The pack of media brayed and bellowed outside the house for seven weeks. Sol realized then what he had known and forgotten about very small communities: they were frequently annoying, always parochial, sometimes prying on a one-to-one level, but never had they subscribed to the vicious legacy of the so-called "public's right to know".
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I despair at the rise of modern violence. I truly give in to despair at times, that deep, futureless pit of despair.... I watch the American slaughterhouse, the casual attacks on popes, presidents, and uncounted others, and I wonder if there are many more out there with the Ability or if butchery has simply become the modern way of life.
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She had always felt that the essence of human experience lay not primarily in the peak experiences, the wedding days and triumphs which stood out in the memory like dates circled in red on old calendars, but, rather, in the unself-conscious flow of little things-the weekend afternoon with each member of the family engaged in his or her own pursuit, their crossings and connections casual, dialogues imminently forgettable, but the sum of such hours creating a synergy which was important and eternal.
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He loved the darkness and the mystery of the Catholic service-the tall priest strutting like a carrion crow and pronouncing magic in a dead language, the immediate magic of the Eucharist bringing the dead back to life so that the faithful could devour Him and become of Him, the smell of incense and the mystical chanting.
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Religion and ethics were not always - or even frequently - mutually compatible. The demands of religious absolutism or fundamentalism or rampaging relativism often deflected the worst aspects of contemporary culture or prejudices rather than a system which both man and God could live under with a sense of real justice.
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There would be no more offerings. Not this day. Not any day. Humankind had suffered enough for its love of gods, its long search for God. He thought of the many centuries in which his people, the Jews, had negotiated with God, complaining, bickering, decrying the unfairness of things but always - always - returning to obedience at whatever the cost. Generations dying in the ovens of hatred. Future generations scarred by the cold fires of radiation and renewed hatred.
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I remember that day in early May after Le Vesconte's and Private Pilkington's brief joint burial service, one of the men suggested that we name the small spur of land where they were buried "Le Vesconte Point, " but Captain Crozier vetoed that idea, saying that if we named every place where one of us might end up buried after the dead person there, we'd run out of land before we ran out of names.
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[The Void Which Binds] actual but unaccessible presence in our universe is one of the prime causes for our species elaborating myth and religion, for our stubborn, blind belief in extrasensory powers, in telepathy and precognition, in demons and demigods and resurrection and reincarnation and ghosts and messiahs and so many other categories of almost-but-not-quite satisfying bullshit.
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That's what writers and artists and creators do, boy. Listen to the Void and try to hear dead folks' thoughts. Feel their pain. The pain of living folks too. Finding a muse is just an artist or holy man's way of getting a foot in the Void Which Binds' front door. Aenea knew that. You should have too.
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The Hegemony and its relationship with the Ousters aren't my worry now. I sincerely wish a plague on both their houses." To the extent that humanity suffers?' 'I don't know humanity, ' said the Consul in an exhausted monotone. 'I do know Sol Weintraub. And Rachel. And an injured woman named Brawne Lamia. And Father Paul Dure. And Fedmahn Kassad. And-
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Here is the essence of mankind's creative genius: not the edifices of civilization nor the bang-flash weapons which can end it, but the words which fertilize new concepts like spermatoza attacking an ovum. It might be argued that the Siamese-twin infants of word/idea are the only contribution the human species can, will, or should make to the reveling cosmos. (Yes, our DNA is unique, but so is a salamander's. Yes, we construct artifacts, but so have species ranging from beavers to the architecture ants... Yes, we weave real fabric things from the dreamstuff of mathematics, but the universe is hardwired with arithmetic. Scratch a circle and pi peeps out. Enter a new solar system and Tycho Brahe's formulae lie waiting under the black velvet cloak of space/time. But where has the universe hidden a word under its outer layer of biology, geometry, or insensate rock?)
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The Chinese poet George Wu... recorded on his comlog: "Poets are the mad midwives to reality. They see not what is, nor what can be, but what must become." Later, on his last disk to his lover the week before he died, Wu said: "Words are the only bullets in truth's bandolier. And poets are the snipers.
For seven centuries the existence of Grand Unification Theories and hyperstring post-quantum physics and Core-given understanding of the universe as self-contained and boundless, without Big Bang singularities or corresponding endpoints, had pretty much eliminated any role of God-primitively anthropomorphic or sophisticatedly post-Einsteinian-even as a caretaker or pre-Creation former of rules. The modern universe, as machine and man had come to understand it, needed no Creator; in fact, allowed no Creator. Its rules allowed very little tinkering and no major revisions. It had not begun and would not end, beyond cycles of expansion and contraction as regular and self-regulated as the seasons on Old Earth
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If you don't know your father, ' Odysseus was answering in that low, calm, but fiercely firm voice of his that always seemed to carry as far as it had to, 'how can you know yourself? I am Odysseus, son of Laertes. My father is a king, but also a man of the soil. When I saw him last, the old man was down on his knees in the dirt, planting a tree where an old giant of a tree had finally - cut down by his hand finally - after being struck by lightning. If I do not know my father, and his father before him, and what these men were worth, what they lived for and were willing to die for, how can I know myself?' 'Tell us again about areªte, ' came a voice from the front row. Ada recognised the man speaking as Petyr, one of the earliest visitors. Petyr was no boy - Ada thought he was in his fourth Twenty - but his beard was already almost as full as Odysseus'. Ada didn't think the man had left Ardis since he'd first heard Odysseus speak that second or third day, when the visitors could be counted on two hands. 'Areªte is simply excellence and the striving for excellence in all things, ' said Odysseus. 'Areªte simply means the act of offering all actions as of sacrament to excellence, of devoting one's life to finding excellence, identifying it when it offers itself, and achieving it in your own life.' A newcomer ten rows up the hill, a heavyset man who reminded Ada a bit of Daemon, laughed, and said, 'How can you achieve excellence in all things, Teacher? Why would you want to? It sounds terribly tiring.' The heavy man looked around, sure of laughter, but the others on hill looked at him silently and then turned back to Odysseus. The Greek smiled easily - strong white teeth flashing against his tanned cheeks and short, gray beard - and said, 'You can't achieve excellence in all things, my friend, but you have to try. And how could you not want to?' 'But there are so many things to do, ' laughed the heavy man. 'One can't practice for them all. One has to make choices and concentrate on the important things.' The man squeezed the young woman next to him, obviously his companion, and she laughed loudly, but she was the only one to laugh. 'Yes, ' said Odysseus, 'but you insult all these actions in which you do not honour areªte. Eating? Eat as if it was your last meal. Prepare the food as if there were no more food! Sacrifices to the gods? You must make each sacrifice as if the lives of your family depended upon your energy and devotion and focus. Loving? Yes, love as if it was the most important thing in the world, but make it just one in the constellation that is areªte.
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To see and feel one's beloved naked for the first time is one of life's pure, irreducible epiphanies. If there is a true religion in the universe, it must include that truth of contact or be forever hollow. To make love to the one true person who deserves that love is one of the few absolute rewards of being a human being, balancing all of the pain, loss, awkwardness, loneliness, idiocy, compromise, and clumsiness that go with the human condition. To make love to the right person makes up for a lot of mistakes.
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The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing.
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When the last autumn of Dickens's life was over, he continued to work through his final winter and into spring. This is how all of us writers give away the days and years and decades of our lives in exchange for stacks of paper with scratches and squiggles on them. And when Death calls, how many of us would trade all those pages, all that squandered lifetime-worth of painfully achieved scratches and squiggles, for just one more day, one more fully lived and experienced day? And what price would we writers pay for that one extra day spent with those we ignored while we were locked away scratching and squiggling in our arrogant years of solipsistic isolation? Would we trade all those pages for a single hour? Or all of our books for one real minute?
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The day before the Queen's Ball, Father had a visitor-a very young girl with literary aspirations, someone Lord Lytton had recommended visit Father and sent over-and while Father was explaining to her the enjoyment he was having in writing this Drood book for serialisation, this upstart of a girl had the temerity to ask, 'But suppose you died before all the book was written?' [... ] He spoke very softly in his kindest voice and said to her, 'One can only work on, you know-work while it is day.
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Sol wanted to know how any ethical system - much less a religion so indomitable that it had survived every evil mankind could throw at it - could flow from a command from God for a man to slaughter his son. It did not matter to Sol that the command had been rescinded at the last moment. It did not matter that the command was a test of obedience. In fact, the idea that it was the obedience of Abraham which allowed him to become the father of all the tribes of Israel was precisely what drove Sol into fits of fury.
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primitive times had required primitive obedience, that later generations evolved to the point where parents offered themselves as sacrifice - as in the dark knights of the ovens which pocked old earth history - and that current generations had to deny any command for sacrifice. Sol had written that whatever God now took in human consciousness - whether as a mere manifestation of the subconscious in all its revanchist needs or as a more conscious attempt at philosophical and ethical evolution - humankind could no longer agree to offer up sacrifice in God's name. Sacrifice and the agreement to sacrifice had written human history in blood.
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I explained my opinion of the ship's logic. 'That is a strange designation, ' said the ship. 'While I have certain organic elements incorporated into my substructure and decentralized DNA computing components, I am not-in the strictest sense of the term-a biological organism. I have no digestive system. No need for elimination, other than the occasional waste gas and passenger effluvium. Therefore, I have no anus in either real or figurative terms. Therefore, I hardly believe I could qualify to be called an ... ' 'Shut up, ' I said.
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When you've spent thirty years entering rooms filled with strangers you feel less pressure than when you've had only half that number of years of experience. You know what the room and the people in it probably hold for you and you go looking for it. If it's not there, you sense it earlier and leave to go about your business. You just know more about what is, what isn't, and how little time there is to learn the difference.
The powerful have received their share of the world's attention even when their power has been shown as sheer evil. The victim's remain the faceless masses. Numbers. Mass graves. These monsters have fertilized our century with the mass graves of their victims and it is time that the powerless had names and faces -- and voices.
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Once upon a time ... the only autonomous intelligences we humans knew of were us humans. We thought then that if humankind ever devised another intelligence that it would be the result of a huge project ... a great mass of silicon and ancient transistors and chips and circuit boards ... a machine with lots of networking circuits, in other words, aping-if you will pardon the expression-the human brain in form and function. Of course, AIs did not evolve that way. They sort of slipped into existence when we humans were looking the other way.
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Poetry is only secondarily about words. Primarily, it is about truth. I dealt with the Ding an Sich, the substance behind the shadow, weaving powerful concepts, similes, and connections the way an engineer would raise a skyscraper with the whiskered-alloy skeleton being constructed long before the glass and plastic and chromaluminum appears.
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Gass once wrote: "Language serves not only to express thought but to make possible thoughts which could not exist without it." Here is the essence of mankind's creative genius: not the edifices of civilization nor the bang-flash weapons which can end it, but the words which fertilize new concepts like spermatozoa attacking an ovum. It might be argued that the Siamese twin infants of word/idea are the only contribution the human species can, will, or should make to the raveling cosmos.
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