Quotes Feed

Earth in perspective

“You think man can destroy the planet?  What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet.  Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years.  Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land.  Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval.  Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years.  Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again.  The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety.  Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not.  If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation.  Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen.  Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine.  When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth.  Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas.  Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life.  Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself.  In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time.  A hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing.  A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale.  We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try.  We've been residents here for the blink of an eye.  If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.” 

easing the guilty conscience

“[T]his readiness to assume the guilt for the threats to our environment is deceptively reassuring: We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, it all depends on us.  We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives.  What is really hard for us (at least in the West) to accept is that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be.  To avoid this impotence, we engage in frantic, obsessive activities.  We recycle old paper, we buy organic food, we install long-lasting light bulbs—whatever—just so we can be sure that we are doing something. We make our individual contribution like the soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in the belief that this will somehow influence the game's outcome.” 
― Slavoj Žižek

Good Work

“No settled family or community has ever called its home place an “environment.” None has ever called its feeling for its home place “biocentric” or “anthropocentric.” None has ever thought of its connection to its home place as “ecological,” deep or shallow. The concepts and insights of the ecologists are of great usefulness in our predicament, and we can hardly escape the need to speak of “ecology” and “ecosystems.” But the terms themselves are culturally sterile. They come from the juiceless, abstract intellectuality of the universities which was invented to disconnect, displace, and disembody the mind. The real names of the environment are the names of rivers and river valleys; creeks, ridges, and mountains; towns and cities; lakes, woodlands, lanes roads, creatures, and people.

And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth.

The name of our present society’s connection to the earth is “bad work” – work that is only generally and crudely defined, that enacts a dependence that is ill understood, that enacts no affection and gives no honor. Every one of us is to some extent guilty of this bad work. This guilt does not mean that we must indulge in a lot of breast-beating and confession; it means only that there is much good work to be done by every one of us and that we must begin to do it.” 

-Wendell Berry


Inequality

"We live amidst massive inequality.  We don't really care that most people have little power to alter the conditions of their lives.  We refuse to acknowledge that the earth is dying and that we are killing it. ... Our unthinking celebration of individual achievement and upward mobility works to damage the life-giving ties of kinship and the bonds of community. ...We pretend not to understand the linkages between our comfortable standard of living and the dictatorships we impose and protect through an international military presence."  -- Jerry Fresia, author of Toward an American Revolution

Psychological Warfare with a Heart

"Once when I was in L.A., I saw Jim Carrey get out of a car on Sunset to the waiting mob of 6 or 7 photographers.   He proceeded to hug each one for an exceedingly long amount of time to the extent that, even from across the street, I could see how uncomfortable everyone was.   They all sort of slunk away from that.   To this day I think that was one of the most genuinely amazing non-violent forms of psychological-warfare I've witnessed."

source


the power of touch

"When you touch the body of a person, be prayerful... as if God himself is there, and you are just serving him.  Flow with total energy.  And, whenever you see the body flowing and the energy creating a new pattern of harmony - you will feel a delight that you have never felt before.  You will fall into deep meditation."   -  Osho

Admit it - you're not like them!

“Admit it. You aren’t like them.  You’re not even close.  You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes.  But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”.  Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator.  But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing?  Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger?  Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”  - Timothy Leary


The Mind of H.L. Mencken

I was perusing the archives at zengradner and found this gem:

[Arguably the most influential American literary critic in the 1920s, journalist, editor and iconoclast H. L. Mencken was known for his wit and cynicism.]

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

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Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.

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Morality: The theory that every human act must be either right or wrong.

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The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.

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Whenever I write anything that sets up controversy its meaning is distorted almost instantly. Even the editorial writers of newspapers seem to be unable to understand the plainest sentence.

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Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

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Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.

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Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.

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Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.

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Criticism is prejudice made plausible.

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Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

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Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.

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All the leaders of groups tend to be frauds. If they were not, it would be impossible for them to retain the allegiance of their dupes.

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As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

-H.L. Mencken, July 26, 1920

 

Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.

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The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

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Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping, and unintelligent.

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Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

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Consider [the pedagogue] in his highest incarnation: the university professor. What is his function?  Simply to pass on to fresh generations of numskulls a body of so-called knowledge that is fragmentary, unimportant, and, in large part, untrue.

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The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

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A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn’t know.

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A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.

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Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

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For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing.

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Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

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I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.

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Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

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After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations.
– H. L. Mencken, on Shakespeare

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A man who can laugh, if only at himself, is never really miserable.

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All men are frauds.  The only difference between them is that some admit it.  I myself deny it.

–H. L. Mencken