The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Chapter Intro Quotes

>> Sunday, February 24, 2008

Since I love having the quotes from The Party's Over saved, I'm going to do the same thing with The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight.

We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.
-- Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), September 2, 1945
Part I: We're Running Out of Ancient Sunlight

We're Made Out of Sunlight
The Sun, the hearth of affection and life, pours burning love on the delighted earth.
-- Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
How Can Things Look So Good Yet Be So Bad?
Civilization is a conspiracy... Modern life is the silent compact of comfortable folk to keep up the pretences.
-- John Buchan (1875-1940)
Slavery and Freedom
Slavery is the first step toward civilization. In order to develop it is necessary that things should be much better for some and much worse for others, then those who are better off can develop at the expense of others.
-- Alexander Herzen (1812-1870)
Glimpsing a Possible Future in Haiti and Other Hot Spots
The future is made of the same stuff as the present.
-- Simone Weil (1909-1943)
Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all.
-- George H.W. Bush (b.1924), 1989 speech
The Death of the Trees
The development of civilization and industry in general has always shown itself so active in the destruction of forests that everything that has been done for their conservation and production is completely insignificant in comparison.
-- Karl Marx (1818-1883), Das Capital (1867)
Extinctions: Diversity Supports Survival
The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)
Climate Changes
One of the extraordinary things about human events is that the unthinkable becomes thinkable.
-- Salman Rushdie (b. 1948)
A Visit to a Country That's Planning How to Survive: China
In the arts of life man invents nothing: but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence, and famine.
-- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
The Last Hours of (Cheap, Clean) Water
Only modern "advanced" cultures, driven by acquisition and convinced of their supremacy over Nature, have failed to revere water. The consequences are evident in every quarter of the globe: parched deserts and cities, destroyed wetlands, contaminated waterways, and dying children and animals.
-- Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke in Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water
Deforesting, Fighting for Fuel, and the Rise and Fall of Empires
An empire is an immense egotism.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Part II: Younger and Older Cultures: How Did We Get Here?

The Power of Our Point of View: Older and Younger Cultures
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.
-- William James (1842-1910)
Younger Culture Drugs of Control
It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. There are more television addicts, more baseball and football addicts, more movie addicts, and certainly more alcohol addicts in this country than there are narcotics addicts.
-- Shirley Chisholm (b. 1924)
Younger Culture Stories About How Things Are
Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the [parasite] dies, or both die.
-- Gore Vidal, "Gods and Greens," Observer (London, August 21, 1989)
What We Need to Remember
To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.
-- Tacitus (c.55-c.120), Roman historian
Gold is most excellent; gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world, and can even lift souls up to Paradise.
-- Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), 1503 letter to the king and queen of Spain
The Lives of Ancient People
The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.
-- U.S. President William McKinley
Power vs. Cooperation in Social Structure: the City-state vs. Tribes
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
-- President and five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), April 16, 1953
The Robots Take Over
[The corporation] penetrating its every part of the Union, acting by command and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset the government. I deem no government safe which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities.
-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
But What About Darwin? Isn't the Victor Right?
The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.
-- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), February 15, 1848
The meeting with [Iran's foreign minister before the Gulf war] permitted us to achieve congressional support for something that the President was determined to do in any event... I think we would have gone ahead anyway...even if we had lost the vote... I don't acknowledge that I have to have congressional approval.
-- James Baker, former secretary of state, speaking about the start of the Gulf war, 1991
-- Petroleum World headline, October 31, 2002
Part III: What Can We Do About It?

The New Science
Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.
-- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Ideas and Opinions
New Stories Are Necessary to Change the World
I tell you the truth, unless you change yourself and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself, as this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of my heaven.
-- Jesus, quoted in Matthew 18
Touching the Sacred
Then I saw that the wall had never been there, that the "unheard of" is here and this, not something and somewhere else, that the "offering" is here and now, always and everywhere--"surrendered" to be what, in me, God gives of Himself to Himself.
-- Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), secretary general of the United Nations 1953-1961, diary entry, 1954
Learn to Create Awareness
The millions are awake enough for physical labor. But only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertions, only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?
-- Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
Lessons from a Monk
You used the word "civilization," which means a set of abstractions, symbols, conventions. Experience tends to be vicarious; emotions are predigested and electrical; ideas become more real than things.
-- Jack Vance (b. 1916), The Gray Prince, 1974
Re-empower Women
We have now traced the history of women from Paradise to the nineteenth century and have heard nothing through the long roll of the ages but the clank of their fetters. -- Lady Jane Wilde (1821-1896)
The Secret of "Enough"
For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
-- St. Paul, Letter to the Philippians, 4:11
Respect Other Cultures and Communities
But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shall make me to understand wisdom secretly.
-- Psalm 51:6
Renounce the Destruction of Life
In the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence, and famine.
-- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Look into the Face of God
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on--have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear--what remains? Nature remains.
-- Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Change the Focus of How We Use Technology
We cannot cheat on DNA. We cannot get round photosynthesis. We cannot say, "I am not going to give a damn about "photoplankton." All these tiny mechanisms provide the preconditions of our planetary life. To say we do not care is to say in the most literal sense that "we choose death."
-- Barbara Ward (1914-1981), Who Speaks for Earth?
Turn Off the TV
If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up next morning with a clear head and an undamaged constitution--then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become paradise.
-- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "Wanted, a New Pleasure" (1949 essay)
The Modern-Day Tribe: Intentional community
The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
-- William James (1842-1910)
Reinventing Our Daily Live and Rituals
A culture without its storytellers will eventually cease to be a culture
-- Ari Ma'ayan, Muskogee Creek Native American and spirit coach, 1998
Transforming Culture Through Politics
The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.
-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1862), 1809
Taking Back America
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals of American society.
-- Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968), 1966
Something Will Save Us
But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving?... Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God?
-- Friedrich Nietzsche (1849-1900), The Gay Science (1882)
We Have Much to Learn...and Even More to Remember
The Ancients knew something, which we seem to have forgotten.
-- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


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