The world was full of beauty. She wanted to grab hold of it and take it down into her bones. Yet always it seemed beyond her grasp. Sometimes only by a little, like now. The thinnest membrane. Usually, though, by miles. She couldn't expect to be that kind of happy all the time. She knew that. But sometimes you could. Sometimes you should be allowed a tiny bit of joy that should stay with you for more than five minutes. That wasn't too much to ask. To have a moment like this, and be able to hold on to it. To cross that membrane, and feel alive.
Music, this complex and mysterious act, precise as algebra and vague as a dream, this art made out of mathematics and air, is simply the result of the strange properties of a little membrane. If that membrane did not exist, sound would not exist either, since in itself it is merely vibration. Would we be able to detect music without the ear? Of course not. Well, we are surrounded by things whose existence we never suspect, because we lack the organs that would reveal them to us. [Was He Mad?]
Guy de Maupassant
I'm so deeply interested in what it feels like to be other people that I get to operate under the illusion when I'm writing fiction that I'm not really revealing that much about myself. But, of course, I am, and I know that I am. And yet there's this sort of membrane that I get to work behind as I write my fiction, and I love it.
I'm completely out of control, and I can hear the beginnings of the chant, get/out/, but now that I'm not being touched maybe I can master it and I shut the world out: separating an orange into skinless sections. Peel it, but not with your fingers. Level off the top and bottom. Set it on the board. Remove the peel in strips with a paring knife, pushing down from the top to bottom with slow, curved strokes. Nick off all the white parts. Cup the cool, wet skinless fruit in your hand. Take care. Don't rush. Press the blade into the flesh of the orange, sink it down, a segment at a time, along the left side of the skin and then the right. Left and right. Left and right. As close as you can to the membrane. Press to the center with your knife, level and easy. If you cut right, the segment will fall out onto the board, triangular, gleaming. Left and right. Left and right. If you rush you'll cut yourself. Take care with it. Cut right along the seam, right where the sweet fruit meets the tough membrane. Let and right. Left and right. As close as you can.
Death, however, does itch. It itches all the time. It is always with us, scratching at some inner door. Mirroring, softly, barely audibly, just under the membrane of consciousness. Hidden in disguise, leaking out in a variety of symptoms. It is the wellspring of many of our worries, stresses, and conflicts.
Irvin D. Yalom
I'm floating inside my skin. I could go on floating like this for days. Right now, the real world with its heartbreak and disappointments is just a pulse against the protective membrane we've drunk ourselves into. It's somewhere outside us, waiting." A Great and Terrible Beauty, Page 141, by
Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes-characters even-caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you
When we think of what is necessary for the phenomenon that we call life, we think of compartmentalization, keeping the molecules which are important for life in a membrane, isolated from the rest of the environment, but yet, in an environment in which they actually could originate together.
A mutation can create an alternative form of a phenomenon - a phenotype or trait - and we can learn a lot by seeing this alternative state. Once I saw a mouse with no eyelids. It simply had a membrane over the eyes. I found it fascinating that there is a single gene required for eyelids to develop.
All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes -- characters even -- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.
All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.
There is no knowing beyond that membrane, the meniscus of death. What can be seen from here is distorted, refracted. All we can know are those untrustworthy glimpses--that and rumour. The prattle. The dead gossip: it is the reverberation of that gossip against the surface tension of death that the better mediums hear. It is like listening to whispered secrets through a toilet door. It is a crude and muffled susurrus.
We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it's true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.
Ayahuasca is driven by sound, by song, by whistling. And its ability to transform sound, including vocal sound, into the visual spectrum indicates that some kind of information processing membrane or boundary is being overcome by the pharmacology of this stuff. And things normally experienced as acoustically experienced becomes visibly beheld, and it's quite spectacular.
Split your skull-a hatchet works well enough. Take a more delicate instrument-a scalpel, perhaps-and make a hand-sized slit; it doesn't matter where. Reach in (no glove needed), plunge down to the very bottom, pinch the inside layer of membrane and yank, hard. If it feels like you've just turned your brain inside out, you have. Writing is brain surgery, pure and simple.
The vestibule door opens onto a June morning so fine and scrubbed Classira pauses at the threshold as she would at the edge of a pool, watching the turquoise water lapping at the tiles, the liquid nets of sun wavering in the blue depths. As if standing at the edge of a pool she delays for a moment the plunge, the quick membrane of chill, the plain shock of immersion.
In the study of this membrane [the retina] I for the first time felt my faith in Darwinism (hypothesis of natural selection) weakened, being amazed and confounded by the supreme constructive ingenuity revealed not only in the retina and in the dioptric apparatus of the vertebrates but even in the meanest insect eye. ... I felt more profoundly than in any other subject of study the shuddering sensation of the unfathomable mystery of life.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal
Chronic sexual predators [to Vachss, pedophiles] have crossed an osmotic membrane. They can't step back to the other side - our side. And they don't want to. If we don't kill them or release them, we have but one choice. Call them monsters and isolate them.... I've spoken to many predators over the years. They always exhibit amazement that we do not hunt them. And that when we capture them, we eventually let them go. Our attitude is a deliberate interference with Darwinism - an endangerment of our species.
One of the few things left in the world, aside from the world itself, that sadden me every day is an awareness that you get upset if Boo Boo or Walt tells you you're saying something that sounds like me. You sort of take it as an accusation of piracy, a little slam at your individuality. Is it so bad that we sometimes sound like each other? The membrane is so thin between us. Is it so important for us to keep in mind which is whose... For us, doesn't each of our individualities begin right at the point where we own up to our extremely close connections and accept the inevitability of borrowing one another's jokes, talents, idiocies?
Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dry as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming, membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos.
The distinguishing of the strata, or layers, in the embryonic membrane was a turning-point in the study of the history of evolution, and placed later researches in their proper light. A division of the (disc-shaped) embryo into an animal and a plastic part first takes place. In the lower part (the plastic or vegetative layer) are a serous and a vascular layer, each of peculiar organization. In the upper part also (the animal or serous germ-layer) two layers are clearly distinguishable, a flesh-layer and a skin-layer. (1828)
Karl Ernst von Baer
My laboratory is interested in the related challenges of understanding the origin of life on the early earth, and constructing synthetic cellular life in the laboratory. Focusing on artificial life frees us to explore novel chemical systems, but what we learn from these systems helps us to understand possible pathways leading to the origin of life. Our basic design for a synthetic cell involves the encapsulation of a spontaneously replicating nucleic acid, which acts as the genetic material, within a spontaneously replicating membrane vesicle, which provides spatial localization. We are using chemical synthesis to make nucleic acids with modified nucleobases and sugar-phosphate backbones.
Jack W. Szostak
Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. Fck Hope.
Moving on, while he wondered, the dark through which Mr. Lecky's light cut grew more beautiful with scents. Particles of solid matter so minute, gases so subtle, that they filtered through stopping and sealing, hung on the unstirred air. Drawn in with Mr. Lecky's breath came impalpable dews cooked out of disintegrating coal. Distilled, chemically split and reformed, they ended in flawless simulation of the aromas of gums, the scent of woods and the world's flowers. The chemists who made them could do more than that. Loose on the gloom were perfumes of flowers which might possibly have bloomed but never had, and the strong-smelling saps of trees either lost or not yet evolved. Mixed in the mucus of the pituitary membrane, these volatile essences meant more than synthetic chemistry to Mr. Lecky. Their microscopic slime coated the bushed-out ends of the olfactory nerve; their presence was signaled to the anterior of the brain's temporal lobe. At once, thought waited on them, tossing down from the great storehouse of old images, neglected ideas - sandalwood and roses, musk and lavender. Mr. Lecky stood still, wrung by pangs as insistent and unanswerable as hunger. He was prodded by the unrest of things desired, not had; the surfeit of things had, not desired. More than anything he could see, or words, or sounds, these odors made him stupidly aware of the past. Unable to remember it, whence he was, or where he had previously been, all that was sweet, impermanent and gone came back not spoiled by too much truth or exact memory. Volatile as the perfumes, the past stirred him with longing for what was not - the only beloved beauty which you will have to see but which you may not keep. Mr. Lecky's beam of light went through glass top and side of a counter, displayed bottles of colored liquid - straw, amber, topaz - threw shadows behind their diverse shapes. He had no use for perfume. All the distraction, all the sense of loss and implausible sweetness which he felt was in memory of women. Behind the counter, Mr. Lecky, curious, took out bottles, sniffed them, examined their elaborately varied forms - transparent squares, triangles, cones, flattened ovals. Some were opaque, jet or blue, rough with embedded metals in intricate design. This great and needless decoration of the flasks which contained it was one strange way to express the inexpressible. Another way was tried in the names put on the bottles. Here words ran the suggestive or symbolic gamut of idealized passion, or festive night, of desired caresses, or of abstractions of the painful allure yet farther fetched. Not even in the hopeful, miracle-raving fancy of those who used the perfumes could a bottle of liquid have any actual magic. Since the buyers at the counters must be human beings, nine of every ten were beyond this or other help. Women, young, but unlovely and unloved, women, whatever they had been, now at the end of it and ruined by years or thickened to caricature by fat, ought to be the ones called to mind by perfume. But they were not. Mr. Lecky held the bottle in his hand a long while, aware of the tenth woman.
James Gould Cozzens
Despite an icy northeast wind huffing across the bay I sneak out after dark, after my mother falls asleep clutching her leather Bible, and I hike up the rutted road to the frosted meadow to stand in mist, my shoes in muck, and toss my echo against the moss-covered fieldstone corners of the burned-out church where Sunday nights in summer for years Father Thomas, that mad handsome priest, would gather us girls in the basement to dye the rose cotton linen cut-outs that the deacon's daughter, a thin beauty with short white hair and long trim nails, would stitch by hand each folded edge then steam-iron flat so full of starch, stiffening fabric petals, which we silly Sunday school girls curled with quick sharp pulls of a scissor blade, forming clusters of curved petals the younger children assembled with Krazy glue and fuzzy green wire, sometimes adding tissue paper leaves, all of us gladly laboring like factory workers rather than have to color with crayon stubs the robe of Christ again, Christ with his empty hands inviting us to dine, Christ with a shepherd's staff signaling to another flock of puffy lambs, or naked Christ with a drooping head crowned with blackened thorns, and Lord how we laughed later when we went door to door in groups, visiting the old parishioners, the sick and bittersweet, all the near dead, and we dropped our bikes on the perfect lawns of dull neighbors, agnostics we suspected, hawking our handmade linen roses for a donation, bragging how each petal was hand-cut from a pattern drawn by Father Thomas himself, that mad handsome priest, who personally told the Monsignor to go fornicate himself, saying he was a disgruntled altar boy calling home from a phone booth outside a pub in North Dublin, while I sat half-dressed, sniffing incense, giddy and drunk with sacrament wine stains on my panties, whispering my oath of unholy love while wiggling uncomfortably on the mad priest's lap, but God he was beautiful with a fine chiseled chin and perfect teeth and a smile that would melt the Madonna, and God he was kind with a slow gentle touch, never harsh or too quick, and Christ how that crafty devil could draw, imitate a rose petal in perfect outline, his sharp pencil slanted just so, the tip barely touching so that he could sketch and drink, and cough without jerking, without ruining the work, or tearing the tissue paper, thin as a membrane, which like a clean skin arrived fresh each Saturday delivered by the dry cleaners, tucked into the crisp black vestment, wrapped around shirt cardboard, pinned to protect the high collar.