Monday, August 27, 2012

A Quote On Humanity and The Nature of Life

I've just finished Cloud Atlas, and there was this quote near the end of the book that I felt the need to share.

"Scholars discern motions in history and formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes. 

What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts.
What precipitates acts? Belief.

Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history's Horroxes, Boerhaaves and Gooses shall prevail" (Those are examples of villains in the book.)

"You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the "natural" (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?

Why? Because of this: one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness  uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.

Is this the doom written within our nature?

If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe diverse races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share this candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen, or a vainglorious general's sword."

Nice thought, no?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spark Plug

What if I told you that your existence is a mere second of thought within a much larger mind? Would that fascinate you or scare you? We are always inclined to lend importance to our existence, that our lives are a big deal. We're here for a reason, we keep telling ourselves. 

But is that a truth, or is it a lie that we perpetuate and repeat ad infinitum, in the hopes that we'll believe it, or perhaps in the hopes that saying so would make them so. 

Of course, there is nothing that suggests otherwise, and for all I know, we might truly be a big deal, but it is sometimes interesting (and quite funny) to note the tricks that we play upon ourselves, during the grand quest for self-worth. 

But then, how would you derive your sense of self-worth? Do you base it upon the opinions of others? The opinions of the well-cultured few? Perhaps your very own opinion. It's quite funny to discuss this with people, and watch them tear apart each hypothesis with such furor that you'd think you've committed some grave faux pas by suggesting that they rely on some external source of self-worth. We are self-aggrandising and self-deprecating, in one hard-to-swallow oxymoronic dollop.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

(Dis)connect

A quick thought..

It's funny how, in modern times, technology has led us to feel that we need to stay 'connected' at all times. Losing one's internet access is akin to losing a limb now, and it's actually quite ridiculous. What's even more ridiculous is the fact that through such 'connection', we are actually 'disconnected' from the actual, real world we live in. Our world becomes confined to an LCD/LED screen and a few scrolls and keystrokes, and we're completely fine with it.

How long until we wholly forsake real connections for ethereal ones? Until all our senses are tethered to something that's not really there? Will we mourn or celebrate it?

I worry, sometimes.