September 5, 2013

China Mountain Zhang

Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 9:34 pm

“Like I told you, I’m not interested. I think the party is mostly a means of advancing one’s career anyway.”

“Exactly, and your decision not to join is a political decision.”

“Well, then my political decision is to not be political.”

“Exactly, that’s a political statement. You are expressing your opinion about current politics. Except you are political, everything we do is political…”

“It’s a practical decision, not a political one… We don’t have to analyze everyone’s lives for motives.”

“I wasn’t saying it’s wrong… I was just pointing out that your life says something about your politics whether you think about them or not. You can either just let that happen or you can think about the kind of choices you want to make.”

“I’d like to continue to make my choices because they fit my life rather than out of some sense of ideology… In my experience ideology is a lot like religion; it’s a belief system and most people cling to it long after it becomes clear that their ideology doesn’t describe the real world…”

“That’s as pure a description of an applied political theory as any I’ve ever heard.” 

Maureen McHugh, China Mountain Zhang

August 1, 2013


Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 9:08 pm

Second thoughts can generally be amended with judicious action; injudicious actions can seldom be recovered with second thoughts.

CJ Cherryh, Cyteen

June 12, 2013

Way Station

Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 8:28 am

Our horizons are so far, he thought, and we see so little of them.

Clifford Simak, Way Station

June 10, 2013

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 8:47 am

“But Ardrey and others tried to prove that man not only had an instinct to claim a certain area of land as his own, he also was descended from a killer ape. And the instinct to kill was still strong in his heritage from the killer ape. Which explained national boundaries, patriotism both national and local, capitalism, war, murder, crime, and so forth. But the other school of thought, or of the temperamental inclination, maintained that all these are the results of culture, of the cultural continuity of societies dedicated from earliest times to tribal hostilities, to war, to murder, to crime, and so forth. Change the culture, and the killer ape is missing. Missing because he was never there, like the little man on the stairs. The killer was the society, and society bred the new killers out of every batch of babies. But there were some societies; composed of preliterates, it is true, but still societies, that did not breed killers. And they were proof that man was not descended from a killer ape. Or I should say, he was perhaps descended from the ape but he did not carry the killing genes any longer, any more than he carried the genes for a heavy supraorbital ridge of hairy skin or thick bones or a skull with only 650 cubic centimeters capacity.

Philip José Farmer, To Your Scattered Bodies Go

June 5, 2013


Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 8:31 pm

“We checked her, forty ways from Sunday, and all the factors, check. They all add up. There isn’t any past.”
“There isn’t any room,” said Joshua. “You travel back along the line of time and you don’t find the past, but another world, another bracket of consciousness. The earth would be the same, you see, or almost the same. Same trees, same rivers, same hills, but it wouldn’t be the world we know. Because it has lived a different life, it has developed differently. The second back of us is not the second back of us at all, but another second, a totally separate sector of time. We live in the same second all the time. We move along within the bracket of that second, that tiny bit of time that has been allotted to our particular world.”
“The way we keep time was to blame,” said Ichabod. “It was the thing that kept us from thinking of it in the way it really was. For we thought all the time that we were passing through time when we really weren’t, when we never have. We’ve just been moving along with time. We said, there’s another second gone, there’s another minute and another hour and another day, when, as a matter of fact the second or the minute or the hour was never gone. It was the same one all the time. It had just moved along and we had moved with it.”

Clifford Simak, City

May 15, 2013

Blood Meridian

Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 8:45 am

They took to riding by night, silent jornadas save for the trundling of the wagons and the wheeze of the animals. Under the moonlight a strange party of elders with the white dust thick on their moustaches and their eyebrows. They moved on and the stars jostled and arced across the firmament and died beyond the inkblack mountains. They came to know the nightskies well. Western eyes that read more geometric constructions than those names given by the ancients. Tethered to the polestar they rode the Dipper round while Orion rose in the southwest like a great electric kite. The sand lay blue in the moonlight and the iron tires of the wagons rolled among the shapes of the riders in gleaming hoops that veered and wheeled woundedly and vaguely navigational like slender astrolabes and the polished shoes of the horses kept hasping up like a myriad of eyes winking across the desert floor. They watched storms out there so distant they could not be heard, the silent lightning flaring sheetwise and the thin black spine of the mountain chain fluttering and sucked away again in the dark. They saw wild horses racing on the plain, pounding their shadows down the night and leaving in the moonlight a vaporous dust like the palest stain of their passing.

All night the wind blew and the fine dust set their teeth on edge. Sand in everything, grit in all they ate. In the morning a urinecolored sun rose blearily through panes of dust on a dim world and without feature. The animals were failing. They halted and made a dry camp without wood or water and the wretched ponies huddled and whimpered like dogs.

That night they rode through a region electric and wild where strange shapes of soft blue fire ran over the metal of the horses’ trappings and the wagonwheels rolled in hoops of fire and little shapes of pale blue light came to perch in the ears of the horses and in the beards of the men. All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunder-heads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear. The thunder moved up from the southwest and lightning lit the desert all about them, blue and barren, great clanging reaches ordered out of the absolute night like some demon kingdom summoned up or changeling land that come the day would leave them neither trace nor smoke nor ruin more than any troubling dream.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

March 13, 2013

Red Mars

Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 8:04 am

“I guess I haven’t begun the first journey yet,” John said. “I don’t know anything.”

They were pleased by this response, he could see. You can start, they told him, and poured him more coffee. You can always start.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

June 20, 2012

The Sirens of Titan

Filed under: Bits of books — Jared @ 1:54 pm

Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.

But mankind wasn’t always so lucky. Less than a century ago men and women did not have easy access to the puzzle boxes within them.

They could not name even one of the fifty-three portals to the soul.

Gimcrack religions were big business. Mankind, ignorant of the truths that lie within every human being, looked outward-pushed ever outward. What mankind hoped to learn in its outward push was who was actually in charge of all creation, and what all creation was all about.

Mankind flung its advance agents ever outward, ever outward. Eventually it flung them out into space, into the colorless, tasteless, weightless sea of outwardness without end.

It flung them like stones.

These unhappy agents found what had already been found in abundance on Earth – a nightmare of meaninglessness without end. The bounties of space, of infinite outwardness, were three: empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death.

– Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

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