Tuesday, February 27, 2018

On Stopping the Machine

The 1909 short story, The Machine Stops, by E. M. Forster is mind-blowing.

Written in the year of the first wireless broadcaster, six years after the Wright Brothers flew for the first time, and when only urban centers had electricity, this book essentially predicts the internet (as a series of "tubes") and social media. 

Humans are living in underground cradles, sustained by The Machine and connected with various tubes for music, talk, food, etc. This story gets so many things right, has great atmosphere, and is dripping with sarcasm. If you have a spare hour and like dystopian themes, it's absolutely worth your time and can be found online for free.

I like this cover illustration by Kelly Airo.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On the Solutions of Peace

Peace demands solutions, but we never reach living solutions; we only work toward them. A fixed solution is, by definition, a dead solution. The trouble with peace is that it tends to punish mistakes instead of rewarding brilliance.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On Reality and Experience

There’s no mystery about a human life. It’s not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Life is a mask through which the universe expresses itself.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On Doing Good and Doing Evil

In doing good, avoid notoriety; in doing evil, avoid self-awareness.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On Knowledge as Barrier

Knowing was a barrier which prevented learning.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On the Cost of Being Right

If you focus your awareness only upon your own rightness, then you invite the forces of opposition to overwhelm you.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On Time and Place of Death

When God hath ordained a creature to die in a particular place, He causeth that creature’s wants to direct him to that place.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On Proof and Belief

All proofs inevitably lead to propositions which have no proof! All things are known because we want to believe in them.
From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On the Age of the Shrug

This is the age of the shrug. ... Our civilization could well die of indifference within it before succumbing to external attack.

From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

Saturday, February 17, 2018

On Government Decay

"Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class—whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.


From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

Thursday, February 15, 2018

On Choosing Leaders

"Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.


From Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

On Good Doggies

“Imagine, if you can, a huge grizzly with ten legs armed with mighty talons and an enormous froglike mouth splitting his head from ear to ear, exposing three rows of long, white tusks. Then endow this creature of your imagination with the agility and ferocity of a half-starved Bengal tiger and the strength of a span of bulls, and you will have some faint conception of Woola in action.

Before I could call him off he had crushed Lakor into a jelly with a single blow of one mighty paw, and had literally torn the other thern to ribbons; yet when I spoke to him sharply he cowed sheepishly as though he had done a thing to deserve censure and chastisement.”

From Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars

Thursday, February 1, 2018

On Morality and Truth

"Morality and truth! The two most relentless divinities!"

From Olaf Stapledon, Sirius

The context of this quote is especially important. Sirius, a super-intelligent canine, is the target of both religious fanatics and eager scientists. Morality is both fascinated by, and condemns him. Science wants to study him to death to establish truths.

If you like stories about animals or psychology or "uplifting" or searching for self between science and religion ... read this. This one will stick with me for a while.