point is that you have far, far more than 498 servants at your immediate beck and call. Of course, unlike the Sun King’s servants, these people work for many other people too, but from your perspective what is the difference? That is the magic that exchange and specialisation have wrought for the human species.
Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves)
We have seen the kind of morality which is even now shaping itself in the ideas of the masses and of the thinkers. This morality will issue no commands. It will refuse once and for all to model individuals according to an abstract idea, as it will refuse to mutilate them by religion, law or government. It will leave to the individual man full and perfect liberty. It will be but a simple record of facts, a science. And this science will say to man: "If you are not conscious of strength within you, if your energies are only just sufficient to maintain a colorless, monotonous life, without strong impressions, without deep joys, but also without deep sorrows, well then, keep to the simple principles of a just equality. In relations of equality you will find probably the maximum of happiness possible to your feeble energies. "But if you feel within you the strength of youth, if you wish to live, if you wish to enjoy a perfect, full and overflowing life --that is, know the highest pleasure which a living being can desire-- be strong, be great, be vigorous in all you do. "Sow life around you. Take heed that if you deceive, lie, intrigue, cheat, you thereby demean yourself. belittle yourself, confess your own weakness beforehand, play the part of the slave of the harem who feels himself the inferior of his master. Do this if it so pleases you, but know that humanity will regard you as petty, contemptible and feeble, and treat you as such. Having no evidence of your strength, it will act towards you as one worthy of pity-- and pity only. Do not blame humanity if of your own accord you thus paralyze your energies. Be strong on the other hand, and once you have seen unrighteousness and recognized it as such --inequity in life, a lie in science, or suffering inflicted by another-- rise in revolt against the iniquity, the lie or the injustice. "Struggle! To struggle is to live, and the fiercer the struggle the intenser the life. Then you will have lived; and a few hours of such life are worth years spent vegetating.
Pyotr Kropotkin (Anarchist Morality)
Shall I stop in to check on Bella before I go?” “Not dressed like that. You would give her palpitations if she knew you were going into danger for her benefit.” “Luckily, I am mostly immune to Bella’s powers and could cure such palpitations with a thought,” Gideon mused. Jacob raised a brow, taking the medic’s measure. He could not recall the last time he had heard the Ancient crack wise about anything. It was not a wholly unpleasant experience, and it amused the Enforcer. “I . . . am aware of what is occurring between you and Legna, as you know,” Jacob mentioned with casual quiet. “I am only recently Imprinted myself, but should you require—” He broke off, suddenly uncomfortable. “Of course, you probably know far more about Imprinting than I ever will.” He is reaching out to you. Legna’s soft encouragement made Gideon suddenly aware of that fact. It was one of those nuances he would have missed completely, rusty as he was with matters of friendship and how to relate better to others. “I am glad for the offer of any help you can provide,” Gideon said quickly. “In fact, I had wanted to ask you . . . something . . .” What did I want to ask him? he asked Legna urgently. I do not know! I did not tell you to engage him, just to graciously accept his offer. Oh. My apologies. Still, you are clever enough to think of something, are you not? Legna knew he was baiting her, so she laughed. Ask him why it is you seem to constantly irritate me. I will ask him no such thing, Magdelegna. Well then, you had better come up with an alternative, because that is the only suggestion I have. “Yes?” Jacob was encouraging neutrally, trying to be patient as the medic seemed to gather his thoughts. “Do you find that your mate tends to lecture you incessantly?” he asked finally. Jacob laughed out loud. “You know something, I can actually advise you about that, Gideon.” “Can you?” The medic actually sounded hopeful. “Give up. Now. While you still have your sanity. Arguing with her will get you nowhere. And, also, never ever ask questions that refer to the whys and wherefores of women, females, or any other feminine-based criticism. Otherwise you will only earn an argument at a higher decibel level. Oh, and one other thing.” Gideon cocked a brow in question. “All the rules I just gave you, as well as all the ones she lays down during the course of your relationship, can and will change at whim. So, as I see it, you can consider yourself just as lost as every other man on the planet. Good luck with it.” “That is not a very heartening thought,” Gideon said wryly, ignoring Legna’s giggle in his background thoughts.
Jacquelyn Frank (Gideon (Nightwalkers, #2))
A system of justice does not need to pursue retribution. If the purpose of drug sentencing is to prevent harm, all we need to do is decide what to do with people who pose a genuine risk to society or cause tangible harm. There are perfectly rational ways of doing this; in fact, most societies already pursue such policies with respect to alcohol: we leave people free to drink and get inebriated, but set limits on where and when. In general, we prosecute drunk drivers, not inebriated pedestrians. In this sense, the justice system is in many respects a battleground between moral ideas and evidence concerning how to most effectively promote both individual and societal interests, liberty, health, happiness and wellbeing. Severely compromising this system, insofar as it serves to further these ideals, is our vacillation or obsession with moral responsibility, which is, in the broadest sense, an attempt to isolate the subjective element of human choice, an exercise that all too readily deteriorates into blaming and scapegoating without providing effective solutions to the actual problem. The problem with the question of moral responsibility is that it is inherently subjective and involves conjecture about an individuals’ state of mind, awareness and ability to act that can rarely if ever be proved. Thus it involves precisely the same type of conjecture that characterizes superstitious notions of possession and the influence of the devil and provides no effective means of managing conduct: the individual convicted for an offence or crime considered morally wrong is convicted based on a series of hypotheses and probabilities and not necessarily because he or she is actually morally wrong. The fairness and effectiveness of a system of justice based on such hypotheses is highly questionable particularly as a basis for preventing or reducing drug use related harm. For example, with respect to drugs, the system quite obviously fails as a deterrent and the system is not organised to ‘reform’ the offender much less to ensure that he or she has ‘learned a lesson’; moreover, the offender does not get an opportunity to make amends or even have a conversation with the alleged victim. In the case of retributive justice, the justice system is effectively mopping up after the fact. In other words, as far as deterrence is concerned, the entire exercise of justice becomes an exercise based on faith, rather than one based on evidence.
Daniel Waterman (Entheogens, Society and Law: The Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy and Responsibility)
Experiential versus the God eye! Possessing ‘ego vision’, a person’s view through her/his physical eyes is quite versatile; able to discern wide and varied vistas over huge distances or scrutinizing the minutest of details. Ego’s very nature: capable of relatively expansive, detailed, and yet individualistic perspective is crucial. Separating itself out from the God Force, ego extracts infinite unique experiences, integral to humanity’s process of spiritualizing matter. Incarnating on the earth, achieving individualism is therefore critical for attainment of divinity. Individualism may cause momentary estrangement from the God Self. However, this person has forgotten that they are everything in the mirror, the ‘sliver’ and the ‘ball of light’,” continues Kuan Yin. During this complex passage Lena was inundated by infinite rapid-fire visuals: emanations from the God Mind. “Further and unfortunately, wrong assumptions are made about suffering. Some individuals even believe that it is required, that suffering brings one closer to salvation. Quite the contrary,” disputes Kuan Yin, “the God Force likes to play. Therefore, if all individuals could unite creating a real sense of community many problems could be healed. The God Force is separate and not separate, whole and not whole at the same time. Really, it is not ‘sliceable’, not reducible. Even when it is sliced into individual energies, it does not diminish the total God Force or the power of the individual. Each of you has the potential for the God Force potency. However, no individual can overcome the God Force. There is a misinterpretation, (by some) that Satan is as powerful as God. Limited energy cannot live on its own. Every experience must exist and yet they (the limiting forces) can never exist on their own. Limited energy, then, is the experience of the absence of the God Force. Therefore, there is no need to fear it. Those choosing such experiences have a need to understand how it feels to believe evil powers exist. Again, I say those who pursue this route are taking it too personally. They believe the story they’ve made up about themselves. It is similar to a person going into an ice cream store and only choosing one flavor from many. Preoccupied with tasting that flavor for a very long time, they are probably quite sick and tired of it. Still, they don’t want to believe there are any other flavors available. The ‘agreement’, then, is to continue to believe in that particular flavor. Here’s where reincarnation and its opportunity for experiencing a vast array of perspectives, “agreements”, enters in. Another life offers another opportunity, a chance to ‘switch flavors’ so to speak. Taking oneself too personally, however, can cause a soul to get caught up, stuck in redundancy: in a particular (and perhaps unfortunate) flavor. In such instances, the individual is forgetting one has the ability to choose his or her flavors, lives,” contends Kuan Yin.
Hope Bradford (Oracle of Compassion: The Living Word of Kuan Yin)
And if I was seen as temperamentally cool and collected, measured in how I used my words, Joe was all warmth, a man without inhibitions, happy to share whatever popped into his head. It was an endearing trait, for he genuinely enjoyed people. You could see it as he worked a room, his handsome face always cast in a dazzling smile (and just inches from whomever he was talking to), asking a person where they were from, telling them a story about how much he loved their hometown (“Best calzone I ever tasted”) or how they must know so-and-so (“An absolutely great guy, salt of the earth”), flattering their children (“Anyone ever tell you you’re gorgeous?”) or their mother (“You can’t be a day over forty!”), and then on to the next person, and the next, until he’d touched every soul in the room with a flurry of handshakes, hugs, kisses, backslaps, compliments, and one-liners. Joe’s enthusiasm had its downside. In a town filled with people who liked to hear themselves talk, he had no peer. If a speech was scheduled for fifteen minutes, Joe went for at least a half hour. If it was scheduled for a half hour, there was no telling how long he might talk. His soliloquies during committee hearings were legendary. His lack of a filter periodically got him in trouble, as when during the primaries, he had pronounced me “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” a phrase surely meant as a compliment, but interpreted by some as suggesting that such characteristics in a Black man were noteworthy. As I came to know Joe, though, I found his occasional gaffes to be trivial compared to his strengths. On domestic issues, he was smart, practical, and did his homework. His experience in foreign policy was broad and deep. During his relatively short-lived run in the primaries, he had impressed me with his skill and discipline as a debater and his comfort on a national stage. Most of all, Joe had heart. He’d overcome a bad stutter as a child (which probably explained his vigorous attachment to words) and two brain aneurysms in middle age.
Barack Obama (A Promised Land)
Rolf Ekeus came round to my apartment one day and showed me the name of the Iraqi diplomat who had visited the little West African country of Niger: a statelet famous only for its production of yellowcake uranium. The name was Wissam Zahawi. He was the brother of my louche gay part-Kurdish friend, the by-now late Mazen. He was also, or had been at the time of his trip to Niger, Saddam Hussein's ambassador to the Vatican. I expressed incomprehension. What was an envoy to the Holy See doing in Niger? Obviously he was not taking a vacation. Rolf then explained two things to me. The first was that Wissam Zahawi had, when Rolf was at the United Nations, been one of Saddam Hussein's chief envoys for discussions on nuclear matters (this at a time when the Iraqis had functioning reactors). The second was that, during the period of sanctions that followed the Kuwait war, no Western European country had full diplomatic relations with Baghdad. TheVatican was the sole exception, so it was sent a very senior Iraqi envoy to act as a listening post. And this man, a specialist in nuclear matters, had made a discreet side trip to Niger. This was to suggest exactly what most right-thinking people were convinced was not the case: namely that British intelligence was on to something when it said that Saddam had not ceased seeking nuclear materials in Africa. I published a few columns on this, drawing at one point an angry email from Ambassador Zahawi that very satisfyingly blustered and bluffed on what he'd really been up to. I also received—this is what sometimes makes journalism worthwhile—a letter from a BBC correspondent named Gordon Correa who had been writing a book about A.Q. Khan. This was the Pakistani proprietor of the nuclear black market that had supplied fissile material to Libya, North Korea, very probably to Syria, and was open for business with any member of the 'rogue states' club. (Saddam's people, we already knew for sure, had been meeting North Korean missile salesmen in Damascus until just before the invasion, when Kim Jong Il's mercenary bargainers took fright and went home.) It turned out, said the highly interested Mr. Correa, that his man Khan had also been in Niger, and at about the same time that Zahawi had. The likelihood of the senior Iraqi diplomat in Europe and the senior Pakistani nuclear black-marketeer both choosing an off-season holiday in chic little uranium-rich Niger… well, you have to admit that it makes an affecting picture. But you must be ready to credit something as ridiculous as that if your touching belief is that Saddam Hussein was already 'contained,' and that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair were acting on panic reports, fabricated in turn by self-interested provocateurs.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
There is a change underway, however. Our society used to be a ladder on which people generally climbed upward. More and more now we are going to a planetary structure, in which the great dominant lower middle class, the class that determines our prevailing values and organizational structures in education, government, and most of society, are providing recruits for the other groups — sideways, up, and even down, although the movement downward is relatively small. As the workers become increasingly petty bourgeois and as middle-class bureaucratic and organizational structures increasingly govern all aspects of our society, our society is increasingly taking on the characteristics of the lower middle class, although the poverty culture is also growing. The working class is not growing. Increasingly we are doing things with engineers sitting at consoles, rather than with workers screwing nuts on wheels. The workers are a diminishing, segment of society, contrary to Marx’s prediction that the proletariat would grow and grow. I have argued elsewhere that many people today are frustrated because we are surrounded by organizational structures and artifacts. Only the petty bourgeoisie can find security and emotional satisfaction in an organizational structure, and only a middle-class person can find them in artifacts, things that men have made, such as houses, yachts, and swimming pools. But human beings who are growing up crave sensation and experience. They want contact with other people, moment-to-moment, intimate contact. I’ve discovered, however, that the intimacy really isn’t there. Young people touch each other, often in an almost ritual way; they sleep together, eat together, have sex together. But I don’t see the intimacy. There is a lot of action, of course, but not so much more than in the old days, I believe, because now there is a great deal more talk than action. This group, the lower middle class, it seems to me, holds the key to the future. I think probably they will win out. If they do, they will resolutely defend our organizational structures and artifacts. They will cling to the automobile, for instance; they will not permit us to adopt more efficient methods of moving people around. They will defend the system very much as it is and, if necessary, they will use all the force they can command. Eventually they will stop dissent altogether, whether from the intellectuals, the religious, the poor, the people who run the foundations, the Ivy League colleges, all the rest. The colleges are already becoming bureaucratized, anyway. I can’t see the big universities or the foundations as a strong progressive force. The people who run Harvard and the Ford Foundation look more and more like lower-middle-class bureaucrats who pose no threat to the established order because they are prepared to do anything to defend the system.
Carroll Quigley (Carroll Quigley: Life, Lectures and Collected Writings)
In agricultural communities, male leadership in the hunt ceased to be of much importance. As the discipline of the hunting band decayed, the political institutions of the earliest village settlements perhaps approximated the anarchism which has remained ever since the ideal of peaceful peasantries all round the earth. Probably religious functionaries, mediators between helpless mankind and the uncertain fertility of the earth, provided an important form of social leadership. The strong hunter and man of prowess, his occupation gone or relegated to the margins of social life, lost the umambiguous primacy which had once been his; while the comparatively tight personal subordination to a leader necessary to the success of a hunting party could be relaxed in proportion as grain fields became the center around which life revolved. Among predominantly pastoral peoples, however, religious-political institutions took a quite different turn. To protect the flocks from animal predators required the same courage and social discipline which hunters had always needed. Among pastoralists, likewise, the principal economic activity- focused, as among the earliest hunters, on a parasitic relation to animals- continued to be the special preserve of menfolk. Hence a system of patrilineal families, united into kinship groups under the authority of a chieftain responsible for daily decisions as to where to seek pasture, best fitted the conditions of pastoral life. In addition, pastoralists were likely to accord importance to the practices and discipline of war. After all, violent seizure of someone else’s animals or pasture grounds was the easiest and speediest way to wealth and might be the only means of survival in a year of scant vegetation. Such warlikeness was entirely alien to communities tilling the soil. Archeological remains from early Neolithic villages suggest remarkably peaceful societies. As long as cultivable land was plentiful, and as long as the labor of a single household could not produce a significant surplus, there can have been little incentive to war. Traditions of violence and hunting-party organization presumably withered in such societies, to be revived only when pastoral conquest superimposed upon peaceable villagers the elements of warlike organization from which civilized political institutions without exception descend.
William H. McNeill