Some specially-chosen bite-sized delicacies from my familiar, the bookworm. Please enjoy and use freely.
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Life wasn't simple. She knew that; it was the Knowledge, which went with the job. There was the simple life of living things but that was, well... simple...
There were other kinds of life. Cities had life. Anthills and swarms of bees had life, a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Worlds had life. Gods had a life made up of the belief of their believers.
The universe danced toward life. Life was a remarkably common commodity. Anything sufficiently complicated seemed to get cut in for some, in the same way that anything massive enough got a generous helping of gravity. The universe had a definite tendency toward awareness. This suggested a certain subtle cruelty woven into the very fabric of space-time.
Perhaps even music could be alive, if it was old enough. Life is a habit.
- Terry Pratchett, Soul Music
"Yes" - Blert looked at the customer, and made a huge mental effort - "sir?"
- Terry Pratchett, Soul Music
Cancer may seem like a drastic way to make an energy shift. It is a catalyst that some people would not be able to keep up with. Even though this is a big test in many ways, it is needed and you are capable. You are on a fast track. We are supporting you. Never doubt that you can do this. Continue to look for ways to move your energy into good alignment. This is an exciting time.
- Jennifer Shoals, Traveling Light
Once you have studied the shape of the land around you, the next step is to walk through it in your mind. Try to get a feel for the sequence of landmarks, terrain and gradients. To gain a better understanding of this process we will spend a moment with Colonel Richard Irving Dodge who gained thirty-three years' experience working among the Native Americans in the nineteenth century. Here he passes on an account, from an old Comanche guide called Espinosa, as to how the young would be taught to go on a raid in unknown country:
"It was customary for the older men to assemble the boys for instruction a few days before the time fixed for starting.
All being seated in a circle, a bundle of sticks was produced, marked with notches to represent the days. Commencing with the stick with one notch, an old man drew on his ground with his finger a rude map illustrating the journey of the first day. The rivers, streams, hills, valleys, hidden water-holes, were all indicated with reference to prominent and carefully described landmarks. When this was thoroughly understood, the stick representing the next day's march was illustrated in the same way, and so to the end. He further stated that he had known one party of young men and boys, the eldest not over nineteen, none of whom had ever been in Mexico, to start from the main camp on Brady's Creek in Texas, and make a raid into Mexico as far as the city of Monterey [sic], solely by memory of information represented and fixed in their minds by these sticks. However improbable this may appear, it is not more improbable than any other explanation that can be given of such a wonderful journey."
- Tristan Gooley, The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs
This book is concerned with games and aims.
It has been stated by Thomas Szasz that what people really need and demand from life is not wealth, comfort or esteem but games worth playing.
Seek, above all, a game worth playing. Such is the advice of the oracle to the modern man. Having found the game, play it with intensity - play as if your life and sanity depended on it. (They do depend on it.) Follow the example of the French existentialists and flourish a banner bearing the word "engagement." Though nothing means anything and all roads are marked "NO EXIT," yet move as if your movements had some purpose. If life does not seem to offer a game worth playing, then invent one. For it must be clear, even to the most clouded intelligence, that any game is better than no game.
- Robert S. de Ropp, The Master Game: Beyond the Drug Experience
The time has come for new ways of telling true stories beyond civilizational first principles. Without Man and Nature, all creatures can come back to life, and men and women can express themselves without the strictures of a parochially imagined rationality. No longer relegated to whispers in the night, such stories might be simultaneously true and fabulous. How else can we account for the fact that anything is alive in the mess we have made?
- Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World
"Your grandfather is Death," said Albert. "You know? The skeleton in the black robe? You rode in on his horse and this is his house. Only he's... gone away. To think things over, or something. What I reckon's happening is you're being sucked in. It's in the bone. You're old enough now. There's a hole and it thinks you're the right shape. I don't like it any more than you do."
"Look, Albert," said Susan, in the voice one uses to the simple-minded, "even if there was a 'Death' like that, and frankly it's quite ridiculous to go anthropomorphizing a simple natural function, no-one can inherit anything from it. I know about heredity. It's all about having red hair and things. You get it from other people. You don't get it from... myths and legends. Um."
- Terry Pratchett, Soul Music
Some thought that moderate living and the avoidance of all superfluity would perserve them from the epidemic. They formed small communities, living entirely separate from everybody else. They shut themselves up in houses where there were no sick, eating the finest food and drinking the best wine very temperately, avoiding all excess, allowing no news or discussion o death and sickness, and passing the time in music and suchlike pleasures. Others thought just the opposite. They thought the sure cure for the plague was to drink and be merry, to go about singing and amusing themselves, satisfying every appetite they could, laughing and jesting at what happened. They put their words into practice, spent day and night going from tavern to tavern, drinking immoderately, or went into other people's houses, doing only those things which pleased them.
- Giovanni Boccaccio, the Decameron (1353 CE)
Q: $4,000,000,000 and 8,000 new releases a year - why is adult video so popular in this country?
A: Industry journalist Harold Hecuba: "It's the new Barnum. Nobody ever goes broke overestimating the rage and misogyny of the average American male."
- David Foster Wallace, Big Red Son
Usage is always political, but it's complexly political. With respect, for instance, to political change, usage conventions can function in tow ways: on the one hand they can be a reflection of political change, and on the other they can be an instrument of political change. What's important is that these two functions are different and have to be kept straight. Confusing them - in particular, mistaking for political efficacy what is really just a language's political symbolism - enables the bizarre conviction that America ceases to be elitist or unfair simply because Americans stop using certain vocabulary that is historically associated with elitism and unfairness. This is Politically Correct English's core fallacy - that a society's mode of expression is productive of its attitudes rather than a product of those attitudes - and of course it's nothing but the obverse of the politically conservative [...] delusion that social change can be retarded by restricting change in standard usage.
- David Foster Wallace, Authority and American Usage
Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something decisive to meet the increasing complexity of their society. They held a meeting and finally decided to organize a school.
The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. Since these were the basic behaviors of most animals, they decided that all the students should take all the subjects.
The duck proved to be excellent at swimming, better, in fact, than his teacher. He also did well in flying. But he proved to be very poor in running. Since he was poor in this subject, he was made to stay after school to practice it and even had to drop swimming in order to get more time in which to practice running. He was kept at this poorest subject until his webbed feet were so badly damaged that he became only average at swimming. But average was acceptable in the school, so nobody worried about that - except the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of her class in running, but finally had a nervous breakdown because of so much make-up time in swimming - a subject she hated.
The eagle was the school's worst discipline problem; in climbing class, she beat all of the others to the top of the tree used for examination purposes in this subject, but she insisted on using her own method of getting there.
The gophers, of course, stayed out of school and fought the tax levied for education because digging was not included in the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to the badger and later joined the groundhogs and eventually started a private school offering alternative education.
- Ann Sayre Wiseman, Making Things: A Handbook of Creative Discovery