Quote from Helioscope

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The ag­nos­tics con­tend that pain has evolved blind­ly as a means of caus­ing us to avoid in­jury. There are two things that might be said about the the­o­ry: the first is that a few mo­ments’ thought will pro­duce half a dozen bet­ter ways of achiev­ing the same ob­jec­tive (one of them is in­tel­li­gence — but the more in­tel­li­gent the or­gan­ism, the more pain it is ca­pa­ble of feel­ing). The sec­ond is that by and large it does not work — hu­man be­ings jump their mo­tor­cy­cles over the foun­tain at Caesar’s Palace; dogs chase cars.

What pain does do is act as a mo­ti­va­tor in all sorts of less than ob­vi­ous ways. It is re­spon­si­ble for com­pas­sion and the hot foot; it makes peo­ple who do not be­lieve God would per­mit it think about God. It has been re­marked thou­sands of times that Christ died un­der tor­ture. Many of us have read so of­ten that he was a “hum­ble car­pen­ter” that we feel a lit­tle surge on nau­sea on see­ing the words yet again. But no one ever seems to no­tice that the in­stru­ments of tor­ture were wood, nails, and a ham­mer; that the man who ham­mered in the nails was as much a car­pen­ter as a sol­dier, as much a car­pen­ter as a tor­tur­er. Very few seem even to have no­ticed that al­though Christ was a “hum­ble car­pen­ter,” the on­ly ob­ject we are specif­i­cal­ly told he made was not a ta­ble, or a chair, but a whip.

Castle of Days; Helioscope by Gene Wolfe pp 218 – 219

For RA and Lyz

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Music cre­ates or­der out of chaos:
for rhythm im­pos­es una­nim­i­ty up­on the di­ver­gent,
melody im­pos­es con­ti­nu­ity up­on the dis­joint­ed,
and har­mony im­pos­es com­pat­i­bil­i­ty up­on the in­con­gru­ous.
 — Yehudi Menuhin

we writhe with words a space
within each letter, between each word
a kern to
our ken, an inpouring an
imploding, our voices warp 
and weft of moebius
meaning, a chattered orbit
in which even interstitials 
cave in
our flood-filled mouths

we sink 
together, a tidal
pooling, taste of your
voice in my 
throat, a blood
and salt amalgam, we eat
     of our speech, we 
     swallow our shared 
     tongues, speak
     the same 
     voice, 
walk backwards
into our future

something like
prophecy

Quotes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Saturday, 29 October 2011

“A ra­tio­nal an­ar­chist be­lieves that con­cepts such as ‘state’ and ‘so­ci­ety’ and ‘gov­ern­ment’ have no ex­is­tence save as phys­i­cal­ly ex­em­pli­fied in the acts of self-re­spon­si­ble in­di­vid­u­als. He be­lieves that it is im­pos­si­ble to shift blame, share blame, dis­trib­ute blame… as blame, guilt, re­spon­si­bil­i­ty are mat­ters tak­ing place in­side hu­man be­ings singly and nowhere else. But be­ing ra­tio­nal, he knows that not all in­di­vid­u­als hold his eval­u­a­tions, so he tries to live per­fect­ly in an im­per­fect world…aware that his ef­fort will be less than per­fect yet undis­mayed by self-knowl­edge of self-fail­ure.”

[…]

“My point is that one per­son is re­spon­si­ble. Always. […] In terms of morals there is no such thing as ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each re­spon­si­ble for his own acts.”

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein pp 84 – 85

I’m struck at how very ex­is­ten­tial­ist that quote is. Just as I’m struck at how very apro­pos the fol­low­ing quote is to the #oc­cu­py move­ment.

“A man­aged democ­ra­cy is a won­der­ful thing […] for the managers…and its great­est strength is a ‘free press’ when ‘free’ is de­fined as ‘re­spon­si­ble’ and the man­agers de­fine what is ‘ir­re­spon­si­ble.’”

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein pg 256

Advertising ver­sus Lyric Poetry

Monday, 26 September 2011

“There are on­ly so many peo­ple ca­pa­ble of putting to­geth­er words that stir and move and sing. When it be­came pos­si­ble to earn a very good liv­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing by ex­er­cis­ing this ca­pa­bil­i­ty, lyric po­et­ry was left to un­tal­ent­ed screw­balls who had to shriek for at­ten­tion and com­pete by ec­cen­tric­i­ty.”

Mitchell Courtenay in Frederick Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants

Old and Young and Old

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I re­mem­ber when I was a bat­tal­ion in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in World War II, in Northern Italy.

[…]

We were pass­ing through the­se lit­tle old towns. The hous­es weren’t big, but all the gen­er­a­tions were there. The old weren’t put out to pas­ture. They were our best means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. They were what civ­i­liza­tion is about: hu­man his­to­ry, work, gen­er­a­tions. Old ones, grand­par­ents, even great-grand­par­ents, talked to the lit­tle ones, and fas­ci­nat­ed them. It was the oral tra­di­tion, gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion. Instead of watch­ing tele­vi­sion, the child lis­tened to the old one, learn­ing his his­to­ry of dreams and won­der.

Our young haven’t lost their his­to­ry, it was tak­en from them. We’ve stuffed them in­to a pro­crustean bed. Remember him? Procrustes? If the guest didn’t fit, he’d cut him or stretch him. That’s what we’re do­ing to our young, mak­ing them fit.

Here is a child, born with a sense of won­der, ready to ad­mire and love what is seen and ex­pe­ri­enced. We say, “Watch it now, a lit­tle bit less, cool it, cool it,” un­til this ex­tra­or­di­nary sense of won­der is re­duced to noth­ing.

[…]

If the old per­son can’t lis­ten any­more, he per­pet­u­ates the er­rors of his an­ces­tors. You don’t need him. You need to say, “All right, Grandpa, when did you last change your mind about any­thing? When did you last get a new idea? Can I help you change your mind while you help me change mine?”

David Brower, as quot­ed by Studs Terkel in his book of oral his­to­ry, Coming of Age

Amor fati

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

My for­mu­la for great­ness in a hu­man be­ing is amor fati: that one wants noth­ing to be dif­fer­ent, not for­ward, not back­ward, not in all eter­ni­ty. Not mere­ly bear what is nec­es­sary, still less con­ceal it — all ide­al­ism is men­da­cious­ness in the face of what is nec­es­sary — but love it.

Ecce Homo — Friedrich Nietzsche

Duel

Thursday, 4 November 2010

I think there is some­thing not right about [psy­chother­a­py]. It doesn’t do any good to any­one. I have a metaphor: If you il­lu­mi­nate your house with strong lights to the very last cor­ner, the house be­comes un­in­hab­it­able. And it’s the same thing if you try to il­lu­mi­nate a hu­man be­ing to the last crevices of his or her soul — the­se hu­man be­ings be­come un­in­hab­it­able. I do not want to deal with it. It’s a lit­tle bit like — of the same mag­ni­tude as — the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition didn’t do much good, and it was a sim­i­lar quest. It was a quest to search and to il­lu­mi­nate the last lit­tle cor­ner and crevice of your faith — scru­ti­niz­ing all the depth of your faith, whether you were with­in the doc­trine of faith or not. It didn’t do much good. So I think psy­cho­analy­sis is a mis­take of the same mag­ni­tude.

Werner Herzog, “Mad Bavarian Duke: Werner Herzog” STOPSMILING Issue 25

One very ba­sic think that you learn as a psy­chol­o­gist is a re­spect for sci­ence, and al­ways test­ing out what you think is a con­clu­sion. You nev­er come to a con­clu­sion un­til you have full ev­i­dence for it. When you’re mak­ing a doc­u­men­tary, it’s im­por­tant you don’t come to a judg­ment on peo­ple, but you go through an open-mind­ed dis­cov­ery process. People al­ways say, “Are you ob­jec­tive? Are you sub­jec­tive?” Those two ex­tremes come to­geth­er with em­pa­thy and love. It’s not cold sci­en­tific re­port­ing, but there’s an ob­jec­tiv­i­ty there. At the same time you’re deal­ing with hu­man emo­tions that re­quire that the cam­era per­son have heart-to-heart con­tact. I be­lieve that’s pos­si­ble.

Albert Maysles, “Shooting From the Heart: Albert Maysles” STOPSMILING Issue 25