Mechanism Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 162 quotes )
The guillotine is the ultimate expression of Law, and its name is vengeance; it is not neutral, nor does it allow us to remain neutral. All social questions achieve their finality around that blade. The scaffold is an image. It is not merely a framework, a machine, a lifeless mechanism of wood, iron, and rope. It is as though it were a being having its own dark purpose, as though the framework saw, the machine listened, and the mechanism understood; as though that arrangement of wood and iron and rope expressed a will. In the hideous picture which its presence evokes it seems to be most terribly a part of what it does. It is the executioner's accomplice; it consumes, devouring flesh and drinking blood. It is a kind of monster created by the judge and the craftsman; a spectre seeming to live an awful life born of the death it deals.
There are some authors who contend that meanings and values are "nothing but defense mechanisms, reaction formations and sublimations." But as for myself, I would not be willing to live merely for the sake of my "defense mechanisms," nor would I be ready to die merely for the sake of my "reaction formations.
I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections. and it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill. I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self, and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help and patience, and a certain difficult repentance long difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.
So one must be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going? Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relives ancient torments, which are all the more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox...
What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of being. The more one sees this, the more senseless it is to continue with generalized descriptions of supposedly specifically schizoid, schizophrenic, hysterical ‘mechanisms.’ There are forms of alienation that are relatively strange to statistically ‘normal’ forms of alienation. The ‘normally’ alienated person, by reason of the fact that he acts more or less like everyone else, is taken to be sane. Other forms of alienation that are out of step with the prevailing state of alienation are those that are labeled by the ‘formal’ majority as bad or mad.
Let me put it this way: You cannot live in the world without being in pain, spiritual and physical pain. We have developed mechanisms to deal with these pains, to overcome them somehow. Therapy, religion and spirituality, relationships, material success. All this can work, but also become a problem itself. The pursuit of happiness has even been put into the American constitution a couple centuries ago. Today we're so rich, we own much more than we need, we have liberties unknown before, even though they are endangered in the current political climate in the US - and we forget how wonderful it nevertheless is, compared to most other political and economic systems. We have a saying that goes: Give a man enough rope and he hangs himself.
It wasn't courage that motivated this casual, impersonal manner of treating so much pain; it was a special brand of cowardice, a destructive defense mechanism, forcing others to listen to the most horrendous experiences and yet denying them the moment of empathy: don't feel sorry for me; nothing is too big for me to handle. This is nothing, nothing really.
What an immature, self-destructive, antiquated mischief is man! How obscure and gross his prancing and chattering on his little stage of evolution! How loathsome and beyond words boring all the thoughts and self-approval of his biological by-product! this half-formed, ill-conditioned body! this erratic, maladjusted mechanism of his soul: on one side the harmonious instincts and balanced responses of the animal, on the other the inflexible purpose of the engine, and between them man, equally alien from the being of Nature and the doing of the machine, the vile becoming!
She's had a long life. Now she's going to the Lord." "Frankly it creeps me out a little when you say things like that," Simon said. "It shouldn't. If you don't like 'Lord,' pick another word. She's going home. She's going back to the party. Whatever you like." "I suppose you have some definite ideas about an afterlife." "Sure. We get reabsorbed into the earthly and celestial mechanism." "No heaven?" "That's heaven." "What about realms of glory? What about walking around in golden slippers?" "We abandon consciousness as if we were waking from a bad dream. We throw it off like clothes that never fit us right. It's an ecstatic release we're physically unable to apprehend while we're in our bodies. Orgasm is our best hint, but it's crude and minor by comparison.
Such a crises occurs only where the ever-lengthening chain of payments, and an artificial system of settling them, has been fullydeveloped. Whenever there is a general and extensive disturbanceof this mechanism, no matter what its cause, money becomessuddenly and immediately transformed from its merely ideal shapeof money of account into hard cash. Profane commodities can nolonger replace it. The use-value of commodities becomesvalueless, and their value vanishes in the presence of its ownindependent form. On the eve of the crisis, the bourgeois, withthe self-sufficiency that springs from intoxicating prosperity, declares money to be a vain imagination. Commodities alone aremoney. But now the cry is everywhere that money alone is acommodity! As the hart pants after fresh water, so pants his soulafter money, the only wealth.
The sexual mechanisms of the two genders are just not compatible, that’s the horrible truth of it. (...) This is a truth we dare not acknowledge these days - because sameness is our religion and heretics are no more welcome now than they ever were - but I’m going to acknowledge it, because I’ve always felt that humility before the facts is the only thing that keeps a rational man together. Be humble in the face of facts, and proud in the face of opinions, as George Bernard Shaw once said. He didn’t, actually. I just wanted to put some authority behind this observation of mine, because I know you’re not going to like it.
Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestion of advertising and propaganda. The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis.
It was clear: I was sick. I never used to dream. They say in the old days it was the most normal thing in the world to have dreams. Which makes sense: Their whole life was some kind of horrible merry-go-round of green, orange, Buddha, juice. But today we know that dreams point to a serious mental illness. And I know that up to now my brain has checked out chronometrically perfect, a mechanism without a speck of dust.
Nothing endures for so long as fear. Everywhere in nature one sees evidence of innate releasing mechanisms literally millions of years old, which have lain dormant through thousands of generations but retained their power undiminished. The field rat’s inherited image of the hawk’s silhouette is the classic example - even a paper silhouette drawn across a cage sends it rushing frantically for cover. And how else can you explain the universal but completely groundless loathing of the spider, only one species of which has ever been known to sting? Or hatred of snakes and reptiles? Simply because we all carry within us a submerged memory of the time when the giant spiders were lethal, and when the reptiles were the planet’s dominant life form.
The first rule of tinkering is, of course, ‘save all the parts.’ But in dismantling the social fabric, the parts cannot all be saved, for one of them is time. Time, we were told, is a river flowing endlessly through the universe and one cannot step into the same river twice. Not only can we not undo actions taken in haste and in fear (the Japanese Internment), but those taken from the best reasons, but that have proved destructive (affirmative action); the essential mechanism of societal preservation is not inspiration, but restraint.
It's only a matter of discovering the lever. If you learn how to rule one single man's soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it--and the man is yours. You won't need a whip--he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse--and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself.
The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism - for that is what the words 'one flesh' would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact - just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument.
It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have a huge variety of needs and dangers.
I was too tired to think. I merely felt the town as a unique unreality. What was it? I knew -- the moon's picture of a town. These streets with their houses did not exist, they were but a ludicrous projection of the moon's sumptuous personality. This was a city of Pretend, created by the hypnotism of moonnight. -- Yet when I examined the moon she too seemed but a painting of a moon and the sky in which she lived a fragile echo of color. If I blew hard the whole shy mechanism would collapse gently with a neat soundless crash. I must not, or lose all.
When cells are no longer needed, they die with what can only be called great dignity. They take down all the struts and buttresses that hold them together and quietly devour their component parts. The process is known as apoptosis or programmed cell death. Every day billions of your cells die for your benefit and billions of others clean up the mess. Cells can also die violently- for instance, when infected- but mostly they die because they are told to. Indeed, if not told to live- if not given some kind of active instruction from another cell- cells automatically kill themselves. Cells need a lot of reassurance. When, as occasionally happens, a cell fails to expire in the prescribed manner, but rather begins to divide and proliferate wildly, we call the result cancer. Cancer cells are really just confused cells. Cells make this mistake fairly regularly, but the body has elaborate mechanisms for dealing with it. It is only very rarely that the process spirals out of control. On average, humans suffer one fatal malignancy for each 100 million billion cell divisions. Cancer is bad luck in every possible sense of the term.