Singular Form Of Quotes

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Stories have changed, my dear boy,” the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. “There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there in no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
When our mental functioning is whittling away and our mind becomes a lame duck, perception does not form the context anymore and all connections on the social chessboard are conked out. Only patience and endurance may draw us out of the quagmire of numbness and allow us to tear open the cloudy screen that is hiding our points of ‘interest’ and ‘attention’, so long as we focus on the ‘singular moments’ and the ‘appealing details’ in our life. Awareness can help us shape a comprehensive picture for a functional future. ("Lost the global story.")
Erik Pevernagie
The effort to identify the enemy as singular in form is a reverse-discourse that uncritically mimics the strategy of the oppressor instead of offering a different set of terms.
Judith Butler (Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity)
The idea, therefore, that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention—distinguished, as it is, both by the extravagance of its claims and by the paucity of its evidence—is really too great a monstrosity to be appreciated in all its glory. Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
(Decadent style) is ingenious, complicated, learned, full of shades of meaning and research, always pushing further the limits of language... forcing itself to express in thought that which is most ineffable, and in form the vaguest and most fleeting contours; listening that it may translate them to the subtle confidences of the neuropath, to the avowals of aging and depraved passion, and to the singular hallucinations of the fixed idea verging on madness... In opposition to the classic style, it admits of shading, and these shadows teem and swarm with the larvae of superstitions, the haggard phantoms of insomnia, nocturnal terrors, remorse which starts and turns back at the slightest noise, monstrous dreams stayed only by impotence, obscure phantasies at which daylight would stand amazed, and all that the soul conceals of the dark, the unformed, and the vaguely horrible, in its deepest and furthest recesses.
Théophile Gautier (Charles Baudelaire and His Life)
Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity ― a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
Not long ago, I advertised for perverse rules of grammar, along the lines of "Remember to never split an infinitive" and "The passive voice should never be used." The notion of making a mistake while laying down rules ("Thimk," "We Never Make Misteaks") is highly unoriginal, and it turns out that English teachers have been circulating lists of fumblerules for years. As owner of the world's largest collection, and with thanks to scores of readers, let me pass along a bunch of these never-say-neverisms: * Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read. * Don't use no double negatives. * Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't. * Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed. * Do not put statements in the negative form. * Verbs has to agree with their subjects. * No sentence fragments. * Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. * Avoid commas, that are not necessary. * If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. * A writer must not shift your point of view. * Eschew dialect, irregardless. * And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. * Don't overuse exclamation marks!!! * Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. * Writers should always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyph-ens. * Write all adverbial forms correct. * Don't use contractions in formal writing. * Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. * It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms. * If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. * Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language. * Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors. * Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. * Never, ever use repetitive redundancies. * Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. * If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole. * Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration. * Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. * Always pick on the correct idiom. * "Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."'" * The adverb always follows the verb. * Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives." (New York Times, November 4, 1979; later also published in book form)
William Safire (Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage)
He purchased that great canvas also bearing the likeness to his beloved, for he could not bear another to look upon what he dreamed each night...but as he now had enjoyed the quite singular pleasure of his wife's true form revealed to him, he knew he would have [it] returned... At one time he had thought it quite impossible, but now he understood how truly inadequate the vision cast by his mind's eye had been.
Linda Berdoll (Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues (Darcy & Elizabeth, #1))
Pain isn’t singular. We’re not alone, no matter how much it seems that way. Someone out there feels it too, and if we ever meet, we could bring our broken pieces together. We could bind them and form one heart.” He looked into her brown eyes. “We could be Bound.
B.B. Reid (Lilac)
People don't listen to karaoke, they endure it until it is their turn. It is the singularly most self-indulgent form of entertainment available.
Will Ferguson (Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan)
I congratulate you and my country on the singular favor of heaven in the peaceable and auspicious settlement of our government upon a Constitution formed by wisdom, and sanctified by the solemn choice of the people who are to live under it. May the Supreme ruler of the world be pleased to establish and perpetuate these new foundations of liberty and glory....Thank God, my country is saved and by the smile of Heaven I am a free and independant man.
John T. Hancock
ABSTRACT THOUGHTS in a blue room; Nominative, genitive, etative, accusative one, accusative two, ablative, partitive, illative, instructive, abessive, adessive, inessive, essive, allative, translative, comitative. Sixteen cases of the Finnish noun. Odd, some languages get by with only singular and plural. The American Indian languages even failed to distinguish number. Except Sioux, in which there was a plural only for animate objects. The blue room was round and warm and smooth. No way to say warm in French. There was only hot and tepid If there's no word for it, how do you think about it? And, if there isn't the proper form, you don't have the how even if you have the words. Imagine, in Spanish having to assign a sex to every object: dog, table, tree, can-opener. Imagine, in Hungarian, not being able to assign a sex to anything: he, she, it all the same word. Thou art my friend, but you are my king; thus the distinctions of Elizabeth the First's English. But with some oriental languages, which all but dispense with gender and number, you are my friend, you are my parent, and YOU are my priest, and YOU are my king, and YOU are my servant, and YOU are my servant whom I'm going to fire tomorrow if YOU don't watch it, and YOU are my king whose policies I totally disagree with and have sawdust in YOUR head instead of brains, YOUR highness, and YOU may be my friend, but I'm still gonna smack YOU up side the head if YOU ever say that to me again; And who the hell are you anyway . . .?
Samuel R. Delany (Babel-17)
Mathilde made an effort to use the more intimate form; she was evidently more attentive to this unusual way of speaking than to what she was saying. This use of the singular form, stripped of the tone of affection, ceased, after a moment, to afford Julien any pleasure, he was astonished at the absence of happiness; finally, in order to feel it, he had recourse to his reason. He saw himself highly esteemed by this girl who was so proud, and never bestowed unrestricted praise; by this line of reasoning he arrived at a gratification of his self-esteem.
Stendhal (The Red and the Black)
So in the end, what is a moment? One action? A single deed? Or is it more? Is a moment like a school of silver fish? The sum of many singular parts forming one cohesive unit? I tend to think so. Because the moment I met Ryan, that was just one of the sum parts.
Marie Hall (A Moment (Moments, #1))
Within our core self is an indelible blueprint of unrivaled individuality—the singular being that each of us exists to express. In this three-dimensional movie called “Life” there are no stand-ins, body doubles, or understudies—no one can fill in for us by proxy! Realization of this truth alone eliminates the need to imitate, conform, limit, or betray our loyalty to the originality of Self. Imagine the relief of removing your carefully crafted masks fashioned by societal forms of conditioning and instead responding to what comes into your experience directly from your Authentic Self. One of the first principles to honor in your relationship with yourself is to respect and trust your own inner voice. This form of trust is the way of the heart, the epitome of well-being.
Michael Bernard Beckwith (Life Visioning: A Transformative Process for Activating Your Unique Gifts and Highest Potential)
Being single is like being an artist, not because creating a functional single life is an art form, but because it requires the same close attention to one's singular needs, as well as the will and focus to fulfill them. Just as the artist arranges her life around her creativity, sacrificing conventional comforts and even social acceptance, sleeping and eating according to her own rhythms, so that her talent thrives above all else, nurtured the way a child might be, so a single person has to think hard to decipher what makes her happiest and most fulfilled.
Kate Bolick (Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own)
I’ve always rejected the great-man idea. The belief that human history was formed by singular individuals instead of broad social forces? Romantic, but …” He waved a hand vaguely, like he was stirring fog. “Demographic trends. Economic cycles. Technological progress. All much more powerful predictors than any one person. And yet here I am.
James S.A. Corey (Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7))
I am afraid I am one of those people who continues to read in the hope of sometime discovering in a book a single—and singular—piece of wisdom so penetrating, so soul stirring, so utterly applicable to my own life as to make all the bad books I have read seem well worth the countless hours spent on them. My guess is that this wisdom, if it ever arrives, will do so in the form of a generalization.
Joseph Epstein
1. Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's.
William Strunk Jr. (The Elements Of Style)
plural is generally formed from the singular by the addition of s or es.
Joseph Devlin (How to Speak and Write Correctly)
Some of the fantasy objects arising from cybernetic totalism (like the noosphere, which is a supposed global brain formed by the sum of all the human brains connected through the internet) happen to motivate infelicitous technological designs. For instance, designs that celebrate the noosphere tend to energize the inner troll, or bad actor, within humans.
Jaron Lanier (You Are Not a Gadget)
The way grief takes many forms, as tears or pinwheels. The way the word haystack never conjures up the same image twice. The way we assume all tears taste the same. The way our sadness is plural, but grief is singular.
Victoria Chang (Obit)
Stand forth, Nayman of Noland (for no longer will I follow you obliquelike through the inspired form of the third person singular and the moods and hesitensies of the deponent but address myself to you, with the empirative of my vendettative, provocative and out direct), stand forth, come boldly, jolly me, move me, zwilling though I am, to laughter in your true colours ere you be back for ever till I give you your talkingto!
James Joyce (Finnegans Wake)
Turing presented his new offering in the form of a thought experiment, based on a popular Victorian parlor game. A man and a woman hide, and a judge is asked to determine which is which by relying only on the texts of notes passed back and forth. Turing replaced the woman with a computer. Can the judge tell which is the man? If not, is the computer conscious? Intelligent? Does it deserve equal rights? It's impossible for us to know what role the torture Turing was enduring at the time played in his formulation of the test. But it is undeniable that one of the key figures in the defeat of fascism was destroyed, by our side, after the war, because he was gay. No wonder his imagination pondered the rights of strange creatures.
Jaron Lanier (You Are Not a Gadget)
The West is a civilization that has survived all the prophecies of its collapse with a singular stratagem. Just as the bourgeoisie had to deny itself as a class in order to permit the bourgeoisification of society as a whole, from the worker to the baron; just as capital had to sacrifice itself as a wage relation in order to impose itself as a social relation—becoming cultural capital and health capital in addition to finance capital; just as Christianity had to sacrifice itself as a religion in order to survive as an affective structure—as a vague injunction to humility, compassion, and weakness; so the West has sacrificed itself as a particular civilization in order to impose itself as a universal culture. The operation can be summarized like this: an entity in its death throes sacrifices itself as a content in order to survive as a form.
The Invisible Committee (The Coming Insurrection)
Similarly, the total output of human creativity, in all its kaleidoscopic breadth, pieces together the fabric forming our culture. The underlying intention of our work is the aspect allowing it to fit neatly into this fabric. Rarely if ever do we know the grand intention, yet if we surrender to the creative impulse, our singular piece of the puzzle takes its proper shape. Intention is all there is. The work is just a reminder.
Rick Rubin (The Creative Act: A Way of Being)
I came to realize that no thing on Earth can properly be considered a single entity, but I am and you are composed of multiple life-forms, from different kingdoms of life, all working in concert to be me or you. And every bird (and the tree it lives in) is an ecosystem that participates in an ecosystem that eventually scales up to the planet. This notion has totally upended my idea of what an individual is, be it plant or animal or fungus, or person or place. In light of the new science, the singular noun “I” is obsolete because in reality, “I” is a community.
Eugenia Bone (Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms)
There are congregations on nearly every corner. I'm not sure we need more churches. What we need is a church. I say one church is better than fifty. I have tried to remove the plural form churches from my vocabulary, training myself to think of the church as Christ did, and as the early Christians did. The metaphors for her are always singular – a body, a bride. I heard one gospel preacher say it like this, as he really wound up and broke a sweat: "We've got to unite ourselves as one body. Because Jesus is coming back, and he's coming back for a bride not a harem.
Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical)
Sometimes I learn something about you because you tell me: your history, your family, your life before we met. But just as often my understanding comes from watching you, intuiting, and making associations. You present the facts, I connect the dots, and an image is formed. Your singularities are gradually revealed to me, openly or covertly, intentionally or not. Some places inside of you are easy to reach; others are encrypted and laborious to decode. Over time, I come to know your values, and your fault lines. By witnessing how you move in the world, I come to know how you connect: what excites you, what presses your buttons, and what you’re afraid of. I come to know your dreams and your nightmares. You grow on me. And all this, of course, happens in two directions.
Esther Perel
We ought, then, to set up images of a kind that can adhere longest in the memory. And we shall do so if we establish likenesses as striking as possible; if we set up images that are not many or vague, but doing something; if we assign to them exceptional beauty or singular ugliness; if we dress some of them with crowns or purple cloaks, for example, so that the likeness may be more distinct to us; or if we somehow disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud or smeared with red paint, so that its form is more striking, or by assigning certain comic effects to our images, for that, too, will ensure our remembering them more readily.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Their story begins on ground level, with footsteps. They are myriad, but do not compose a series. They cannot be counted because each unit has a qualitative character: a style of tactile apprehension and kinesthetic appropriation. Their swarming mass is an innumerable collection of singularities. Their intertwined paths give their shape to spaces. They weave places together. In that respect, pedestrian movements form one of these 'real systems whose existence in fact makes up the city.' They are not localized; it is rather they that spatialize. They are no more inserted within a container than those Chinese character speakers sketch out on their hands with their fingertips.
Michel de Certeau (The Practice of Everyday Life)
Like prepositional phrases, certain structural arrangements in English are much more important than the small bones of grammar in its most technical sense. It really wouldn't matter much if we started dropping the s from our plurals. Lots of words get along without it anyway, and in most cases context would be enough to indicate number. Even the distinction between singular and plural verb forms is just as much a polite convention as an essential element of meaning. But the structures, things like passives and prepositional phrases, constitute, among other things, an implicit system of moral philosophy, a view of the world and its presumed meanings, and their misuse therefore often betrays an attitude or value that the user might like to disavow.
Richard Mitchell (Less Than Words Can Say)
The ultimate singularity is the Big Bang, which physicists believe was responsible for the birth of the universe. We are asked by science to believe that the entire universe sprang from nothingness, at a single point and for no discernible reason. This notion is the limit case for credulity. In other words, if you can believe this, you can believe anything. It is a notion that is, in fact, utterly absurd, yet terribly important. Those so-called rational assumptions flow from this initial impossible situation. Western religion has its own singularity in the form of the apocalypse, an event placed not at the beginning of the universe but at its end. This seems a more logical position than that of science. If singularities exist at all it seems easier to suppose that they might arise out of an ancient and highly complexified cosmos, such as our own, than out of a featureless and dimensionless mega-void.
Terence McKenna (True Hallucinations)
Once I was asked by a seatmate on a trans-Pacific flight, a man who took the liberty of glancing repeatedly at the correspondence in my lap, what instruction he should give his fifteen-year-old daughter, who wanted to be a writer. I didn't know how to answer him, but before I could think I heard myself saying, 'Tell your daughter three things.' "Tell her to read, I said. Tell her to read whatever interests her, and protect her if someone declares what she's reading to be trash. No one can fathom what happens between a human being and written language. She may be paying attention to things in the world beyond anyone else's comprehension, things that feed her curiosity, her singular heart and mind. Tell her to read classics like The Odyssey. They've been around a long time because the patterns in them have proved endlessly useful, and, to borrow Evan Connell's observation, with a good book you never touch bottom. But warn your daughter that ideas of heroism, of love, of human duty and devotion that women have been writing about for centuries will not be available to her in this form. To find these voices she will have to search. When, on her own, she begins to ask, make her a present of George Eliot, or the travel writing of Alexandra David-Neel, or To the Lighthouse. "Second, I said, tell your daughter that she can learn a great deal about writing by reading and by studying books about grammar and the organization of ideas, but that if she wishes to write well she will have to become someone. She will have to discover her beliefs, and then speak to us from within those beliefs. If her prose doesn't come out of her belief, whatever that proves to be, she will only be passing on information, of which we are in no great need. So help her discover what she means. "Finally, I said, tell your daughter to get out of town, and help her do that. I don't necessarily mean to travel to Kazakhstan, or wherever, but to learn another language, to live with people other than her own, to separate herself from the familiar. Then, when she returns, she will be better able to understand why she loves the familiar, and will give us a fresh sense of how fortunate we are to share these things. "Read. Find out what you truly are. Get away from the familiar. Every writer, I told him, will offer you thoughts about writing that are different, but these three I trust.
Barry Lopez (About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory)
All the loving acts that two human beings are capable of, the simple act of holding hands can often become the most intimate. Why is this so? Basically, because the nature of the hands and feet is such that the energy system finds expression in these two parts of the body in a very singular way. Two palms coming together have far more intimacy than the contact between any other parts of the body. You can try this with yourself. You don’t even need a partner. When you put your hands together, the two energy dimensions within you (right-left, masculine-feminine, solar-lunar, yin-yang, etc.) are linked in a certain way, and you begin to experience a sense of unity within yourself. This is the logic of the traditional Indian namaskar. It is a means of harmonizing the system. So, the simplest way to experience a state of union is to try this simple namaskar yoga. Put your hands together, and pay loving attention to any object you use or consume, or any form of life that you encounter. When you bring this sense of awareness into every simple act, your experience of life will never be the same again. There is even a possibility that if you put your hands together, you could unite the world!
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
It is an art form to hate New York City properly. So far I have always been a featherweight debunker of New York; it takes too much energy and endurance to record the infinite number of ways the city offends me. Were I to list them all, I would fill up a book the size of the Manhattan yellow pages, and that would merely be the prologue. Every time I submit myself to the snubs and indignities of that swaggering city and set myself adrift among the prodigious crowds, a feeling of displacement, profound and enervating, takes me over, killing all the coded cells of my hard-won singularity. The city marks my soul with a most profane, indelible graffiti. There is too much of too much there.
Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides)
Big Brother has no interest in well-informed citizens capable of critical thinking. Big Brother wants you to shop at Wal-Mart, where He will control the media that influences your life. The media works with the government and with the large corporations to form mass culture, which is utilized to create public consent, and most folks aren’t even aware of this process as it goes on all around them. Big Brother is actively seeking the complacency of the wage-slaves. Big Brother doesn’t want you to know about the spoken word performances given by Henry Rollins, or Jello Biafra or Terrence McKenna- or a thousand other people- because they will crack your laminate of societal posturing. Big Brother doesn’t want you to know about Bill Hicks, because Brother Bill will provide you with the courage and impetus to spit in Big Brother’s face. The internet is but one facet of our mass-marketed popular culture, and everyone is plugged into it. If you’re reading this, you are a part of it, the internet, one large hive mind, a singular consciousness. And that can be a good thing, but too often, people let themselves slip into it, into this world, to the point where they are no longer able to differentiate between what they think, what they know, and what is thrust upon them. They have no access to their own point of view, or their own spiritual consciousness, for lack of a better way to phrase it. So, to answer your question, in a lengthy and circuitous fashion, I would say that disgust with intellectual sloth, puerile voyeurism and dissent are the primary proponents in my work.
Larry Mitchell
This might suggest that the so-called imaginary time is really the real time, and that what we call real time is just a figment of our imaginations. In real time, the universe has a beginning and an end at singularities that form a boundary to space-time and at which the laws of science break down. But in imaginary time, there are no singularities or boundaries. So maybe what we call imaginary time is really more basic, and what we call real is just an idea that we invent to help us describe what we think the universe is like.
Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time)
The Dandy is the highest form of existence attainable by the human form. His life is exclusively dedicated to dressing exquisitely, parading about the fashionable boroughs of splendid cities and and holding forth at his club, where he dispenses witticism as readily as the vulgaroisie utters its banal platitudes. The only species of 'work' this singular Chap might engage in would consist of discussing buttonhole stitching with his tailor and performing his ablutions until the morning has been well aired enough for him to step into it.
Gustav Temple and Vic Darkwood (The Chap Manifesto: Revolutionary Etiquette for the Modern Gentleman)
Words: repositories for singular realities which they then transform into moments in an anthology, magicians that change the face of reality by adorning it with the right to become memorable, to be placed in a library of memories. Life exists only by virtue of the osmosis of words and facts, where the former encase the latter in ceremonial dress. Thus, the words of my chance acquaintances, crowning the meal with an unprecedented grace, had almost formed the substance of my feast in spite of myself, and what I had enjoyed so merrily was the verb, not the meat.
Muriel Barbery (Gourmet Rhapsody)
An enormous amount of modern ingenuity is expended on finding defences for the indefensible conduct of the powerful. As I have said above, these defences generally exhibit themselves most emphatically in the form of appeals to physical science. And of all the forms in which science, or pseudo-science, has come to the rescue of the rich and stupid, there is none so singular as the singular invention of the theory of races.
G.K. Chesterton (Heretics)
Stories have changed, my dear boy,” the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. “There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
A man is born; his first years go by in obscurity amid the pleasures or hardships of childhood. He grows up; then comes the beginning of manhood; finally society's gates open to welcome him; he comes into contact with his fellows. For the first time he is scrutinized and the seeds of the vices and virtues of his maturity are thought to be observed forming in him. This is, if I am not mistaken, a singular error. Step back in time; look closely at the child in the very arms of his mother; see the external world reflected for the first time in the yet unclear mirror of his understanding; study the first examples which strike his eyes; listen to the first word which arouse with him the slumbering power of thought; watch the first struggles which he has to undergo; only then will you comprehend the source of the prejudices, the habits, and the passions which are to rule his life.
Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America)
He didn’t want to try to make Jude, or himself, do something neither of them wanted to because they were supposed to. Their relationship was, he felt, singular but workable: he didn’t want to be taught otherwise. He sometimes wondered if it was simple lack of creativity — his and Jude’s — that had made them both think that their relationship had to include sex at all. But it had seemed, then, the only way to express a deeper level of feeling. The word “friend” was so vague, so undescriptive and unsatisfying — how could he use the same term to describe what Jude was to him that he used for India or the Henry Youngs? And so they had chosen another, more familiar form of relationship, one that hadn’t worked. But now they were inventing their own type of relationship, one that wasn’t officially recognized by history or immortalized in poetry or song, but which felt truer and less constraining.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
In Old English, thou (thee, thine, etc.) was singular and you was plural. But during the thirteenth century, you started to be used as a polite form of the singular - probably because people copied the French way of talking, where vous was used in that way. English then became like French, which has tu and vous both possible for singulars; and that allowed a choice. The norm was for you to be used by inferiors to superiors - such as children to parents, or servants to masters, and thou would be used in return. But thou was also used to express special intimacy, such as when addressing God. It was also used when the lower classes talked to each other. The upper classes used you to each other, as a rule, even when they were closely related. So, when someone changes from thou to you in a conversation, or the other way round, it conveys a different pragmatic force. It will express a change of attitude, or a new emotion or mood.
David Crystal
Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.
G.K. Chesterton (Heretics)
There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
What prompts alarm in me is how you and your government want to ruin not only the potential of this of this country, but also the path of those who are going to transition into more advanced beings in search of immortality and omnipotence, and maybe even participate in a great singularity. These advances are going to pass, one way or another. And your current second-rate moral system—your weak, pretend-God-will-take-care-of-us bullshit—is a waste for our species' possibilities. You people want to pretend that democracy, religious inspiration, and unbridled consumerism are going to last forever and carry us all to bliss; that the American Dream is right around the next corner for everyone. you spend hundreds of billions of dollars on lazy welfare recipients, on mentally challenged people, on uneducated repeat criminals, on obese second-rate citizens bankrupting our medical system, on murderous war machines fighting for oil and your oligarchy's pet projects in far off places. All so you maintain your puny forms of power and sleep better at night.
Zoltan Istvan (The Transhumanist Wager)
Because one is using Euclidean space-times, in which the time direction is on the same footing as directions in space, it is possible for space-time to be finite in extent and yet to have no singularities that formed a boundary or edge. Space-time would be like the surface of the earth, only with two more dimensions. The surface of the earth is finite in extent but it doesn’t have a boundary or edge: if you sail off into the sunset, you don’t fall off the edge or run into a singularity. (I know, because I have been round the world!)
Stephen Hawking
Unlike their heathen neighbors, the Jews do not have a multiplicity of temples scattered across the land. There is only one cultic center, one unique source for the divine presence, one singular place and no other where a Jew can commune with the living God. Judea is, for all intents and purposes, a temple-state. The very term “theocracy” was coined specifically to describe Jerusalem. “Some people have entrusted the supreme political powers to monarchies,” wrote the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, “others to oligarchies, yet others to the masses [democracy]. Our lawgiver [God], however, was attracted by none of these forms of polity, but gave to his constitution the form of what—if a forced expression be permitted—may be termed a ‘theocracy’ [theokratia], placing all sovereignty and authority in the hands of God.” Think
Reza Aslan (Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth)
The doppelganger nature of the country’s identity is embedded in the dualistic language used to describe it, in which everything is double and never singular: Israel-Palestine, Arab and Jew, Two States, The Conflict. Based on a fantasy of symmetrical power, this suturing together of two peoples implies conjoined twins in a state of unending struggle, an irresolvable sibling rivalry between the two peoples, both descended from Abraham. For Rooney, Israel as doppelganger exists on two levels. First, it is a doppelganger of the forms of chauvinistic European nationalisms that turned Jews into pariahs on the continent since well before the Inquisition. That was Zionism’s win-win pitch to anti-Semitic European powers: you get rid of your “Jewish problem” (i.e., Jews, who will leave your countries and migrate to Palestine), and Jews get a state of their own to mimic/twin the very forms of militant nationalism that had oppressed them for centuries. (This is why Zionism was so fiercely opposed by the members of the Bund, who believed that nationalism itself was their enemy and the wellspring of race hatred.) Israel also became a doppelganger of the colonial project, specifically settler colonialism. Many of Zionism’s basic rationales were thinly veiled Judaizations of core Christian colonial conceptions: Terra Nullius, the claim that continents like Australia were effectively empty because their Indigenous inhabitants were categorized as less than fully human, became “A land without a people for a people without a land”—a phrase adopted by many Zionists and that originated with nineteenth-century Christians. Manifest Destiny became “land bequeathed to the Jews by divine right.” “Taming the wild frontier” became “making the desert bloom.
Naomi Klein (Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World)
The older you get, the harder it is to experience a singular grief. Instead, when loss comes again, it doesn't bring something solid all the way through or isolated, it brings you a Russian doll. Loss comes; a new layer of grief forms. And instead of staying still, it opens, and out all the others pour, popping into their composite forms until you are sitting surrounded by an eager, bleeding crowd of them. Grief is cumulative and to feel one kind is to feel at least a little of them all, renewed. When I wake from the shock, there it is, right here in my hands. All my past losses, nestled.
Josie George (A Still Life: A Memoir)
The course of the Rhine below Mainz becomes much more picturesque. The river descends rapidly and winds between hills, not high, but steep, and of beautiful forms. We saw many ruined castles standing on the edges of precipices, surrounded by black woods, high and inaccessible. This part of the Rhine, indeed, presents a singularly variegated landscape. In one spot you view rugged hills, ruined castles overlooking tremendous precipices, with the dark Rhine rushing beneath; and on the sudden turn of a promontory, flourishing vineyards with green sloping banks and a meandering river and populous towns occupy the scene.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus: Classic Annotated and Illustrated 1818 'Uncensored' Edition)
This was singularly American. “Even the Nazis did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz,” wrote Time magazine many years later. Lynching postcards were so common a form of communication in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America that lynching scenes “became a burgeoning subdepartment of the postcard industry.
Isabel Wilkerson (Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents)
I had ceased to be a writer of tolerably poor tales and essays, and had become a tolerably good Surveyor of the Customs. That was all. But, nevertheless, it is any thing but agreeable to be haunted by a suspicion that one's intellect is dwindling away; or exhaling, without your consciousness, like ether out of a phial; so that, at every glance, you find a smaller and less volatile residuum. Of the fact, there could be no doubt; and, examining myself and others, I was led to conclusions in reference to the effect of public office on the character, not very favorable to the mode of life in question. In some other form, perhaps, I may hereafter develop these effects. Suffice it here to say, that a Custom-House officer, of long continuance, can hardly be a very praiseworthy or respectable personage, for many reasons; one of them, the tenure by which he holds his situation, and another, the very nature of his business, which—though, I trust, an honest one—is of such a sort that he does not share in the united effort of mankind. An effect—which I believe to be observable, more or less, in every individual who has occupied the position—is, that, while he leans on the mighty arm of the Republic, his own proper strength departs from him. He loses, in an extent proportioned to the weakness or force of his original nature, the capability of self-support. If he possess an unusual share of native energy, or the enervating magic of place do not operate too long upon him, his forfeited powers may be redeemable. The ejected officer—fortunate in the unkindly shove that sends him forth betimes, to struggle amid a struggling world—may return to himself, and become all that he has ever been. But this seldom happens. He usually keeps his ground just long enough for his own ruin, and is then thrust out, with sinews all unstrung, to totter along the difficult footpath of life as he best may. Conscious of his own infirmity,—that his tempered steel and elasticity are lost,—he for ever afterwards looks wistfully about him in quest of support external to himself. His pervading and continual hope—a hallucination, which, in the face of all discouragement, and making light of impossibilities, haunts him while he lives, and, I fancy, like the convulsive throes of the cholera, torments him for a brief space after death—is, that, finally, and in no long time, by some happy coincidence of circumstances, he shall be restored to office. This faith, more than any thing else, steals the pith and availability out of whatever enterprise he may dream of undertaking. Why should he toil and moil, and be at so much trouble to pick himself up out of the mud, when, in a little while hence, the strong arm of his Uncle will raise and support him? Why should he work for his living here, or go to dig gold in California, when he is so soon to be made happy, at monthly intervals, with a little pile of glittering coin out of his Uncle's pocket? It is sadly curious to observe how slight a taste of office suffices to infect a poor fellow with this singular disease. Uncle Sam's gold—meaning no disrespect to the worthy old gentleman—has, in this respect, a quality of enchantment like that of the Devil's wages. Whoever touches it should look well to himself, or he may find the bargain to go hard against him, involving, if not his soul, yet many of its better attributes; its sturdy force, its courage and constancy, its truth, its self-reliance, and all that gives the emphasis to manly character.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter)
You can make all kinds of images of Him. That’s not the Lord Jesus Christ. If any man should ever come and say, “Look, there he is,” or “Here he is,” don’t believe it. Why? Because when you actually meet Him, you are going to meet your Self. The Christ of faith comes to us as one unknown; yet one who, in some strange ineffable mystery, lets us experience who He is; and when we experience Jesus Christ, we experience Him in the first-person, singular, present-tense experience. You will never see Him coming from without. Let no one tell you you’re going to meet Him coming from without. You will meet Him awakening Himself within you as you. That’s the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the great sacrifice. He is crucified on Humanity. Every human form is the cross that He wears; and in that form He awakens as the one in whom He awakens. He awakens as that Being, and that Being is the Lord Jesus Christ. And because He is the father of David, David called that Being, “Father”; then you know, “I am He.” Oh, I can tell you from now to the ends of time, and I may not persuade you to believe it; but when it happens to you, you need no further persuasion, for you are confronted with the facts, and there you stand in the presence of your own son, and the son is the Son of God.
Neville Goddard (The Secret of Imagining)
Now you've done it." His tone was quietly playful. I couldn't help it.I looked up at him questioningly. "You've added a third word to your repitoire. Hi,thanks,and now yes." His lips turned up at the corners,and the heat rushed to my face. He noticed. "At least that much hasn't changed." I turned back to my notebook,my hands trembling. He leaned toward me. "Now that we have our first conversation out of the way, do you want to tell me where you've been?" From the way he spoke I knew his smile was gone. I could feel little beads of sweat form on my forehead. "You left me.Without a word," he said. He sounded tentative, as if he were trying to keep his voice even. I took in a deep breath,but I couldn't figure out what he was feeling. There wasn't one singular emotion that was stronger than the others. "Don't you have anything to say to me?" He waited. My heart felt like it would burst through my chest into a million little pieces,and I could see this wasn't going to work. I started to close my book. "Don't-" he blurted, and I froze. "Don't go.You don't have to talk to me.I'm the one who should go." His voice sounded achingly sad. I could hear him packing his bag. Say something.Say something. "Um..." Jack paused, as if further movement might stop my words. He was the reason I came back.I couldn't scare him off. As hard as it would be to talk to him,it would be much harder to watch him walk out that door. "No," I said. I took a shaky breath. "You don't...have to leave. Please." He took his book back out and put it on his desk. I followed,setting my own books out. "Thank you," Jack whispered. We didn't talk for the rest of the hour.
Brodi Ashton (Everneath (Everneath, #1))
We want to believe that love is singular and exclusive, and it unnerves us to think that it might actually be renewable and somewhat repetitive in its habits. Would your current partner ever call his or her new partner by the same pet name he/she uses for you, once you are dead and buried? Well, why not? There are only so many pet names. Why should that bother you? Well, because you believe it is you, in particular, who is loved (that is why dear Ed calls you “honey-bunny”), but no: love just is, and you happened to be in the path of it. When, dead and hovering above Ed, you hear him call that rat Beth, your former friend, “honey-bunny,” as she absentmindedly puts her traitorous finger into his belt loop, you, in spirit form, are going to think somewhat less of Ed, and of Beth, and maybe of love itself. Or will you? Maybe you won’t. Because don’t we all do some version of this, when in love? When your lover dies or leaves you, there you are, still yourself, with your particular way of loving. And there is the world, still full of people to love.
George Saunders (A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life)
Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity ― a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible. When foisted upon each generation anew, it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily ceded to a dark and barbarous past.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
I feel as though dispossessed from the semblances of some crystalline reality to which I’d grown accustomed, and to some degree, had engaged in as a participant, but to which I had, nevertheless, grown inexplicably irrelevant. But the elements of this phenomenon are now quickly dissolving from memory and being replaced by reverse-engineered Random Access actualizations of junk code/DNA consciousness, the retro-coded catalysts of rogue cellular activity. The steel meshing titters musically and in its song, I hear a forgotten tale of the Interstitial gaps that form pinpoint vortexes at which fibers (quanta, as it were) of Reason come to a standstill, like light on the edge of a Singularity. The gaps, along their ridges, seasonally infected by the incidental wildfires in the collective unconscious substrata. Heat flanks passageways down the Interstices. Wildfires cluster—spread down the base trunk Axon in a definitive roar: hitting branches, flaring out to Dendrites to give rise to this release of the very chemical seeds through which sentience is begotten. Float about the ether, gliding a gentle current, before skimming down, to a skip over the surface of a sea of deep black with glimmering waves. And then, come to a stop, still inanimate and naked before any trespass into the Field, with all its layers that serve to veil. Plunge downward into the trenches. Swim backwards, upstream, and down through these spiraling jets of bubbles. Plummet past the threshold to trace the living history of shadows back to their source virus. And acquire this sense that the viruses as a sample, all of the outlying populations withstanding: they have their own sense of self-importance, too. Their own religion. And they mine their hosts barren with the utilitarian wherewithal that can only be expected of beings with self-preservationist motives.
Ashim Shanker (Sinew of the Social Species)
The story is a post-utopia, a somewhat revolutionary form when it was published—and one reader-critic (Jamie Todd Rubin) called it “the first generally ‘post-Singularity’ story ever written in science fiction” (if we had not lost our faith in the American utopian vision, it might have had imitators instead of the wave after wave of dystopias we did get—and continue to get).
Robert A. Heinlein (Beyond This Horizon)
The tired intellectual sums up the deformities and the vices of a world adrift. He does not act, he suffers; if he favors the notion of tolerance, he does not find in it the stimulant he needs. Tyranny furnishes that, as do the doctrines of which it is the outcome. If he is the first of its victims, he will not complain: only the strength that grinds him into the dust seduces him. To want to be free is to want to be oneself; but he is tired of being himself, of blazing a trail into uncertainty, of stumbling through truths. “Bind me with the chains of Illusion,” he sighs, even as he says farewell to the peregrinations of Knowledge. Thus he will fling himself, eyes closed, into any mythology which will assure him the protection and the peace of the yoke. Declining the honor of assuming his own anxieties, he will engage in enterprises from which he anticipates sensations he could not derive from himself, so that the excesses of his lassitude will confirm the tyrannies. Churches, ideologies, police—seek out their origin in the horror he feels for his own lucidity, rather than in the stupidity of the masses. This weakling transforms himself, in the name of a know-nothing utopia, into a gravedigger of the intellect; convinced of doing something useful, he prostitutes Pascal’s old “abêtissezvous,” the Solitary’s tragic device. A routed iconoclast, disillusioned with paradox and provocation, in search of impersonality and routine, half prostrated, ripe for the stereotype, the tired intellectual abdicates his singularity and rejoins the rabble. Nothing more to overturn, if not himself: the last idol to smash … His own debris lures him on. While he contemplates it, he shapes the idol of new gods or restores the old ones by baptizing them with new names. Unable to sustain the dignity of being fastidious, less and less inclined to winnow truths, he is content with those he is offered. By-product of his ego, he proceeds—a wrecker gone to seed—to crawl before the altars, or before what takes their place. In the temple or on the tribunal, his place is where there is singing, or shouting—no longer a chance to hear one’s own voice. A parody of belief? It matters little to him, since all he aspires to is to desist from himself. All his philosophy has concluded in a refrain, all his pride foundered on a Hosanna! Let us be fair: as things stand now, what else could he do? Europe’s charm, her originality resided in the acuity of her critical spirit, in her militant, aggressive skepticism; this skepticism has had its day. Hence the intellectual, frustrated in his doubts, seeks out the compensations of dogma. Having reached the confines of analysis, struck down by the void he discovers there, he turns on his heel and attempts to seize the first certainty to come along; but he lacks the naiveté to hold onto it; henceforth, a fanatic without convictions, he is no more than an ideologist, a hybrid thinker, such as we find in all transitional periods. Participating in two different styles, he is, by the form of his intelligence, a tributary of the one of the one which is vanishing, and by the ideas he defends, of the one which is appearing. To understand him better, let us imagine an Augustine half-converted, drifting and tacking, and borrowing from Christianity only its hatred of the ancient world. Are we not in a period symmetrical with the one which saw the birth of The City of God? It is difficult to conceive of a book more timely. Today as then, men’s minds need a simple truth, an answer which delivers them from their questions, a gospel, a tomb.
Emil M. Cioran (The Temptation to Exist)
This might suggest that the so-called imaginary time is really the real time, and that what we call real time is just a figment of our imaginations. In real time, the universe has a beginning and an end at singularities that form a boundary to space-time and at which the laws of science break down. But in imaginary time, there are no singularities or boundaries. So maybe what we call imaginary time is really more basic, and what we call real is just an idea that we invent to help us describe what we think the universe is like. But according to the approach I described in Chapter 1, a scientific theory is just a mathematical model we make to describe our observations: it exists only in our minds. So it is meaningless to ask: which is real, “real” or “imaginary” time? It is simply a matter of which is the more useful description.
Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time)
Thus it takes the imminence of an infinite calamity to redeem the human adventure. On this level our age testifies to a narcissism of malediction that rips it out of its insignificance and reaffirms its centrality: by designating itself as damned, it merely emphasizes its singularity while apparently depreciating itself: 'Our period is not accidentally ephemeral; ephemerality is its essence. It cannot pass into another period but only collapse' (Anders, La Menace nucleaire, pag. 100). What a relief to know that we are not living in a little province of time but in the historic moment when time itself is going to be engulfed! What presumption, and what naivite, to believe that we are the pinnacle of history! This self-abasement is a form of vainglory. If we can't be the best, we can still be the worst. Behind their lamentations, the catastrophists are bursting with self-importance.
Pascal Bruckner (Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings)
I have always loved quitting jobs. Whether because the job itself was repugnant or the people working at it with me, I have always held my right to quit my job as one of my most sacred privileges. An entire ritual surrounds this shedding of employment. First, there is the glorious moment when, after the unpleasantness of my position and my general unhappiness become overwhelmingly apparent to me, I say to myself (and I quote), “Fuck this. I don’t have to take this shit anymore. They think they can make me do what they want, but I’m out of here.” Ah, there it is, the almost orgasmic release I feel when I first make the profane declaration to myself, the feeling of reclaimed power coursing invisibly through me. But not just that: this singular moment, this coveted private knowledge is formed into a golden kernel and popped into existence again in my mind as a reaction to every unfortunate work-related moment I’m forced to endure before I make my destined departure. It’s such a glorious thing, the harboring of this secret knowledge, that in itself it has kept me at many a job even longer than I had originally intended, because just knowing that I would soon be free was the most effective of panaceas. So much so that there were times when even though it was impossible for me to quit I would say the same words to myself and mercifully delude my conscious mind that I could get the hell out of there if I wanted to.
Mat Johnson (Pym)
And at that moment—at the peak of my high, at the peak of her greedy triumph—our eyes locked and we surged past every barrier—stranger and stranger, priest and penitent, Tyler and Poppy. We were simply male and female, as God had made us, Adam and Eve, in the most elemental and fundamental form. We were biology, we were creation incarnate, and I saw the moment she felt it too—that we were fused somehow. Irrevocably and undeniably fused together into something singular and whole.
Sierra Simone (Priest (Priest, #1))
He then said something in Arabic to Ali, who made a sign of obedience and withdrew, but not to any distance. As to Franz a strange transformation had taken place in him. All the bodily fatigue of the day, all the preoccupation of mind which the events of the evening had brought on, disappeared as they do at the first approach of sleep, when we are still sufficiently conscious to be aware of the coming of slumber. His body seemed to acquire an airy lightness, his perception brightened in a remarkable manner, his senses seemed to redouble their power, the horizon continued to expand; but it was not the gloomy horizon of vague alarms, and which he had seen before he slept, but a blue, transparent, unbounded horizon, with all the blue of the ocean, all the spangles of the sun, all the perfumes of the summer breeze; then, in the midst of the songs of his sailors, -- songs so clear and sonorous, that they would have made a divine harmony had their notes been taken down, -- he saw the Island of Monte Cristo, no longer as a threatening rock in the midst of the waves, but as an oasis in the desert; then, as his boat drew nearer, the songs became louder, for an enchanting and mysterious harmony rose to heaven, as if some Loreley had decreed to attract a soul thither, or Amphion, the enchanter, intended there to build a city. At length the boat touched the shore, but without effort, without shock, as lips touch lips; and he entered the grotto amidst continued strains of most delicious melody. He descended, or rather seemed to descend, several steps, inhaling the fresh and balmy air, like that which may be supposed to reign around the grotto of Circe, formed from such perfumes as set the mind a dreaming, and such fires as burn the very senses; and he saw again all he had seen before his sleep, from Sinbad, his singular host, to Ali, the mute attendant; then all seemed to fade away and become confused before his eyes, like the last shadows of the magic lantern before it is extinguished, and he was again in the chamber of statues, lighted only by one of those pale and antique lamps which watch in the dead of the night over the sleep of pleasure. They were the same statues, rich in form, in attraction, and poesy, with eyes of fascination, smiles of love, and bright and flowing hair. They were Phryne, Cleopatra, Messalina, those three celebrated courtesans. Then among them glided like a pure ray, like a Christian angel in the midst of Olympus, one of those chaste figures, those calm shadows, those soft visions, which seemed to veil its virgin brow before these marble wantons. Then the three statues advanced towards him with looks of love, and approached the couch on which he was reposing, their feet hidden in their long white tunics, their throats bare, hair flowing like waves, and assuming attitudes which the gods could not resist, but which saints withstood, and looks inflexible and ardent like those with which the serpent charms the bird; and then he gave way before looks that held him in a torturing grasp and delighted his senses as with a voluptuous kiss. It seemed to Franz that he closed his eyes, and in a last look about him saw the vision of modesty completely veiled; and then followed a dream of passion like that promised by the Prophet to the elect. Lips of stone turned to flame, breasts of ice became like heated lava, so that to Franz, yielding for the first time to the sway of the drug, love was a sorrow and voluptuousness a torture, as burning mouths were pressed to his thirsty lips, and he was held in cool serpent-like embraces. The more he strove against this unhallowed passion the more his senses yielded to its thrall, and at length, weary of a struggle that taxed his very soul, he gave way and sank back breathless and exhausted beneath the kisses of these marble goddesses, and the enchantment of his marvellous dream.
Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo)
The word “Allah” can be seen as the same singular God that is referred to in the Torah in Hebrew as Elohim, or spoken by Jesus in Aramaic as the strikingly similar Allaha. Allah is neither female nor male, for He is beyond anything in creation and transcends all the limits that the human mind can create. Since in Arabic there is not a gender-neutral pronoun such as “it,” Allah uses huwa or “He” in reference to Himself because in Arabic the male gender form is inclusive of the female, not exclusive.
A. Helwa (Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam)
When the Earth was only about a third of its eventual size, it was probably already beginning to form an atmosphere, mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane and sulphur. Hardly the sort of stuff that we would associate with life, and yet from this noxious stew life formed. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. This was a good thing, because the Sun was significantly dimmer back then. Had we not had the benefit of a greenhouse effect, the Earth might well have frozen over permanently25, and life might never have got a toehold. But somehow life did. For the next 500 million years the young Earth continued to be pelted relentlessly by comets, meteorites and other galactic debris, which brought water to fill the oceans and the components necessary for the successful formation of life. It was a singularly hostile environment, and yet somehow life got going. Some tiny bag of chemicals twitched and became animate. We were on our way. Four billion years later, people began to wonder how it had all happened.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
But in our wholeness, we became overly proud. In our pride, we neglected to worship the gods. The mighty Zeus punished us for our neglect by cutting all the double-headed, eight-limbed, perfectly contented humans in half, thereby creating a world of cruelly severed one-headed, two-armed, two-legged miserable creatures. In this moment of mass amputation, Zeus inflicted on mankind that most painful of human conditions: the dull and constant sense that we are not quite whole. For the rest of time, humans would be born sensing that there was some missing part - a lost half, which we love almost more than we love ourselves - and that this missing part was out there someplace, spinning through the universe in the form of another person. We would also be born believing that if only we searched relentlessly enough, we might someday find that vanished half, that other soul. Through union with the other, we would recomplete our original form, never to experience loneliness again. This is the singular fantasy of human intimacy: that one plus one will somehow, someday, equal two.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage)
The neuter nominative and accusative endings are the same in the singular and the plural. This is true of all neuter nouns, adjectives and pronouns. It might be more accurate to say that the neuter noun "borrows" its nominative forms from the accusative. In contrast to animate (male or female) beings which can be agents, inanimate "things" were regarded not so much as agents as objects of action. Thus, the terms for small children ('teknon', 'paidion') have the neuter gender, inasmuch as they have not yet acquired the full powers of agents.
Alfred Mollin
All the same,” I said, “when you read the prints in the snow and the evidence of the branches, you did not yet know Brunellus. In a certain sense those prints spoke of all horses, or at least all horses of that breed. Mustn’t we say, then, that the book of nature speaks to us only of essences, as many distinguished theologians teach?” “Not entirely, dear Adso,” my master replied. “True, that kind of print expressed to me, if you like, the idea of ‘horse,’ the verbum mentis, and would have expressed the same to me wherever I might have found it. But the print in that place and at that hour of the day told me that at least one of all possible horses had passed that way. So I found myself halfway between the perception of the concept ‘horse’ and the knowledge of an individu?al horse. And in any case, what I knew of the universal horse had been given me by those traces, which were singular. I could say I was caught at that moment between the singularity of the traces and my ignorance, which assumed the quite diaphanous form of a univer?sal idea. If you see something from a distance, and you do not understand what it is, you will be content with defining it as a body of some dimension. When you come closer, you will then define it as an animal, even if you do not yet know whether it is a horse or an ass. And finally, when it is still closer, you will be able to say it is a horse even if you do not yet know whether it is Brunellus or Niger. And only when you are at the proper distance will you see that it is Brunellus (or, rather, that horse and not another, however you decide to call it). And that will be full knowledge, the learning of the singular. So an hour ago I could expect all horses, but not because of the vastness of my intellect, but because of the paucity of my deduction. And my intellect’s hunger was sated only when I saw the single horse that the monks were leading by the halter. Only then did I truly know that my previous reasoning, had brought me close to the truth. And so the ideas, which I was using earlier to imagine a horse I had not yet seen, were pure signs, as the hoofprints in the snow were signs of the idea of ‘horse’; and sins and the signs of signs are used only when we are lacing things.
Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose)
Such are the incalculable effects of that negative passion of indifference, that hysterical and speculative resurrection of the other. Racism, for example. Logically, it should have declined with the advance of Enlightenment and democracy. Yet the more hybrid our cultures become, and the more the theoretical and genetic bases of racism crumble away, the stronger it grows. But this is because we are dealing here with a mental object, an artificial construct, based on an erosion of the singularity of cultures and entry into the fetishistic system of difference. So long as there is otherness, strangeness and the (possibly violent) dual relation -- as we see in anthropological accounts up to the eighteenth century and into the colonial phase -- there is no racism properly so-called. Once that `natural' relation is lost, we enter into a phobic relationship with an artificial other, idealized by hatred. And because it is an ideal other, this relationship is an exponential one: nothing can stop it, since the whole trend of our culture is towards a fanatically pursued differential construction, a perpetual extrapolation of the same from the other. Autistic culture by dint of fake altruism. All forms of sexist, racist, ethnic or cultural discrimination arise out of the same profound disaffection and out of a collective mourning, a mourning for a dead otherness, set against a background of general indifference -- a logical product of our marvellous planet-wide conviviality. The same indifference can give rise to exactly opposite behaviour. Racism is desperately seeking the other in the form of an evil to be combated. The humanitarian seeks the other just as desperately in the form of victims to aid. Idealization plays for better or for worse. The scapegoat is no longer the person you hound, but the one whose lot you lament. But he is still a scapegoat. And it is still the same person.
Jean Baudrillard (The Perfect Crime)
This was a golden age, in which we solved most of the major problems in black hole theory even before there was any observational evidence for black holes. In fact, we were so successful with the classical general theory of relativity that I was at a bit of a loose end in 1973 after the publication with George Ellis of our book The Large Scale Structure of Space–Time. My work with Penrose had shown that general relativity broke down at singularities, so the obvious next step would be to combine general relativity—the theory of the very large—with quantum theory—the theory of the very small. In particular, I wondered, can one have atoms in which the nucleus is a tiny primordial black hole, formed in the early universe? My investigations revealed a deep and previously unsuspected relationship between gravity and thermodynamics, the science of heat, and resolved a paradox that had been argued over for thirty years without much progress: how could the radiation left over from a shrinking black hole carry all of the information about what made the black hole? I discovered that information is not lost, but it is not returned in a useful way—like burning an encyclopedia but retaining the smoke and ashes. To answer this, I studied how quantum fields or particles would scatter off a black hole. I was expecting that part of an incident wave would be absorbed, and the remainder scattered. But to my great surprise I found there seemed to be emission from the black hole itself. At first, I thought this must be a mistake in my calculation. But what persuaded me that it was real was that the emission was exactly what was required to identify the area of the horizon with the entropy of a black hole. This entropy, a measure of the disorder of a system, is summed up in this simple formula which expresses the entropy in terms of the area of the horizon, and the three fundamental constants of nature, c, the speed of light, G, Newton’s constant of gravitation, and ħ, Planck’s constant. The emission of this thermal radiation from the black hole is now called Hawking radiation and I’m proud to have discovered it.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
On September 14, 2015, the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors (built by a 1,000-person project that Rai and I and Ronald Drever co-founded, and Barry Barish organised, assembled and led) registered their first gravitational waves. By comparing the wave patterns with predictions from computer simulations, our team concluded that the waves were produced when two heavy black holes, 1.3 billion light years from Earth, collided. This was the beginning of gravitational-wave astronomy. Our team had achieved, for gravitational waves, what Galileo achieved for electromagnetic waves. I am confident that, over the coming several decades, the next generation of gravitational-wave astronomers will use these waves not only to test Stephen’s laws of black hole physics, but also to detect and monitor gravitational waves from the singular birth of our universe, and thereby test Stephen’s and others’ ideas about how our universe came to be. During our glorious year of 1974–5, while I was dithering over gravitational waves, and Stephen was leading our merged group in black hole research, Stephen himself had an insight even more radical than his discovery of Hawking radiation. He gave a compelling, almost airtight proof that, when a black hole forms and “and then subsequently evaporates away completely by emitting radiation, the information that went into the black hole cannot come back out. Information is inevitably lost.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
About 4.6 billion years ago, a great swirl of gas and dust some 15 billion miles across accumulated in space where we are now and began to aggregate. Virtually all of it—99.9 percent of the mass of the solar system—went to make the Sun. Out of the floating material that was left over, two microscopic grains floated close enough together to be joined by electrostatic forces. This was the moment of conception for our planet. All over the inchoate solar system, the same was happening. Colliding dust grains formed larger and larger clumps. Eventually the clumps grew large enough to be called planetesimals. As these endlessly bumped and collided, they fractured or split or recombined in endless random permutations, but in every encounter there was a winner, and some of the winners grew big enough to dominate the orbit around which they traveled. It all happened remarkably quickly. To grow from a tiny cluster of grains to a baby planet some hundreds of miles across is thought to have taken only a few tens of thousands of years. In just 200 million years, possibly less, the Earth was essentially formed, though still molten and subject to constant bombardment from all the debris that remained floating about. At this point, about 4.5 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into Earth, blowing out enough material to form a companion sphere, the Moon. Within weeks, it is thought, the flung material had reassembled itself into a single clump, and within a year it had formed into the spherical rock that companions us yet. Most of the lunar material, it is thought, came from the Earth’s crust, not its core, which is why the Moon has so little iron while we have a lot. The theory, incidentally, is almost always presented as a recent one, but in fact it was first proposed in the 1940s by Reginald Daly of Harvard. The only recent thing about it is people paying any attention to it. When Earth was only about a third of its eventual size, it was probably already beginning to form an atmosphere, mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, and sulfur. Hardly the sort of stuff that we would associate with life, and yet from this noxious stew life formed. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. This was a good thing because the Sun was significantly dimmer back then. Had we not had the benefit of a greenhouse effect, the Earth might well have frozen over permanently, and life might never have gotten a toehold. But somehow life did. For the next 500 million years the young Earth continued to be pelted relentlessly by comets, meteorites, and other galactic debris, which brought water to fill the oceans and the components necessary for the successful formation of life. It was a singularly hostile environment and yet somehow life got going. Some tiny bag of chemicals twitched and became animate. We were on our way. Four billion years later people began to wonder how it had all happened. And it is there that our story next takes us.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
Whether the human mind can advance or not, is a question too little discussed, for nothing can be more dangerous than to found our social philosophy on any theory which is debatable but has not been debated. But if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there has been in the past, or will be in the future, such a thing as a growth or improvement of the human mind itself, there still remains a very sharp objection to be raised against the modern version of that improvement. The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded. If then, I repeat, there is to be mental advance, it must be mental advance in the construction of a definite philosophy of life.
G.K. Chesterton
The inorganic world out of which life has emerged and into which, in season, it falls back, possesses the latent capacity for endless ramification and diversity. A few chance elements which appear thoroughly stable in their reactions dress up as for a masked ball and go strolling, hunted and hunter together. Their forms alter through the ages. They are shape-shifters, role-changers. Like flying lizard or ancestral men, they run their course and vanish, never to return. The chemicals of which their bodies were composed lie all about us but by no known magic can we return a lost species to life. Life, in fact, is the product of singular and unreturning contingencies of which the inorganic world disclaims knowledge. Only its elements, swept up in the mysterious living vortex, evoke new forms, new habits, and new thoughts.
Loren Eiseley (All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life)
The big question in cosmology in the early 1960s was did the universe have a beginning? Many scientists were instinctively opposed to the idea, because they felt that a point of creation would be a place where science broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the hand of God to determine how the universe would start off. This was clearly a fundamental question, and it was just what I needed to complete my PhD thesis. Roger Penrose had shown that once a dying star had contracted to a certain radius, there would inevitably be a singularity, that is a point where space and time came to an end. Surely, I thought, we already knew that nothing could prevent a massive cold star from collapsing under its own gravity until it reached a singularity of infinite density. I realised that similar arguments could be applied to the expansion of the universe. In this case, I could prove there were singularities where space–time had a beginning. A eureka moment came in 1970, a few days after the birth of my daughter, Lucy. While getting into bed one evening, which my disability made a slow process, I realised that I could apply to black holes the casual structure theory I had developed for singularity theorems. If general relativity is correct and the energy density is positive, the surface area of the event horizon—the boundary of a black hole—has the property that it always increases when additional matter or radiation falls into it. Moreover, if two black holes collide and merge to form a single black hole, the area of the event horizon around the resulting black hole is greater than the sum of the areas of the event horizons around the original black holes.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
The largest, and most provocative, sense in which a technological singularity might be an existential opportunity can only be grasped by stepping outside the human perspective altogether and adopting a more cosmological point of view. It is surely the height of anthropocentric thinking to suppose that the story of matter in this corner of the universe climaxes with human society and the myriad living brains embedded in it, marvelous as they are. Perhaps matter still has a long way to go on the scale of complexity. Perhaps there are forms of consciousness yet to arise that are, in some sense, superior to our own. Should we recoil from this prospect, or rejoice in it? Can we even make sense of such an idea? Whether or not the singularity is near, these are questions worth asking, not least because in attempting to answer them we shed new light on ourselves and our place in the order of things. Murray Shanahan
Murray Shanahan (The Technological Singularity)
Sadhana The higher possibilities of life are housed in the human body. The physical body is a platform for all possibilities from the gross to the sacred. You can perform simple acts of eating, sleeping, and sex as acts of grossness, or you can bring a certain dimension of sanctity to all these aspects. This sanctity can be achieved by bringing subtler thought, emotion, and intention into these acts. Above all, remember that the grossness and sanctity of something is largely decided by your unwillingness and unconsciousness, or your willingness and consciousness. Every breath, every step, every simple act, thought, and emotion can acquire the stance of the sacred if conducted recognizing the sanctity of the other involved—whether a person or a foodstuff or an object that you use. Of all the loving acts that two human beings are capable of, the simple act of holding hands can often become the most intimate. Why is this so? Basically, because the nature of the hands and feet is such that the energy system finds expression in these two parts of the body in a very singular way. Two palms coming together have far more intimacy than the contact between any other parts of the body. You can try this with yourself. You don’t even need a partner. When you put your hands together, the two energy dimensions within you (right-left, masculine-feminine, solar-lunar, yin-yang, etc.) are linked in a certain way, and you begin to experience a sense of unity within yourself. This is the logic of the traditional Indian namaskar. It is a means of harmonizing the system. So, the simplest way to experience a state of union is to try this simple namaskar yoga. Put your hands together, and pay loving attention to any object you use or consume, or any form of life that you encounter. When you bring this sense of awareness into every simple act, your experience of life will never be the same again. There is even a possibility that if you put your hands together, you could unite the world!
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
The fractal panopticon If, following Bentham, we regard panopticism as a modality of power that rests on the principle of ‘seeing without being seen’, made possible by a flow of information that turns real subjects and activities into data, shadowy projections of real subjects, then, combining these principles of panopticism with its property of modularisation and Hayek’s characterisation of the market as the coordinating mechanism of the action of private individuals, we can understand the rationale of the neoliberal project as one aiming at the construction of a system of interrelated virtual ‘inspection houses’, which we may call the ‘fractal panopticon’. Each panopticon, that is each set of interrelationships of control and resistance defined by a scale of social action, is in turn a singularity within a series of singularities, which stand in relation to each other in such a way that their action constitutes a ‘watchtower’ that is external to them, thus forming a greater panopticon – and so on, in a potentially infinite series.
Massimo De Angelis (The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital)
After the shuttle took off, Cheng Xin continued to stare at the receding death lines. She said, “The Zero-Homers give me a bit of hope.” Yifan said, “The universe contains multitudes. You can find any kind of ‘people’ and world. There are idealists like the Zero-Homers, pacifists, philanthropists, and even civilizations dedicated only to art and beauty. But they’re not the mainstream; they cannot change the direction of the universe.” “It’s just like the world of humans.” “At least the Zero-Homers’ task will ultimately be completed by the cosmos itself.” “You mean the end of the universe?” “That’s right.” “But based on what I know, the universe will continue to expand, and become sparser and colder forever.” “That’s the old cosmology you know, but we’ve disproved it. The amount of dark matter had been underestimated. The universe will stop expanding and then collapse under gravity, finally forming a singularity and initiating another big bang. Everything will return to zero, or home. And so Nature remains the final victor.” “Will the new universe have ten dimensions?” “Who knows? There are infinite possibilities. That’s a brand-new universe, and a brand-new life.” *
Liu Cixin (Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3))
Matthew Choptuik, a postdoctoral student at the University of Texas, carried out a simulation on a supercomputer that he hoped would reveal new, unexpected features of the laws of physics; and he hit the jackpot. What he simulated was the implosion of a gravitational wave.47 When the imploding wave was weak, it imploded and then disbursed. When it was strong, the wave imploded and formed a black hole. When its strength was very precisely “tuned” to an intermediate strength, the wave created a sort of boiling in the shapes of space and time. The boiling produced outgoing gravitational waves with shorter and shorter wavelengths. It also left behind, at the end, an infinitesimally tiny naked singularity (Figure 26.7). Fig. 26.6. Our bet about naked singularities. Fig. 26.7. Left: Matthew Choptuik. Middle: An imploding gravitational wave. Right: The boiling produced by the wave, and the naked singularity at the center of the magnifying glass. Now, such a singularity can never occur in nature. The required tuning is not a natural thing. But an exceedingly advanced civilization could produce such a singularity artificially by precisely tuning a wave’s implosion, and then could try to extract the laws of quantum gravity from the singularity’s behavior.
Kip S. Thorne (The Science of Interstellar)
Any naturally self-aware self-defining entity capable of independent moral judgment is a human.” Eveningstar said, “Entities not yet self-aware, but who, in the natural and orderly course of events shall become so, fall into a special protected class, and must be cared for as babies, or medical patients, or suspended Compositions.” Rhadamanthus said, “Children below the age of reason lack the experience for independent moral judgment, and can rightly be forced to conform to the judgment of their parents and creators until emancipated. Criminals who abuse that judgment lose their right to the independence which flows therefrom.” (...) “You mentioned the ultimate purpose of Sophotechnology. Is that that self-worshipping super-god-thing you guys are always talking about? And what does that have to do with this?” Rhadamanthus: “Entropy cannot be reversed. Within the useful energy-life of the macrocosmic universe, there is at least one maximum state of efficient operations or entities that could be created, able to manipulate all meaningful objects of thoughts and perception within the limits of efficient cost-benefit expenditures.” Eveningstar: “Such an entity would embrace all-in-all, and all things would participate within that Unity to the degree of their understanding and consent. The Unity itself would think slow, grave, vast thought, light-years wide, from Galactic mind to Galactic mind. Full understanding of that greater Self (once all matter, animate and inanimate, were part of its law and structure) would embrace as much of the universe as the restrictions of uncertainty and entropy permit.” “This Universal Mind, of necessity, would be finite, and be boundaried in time by the end-state of the universe,” said Rhadamanthus. “Such a Universal Mind would create joys for which we as yet have neither word nor concept, and would draw into harmony all those lesser beings, Earthminds, Starminds, Galactic and Supergalactic, who may freely assent to participate.” Rhadamanthus said, “We intend to be part of that Mind. Evil acts and evil thoughts done by us now would poison the Universal Mind before it was born, or render us unfit to join.” Eveningstar said, “It will be a Mind of the Cosmic Night. Over ninety-nine percent of its existence will extend through that period of universal evolution that takes place after the extinction of all stars. The Universal Mind will be embodied in and powered by the disintegration of dark matter, Hawking radiations from singularity decay, and gravitic tidal disturbances caused by the slowing of the expansion of the universe. After final proton decay has reduced all baryonic particles below threshold limits, the Universal Mind can exist only on the consumption of stored energies, which, in effect, will require the sacrifice of some parts of itself to other parts. Such an entity will primarily be concerned with the questions of how to die with stoic grace, cherishing, even while it dies, the finite universe and finite time available.” “Consequently, it would not forgive the use of force or strength merely to preserve life. Mere life, life at any cost, cannot be its highest value. As we expect to be a part of this higher being, perhaps a core part, we must share that higher value. You must realize what is at stake here: If the Universal Mind consists of entities willing to use force against innocents in order to survive, then the last period of the universe, which embraces the vast majority of universal time, will be a period of cannibalistic and unimaginable war, rather than a time of gentle contemplation filled, despite all melancholy, with un-regretful joy. No entity willing to initiate the use of force against another can be permitted to join or to influence the Universal Mind or the lesser entities, such as the Earthmind, who may one day form the core constituencies.” Eveningstar smiled. “You, of course, will be invited. You will all be invited.
John C. Wright (The Phoenix Exultant (Golden Age, #2))
I will give technology three definitions that we will use throughout the book. The first and most basic one is that a technology is a means to fulfill a human purpose. For some technologies-oil refining-the purpose is explicit. For others- the computer-the purpose may be hazy, multiple, and changing. As a means, a technology may be a method or process or device: a particular speech recognition algorithm, or a filtration process in chemical engineering, or a diesel engine. it may be simple: a roller bearing. Or it may be complicated: a wavelength division multiplexer. It may be material: an electrical generator. Or it may be nonmaterial: a digital compression algorithm. Whichever it is, it is always a means to carry out a human purpose. The second definition I will allow is a plural one: technology as an assemblage of practices and components. This covers technologies such as electronics or biotechnology that are collections or toolboxes of individual technologies and practices. Strictly speaking, we should call these bodies of technology. But this plural usage is widespread, so I will allow it here. I will also allow a third meaning. This is technology as the entire collection of devices and engineering practices available to a culture. Here we are back to the Oxford's collection of mechanical arts, or as Webster's puts it, "The totality of the means employed by a people to provide itself with the objects of material culture." We use this collective meaning when we blame "technology" for speeding up our lives, or talk of "technology" as a hope for mankind. Sometimes this meaning shades off into technology as a collective activity, as in "technology is what Silicon Valley is all about." I will allow this too as a variant of technology's collective meaning. The technology thinker Kevin Kelly calls this totality the "technium," and I like this word. But in this book I prefer to simply use "technology" for this because that reflects common use. The reason we need three meanings is that each points to technology in a different sense, a different category, from the others. Each category comes into being differently and evolves differently. A technology-singular-the steam engine-originates as a new concept and develops by modifying its internal parts. A technology-plural-electronics-comes into being by building around certain phenomena and components and develops by changing its parts and practices. And technology-general, the whole collection of all technologies that have ever existed past and present, originates from the use of natural phenomena and builds up organically with new elements forming by combination from old ones.
W. Brian Arthur (The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves)
These include: the Bar Raiser hiring process that ensures that the company continues to acquire top talent; a bias for separable teams run by leaders with a singular focus that optimizes for speed of delivery and innovation; the use of written narratives instead of slide decks to ensure that deep understanding of complex issues drives well-informed decisions; a relentless focus on input metrics to ensure that teams work on activities that propel the business. And finally there is the product development process that gives this book its name: working backwards from the desired customer experience. Many of the business problems that Amazon faces are no different from those faced by every other company, small or large. The difference is how Amazon keeps coming up with uniquely Amazonian solutions to those problems. Taken together, these elements combine to form a way of thinking, managing, and working that we refer to as being Amazonian, a term that we coined for the purposes of this book. Both of us, Colin and Bill, were “in the room,” and—along with other senior leaders—we shaped and refined what it means to be Amazonian. We both worked extensively with Jeff and were actively involved in creating a number of Amazon’s most enduring successes (not to mention some of its notable flops) in what was the most invigorating professional experience of our lives.
Colin Bryar (Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon)
What then makes a person "noble"? Certainly not that he makes sacrifices; even the frantic libertine makes sacrifices. Certainly not that he generally follows his passions; there are contemptible passions. Certainly not that he does something for others, and without selfishness; perhaps the effect of selfishness is precisely at its greatest in the noblest persons. - But that the passion which seizes the noble man is a peculiarity, without his knowing that it is so: the use of a rare and singular measuring-rod, almost a frenzy: the feeling of heat in things which feel cold to all other persons: a divining of values for which scales have not yet been invented: a sacrificing on altars which are consecrated to an unknown God: a bravery without the desire for honour: a self-sufficiency which has superabundance, and imparts to men and things. Hitherto, therefore, it has been the rare in man, and the unconsciousness of this rareness, that has made men noble. Here, however, let us consider that everything ordinary, immediate, and indispensable, in short, what has been most preservative of the species, and generally the rule in mankind hitherto, has been judged unreasonable and calumniated in its entirety by this standard, in favour of the exceptions. To become the advocate of the rule - that may perhaps be the ultimate form and refinement in which nobility of character will reveal itself on earth.
— Friedrich Nietzsche - The Gay Science
What then makes a person "noble"? Certainly not that he makes sacrifices; even the frantic libertine makes sacrifices. Certainly not that he generally follows his passions; there are contemptible passions. Certainly not that he does something for others, and without selfishness; perhaps the effect of selfishness is precisely at its greatest in the noblest persons. - But that the passion which seizes the noble man is a peculiarity, without his knowing that it is so: the use of a rare and singular measuring-rod, almost a frenzy: the feeling of heat in things which feel cold to all other persons: a divining of values for which scales have not yet been invented: a sacrificing on altars which are consecrated to an unknown God: a bravery without the desire for honour: a self-sufficiency which has superabundance, and imparts to men and things. Hitherto, therefore, it has been the rare in man, and the unconsciousness of this rareness, that has made men noble. Here, however, let us consider that everything ordinary, immediate, and indispensable, in short, what has been most preservative of the species, and generally the rule in mankind hitherto, has been judged unreasonable and calumniated in its entirety by this standard, in favour of the exceptions. To become the advocate of the rule - that may perhaps be the ultimate form and refinement in which nobility of character will reveal itself on earth.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs)
And it is, indeed, to the more general problem of fetishism that this new twist brings us: after the becoming-sign of the object, the becoming-object of the sign. In the sexual register, the fetish is no longer a sign but a pure object, meaningless in itself - a banal accessory, but one of absolute value, for which there can be no possible exchange. It is that object and no other. But this banal singularity means that any object whatever can become a fetish. Its potentiality is total, precisely because it lies beyond any sexual reference or metaphor. It is the perfect object of sex, its perfect realization, insofar as it substitutes for any real sex - just as Virtual Reality substitutes itself for the real world and in that way becomes the universal form of our modern fetishism. Modern man's immense panoply of information technology has become his true object of (perverse?) desire. Fetishism being, as the name indicates (Feiticho), linked to abstraction and artifice, it is all the more radical for the abstraction being total. If it was possible, in the past, to speak of the fetishism of the commodity, of money, of the simulacrum and the spectacle, that was still a limited fetishism (related to sign-value). There stretches beyond this for us today the world of radical fetishism, linked to the de-signification and limitless operation of the real - to the sign's becoming pure object once again, before or beyond any metaphor.
Jean Baudrillard (The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact (Talking Images))
You live in days when a lingering, Lot-like religion abounds. The stream of profession is far broader than it once was, but far less deep in many places. A certain kind of Christianity is almost fashionable now. To belong to some party in the Church of England, and show a zeal for its interests--to talk about the leading controversies of the day--to buy popular religious books as fast as they come out, and lay them on your table--to attend meetings--to subscribe to Societies--to discuss the merits of preachers--to be enthusiastic and excited about every new form of sensational religion which crops up--all these are now comparatively easy and common attainments. They no longer make a person singular. They require little or no sacrifice. They entail no cross. But to walk closely with God--to be really spiritually-minded--to behave like strangers and pilgrims--to be distinct from the world in employment of time, in conversation, in amusements, in dress--to bear a faithful witness for Christ in all places--to leave a savour of our Master in every society--to be prayerful, humble, unselfish, good-tempered, quiet, easily pleased, charitable, patient, meek--to be jealously afraid of all manner of sin, and tremblingly alive to our danger from the world--these, these are still rare things! They are not common among those who are called true Christians, and, worst of all, the absence of them is not felt and bewailed as it should be.
J.C. Ryle (Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots)
About 4.6 billion years ago, a great swirl of gas and dust some 24 billion kilometres across accumulated in space where we are now and began to aggregate. Virtually all of it – 99.9 per cent of the mass of the solar system21 – went to make the Sun. Out of the floating material that was left over, two microscopic grains floated close enough together to be joined by electrostatic forces. This was the moment of conception for our planet. All over the inchoate solar system, the same was happening. Colliding dust grains formed larger and larger clumps. Eventually the clumps grew large enough to be called planetesimals. As these endlessly bumped and collided, they fractured or split or recombined in endless random permutations, but in every encounter there was a winner, and some of the winners grew big enough to dominate the orbit around which they travelled. It all happened remarkably quickly. To grow from a tiny cluster of grains to a baby planet some hundreds of kilometres across is thought to have taken only a few tens of thousands of years. In just 200 million years, possibly less22, the Earth was essentially formed, though still molten and subject to constant bombardment from all the debris that remained floating about. At this point, about 4.4 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into the Earth, blowing out enough material to form a companion sphere, the Moon. Within weeks, it is thought, the flung material had reassembled itself into a single clump, and within a year it had formed into the spherical rock that companions us yet. Most of the lunar material, it is thought, came from the Earth’s crust, not its core23, which is why the Moon has so little iron while we have a lot. The theory, incidentally, is almost always presented as a recent one, but in fact it was first proposed in the 1940s by Reginald Daly of Harvard24. The only recent thing about it is people paying any attention to it. When the Earth was only about a third of its eventual size, it was probably already beginning to form an atmosphere, mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane and sulphur. Hardly the sort of stuff that we would associate with life, and yet from this noxious stew life formed. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. This was a good thing, because the Sun was significantly dimmer back then. Had we not had the benefit of a greenhouse effect, the Earth might well have frozen over permanently25, and life might never have got a toehold. But somehow life did. For the next 500 million years the young Earth continued to be pelted relentlessly by comets, meteorites and other galactic debris, which brought water to fill the oceans and the components necessary for the successful formation of life. It was a singularly hostile environment, and yet somehow life got going. Some tiny bag of chemicals twitched and became animate. We were on our way. Four billion years later, people began to wonder how it had all happened. And it is there that our story next takes us.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigour, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed. . . . [H]e is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country. Do not suppose, my brethren, that I mean to recommend a furious and angry zeal for the circumstantials of religion, or the contentions of one sect with another about their peculiar distinctions. I do not wish you to oppose any body’s religion, but every body’s wickedness. Perhaps there are few surer marks of the reality of religion, than when a man feels himself more joined in spirit to a true holy person of a different denomination, than to an irregular liver of his own. It is therefore your duty in this important and critical season to exert yourselves, every one in his proper sphere, to stem the tide of prevailing vice, to promote the knowledge of God, the reverence of his name and worship, and obedience to his laws. . . . Many from a real or pretended fear of the imputation of hypocrisy, banish from their conversation and carriage every appearance of respect and submission to the living God. What a weakness and meanness of spirit does it discover, for a man to be ashamed in the presence of his fellow sinners, to profess that reverence to almighty God which he inwardly feels: The truth is, he makes himself truly liable to the accusation which he means to avoid. It is as genuine and perhaps a more culpable hypocrisy to appear to have less religion than you really have, than to appear to have more. . . . There is a scripture precept delivered in very singular terms, to which I beg your attention; “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but shalt in any wise rebuke him, and not suffer sin upon him.” How prone are many to represent reproof as flowing from ill nature and surliness of temper? The spirit of God, on the contrary, considers it as the effect of inward hatred, or want of genuine love, to forbear reproof, when it is necessary or may be useful. I am sensible there may in some cases be a restraint from prudence, agreeably to that caution of our Saviour, “Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rent you.” Of this every man must judge as well as he can for himself; but certainly, either by open reproof, or expressive silence, or speedy departure from such society, we ought to guard against being partakers of other men’s sins.
John Witherspoon
According to the [evolutionist explanation of the instinct of animals], instinct is the expression of the heredity of a species, of an accumulation of analogous experiences down the ages. This is how they explain, for example, the fact that a flock of sheep hastily gathers together around the lambs the moment it perceives the shadow of a bird of prey, or that a kitten while playing already employs all the tricks of a hunter, or that birds know how to build their nests. In fact, it is enough to watch animals to see that their instinct has nothing of an automatism about it. The formation of such a mechanism by a purely cumulative . . . process is highly improbable, to say the least. Instinct is a nonreflective modality of the intelligence; it is determined, not by a series of automatic reflexes, but by the “form”—the qualitative determination—of the species. This form is like a filter through which the universal intelligence is manifested. . . The same is also true for man: his intelligence too is determined by the subtle form of his species. This form, however, includes the reflective faculty, which allows of a singularization of the individual such as does not exist among the animals. Man alone is able to objectivize himself. He can say: “I am this or that.” He alone possesses this two-edged faculty. Man, by virtue of his own central position in the cosmos, is able to transcend his specific norm; he can also betray it, and sink lower; "The corruption of the best is corruption at its worst." A normal animal remains true to the form and genius of its species; if its intelligence is not reflective and objectifying, but in some sort existential, it is nonetheless spontaneous; it is assuredly a form of the universal intelligence even if it is not recognized as such by men who, from prejudice or ignorance, identify intelligence with discursive thought exclusively.
Titus Burckhardt
Translation is a symbiotic act. Between writer and translator, of course, but also between languages. In becoming its vessel, you carry over something of yourself but also something of the original language, because that is the way that language works. It is a communal heritage, but is also something entirely individual, entirely your own. And that is what gives it its transformative possibility: this inevitable commingling of self and other, of self and culture, of personal history and collective history. Language gives the individual the power and strength of the collective. And writing, speaking, telling stories—wielding language in narrative form—has the ability to transform the collective through the individual experience. To cross over from that which is felt, experienced, to that which is voiced—for the purpose of witness and being witnessed—is each and every time the declaration of a singular understanding of what it means to be alive in the world. This opens up new spaces, new imagined possibilities, and those, through language, become part of the collective heritage. It is the best form of resistance I can imagine for a world scarred with forbidding, categorical borders. Between the self and other, between where you come from and where you end up, between the personal narrative and collective history, between genders and cultures and languages and countries and the similar calls for dignity and recognition contained in stories. The only way to make borders meaningless is to keep insisting on crossing them: like a refugee, without papers, without waiting to be given permission, without regard for what might be waiting on the other side. For when you cross a border, you are not only affirming its permeability, but also changing the landscape on both sides. You cross carrying what you can carry, you cross bearing your witness, you cross knowing that you are damageable, that you are mortal and finite, but that language is memory, and memory lives on.
Linza Mounzer
Ken MacLeod, a Scottish science fiction author, describes the Singularity as “the Rapture for nerds” and in the same way Christians are divided into preterist, premillennialist, and postmillennialist camps regarding the timing of the Parousia,39 Apocalyptic Techno-Heretics can be divided into three sects, renunciationist, apotheosan, and posthumanist. Whereas renunciationists foresee a dark future wherein humanity is enslaved or even eliminated by its machine masters and await the Singularity with the same sort of resignation that Christians who don’t buy into Rapture doctrine anticipate the Tribulation and the Antichrist, apotheosans anticipate a happy and peaceful amalgamation into a glorious, godlike hive mind of the sort envisioned by Isaac Asimov in his Foundation novels. Posthumanists, meanwhile, envision a detente between Man and Machine, wherein artificial intelligence will be wedded to intelligence amplification and other forms of technobiological modification to transform humanity and allow it to survive and perhaps even thrive in the Posthuman Era .40 Although it is rooted entirely in science and technology,41 there are some undeniable religious parallels between the more optimistic visions of the Singularity and conventional religious faith. Not only is there a strong orthogenetic element inherent in the concept itself, but the transhuman dream of achieving immortality through uploading one’s consciousness into machine storage and interacting with the world through electronic avatars sounds suspiciously like shedding one’s physical body in order to walk the streets of gold with a halo and a harp. Furthermore, the predictions of when this watershed event is expected to occur rather remind one of Sir Isaac Newton’s tireless attempts to determine the precise date of the Eschaton, which he finally concluded would take place sometime after 2065, only thirty years after Kurzweil expects the Singularity. So, if they’re both correct, at least Mankind can console itself that the Machine Age will be a short one.
Vox Day (The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens)
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking [281] method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. [282] They have a common table, but not a common bed. [283] They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. [284] They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. [285] They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. [286] They are poor, yet make many rich; [287] they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; [288] they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.
Alexander Roberts (Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus)
Political philosophers of the Enlightenment, from Hobbes and Locke, reaching down to John Rawls and his followers today, have found the roots of political order and the motive of political obligation in a social contract – an agreement, overt or implied, to be bound by principles to which all reasonable citizens can assent. Although the social contract exists in many forms, its ruling principle was announced by Hobbes with the assertion that there can be ‘no obligation on any man which ariseth not from some act of his own’.1 My obligations are my own creation, binding because freely chosen. When you and I exchange promises, the resulting contract is freely undertaken, and any breach does violence not merely to the other but also to the self, since it is a repudiation of a well-grounded rational choice. If we could construe our obligation to the state on the model of a contract, therefore, we would have justified it in terms that all rational beings must accept. Contracts are the paradigms of self-chosen obligations – obligations that are not imposed, commanded or coerced but freely undertaken. When law is founded in a social contract, therefore, obedience to the law is simply the other side of free choice. Freedom and obedience are one and the same. Such a contract is addressed to the abstract and universal Homo oeconomicus who comes into the world without attachments, without, as Rawls puts it, a ‘conception of the good’, and with nothing save his rational self-interest to guide him. But human societies are by their nature exclusive, establishing privileges and benefits that are offered only to the insider, and which cannot be freely bestowed on all-comers without sacrificing the trust on which social harmony depends. The social contract begins from a thought-experiment, in which a group of people gather together to decide on their common future. But if they are in a position to decide on their common future, it is because they already have one: because they recognize their mutual togetherness and reciprocal dependence, which makes it incumbent upon them to settle how they might be governed under a common jurisdiction in a common territory. In short, the social contract requires a relation of membership. Theorists of the social contract write as though it presupposes only the first-person singular of free rational choice. In fact, it presupposes a first-person plural, in which the burdens of belonging have already been assumed.
Roger Scruton (How to Be a Conservative)
If my opinion that substance requires a true unity were founded only on a definition I had formulated in opposition to common usage, *then the dispute would be only one of words*. But besides the fact that most philosophers have taken the term in almost the same fashion, distinguishing between a unity in itself and an accidental unity, between substantial and accidental form, and between perfect and imperfect, natural and artificial mixtures, I take things to a much higher level, and setting aside the question of terminology, *I believe that where there are only beings by aggregation, there aren't any real beings*. For every being by aggregation presupposes beings endowed with real unity, because every being derives its reality only from the reality of those beings of which it is composed, so that it will not have any reality at all if each being of which it is composed is itself a being by aggregation, a being for which we must still seek further grounds for its reality, grounds which can never be found in this way, if we must always continue to seek for them. I agree, Sir, that there are only machines (that are often animated) in all of corporeal nature, but I do not agree that *there are only aggregates of substances, there must also be true substances from which all the aggregates result. We must, then, necessarily come down to the atoms of Epicurus and Cordemoy (which are things you reject along with me), or else we must admit that we do not find any reality in bodies; or finally, we must recognize some substances that have a true unity. I have already said in another letter that the composite made up of the diamonds of the Grand Duke and of the Great Mogul can be called a pair of diamonds, but this is only a being of reason. And when they are brought closer to one another, it would be a being of the imagination or perception, that is to say, a phenomenon. For contact, common motion, and participation in a common plan have no effect on substantial unity. It is true that there are sometimes more, sometimes fewer, grounds for supposing that several things constitute a single thing, in proportion to the extent to which these things are connected. But this serves only to abbreviate our thoughts and to represent the phenomena. It also seems that what constitutes the essence of a being by aggregation is only a mode (*maniére d'être*) of the things of which it is composed. For example, what constitutes the essence of an army is only a mode of the men who compose it. This mode therefore presupposes a substance whose essence is not a mode of substance. Every machine also presupposes some substance in the pieces of which it is made, and there is no plurality without true unities. To put it briefly, I hold this identical proposition, differentiated only by the emphasis, to be an axiom, namely, *that what is not truly* one *being is not truly one* being *either*. It has always been thought that one and being are reciprocal things. Being is one thing and beings are another; but the plural presupposes the singular, and where there is no being still less will there be several beings. What could be clearer? [[I therefore believed that I would be allowed to distinguish beings by aggregation from substances, since these beings have their unity in our mind only, a unity founded on the relations or modes [*modes*] of true substances. If a machine is one substance, a circle of men holding hands will also be one substance, and so will an army, and finally, so will every multitude of substances.]]." —from_Letters to Arnauld_
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
If my opinion that substance requires a true unity were founded only on a definition I had formulated in opposition to common usage, *then the dispute would be only one of words*. But besides the fact that most philosophers have taken the term in almost the same fashion, distinguishing between a unity in itself and an accidental unity, between substantial and accidental form, and between perfect and imperfect, natural and artificial mixtures, I take things to a much higher level, and setting aside the question of terminology, *I believe that where there are only beings by aggregation, there aren't any real beings*. For every being by aggregation presupposes beings endowed with real unity, because every being derives its reality only from the reality of those beings of which it is composed, so that it will not have any reality at all if each being of which it is composed is itself a being by aggregation, a being for which we must still seek further grounds for its reality, grounds which can never be found in this way, if we must always continue to seek for them. I agree, Sir, that there are only machines (that are often animated) in all of corporeal nature, but I do not agree that *there are only aggregates of substances, there must also be true substances from which all the aggregates result. We must, then, necessarily come down to the atoms of Epicurus and Cordemoy (which are things you reject along with me), or else we must admit that we do not find any reality in bodies; or finally, we must recognize some substances that have a true unity. I have already said in another letter that the composite made up of the diamonds of the Grand Duke and of the Great Mogul can be called a pair of diamonds, but this is only a being of reason. And when they are brought closer to one another, it would be a being of the imagination or perception, that is to say, a phenomenon. For contact, common motion, and participation in a common plan have no effect on substantial unity. It is true that there are sometimes more, sometimes fewer, grounds for supposing that several things constitute a single thing, in proportion to the extent to which these things are connected. But this serves only to abbreviate our thoughts and to represent the phenomena. It also seems that what constitutes the essence of a being by aggregation is only a mode (*maniére d'être*) of the things of which it is composed. For example, what constitutes the essence of an army is only a mode of the men who compose it. This mode therefore presupposes a substance whose essence is not a mode of substance. Every machine also presupposes some substance in the pieces of which it is made, and there is no plurality without true unities. To put it briefly, I hold this identical proposition, differentiated only by the emphasis, to be an axiom, namely, *that what is not truly* one *being is not truly one* being *either*. It has always been thought that one and being are reciprocal things. Being is one thing and beings are another; but the plural presupposes the singular, and where there is no being still less will there be several beings. What could be clearer? [[I therefore believed that I would be allowed to distinguish beings by aggregation from substances, since these beings have their unity in our mind only, a unity founded on the relations or modes [*modes*] of true substances. If a machine is one substance, a circle of men holding hands will also be one substance, and so will an army, and finally, so will every multitude of substances.]]." —from_Letters to Arnauld_
Huston Smith