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05 December 2009 @ 12:58 am
Quotes of the week, 4Dec09  
This week: The shard-strewn path from bitter rage to healing.


Once there was a fine warren on the edge of a wood, overlooking the meadows of a farm. It was big, full of rabbits... One day the farmer thought, 'I could increase those rabbits: make them part of my farm - their meat, their skins. Why should I bother to keep rabbits in hutches? They'll do very well where they are.'

...So they lived as he wanted them to live and all the time there were a few who disappeared. The rabbits became strange in many ways, different from other rabbits. They knew well enough what was happening. But even to themselves they pretended that all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away. They forgot the ways of wild rabbits. They forgot El-ahrairah, for what use had they for tricks and cunning, living in the enemy's warren and paying his price?

-Fiver in Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Haitian zombie, Davis argues, is the product of a series of terrifying experiences, all specific to the cultural context of rural Haiti. First comes the overwhelming trauma of having been buried alive. Clairvius Narcisse reported total lucidity through the entire ordeal. Upon removal from the coffin, the would-be zombie is fed a hallucinogenic drug from the plant Datura stramonium, locally known by the suggestive name concombre zombi. At the same time, the victim is given a ferocious beating by his captors. The final touch is the total rejection of the zombie by his own community. The cumulative effect is the destruction of the zombie’s will — what the Haitians call the “ti bon angel,” or the good little angel, the unseen thing that gives personality and resolve to each individual soul. The victim is now a zombie, and he knows he is now a zombie: He has fallen into a well-known trap from which no man or woman escapes.

His soul collapses.

The zombie is now like a living corpse.

- Mischa Berlinski

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From "Dear Bigot:"

My daughter is surrounded by people of many backgrounds and religions, and has learned a respect for different beliefs. She may not always feel that way, but when she feels afraid of something different she asks questions rather than lashing out at the unknown. This is the difference between compassionate intelligence and loathsome stupidity.

My daughter is a better person than I am. She would likely embrace you, loathsome correspondent, as a human being worthy of respect and love, regardless of background and beliefs.

I'm not there yet.


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Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world - "No, you move."

Captain America in Amazing Spider-Man #537

You're learning a hard lesson, little muffin. Science does not always turn out the way we hope or plan when we do an experiment. That is sometimes really, really challenging for the undergraduates in our lab to internalize -- that their experiments will not work quickly and easily. But, before we get to what you do about it, you really do need to put your chin up and get back to it. It's alright to have moments of tear-inducing frustration, but when that perpetuates into a state of mind, you've gotta shake it off, plan out a new strategy, and move on. It's not easy, but that hot, hot science ain't gonna do itself.

-Dr. Isis

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Silver: But you're not playing hard enough if you're not vomiting uncontrollably.

I have this theory about intelligence. It's an over-simplified theory but here it is...

There are three basic levels of intelligence. The first level consists of people who are not smart enough to know anything about the complexities of the universe and the deep suffering humanity has endured since its beginning. These people, unaware of the dark or disappointing aspects of existence, take blissful pleasure in small, insignificant things like a sunny day or a blueberry waffle. They spend their days with dumb looking grins on their faces, talking about unimportant, simple pleasures.

The second level of intelligence is made up of people who are smart enough to have a notable understanding of those complexities of the universe and that deep suffering that humanity has endured. With their grasp on the bleakness of existence, they see no emotion in a sunny day, knowing full well that emotions are nothing more than chemical reactions in our brains, triggered by our environment to help dictate our actions in ways that might benefit our species. They fail to see the point in that blueberry waffle, knowing that at any given time, uncounted people around the world are dying of hunger caused by corruption.

People within the third level of intelligence are also aware of these detailed and dreary points of our world. They understand the moral failure that so much of our planet endures. They know about the distant, permanently undiscovered details of the universe that are so vast and numerous, they masquerade as a great, black emptiness to our simple, mortal minds. Yet, these people who are completely aware of the dark or disappointing aspects of existence, have the extensive intelligence that is needed to take blissful pleasure in small, insignificant things like a sunny day or a blueberry waffle. They spend their days with dumb looking grins on their faces, talking about unimportant, simple pleasures.


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Current Location: Against the wire
Current Mood: exhausted
Current Music: 30 Seconds to Mars - Kings and Queens