Scale Up Quotes

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The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first.
Jim Morrison
When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I'd been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn't get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn't even speak, so I held up nine fingers. Later, after they'd given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, "You know how I know you're a fighter? You called a ten a nine." But that wasn't quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating faceup on the water, undrowned.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
Love is an excuse to put up with the shit that you shouldn't. That's how it gets you. It throws off the scales so that things that should weigh heavily don't seem to. It's a crock. A trap.
Sarah Dessen (This Lullaby)
If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried. And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.” But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it. I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away. You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. “Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.
Sarah Kay
When you love someone more than he loves you, you'll do anything to switch the scales. You dress the way you think he'd like you to dress. You pick up his favorite figures of expression. You tell yourself that if you re-create yourself in his image, then he'll crave you in the same way you crave him.
Jodi Picoult (Vanishing Acts)
...When it was finished, the scaled dragon looked around and as the thing spotted V, a growl rippled up to the bleachers, then ended in a snort. "You finished, big guy?" Va called down. "FYI, goalpost over there would work righteous as a toothpick.
J.R. Ward (Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4))
A man fishes for two reasons: he’s either sport fishing or fishing to eat, which means he’s either going to try to catch the biggest fish he can, take a picture of it, admire it with his buddies and toss it back to sea, or he’s going to take that fish on home, scale it, fillet it, toss it in some cornmeal, fry it up, and put it on his plate. This, I think, is a great analogy for how men seek out women.
Steve Harvey (Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment)
In mythos and fairy tales, deities and other great spirits test the hearts of humans by showing up in various forms that disguise their divinity. They show up in robes, rags, silver sashes, or with muddy feet. They show up with skin dark as old wood, or in scales made of rose petal, as a frail child, as a lime-yellow old woman, as a man who cannot speak, or as an animal who can. The great powers are testing to see if humans have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul in all its varying forms.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés (Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype)
On a scale of one to ten, what was he?" "How would, 'I want him to fuck me to death, and he just might', rate on that scale?
R.K. Lilley (Mile High (Up in the Air, #2))
Curled up at the base of the scales, fast asleep, was the oddest monster I'd seen yet. It had the head of crocodile with a lion's mane. The front half of its body was a lion, but the back end was sleek, brown, and fat - a hippo, I decided. The odd bit was, the animal was tiny - I mean, no larger than an average poodle, which I suppose made him a hippodoodle.
Rick Riordan (The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1))
I hate Gucci,' said Francis. 'Do you?' said Henry, glancing up from his reverie. 'Really? I think it's rather grand.' 'Come on, Henry.' 'Well, it's so expensive, but it's so ugly too, isn't it? I think they make it ugly on purpose. And yet people buy it out of sheer perversity.' 'I don't see what you think is grand about that.' 'Anything is grand if it's done on a large enough scale,' said Henry.
Donna Tartt (The Secret History)
If you are disgusted by what you see, and if you feel the fire coursing through your veins, then it's up to you. You don't have to be the leader of a global movement or a household name. It can be as small scale as chipping away at the warped power relations in your workplace. It can be passing on knowledge and skills to those who wouldn't access them otherwise. It can be creative. It can be informal. It can be your job. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as you're doing something.
Reni Eddo-Lodge (Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race)
After all, words are what remain when all the deeds have been done. Words can shatter faith; start a war; change the course of history. A story can make your heart beat faster; topple walls; scale mountains - hey, a story can even raise the dead. And that's why the King of Stories ended up being the King of the gods; because writing history and making history are only the breadth of a page apart.
Joanne Harris (The Gospel of Loki (Loki, #1))
If you imagine the 4,500-bilion-odd years of Earth's history compressed into a normal earthly day, then life begins very early, about 4 A.M., with the rise of the first simple, single-celled organisms, but then advances no further for the next sixteen hours. Not until almost 8:30 in the evening, with the day five-sixths over, has Earth anything to show the universe but a restless skin of microbes. Then, finally, the first sea plants appear, followed twenty minutes later by the first jellyfish and the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna first seen by Reginald Sprigg in Australia. At 9:04 P.M. trilobites swim onto the scene, followed more or less immediately by the shapely creatures of the Burgess Shale. Just before 10 P.M. plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after, with less than two hours left in the day, the first land creatures follow. Thanks to ten minutes or so of balmy weather, by 10:24 the Earth is covered in the great carboniferous forests whose residues give us all our coal, and the first winged insects are evident. Dinosaurs plod onto the scene just before 11 P.M. and hold sway for about three-quarters of an hour. At twenty-one minutes to midnight they vanish and the age of mammals begins. Humans emerge one minute and seventeen seconds before midnight. The whole of our recorded history, on this scale, would be no more than a few seconds, a single human lifetime barely an instant. Throughout this greatly speeded-up day continents slide about and bang together at a clip that seems positively reckless. Mountains rise and melt away, ocean basins come and go, ice sheets advance and withdraw. And throughout the whole, about three times every minute, somewhere on the planet there is a flash-bulb pop of light marking the impact of a Manson-sized meteor or one even larger. It's a wonder that anything at all can survive in such a pummeled and unsettled environment. In fact, not many things do for long.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
You can't beat yourself up anymore,' he says. 'And you can't compare your thing to my thing or to anyone else's thing on the how-bad-should-I-feel? scale.
Melissa C. Walker (Unbreak My Heart)
You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park / Congo)
Peter was not with them for the moment, and they felt rather lonely up there by themselves. He could go so much faster than they that he would suddenly shoot out of sight, to have some adventure in which they had no share. He would come down laughing over something fearfully funny he had been saying to a star, but he had already forgotten what it was, or he would come up with mermaid scales still sticking to him, and yet not be able to to say for certain what had been happening. It was really rather irritating to children who had never seen a mermaid.
J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)
How will we get back up?" I worried. "I have a different route in mind for our return trip." "Does it involve stairs?" I asked hopefully. "No." "Of course not. How silly of me. And for our return adventure we will be scaling the side of Mount Everest, hiking boots to be provided by our trusty sponsor, Barrons Books and Baubles.
Karen Marie Moning (Darkfever (Fever, #1))
Though I obviously have no proof of this, the one aspect of life that seems clear to me is that good people do whatever they believe is the right thing to do. Being virtuous is hard, not easy. The idea of doing good things simply because you're good seems like a zero-sum game; I'm not even sure those actions would still qualify as 'good,' since they'd merely be a function of normal behavior. Regardless of what kind of god you believe in--a loving god, a vengeful god, a capricious god, a snooty beret-wearing French god, or whatever--one has to assume that you can't be penalized for doing the things you believe to be truly righteous and just. Certainly, this creates some pretty glaring problems: Hitler may have thought he was serving God. Stalin may have thought he was serving God (or something vaguely similar). I'm certain Osama bin Laden was positive he was serving God. It's not hard to fathom that all of those maniacs were certain that what they were doing was right. Meanwhile, I constantly do things that I know are wrong; they're not on the same scale as incinerating Jews or blowing up skyscrapers, but my motivations might be worse. I have looked directly into the eyes of a woman I loved and told her lies for no reason, except that those lies would allow me to continue having sex with another woman I cared about less. This act did not kill 20 million Russian peasants, but it might be more 'diabolical' in a literal sense. If I died and found out I was going to hell and Stalin was in heaven, I would note the irony, but I couldn't complain. I don't make the fucking rules.
Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto)
If you are a monster, stand up. If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend, If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme, If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams Come stand by me. If you have been broken, stand up. If you have been broken, abandoned, alone If you have been starving, a creature of bone If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known, Come stand by me. If you are a savage, stand up. If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight, If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite, If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright, If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight, Come stand by me. If you are a devil, stand up. If you are a villain, a madman, a beast, If you are a strowler, a prowler, a priest, If you are a dragon come sit at our feast, For we all have stripes, and we all have horns, We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns And here in the dark is where new worlds are born. Come stand by me.
Catherynne M. Valente
The wild worship of lawlessness and the materialist worship of law end in the same void. Nietzsche scales staggering mountains, but he turns up ultimately in Tibet. He sits down beside Tolstoy in the land of nothing and Nirvana. They are both helpless—one because he must not grasp anything, and the other because he must not let go of anything. The Tolstoyan’s will is frozen by a Buddhist instinct that all special actions are evil. But the Nietzscheite’s will is quite equally frozen by his view that all special actions are good; for if all special actions are good, none of them are special. They stand at the crossroads, and one hates all the roads and the other likes all the roads. The result is—well, some things are not hard to calculate. They stand at the cross-roads.
G.K. Chesterton
That was what they did with themselves, those two Gracelings, along with a small band of friends: They stirred up trouble on a serious scale—bribery, coercion, sabotage, organized rebellion—all directed at stopping the worst behavior of the world’s most seriously corrupt kings.
Kristin Cashore (Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3))
The voice fell low, sank into her breast and stretched the tight bodice over her heart as she came up close. He felt the young lips, her body sighing in relief against the arm growing stronger to hold her. There were now no more plans than if Dick had arbitrarily made some indissoluble mixture, with atoms joined and inseparable; you could throw it all out but never again could they fit back into atomic scale. As he held her and tasted her, and as she curved in further and further toward him, with her own lips, new to herself, drowned and engulfed in love, yet solaced and triumphant, he was thankful to have an existence at all, if only as a reflection in her wet eyes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender is the Night)
His affection for the human grew steadily by the day. Sometimes by the minute. And it wasn’t simply her beauty, but her utter lack of fear of everything and anything except her brother. She didn’t fear dying. She didn’t fear battle. And, most importantly, she didn’t fear Fearghus. She touched him. Ran her hands across his scales and through his mane. But it was when he covered her up with the fur and she sighed his name in her sleep, that he lost his heart.
G.A. Aiken (Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1))
Back in my day, we had it all set up. You lined up when you died, and you'd answer for your evil deeds and your good deeds, and if your evil deeds outweighed a feather, we'd feed your soul and your heart to Ammet, the Eater of Souls" "He must have eaten a lot of people." "Not as many as you'd think. It was a really heavy feather. We had it made special. You had better be pretty damn evil to tip the scales on that baby...
Neil Gaiman (American Gods (American Gods, #1))
Freedom, "that terrible word inscribed on the chariot of the storm," is the motivating principle of all revolutions. Without it, justice seems inconceivable to the rebel's mind. There comes a time, however, when justice demands the suspension of freedom. Then terror, on a grand or small scale, makes its appearance to consummate the revolution. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. But one day nostalgia takes up arms and assumes the responsibility of total guilt; in other words, adopts murder and violence.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
Women are like handfuls of sand. They all rub up under your scales now and then, but the finest ones do put a polish on a man.
R. Lee Smith (The Last Hour of Gann)
Grant knew that people could not imagine geological time. Human life was lived on another scale of time entirely. An apple turned brown in a few minutes. Silverware turned black in a few days. A compost heap decayed in a season. A child grew up in a decade. None of these everyday human experiences prepared people to be able to imagine the meaning of eighty million years - the length of time that had passed since this little animal had died.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park (Parque Jurásico, #1))
When a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it “fake news” in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incur their wrath). Note, however, that I am not denying the effectiveness or potential benevolence of religion. Just the opposite. For better or worse, fiction is among the most effective tools in humanity’s tool kit. By bringing people together, religious creeds make large-scale human cooperation possible. They inspire people to build hospitals, schools, and bridges in addition to armies and prisons. Adam and Eve never existed, but Chartres Cathedral is still beautiful.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
Fireflies out on a warm summer's night, seeing the urgent, flashing, yellow-white phosphorescence below them, go crazy with desire; moths cast to the winds an enchantment potion that draws the opposite sex, wings beating hurriedly, from kilometers away; peacocks display a devastating corona of blue and green and the peahens are all aflutter; competing pollen grains extrude tiny tubes that race each other down the female flower's orifice to the waiting egg below; luminescent squid present rhapsodic light shows, altering the pattern, brightness and color radiated from their heads, tentacles, and eyeballs; a tapeworm diligently lays a hundred thousand fertilized eggs in a single day; a great whale rumbles through the ocean depths uttering plaintive cries that are understood hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, where another lonely behemoth is attentively listening; bacteria sidle up to one another and merge; cicadas chorus in a collective serenade of love; honeybee couples soar on matrimonial flights from which only one partner returns; male fish spray their spunk over a slimy clutch of eggs laid by God-knows-who; dogs, out cruising, sniff each other's nether parts, seeking erotic stimuli; flowers exude sultry perfumes and decorate their petals with garish ultraviolet advertisements for passing insects, birds, and bats; and men and women sing, dance, dress, adorn, paint, posture, self-mutilate, demand, coerce, dissemble, plead, succumb, and risk their lives. To say that love makes the world go around is to go too far. The Earth spins because it did so as it was formed and there has been nothing to stop it since. But the nearly maniacal devotion to sex and love by most of the plants, animals, and microbes with which we are familiar is a pervasive and striking aspect of life on Earth. It cries out for explanation. What is all this in aid of? What is the torrent of passion and obsession about? Why will organisms go without sleep, without food, gladly put themselves in mortal danger for sex? ... For more than half the history of life on Earth organisms seem to have done perfectly well without it. What good is sex?... Through 4 billion years of natural selection, instructions have been honed and fine-tuned...sequences of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, manuals written out in the alphabet of life in competition with other similar manuals published by other firms. The organisms become the means through which the instructions flow and copy themselves, by which new instructions are tried out, on which selection operates. 'The hen,' said Samuel Butler, 'is the egg's way of making another egg.' It is on this level that we must understand what sex is for. ... The sockeye salmon exhaust themselves swimming up the mighty Columbia River to spawn, heroically hurdling cataracts, in a single-minded effort that works to propagate their DNA sequences into future generation. The moment their work is done, they fall to pieces. Scales flake off, fins drop, and soon--often within hours of spawning--they are dead and becoming distinctly aromatic. They've served their purpose. Nature is unsentimental. Death is built in.
Carl Sagan (Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search For Who We Are)
Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret. Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really. You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation, “far removed from the seats of strife,” as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it. All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge. There is no point in hurrying because you are not actually going anywhere. However far or long you plod, you are always in the same place: in the woods. It’s where you were yesterday, where you will be tomorrow. The woods is one boundless singularity. Every bend in the path presents a prospect indistinguishable from every other, every glimpse into the trees the same tangled mass. For all you know, your route could describe a very large, pointless circle. In a way, it would hardly matter. At times, you become almost certain that you slabbed this hillside three days ago, crossed this stream yesterday, clambered over this fallen tree at least twice today already. But most of the time you don’t think. No point. Instead, you exist in a kind of mobile Zen mode, your brain like a balloon tethered with string, accompanying but not actually part of the body below. Walking for hours and miles becomes as automatic, as unremarkable, as breathing. At the end of the day you don’t think, “Hey, I did sixteen miles today,” any more than you think, “Hey, I took eight-thousand breaths today.” It’s just what you do.
Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail)
The tinkle of wind chimes announcing the return of our fairy guests made us both look up. Our chance to be alone was going to be shorter than either of us had hoped. I sighed and brushed an errant dragon scale from Eadric’s tunic. “Someday when we have lots of time, remind me to tell you what you mean to me.” Eadric tilted my head back so he could gaze into my eyes. “I can tell you what you mean to me with just one word.” Let me guess,” I said, smiling up at him. “Maybe I make you happy because you no longer have to enter kissing contests to find the best kisser? Do I bring excitement into your life because I can wisk you away to exotic lands on my magic carpet? Or do you find me delightful because I can conjure food whenever you’re hungry?” No, that’s not. . . Wait, what was that last one?” I laughed and shook my head. “Never mind. So tell me in one word, what do I mean to you?” That’s easy,” said Eadric. “Everything!
E.D. Baker (No Place for Magic (The Tales of the Frog Princess, #4))
I'm going void which is like numb but higher up on the pain scale
Melissa Severin (Brute Fact)
At the very moment that humans discovered the scale of the universe and found that their most unconstrained fancies were in fact dwarfed by the true dimensions of even the Milky Way Galaxy, they took steps that ensured that their descendants would be unable to see the stars at all. For a million years humans had grown up with a personal daily knowledge of the vault of heaven. In the last few thousand years they began building and emigrating to the cities. In the last few decades, a major fraction of the human population has abandoned a rustic way of life. As technology developed and the cities were polluted, the nights became starless. New generations grew to maturity wholly ignorant of the sky that had transfixed their ancestors and that had stimulated the modern age of science and technology. Without even noticing, just as astronomy entered a golden age most people cut themselves off from the sky, a cosmic isolationism that ended only with the dawn of space exploration.
Carl Sagan (Contact)
What is art but the life upon the larger scale, the higher. When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Ask a deeply religious Christian if he’d rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists don’t seem so bad lately.
Scott Adams
For Jenn At 12 years old I started bleeding with the moon and beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts. I fought with my knuckles white as stars, and left bruises the shape of Salem. There are things we know by heart, and things we don't. At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke. I'd watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos, but I could never make dying beautiful. The sky didn't fill with colors the night I convinced myself veins are kite strings you can only cut free. I suppose I love this life, in spite of my clenched fist. I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree, and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers, and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath the first time his fingers touched the keys the same way a soldier holds his breath the first time his finger clicks the trigger. We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe. But my lungs remember the day my mother took my hand and placed it on her belly and told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister's heartbeat. And I knew life would tremble like the first tear on a prison guard's hardened cheek, like a prayer on a dying man's lips, like a vet holding a full bottle of whisky like an empty gun in a war zone… just take me just take me Sometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much, the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood. We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways, but you still have to call it a birthday. You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recess and hope she knows you can hit a baseball further than any boy in the whole third grade and I've been running for home through the windpipe of a man who sings while his hands playing washboard with a spoon on a street corner in New Orleans where every boarded up window is still painted with the words We're Coming Back like a promise to the ocean that we will always keep moving towards the music, the way Basquait slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain. Beauty, catch me on your tongue. Thunder, clap us open. The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks. Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert, then wake us washing the feet of pregnant women who climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun. I know a thousand things louder than a soldier's gun. I know the heartbeat of his mother. Don't cover your ears, Love. Don't cover your ears, Life. There is a boy writing poems in Central Park and as he writes he moves and his bones become the bars of Mandela's jail cell stretching apart, and there are men playing chess in the December cold who can't tell if the breath rising from the board is their opponents or their own, and there's a woman on the stairwell of the subway swearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn, and I'm remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrun with strip malls and traffic and vendors and one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it. Ya'll, I know this world is far from perfect. I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon. I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic. But every ocean has a shoreline and every shoreline has a tide that is constantly returning to wake the songbirds in our hands, to wake the music in our bones, to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave river that has to run through the center of our hearts to find its way home.
Andrea Gibson
I’m not who that guy says I am. I’m not who that girl says I am. I’m not who social media likes and comments say I am. I’m not who the grades, to-do lists, messes, and mess ups say I am. I’m not who the scale says I am or the sum total of what my flaws say I am. I’m going to stop flirting with the unstable things of this world so I can fall completely in love with You. I am loved. I am held. I am Yours. I am forever Yours.” The more intimacy like this that I have with God, the more secure my true identity is.
Lysa TerKeurst (Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely)
He had learned some of the things that every man must find out for himself, and he had found out about them as one has to find out--through error and through trial, through fantasy and illusion, through falsehood and his own damn foolishness, through being mistaken and wrong and an idiot and egotistical and aspiring and hopeful and believing and confused. Each thing he learned was so simple and obvious, once he grasped it, that he wondered why he had not always known it. And what had he learned? A philosopher would not think it much, perhaps, and yet in a simple human way it was a good deal. Just by living, my making the thousand little daily choices that his whole complex of heredity, environment, and conscious thought, and deep emotion had driven him to make, and by taking the consequences, he had learned that he could not eat his cake and have it, too. He had learned that in spite of his strange body, so much off scale that it had often made him think himself a creature set apart, he was still the son and brother of all men living. He had learned that he could not devour the earth, that he must know and accept his limitations. He realized that much of his torment of the years past had been self-inflicted, and an inevitable part of growing up. And, most important of all for one who had taken so long to grow up, he thought he had learned not to be the slave of his emotions.
Thomas Wolfe (You Can't Go Home Again)
When people can get away with crimes just because they are wealthy or have the right connections, the scales are tipped against fairness and equality. The weight of corruption then becomes so heavy that it creates a dent that forces the world to become slanted, so much so — that justice just slips off.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
After the spasms die down, my arms come up around Kate, bringing our chests together and her head against my neck. I feel her heartbeat start to return to normal. And then she’s laughing, low and satisfied. “God…that was so…so…” Now I’m smiling too. “I know.” Earth shattering. Off the Richter Scale. Powerful enough to take out a small island country.
Emma Chase (Tangled (Tangled, #1))
Live snakes?' said one of the scribes. 'You mean-' 'Yeah,' said Locke. 'They've got scales, they slither around - snakes. Keep up.
Scott Lynch (The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3))
Meditation practice is like piano scales, basketball drills, ballroom dance class. Practice requires discipline; it can be tedious; it is necessary. After you have practiced enough, you become more skilled at the art form itself. You do not practice to become a great scale player or drill champion. You practice to become a musician or athlete. Likewise, one does not practice meditation to become a great meditator. We meditate to wake up and live, to become skilled at the art of living.
Elizabeth Lesser (The Seeker's Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure)
The ladders of life that we scale merrily Move mysteriously around So that when you think you're climbing up, man In fact you're climbing down
Nick Cave (And No More Shall We Part)
Nothing has changed. The body is susceptible to pain, It must eat and breath air and sleep, It has thin skin and blood right underneath, An adequate stock of teeth and nails, Its bones are breakable, its joints are stretchable. In tortures all this is taken into account. Nothing has changed. The body shudders as it is shuddered Before the founding of Rome and after, In the twentieth century before and after Christ. Tortures are as they were, it’s just the earth that’s grown smaller, And whatever happens seems on the other side of the wall. Nothing has changed. It’s just that there are more people, Besides the old offenses, new ones have appeared, Real, imaginary, temporary, and none, But the howl with which the body responds to them, Was, and is, and ever will be a howl of innocence According to the time-honored scale and tonality. Nothing has changed. Maybe just the manners, ceremonies, dances, Yet the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same. The body writhes, jerks, and tries to pull away Its legs give out, it falls, the knees fly up, It turns blue, swells, salivates, and bleeds. Nothing has changed. Except of course for the course of boundaries, The lines of forests, coasts, deserts, and glaciers. Amid these landscapes traipses the soul, Disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away, Alien to itself, elusive At times certain, at others uncertain of its own existence, While the body is and is and is And has no place of its own.
Wisława Szymborska
The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil. Thanks to ideology the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing calculated on a scale in the millions. Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth. Yet, I have not given up all hope that human beings and nations may be able, in spite of all, to learn from the experience of other people without having to go through it personally.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
He remembers another moment: They'd just found each other again after their fight. She'd talked about the number of events that had to exactly right to form their universe. She'd said falling in love couldn't compete. He's always thought she was wrong about that. Because everything looks like chaos up close. Daniel thinks it's a matter of scale. If you pull back far enough and wait for long enough, then order emerges. Maybe their universe is just taking longer to form.
Nicola Yoon (The Sun Is Also a Star)
If only life were more on the scale of Orlando Bloom taking down the giant Oliphaunt in The Return of the King rather than the usual, tedious mall-crawl with the Abercrombie crowd! We often wish the daily grind held a greater resemblance to all those fantasy worlds we’ve come to love, don’t we? In our more desperate moments, we’re tempted to walk smack into pillars at subway stations, just to see if we end up at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. And which of us, at some point in our not-so-distant childhood (yes, let’s be honest!), hasn’t pushed aside the coats in a closet, hoping to find an entrance to another world?
Sarah Arthur (Walking Through the Wardrobe: A Devotional Quest Into the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
I am filthy. I am riddled with lice. Hogs, when they look at me, vomit. My skin is encrusted with the scabs and scales of leprosy, and covered with yellow pus.[...] A family of toads has taken up residence in my left armpit and, when one of them moves, it tickles. Mind one of them does not escape and come and scratch the inside of your ear with its mouth; for it would then be able to enter your brain. In my right armpit there is a chameleon which is perpetually chasing them, to avoid starving to death: everyone must live.[...] My anus has been penetrated by a crab; encouraged by my sluggishness, he guards the entrance with his pincers, and causes me a lot of pain.
Comte de Lautréamont (Maldoror and Poems)
Your dream is to feel good; God’s dream is for you to do good.
Shannon L. Alder
Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.
C.S. Lewis
Maybe there’s a heaven, like they say, a place where everything we’ve ever done is noted and recorded, weighed on big karma scales. Maybe not. Maybe this whole thing is just a giant experiment run by aliens who find out human hijinks amusing. Or maybe we’re an abandoned project started by a deity who checked out a long time ago, but we’re still hard-wired to believe, to try to make meaning out of the seemingly random. Maybe we’re all part of the same unconscious stew, dreaming the same dreams, hoping the same hopes, needing the same connection, trying to find it, missing, trying again—each of us playing our parts in the other’s plotlines, just one big ball of human yarn tangled up together. Maybe this is it.
Libba Bray
Is Gabriel still mad at me?" "Nesbitt hesitates and then says, "On a scale of one to ten, I'd say he's at nine and a half." "So, it could be worse then." "He'll calm down." Nesbitt nudges me and says, "The best thing about arguments is the making-up after. I see a big reconciliation ahead for you two: you apologise and he takes you into his arms and --" "Nesbitt, shut up.
Sally Green (Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy, #3))
A year of intense exercise and watching what you eat will likely change the trajectory of your life physically. You will melt away fat, tone up muscle, feel better, and change your habits, likely for life. But only ten days of that exercise program won’t move the needle on the scale. To create big-time success you have to stay focused and stay intense over an extended period of time.
Dave Ramsey (EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches)
Weird—no one is this popular, There wasn't a single negative comment, which made Micah even more suspicious. Some sort of parishioner conspiracy of silence? Could the church organize everyone's silence on a grand scale? Can all church members be this loyal? Were they paid off?
Mark M. Bello (Betrayal of Faith (Zachary Blake Legal Thriller #1))
Dear Angel Juan, You used to guard my sleep like a panther biting back my pain with the edge of your teeth. You carried me into the dark dream jungle, loping past the hungry vines, crossing the shiny fish-scale river. We left my tears behind in a chiming silver pool. We left my sorrow in the muddy hollows. When I woke up you were next to me, damp and matted, your eyes hazy, trying to remember the way I clung to you, how far down we went. Was the journey too far, Angel Juan? Did we go too far?
Francesca Lia Block (Missing Angel Juan (Weetzie Bat, #4))
God, what did any of it matter, in the end? You lived; you died. You were as indistinguishable from a distance as one of these blades of grass, and who was to say more important? Growing, surrounded by your kin, you out-living some, some out-living you. You didn't have to adjust the scale much, either, to reduce us to the sort of distant irrelevance of this bedraggled field. The grass was lucky if it grew, was shone upon and rained upon, and was not burned, and was not pulled up by the roots, or poisoned, or buried when the ground was turned over, and some bits just happened to be on a line that humans wanted to walk on, and so got trampled, broken, pressed flat, with no malice; just effect.
Iain Banks (The Crow Road)
The Children's Hour Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour. I hear in the chamber above me The patter of little feet, The sound of a door that is opened, And voices soft and sweet. From my study I see in the lamplight, Descending the broad hall stair, Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, And Edith with golden hair. A whisper, and then a silence: Yet I know by their merry eyes They are plotting and planning together To take me by surprise. A sudden rush from the stairway, A sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded They enter my castle wall! They climb up into my turret O'er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere. They almost devour me with kisses, Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti, Because you have scaled the wall, Such an old mustache as I am Is not a match for you all! I have you fast in my fortress, And will not let you depart, But put you down into the dungeon In the round-tower of my heart. And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day, Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, And moulder in dust away!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Don’t misunderstand me. The terrorist actions of Al-Qaeda were and are unmitigatedly evil. But the astonishing naivety which decreed that America as a whole was a pure, innocent victim, so that the world could be neatly divided up into evil people (particularly Arabs) and good people (particularly Americans and Israelis), and that the latter had a responsibility now to punish the former, is a large-scale example of what I’m talking about - just as it is immature and naive to suggest the mirror image of this view, namely that the western world is guilty in all respects and that all protestors and terrorists are therefore completely justified in what they do. In the same way, to suggest that all who possess guns should be locked up, or (the American mirror-image of this view) that everyone should carry guns so that good people can shoot bad ones before they can get up to their tricks, is simply a failure to think into the depths of what’s going on.
N.T. Wright (Evil and the Justice of God)
I wanted to be alone with the One. The One who scaled then careened from the heights of the Mount. The One who raised up the man from the mud. The One who fashioned me from a part of the man and knew me more intimately than even the adam.
Tosca Lee (Havah: The Story of Eve)
Pick up a pinecone and count the spiral rows of scales. You may find eight spirals winding up to the left and 13 spirals winding up to the right, or 13 left and 21 right spirals, or other pairs of numbers. The striking fact is that these pairs of numbers are adjacent numbers in the famous Fibonacci series: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... Here, each term is the sum of the previous two terms. The phenomenon is well known and called phyllotaxis. Many are the efforts of biologists to understand why pinecones, sunflowers, and many other plants exhibit this remarkable pattern. Organisms do the strangest things, but all these odd things need not reflect selection or historical accident. Some of the best efforts to understand phyllotaxis appeal to a form of self-organization. Paul Green, at Stanford, has argued persuasively that the Fibonacci series is just what one would expects as the simplest self-repeating pattern that can be generated by the particular growth processes in the growing tips of the tissues that form sunflowers, pinecones, and so forth. Like a snowflake and its sixfold symmetry, the pinecone and its phyllotaxis may be part of order for free
Stuart A. Kauffman (At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity)
Even after centuries of human interacting, children still continue to rebel against their parents and siblings. Young marrieds look upon their in-laws and parents as obstacles to their independence and growth. Parents view their children as selfish ingrates. Husbands desert their wives and seek greener fields elsewhere. Wives form relationships with heroes of soap operas who vicariously bring excitement and romance into their empty lives. Workers often hate their bosses and co-workers and spend miserable hours with them, day after day. On a larger scale, management cannot relate with labour. Each accuses the other of unreasonable self-interests and narrow-mindedness. Religious groups often become entrapped, each in a provincial dogma resulting in hate and vindictiveness in the name of God. Nations battle blindly, under the shadow of the world annihilation, for the realization of their personal rights. Members of these groups blame rival groups for their continual sense of frustration, impotence, lack of progress and communication. We have obviously not learned much over the years. We have not paused long enough to consider the simple truth that we humans are not born with particular attitudinal sets regarding other persons, we are taught into them. We are the future generation's teachers. We are, therefore, the perpetrators of the confusion and alienation we abhor and which keeps us impotent in finding new alternatives. It is up to us to diligently discover new solutions and learn new patterns of relating, ways more conducive to growth, peace, hope and loving coexistence. Anything that is learned can be unlearned and relearned. In this process called change lies our real hope.
Leo F. Buscaglia (Loving Each Other)
What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell forever? Forever! For all eternity! Not for a year or an age but forever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness, and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of air. And imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all. Yet at the end of that immense stretch time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been carried all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals – at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not even one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time, the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would have scarcely begun.
James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)
Terrorism” is a word that has become a plague on our vocabulary, the excuse and reason and moral permit for state-sponsored violence— our violence—which is now used on the innocent of the Middle East ever more outrageously and promiscuously. Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. It has become a full stop, a punctuation mark, a phrase, a speech, a sermon, the be-all and end-all of everything that we must hate in order to ignore injustice and occupation and murder on a mass scale. Terror, terror, terror, terror. It is a sonata, a symphony, an orchestra tuned to every television and radio station and news agency report, the soap-opera of the Devil, served up on prime-time or distilled in wearyingly dull and mendacious form by the right-wing “commentators” of the American east coast or the Jerusalem Post or the intellectuals of Europe. Strike against Terror. Victory over Terror. War on Terror. Everlasting War on Terror. Rarely in history have soldiers and journalists and presidents and kings aligned themselves in such thoughtless, unquestioning ranks.
Robert Fisk (The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East)
For Tommy, on that hot and empty afternoon, was in a state of mind in which grown-up people go away and write books about their whole world, and stories about what it is like to be married, and plays about the important problems of modern times. Tommy, being only ten years old, was not able to do harm on this large and handsome scale.
G.K. Chesterton
The Greeks believe the Fates are three sisters: one is Order, who spins out the linear thread of a life from the beginning; another is Irony, who gently cocks up the thread, marking it with some peculiar sense of balance, like justice, only blind drunk with a scale that’s been bunged into the street so it never quite settles; and the third, Inevitability, simply sits in the corner taking notes and criticizing the other two for being shameless slags until she cuts life’s thread, leaving everyone miffed at the timing.
Christopher Moore (The Serpent of Venice)
The sheer size too, the excessive abundance, scale, and exaggeration of dreams could be an infantile characteristic. The most ardent wish of children is to grow up and get as big a share of everything as the grown-ups; they are hard to satisfy; do not know the meaning of ‘enough.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams)
Perhaps a person gains by accumulating obstacles. The more obstacles set up to prevent happiness from appearing, the greater the shock when it does appear, just as the rebound of a spring will be all the more powerful the greater the pressure that has been exerted to compress it. Care must be taken, however, to select large obstacles, for only those of sufficient scope and scale have the capacity to lift us out of context and force life to appear in an entirely new and unexpected light. For example, should you litter the floor and tabletops of your room with small objects, they constitute little more than a nuisance, an inconvenient clutter that frustrates you and leaves you irritable; the petty is mean. Cursing, you step around the objects, pick them up, knock them aside. Should you, on the other hand, encounter in your room a nine thousand pound granite boulder, the surprise it evokes, the extreme steps that must be taken to deal with it, compel you to see with new eyes. Difficulties illuminate existence, but they must be fresh and of high quality.
Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues)
She was a committed romantic and an anarcha-feminist. This was hard for her because it meant she couldn't blow up beautiful buildings. She knew the Eiffel Tower was a hideous symbol of phallic oppression but when ordered by her commander to detonate the lift so that no-one should unthinkingly scale an erection, her mind filled with young romantics gazing over Paris and opening aerograms that said Je t'aime.
Jeanette Winterson
Remember you are water. Of course you leave salt trails. Of course you are crying. Flow. P.S. If there happens to be a multitude of griefs upon you, individual and collective, or fast and slow, or small and large, add equal parts of these considerations: that the broken heart can cover more territory. that perhaps love can only be as large as grief demands. that grief is the growing up of the heart that bursts boundaries like an old skin or a finished life. that grief is gratitude. that water seeks scale, that even your tears seek the recognition of community. that the heart is a front line and the fight is to feel in a world of distraction. that death might be the only freedom. that your grief is a worthwhile use of your time. that your body will feel only as much as it is able to. that the ones you grieve may be grieving you. that the sacred comes from the limitations. that you are excellent at loving.
Adrienne Maree Brown (Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds)
In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos. And the cumulative worldwide build-up of knowledge over time converts science into something only a little short of a trans-national, trans-generational meta-mind.
Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
They had completely failed to notice Norwood and Heloise storming out of the house, Uncle Mort scaling the ladder, and the fact he was now staring at them and had been for several minutes. "Good grief," he said. "As if I didn't have enough to worry about." Lex and Driggs jumped apart and wiped spittle from their mouths. "What's up?" Driggs said in a terrible attempt at nonchalance. "Hormone levels obviously.
Gina Damico (Scorch (Croak, #2))
I called them up, "Ya, I have ten boxes; can you come pick them up?" "We need to know the weight and the girth." "Okay, good-bye." So I called back. "We need the weight and the girth." "Okay, I don't know what the weight is, and um, I don't know what girth means... So now what's the procedure?" So this guy talks to me like I'm four years old. "Well do you have a bathroom scale?" "Uh, ya but if I put the box on the scale it's gonna cover up the NUMBERS!" What, do I take it off really quick? Ah, zero: I'm not fast enough. What's he talking about? So then he gives me his Mister Wizard Formula, "How about if you stand on the scale and weigh yourself and get off the scale. Pick up the box, get back on, weigh you and the box together, and subtract your own weight." I'm going, "Slow down. Hold on professor." I know this guys never tried this, because I tried it and you still can't see the NUMBERS! Then I had to hang up in the middle of his girth formula.
Brian Regan
The bond between a mother and a child weighed nothing on a scale; it took up no room in a test tube. But most of us would have a hard time saying it didn’t exist.
Jodi Picoult (Larger Than Life)
When push to the wall. You have to develop strategies to scale over the wall.
Lailah Gifty Akita (On Eagles Wings:Rise)
Scattered with poppies, the golden-green waves of the cornfields faded. The red sun seemed to tip one end of a pair of scales below the horizon, and simultaneously to lift an orange moon at the other. Only two days off the full, it rose behind a wood, swiftly losing its flush as it floated up, until the wheat loomed out of the twilight like a metallic and prickly sea.
Patrick Leigh Fermor (Between the Woods and the Water)
There was a small part of me that was still childish, stubborn in her hope, thinking I could somehow have everything. ...That I could be all the versions of me, stacked inside one another, and find someone who would want them all. But that's childhood. Before you realize that every step is a choice. That something must be given up for something to be gained. Everything on a scale, a weighing of desires, an ordering of which you want more--and what you'd be willing to give for it.
Megan Miranda (All the Missing Girls)
In our every cell, furled at the nucleus, there is a ribbon two yards long and just ten atoms wide. Over a hundred million miles of DNA in very human individual, enough to wrap five million times around our world and make the Midgard serpent blush for shame, make even the Ourobouros worm swallow hard in disbelief. This snake-god, nucleotide, twice twisted, scaled in adenine and cytosine, in thymine and in guanine, is a one-man show, will be the actors, props and setting, be the apple and the garden both. The player bides his time, awaits his entrance to a drum-roll of igniting binaries. This is the only dance in town, this anaconda tango, this slow spiral up through time from witless dirt to paramecium, from blind mechanic organism to awareness. There, below the birthing stars, Life sways and improvises. Every poignant gesture drips with slapstick; pathos; an unbearably affecting bravery. To dare this stage, this huge and overwhelming venue. Squinting through the stellar footlights, hoping there's an audience, that there's someone out there, but dancing anyway. But dancing anyway.
Alan Moore (Snakes and Ladders)
Her endeavor was misguided and wrong and maybe plain crazy, akin to someone waking up one day and deciding he’s going to scale Kilimanjaro because he can’t stop imagining the view from the top, the picture so arresting and beautiful that it too soon delivers him to a precarious ledge, where he can no longer turn back. And while it’s easy to say this is a situation to be avoided, isn’t this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?
Chang-rae Lee (On Such a Full Sea)
Essentally combat is an expression of hostile feelings. But in the large-scale combat that we call war hostile feelings often have become merely hostile intentions. At any rate, there are usually no hostile feelings between individuals. Yet such emotions can never be completely absent from war. Modern wars are seldom fought without hatred between nations; this serves as a more or less substitute for the hatred between individuals. Even when there is no natural hatred and no animosity to start with, the fighting itself will stir up hostile feelings: violence committed on superior orders will stir up the desire for revenge and retaliation against the perpetrator rather than against the powers that ordered the action. It is only human (or animal, if you like), but it is a fact.
Carl von Clausewitz
All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste' 'It seems big enough when you're in it, Sir.' 'And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies, and itchings that it contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all. Bad cannot succeed even in being bad as truly as good is good. If all Hell's miseries together entered the consciousness of yon wee yellow bird on the bough there, they would be swallowed up without trace, as if one drop of ink had been dropped into that Great Ocean to which your terrestrial Pacific is only a molecule' 'I see,' said I at last. 'She couldn't fit into Hell.
C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)
Dawn in Mongolia was an amazing thing. In one instant, the horizon became a faint line suspended in the darkness, and then the line was drawn upward, higher and higher. It was as if a giant hand had stretched down from the sky and slowly lifted the curtain of night from the face of the earth. It was a magnificent sight, far greater in scale...than anything that I, with my limited human faculties, could fully comprehend.
Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)
I’ve learned that in order to be happy, you first have to have been extremely depressed. Until you have learned to suffer, happiness will never endure. The love that lasts just three years is the love that has neither scaled mountains nor lingered in the depths of despair, but the kind of love that is handed to you on a plate. Love only lasts if everyone involved knows what it costs, and it’s best to pay in advance, or else you might find yourself having to settle the bill later on. We weren’t prepared for happiness, because we weren't yet used to misery. We had grown up in the religion of comfort. You first have to know who you are and who you love. You have to be a finished person to live an unfinished story.
Frédéric Beigbeder (L'amour dure trois ans (Marc Marronnier, #3))
The air was warm and heavy as sprinkles began to fall from the clouds high above. The Triton glided through the waters and the whoosh of the ship combined with the steady beat of the rain to make a concerto, like a pianist fluttering his fingers on the keys at one end and running his fingers up and down the scales at the other. Expectancy hung in the air as the tune moved to a crescendo.
Victoria Kahler (Capturing the Sunset)
As girls, we will do anything for the person whom we love. We will scale buildings in the rain or run through fire if it means saving our love’s life. There is absolutely nothing more life altering that the fire burning inside of our souls for the one we want most…
Jennifer Elisabeth (Born Ready: Unleash Your Inner Dream Girl)
It is often said that there are very few places left on earth that have yet to be discovered. But those who say this are usually referring to places that exist at the human scale. Take a magnifying glass to any part of your house and you will find a whole new world to explore. Use a powerful microscope and you will find another, complete with a zoo of living organisms of the most fantastic nature. Alternatively, use a telescope and a whole universe of possibilities will open up before you.
Mark Miodownik (Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World)
My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand, gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.
Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
Scott gave my knee an affectionate squeeze. "You'll never hear me admit this again, so listen up. You look good, Grey. On a scale from one to ten, you're definitely in the top half." "Gee, thanks." "You're not the kind of girl I would have chased after when I was in Portland, but I'm not the same guy I was back then either. You're a little too good for me, and let's face it, a little too smart." "You've got street smarts," I pointed out. "Stop interrupting. You're going to make me lose my place." "You've got this speech memorized?" A smirk. "I've got a lot of time on my hands. As I was saying--hell. I forgot where I was." "You were telling me I can rest assured that I'm better-looking than half the girls at my school." "That was a figure of speech. If you want to get technical, you're better-looking than ninety percent. Give or take." I laid a hand over my heart. "I'm speechless." Scott got down on his knee and clasped my hand dramatically. "Yes, Nora. Yes, I'll go to the homecoming dance with you.
Becca Fitzpatrick (Silence (Hush, Hush, #3))
The acrobat practices: He steps on the edge of a chair and leaps to the floor, feeling the rush as the air flares up his face as he falls. Then he sets himself on something higher, like a table then jumps. He scales a ladder to the ceiling, climbs a tree, pole, watchtower. He keeps increasing the height until no one sees him and the fear to jump leaves him completely, layer by layer [. . .] The acrobat imagines there is a highest possible point in the sky where if he were to fall from it the fall would never end.
Wataru Tsurumi (Kanzen Jisatsu Manyuaru, The Complete Suicide Manual)
I'm not good, of course; I wouldn't give a fig to be good. So it's not vanity. It's on a far grander scale; a splendid selfishness, - authorized, too; and papa and mamma brought me up to worship beauty, -and there's the fifth commandment, you know.
Harriet Prescott Spofford (The Amber Gods and Other Stories)
You know what? This isn't about your feelings. A human life, with all its joys and all its pains, adding up over the course of decades, is worth far more than your brain's feelings of comfort or discomfort with a plan. Does computing the expected utility feel too cold-blooded for your taste? Well, that feeling isn't even a feather in the scales, when a life is at stake. Just shut up and multiply.
Eliezer Yudkowsky
Sometimes a strikeout means that the slugger’s girlfriend just ran off with the UPS driver. Sometimes a muffed ground ball means that the shortstop’s baby daughter has a pain in her head that won’t go away. And handicapping is for amateur golfers, not ballplayers. Pitchers don’t ease off on the cleanup hitter because of the lumps just discovered in his wife’s breast. Baseball is not life. It is a fiction, a metaphor. And a ballplayer is a man who agrees to uphold that metaphor as though lives were at stake. Perhaps they are. I cherish a theory I once heard propounded by G.Q. Durham that professional baseball is inherently antiwar. The most overlooked cause of war, his theory runs, is that it’s so damned interesting. It takes hard effort, skill, love and a little luck to make times of peace consistently interesting. About all it takes to make war interesting is a life. The appeal of trying to kill others without being killed yourself, according to Gale, is that it brings suspense, terror, honor, disgrace, rage, tragedy, treachery and occasionally even heroism within range of guys who, in times of peace, might lead lives of unmitigated blandness. But baseball, he says, is one activity that is able to generate suspense and excitement on a national scale, just like war. And baseball can only be played in peace. Hence G.Q.’s thesis that pro ball-players—little as some of them may want to hear it—are basically just a bunch of unusually well-coordinated guys working hard and artfully to prevent wars, by making peace more interesting.
David James Duncan
I will see you both in Goredd, then, when I clasp your hands across the smoking ashes of my enemies." "Isn't that what you were trying to avoid by sneaking up the Omiga?" Kiggs said. The Comonot considered. "Yes, but I like the sound of those words. Interesting.
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
In hospital they ask you to rate your discomfort on a scale of ten. I guess it’s the best they can come up with, but it fails to capture the nature of the beast. Pain can stay the same while you change around it. And, like a thumb of constant size, what it blocks out depends on how close it gets to you. At arm’s length a thumb obscures a small fragment of the day. Held close enough to your eye it can blind you to everything that matters, relegating the world to a periphery.
Mark Lawrence (One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1))
What has happened to create this doubt is that a problem (such as a deep conflict or a bad experience) has been allowed to usurp God's place and become the controlling principle of life. Instead of viewing the problem from the vantage point of faith, the doubter views faith from the vantage point of the problem. Instead of faith sizing up the problem, the situation ends with the problem scaling down faith. The world of faith is upside down, and in the topsy-turvy reality of doubt, a problem has become god and God has become a problem.
Os Guinness
The heavy eyelids snapped open. Jack froze. A huge gold-and-amber eye, as big as a dinner plater, stared at him. The dark pupil shrank, focusing. Jack stood very still. The colossal head turned, the scaled lip only three feet from Jack. The golden eyes gazed at him, wirling with fiery color. Jack breathed in tiny, shallow breaths. Dont blink. Don't blink... Two gusts of wind erutped from the wyvern's nostrils Jack jumped straight up, bounced off the ground into another jump, and scrambled up the nearest tree. In the clearing, Gaston bent over, guffawing like an idiot. 'It's not funny!
Ilona Andrews (Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3))
Oh, mansion shmansion. Did Gandhi's house have the largest outdoor trampoline in the tristate area? Did Jesus have a two-acre remote-controlled car track, with mountains to scale and a little village that lit up at night? Not in his Bible.
George Saunders (Tenth of December)
In my mind there is a scale. I do not know how many small lives add up to a big one, or if there is a formula to work it out. How many cats do I have to save? How many dogs? How many injured animals on the road do I have to drag to safety, their blood on my hands, their wild-smelling hair on my clothes?
Mindy McGinnis (The Female of the Species)
I don’t understand,’ Dad says. ‘You were such happy children.’ ‘I was never a happy child,’ George says. ‘True, but Henry was.’ ‘I’m not anymore. It’s actually hard to imagine how my life could be any more shit at this point,’ I say, and George holds up the copy of the book she’s reading. The Road. ‘Okay. Sure. It could get more shit if there was some kind of world-ending event and people started eating each other. But that’s a whole different shit scale. On your average human-emotion scale, my life is registering as the shittiest of the shit.
Cath Crowley (Words in Deep Blue)
I have a thing about losers. Flaws in oneself open you up to others with flaws. Not that Dostoyevsky's characters don't generate phatos, but they're flawed in ways that don't come across as faults. And while I'm on the subject, Tolstoy's characters' faults are so epic and out of scale, they're as static as backdrops.
Haruki Murakami (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)
The Bargainer pauses, glancing up at me. “I love you, Callie, down to every last feather and scale. I love your darkness, I love your mind, I love your humor and your most coveted dreams. And I love how you love me—wholly, deeply, passionately. “You’re not normal; you’ll never be normal. I’m so sorry to tell you that. You are so blindingly extraordinary that it physically hurts me
Laura Thalassa (Dark Harmony (The Bargainer, #3))
God weighs a soul on a pair of scales. In one of the dishes is the soul, and in the other, the tears of those who weep for it. If nobody cries, the soul goes down to Hell. If there are enough tears, and they are sufficiently heartfelt, it rises up to Heaven...People who are missed by other people, they are the ones who go to Paradise. Paradise is the space we occupy in other people's hearts.
José Eduardo Agualusa (A General Theory of Oblivion)
There are two missions we are obligated to carry out during our life journey. The first, is to seek Truth throughout our lifetime. The second, is simply to be good. Engrave it in your mind that life is just one big board game where you have to make it from start to finish by being good. That is all you have to do. The hardest part, is dealing with all the obstacles that prevent smooth sailing. The trick is, to always strive to be the right person in all situations – regardless of personal cost to you. Your aim is to make sure the right book on your shoulder weighs more that the bad book on the left. The scales are real. Regardless of your chosen faith, there is a measurement system to be found in all of the world's religions. After all, does it make sense for all souls, good or bad, to end up in the same place? Of course not. To really secure the very best setting in the afterlife, the vibrations of your good deeds must surpass your death.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first.
Jim Morrison (The Collected Writings)
Let me say right here, Mr. Holmes, that money is nothing to me in this case. You can burn it if it’s any use in lighting you to the truth. This woman is innocent and this woman has to be cleared, and it’s up to you to do it. Name your figure! My professional charges are upon a fixed scale, I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Complete Sherlock Holmes)
The Lake Isle O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves, Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop, With the little bright boxes piled up neatly upon the shelves And the loose fragrant cavendish and the shag, And the bright Virginia loose under the bright glass cases, And a pair of scales not too greasy, And the whores dropping in for a word or two in passing, For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit. O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves, Lend me a little tobacco-shop, or install me in any profession Save this damn’d profession of writing, where one needs one’s brains all the time.
Ezra Pound
Was it probably true that reasoning beings were equal? It seemed more like a belief than a fact, even if I agreed with it. If you followed logic all the way back to its origin, did you inevitably end up at point of illogic, an article of faith?
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
But we knew that when one goes into a shop and buys a cake one gets nothing but a cake, which may be very good, but is only a cake; whereas if one goes into the kitchen and makes a cake because some people one respects and probably likes are coming to eat at one’s table, one is striking a low note on a scale that is struck higher up by Beethoven and Mozart.
Rebecca West (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon)
There are no straight lines in nature or business.
Verne Harnish (Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't (Rockefeller Habits 2.0))
No born Londoner (it is different with people of Scotch or Irish origin) now says 'bloody,' unless he is a man of some education. The word has, in fact, moved up in the social scale and ceased to be a swear word for the purposes of the working classes. The current London adjective, now tacked on to every noun, is -----. No doubt in time -----, like 'bloody,' will find its way into the drawing room and replaced by some other word.
George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London)
Many individuals are so constituted that their only thought is to obtain pleasure and shun responsibility. They would like, butterfly-like, to wing forever in a summer garden, flitting from flower to flower, and sipping honey for their sole delight. They have no feeling that any result which might flow from their action should concern them. They have no conception of the necessity of a well-organized society wherein all shall accept a certain quota of responsibility and all realize a reasonable amount of happiness. They think only of themselves because they have not yet been taught to think of society. For them pain and necessity are the great taskmasters. Laws are but the fences which circumscribe the sphere of their operations. When, after error, pain falls as a lash, they do not comprehend that their suffering is due to misbehavior. Many such an individual is so lashed by necessity and law that he falls fainting to the ground, dies hungry in the gutter or rotting in the jail and it never once flashes across his mind that he has been lashed only in so far as he has persisted in attempting to trespass the boundaries which necessity sets. A prisoner of fate, held enchained for his own delight, he does not know that the walls are tall, that the sentinels of life are forever pacing, musket in hand. He cannot perceive that all joy is within and not without. He must be for scaling the bounds of society, for overpowering the sentinel. When we hear the cries of the individual strung up by the thumbs, when we hear the ominous shot which marks the end of another victim who has thought to break loose, we may be sure that in another instance life has been misunderstood--we may be sure that society has been struggled against until death alone would stop the individual from contention and evil.
Theodore Dreiser (Sister Carrie)
Home. Home was BAMA, the Sprawl, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis. Program a map to display frequency of data exchange, every thousand megabytes a single pixel on a very large screen. Manhattan and Atlanta burn solid white. Then they start to pulse, the rate of traffic threatening to overload your simulation. Your map is about to go nova. Cool it down. Up your scale. Each pixel a million megabytes. At a hundred million megabytes per second, you begin to make out certain blocks in midtown Manhattan, outlines of hundred-year-old industrial parks ringing the old core of Atlanta...
William Gibson
Keep back no part of the precious truth, but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty, and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Morning And Evening: Daily Readings)
Signs and wonders, eh? Pity if there is nothing wonderful in signs, and significant in wonders! There's a clue somewhere; wait a bit; hist--hark! By Jove, I have it! Look, you Doubloon, your zodiac here is the life of man in one round chapter; and now I'll read it off, straight out of the book. Come, Almanack! To begin: there's Aries, or the Ram--lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the Bull--he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins--that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring Lion, lies in the path--he gives a few fierce bites and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the Virgin! that's our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or Scales--happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in rear; we are curing the wound, when whang comes the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here's the battering-ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes rushing and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the the Waterbearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and, to wind up, with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep. There's a sermon now, writ in high heaven, and the sun goes through it every year, and yet comes out of it all alive and hearty.
Herman Melville (Moby-Dick)
You want to know the story? I'd be happy to tell you. I think I have just enough caloric energy stored up to make it through the telling of the tale. It's short. I am monstrously fat. I am a glutton. My wife was disgusted and repulsed. She gave me six months to lose one hundred pounds. I joined Weight Watchers . . . see it there, right across the street, that gaunt storefront? This afternoon was the big six-month weigh-in. So to speak. I had gained almost seventy pounds in the six months. An errant Snickers bar fell out of the cuff of my pants and rolled against my wife's foot as I stepped on the scale. The scale over there across the street is truly an ingenious device. One preprograms the desired new weight into it, and if one has achieved or gone below that new low weight, the scale bursts into recorded whistles and cheers and some lively marching-band tune. Apparently, tiny flags protrude from the top and wave mechanically back and forth. A failure--see for instance mine--results in a flatulent dirge of disappointed and contemptuous tuba. To the strains of the latter my wife left, the establishment, me, on the arm of a svelte yogurt distributor whom I am even now planning to crush, financially speaking, first thing tomorrow morning. Ms. Beadsman, you will find an eclair on the floor to the left of your chair. Could you perhaps manipulate it onto this plate with minimal chocolate loss and pass it to me.
David Foster Wallace (The Broom of the System)
I think my personal minimum score for anything I'm thinking about doing--knitting or not--is about a seven on the interest scale. If something's scoring a five, like a movie, then I need to add at least two points of knitting to do it for me to be able to hang in. If it's something gripping, like a conversation with a charming and entertaining friend, I may not need to add much knitting at all. If my friend scores a nine, I might only toss in a plain sock, with no patterning or anything, just round and round on autopilot while we visit. (I can only think of one thing I do with another person that really has no room to add any sort of knitting to, but let's not discuss it here.)
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin)
That's how religions and histories make their way into the world, not through battles and conquests, but through poems and kennings and songs, passed through generations and written down by scholars and scribes. . . . After all, words are what remain when all the deeds have been done. Words can shatter faith, start a war, change the course of history. A story can make your heart beat faster, topple walls, scale mountains--Hey, a story can even raise the dead. And that's why the King of Stories ended up being King of the gods, because writing history and making history are only the breadth of a page apart.
Joanne Harris (The Gospel of Loki (Loki, #1))
Even among the ancients the more grown-up knew that the source of right is power, that right is a function of power. So take some scales and put on one side a gram, on the other a ton; on one side "I" and on the other "We," OneState. It's clear, isn't it? - to assert that "I" have certain "rights" with respect to the State is exactly the same as asserting that a gram weighs the same as a ton. That explains the way things are divided up: To the ton go the rights, to the gram the duties. And the natural path from nullity to greatness is this: Forget that you're a gram and feel yourself a millionth part of a ton.
Yevgeny Zamyatin (We)
It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted…secretly, it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology…by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques, by something that needed the energy-burst of war, crying, “Money be damned, the very life of [insert name of Nation] is at stake,” but meaning, most likely, dawn is nearly here, I need my night’s blood, my funding, funding, ahh more, more…The real crises were crises of allocation and priority, not among firms—it was only staged to look that way—but among the different Technologies, Plastics, Electronics, Aircraft, and their needs which are understood only by the ruling elite… Yes but Technology only responds (how often this argument has been iterated, dogged, humorless as a Gaussian reduction, among the younger Schwarzkommando especially), “All very well to talk about having a monster by the tail, but do you think we’d’ve had the Rocket if someone, some specific somebody with a name and a penis hadn’t wanted to chuck a ton of Amatol 300 miles and blow up a block full of civilians? Go ahead, capitalize the T on technology, deify it if it’ll make you feel less responsible—but it puts you in with the neutered, brother, in with the eunuchs keeping the harem of our stolen Earth for the numb and joyless hardons of human sultans, human elite with no right at all to be where they are—” We have to look for power sources here, and distribution networks we were never taught, routes of power our teachers never imagined, or were encouraged to avoid…we have to find meters whose scales are unknown in the world, draw our own schematics, getting feedback, making connections, reducing the error, trying to learn the real function…zeroing in on what incalculable plot? Up here, on the surface, coal-tars, hydrogenation, synthesis were always phony, dummy functions to hide the real, the planetary mission yes perhaps centuries in the unrolling…this ruinous plant, waiting for its Kabbalists and new alchemists to discover the Key, teach the mysteries to others…
Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow)
Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs, or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous conclusions: but we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts, whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scion.
William Shakespeare (Othello)
The feminist project is basically an anarchist movement which does not want to replace one (male) power elite by another (female) power elite, but which wants to build up a non-hierarchical, non-centralised society where no elite lives of exploitation and dominance over others.
Maria Mies (Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour)
Weir heard something different in the sounds. Once, during a period of calm, he sat on the firestep waiting for Stephen to return from an inspection and listened to the music of the tins. The empty ones were sonorous, the fuller ones provided an ascending scale. Those filled to the brim produced only a fat percussive beat unless they overbalanced, when the cascade would give a loud variation. Within earshot there were scores of tins in different states of fullness and with varying resonance. Then he heard the wire moving in the wind. It set up a moaning background noise that would occasionally gust into prominence, then lapse again to mere accompaniment. He had to work hard to discern, or perhaps imagine, a melody in this tin music, but it was better in his ears than the awful sound of shellfire.
Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War)
You think this is the first time such a thing has happened? Don’t you know about oxygen?” “I know it’s necessary for life.” “It is now,” Malcolm said. “But oxygen is actually a metabolic poison. It’s a corrosive gas, like fluorine, which is used to etch glass. And when oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells—say, around three billion years ago—it created a crisis for all other life on our planet. Those plant cells were polluting the environment with a deadly poison. They were exhaling a lethal gas, and building up its concentration. A planet like Venus has less than one percent oxygen. On earth, the concentration of oxygen was going up rapidly—five, ten, eventually twenty-one percent! Earth had an atmosphere of pure poison! Incompatible with life!” Hammond looked irritated. “So what is your point? That modern pollutants will be incorporated, too?” “No,” Malcolm said. “My point is that life on earth can take care of itself. In the thinking of a human being, a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago, we didn’t have cars and airplanes and computers and vaccines.… It was a whole different world. But to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We have been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1))
What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips’s new album is ravishing and I’ve listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.
Dave Eggers
And with a relentlessness that comes from the world's depths, with a persistence that strikes the keys metaphysically, the scales of a piano student keep playing over and over, up and down the physical backbone of my memory. It's the old streets with other people, the same streets that today are different; it's dead people speaking to me through the transparency of their absence; it's remorse for what I did or didn't do; it's the rippling of streams in the night, noises from below in the quiet building. I feel like screaming inside my head. I want to stop, to break, to smash this impossible phonograph record that keeps playing inside me, where it doesn't belong, an intangible torturer. I want my soul, a vehicle taken over by others, to let me off and go on without me. I'm going crazy from having to hear. And in the end it is I – in my odiously impressionable brain, in my thin skin, in my hypersensitive nerves – who am the keys played in scales, O horrible and personal piano of our memory.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
Heroes in fact die with one's youth. They are pinned like butterflies to the setting board of early memories—the time when skies were always blue, the sun shone and the air was filled with the sounds and scents of grass being cut. I find myself still as desperate to read the Sussex score in the stop-press as ever I was; but I no longer worship heroes, beings for whom the ordinary scales of human values are inadequate. One learns that as one grows up, so do the gods grow down. It is in many ways a pity: for one had thought that heroes had no problems of their own. Now one knows different!
Alan Ross (Cricket Heroes: 21 leading writers, members of the Cricket Writers Club, on great cricketers)
But most critically, sweet, never try to change the narrative structure of someone else’s story, though you will certainly be tempted to, as you watch those poor souls in school, in life, heading unwittingly down dangerous tangents, fatal digressions from which they will unlikely be able to emerge. Resist the temptation. Spend your energies on your story. Reworking it. Making it better. Increasing the scale, the depth of content, the universal themes. And I don’t care what those themes are – they’re yours to uncover and stand behind – so long as, at the very least, there is courage. Guts. Mut, in German. Those around you can have their novellas, sweet, their short stories of cliché and coincidence, occasionally spiced up with tricks of the quirky, the achingly mundane, the grotesque. A few will even cook up Greek tragedy, those born into misery, destined to die in misery. But you, my bride of quietness, you will craft nothing less than epic with your life. Out of all of them, your story will be the one to last.
Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics)
A Faint Music by Robert Hass Maybe you need to write a poem about grace. When everything broken is broken, and everything dead is dead, and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt, and the heroine has studied her face and its defects remorselessly, and the pain they thought might, as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves has lost its novelty and not released them, and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly, watching the others go about their days— likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears— that self-love is the one weedy stalk of every human blossoming, and understood, therefore, why they had been, all their lives, in such a fury to defend it, and that no one— except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light, faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears. As in the story a friend told once about the time he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him. Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash. He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge, the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon. And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,” that there was something faintly ridiculous about it. No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass, scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs, and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up on the girder like a child—the sun was going down and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing carefully, and drove home to an empty house. There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed. A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick with rage and grief. He knew more or less where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill. They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,” she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights, a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay. “You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?” “Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now, “I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while— Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall— and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more, and go to sleep. And he, he would play that scene once only, once and a half, and tell himself that he was going to carry it for a very long time and that there was nothing he could do but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark cracking and curling as the cold came up. It’s not the story though, not the friend leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,” which is the part of stories one never quite believes. I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain it must sometimes make a kind of singing. And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps— First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing
Robert Hass (Sun under Wood)
Waiting periods, counseling, ultrasounds, transvaginal ultrasounds, sonogram storytelling—all of these legislative moves are invasive, insulting, and condescending because they are deeply misguided attempts to pressure women into changing their minds, to pressure women into not terminating their pregnancies, as if women are so easily swayed that such petty and cruel stall tactics will work. These politicians do not understand that once a woman has made up her mind about terminating a pregnancy, very little will sway her. It is not a decision taken lightly, and if a woman does take the decision lightly, that is her right. A woman should always have the right to choose what she does with her body. It is frustrating that this needs to be said, repeatedly. On the scale of relevance, public approval or disapproval of a woman's choices should not merit measure.
Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)
He tried to measure his day by tallying the hours on his wrist. I wiped it off and called him a prisoner. He placed the hours on a scale with hours from former days to compare. I took a hammer and broke it all. He bent down and picked up the shards of minutes first then swept the seconds. I told him he’d missed a spot; there were some sparkling specks left. 'What are they?' he asked. 'Those are moments,' I said. 'What are they made of?' he asked. They are times, I thought, when you win a race or win a heart. They are times when you give birth or lay something, someone to rest. When you wake up in the morning with a smile because anything is possible. When someone compliments the thing you hate most about yourself. Times when you are embarrassed. Times when you are hurtful. Times when you relish in a hearty meal. Times when you service others and are content with a well-spent day. 'What are they made of?' he asked again. 'They are made up of times when we are fully present.' I picked up one of the specks with the tip of my finger. 'Do you remember this?' I asked. 'Of course,' he said, 'I was whistling in the kitchen that morning.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Because of the knowledge that I was loved.
Kamand Kojouri
Camba had bent her long neck down to Ingar's level and was muttering in his ear. "Do you feel the breeze on your face?" I heard her say. "That's yours, and worth feeling. Look at those orange clouds. All the trials of a day may be endured if you know there's such a sky at the end of it. Some days I told my heart to wait, just wait, because the sunset would teach me again that my pain was nothing compared with the eternal, circling sky.
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
Some days you wake up changed. This was one for Starling, she could tell. What she had seen yesterday at the Potter Funeral Home had caused in her a small tectonic shift. Starling had studied psychology and criminology in a good school. In her life she had seen some of the hideously offhand ways in which the world breaks things. But she hadn’t really known, and now she knew: sometimes the family of man produces, behind a human face, a mind whose pleasure is what lay on the porcelain table at Potter, West Virginia, in the room with the cabbage roses. Starling’s first apprehension of that mind was worse than anything she could see on the autopsy scales. The knowledge would lie against her skin forever,
Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lecter, #2))
He weighs the volume in his hand; this one has been the center of the whirlwind. Then DRUMMOND notices the Bible on the JUDGE's bench. He picks up the Bible in his other hand; he looks from one volume to the other, balancing them thoughtfully, as if his hands were scales. He half-smiles, half-shrugs. Then DRUMMOND slaps the two books together and jams them in his brief case, side by side. Slowly, he climbs to the street level and crosses the empty square.
Jerome Lawrence (Inherit the Wind)
In my dreams a small wolf slept inside of me and it wasn’t comfortable. It moved it’s heels and elbows and paws, struggled to make space between my lungs, stomach, bladder. Occasionally a scrabbling claw punctured something and I woke. What were you dreaming? Arabella wanted to know. I knew what it was dreaming. It was dreaming of being born. The form and scale of its occupancy shifted. Sometimes its legs were in my legs, its head in my head, its paws in my hands. Other times it was barely the size of a kitten, heartburn hot and fidgety under my sternum. I’d wake and for a moment feel my face changed, reach up and touch the muzzle that wasn’t there.
Glen Duncan (The Last Werewolf (The Last Werewolf, #1))
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)
This is the list you carry in your pocket, of the things you plan to say to Kay, when you find him, if you find him: 1. I’m sorry that I forgot to water your ferns while you were away that time. 2. When you said that I reminded you of your mother, was that a good thing? 3. I never really liked your friends all that much. 4. None of my friends ever really liked you. 5. Do you remember when the cat ran away, and I cried and cried and made you put up posters, and she never came back? I wasn’t crying because she didn’t come back. I was crying because I’d taken her to the woods, and I was scared she’d come back and tell you what I’d done, but I guess a wolf got her, or something. She never liked me anyway. 6. I never liked your mother. 7. After you left, I didn’t water your plants on purpose. They’re all dead. 8. Goodbye. 9. Were you ever really in love with me? 10. Was I good in bed, or just average? 11. What exactly did you mean, when you said that it was fine that I had put on a little weight, that you thought I was even more beautiful, that I should go ahead and eat as much as I wanted, but when I weighed myself on the bathroom scale, I was exactly the same weight as before, I hadn’t gained a single pound? 12. So all those times, I’m being honest here, every single time, and anyway I don’t care if you don’t believe me, I faked every orgasm you ever thought I had. Women can do that, you know. You never made me come, not even once. 13. So maybe I’m an idiot, but I used to be in love with you. 14. I slept with some guy, I didn’t mean to, it just kind of happened. Is that how it was with you? Not that I’m making any apologies, or that I’d accept yours, I just want to know. 15. My feet hurt, and it’s all your fault. 16. I mean it this time, goodbye.
Kelly Link (Stranger Things Happen)
They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force - nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press created a surge in demand for spectacles, as the new practice of reading made Europeans across the continent suddenly realize that they were farsighted; the market demand for spectacles encouraged a growing number of people to produce and experiment with lenses, which led to the invention of the microscope, which shortly thereafter enabled us to perceive that our bodies were made up of microscopic cells. You wouldn’t think that printing technology would have anything to do with the expansion of our vision down to the cellular scale, just as you wouldn’t have thought that the evolution of pollen would alter the design of a hummingbird’s wing. But that is the way change happens.
Steven Johnson (How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World)
If you've never shot a gun, You can’t understand how it feels in your hands. Cool to the touch, all its venom coiled inside, deadly, like a steel-scaled serpent. Awaiting your bidding. You select it’s prey… paper, tin, or flesh. You lie in wait, learn that patience is the killer’s most trustworthy accomplice. You choose the moment. What. Where. When. Decided. But the how is everything. You lift your weapon, ease it into place, cock it, to load it, knowing the satisfying snitch means a bullet is yours to command. Now, make or break, it’s all up to you. You aim knowing a hair either way means bull’s-eye or miss. Success or failure. Life or death. You have to relax, convince your muscles not to be tense, not to betray you. Sight again. Adjust. Don’t become distracted by the heat of the hunt. Instincts take over. You shoot and adrenaline screams as your target shreds or the flesh drops. And for one indescribable moment you are God.
Ellen Hopkins (Burned (Burned, #1))
Legally, Moosbrugger's case could be summed up in-a sentence. He was one of those borderline cases in law and forensic medicine known even to the layman as a case of diminished responsibility. These unfortunates typically suffer not only substandard health but also have a substandard disease, Nature has a peculiar prefer- ence for producing such people in droves. Natura non fecit saltus, she makes no jumps but prefers gradual transitions; even on the grand scale she keeps the world in a transitional state between imbe- cility and sanity.
Robert Musil (The Man Without Qualities)
What is wrong with you?” Glory’s voice snapped. The RainWing materialized from the sandy background, turning her scales a darker shade of brown so they could see her. She glared at Tsunami. “Why did you do that?” “Oh, you’re welcome,” Tsunami said. “Just saving your life, as usual.” “By attacking random dragons?” Glory cried. “In another moment they would have been gone! And what are you doing?” She jabbed Clay in the side with one of her wings. “Uh,” Clay mumbled. “Fixing him.” He kept thumping the SkyWing’s chest. “What?” Glory yelped. “You can’t let him live!” She tried to grab one of Clay’s forearms, but Tsunami shoved her away. “We don’t have to kill him,” Tsunami said. “We’ll tie him up and leave him here.” “Great,” Glory said. “How about a trail of cow parts, too? And a map of where we’re going? Or perhaps we could set this part of the forest on fire, just to make sure everyone knows how to find us. Would you like me to spell out ‘DRAGONETS WUZ HERE’ in giant rocks?” “Fine!
Tui T. Sutherland (The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire, #2))
I can’t imagine what other people think cold turkey is like. It is fucking awful. On the scale of things, it’s better than having your leg blown off in the trenches. It’s better than starving to death. But you don’t want to go there. The whole body just sort of turns itself inside out and rejects itself for three days. You know in three days it’s going to calm down. It’s going to be the longest three days you’ve spent in your life, and you wonder why you’re doing this to yourself when you could be living a perfectly normal fucking rich rock star life. And there you are puking and climbing walls. Why do you do that to yourself? I don’t know. I still don’t know. Your skin crawling, your guts churning, you can’t stop your limbs from jerking and moving about, and you’re throwing up and shitting at the same time, and shit’s coming out your nose and your eyes, and the first time that happens for real, that’s when a reasonable man says, “I’m hooked.” But even that doesn’t stop a reasonable man from going back on it.
Keith Richards (Life)
Because of the speed of light. The known universe is about sixteen billion light-years across, and it’s still expanding. But the speed of light is only three hundred thousand kilometers per second, a snail’s pace. This means that light can never go from one end of the universe to the other. Since nothing can move faster than the speed of light, it follows that no information and motive force can go from one end of the universe to the other. If the universe were a person, his neural signals couldn’t cover his entire body; his brain would not know of the existence of his limbs, and his limbs would not know of the existence of the brain. Isn’t that paraplegia? The image in my mind is even worse: The universe is but a corpse puffing up.” “Interesting, Dr. Guan, very interesting!” “Other than the speed of light, three hundred thousand kilometers per second, there’s another three-based symptom.” “What do you mean?” “The three dimensions. In string theory, excepting time, the universe has ten dimensions. But only three are accessible at the macroscopic scale, and those three form our world. All the others are folded up in the quantum realm.
Liu Cixin (Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3))
Impossibly, the static coalesces into music. Volkheimer's eyes open as wide as they can. Straining the blackness for every stray photon. A single piano runs up scales. Then back down. He listens to the notes and the silences between them, and then finds himself leading horses through a forest at dawn, trudging through snow behind his great-grandfather, who walks with a saw draped over his huge shoulders, the snow squeaking beneath boots and hooves, all the trees above them whispering and creaking. They reach the edge of a frozen pond, where a pine grows as tall as a cathedral. His great-grandfather goes to his knees like a penitent, fits the saw into a groove in the bark, and begins to cut.
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
Webs barely had time to say “What?” before Cirrus was suddenly on his back, pinning him to the ground. His wounds from the SkyWing soldiers flared up with bright new pain. One wing was twisted behind him, and he could feel the IceWing’s serrated claws digging into his scales. “What are you doing?” Webs yelped. “I’m one of you! I’ve been with the Talons of Peace for seven years!” “And you failed us,” Cirrus hissed. “Now, now —” Nautilus said, then paused. “No, that’s fair.” “I’m going to dig your heart out and feed it to the fish,” Cirrus growled. Won’t that be ironic. Webs thought gloomily of the fish he’d just eaten. “But we’re the dragons for peace,” he said, his teeth gritted with pain. “If we kill each other, aren’t we as bad as Burn and Blister and Blaze?” “Sorry, Webs,” Nautilus said. “Peace is more important than any one dragon. And you would disrupt our backup plan. We’re doing this for your own good. For the prophecy. For peace.” Webs
Tui T. Sutherland (The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire, #2))
The frantic summer fishermen who pay a price and glut the decks with fish in the afternoon wonder vaguely what to do with them, sacks and baskets and mountains of porgies and blows and blackfish, sea robins, and even slender dogfish, all to be torn up greedily, to die, and to be thrown back for the waiting gulls. The gulls swarm and wait, knowing the summer fisherman will sicken of their plenty. Who wants to clean and scale a sack of fish? It's harder to give away fish than it is to catch them.
John Steinbeck (The Winter of Our Discontent)
We propose to consider first the single elements of our subject, then each branch of part, and, last of all, the whole in all its relations-therefore to advance from the simple to the complex. But it is necessary for us to commence with a glance at the nature of the whole, because it is particularly necessary that in the consideration of any of the parts their relation to the whole be kept constantly in view. We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of War used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a War, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: each endeavors to throw his adversary, and thus render him incapable of further resistance. War therefore is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.
Carl von Clausewitz (On War)
Bolshevik intellectuals did not confine their reading to Marxist works. They knew Russian and European literature and philosophy and kept up with current trends in art and thoughts. Aspects of Nietzsche’s thought were either surprisingly compatible with Marxism or treated issues that Marx and Engels had neglected. Nietzsche sensitized Bolsheviks committed to reason and science to the importance of the nonrational aspects of the human psyche and to the psychpolitical utility of symbol, myth, and cult. His visions of “great politics” (grosse Politik) colored their imaginations. Politik, like the Russian word politika, means both “politics” and “policy”; grosse has also been translated as “grand” or “large scale.” The Soviet obsession with creating a new culture stemmed primarily from Nietzsche, Wagner, and their Russian popularizers. Marx and Engels never developed a detailed theory of culture because they considered it part of the superstructure that would change to follow changes in the economic base.
Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal (New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche to Stalinism)
The books diverge and radiate, as fluid as finches on isolated islands. But they share a core so obvious it passes for given. Every one imagines that fear and anger, violence and desire, rage laced with the surprise capacity to forgive—character—is all that matters in the end. It’s a child’s creed, of course, just one small step up from the belief that the Creator of the Universe would care to dole out sentences like a judge in federal court. To be human is to confuse a satisfying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs. No: life is mobilized on a vastly larger scale, and the world is failing precisely because no novel can make the contest for the world seem as compelling as the struggles between a few lost people.
Richard Powers (The Overstory)
I was near-delirious. Gazing up at the pillared skyline, I knew that I was surveying a tremendous work of man. Buying myself a drink in the smaller warrens below, in all their ethnic variety (and willingness to keep odd and late hours, and provide plentiful ice cubes, and free matchbooks in contrast to English parsimony in these matters), I felt the same thing in a different way. The balance between the macro and the micro, the heroic scale and the human scale, has never since ceased to fascinate and charm me. Evelyn Waugh was in error when he said that in New York there was a neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistook for energy. There was, rather, a tensile excitement in that air which made one think—made me think for many years—that time spent asleep in New York was somehow time wasted. Whether this thought has lengthened or shortened my life I shall never know, but it has certainly colored it.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Many people in this room have an Etsy store where they create unique, unreplicable artifacts or useful items to be sold on a small scale, in a common marketplace where their friends meet and barter. I and many of my friends own more than one spinning wheel. We grow our food again. We make pickles and jams on private, individual scales, when many of our mothers forgot those skills if they ever knew them. We come to conventions, we create small communities of support and distributed skills--when one of us needs help, our village steps in. It’s only that our village is no longer physical, but connected by DSL instead of roads. But look at how we organize our tribes--bloggers preside over large estates, kings and queens whose spouses’ virtues are oft-lauded but whose faces are rarely seen. They have moderators to protect them, to be their knights, a nobility of active commenters and big name fans, a peasantry of regular readers, and vandals starting the occasional flame war just to watch the fields burn. Other villages are more commune-like, sharing out resources on forums or aggregate sites, providing wise women to be consulted, rabbis or priests to explain the world, makers and smiths to fashion magical objects. Groups of performers, acrobats and actors and singers of songs are traveling the roads once more, entertaining for a brief evening in a living room or a wheatfield, known by word of mouth and secret signal. Separate from official government, we create our own hierarchies, laws, and mores, as well as our own folklore and secret history. Even my own guilt about having failed as an academic is quite the crisis of filial piety--you see, my mother is a professor. I have not carried on the family trade. We dwell within a system so large and widespread, so disorganized and unconcerned for anyone but its most privileged and luxurious members, that our powerlessness, when we can summon up the courage to actually face it, is staggering. So we do not face it. We tell ourselves we are Achilles when we have much more in common with the cathedral-worker, laboring anonymously so that the next generation can see some incremental progress. We lack, of course, a Great Work to point to and say: my grandmother made that window; I worked upon the door. Though, I would submit that perhaps the Internet, as an object, as an aggregate entity, is the cathedral we build word by word and image by image, window by window and portal by portal, to stand taller for our children, if only by a little, than it does for us. For most of us are Lancelots, not Galahads. We may see the Grail of a good Classical life, but never touch it. That is for our sons, or their daughters, or further off. And if our villages are online, the real world becomes that dark wood on the edge of civilization, a place of danger and experience, of magic and blood, a place to make one’s name or find death by bear. And here, there be monsters.
Catherynne M. Valente
Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another church: matting, seats, and stone, And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense, musty, unignorable silence, Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off My cycle-clips in awkward reverence. Move forward, run my hand around the font. From where I stand, the roof looks almost new - Cleaned, or restored? Someone would know: I don't. Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce 'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant. The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence, Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, And always end much at a loss like this, Wondering what to look for; wondering, too, When churches will fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show, Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases, And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep. Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or, after dark, will dubious women come To make their children touch a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort will go on In games, in riddles, seemingly at random; But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognisable each week, A purpose more obscure. I wonder who Will be the last, the very last, to seek This place for what it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique, Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative, Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation - marriage, and birth, And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built This special shell? For, though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is, In whose blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognized, and robed as destinies. And that much never can be obsolete, Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.
Philip Larkin
I sat on a somewhat higher sand dune and watched the eastern sky. Dawn in Mongolia was an amazing thing. In one instant, the horizon became a faint line suspended in the darkness, and then the line was drawn upward, higher and higher. It was as if a giant hand had stretched down from the sky and slowly lifted the curtain of night from the face of the earth. It was a magnificent sight, far greater in scale, [...] than anything that I, with my limited human faculties, could comprehend. As I sat and watched, the feeling overtook me that my very life was slowly dwindling into nothingness. There was no trace here of anything as insignificant as human undertakings. This same event had been occurring hundreds of millions - hundreds of billions - of times, from an age long before there had been anything resembling life on earth.
Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)
Grant knew that people could not imagine geological time. Human life was lived on another scale of time entirely. An apple turned brown in a few minutes. Silverware turned black in a few days. A compost heap decayed in a season. A child grew up in a decade. None of these everyday human experiences prepared people to be able to imagine the meaning of eighty million years—the length of time that had passed since this little animal had died. In the classroom, Grant had tried different comparisons. If you imagined the human lifespan of sixty years was compressed to a day, then eighty million years would still be 3,652 years—older than the pyramids. The velociraptor had been dead a long time.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1))
I was asked to talk to a roomful of undergraduates in a university in a beautiful coastal valley. I talked about place, about the way we often talk about love of place, but seldom how places love us back, of what they give us. They give us continuity, something to return to, and offer familiarity that allows some portion of our lives to remain collected and coherent. They give us an expansive scale in which our troubles are set into context, in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness. And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren't so deeply entrenched and we can imagine other stories, other selves, or just drink up quiet and respite. The bigness of the world is redemption. Despair compresses you into a small space, and a depression is literally a hollow in the ground. To dig deeper into the self, to go underground, is sometimes necessary, but so is the other route of getting out of yourself, into the larger world, into the openness in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles so tightly to your chest. Being able to travel in both ways matters, and sometimes the way back into the heart of the question begins by going outward and beyond. This is the expansiveness that comes literally in a landscape or that tugs you out of yourself in a story..... I told the student that they were at an age when they might begin to choose the places that would sustain them the rest of their lives, that places were much more reliable than human beings, and often much longer-lasting, and I asked each of them where they felt at home. They answered, each of them, down the rows, for an hour, the immigrants who had never stayed anywhere long or left a familiar world behind, the teenagers who'd left the home they'd spent their whole lives in for the first time, the ones who loved or missed familiar landscapes and the ones who had not yet noticed them. I found books and places before I found friends and mentors, and they gave me a lot, if not quite what a human being would. As a child, I spun outward in trouble, for in that inside-out world [of my family], everywhere but home was safe. Happily, the oaks were there, the hills, the creeks, the groves, the birds, the old dairy and horse ranches, the rock outcroppings, the open space inviting me to leap out of the personal into the embrace of the nonhuman world.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
If you didn’t already know this, the sun is going to die. When I think about the future, I don’t think about inescapable ends. But even if we solve global warming and destroy nuclear bombs and control population, ultimately the human race will annihilate itself if we stay here. Eventually, inevitably, we will no longer be able to live on Earth: we have a giant fireball clock ticking down twilight by twilight. In many ways, I think mortality is more manageable when we consider our eternal components, our genetics and otherwise that carry on after us. Still, soon enough, the books we write and the plants we grow will freeze up and rot in the darkness. But maybe there’s hope. What the universe really boils down to is whether a planet evolves a life-form intelligent enough to create technology capable of transporting and sustaining that life-form off the planet before the sun in that planet’s solar system explodes. I have a limited set of comparative data points, but I’d estimate that we’re actually doing okay at this point. We already have (intelligent) life, technology, and (primitive) space travel. And we still have some time before our sun runs out of hydrogen and goes nuclear. Yet none of that matters unless we can develop a sustainable means of living and traveling in space. Maybe we can. What I’ve concluded is that if we do reach this point, we have crossed a remarkable threshold—and will emerge into the (rare?) evolutionary status of having outlived the very life source that created us. It’s natural selection on a Universal scale. “The Origin of the Aliens,” one could say; a survival of the fittest planets. Planets capable of evolving life intelligent enough to leave before the lights go out. I suppose that without a God, NASA is my anti-nihilism. Alone and on my laptop, these ideas can humble me into apathy.
Marina Keegan (The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories)
Worn out with this torture of thought, I rose to my knees. Night was come, and her planets were risen: a safe, still night; too serene for the companionship of fear. We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us: and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence. I had risen to my knees to pray for Mr. Rochester. Looking up, I, with tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty Milky Way. Remembering what it was--what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of light--I felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I grew that neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured. I turned my prayer to thanksgiving: the Source of Life was also the Saviour of spirits. Mr. Rochester was safe: he was God's, and by God would he be guarded.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
Hush!’ said the Cabby. They all listened. In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it… ‘Gawd!’ said the Cabby. ‘Ain’t it lovely?’ Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it , as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves who were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing. ‘Glory be!’ said the Cabby. ‘I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.’ …Far away, and down near the horizon, the sky began to turn grey. A light wind, very fresh, began to stir. The sky, in that one place, grew slowly and steadily paler. You could see shapes of hills standing up dark against it. All the time the Voice went on singing…The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold. The Voice rose and rose, till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose. Digory had never seen such a sun…You could imagine that it laughed for joy as it came up. And as its beams shot across the land the travellers could see for the first time what sort of place they were in. It was a valley through which a broad, swift river wound its way, flowing eastward towards the sun. Southward there were mountains, northward there were lower hills. But it was a valley of mere earth, rock and water; there was not a tree, not a bush, not a blade of grass to be seen. The earth was of many colours: they were fresh, hot and vivid. They made you feel excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else. It was a Lion. Huge, shaggy, and bright it stood facing the risen sun. Its mouth was wide open in song and it was about three hundred yards away.
C.S. Lewis (The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6))
The trend toward narcissistic flair has been responsible in large part for smiting rock with the superstar virus, which revolves around the substituting of attitudes and flamboyant trappings, into which the audience can project their fantasies, for the simple desire to make music, get loose, knock the folks out or get ‘em up dancin.’ It’s not enough just to do those things anymore; what you must do instead if you want success on any large scale is figure a way of getting yourself associated in the audience’s mind with their pieties and their sense of “community,” i.e., ram it home that you’re one of THEM; or, alternately, deck and bake yourself into an image configuration so blatant or outrageous that you become a culture myth.
Lester Bangs (Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung)
Oh, these men of former times knew how to dream and did not find it necessary to go to sleep first. And we men of today still master this art all too well, despite all of our good will toward the day and staying awake. It is quite enough to love, to hate, to desire, simply to feel--and right away the spirit and power of the dream overcome us, and with our eyes open, coldly contemptuous of all danger, we climb up on the most hazardous paths to scale the roofs and spires of fantasy--without any sense of dizziness, as if we had been born to climb, we somnambulists of the day! We artists! We ignore what is natural. We are moonstruck and God-struck. We wander, still as death, unwearied, on heights that we do not see as heights but as plains, as our safety.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science)
I look out again at the sun-my first full gaze. It is blood-red and men are walking about on rooftops. Everything above the horizon is clear to me. It is like Easter Sunday. Death is behind me and birth too. I am going to live now among the life maladies. I am going to live the spiritual life of the pygmy, the secret life of the little man in the wilderness of the bush. Inner and outer have changed places. Equilibrium is no longer the goal-the scales must be destroyed. Let me hear you promise again all those sunny things you carry inside you. Let me try to believe for one day, while I rest in the open, that the sun brings good tidings. Let me rot in splendor while the sun bursts in your womb. I believe all your lies implicitly. I take you as the personification of evil, as the destroyer of the soul, as the maharanee of the night. Tack your womb up on my wall, so that I may remember you. We must get going. Tomorrow, tomorrow...
Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn (Tropic, #2))
Max Planck once remarked that new scientific truths don’t replace old ones by convincing established scientists that they were wrong; they do so because proponents of the older theory eventually die, and generations that follow find the new truths and theories to be familiar, obvious even. We are optimists. We like to think it will not take that long. In fact, we have already taken a first step. We can see more clearly now what is going on when, for example, a study that is rigorous in every other respect begins from the unexamined assumption that there was some ‘original’ form of human society; that its nature was fundamentally good or evil; that a time before inequality and political awareness existed; that something happened to change all this; that ‘civilization’ and ‘complexity’ always come at the price of human freedoms; that participatory democracy is natural in small groups but cannot possibly scale up to anything like a city or a nation state. We know, now, that we are in the presence of myths.
David Graeber (The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity)
She sank with an enormous sigh that carried all rigidity like a mythical fluid from her, down next to him; so weak she couldn't help him undress her; it took him 20 minutes, rolling, arranging her this way and that, as if she thought, he were some scaled-up, short-haired, poker-faced little girl with a Barbie doll. She may have fallen asleep once or twice. She awoke at last to find herself getting laid; she'd come in on a sexual crescendo in progress, like a cut to a scene where the camera's already moving. Outside a fugue of guitars had begun, and she counted each electronic voice as it came in, till she reached six or so and recalled only three of the Paranoids played guitars; so others must be plugging in.
Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49)
The evil heart which still remaineth in the Christian, doth always, when it is not attacking or obstructing, still reign and dwell within him. My heart is just as bad when no evil emanates from it, as when it is all over vileness in its external developments. A volcano is ever a volcano; even when it sleeps, trust it not. A lion is a lion, even though he play like a kid; and a serpent, is a serpent, even though you may stroke it while for a season it slumbers; there is still a venom in its sting when its azure scales invite the eye. My heart, even though for an hour, it may not have had an evil thought, is still evil. If it were possible that I could live for days without a single temptation from my own heart to sin, it would be still just as evil as it was before; and it is always either displaying its vileness, or else preparing for another display. It is either loading its cannon to shoot against us, or else it is positively at warfare with us. You may rest assured that the heart is never other than it originally was; the evil nature is still evil; and when there is no blaze, it is heaping up the wood, wherewith it is to blaze another day. It is gathering up from my joys, from my devotions, from my holiness, and from all I do, some materials to attack me at some future period. The evil nature is only evil, and that continually, without the slightest mitigation or element of good. The new nature must always wrestle and fight with it; and when the two natures are not wrestling and fighting, there is no truce between them. When they are not in conflict, still they are foes. We must not trust our heart at any time; even when it speaks most fair, we must call it liar; and when it pretends to the most good, still we must remember its nature, for it is evil, and that continually.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
A vision had seized hold of me, like the demented fury of a hound that has sunk its teeth into the leg of a deer carcass and is shaking and tugging at the downed game so frantically that the hunter gives up trying to calm him. It was the vision of a large steamship scaling a hill under its own steam, working its way up a steep slope in the jungle, while above this natural landscape, which shatters the weak and the strong with equal ferocity, soars the voice of Caruso, silencing all the pain and all the voices of the primeval forest and drowning out all birdsong. To be more precise: bird cries, for in this setting, left unfinished and abandoned by God in wrath, the birds do not sing; they shriek in pain, and confused trees tangle with one another like battling Titans, from horizon to horizon, in a steaming creation still being formed. Fog-panting and exhausted they stand in this unreal misery - and I, like a stanza in a poem written in an unknown foreign tongue, am shaken to the core.
Werner Herzog (Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo)
Howard had a pine display case, fastened by fake leather straps and stained to look like walnut. Inside, on fake velvet, were cheap gold-plated earrings and pendants of semiprecious stones. He opened this case for haggard country wives when their husbands were off chopping trees or reaping the back acres. He showed them the same half-dozen pieces every year the last time he came around, when he thought, This is the season - preserving done, woodpile high, north wind up and getting cold, night showing up earlier every day, dark and ice pressing down from the north, down on the raw wood of their cabins, on the rough-cut rafters that sag and sometimes snap from the weight of the dark and the ice, burying families in their sleep, the dark and the ice and sometimes the red in the sky through trees: the heartbreak of a cold sun. He thought, Buy the pendant, sneak it into your hand from the folds of your dress and let the low light of the fire lap at it late at night as you wait for the roof to give out or your will to snap and the ice to be too thick to chop through with the ax as you stand in your husband's boots on the frozen lake at midnight, the dry hack of the blade on ice so tiny under the wheeling and frozen stars, the soundproof lid of heaven, that your husband would never stir from his sleep in the cabin across the ice, would never hear and come running, half-frozen, in only his union suit, to save you from chopping a hole in the ice and sliding into it as if it were a blue vein, sliding down into the black, silty bottom of the lake, where you would see nothing, would perhaps feel only the stir of some somnolent fish in the murk as the plunge of you in your wool dress and the big boots disturbed it from its sluggish winter dreams of ancient seas. Maybe you would not even feel that, as you struggled in clothes that felt like cooling tar, and as you slowed, calmed, even, and opened your eyes and looked for a pulse of silver, an imbrication of scales, and as you closed your eyes again and felt their lids turn to slippery, ichthyic skin, the blood behind them suddenly cold, and as you found yourself not caring, wanting, finally, to rest, finally wanting nothing more than the sudden, new, simple hum threading between your eyes. The ice is far too thick to chop through. You will never do it. You could never do it. So buy the gold, warm it with your skin, slip it onto your lap when you are sitting by the fire and all you will otherwise have to look at is your splintery husband gumming chew or the craquelure of your own chapped hands.
Paul Harding (Tinkers)
Children ten years old wake up and find themselves here, discover themselves to have been here all along; is this sad? They wake like sleepwalkers, in full stride; they wake like people brought back from cardiac arrest or from drowning: in medias res, surrounded by familiar people and objects, equipped with a hundred skills. They know the neighborhood, they can read and write English, they are old hands at the commonplace mysteries, and yet they feel themselves to have just stepped off the boat, just converged with their bodies, just flown down from a trance, to lodge in an eerily familiar life already well under way. I woke in bits, like all children, piecemeal over the years. I discovered myself and the world, and forgot them, and discovered them again. I woke at intervals until, by that September when Father went down the river, the intervals of waking tipped the scales, and I was more often awake than not. I noticed this process of waking, and predicted with terrifying logic that one of these years not far away I would be awake continuously and never slip back, and never be free of myself again.
Annie Dillard (An American Childhood)
The world has far too much morality, at least in the sense of activity of people's moral instincts. If you look, and this become clear to me as I tried to identify the causes of violence at various scales throughout human history, from police blotters where the biggest motive for homicide is not just amoral predacious: a smuggler killing someone to steal his Rolex, the biggest categories of motives for homicide are moralistic in the eyes of the perpetrator, of the murderer, is capital punishment: killing someone who deserve to die because: whether is a spouse who's unfaithful or someone who distim him in an argument over a parking space or cheated him in a deal. That's why people kill each other: for moral reasons. That is true as large scales as well.If you'll look up at the largest episodes of bloodletting in human history most of them would have moralistic motives: the nazi Holocaust, Pol Pot, Stalin, the Gulag, Mao, the European war of religions, the Crusades, all of them were killing people for, not because they wanted to accumulate vast amounts of money, or huge harems of women, but because they thought they were acting out of a moral cause.
Steven Pinker
The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.” There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives. Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again. Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half—remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.
Michael Chabon (The Wes Anderson Collection)
Where are you?” she shouted. “Don’t you see us?” taunted the woman’s voice. “I thought Hecate chose you for your skill.” Another bout of queasiness churned through Hazel’s gut. On her shoulder, Gale barked and passed gas, which didn’t help. Dark spots floated in Hazel’s eyes. She tried to blink them away, but they only turned darker. The spots consolidated into a twenty-foot-tall shadowy figure looming next to the Doors. The giant Clytius was shrouded in the black smoke, just as she’d seen in her vision at the crossroads, but now Hazel could dimly make out his form—dragon-like legs with ash-colored scales; a massive humanoid upper body encased in Stygian armor; long, braided hair that seemed to be made from smoke. His complexion was as dark as Death’s (Hazel should know, since she had met Death personally). His eyes glinted cold as diamonds. He carried no weapon, but that didn’t make him any less terrifying. Leo whistled. “You know, Clytius…for such a big dude, you’ve got a beautiful voice.” “Idiot,” hissed the woman. Halfway between Hazel and the giant, the air shimmered. The sorceress appeared. She wore an elegant sleeveless dress of woven gold, her dark hair piled into a cone, encircled with diamonds and emeralds. Around her neck hung a pendant like a miniature maze, on a cord set with rubies that made Hazel think of crystallized blood drops. The woman was beautiful in a timeless, regal way—like a statue you might admire but could never love. Her eyes sparkled with malice. “Pasiphaë,” Hazel said. The woman inclined her head. “My dear Hazel Levesque.” Leo coughed. “You two know each other? Like Underworld chums, or—” “Silence, fool.” Pasiphaë’s voice was soft, but full of venom. “I have no use for demigod boys—always so full of themselves, so brash and destructive.” “Hey, lady,” Leo protested. “I don’t destroy things much. I’m a son of Hephaestus.” “A tinkerer,” snapped Pasiphaë. “Even worse. I knew Daedalus. His inventions brought me nothing but trouble.” Leo blinked. “Daedalus…like, the Daedalus? Well, then, you should know all about us tinkerers. We’re more into fixing, building, occasionally sticking wads of oilcloth in the mouths of rude ladies—” “Leo.” Hazel put her arm across his chest. She had a feeling the sorceress was about to turn him into something unpleasant if he didn’t shut up. “Let me take this, okay?
Rick Riordan (The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4))
Life is wonderful and strange...and it’s also absolutely mundane and tiresome. It’s hilarious and it’s deadening. It’s a big, screwed-up morass of beauty and change and fear and all our lives we oscillate between awe and tedium. I think stories are the place to explore that inherent weirdness; that movement from the fantastic to the prosaic that is life.... What interests me—and interests me totally—is how we as living human beings can balance the brief, warm, intensely complicated fingersnap of our lives against the colossal, indifferent, and desolate scales of the universe. Earth is four-and-a-half billion years old. Rocks in your backyard are moving if you could only stand still enough to watch. You get hernias because, eons ago, you used to be a fish. So how in the world are we supposed to measure our lives—which involve things like opening birthday cards, stepping on our kids’ LEGOs, and buying toilet paper at Safeway—against the absolutely incomprehensible vastness of the universe? How? We stare into the fire. We turn to friends, bartenders, lovers, priests, drug-dealers, painters, writers. Isn’t that why we seek each other out, why people go to churches and temples, why we read books? So that we can find out if life occasionally sets other people trembling, too?
Anthony Doerr
Reasonableness is a matter of degree. Beliefs can be very reasonable (Japan exists), fairly reasonable (quarks exist), not unreasonable (there's intelligent life on other planets) or downright unreasonable (fairies exist). There's a scale of reasonableness, if you like, with very reasonable beliefs near the top and deeply unreasonable ones towards the bottom. Notice a belief can be very high up the scale, yet still be open to some doubt. And even when a belief is low down, we can still acknowledge the remote possibility it might be true. How reasonable is the belief that God exists? Atheists typically think it very unreasonable. Very low on the scale. But most religious people say it is at least not unreasonable (have you ever met a Christian who said 'Hey, belief in God is no more reasonable than belief in fairies, but I believe it anyway!'?) They think their belief is at least halfway up the scale of reasonableness. Now, that their belief is downright unreasonable might, in fact, be established empirically. If it turned out that not only is there no good evidence of an all-powerful, all-good God, there's also overwhelming evidence against (from millions of years of unimaginable and pointless animal suffering, including several mass extinctions - to thousands of children being crushed to death or buried alive in Pakistan earthquake, etc. etc. etc.) then it could be empirically confirmed that there's no God. Would this constitute a 'proof' that there's no God? Depends what you mean by 'proof'. Personally I think these sorts of consideration do establish beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no all-powerful all-good God. So we can, in this sense, prove there's no God. Yet all the people quoted in my last blog say you cannot 'scientifically' prove or disprove God's existence. If they mean prove beyond any doubt they are right. But then hardly anything is provable in that sense, not even the non-existence of fairies.
Stephen Law
I like to work in watercolor, with as little under-drawing as I can get away with. I like the unpredictability of a medium which is affected as much by humidity, gravity, the way that heavier particles in the wash settle into the undulations of the paper surface, as by whatever I wish to do with it. In other mediums you have more control, you are responsible for every mark on the page — but with watercolor you are in a dialogue with the paint, it responds to you and you respond to it in turn. Printmaking is also like this, it has an unpredictable element. This encourages an intuitive response, a spontaneity which allows magic to happen on the page. When I begin an illustration, I usually work up from small sketches — which indicate in a simple way something of the atmosphere or dynamics of an illustration; then I do drawings on a larger scale supported by studies from models — usually friends — if figures play a large part in the picture. When I've reached a stage where the drawing looks good enough I'll transfer it to watercolor paper, but I like to leave as much unresolved as possible before starting to put on washes. This allows for an interaction with the medium itself, a dialogue between me and the paint. Otherwise it is too much like painting by number, or a one-sided conversation.
Alan Lee
A few months ago on a school morning, as I attempted to etch a straight midline part on the back of my wiggling daughter's soon-to-be-ponytailed blond head, I reminded her that it was chilly outside and she needed to grab a sweater. "No, mama." "Excuse me?" "No, I don't want to wear that sweater, it makes me look fat." "What?!" My comb clattered to the bathroom floor. "Fat?! What do you know about fat? You're 5 years old! You are definitely not fat. God made you just right. Now get your sweater." She scampered off, and I wearily leaned against the counter and let out a long, sad sigh. It has begun. I thought I had a few more years before my twin daughters picked up the modern day f-word. I have admittedly had my own seasons of unwarranted, psychotic Slim-Fasting and have looked erroneously to the scale to give me a measurement of myself. But these departures from my character were in my 20s, before the balancing hand of motherhood met the grounding grip of running. Once I learned what it meant to push myself, I lost all taste for depriving myself. I want to grow into more of a woman, not find ways to whittle myself down to less. The way I see it, the only way to run counter to our toxic image-centric society is to literally run by example. I can't tell my daughters that beauty is an incidental side effect of living your passion rather than an adherence to socially prescribed standards. I can't tell my son how to recognize and appreciate this kind of beauty in a woman. I have to show them, over and over again, mile after mile, until they feel the power of their own legs beneath them and catch the rhythm of their own strides. Which is why my parents wake my kids early on race-day mornings. It matters to me that my children see me out there, slogging through difficult miles. I want my girls to grow up recognizing the beauty of strength, the exuberance of endurance, and the core confidence residing in a well-tended body and spirit. I want them to be more interested in what they are doing than how they look doing it. I want them to enjoy food that is delicious, feed their bodies with wisdom and intent, and give themselves the freedom to indulge. I want them to compete in healthy ways that honor the cultivation of skill, the expenditure of effort, and the courage of the attempt. Grace and Bella, will you have any idea how lovely you are when you try? Recently we ran the Chuy's Hot to Trot Kids K together as a family in Austin, and I ran the 5-K immediately afterward. Post?race, my kids asked me where my medal was. I explained that not everyone gets a medal, so they must have run really well (all kids got a medal, shhh!). As I picked up Grace, she said, "You are so sweaty Mommy, all wet." Luke smiled and said, "Mommy's sweaty 'cause she's fast. And she looks pretty. All clean." My PRs will never garner attention or generate awards. But when I run, I am 100 percent me--my strengths and weaknesses play out like a cracked-open diary, my emotions often as raw as the chafing from my jog bra. In my ultimate moments of vulnerability, I am twice the woman I was when I thought I was meant to look pretty on the sidelines. Sweaty and smiling, breathless and beautiful: Running helps us all shine. A lesson worth passing along.
Kristin Armstrong
Being jealous does nothing. It turns you into a person who’s unable to feel genuine happiness, and tarnishes every accomplishment when it’s used to measure your sense of worth on a made-up scale. You hear about a friend’s promotion (in an industry that probably isn’t yours) and feel like you will never venture past your existing achievements. You hear someone from high school is getting married and assume that you never will. You discover the guy you worked retail with in 2006 has a new apartment, and you sit wherever you happen to live and actively resent the space you loved five minutes ago. And feelings like will always come up; it’s just up to you to say “fuck off.” So, while I’d like to say you should just decide not to be jealous, and that we’re all in this together so let’s remember that and be best friends, I know that isn’t realistic because jealousy is immune to reason and logic…If I feel myself slipping into a jealousy wormhole when I see someone else shining, I remember that to gauge my self-worth based on someone else’s accomplishments is a one-way ticket to bitterness.
Anne T. Donahue (Nobody Cares)
Where mermaids live looks a bit like your pool.' said Bernard. 'Except they build houses out of whale bones and the wreckage of sunken ships. They play chess with seahorses. They wear capes of fish scales and sleep on beds made from seaweed.' As we listened, I thought I heard a slight splashing from the far end of the pool. 'At night,' Bernard continued, 'they turn on an electric eel for a night-light, and they light a fire, and the smoke goes up a chimney made from coral.' 'Wait a minute,' interupted Zoe, clearly immersed in Bernard's description. 'If they live underwater, how could they have a fire?' 'You should ask them,' said Bernard. Zoe and I open our eyes. Now, look, I know the light was just playing tricks on us. And I know we'd all probably inhaled too much sequin glue. But for the briefest moment, the blue of Zoe's pool gave way to deeper, darker aqua-colored water. The few plants and rocks were replaced with a lagoon and a waterfall where several mermaids lounged half in the water, half in the sun. They splashed and dove, their laughter making the same sound as the water.
Michelle Cuevas (Confessions of an Imaginary Friend)
I write fantasy because it's there. I have no other excuse for sitting down for several hours a day indulging my imagination. Daydreaming. Thinking up imaginary people, impossible places. Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored. Making it tell the same tale over again makes it thin and whining; its scales begin to fall off; its fiery breath becomes a trickle of smoke. It is best fed by reality, an odd diet for something nonexistant; there are few details of daily life and its broad range of emotional context that can't transformed into food for the imagination. It must be visited constantly, or else it begins to become restless and emit strange bellows at embarrassing moments; ignoring it only makes it grown larger and noisier. Content, it dreams awake, and spins the fabric of tales. There is really nothing to be done with such imagery except to use it: in writing, in art. Those who fear the imagination condemn it: something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten. Not all of us dream awake. But those who do have no choice.
Patricia A. McKillip
Merrill Hartweiss scales a rocky incline toward Renna. The noon sun bakes the hillside as Merrill's boots dig into the broiling sands. Yet another gypsy tune enters his head. It starts off slowly. A lone guitar, its strings strummed with the lustful passion of a young man brushing his fingertips softly against the breasts of his lover. Another guitar joins, like a second hand, exploring her hot flesh, stroking the side of her bare abdomen, and gradually moving upward toward her chest. Then, a female voice joins the guitars; it is slightly raspy, yet sultry; filled with a fiery allure. The guitars pick up in intensity and tempo. There is a rhythmic clapping now, in synchronization with the strumming. The man has entered his lover. Sweat begins to form on Merrill's forehead, then quickly turns to vapor, dissipating into the blistering heat from the sunlight reflecting off the sands. Steady clapping, louder still. The tempo quickens, progressively and with a vigorous intensity. The man arches his back, cresting then falling; cresting, arching, rising and falling deeper again and again into his lover. The clapping, now faster, still rhythmic, but so much more intense. The guitars keep pace with increasing ferocity. In the woman's voice, short, quick breaths form words as she cries out her lover's name from deep within the throes of a forbidden love
Angel Rosa
I don’t remember when I stopped noticing—stopped noticing every mirror, every window, every scale, every fast-food restaurant, every diet ad, every horrifying model. And I don’t remember when I stopped counting, or when I stopped caring what size my pants were, or when I started ordering what I wanted to eat and not what seemed “safe,” or when I could sit comfortably reading a book in my kitchen without noticing I was in my kitchen until I got hungry—or when I started just eating when I got hungry, instead of questioning it, obsessing about it, dithering and freaking out, as I’d done for nearly my whole life. I don’t remember exactly when recovery took hold, and went from being something I both fought and wanted, to being simply a way of life. A way of life that is, let me tell you, infinitely more peaceful, infinitely happier, and infinitely more free than life with an eating disorder. And I wouldn’t give up this life of freedom for the world. What I know is this: I chose recovery. It was a conscious decision, and not an easy one. That’s the common denominator among people I know who have recovered: they chose recovery, and they worked like hell for it, and they didn’t give up. Recovery isn’t easy, at first. It takes time. It takes more work, sometimes, than you think you’re willing to do. But it is worth every hard day, every tear, every terrified moment. It’s worth it, because the trade-off is this: you let go of your eating disorder, and you get back your life. There are a couple of things I had to keep in mind in early recovery. One was that I was going to recover, even though I didn’t feel “ready.” I realized I was never going to feel ready—I was just going to jump in and do it, ready or not, and I am deeply glad that I did. Another was that symptoms were not an option. Symptoms, as critically necessary and automatic as they feel, are ultimately a choice. You can choose to let the fallacy that you must use symptoms kill you, or you can choose not to use symptoms. Easier said than done? Of course. But it can be done. I had to keep at the forefront of my mind the reasons I wanted to recover so badly, and the biggest one was this: I couldn’t believe in what I was doing anymore. I couldn’t justify committing my life to self-destruction, to appearance, to size, to weight, to food, to obsession, to self-harm. And that was what I had been doing for so long—dedicating all my strength, passion, energy, and intelligence to the pursuit of a warped and vanishing ideal. I just couldn’t believe in it anymore. As scared as I was to recover, to recover fully, to let go of every last symptom, to rid myself of the familiar and comforting compulsions, I wanted to know who I was without the demon of my eating disorder inhabiting my body and mind. And it turned out that I was all right. It turned out it was all right with me to be human, to have hungers, to have needs, to take space. It turned out that I had a self, a voice, a whole range of values and beliefs and passions and goals beyond what I had allowed myself to see when I was sick. There was a person in there, under the thick ice of the illness, a person I found I could respect. Recovery takes time, patience, enormous effort, and strength. We all have those things. It’s a matter of choosing to use them to save our own lives—to survive—but beyond that, to thrive. If you are still teetering on the brink of illness, I invite you to step firmly onto the solid ground of health. Walk back toward the world. Gather strength as you go. Listen to your own inner voice, not the voice of the eating disorder—as you recover, your voice will get clearer and louder, and eventually the voice of the eating disorder will recede. Give it time. Don’t give up. Love yourself absolutely. Take back your life. The value of freedom cannot be overestimated. It’s there for the taking. Find your way toward it, and set yourself free.
Marya Hornbacher
Sometimes it's hard because I don't like to hurt people's feelings. So there have been times when a friend will get a haircut and I will see it and my initial reaction is "Oh my God, you look like a streetwalker who got caught in a wind tunnel." But I obviously can't say that because that would be an insult to streetwalkers. So I have to say, "I love it! It looks great!" But when I say it my voice goes up about three octaves. "It looks greee-aaattt!" So I'm certain they know I'm lying. How come when we lie our voices go up so many octaves? It's a dead giveaway. It happens when we dole out compliments we don't mean and it happens when we say things like "You didn't have to get my anything!" or "What do you mean you weren't invited to my party? You're always invited!" Everyone knows what those mean. "You definitely had to get me something" and "You haven't been invited back to the house since the urn incident of '04." And it's a mathematical fact: the higher the octave, the bigger the lie. "I didn't even hear my phone ring!" is usually like a four on the scale. "You think I'm sleeping with someone else?" is off the charts. I can tell when people are lying to me when they start their sentence with "I have to be honest with you." They may as well say, "Listen, I'm about to lie straight to your face." Why do people need to clarify when they're being honest? Does that mean everything else they've ever said has been a lie? Yesterday they said they liked my sweater but they didn't say they were being honest. Does that mean they hated it? It's so strange to me. It almost feels like they're giving me the option to not hear the truth. As if when they say, "I have to be honest with you," I might say, "No, no. Please. Only lies right now.
Ellen DeGeneres (Seriously... I'm Kidding)
I realized I still had my eyes shut. I had shut them when I put my face to the screen, like I was scared to look outside. Now I had to open them. I looked out the window and saw for the first time how the hospital was out in the country. The moon was low in the sky over the pastureland; the face of it was scarred and scuffed where it had just torn up out of the snarl of scrub oak and madrone trees on the horizon. The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon. It called to mind how I noticed the exact same thing when I was off on a hunt with Papa and the uncles and I lay rolled in blankets Grandma had woven, lying off a piece from where the men hunkered around the fire as they passed a quart jar of cactus liquor in a silent circle. I watched that big Oregon prairie moon above me put all the stars around it to shame. I kept awake watching, to see if the moon ever got dimmer or if the stars got brighter, till the dew commenced to drift onto my cheeks and I had to pull a blanket over my head. Something moved on the grounds down beneath my window — cast a long spider of shadow out across the grass as it ran out of sight behind a hedge. When it ran back to where I could get a better look, I saw it was a dog, a young, gangly mongrel slipped off from home to find out about things went on after dark. He was sniffing digger squirrel holes, not with a notion to go digging after one but just to get an idea what they were up to at this hour. He’d run his muzzle down a hole, butt up in the air and tail going, then dash off to another. The moon glistened around him on the wet grass, and when he ran he left tracks like dabs of dark paint spattered across the blue shine of the lawn. Galloping from one particularly interesting hole to the next, he became so took with what was coming off — the moon up there, the night, the breeze full of smells so wild makes a young dog drunk — that he had to lie down on his back and roll. He twisted and thrashed around like a fish, back bowed and belly up, and when he got to his feet and shook himself a spray came off him in the moon like silver scales. He sniffed all the holes over again one quick one, to get the smells down good, then suddenly froze still with one paw lifted and his head tilted, listening. I listened too, but I couldn’t hear anything except the popping of the window shade. I listened for a long time. Then, from a long way off, I heard a high, laughing gabble, faint and coming closer. Canada honkers going south for the winter. I remembered all the hunting and belly-crawling I’d ever done trying to kill a honker, and that I never got one. I tried to look where the dog was looking to see if I could find the flock, but it was too dark. The honking came closer and closer till it seemed like they must be flying right through the dorm, right over my head. Then they crossed the moon — a black, weaving necklace, drawn into a V by that lead goose. For an instant that lead goose was right in the center of that circle, bigger than the others, a black cross opening and closing, then he pulled his V out of sight into the sky once more. I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound.
Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest :Text and Criticism)
In the course of your life you will be continually encountering fools. There are simply too many to avoid. We can classify people as fools by the following rubric: when it comes to practical life, what should matter is getting long term results, and getting the work done in as efficient and creative a manner as possible. That should be the supreme value that guides people’s action. But fools carry with them a different scale of values. They place more importance on short-term matters – grabbing immediate money, getting attention from the public or media, and looking good. They are ruled by their ego and insecurities. They tend to enjoy drama and political intrigue for their own sake. When they criticize, they always emphasize matters that are irrelevant to the overall picture or argument. They are more interested in their career and position than in the truth. You can distinguish them by how little they get done, or by how hard they make it for others to get results. They lack a certain common sense, getting worked up about things that are not really important while ignoring problems that will spell doom in the long term. The natural tendency with fools is to lower yourself to their level. They annoy you, get under your skin, and draw you into a battle. In the process, you feel petty and confused. You lose a sense of what is really important. You can’t win an argument or get them to see your side or change their behavior, because rationality and results don’t matter to them. You simply waste valuable time and emotional energy. In dealing with fools you must adopt the following philosophy: they are simply a part of life, like rocks or furniture. All of us have foolish sides, moments in which we lose our heads and think more of our ego or short-term goals. It is human nature. Seeing this foolishness within you, you can then accept it in others. This will allow you to smile at their antics, to tolerate their presence as you would a silly child, and to avoid the madness of trying to change them. It is all part of the human comedy, and it is nothing to get upset or lose sleep over.
Robert Greene (Mastery)
When I was born,” Niall Lynch told his middle son, “God broke the mold so hard the ground shook.” This was already a lie, because if God truly had broken the mold for Niall, He’d made Himself a knockoff twenty years later to craft Ronan and his two brothers, Declan and Matthew. The three brothers were nothing if not handsome copies of their father, although each flattered a different side of Niall. Declan had the same way of taking a room and shaking its hand. Matthew’s curls were netted with Niall’s charm and humor. And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war. There was little to nothing of their mother in any of them. “It was a proper earthquake,” Niall clarified, as if anyone had asked him — and knowing Niall, they probably had. “Four point one on the Richter scale. Anything under four would’ve just cracked the mold, not broken it.” Back then, Ronan was not in the business of believing, but that was all right, because his father wanted adoration, not trust. “And you, Ronan,” Niall said. He always said Ronan differently from other words. As if he had meant to say another word entirely — something like knife or poison or revenge — and then swapped it out for Ronan’s name at the last moment. “When you were born, the rivers dried up and the cattle in Rockingham County wept blood.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2))
But psychology is passing into a less simple phase. Within a few years what one may call a microscopic psychology has arisen in Germany, carried on by experimental methods, asking of course every moment for introspective data, but eliminating their uncertainty by operating on a large scale and taking statistical means. This method taxes patience to the utmost, and could hardly have arisen in a country whose natives could be bored. Such Germans as Weber, Fechner, Vierordt, and Wundt obviously cannot ; and their success has brought into the field an array of younger experimental psychologists, bent on studying the elements of the mental life, dissecting them out from the gross results in which they are embedded, and as far as possible reducing them to quantitative scales. The simple and open method of attack having done what it can, the method of patience, starving out, and harassing to death is tried ; the Mind must submit to a regular siege, in which minute advantages gained night and day by the forces that hem her in must sum themselves up at last into her overthrow. There is little of the grand style about these new prism, pendulum, and chronograph-philosophers. They mean business, not chivalry. What generous divination, and that superiority in virtue which was thought by Cicero to give a man the best insight into nature, have failed to do, their spying and scraping, their deadly tenacity and almost diabolic cunning, will doubtless some day bring about. No general description of the methods of experimental psychology would be instructive to one unfamiliar with the instances of their application, so we will waste no words upon the attempt.
William James (The Principles of Psychology: Volume 1)
Last and crowning torture of all the tortures of that awful place is the eternity of hell. Eternity! O, dread and dire word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it? And remember, it is an eternity of pain. Even though the pain of hell were not so terrible as they are, yet they would become infinite, as they are destined to last for ever. But while they are everlasting they are at the some times, as you know, intolerably intense, unbearably extensive. To bear even the sting of an insect for all eternity would be a dreadful torment. What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell for ever? For ever! For all eternity! Not for a year or for an age but for ever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny little grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness; and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplies as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many million upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all? Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been all carried away, and i f the bird came again and carried it all away again grain by grain, and if it sop rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals, at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would scarcely have begun.
James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)
Funnel The family story tells, and it was told true, of my great-grandfather who begat eight genius children and bought twelve almost-new grand pianos. He left a considerable estate when he died. The children honored their separate arts; two became moderately famous, three married and fattened their delicate share of wealth and brilliance. The sixth one was a concert pianist. She had a notable career and wore cropped hair and walked like a man, or so I heard when prying a childhood car into the hushed talk of the straight Maine clan. One died a pinafore child, she stays her five years forever. And here is one that wrote- I sort his odd books and wonder his once alive words and scratch out my short marginal notes and finger my accounts. back from that great-grandfather I have come to tidy a country graveyard for his sake, to chat with the custodian under a yearly sun and touch a ghost sound where it lies awake. I like best to think of that Bunyan man slapping his thighs and trading the yankee sale for one dozen grand pianos. it fit his plan of culture to do it big. On this same scale he built seven arking houses and they still stand. One, five stories up, straight up like a square box, still dominates its coastal edge of land. It is rented cheap in the summer musted air to sneaker-footed families who pad through its rooms and sometimes finger the yellow keys of an old piano that wheezes bells of mildew. Like a shoe factory amid the spruce trees it squats; flat roof and rows of windows spying through the mist. Where those eight children danced their starfished summers, the thirty-six pines sighing, that bearded man walked giant steps and chanced his gifts in numbers. Back from that great-grandfather I have come to puzzle a bending gravestone for his sake, to question this diminishing and feed a minimum of children their careful slice of suburban cake.
Anne Sexton
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.. a city neighborhood that included houses, lampposts, walls, and bushes. But with an early bedtime in the winter, I could look out my window and see the stars, and the stars were not like anything else in my neighborhood. [At age 5] I didn’t know what they were. [At age 9] my mother … said to me, “You have a library card now, and you know how to read. Take the streetcar to the library and get a book on stars.” … I stepped up to the big librarian and asked for a book on stars. … I sat down and found out the answer, which was something really stunning. I found out that the stars are glowing balls of gas. I also found out that the Sun is a star but really close and that the stars are all suns except really far away I didn’t know any physics or mathematics at that time, but I could imagine how far you’d have to move the Sun away from us till it was only as bright as a star. It was in that library, reading that book, that the scale of the universe opened up to me. There was something beautiful about it. At that young age, I already knew that I’d be very happy if I could devote my life to finding out more about the stars and the planets that go around them. And it’s been my great good fortune to do just that.
Carl Sagan
If you’re asking the schools to be the answer, you’re also asking a lot. If you take a kid from a bad background and expect the overburdened teachers to turn him around in seven hours a day, it might or might not happen. What about the other seventeen hours in a day? People often ask us if, through our research and experience, we can now predict which children are likely to become dangerous in later life. Roy Hazelwood’s answer is, “Sure. But so can any good elementary school teacher.” And if we can get them treatment early enough and intensively enough, it might make a difference. A significant role-model adult during the formative years can make a world of difference. Bill Tafoya, the special agent who served as our “futurist” at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten-year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent into the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long-term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs. I’m not sure this is the total answer, but it would certainly be an important start. Because the sad fact is, the shrinks can battle all they want, and my people and I can use psychology and behavioral science to help catch the criminals, but by the time we get to use our stuff, the severe damage has already been done.
John E. Douglas (Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit (Mindhunter #1))
Gone as usual in the morning, and me left behind and naked, inner thighs lightly scaled with the dried spoor of our lovemaking: she liked to stay on top afterward and let the juice run down, and I liked whatever she liked. Imagining in the shower that I could smell her still, the angular scent of those secret bones, had she always smelled so fierce and so good? Recalling those gone times, old memories lit by the fire of the new, I did not this time wonder how long it would last; I was too smart for that now. Take what you get, and don’t think. Of course it could never be that easy, but there were moments, like now, that I could successfully pretend that it was, and I had no inclination to try to peer past those moments. I’m not one who wants to know the future: at the best it spoils the present, with longing or dismay, and at the worst, well. Who really wants to find out how tight the sling is, for your own very personal ass, who wants to know how deep the shit will really be? Not you. Not me either. Because it’s rarely bliss saved up, is it, when you finally get there. I’ll take my now, waking with a lover’s scent on me, around me, take my hopes before they’re maybe tragedy; a good morning is still a good morning, even if it leads to apocalypse at night.
Kathe Koja (The Cipher)
Not if you’ve been where we have. Forty years ago, in Südwest, we were nearly exterminated. There was no reason. Can you understand that? No reason. We couldn’t even find comfort in the Will of God Theory. These were Germans with names and service records, men in blue uniforms who killed clumsily and not without guilt. Search-and-destroy missions, every day. It went on for two years. The orders came down from a human being, a scrupulous butcher named von Trotha. The thumb of mercy never touched his scales.” “We have a word that we whisper, a mantra for times that threaten to be bad. Mba-kayere. You may find it will work for you. Mba-kayere. It means ‘I am passed over.’ To those of us who survived von Trotha, it also means that we have learned to stand outside our history and watch it, without feeling too much. A little schizoid. A sense for the statistics of our being. One reason we grew so close to the Rocket, I think, was this sharp awareness of how contingent, like ourselves, the Aggregat 4 could be—how at the mercy of small things…dust that gets in a timer and breaks electrical contact…a film of grease you can’t even see, oil from the touch of human fingers, left inside a liquid-oxygen valve, flaring up soon as the stuff hits and setting the whole thing off—I’ve seen that happen…rain that swells the bushings in the servos or leaks into a switch: corrosion, a short, a signal grounded out, Brennschluss too soon, and what was alive is only an Aggregat again, an Aggregat of pieces of dead matter, no longer anything that can move, or that has a Destiny with a shape—stop doing that with your eyebrows, Scuffling. I may have gone a bit native out here, that’s all. Stay in the Zone long enough and you’ll start getting ideas about Destiny yourself.
Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow)
But if we look a little deeper we shall find there is a pathetic, one might almost say a tragic, side to the picture. A shy man means a lonely man—a man cut off from all companionship, all sociability. He moves about the world, but does not mix with it. Between him and his fellow-men there runs ever an impassable barrier—a strong, invisible wall that, trying in vain to scale, he but bruises himself against. He sees the pleasant faces and hears the pleasant voices on the other side, but he cannot stretch his hand across to grasp another hand. He stands watching the merry groups, and he longs to speak and to claim kindred with them. But they pass him by, chatting gayly to one another, and he cannot stay them. He tries to reach them, but his prison walls move with him and hem him in on every side. In the busy street, in the crowded room, in the grind of work, in the whirl of pleasure, amid the many or amid the few—wherever men congregate together, wherever the music of human speech is heard and human thought is flashed from human eyes, there, shunned and solitary, the shy man, like a leper, stands apart. His soul is full of love and longing, but the world knows it not. The iron mask of shyness is riveted before his face, and the man beneath is never seen. Genial words and hearty greetings are ever rising to his lips, but they die away in unheard whispers behind the steel clamps. His heart aches for the weary brother, but his sympathy is dumb. Contempt and indignation against wrong choke up his throat, and finding no safety-valve whence in passionate utterance they may burst forth, they only turn in again and harm him. All the hate and scorn and love of a deep nature such as the shy man is ever cursed by fester and corrupt within, instead of spending themselves abroad, and sour him into a misanthrope and cynic.
Jerome K. Jerome (Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow)
Cixi’s lack of formal education was more than made up for by her intuitive intelligence, which she liked to use from her earliest years. In 1843, when she was seven, the empire had just finished its first war with the West, the Opium War, which had been started by Britain in reaction to Beijing clamping down on the illegal opium trade conducted by British merchants. China was defeated and had to pay a hefty indemnity. Desperate for funds, Emperor Daoguang (father of Cixi’s future husband) held back the traditional presents for his sons’ brides – gold necklaces with corals and pearls – and vetoed elaborate banquets for their weddings. New Year and birthday celebrations were scaled down, even cancelled, and minor royal concubines had to subsidise their reduced allowances by selling their embroidery on the market through eunuchs. The emperor himself even went on surprise raids of his concubines’ wardrobes, to check whether they were hiding extravagant clothes against his orders. As part of a determined drive to stamp out theft by officials, an investigation was conducted of the state coffer, which revealed that more “than nine million taels of silver had gone missing. Furious, the emperor ordered all the senior keepers and inspectors of the silver reserve for the previous forty-four years to pay fines to make up the loss – whether or not they were guilty. Cixi’s great-grandfather had served as one of the keepers and his share of the fine amounted to 43,200 taels – a colossal sum, next to which his official salary had been a pittance. As he had died a long time ago, his son, Cixi’s grandfather, was obliged to pay half the sum, even though he worked in the Ministry of Punishments and had nothing to do with the state coffer. After three years of futile struggle to raise money, he only managed to hand over 1,800 taels, and an edict signed by the emperor confined him to prison, only to be released if and when his son, Cixi’s father, delivered the balance. The life of the family was turned upside down. Cixi, then eleven years old, had to take in sewing jobs to earn extra money – which she would remember all her life and would later talk about to her ladies-in-waiting in the court. “As she was the eldest of two daughters and three sons, her father discussed the matter with her, and she rose to the occasion. Her ideas were carefully considered and practical: what possessions to sell, what valuables to pawn, whom to turn to for loans and how to approach them. Finally, the family raised 60 per cent of the sum, enough to get her grandfather out of prison. The young Cixi’s contribution to solving the crisis became a family legend, and her father paid her the ultimate compliment: ‘This daughter of mine is really more like a son!’ Treated like a son, Cixi was able to talk to her father about things that were normally closed areas for women. Inevitably their conversations touched on official business and state affairs, which helped form Cixi’s lifelong interest. Being consulted and having her views acted on, she acquired self-confidence and never accepted the com“common assumption that women’s brains were inferior to men’s. The crisis also helped shape her future method of rule. Having tasted the bitterness of arbitrary punishment, she would make an effort to be fair to her officials.
Jung Chang (Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China)
. . .biographers tend to regard as character those elements of personality that remain constant, or nearly so, throughout. . .Like practitioners of fractal geometry, biographers seek patterns that persist as one moves from micro- to macro-levels of analysis, and back again. . . . It follows from this that the scale across which we seek similarity need not be chronological. Consider the following incidents in the life of Stalin between 1929 and 1940, arranged not by dates but in terms of ascending horror. Start with the parrot he kept in a cage in his Kremlin apartment. The dictator had the habit of pacing up and down for long periods of time, smoking his pipe, brooding, and occasionally spitting on the floor. One day the parrot tried to mimic Stalin's spitting. He immediately reached into the cage with his pipe and crushed the parrot's head. A very micro-level event, you might well say, so what? But then you learn that Stalin, while on vacation in the Crimea, was once kept awake by a barking dog. It turned out to be a seeing-eye dog that belonged to a blind peasant. The dog wound up being shot, and the peasant wound up in the Gulag. And then you learn that Stalin drove his independently minded second wife, who tried to talk back to him, into committing suicide. And that he arranged for Trotsky, who also talked back, to be assassinated halfway around the world. And that he arranged as well the deaths of as many of Trotsky's associates that he could reach, as well as the deaths of hundred of thousands of other people who never had anything to do with Trotsky. And that when his own people began to talk back by resisting the collectivization of agriculture, he allowed some fourteen million of them to die from the resulting starvation, exile, or imprisonment. Again, there's self-similarity across scale, except that the scale this time is a body count. It's a fractal geometry of terror. Stalin's character extended across time and space, to be sure, but what's most striking about it is its extension across scale: the fact that his behavior seemed much the same in large matters, small matters, and most of those that lay in between.
John Lewis Gaddis (The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past)
It was astonishing how loudly one laughed at tales of gruesome things, of war’s brutality-I with the rest of them. I think at the bottom of it was a sense of the ironical contrast between the normal ways of civilian life and this hark-back to the caveman code. It made all our old philosophy of life monstrously ridiculous. It played the “hat trick” with the gentility of modern manners. Men who had been brought up to Christian virtues, who had prattled their little prayers at mothers’ knees, who had grown up to a love of poetry, painting, music, the gentle arts, over-sensitized to the subtleties of half-tones, delicate scales of emotion, fastidious in their choice of words, in their sense of beauty, found themselves compelled to live and act like ape-men; and it was abominably funny. They laughed at the most frightful episodes, which revealed this contrast between civilized ethics and the old beast law. The more revolting it was the more, sometimes, they shouted with laughter, especially in reminiscence, when the tale was told in the gilded salon of a French chateau, or at a mess-table. It was, I think, the laughter of mortals at the trick which had been played on them by an ironical fate. They had been taught to believe that the whole object of life was to reach out to beauty and love, and that mankind, in its progress to perfection, had killed the beast instinct, cruelty, blood-lust, the primitive, savage law of survival by tooth and claw and club and ax. All poetry, all art, all religion had preached this gospel and this promise. Now that ideal had broken like a china vase dashed to hard ground. The contrast between That and This was devastating. It was, in an enormous world-shaking way, like a highly dignified man in a silk hat, morning coat, creased trousers, spats, and patent boots suddenly slipping on a piece of orange-peel and sitting, all of a heap, with silk hat flying, in a filthy gutter. The war-time humor of the soul roared with mirth at the sight of all that dignity and elegance despoiled. So we laughed merrily, I remember, when a military chaplain (Eton, Christ Church, and Christian service) described how an English sergeant stood round the traverse of a German trench, in a night raid, and as the Germans came his way, thinking to escape, he cleft one skull after another with a steel-studded bludgeon a weapon which he had made with loving craftsmanship on the model of Blunderbore’s club in the pictures of a fairy-tale. So we laughed at the adventures of a young barrister (a brilliant fellow in the Oxford “Union”) whose pleasure it was to creep out o’ nights into No Man’s Land and lie doggo in a shell-hole close to the enemy’s barbed wire, until presently, after an hour’s waiting or two, a German soldier would crawl out to fetch in a corpse. The English barrister lay with his rifle ready. Where there had been one corpse there were two. Each night he made a notch on his rifle three notches one night to check the number of his victims. Then he came back to breakfast in his dugout with a hearty appetite.
Phillip Gibbs
I have something to show you." He sank down next to me and handed me a sketchbook. I opened it. And saw the mermaid. She was drawn in colored ink, exquisitely detailed; each scale had a little picture in it: a pyramid, a rocket, a peacock, a lamp. Her torso was patterened red, like a tattoo, like coral. She had a thin strand of seaweed around her neck, with a starfish holding on to the center. Her hair was a tumble of loose black curls. She had my face. I turned the page.And another and another. There she was fighting a creature that was half human, half octopus. Exploring a cave. Riding a shark. Laughing and petting a stingray that rested on her lap. "I'm calling her Cora Lia for the moment," Alex told me. "I thought about Corella, but it sounded like cheap dishware." "She's...amazing." "She's fierce. Fighting the Evil Sea-Dragon King and his minions." I traced the red tattoo on her chest. "This is beautiful." Alex reached into my sweater, pulled the loose neck of the T-shirt away from my shoulder. I didn't stop him. "It looks like coral to me." He touched me, then,the pad of his thumb tracing the outline of the scar. It felt strange, partly because of the difference in the tissue, but more because in the last few years, the only hands that had touched me there were mine. I set the book aside carefully. "Guess I don't see what you do." "That's too bad, because I see you perfectly." I curved myself into him. "Maybe you're exactly what I need." "Like there's any doubt?" He buried his face in my neck.I didn't stop him. "So." "So?" "We'll kill a few hours, watch the sunrise, have pancakes, and you'll drive home." "What?" I felt him smile against my skin. "I got you swimming with sharks. Next on the Conquer Your Fears list is driving a stick shift.Right?" "One thing at a time," I said. Then, "Oh. Do that again." In another story, the intrepid heroine would have gone running out and splashed in the surf, hypothermia be damned. She would have driven the Mustang home, booked a haircut, taken up stand-up comedy, and danced on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. But this was me, and I was moving at my own pace. Truth: My story started a hundred years ago. There's time.
Melissa Jensen (The Fine Art of Truth or Dare)
No more peeping through keyholes! No more mas turbating in the dark! No more public confessions! Unscrew the doors from their jambs! I want a world where the vagina is represented by a crude, honest slit, a world that has feeling for bone and contour, for raw, primary colors, a world that has fear and respect for its animal origins. I’m sick of looking at cunts all tickled up, disguised, deformed, idealized. Cunts with nerve ends exposed. I don’t want to watch young virgins masturbating in the privacy of their boudoirs or biting their nails or tearing their hair or lying on a bed full of bread crumbs for a whole chapter. I want Madagascan funeral poles, with animal upon animal and at the top Adam and Eve, and Eve with a crude, honest slit between the legs. I want hermaphrodites who are real hermaphrodites, and not make-believes walking around with an atrophied penis or a dried-up cunt. I want a classic purity, where dung is dung and angels are angels. The Bible a la King James, for example. Not the Bible of Wycliffe, not the Vulgate, not the Greek, not the Hebrew, but the glorious, death-dealing Bible that was created when the English language was in flower, when a vocabulary of twenty thousand words sufficed to build a monument for all time. A Bible written in Svenska or Tegalic, a Bible for the Hottentots or the Chinese, a Bible that has to meander through the trickling sands of French is no Bible-it is a counterfeit and a fraud. The King James Version was created by a race of bone-crushers. It revives the primitive mysteries, revives rape, murder, incest, revives epilepsy, sadism, megalomania, revives demons, angels, dragons, leviathans, revives magic, exorcism, contagion, incantation, revives fratricide, regicide, patricide, suicide, revives hypnotism, anarchism, somnambulism, revives the song, the dance, the act, revives the mantic, the chthonian, the arcane, the mysterious, revives the power, the evil, and the glory that is God. All brought into the open on a colossal scale, and so salted and spiced that it will last until the next Ice Age. A classic purity, then-and to hell with the Post Office authorities! For what is it enables the classics to live at all, if indeed they be living on and not dying as we and all about us are dying? What preserves them against the ravages of time if it be not the salt that is in them? When I read Petronius or Apuleius or Rabelais, how close they seem! That salty tang! That odor of the menagerie! The smell of horse piss and lion’s dung, of tiger’s breath and elephant’s hide. Obscenity, lust, cruelty, boredom, wit. Real eunuchs. Real hermaphrodites. Real pricks. Real cunts. Real banquets! Rabelais rebuilds the walls of Paris with human cunts. Trimalchio tickles his own throat, pukes up his own guts, wallows in his own swill. In the amphitheater, where a big, sleepy pervert of a Caesar lolls dejectedly, the lions and the jackals, the hyenas, the tigers, the spotted leopards are crunching real human boneswhilst the coming men, the martyrs and imbeciles, are walking up the golden stairs shouting Hallelujah!
Henry Miller (Black Spring)
There were charming ones as well as terrible ones, that I must admit. The painter was particularly entranced by Japanese masks: warriors', actors' and courtesans' masks. Some of them were frightfully contorted, the bronze cheeks creased by a thousand wrinkles, with vermilion weeping from the corners of the eyes and long trails of green at the corners of the mouths like splenetic beards. 'These are the masks of demons,' said the Englishman, caressing the long black swept-back tresses of one of them. 'The Samurai wore them in battle, to terrify the enemy. The one which is covered in green scales, with two opal pendants between the nostrils, is the mask of a sea-demon. This one, with the tufts of white fur for eyebrows and the two horsehair brushes beside the lips, is the mask of an old man. These others, of white porcelain - a material as smooth and fine as the cheeks of a Japanese maiden, and so gentle to the touch - are the masks of courtesans. See how alike they all are, with their delicate nostrils, their round faces and their heavy slanted eyelids; they are all effigies of the same goddess. The black of their wigs is rather beautiful, isn't it? Those which bubble over with laughter even in their immobility are the masks of comic actors.' That devil of a man pronounced the names of demons, gods and goddesses; his erudition cast a spell. Then: 'Bah! I have been down there too long!' Now he took up the light edifices of gauze and painted silk which were Venetian masks. 'Here is a Cockadrill, a Captain Fracasse, a Pantaloon and a Braggadocio. Only the noses are different - and the cut of their moustaches, if you look at them closely. Doesn't the white silk mask with enormous spectacles evoke a rather comical dread? It is Doctor Curucucu, an actual marionette featured in the Tales of Hoffmann. And what about that one, with all the black horsehair and the long spatulate nose like a stork's beak tipped with a spoon? Can you imagine anything more appalling? It's a duenna's mask; amorous young women were well-guarded when they had to go about flanked by old dragons dressed up in something like that. The whole carnival of Venice is put on parade before us beneath the cape and the domino, lying in ambush behind these masks... Would you like a gondola? Where shall we go, San Marco or the Lido?
Jean Lorrain (Monsieur De Phocas)
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))
Thomas Jefferson's Letter to John Holmes on the Missouri Statehood Question – April 20, 1820 I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Missouri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. The cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected; and, gradually, and with due sacrifices, I think it might be. But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other. Of one thing I am certain, that as the passage of slaves from one State to another, would not make a slave of a single human being who would not be so without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface would make them individually happier, and proportionally facilitate the accomplishment of their emancipation, by dividing the burthen on a greater number of coadjutors. An abstinence too, from this act of power, would remove the jealousy excited by the undertaking of Congress to regulate the condition of the different descriptions of men composing a State. This certainly is the exclusive right of every State, which nothing in the constitution has taken from them and given to the General Government. Could Congress, for example, say, that the non- freemen of Connecticut shall be freemen, or that they shall not emigrate into any other State? I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect. Th. Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Because it wasn’t enough to be accompanied by the beast who scared the crap out of every god in Heaven, Xuanzang was assigned a few more traveling companions. The gluttonous pig-man Zhu Baijie. Sha Wujing, the repentant sand demon. And the Dragon Prince of the West Sea, who took the form of a horse for Xuanzang to ride. The five adventurers, thusly gathered, set off on their— “Holy ballsacks!” I yelped. I dropped the book like I’d been bitten. “How far did you get?” Quentin said. He was leaning against the end of the nearest shelf, as casually as if he’d been there the whole time, waiting for this moment. I ignored that he’d snuck up on me again, just this once. There was a bigger issue at play. In the book was an illustration of the group done up in bold lines and bright colors. There was Sun Wukong at the front, dressed in a beggar’s cassock, holding his Ruyi Jingu Bang in one hand and the reins of the Dragon Horse in the other. A scary-looking pig-faced man and a wide-eyed demon monk followed, carrying the luggage. And perched on top of the horse was . . . me. The artist had tried to give Xuanzang delicate, beatific features and ended up with a rather girly face. By whatever coincidence, the drawing of Sun Wukong’s old master could have been a rough caricature of sixteen-year-old Eugenia Lo from Santa Firenza, California. “That’s who you think I am?” I said to Quentin. “That’s who I know you are,” he answered. “My dearest friend. My boon companion. You’ve reincarnated into such a different form, but I’d recognize you anywhere. Your spiritual energies are unmistakable.” “Are you sure? If you’re from a long time ago, maybe your memory’s a little fuzzy.” “The realms beyond Earth exist on a different time scale,” Quentin said. “Only one day among the gods passes for every human year. To me, you haven’t been gone long. Months, not centuries.” “This is just . . . I don’t know.” I took a moment to assemble my words. “You can’t walk up to me and expect me to believe right away that I’m the reincarnation of some legendary monk from a folk tale.” “Wait, what?” Quentin squinted at me in confusion. “I said you can’t expect me to go, ‘okay, I’m Xuanzang,’ just because you tell me so.” Quentin’s mouth opened slowly like the dawning of the sun. His face went from confusion to understanding to horror and then finally to laughter. “mmmmphhhhghAHAHAHAHA!” he roared. He nearly toppled over, trying to hold his sides in. “HAHAHAHA!” “What the hell is so funny?” “You,” Quentin said through his giggles. “You’re not Xuanzang. Xuanzang was meek and mild. A friend to all living things. You think that sounds like you?” It did not. But then again I wasn’t the one trying to make a case here. “Xuanzang was delicate like a chrysanthemum.” Quentin was getting a kick out of this. “You are so tough you snapped the battleaxe of the Mighty Miracle God like a twig. Xuanzang cried over squashing a mosquito. You, on the other hand, have killed more demons than the Catholic Church.” I was starting to get annoyed. “Okay, then who the hell am I supposed to be?” If he thought I was the pig, then this whole deal was off. “You’re my weapon,” he said. “You’re the Ruyi Jingu Bang.” I punched Quentin as hard as I could in the face.
F.C. Yee (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, #1))