quotations

Quotations by subject

Body

We are animals, we are made of flesh and blood, we have need of the body in order to gain a sense of the soul. Of each lost love, it is the body that we mourn and, could we but keep it, even lifeless, even mute, but intact, we would make do with that. For bodies we are ready to build pyramids, and even after a hundred years a man is not dead until his body has been found.

Diego Marani, New Finnish Grammar

Capitalism

People work their lives away, and sometimes take extra jobs, in order to buy things they don't have the time to enjoy, because of the time they spend working to buy them.

G. A. Cohen, Against Capitalism

In this age, everyone relied on others to live; even something as simple as calling for take-out required the services of thousands of workers from around the globe: taking orders by phone, paying electronically, maintaining various systems, processing the data, farming and manufacturing the raw ingredients, procuring and transporting, inspecting for food safety, cooking, scheduling and finally despatching the food via courier.... But most of the time, we never saw any of these people, giving each of us the illusion of living like Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island.

Xia Jia, Goodnight Melancholy, printed in Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, trans. and ed. Ken Liu

Knowledge

That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal, as time will show; (if only my breathing & some other et-ceteras do not make too rapid a progress towards instead of from mortality).-

Before ten years are over, the Devil's in it if I have not sucked out some of the life-blood from the mysteries of this universe, in a way that no purely mortal lips or brains could do.

Letter from Ada, Countess Lovelace, to Charles Babbage, 1843-07-05; quoted in James Essinger, A Female Genius

One time Fat found a posted notice that fascinated him. The notice stiuplated what could not be done, in order of descending importance. Near the top of the list all parties concerned were told:

NO ONE IS TO REMOVE ASHTRAYS FROM THE WARD.
And later down the list it stated:
FRONTAL LOBOTOMIES ARE NOT TO BE PERFORMED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PATIENT.
'That should read "prefrontal",' Doug said, and wrote in the 'pre'.

'How do you know that?' Fat said.

'There's two ways of knowing,' Doug said. 'Either knowledge arises through the sense organs and is called empirical knowledge, or it arises within your head and it's called a priori.' Doug wrote on the notice:

IF I BRING BACK THE ASHTRAYS, CAN I HAVE MY PREFRONTAL?
Philip K. Dick, VALIS

I hate that phrase ["Theory of Everything"] - I really do. I think it's horrible, because it promises much more than physics can ever deliver. Physics will never be able to answer questions about what you should do, what's morally correct - so that's one aspect, and the other aspect is that, even if you have the fundamental equations, that leaves you with the task of finding yourself, or, more down to earth, finding animals and finding descriptions of more complex objects using intermediate concepts. Knowing that a person is made of quarks and gluons and protons and electrons doesn't help you very much in understanding that person. So a so-called "Theory of Everything" would not be a theory of much of anything, really.

Frank Wilczek on The Infinite Monkey Cage, "The Fundamentals of Reality" (series 23)

Light

Light of my life is going out tonight
As the sun sinks in the west
Light of my life is going out tonight
With someone she just met

David Berman, Darkness and Cold

Memory

Memory overlays itself like lava, causing recollections to be preserved, it is true, but also stealing them from us forever.

Diego Marani, New Finnish Grammar