Can any of us fix anything? No. None of us can do that. We're specialized. Each one of us has his own line, his own work. I understand my work, you understand yours. The tendency in evolution is toward greater and greater specialization. Man's society is an ecology that forces adaptation to it. Continued complexity makes it impossible for us to know anything outside our own personal field - I can't follow the work of the man sitting at the next desk over from me. Too much knowledge has piled up in each field. And there are too many fields. .
Doctor Labyrinth, like most people who read a great deal and who have too much time on their hands, had become convinced that our civilization was going the way of Rome. He saw, I think , the same cracks forming that had sundered the ancient world, the world of Greece and Rome; and it was his conviction that presently our world, our society, would pass away as theirs did, and a period of darkness would follow. .
One long-past innocent day, in my prefolly youth, I came upon a statement in an undistinguished textbook on psychiatry that, as when Kant read Hume, woke me forever from my garden-of-eden slumber. "The psychotic does not merely think he sees four blue bivalves with floppy wings wandering up the wall; he does see them. An hallucination is not, strictly speaking, manufactured in the brain; it is received by the brain, like any 'real' sense datum, and the patient act in response to this to-him-very-real perception of reality in as logical a way as we do to our sense data. In any way to suppose he only 'thinks he sees it' is to misunderstand totally the experience of psychosis." .
In one of the most brilliant papers in the English language [David] Hume made it clear that what we speak of as 'causality' is nothing more than the phenomenon of repetition. When we mix sulphur with saltpeter and charcoal we always get gunpowder. This is true of every event subsumed by a causal law - in other words, everything which can be called scientific knowledge. "It is custom which rules," Hume said, and in that one sentence undermined both science and philosophy. .
My major preoccupation is the question, 'What is reality?' Many of my stories and novels deal with psychotic states or drug-induced states by which I can present the concept of a multiverse rather than a universe. Music and sociology are themes in my novels, also radical political trends; in particular I've written about fascism and my fear of it. .
People just have no criterion left to evaluate the importance of things. I think the only thing that would really affect people would be the announcement that the world was going to be blown up by the hydrogen bomb. I think that would really affect people. I think they would react to that. But outside of that, I don't think they would react to anything. "Peking has been wiped out by an earthquake, and the RTD -- the bus strike is still on." And some guy says, "Damnit! I'll have to walk to work!" .
I think that, like in my writing, reality is always a soap bubble, Silly Putty thing anyway. In the universe people are in, people put their hands through the walls, and it turns out they're living in another century entirely. ... I often have the feeling -- and it does show up in my books -- that this is all just a stage. .
Ramp hawkers were peddling “methods,” low priced sure-fire theories guaranteed to predict bottle twitches and beat the whole Minimax game. The hawkers were ignored by the hurrying throngs of people; anybody with a genuine system of prediction would be using it, not selling it. .
In the early twentieth century the problem of production had been solved; after that it was the problem of consumption that plagued society. In the 1950s and '60s, consumer commodities and farm products began to pile up in vast towering mountains all over the Western World. As much as possible was given away - but that threatened to subvert the open market. By 1980, the pro tem solution was to heap up the products and burn them: billions of dollars of worth, week after week. .
“But what are you supposed to do in a society that’s corrupt? Are you supposed to obey corrupt laws? Is it a crime to break a law that’s a rotten law, or an oath that’s rotten? “It’s a crime,” Cartwright admitted slowly. “But it may be the right thing to do.” “In a society of criminals,” Shaeffer offered, “the innocent man goes to jail.” “Who decides when the society is made up of criminals? Benteley demanded. “How do you know when your society has gone wrong? How do you know when it’s right to stop obeying the laws?” “You just know,” Rita O’Neill said fiercely. .
“We should celebrate,” Rita said. “Yes. I'm where I wanted to be.” Benteley sipped the remains of his drink. “Working for the Directorate. Sworn in to the Quizmaster. That’s what I set out for, that day. It seems like a long time ago. Well, I've finally arrived.” He gazed down at his glass and was silent. “How do you feel?” “Not much different.” .
An Irishman hears that the banks are failing. He runs into the bank where he keeps his money and demands every cent of it. 'Yes sir,' the teller says politely. 'Do you want it in cash or in the form of a check?' The Irishman replies: 'Well, if you have it, I don't want it. But if you haven't got it, I must have it immediately.' .
“Explain it,” Hamilton muttered. “This place—this bar. Why doesn’t God erase it? If this world operates by moral laws—” “This bar is necessary to the moral order. This is a sinkpit of corruption and vice, a fleshpot of iniquity. You think salvation can function without damnation? You think virtue can exist without sin? That’s the trouble with you atheists; you don’t grasp the mechanics of evil. Get on the inside and enjoy life, man. If you’re one of the Faithful, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” “Opportunist.” “Bet your sweet soul.” .
“You know what you can buy at the supermarket?” Laws inquired acidly. “I’ll tell you. Canned burnt offerings.” “You know what you can buy at the hardware store?” Hamilton answered. “Scales to weigh your soul on.” “That’s silly,” the blond said petulantly. “A soul doesn’t have any weight.” “Then,” Hamilton reflected, “you could put one through the U. S. mail for nothing.” “How many souls,” Laws conjectured ironically, “can be fitted into one stamped envelope? New religious question. Split mankind in half. Warring factions. Blood running in the gutters.” “Ten,” Hamilton guessed. “Fourteen,” Laws contradicted. “Heretic. Baby-murdering monster.” “Bestial drinker of unpurified blood.” “Accursed spawn of filth-devouring evil.” .
“Why?” Hamilton lashed out suddenly and loudly. “Why the hell did God answer that prayer? Why not some of the others? Why not Bill Laws’s?” “God approved of your prayer,” Silky said. “After all, it’s up to Him; He has to decide how He feels about it.” “That’s terrible.” Silky shrugged. “Maybe so.” “How can you live with that? You never know what’s going to happen—there’s no order, no logic.” It infuriated him that she did not object, that it seemed natural to her. “We’re helpless; we have to depend on whim. It keeps us from being people—we’re like animals waiting to be fed. Rewarded or punished.” .
This time, there was no punishment from above. Sighing, Hamilton almost wished there had been; the capricious personality element infuriated him. There was just too little relationship between deed and punishment; the lightning was probably cutting down some totally innocent Cheyennite, on the far side of town. .
The hymns were unfamiliar to him, but he quickly picked up the general beat. The hymns had a redundant simplicity; the same phrases and tones appeared and reappeared. The same monotonous ideas, repeated indefinitely. The appetite of (Tetragrammaton) was insatiable, he concluded. A childish, nebulous personality that required constant praise—and in the most obvious terms. Quick to anger, (Tetragrammaton) was equally quick to sink into euphoria, was eager and ready to lap up these blatant flatteries. A balance. A method of lulling the Deity. But what a delicate mechanism. Danger for everyone...The easily-aroused Presence that was always nearby. Always listening. .
“People like your wife are dangerous.” “Why?” Hamilton asked. “They don’t belong to any group. They fool around with everything. As soon as we turn our back—” “So you destroy them. You turn them over to the lunatic patriots.” “The lunatic patriots,” McFeyffe said, “we can understand. But not your wife. She signs Party peace petitions and she reads the Chicago Tribune. People like her—they’re more of a menace to Party discipline than any other bunch. The cult of individualism. The idealist with his own law, his own ethics. Refusing to accept authority. It undermines society. It topples the whole structure. Nothing lasting can be built on it. People like your wife just won’t take orders.” .
What does it mean, insane? A legal definition. What do I mean? I feel it, see it, but what is it? It is something they do, something they are. It is their unconsciousness...Do they ignore parts of reality? Yes. But it is more. It is their plans...Their view; it is cosmic...They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; there was once only the dust particles of space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again. .
It's the fault of those physicists and that synchronicity theory, every particle being connected with every other; you can't fart without changing the balance in the universe. It makes living a funny joke with nobody around to laugh. I open a book and get a report on future events that even God would like to file and forget. And who am I? The wrong person; I can tell you that. .
I feel the hot winds of karma driving me. Nevertheless I remain here. My training was correct: I must not shrink from the clear white light, for if I do, I will once more re-enter the cycle of birth and death, never knowing freedom, never obtaining release. The veil of maya will fall once more. .
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