Forebears Quotes (displaying: 1 - 21 of 21 quotes )
Where hunters and woodcutters once slept in their boots by the dying light of their thousand fires and went on, old teutonic forebears with eyes incandesced by the visionary light of a massive rapacity, wave on wave of the violent and the insane, their brains stoked with spoorless analogues of all that was, lean aryans with their abrogate Semitic chapbook reenacting the dramas and parable therein...
There was a moment, however, when the King and I were looking directly into each other's eyes, and in that instant I had a revelation that takes much longer to explain than to experience. Here am I, I reflected, being decorated as a hero, and in the eyes of everybody here I am indeed a hero; but I know that my heroic act was rather a dirty job I did when I was dreadfully frightened; I could just as easily have muddled it and been ingloriously killed. But it doesn't much matter, because people seem to need heroes; so long as I don't lose sight of the truth, it might as well be me as anyone else. And here before me stands a marvellously groomed little man who is pinning a hero's medal on me because some of his forebears were Alfred the Great, and Charles the First, and even King Arthur, for anything I know to the contrary. But I shouldn't be surprised if inside he feels as puzzled about the fate that brings him here as I.
This book is written in blood. Is it written entirely in blood? No, some of it is written in tears. Are the blood and tears all mine? Yes, they have been in the past, but the future is a different matter. As the bear swore in Pogo after having endured a pot shoved on her head, being turned upside down while still in the pot, a discussion about her edibility, the lawnmowering of her behind, and a fistful of ground pepper in the snoot, she then swore a mighty oath on the ashes of her mothers (i. e. her forebears) grimly but quietly while the apples from the shaken apple tree above her dropped bang thud on her head: OH, SOMEBODY ASIDES ME IS GONNA RUE THIS HERE PARTICULAR DAY.
Modern poets like Frost still want to make 'deep' statements; but they are also more sceptical of such high-sounding generalities than many of their forebears. So, rather like T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, they gesture enigmatically to such profundities while at the same time being nervous of committing themselves to them.
Katz had read extensively in popular sociobiology, and his understanding of the depressive personality type and its seemingly perverse persistence in the human gene pool was that depression was successful adaptation to ceaseless pain and hardship. Pessimism, feelings of worthlessness and lack of entitlement, inability to derive satisfaction from pleasure, a tormenting awareness of the world's general crappiness: for Katz Jewish paternal forebears, who'd been driven from shtetl to shtetl by implacable anti-Semites, as for the old Angles and Saxons on his mother's side, who'd labored to grow rye and barley in the poor soils and short summers of northern Europe, feeling bad all the time and expecting the worse had been natural ways of equilibriating themselves with the lousiness of their circumstances. Few things gratified depressives, after all, more than really bad news. This obviously wasn't an optimal way to live, but it had its evolutionary advantages.
We who have been hunted through the rapids of life, torn from our former roots, always driven to the end and obliged to begin again, victims and yet also the willing servants of unknown mysterious powers, we for whom comfort has become an old legend and security, a childish dream, have felt tension from pole to pole of our being, the terror of something always new in every fibre. Every hour of our years was linked to the fate of the world. In sorrow and in joy we have lived through time and history far beyond our own small lives, while they knew nothing beyond themselves. Every one of us, therefore, even the least of the human race, knows a thousand times more about reality today than the wisest of our forebears. But nothing was given to us freely; we paid the price in full.
Facts are but the Play-things of lawyers,-- Tops and Hoops, forever a-spin... Alas, the Historian may indulge no such idle Rotating. History is not Chronology, for that is left to Lawyers,-- nor is it Remembrance, for Remembrance belongs to the People. History can as little pretend to the Veracity of the one, as claim the Power of the other,-- her Practitioners, to survive, must soon learn the arts of the quidnunc, spy, and Taproom Wit,-- that there may ever continue more than one life-line back into a Past we risk, each day, losing our forebears in forever,-- not a Chain of single Links, for one broken Link could lose us All,-- rather, a great disorderly Tangle of Lines, long and short, weak and strong, vanishing into the Mnemonick Deep, with only their Destination in common.
I had learned that a dexterous, opposable thumb stood among the hallmarks of human success. We had maintained, even exaggerated, this important flexibility of our primate forebears, while most mammals had sacrificed it in specializing their digits. Carnivores run, stab, and scratch. My cat may manipulate me psychologically, but he'll never type or play the piano.
Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result - eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly - in you.
We no longer live on what we have, but on promises, no longer in the present day, but in the darkness of the future, which, we expect, will at last bring the proper sunrise. We refuse to recognize that everything better is purchased at the price of something worse; that, for example, the hope of grater freedom is canceled out by increased enslavement to the state, not to speak of the terrible perils to which the most brilliant discoveries of science expose us. The less we understand of what our [forebears] sought, the less we understand ourselves, and thus we help with all our might to rob the individual of his roots and his guiding instincts, so that he becomes a particle in the mass, ruled only by what Neitzche called the spirit of gravity. (p.236)
The train passed through a series of tunnels. Because the overhead light fixtures had no bulbs in them, some people lit candles inside the tunnels, which dramatically illuminated their black, liquid eyes. There was a solemn, almost devotional cynicism to these eyes, reflecting, as though by a genetic process, all of the horrors witnessed by generation upon generation of forebears.
We live in the Age of the Higher Brain, the cerebral cortex that has grown enormously over the last few millennia, overshadowing the ancient, instinctive lower brain. The cortex is often called the new brain, yet the old brain held sway in humans for millions of years, as it does today in most living things. The old brain can’t conjure up ideas or read. But it does possess the power to feel and, above all, to be. It was the old brain that caused our forebears to sense the closeness of a mysterious presence everywhere in Nature.
Only a hundred years ago the idea that an order might arise without a personal Author appeared so nonsensical to you that it inspired seemingly absurd jokes, like the one about the pack of monkeys hammering away at typewriters until the Encyclopedia Britannica emerged. I recommend that you devote some of your free time to compiling an anthology of just such jokes, which amused your forebears as pure nonsense but now turn out to be parables of Nature.
For the entire course of evolution leading from our primitive mammalian forebears of a hundred million years ago to the single lineage that threaded its way to become the first Homo sapiens, the total number of individuals it required might have been one hundred billion. Unknowingly, they all lived and died for us. (21)
People didn't realize it, but they needed myths to survive, just as much now as when their forebears were alive. Perhaps more. Mythology embodied the world's dreams, helped to make sense of the great human problems. Just as the dreams of individuals exist to give subconscious support to their conscious lives, so do myths serve as society's dreams. They uncover the dark, hidden places where mysteries dwell and can turn to nightmare if left untended. They make sense of injustice in archetypal terms. They give men and women a blueprint for how they may respond to success or failure, tragedy or joy.
The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.