“Everything made now is either a replica or a variant of something made a little time ago and so on back without break to the first morning of human time. This continuous connection of time must contain lesser divisions. The narrative historian always has the privilege of deciding that continuity cuts better into certain lengths than into others. He never is required to defend his cut, because history cuts anywhere with equal ease, and a good story can begin anywhere the teller chooses.”—George Kubler, an American art historian and among the foremost scholars on the art of Pre-Columbian America and Ibero-American Art (1912-1996), The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962, p.2.
“" "Take the familiar "tick-tock", of the clock. Well, the clock doesn’t go "tick-tock" at all; it goes "tick-tick", every tick producing the same sound. It’s just that our consciousness runs two successive ticks into single "tick-tock" experience - but only if the duration between ticks is less than about three seconds. A really big pendulum clock just goes "tock…tock…tock…", whereas a bedside clock chatters away: "ticktockticktock…" "”—Paul Davies, an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, a professor at Arizona State University, About Time Einstein Unfinished Revolution, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1995, p. 265-266.
The petty done, the undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful
And yet—she has not spoke so long!
What if heaven be that, fair and strong
At life’s best, with our eyes upturn’d
Whither life’s flower is first discern’d,
We, fix’d so, ever should so abide?
What if we still ride on, we two
With life for ever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity
“[T]he flowers of the future-in-the-present are far brighter than this southern gaudy melon-flower here and now. (…) [I]t is the pregnancy of the present that makes it meaningful. (…)
“Like the bird the poet of this lyric sings twice over so as to recapture the first moment, to bind his day together, to redeem the past from its pastness, to put futurity into the present."
— Clyde de L. Ryals about Browning’s "Home-Thoughts, From Abroad" in Becoming Browning. The Poems and Plays of Robert Browning, 1833-1846, Ohio State University Press, 1983 p. 214”—Robert Browning, English poet and playwright (1812-1889)
“My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.”—Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009.
“Q: Is there a line between art and science, and where does it start to blur?
Cormac McCarthy: “There’s certainly an aesthetic to mathematics and science. It was one of the ways Paul Dirac got in trouble. He was one of the great physicists of the 20th century. But he really believed, as other physicists did, that given the choice between something which was logical and something which was beautiful, they would opt for the aesthetic as being more likely to be true.
When [Richard] Feynman put together his updated version of quantum electrodynamics, Dirac didn’t think it was true because it was ugly. It was messy. It didn’t have the clarity, the elegance, that he associated with great mathematical or physical theory. But he was wrong. There’s no one formula for it.” “”—Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009.
Cormac McCarthy: “If you think about some of the things that are being talked about by thoughtful, intelligent scientists, you realize that in 100 years the human race won’t even be recognizable. We may indeed be part machine and we may have computers implanted. It’s more than theoretically possible to implant a chip in the brain that would contain all the information in all the libraries in the world. As people who have talked about this say, it’s just a matter of figuring out the wiring. Now there’s a problem you can take to bed with you at night. (…)
Well, I don’t know what of our culture is going to survive, or if we survive. If you look at the Greek plays, they’re really good. And there’s just a handful of them. Well, how good would they be if there were 2,500 of them? But that’s the future looking back at us. Anything you can think of, there’s going to be millions of them. Just the sheer number of things will devalue them. I don’t care whether it’s art, literature, poetry or drama, whatever. The sheer volume of it will wash it out. I mean, if you had thousands of Greek plays to read, would they be that good? I don’t think so.” “”—Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009. Photo: Cormac McCarthy
“Genius is often only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it — so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success.
As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business sometimes prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.”—Elbert Hubbard, was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher (1856-1915), as quoted from Electrical Review (c. 1895), this was later published as part of various works by Hubbard, including FRA Magazine : A Journal of Affirmation (1915)
“If men could only know each other, they would neither idolize nor hate.”—Elbert Hubbard, was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher (1856-1915) cited in Pearl S. Buck: The Final Chapter, Etc Publications, 1989, p. 168.
"What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order.
It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.” “”—Leonard Cohen is a Canadian Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist, Beautiful Losers (1966) (Photo)
“… all experience delivered in such detail that the fictions seemed facts, and the facts? The facts insisted on themselves.”—Christine Schutt, American novelist and short story writer, Prosperous Friends, Grove Press, 2012.
“I can only meditate when I am walking,’ wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the fourth book of his Confessions, ‘when I stop I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs.’ Søren Kierkegaard speculated that the mind might function optimally at the pedestrian pace of three miles per hour, and in a journal entry describes going out for a wander and finding himself ‘so overwhelmed with ideas’ that he ‘could scarcely walk’. Christopher Morley wrote of Wordsworth as ‘employ[ing] his legs as an instrument of philosophy’ and Wordsworth of his own ‘feeling intellect’. Nietzsche was typically absolute on the subject — ‘Only those thoughts which come from walking have any value’ — and Wallace Stevens typically tentative: ‘Perhaps / The Truth depends on a walk around a lake.”—Robert Macfarlane, British travel writer, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Hamish Hamilton, 2012 (via invisiblestories)
“The fact is, there’s nothing infallible about “direct experience” (…). Indeed, experience is never direct. It is a sort of virtual reality, created by our brains using sketchy and flawed sensory clues, given substance only by fallible expectations, explanations, and interpretations. Those can easily be more mistaken than the testimony of the passing hobo. (…)
This logic of fallibility, discovered and rediscovered from time to time, has had profound salutary effects in the history of ideas. Whenever anything demands blind obedience, its ideology contains a claim of infallibility somewhere; but wherever someone believes seriously enough in that infallibility, they rediscover the need for reason to identify and correctly interpret the infallible source. (…)
[Popper]: [A]ll ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’ (…)
Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve. Here is another apparent paradox, for a tradition is a set of ideas that stay the same, while criticism is an attempt to change ideas. But there is no contradiction. Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished). Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.
“Our whole problem,” said the physicist John Wheeler, “is to make the mistakes as fast as possible.” (…) [T]hat only means that whenever possible we should make the mistakes in theory, or in the laboratory; we should “let our theories die in our place,” as Popper put it. (…)
[L]essons can be learned to prevent them from happening again. “We are all alike,” as Popper remarked, “in our infinite ignorance.” And this is a good and hopeful thing, for it allows for a future of unbounded improvement.
Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance. (…)
Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.” “”—☞ Why It’s Good To Be Wrong. David Deutsch on Fallibilism
“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”—Ayn Rand, Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter (1905-1982), The Fountainhead, Bobbs Merrill,1943, p. 715.
“The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.”—William O. Douglas, served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1898-1980), dissenting, Public utilities Commission v. Pollak, 343 U.S. 451, 467 (1952)
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.”—a career U.S. intelligence officer on the U.S. government, in a Washington Post exclusive (June 6, 2013) on how the NSA and FBI is tapping into the central servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.
“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” “”—attributed to Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century (1932-1982), in Payzant (1962), cited in Glenn Gould: Music and Mind, p.64
“" "There was this American physiologist who was asked if Mary’s bodily ascent from Earth to Heaven was possible. He said,"I wasn’t there; therefore, I’m not positive that it happened or didn’t happen; but of one thing I’m certain: She passed out at 10,000 meters.” “”—
“Only the understanding of evolution offers a chance to get a real understanding of the human species. We are determined by the interplay between individual and group selection where individual selection is responsible for much of what we call sin, while group selection is responsible for the greater part of virtue. We’re all in constant conflict between self-sacrifice for the group on the one hand and egoism and selfishness on the other. I go so far as to say that all the subjects of humanities, from law to the creative arts are based upon this play of individual versus group selection. (…) And it is very creative and probably the source of our striving, our inventiveness and imagination. It’s that eternal conflict that makes us unique. (…)
Q: (…) [W]ill we reach a higher state of humanity?
Do we really want to improve ourselves? Humans are a very young species, in geologic terms, and that’s probably why we’re such a mess. We’re still living with all this aggression and ability to go to war. But do we really want to change ourselves? We’re right on the edge of an era of being able to actually alter the human genome. But do we want that? Do we want to create a race that’s more rational and free of many of these emotions? My response is no, because the only thing that distinguishes us from super-intelligent robots are our imperfect, sloppy, maybe even dangerous emotions. They are what makes us human.” “”—
“There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”—Douglas Adams, English writer and dramatist (1952-2001), in a Speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge, UK, (1998)
“For Children: You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It’s quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a chicken. Like most things, of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The fried egg isn’t properly a fried egg until it’s been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn’t do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It’s all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while.”—Douglas Adams, English writer and dramatist (1952-2001), The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002)
"Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?" — Lawrence Durrell, Justine (The Alexandria Quartet)
“Through past experience I had become familiar with many different types and levels of silence.
There is a silence within, a silence that descends from without; a silence that stills existence and a silence that engulfs the entire universe. There is a silence of the self and its faculties of will, thought, memory, and emotions. There is a silence in which there is nothing, a silence in which there is something; and finally, there is the silence of no-self (…).
If there was any path on which I could chart my contemplative experiences, it would be this ever-expanding and deepening path of silence.”
— Bernadette Roberts, from The Experience of No-Self posted in the TAT Forum Newsletter, May 2013 (via Markings) Photo source
John Cage about silence
— John Cage was an American composer, music theorist and artist (1912-1992)”—
“Today’s news consists of aggregates of fragments. Anyone who has taken part in any event that has subsequently appeared in the news is aware of the gross disparity between the actual and the reported events. We also learn frequently of prefabricated and prevaricated evens of a complex nature purportedly undertaken for the purposes wither of suppressing or rigging the news, which in turn perverts humanity’s tactical information resources. All history becomes suspect. Probably our most polluted resource is the tactical information to which humanity spontaneously reflexes.”—Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), Synergetics, Macmillan, 1975.
There was a boy A very strange, enchanted boy They say he wandered very far Very far, over land and sea A little shy and sad of eye But very wise was he
And then one day, One magic day he passed my way While we spoke of many things Fools and Kings This he said to me
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn Is just to love and be loved in return.
— Eden Ahbez, was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s–1960s, whose lifestyle in California was influential on the hippie movement (1908-1995), Nature Boy (1947) performed by Nat King Cole.
“A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish - but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.” “”—Vladimir Nabokov was a Russian-American novelist (1899-1977),Laughter in the Dark, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1932 Photo: Vladimir Nabokov looking out of car window. He likes to work in the car, writing on index cards. - LIFE (Ithaca State, NY, 1958)
Colored Plates - Synergetics - R. Buckminster Fuller. Written by Robert W. Gray, Summer 1997
"Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible." "”—Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), R. Buckminster Fuller on Education, University of Massachusetts Press, 1979, p. 130.
“Dare to be naïve.”—Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), Motto of R. Buckminster Fuller; used in many of his speeches and writings, including Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking 1975
“Relativity is inherently convergent, though convergent toward a plurality of centers of abstract truths. Degrees of accuracy are only degrees of refinement and magnitude in no way affects the fundamental reliability, which refers, as directional or angular sense, toward centralized truths. Truth is a relationship.” “”—Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), “The Designers and the Politicians” (1962), later published in Ideas and Integrities : A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1969), p. 233, and The The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970), p. 305.
“We say release, and radiance, and roses,
and echo upon everything that’s known;
and yet, behind the world our names enclose is
the nameless: our true archetype and home.
We grow up; but the world remains a child.
Star and flower, in silence, watch us go.
And sometimes we appear to be the final
exam they must succeed on. And they do.”—Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. Rilke is “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets,” (1875-1926), Selected Poems, translation by Stephen Mitchell
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” “”—Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983)
At the San Francisco Museum of Art (taken before 1975, Life Magazine)
“What I think is so interesting about this photograph is the way that the girls are responding to the space of the modern art gallery: they are not merely ignoring the art on the walls, but literally looking beyond those walls. It is not a quick glance or sneaky peek, either. This is intense, curious looking that requires them to physically crouch down and brace themselves against the grate in order to get the closest possible view through the vent. The square grid-like vent seems congruous with the canvasses of the modern art gallery, and the children are inspired to look beyond the surface of lines and shapes. (…)
As Clement Greenberg, that stalwart champion of abstract expressionism, once said: “To hold that one kind of art must invariably be superior or inferior to another kind means to judge before experiencing; and the whole history of art is there to demonstrate the futility of rules of preference laid down beforehand: the impossibility, that is, of anticipating the outcome of aesthetic experience.” (From his Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon, 1961), pp. 133).
So, the girls might not be looking at the abstract art on the gallery walls, but who is to say that their examination of whatever lay beyond that vent is any less of a valid aesthetic experience?” “”—The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things, 22 Dec 2012.
“Most people aren’t trained to want to face the process of re-understanding a subject they already know. One must obtain not just literacy, but deep involvement and re-understanding.”—Charles Eames, American designer, who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture (1907–1978), cited in Charles Eames in 15 Quotes for His 105th Birthday
“When man took to his bed the Computer, there was great rejoicing, and great fear too, for their children were almost like gods. The mainbrains bestrode the galaxy at will, and changed its very face. The Silicon God, The Solid State Entity, Al Squared, Enth Generation - their names are many. And there were the Carked and Symbionts, whose daughters were the Neurosingers, Warrior-Poets, the Neurologicians and the Pilots of the Order of Mystic Mathematicians.”—David Zindell, American author known for science fiction and fantasy epics, The Broken God, Spectra, 1992 (tnx wildcat2030)
Lucretius on the infinite universe, the beginning of things and the likelihood of extraterrestrial life
All things [the particles]
move everywhere, always in constant motion—
material stuff is stirred up and supplied
from down below out of infinite space.
This, therefore, is the nature of deep space
and its extent—bright lightning in its course
could not pass through it—though sliding forward
for unending tracts of time, its motion,
as it proceeded, would not diminish
the remaining distance it still had to go.
That shows how much immense space lies open
on all sides for things, free from all limits
everywhere in all directions.
nature herself makes sure the universe
cannot set limits to itself—she compels
matter to be enclosed within a void,
and void, in turn, to be bound by matter.
With this reciprocal relationship
she therefore makes the total infinite,
or else one of the two, if the other
did not limit it, in its unmixed form
would then extend out beyond all measure.
[But I have shown above that space spreads out
without limit; thus, matter, too, must be
infinite, for if the void were endless,
and the total sum of matter finite,]
neither sea nor earth nor sky’s bright spaces,
nor mortal races, nor sacred bodies
of the gods could endure for very long,
not even for the short space of an hour,
since, with their combined masses forced apart,
supplies of matter would be carried off
and scattered through huge areas of space,
or what is, in fact, more likely, matter
would never have united and therefore
would never have produced a single thing,
since, in its dispersed condition, it would
be incapable of forming compounds.
For clearly the first particles of things
did not all place themselves in due order
by their own planning or intelligence,
nor did they through some agreement assign
the motions each of them should have. Instead,
since there are many of them and they change
in many ways through all the universe,
they are pushed, energized by collisions,
for a limitless length of time, and then,
having gone through every kind of motion
and combination, they at length fall into
those arrangements which make up and create
this totality of things, which also,
once suitably set in patterned motion,
has been preserved through many lengthy years.
It makes rivers with large flows of water
refresh voracious seas, and earth, once warmed
by sun’s heat, restore what it produces,
races of living creatures grow and thrive,
and, in the aether, gliding fires live on.
There would be no way they could act like this,
unless supplies of matter kept arising
from infinite space, stuff which they then use
to restore, over time, what has been lost.
Thus, to repeat myself, many particles
must spring up. And yet to be capable
of keeping the number of those impacts
at a sufficient level, there must be
infinite amounts of matter on all sides.
In these things, Memmius, stay far away
from having faith what some people say—
that all matter presses to the centre
of the universe and for this reason
the substance of the world remains in place
without any collisions from outside,
and that the bottom and the top cannot
be forced apart in any direction,
since all matter sinks towards the centre—
if you believe that anything can stand
upon itself—and that all heavy things
on the lower part of earth press upward
and remain there, placed upside down on earth,
just as we now see images of things
— I [996-1061] p.45-47.
To start with, we know that in every part,
in all directions and on either side,
above and below and throughout all space,
there is no limit, as I have explained,
and facts themselves announce it on their own—
the nature of deep space is very clear.
Since infinite space lies empty on all sides
and seeds in countless numbers fly around
through the deep universe in various ways,
driven by eternal motion, we must not,
in any way, now think it probable
that only this one sphere of earth and sky
have been created, that beyond us here
all those many particles of matter
do nothing at all, especially since earth
was made by nature. Seeds of things themselves,
jostling freely here and there in various ways
and forced to random, confused collisions,
produced nothing—then finally those ones
suddenly united which could become,
every time, the beginnings of great things,
land, sea, sky, the race of living beings.
And so, to repeat myself, you must grant
that there are other aggregates of matter
similar to this in other places,
which aether clutches in its keen embrace.
Further, when large quantities of matter
are on hand and there is sufficient space,
with no causal factor standing in the way,
we may be sure that things must be produced
and their full development completed.
Now, if supplies of seed are so enormous
that all the years of living animals
could not count the total, and if nature
and the same force remain which could collect
the seeds of matter into every place
in the same way they are thrown together here,
one must grant there are other earthly spheres
in other regions, with different races
of human beings and classes of wild beasts.
Add to this that in the whole universe
no single thing exists all on its own:
nothing is born unique and flourishes
as the single specimen of its kind.
Instead it always belongs to some race,
and those of the same kind are numerous.
If, to begin with, you direct your mind
to living creatures, you will discover
this is true for living varieties
of savage animals which roam the hills,
true for human offspring, and it is true
for mute herds of scaly fish and all bodies
of things which fly. Thus, one must acknowledge,
that, in the same way, sky, land, sun, moon, sea,
and all the other objects which exist
are not unique—instead their quantity
is beyond all counting.
If you grasp these points well and hold to them,
you will see at once that nature is free,
liberated from her proud possessors,
doing all things on her own initiative,
without divinities playing any part.
— II [1047-1094] p. 89-90.
Since the moment earth was first created,
that day sea, land, and rising sun were born,
many particles have been added on
from areas outside. All around them,
seeds which the immense universe has joined
by hurling them about have been attached.
Because of that, sea and lands could increase,
the mansion of the sky could gain more space
and raise its high roof far above the land,
and air could flow there.
“Lucretius: ‘O unhappy race of men, when they ascribed actions to the gods’
[W]hat cause has spread divine influence
of the gods through powerful states, filling
cities with altars, and brought it about
that men set up sacred ceremonies,
rituals which today are flourishing
at important times and in great places.
— V [1161-1166], p. 229.
[People] kept observing what went on
in the sky in fixed order—various seasons
of the year returning—and could not see
the causes that made these happen. Therefore,
they found themselves a way out, by linking
all these to the gods, making everything
directed by gods’ will. And they set up
habitations and spaces for the gods
up in the sky, for they saw night and moon
moving through the heavens—moon, day, and night,
glorious nocturnal constellations,
celestial torches wandering at night,
flying fires, clouds, sun, rain, snow, and wind,
lighting, hail, swift peals and ominous sounds
of menacing thunder.
O unhappy race of men,
when they ascribed such actions to the gods
and added to them bitter rage! What sorrow
they made for themselves then, what wounds for us,
what weeping for our children yet to come!
There is no piety in being seen
time and again turning towards a stone
with one’s head covered and approaching close
to every altar, and hurling oneself
prostrate on the ground, stretching out one’s palms
before gods’ shrines, or spreading lots of blood
from four-footed beasts on altars, or piling
sacred pledges onto sacred pledges,
but rather in being able to perceive
all things with one’s mind at peace.
— V, [1160-1205], p. 230-231.
[W]hen all the earth shakes underfoot
and tottering towns fall or their collapse
is threatened and hangs in doubt, no wonder
if races of mortal men hate themselves
and make room for the amazing powers
and immense forces of gods here on earth,
so that they have control of everything.
(…) — V, [1234-1240], p. 232.
[I]n their hearts the human race stirs up
anxious tides of worries, for the most part
with no good reason. For just as children
tremble in blinding darkness and are afraid
of everything, so sometimes in the light
we dread things which are no more to be feared
than those which during the night young people
tremble at, dreaming of what will happen.
Therefore, this terror, this darkness of mind,
must be dispelled, not by rays of sunlight
or bright arrows of the day, but by reason
and the face of nature.
— VI, [35-46], p. 241.
People say that gods, when angry, bring on
raging storms and then, when a lull occurs
in the fury] of the winds, that gods’ anger
is appeased and everything which was there
has changed back again, now that their anger
has been soothed. [I will explain] all the rest
which mortals creatures observe taking place
on earth and in the sky, when so often
they are in suspense, their minds full of dread,
things which demean their souls with fear of gods.
These weigh on them and press them to the ground.
Their ignorance of causes forces them
to assign things to the rule of deities
and to concede that gods are in control.
— VI, [55-67], p. 242.
[T]hey are carried back to old religion
and accept harsh masters, who, they believe,
in their misery, can do everything,
being ignorant of what can and cannot be,
in short, by what law each thing possesses
limited power, a deep-set boundary stone.
And therefore men lose their way even more,
carried away by their blind reasoning.