Withering Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The language of mathematics differs from that of everyday life, because it is essentially a rationally planned language. The languages of size have no place for private sentiment, either of the individual or of the nation. They are international languages like the binomial nomenclature of natural history. In dealing with the immense complexity of his social life man has not yet begun to apply inventiveness to the rational planning of ordinary language when describing different kinds of institutions and human behavior. The language of everyday life is clogged with sentiment, and the science of human nature has not advanced so far that we can describe individual sentiment in a clear way. So constructive thought about human society is hampered by the same conservatism as embarrassed the earlier naturalists. Nowadays people do not differ about what sort of animal is meant by Cimex or Pediculus, because these words are used only by people who use them in one way. They still can and often do mean a lot of different things when they say that a mattress is infested with bugs or lice. The study of a man's social life has not yet brought forth a Linnaeus. So an argument about the 'withering away of the State' may disclose a difference about the use of the dictionary when no real difference about the use of the policeman is involved. Curiously enough, people who are most sensible about the need for planning other social amenities in a reasonable way are often slow to see the need for creating a rational and international language.

Lancelot Hogben
This "sir, yes sir" business, which would probably sound like horseshit to any civilian in his right mind, makes sense to Shaftoe and to the officers in a deep and important way. Like a lot of others, Shaftoe had trouble with military etiquette at first. He soaked up quite a bit of it growing up in a military family, but living the life was a different matter. Having now experienced all the phases of military existence except for the terminal ones (violent death, court-martial, retirement), he has come to understand the culture for what it is: a system of etiquette within which it becomes possible for groups of men to live together for years, travel to the ends of the earth, and do all kinds of incredibly weird shit without killing each other or completely losing their minds in the process. The extreme formality with which he addresses these officers carries an important subtext: your problem, sir, is deciding what you want me to do, and my problem, sir, is doing it. My gung-ho posture says that once you give the order I'm not going to bother you with any of the details-and your half of the bargain is you had better stay on your side of the line, sir, and not bother me with any of the chickenshit politics that you have to deal with for a living. The implied responsibility placed upon the officer's shoulders by the subordinate's unhesitating willingness to follow orders is a withering burden to any officer with half a brain, and Shaftoe has more than once seen seasoned noncoms reduce green lieutenants to quivering blobs simply by standing before them and agreeing, cheerfully, to carry out their orders.

Neal Stephenson
He insisted on clearing the table, and again devoted himself to his game of patience: piecing together the map of Paris, the bits of which he'd stuffed into the pocket of his raincoat, folded up any old how. I helped him. Then he asked me, straight out, 'What would you say was the true centre of Paris?' I was taken aback, wrong-footed. I thought this knowledge was part of a whole body of very rarefied and secret lore. Playing for time, I said, 'The starting point of France's roads... the brass plate on the parvis of Notre-Dame.' He gave me a withering look. 'Do you take for me a sap?' The centre of Paris, a spiral with four centres, each completely self-contained, independent of the other three. But you don't reveal this to just anybody. I suppose - I hope - it was in complete good faith that Alexandre Arnoux mentioned the lamp behind the apse of St-Germain-l'Auxerrois. I wouldn't have created that precedent. My turn now to let the children play with the lock. 'The centre, as you must be thinking of it, is the well of St-Julien-le-Pauvre. The 'Well of Truth' as it's been known since the eleventh century.' He was delighted. I'd delivered. He said, 'You know, you and I could do great things together. It's a pity I'm already 'beyond redemption', even at this very moment.' His unhibited display of brotherly affection was of childlike spontaneity. But he was still pursuing his line of thought: he dashed out to the nearby stationery shop and came back with a little basic pair of compasses made of tin. 'Look. The Vieux-Chene, the Well. The Well, the Arbre-a-Liege On either side of the Seine, adhering closely to the line he'd drawn, the age-old tavern signs were at pretty much the same distance from the magic well. 'Well, now, you see, it's always been the case that whenever something bad happens at the Vieux-Chene, a month later - a lunar month, that is, just twenty-eight days - the same thing happens at old La Frite's place, but less serious. A kind of repeat performance. An echo Then he listed, and pointed out on the map, the most notable of those key sites whose power he or his friends had experienced. In conclusion he said, 'I'm the biggest swindler there is, I'm prepared to be swindled myself, that's fair enough. But not just anywhere. There are places where, if you lie, or think ill, it's Paris you disrespect. And that upsets me. That's when I lose my cool: I hit back. It's as if that's what I was there for.

Jacques Yonnet
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