Saturday, October 29, 2005

page 18 / Alchemist / Paulo Coelho

"Hmm..." said the old man, looking at all sides of the book, as if it were some strange object. "This is an important book, but it's really irritating." ...

"It's a book that says the same thing almost all other books in the world say," continued the old man. "It describes people's inability to choose their own destinies. And it ends up saying that everyone believes the world's greatest lie."

"What's the world's greatest lie?" the boy asked, completely surprised.

"It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Vonnegut: a dialogue between two pieces of yeast

Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.

from Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Second Principle of Magic

The second principle of magic: . . . things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed.

-- Sir James G. Frazer

The Aristos by John Fowles

59. Over the last two hundred years there has been a great improvement in personal and public hygiene and cleanliness; and this was largely brought about by persuading people that he results of being dirty and apathetic in the face of disease were not acts of God, but preventable acts of nature; not the sheer misery in things, but the controllable mechanisms of life.

60. We have had the first, the physical, phase of the hygeinic revolution; it is time we went to the barricades for the second, the mental. Not doing good when you usefully could is not immoral; it is going about with excrement on the hands.

Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu

Everyone says that my way of life is the way of a simpleton.
Being largely the way of simpleton is what makes it worth while.
If it were not the way of a simpleton
I would long ago have been worthless,
These possessions of a simpleton being the three I choose and cherish:
To care,
To be fair,
To be humble.
When a man cares he is unafraid.
When he is fair he leaves enough for others,
When he is humble he can grow;
Whereas if, like men of today, he be bold without caring,
Self-indulgent without sharing,
Self-important without shame,
He is dead.
The invincible shield
Of caring
Is a weapon from the sky
Against being dead.

Murphy's Laws

If anything can go wrong, it will.
If anything can't go wrong, it still will.
Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Everything takes longer than you expect.
Whatever you set out to do, something else must be done first.
You can't do just one thing - there are always consequences.
If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
Mother Nature is a bitch.
It's impossible to make anything foolproof, because fools are so ingenious.
Never lose heart - they might want to cut it out.
You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, and that's sufficient.

Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennet (Excerpt)

There is a species of primate in South America, more gregarious than most other mammals, with a curious behaviour. The members of this species often gather in groups, large and small, and in the course of their mutual chattering, under a wide variety of circumstances, they are induced to engage in bouts of involuntary, convulsive respiration -- a sort of loud, helpless, mutually reinforcing group panting that is sometimes so severe as to incapacitate them. Far from being aversive, however, these attacks seem to be sought out by most members of the species, some whom appear to be addicted to them.

We might be tempted to think that if only we knew what it was like to be them, from the inside, we'd understand this curious addiction of theirs. If we could see it "from their point of view", we would know what it was for.

But in this case, we can be quite sure that such insight as we might gain would still leave matters mysterious.

For we already have the access we seek; the species is Homo Sapiens (which does indeed inhabit South America, among other places), and the behaviour is laughter.

Song by Billy Schwartz

Lee-la, Lee-la, this life is but a game.
Winners lose and losers win, the game is still the same.
Lee-la, Lee-la, this life is but a play.
Those who say they know, don't know
And those who know, don't say.