24 Random Quotes from the Library's collection

Regardless of the country, creed or social status of the person I approach, provided the same flame of expectation burns in us both, there is a profound, definitive and total contact instantly established between us. It matters nothing that differences of education or training cause us to express our hopes in different ways. We feel that we are of the same kind, and we find that our very differences are a common armor, as though there were a dimension of life in which all striving makes for nearness, not only within a corporate body but heart to heart.
The ego is a maladaptive, tumor-like growth in the personality that has been inculcated into you by the toxicity of culture. It is literally the response to toxic culture; the growth of ego. The more toxic the culture, the more the ego is revered as a natural value within that culture.
Terence McKenna
1994
All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
1967
The major burden of the coupling between agents is carried by language. Without language, we might be much more akin to discrete Cartesian ‘inner’ minds, in which high-level cognition relies largely on internal resources. But the advent of language has allowed us to spread this burden into the world. Language, thus construed, is not a mirror of our inner states but a complement to them. It serves as a tool whose role is to extend cognition in ways that on-board devices cannot. Indeed, it may be that the intellectual explosion in recent evolutionary time is due as much to this linguistically-enabled extension of cognition as to any independent development in our inner cognitive resources.
Andrew Clark
1998
All this gets down to the basic question is, really, “What are you going to do if you’re God?” If, in other words, you find yourself in charge of the world through technological powers, and instead of leaving evolution to what we used to call, in the 19th century, the blind processes of nature—that was begging the question, to call them blind—but at any rate, we say we’re not going to leave evolution anymore to the blind forces of nature, but now we’re going to direct it ourselves. Because we are increasingly developing, say, control over genetic systems, control over the nervous system, control over all kinds of systems. Then, simply: what do you want to do with it?
A sphere (and not just the idealized shape, but as symbol for any entity) cuts existence into two parts: inside and outside, thing and the rest of the universe. The two—entity & environment—relate, determine, create, and influence each other in a radically linked dance by which any thing is joined to its surrounding sea: ship & ocean, particle & crystal, galaxy & cosmos, genome & cell, organism & ecosystem, computer & network, person & society.
There is no such thing as the ‘energy of despair’ in spite of what is sometimes said. What those words really mean is a paroxysm of hope against hope. All conscious energy is, like love (and because it is love), founded on hope.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1955
Today, the majority of all living species—green algae, higher plants, fungi, protozoa (single-cell organisms) and animals—consists of eukaryotic cells. Only this new cell type is capable of forming cell tissues and giving rise to multicellular organisms. The number of mitochondria in a eukaryotic cell runs between one and several thousand (in vertebrates), the number of chloroplasts between one (in green algae) and several hundred. The decisive point, however, is that the organelles do not simply sum up their capabilities. The eukaryotic cell represents a newly emerged level of co-ordination, a new autopoietic system level.
If you look down beyond that you see—of course—it’s the most beautiful jewel in the universe because that’s the universe looking at you! We are the eyes of the cosmos.
Only world-considerate computer accounting will be able to produce the figures that will persuade all humanity to divert high-science technology from weaponry to livingry.
Richard Buckminster Fuller
1981
So-called diseases of plants are the full life of some other kind of organism having a ball. And you see this complexly interrelated world, and you realize that it all hangs together. That everything outside the human world is a system of balances where you couldn’t have, really, any form of life without the others going on, too. There have to be friends and there have to be enemies. Because if there aren’t enemies, the friends get too prosperous and they kill themselves by their excessive exuberance. So they are constantly being pruned by various kinds of enemy species.
One should not be ashamed of wishful thinking for this is just what all inventive and creative people do. They are dreamers, and they find ways of realizing their dreams because they wish and dream effectively. That is to say, their wishful thinking is not vague; their desires are imagined so precisely and specifically that they can very often be carried out.
Whether something appears like a thing or a phenomenon arising from smaller things depends on the level of scale you’re observing it. Is it an ant or is it a community of cells? Is it a colony or is it the individual ants? And so that depends on the scale of observation. And so you can look up in the sky and see a murmuration of starlings and it looks like this thing, this shape. But if you know what it is, you’re not puzzled. You go: “Oh, that’s a bunch of birds.” But if you go to the bird itself and look at that closely, that’s just a flock of cells self-organizing to look like a bird. And my finger pointing at the birds looks like a finger at this level of scale, but it’s just the community of cells that’s organizing itself to look like a finger pointing upwards.
We need to think on very large timescales and we need to figure out how to create political machinery to do that. We’ve been living a potlatch existence—just a frenzied, consumerist kind of unthinking abuse. And I think the best inoculation for that style of life is a stiff dose of psychedelics. You can’t evade it, you know? It dissolves boundaries, it allows you to feel what you’re doing. I mean, the level of denial in this society is incredible! My god, we don’t feel it! We read the newspaper but we don’t feel what it’s telling us! Because if we felt it, we would probably be an emotional wreck. But there’s something to be said for opening up to some of that.
Terence McKenna
1990
Apparently, monkeys would rather kick back and chill, and so we only function well under pressure. And so the pressure is rising. And, you know, our responses have been astonishing. When the African continent dried up we invented agriculture. When spoken language was insufficient we invented alphabets. When they were insufficient we invented mathematical modeling. When the complexity of the world exceeded our mathematical models we built computational machinery to expand the power of our mathematical tools. We seem to function well under pressure. And now we are coming under pressure. Not this; this is not pressure. This is the long garden party before pressure, when people can still worry about whether they’re getting enough antioxidants and so forth and so on. (Not to gore anyone’s particular ox; I’m as concerned about antioxidants as the next person.)
Terence McKenna
1995
The doctrine of emergence, which is widely held to-day, is that aggregates may have qualities, such as life or consciousness, which are quite foreign to their parts. This doctrine may conceivably be true, but it is radically opposed to the spirit of science, which has always attempted to explain the complex in terms of the simple, and has on the whole succeeded. We do not find obvious evidence of life or mind in so-called inert matter, and we naturally study them most easily where they are most completely manifested; but if the scientific point of view is correct, we shall ultimately find them, at least in rudimentary forms, all through the universe.
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane
1928
How far does my very claim to humanity depend upon protecting my own rights as against those of the collective?
You would think we should be over it, but we still are battling—at least in the United States—the conceit that humans are separate from the rest of nature, that an unbridgeable gap separates humans from the other plants and animals.
Carl Sagan
1995
Nobody really knows how the brain works. And so I paint a picture of how you could have a lot of stupid things—because computers are stupid—that could get together and do the kinds of things that we admire in children and people, and the sort of things that we’re used to in a person.
Marvin Minsky
Problems, problems, problems! That we are here for problem-solving. Not to have problems out of the way in some stupid, sublime—something called peace—but here strictly for problem-solving. And the better you get at it, the more problems you’re going to get to solve.
Richard Buckminster Fuller
1975
If you have a universe that is building on achieved novelty, and building faster and faster, then you have a universe which is consuming its share of time, if you will. A universe which is building toward its conclusive denouement much faster than the entities, the beings embedded in it might suppose.
Terence McKenna
1994
Organisms don’t have bosses. They are essentially, I would say, democratic arrangements where—somehow, in a marvelous way—an enormous company of cells are working together.
The really fascinating consequence of this assumption, however, is what it implies if life really does exercise its option to exist forever. There must exist in this future (but in a precise mathematical sense, also in the present and past) a Person who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, who is simultaneously both transcendent to yet immanent in the physical universe of space, time, and matter. In the Person’s immanent temporal aspect, the Person is changing (forever growing in knowledge and power), but in the Person’s transcendent eternal aspect, forever complete and unchanging.
The universe is fundamentally a system which creeps up on itself and then says, “Boo!” And then it laughs at itself for jumping. And, you see, every time it does it, it forgets that it did it before, so it never becomes a bore.
Alan Watts
1971


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