A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sundry Quotes and Comments

Columbia’s New Student Orientation Program tells every fresh arrival on campus, “Consent is Sexy.  Does this mean that incoming freshmen are being told that in order to be "sexy" (Late Modern society's ultimate good) you darned well ought to give consent when that randy guy demands the deed?  After all, "is" is commutative, isn't it? 
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A big part of the appeal [of transhumanism] is a yearning to become extraordinary—without actually having to work for it. Why spend years honing one’s musical talent if it can be technically engineered into the package? 
-- Wesley J. Smith, "The Materialists’ Rapture"
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 Evil is not imaginative. It inspires the same transgressions over and over again, with such infinitesimal variation that only the weak-minded are not quickly bored by that way of living. It seeks to destroy, and destruction takes no imagination. Creation takes true imagination, the making of something new and wondrous, whether it’s a song or an iPad, a novel or a new cooking surface more durable than Teflon, a new flavor of ice cream or spacecraft that can travel to the moon.
-- Odd Thomas in Dean Koontz, Deeply Odd
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Transhumanism aims at overcoming the distinction between man and machine pretty much on the machine’s terms.
-- Peter Augustine Lawler, “Defending the Humanities:”
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"In Berlin things are serious but not hopeless; in Vienna they are hopeless but not serious."
-- Viennese aphorism
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The only thing saving us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.
-- Eugene McCarthy, Time magazine, Feb. 12, 1979
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On the one hand, a human being is essentially a physical organism, an animal. This point is shown (though the full argument would require more space than we have here) by the fact that you and I—not any entities which we merely possess or inhabit—perform and undergo bodily actions. Sensation and perception are clearly bodily activities: they are performed with bodily organs such as the senses and parts of the brain. So the subject that does the sensing and perceiving is a bodily entity, an animal organism. But it must be the same subject, the same “I,” that senses or perceives and that engages in conceptual thought (though conceptual thought is not itself a bodily action). For it must be the same subject that perceives the ink marks on a page, for example, and that understands the intelligible message signified by them.
-- Patrick Lee & Robert P. George, "Dualistic Delusions," First Things (February 2005).
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There is a curious evasiveness about modern thought...  [A] man educated in modern philosophy will never admit is that his thoughts are the conclusions of his axioms: he will point to any and every cause, from brain molecules to class interests, that gives rise to his thought except prior thought.
-- John C. Wright
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Given the failure of the Enlightenment project and the disturbing phenomena of today’s shrill, incommensurate, and emotivist moral discourse, Alisdair MacIntyre has argued that we face one of two options: return to a teleological account of the order of natures or embrace the inherent nihilism of enlightenment anthropology. The choice is between Nietzsche and Aristotle. Which will we choose?
-- Dominic Verner OP
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at Raygun Revival
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"Where... the performers [of the oral tradition] intend to stick as closely as possible to the message related and to avoid lapses of memory or distortion, the pace of change can almost be stopped.  In some cases controls over the faithfulness of performance were set up and sanctions or rewards meted out to the performers...  In Polynesia ritual sanctions were brought to bear in the case of failure to be word-perfect.  When bystanders perceived a mistake the ceremony was abandoned.  In New Zealand it was believed that a single mistake in performance was enough to strike the performer dead. Similar sanctions were found in Hawaii...  Such... beliefs had visible effects.  Thus in Hawaii a hymn of 618 lines was recorded which was identical with a version collected on the neighboring island of Oahu...  Sometimes controllers were appointed to check important performances.  In Rwanda the controllers of ubwiiru esoteric liturgical texts were the other performers entitled to recite it." 
-- Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press) pp. 41-42
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At that point, instead of dying of starvation, societies with high fertility grew in strength and number and began menacing those with lower fertility. In more and more places in the world, fast-breeding tribes morphed into nations and empires and swept away any remaining, slow-breeding hunters and gatherers. It mattered that your warriors were fierce and valiant in battle; it mattered more that there were lots of them.
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To free oneself from moral norms is to surrender to the state. For only the state can manage the ensuing disaster.
-- Roger Scruton


  1. Do you, perchance, have a link for the quote from Dominic Verner? I know (by acquaintance from several years ago, he may not remember me) a former seminarian who is now Brother Dominic Mary Verner. He wheeled a friend of mine around the march for life when she was a postulant with a broken leg.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. From your Raygun Revival interview:

    "I sometimes play music; but I have the bad habit of listening to interesting music and so I tend to listen to it while it plays."

    Thought I was the only one. Cannot do anything that requires mental effort if music worth listening to is playing. Made dorm life tough - had to resort to rarely studying do to all the music.

  4. On an almost entirely unrelated note, I'm reading The Wreck of the River of Stars for the first time, and I just came across Grubb "thinking that a feast upon real mutton would relax the crew and ease the pressure--a sort of pascal lamb." All I can say after that kind of line is, "Thank you. Having encountered that pun, my life is now more complete."

  5. @Dauvit Balfour: Here is the link you are looking for. Br. Dominic Verner happens to be my son.


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