Scale New Heights Quotes

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These memories are the memorials and pledges of the vital hours of a lifetime. These hours of afflatus in the human spirit, the springs of art, are, in their mystery, akin to the epochs of history, when a race which for centuries has lived content, unknown, behind its own frontiers, digging, eating, sleeping, begetting, doing what was requisite for survival and nothing else, will, for a generation or two, stupefy the world; commit all manner of crimes, perhaps; follow the wildest chimeras, go down in the end in agony, but leave behind a record of new heights scaled and new rewards won for all mankind; the vision fades, the soul sickens, and the routine of survival starts again.
Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited)
My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life--for we possess nothing certainly except the past--were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark's, theywere everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder or pecking a broken biscuit from between my lips; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning. These memories are the memorials and pledges of the vital hours of a lifetime. These hours of afflatus in the human spirit, the springs of art, are, in their mystery, akin to the epochs of history, when a race which for centuries has lived content, unknown, behind its own frontiers, digging, eating, sleeping, begetting, doing what was requisite for survival and nothing else, will, for a generation or two, stupefy the world; commit all manner of crimes, perhaps; follow the wildest chimeras, go down in the end in agony, but leave behind a record of new heights scaled and new rewards won for all mankind; the vision fades, the soul sickens, and the routine of survival starts again. The human soul enjoys these rare, classic periods, but, apart from them, we are seldom single or unique; we keep company in this world with a hoard of abstractions and reflections and counterfeits of ourselves -- the sensual man, the economic man, the man of reason, the beast, the machine and the sleep-walker, and heaven knows what besides, all in our own image, indistinguishable from ourselves to the outward eye. We get borne along, out of sight in the press, unresisting, till we get the chance to drop behind unnoticed, or to dodge down a side street, pause, breathe freely and take our bearings, or to push ahead, out-distance our shadows, lead them a dance, so that when at length they catch up with us, they look at one another askance, knowing we have a secret we shall never share.
Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited)
Haven't I told you scores of times, that you're always beginners, and the greatest satisfaction was not in being at the top, but in getting there, in the enjoyment you get out of scaling the heights? That's something you don't understand, and can't understand until you've gone through it yourself. You're still at the state of unlimited illusions, when a good, strong pair of legs makes the hardest road look short, and you've such a mighty appetite for glory that the tiniest crumb of success tastes delightfully sweet. You're prepared for a feast, you're going to satisfy your ambition at last, you feel it's within reach and you don't care if you give the skin off your back to get it! And then, the heights are scaled, the summits reached, and you've got to stay there. That's when the torture begins; you've drunk your excitement to the dregs and found it all too short and even rather bitter, and you wonder whether it was really worth the struggle. From that point there is no more unknown to explore, no new sensations to experience. Pride has had its brief portion of celebrity; you know that your best has been given and you're surprised it hasn't brought a keener sense of satisfaction. From that moment the horizon starts to empty of all hopes that once attracted you towards it. There's nothing to look forward to but death. But in spite of that you cling on, you don't want to feel you're played out, you persist in trying to produce something, like old men persist in trying to make love, with painful, humiliating results. ... If only we could have the courage to hang ourselves in front of our last masterpiece!
Émile Zola (The Masterpiece)
Once there were three tribes. The Optimists, whose patron saints were Drake and Sagan, believed in a universe crawling with gentle intelligence—spiritual brethren vaster and more enlightened than we, a great galactic siblinghood into whose ranks we would someday ascend. Surely, said the Optimists, space travel implies enlightenment, for it requires the control of great destructive energies. Any race which can't rise above its own brutal instincts will wipe itself out long before it learns to bridge the interstellar gulf. Across from the Optimists sat the Pessimists, who genuflected before graven images of Saint Fermi and a host of lesser lightweights. The Pessimists envisioned a lonely universe full of dead rocks and prokaryotic slime. The odds are just too low, they insisted. Too many rogues, too much radiation, too much eccentricity in too many orbits. It is a surpassing miracle that even one Earth exists; to hope for many is to abandon reason and embrace religious mania. After all, the universe is fourteen billion years old: if the galaxy were alive with intelligence, wouldn't it be here by now? Equidistant to the other two tribes sat the Historians. They didn't have too many thoughts on the probable prevalence of intelligent, spacefaring extraterrestrials— but if there are any, they said, they're not just going to be smart. They're going to be mean. It might seem almost too obvious a conclusion. What is Human history, if not an ongoing succession of greater technologies grinding lesser ones beneath their boots? But the subject wasn't merely Human history, or the unfair advantage that tools gave to any given side; the oppressed snatch up advanced weaponry as readily as the oppressor, given half a chance. No, the real issue was how those tools got there in the first place. The real issue was what tools are for. To the Historians, tools existed for only one reason: to force the universe into unnatural shapes. They treated nature as an enemy, they were by definition a rebellion against the way things were. Technology is a stunted thing in benign environments, it never thrived in any culture gripped by belief in natural harmony. Why invent fusion reactors if your climate is comfortable, if your food is abundant? Why build fortresses if you have no enemies? Why force change upon a world which poses no threat? Human civilization had a lot of branches, not so long ago. Even into the twenty-first century, a few isolated tribes had barely developed stone tools. Some settled down with agriculture. Others weren't content until they had ended nature itself, still others until they'd built cities in space. We all rested eventually, though. Each new technology trampled lesser ones, climbed to some complacent asymptote, and stopped—until my own mother packed herself away like a larva in honeycomb, softened by machinery, robbed of incentive by her own contentment. But history never said that everyone had to stop where we did. It only suggested that those who had stopped no longer struggled for existence. There could be other, more hellish worlds where the best Human technology would crumble, where the environment was still the enemy, where the only survivors were those who fought back with sharper tools and stronger empires. The threats contained in those environments would not be simple ones. Harsh weather and natural disasters either kill you or they don't, and once conquered—or adapted to— they lose their relevance. No, the only environmental factors that continued to matter were those that fought back, that countered new strategies with newer ones, that forced their enemies to scale ever-greater heights just to stay alive. Ultimately, the only enemy that mattered was an intelligent one. And if the best toys do end up in the hands of those who've never forgotten that life itself is an act of war against intelligent opponents, what does that say about a race whose machines travel between the stars?
Peter Watts (Blindsight (Firefall, #1))
Seen from an aeroplane high in the air, even the most gigantic skyscraper is only a tall stone black, a mere sculptural form, not a real building in which people can live. But as the plane descends from the great heights there will be one moment when the buildings change character completely. Suddenly, they take on human scale, become houses for human beings like ourselves, not the tiny dolls observed from the heights. This strange tranformation takes place at the instant when the contours of the buildings begin to rise above the horizon so that we get a side view of them instead of looking down on them. The buildings pass into a new stage of existence, become architecture in place of neat toys -- for architecture means shapes formed around man, formed to be lived in, not merely to be seen from outside.
Steen Eiler Rasmussen (Experiencing Architecture)
The largest, and most provocative, sense in which a technological singularity might be an existential opportunity can only be grasped by stepping outside the human perspective altogether and adopting a more cosmological point of view. It is surely the height of anthropocentric thinking to suppose that the story of matter in this corner of the universe climaxes with human society and the myriad living brains embedded in it, marvelous as they are. Perhaps matter still has a long way to go on the scale of complexity. Perhaps there are forms of consciousness yet to arise that are, in some sense, superior to our own. Should we recoil from this prospect, or rejoice in it? Can we even make sense of such an idea? Whether or not the singularity is near, these are questions worth asking, not least because in attempting to answer them we shed new light on ourselves and our place in the order of things. Murray Shanahan
Murray Shanahan (The Technological Singularity)
Let us pause for a moment and consider the structure of the atom as we know it now. Every atom is made from three kinds of elementary particles: protons, which have a positive electrical charge; electrons, which have a negative electrical charge; and neutrons, which have no charge. Protons and neutrons are packed into the nucleus, while electrons spin around outside. The number of protons is what gives an atom its chemical identity. An atom with one proton is an atom of hydrogen, one with two protons is helium, with three protons is lithium, and so on up the scale. Each time you add a proton you get a new element. (Because the number of protons in an atom is always balanced by an equal number of electrons, you will sometimes see it written that it is the number of electrons that defines an element; it comes to the same thing. The way it was explained to me is that protons give an atom its identity, electrons its personality.) Neutrons don't influence an atom's identity, but they do add to its mass. The number of neutrons is generally about the same as the number of protons, but they can vary up and down slightly. Add a neutron or two and you get an isotope. The terms you hear in reference to dating techniques in archeology refer to isotopes—carbon-14, for instance, which is an atom of carbon with six protons and eight neutrons (the fourteen being the sum of the two). Neutrons and protons occupy the atom's nucleus. The nucleus of an atom is tiny—only one millionth of a billionth of the full volume of the atom—but fantastically dense, since it contains virtually all the atom's mass. As Cropper has put it, if an atom were expanded to the size of a cathedral, the nucleus would be only about the size of a fly—but a fly many thousands of times heavier than the cathedral. It was this spaciousness—this resounding, unexpected roominess—that had Rutherford scratching his head in 1910. It is still a fairly astounding notion to consider that atoms are mostly empty space, and that the solidity we experience all around us is an illusion. When two objects come together in the real world—billiard balls are most often used for illustration—they don't actually strike each other. “Rather,” as Timothy Ferris explains, “the negatively charged fields of the two balls repel each other . . . were it not for their electrical charges they could, like galaxies, pass right through each other unscathed.” When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a height of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of a centimeter), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
By the late 1950s millions of Americans were enjoying the bounties of affluence and the consumer culture, the likes of which they had scarcely imagined before. In the process they were developing larger expectations about life and beginning to challenge things that had seemed set in stone only a few years earlier. Older cultural norms, however, still remained strong until the 1960s, when expectations ascended to new heights and helped to facilitate social unrest on a new and different scale.
James T. Patterson (Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (Oxford History of the United States Book 10))
If we teach our children such values, they grow up to be adults who are unafraid to venture into new territory and live with the unknown. Because they are comfortable with the possibility of failure, they find the gumption to scale their own personally chosen heights.
Shefali Tsabary (The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children)
Once, aeons ago, the Appalachians were of a scale and majesty to rival the Himalayas—piercing, snow-peaked, pushing breathtakingly through the clouds to heights of four miles or more. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington is still an imposing presence, but the stony mass that rises from the New England woods today represents, at most, the stubby bottom one-third of what was ten million years ago. That the Appalachian Mountains present so much more modest an aspect today is because they have had so much time in which to wear away. The Appalachians are immensely old—older than the oceans and continents (at least in their present configurations), far, far older than most other mountain chains, older indeed than almost all other landscape features on earth. When simple plants colonized the land and the first creatures crawled gasping from the sea, the Appalachians were there to greet them.
Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail)
marriage would necessitate a change of religion, the still-hesitant Alix at first refused. But the otherwise impassive Nicky was nothing if not determined. The very day after Ernie and Ducky were married, the overwhelmed princess finally agreed to become both Russian Orthodox and wife of the heir to the Russian throne. Just as Queen Victoria, the preeminent guest at the festivities, was finishing her breakfast, Ella burst in on her grandmother with the dramatic announcement that “Alix and Nicky are to be engaged.” The wedding was planned for the spring of 1895, but the death of Nicky’s father changed all the elaborate arrangements, including sufficient time for Alix to become literate in the Russian language. Alix had just joined her future husband at the imperial summer palace of Livadia in the Crimea when Tsar Alexander III died on November 1, 1894. His widow Minnie, the princess of Wales’s sister, became the dowager empress; and her son Nicky the new tsar, Nicholas II. The morning after her fiancé’s accession, Alix was received into the Orthodox faith and at the same time given the new name of Alexandra Feodorovna. The imperial family decided the wedding should follow the late tsar’s funeral within the week. Like her mother’s wedding at Osborne in 1862, Alix’s was far more funereal in tone than joyous. All that saved it from complete gloom was the depth of the young bride and groom’s love for each other. During the years when Alice’s children were marrying their cousins and producing a multitude of little second cousins, Vicky had moved from the hurricane’s eye to near oblivion. Though she had been wounded by Fritz’s illness and Willy’s uncivil behavior, until June 1888 she at least had a loving and sympathetic husband to share her distress and lighten her sometimes intolerable burden. After his death, Vicky was left to face her martyrdom stripped of that unfaltering support. With her widowhood, her difficulties centered, inevitably, on the new emperor. Such was the exquisite release Willy experienced in succeeding his father to the throne that he took vainglory to new heights. To the horror of his mother and English grandmother, he jettisoned the standard symbols of mourning that were obligatory for a son in so visible a role, notably refusing to refrain from travel for pleasure. On a grander scale, in his eagerness to test his new powers, Willy made the most disastrous mistake of his early reign only two years after coming
Jerrold M. Packard (Victoria's Daughters)
Awake. Oh, ye blessed, ye children of the dawn, open your eyes to this new sun. Dress the sky in blue and light. Dress your souls in beauty to scale the heights. Awake ye beloved, ye who praise the dawn. Show strength for this new day, be strong, carry on.
Levon Peter Poe
Filming was done outside San Antonio, Texas. The scale of the production was vast and complex. Whole battlefields were scrupulously re-created on the plains of Texas. Wellman deployed as many as five thousand extras and sixty airplanes in some scenes—an enormous logistical exercise. The army sent its best aviators from Selfridge Field in Michigan—the very men with whom Lindbergh had just flown to Ottawa—and stunt fliers were used for the more dangerous scenes. Wellman asked a lot of his airmen. One pilot was killed, another broke his neck, and several more sustained other serious injuries. Wellman did some of the more dangerous stunt flying himself. All this gave the movie’s aerial scenes a realism and immediacy that many found almost literally breathtaking. Wellman captured features of flight that had never been caught on film before—the shadows of planes moving across the earth, the sensation of flying through drifting smoke, the stately fall of bombs, and the destructive puffs of impact that follow. Even the land-bound scenes were filmed with a thoughtfulness and originality that set Wings apart. To bring the viewer into a Parisian nightclub, Wellman used a boom shot in which the camera traveled through the room just above table height, skimming over drinks and between revelers, before arriving at the table of Arlen and Rogers. It is an entrancing shot even now, but it was rivetingly novel in 1927. “Wings,” wrote Penelope Gilliatt simply in The New Yorker in 1971, “is truly beautiful.” Wings was selected as best picture at the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Wellman, however, wasn’t even invited to the ceremony.
Bill Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927)
The potential for your artistry when truly tapped, will evoke certain specific reactions in the body, such as temperature change, a flight or fight response and even a change in saliva production. If you can commit to your craft this deeply, the level of specificity and authenticity of your performance will scale new heights.
Murisa Harba Durrant (Acting With Energy: Creating Brilliance Take After Take)
Fox News scaled new heights of shrill paranoia. Then they built a stair lift to the top for their predominantly white, elderly audience.
Tressie McMillan Cottom (Thick: And Other Essays)