Complexity Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 138 quotes )
Every man, knowing to the smallest detail all the complexity of the conditions surrounding him, involuntarily assumes that the complexity of these conditions and the difficulty of comprehending them are only his personal, accidental peculiarity, and never thinks that others are surrounded by the same complexity as he is.
We cannot fathom the marvelous complexity of an organic being; but on the hypothesis here advanced this complexity is much increased. Each living creature must be looked at as a microcosm--a little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars in heaven.
Another grave limitation of language is that it cannot, like music or gesture, do more than one thing at once. However the words in a great poet's phrase interinanimate one another and strike the mind as a quasi-instantaneous chord, yet, strictly speaking, each word must be read or heard before the next. That way, language is as unilinear as time. Hence, in narrative, the great difficulty of presenting a very complicated change which happens suddenly. If we do justice to the complexity, the time the reader must take over the passage will destroy the feeling of suddenness. If we get the suddenness we shall not be able to get in the complexity. I am not saying that genius will not find its own way of palliating this defect in the instrument; only that the instrument is in this way defective.
In overlooking, denying, evading this complexity--which is nothing more than the disquieting complexity of ourselves--we are diminished and we perish; only within this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness, can we find at once ourselves and the power that will free us from ourselves. It is this power of revelation that is the business of the novelist, this journey toward a more vast reality which must take precedence over other claims.
If instead of arranging the atoms in some definite pattern, again and again repeated, on and on, or even forming little lumps of complexity like the odor of violets, we make an arrangement which is always different from place to place, with different kinds of atoms arranged in many ways, continually changing, not repeating, how much more marvelously is it possible that this thing might behave? Is it possible that that "thing" walking back and forth in front of you, talking to you, is a great glob of these atoms in a very complex arrangement, such that the sheer complexity of it staggers the imagination as to what it can do? When we say we are a pile of atoms, we do not mean we are merely a pile of atoms, because a pile of atoms which is not repeated from one to the other might well have the possibilities which you see before you in the mirror.
The main reason for the terrible cruelty between men today, apart from the absence religion, is still the refined complexity of life which shields people from the consequences of their actions. However cruel Attila, Genghis Khan and their followers may have been, the act of killing people personally, face to face, must have been unpleasant: the wailing relatives and the presence of the corpses. And thus their cruelty was restrained. Nowadays we kill people through such a complex process of communication, and the consequences of our cruelty are so carefully removed and concealed from us, that there is no restraint on the bestiality of the action.
Perhaps we all lose our sense of reality to the precise degree to which we are engrossed in our own work, and perhaps that is why we see in the increasing complexity of our mental constructs a means for greater understanding, even while intuitively we know that we shall never be able to fathom the imponderables that govern our course through life.
Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; but a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible?
As we grow older we become more conscious of the complexity, incoherence, and unreasonableness of human beings; this indeed is the only excuse that offers for the middle-aged or elderly writer, whose thoughts should more properly be turned to graver matters, occupying himself with the trivial concerns of imaginary people. For if the proper study of mankind is man it is evidently more sensible to occupy yourself with the coherent, substantial, and significant creatures of fiction than with the irrational and shadowy figures of real life.
The Constitution. . . illustrates the complexity of the American system: that it serves the interests of a wealthy elite, but also does enough for small property owners, for middle-income mechanics and farmers, to build a broad base of support. The slightly prosperous people who make up this base of support are buffers against the blacks, the Indians, the very poor whites. They enable the elite to keep control with a minimum of coercion, a maximum of law--all made palatable by the fanfare of patriotism and unity.
The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It's proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or "accessing" what we now call "information" - which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.
The transpersonal experiences revealing the Earth as an intelligent, conscious entity are corroborated by scientific evidence. Gregory Bateson, who created a brilliant synthesis of cybernetics, information and systems theory, the theory of evolution, anthropology, and psychology came to the conclusion that it was logically inevitable to assume that mental processes occurred at all levels in any system or natural phenomenon of sufficient complexity. He believed that mental processes are present in cells, organs, tissues, organisms, animal and human groups, eco-systems, and even the earth and universe as a whole.
A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic - not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so. Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels - the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.
To the average man, life presents itself, not as material malleable to his hand, but as a series of problems…which he has to solve…And he is distressed to find that the more means he can dispose of—such as machine-power, rapid transport, and general civilized amenities, the more his problems grow in hardness and complexity….Perhaps the first thing he can learn form the artists is that the only way of 'mastering' one's material is to abandon the whole conception of mastery and to co-operate with it in love: whosoever will be a lord of life, let him be its servant.
But he could no longer disbelieve in the reality of love, since God Himself had loved his individual soul with divine love from all eternity. Gradually, as his soul was enriched with spiritual knowledge, he saw the whole world forming one vast symmetrical expression of God's power and love. Life became a divine gift for every moment and sensation of which, were it even the sight of a single leaf hanging on the twig of a tree, his soul should praise and thank the Giver. The world for all its solid substance and complexity no longer existed for his soul save as a theorem of divine power and love and universality.
...in real life I always seem to have a hard time winding up a conversation or asking somebody to leave, and sometimes the moment becomes so delicate and fraught with social complexity that I'll get overwhelmed trying to sort out all the different possible ways of saying it and all the different implications of each option and will just sort of blank out and do it totally straight -- 'I want to terminate the conversation and not have you be in my apartment anymore' -- which evidently makes me look either as if I'm very rude and abrupt or as if I'm semi-autistic and have no sense of how to wind up a conversation gracefully...I've actually lost friends this way.
There is one purpose to life and one only: to bear witness to and understand as much as possible of the complexity of the world -- its beauty, its mysteries, its riddles. The more you understand, the more you look, the greater is your enjoyment of life and your sense of peace. That's all there is to it. Everything else is fun and games. If an activity is not grounded in "to love" or "to learn" it does not have value.
For four years he lived in Brooklyn, and four years in Brooklyn are a geologic age -- a single stratum of grey time. They were years of poverty, of desperation, of loneliness unutterable. All about him were the poor, the outcast, the neglected and forsaken people of America, and he was one of them. But life is strong, and year after year it went on around him in all its manifold complexity, rich with its unnoticed and unrecorded little happenings.