“Before, you are wise; after, you are wise. In between you are otherwise”
“Beliefs are the eyelids of the mind.”
“What is a human being, then?'
'A ... seed?'
'An acorn that is unafraid to destroy itself in growing into a tree.”
“It's not enough to look for the truth, however a noble journey that might be. [...] You must be able to say "yes" to what you see. [...] He is the yeasayer who could look upon evil, disease and suffering, all the worst incarnations of the Eternal No, and not fall insane. He is the great-souled one who can affirm the truth of the Universe.”
“[...] when you look at the world, you put on the goggles of custom, habit and tribal wisdom lest the truth make you insane [...] you see the world reflected in your own image; you see yourself reflected to the image of the world [...]”
“Reality [...] at every level from photons to philosophical fancies to the consciousness of living organisms was fluid [...]. To break apart and confine this reality into separate categories created by the mind was foolish and futile, much like trying to capture a ray of light inside a dark wooden box. This urge to categorize was the true fall of man [...] the infinite became finite, good opposed evil, thoughts hardened into beliefs, one's joys and discoveries became dreadful certainties, man became alienated from what he perceived as other ways and other things, and, ultimately, divided against himself, body and soul. [...] Always seeking meaning, always making their lives safe and comfortable, human beings do not truly live.”
“So many synapses,' Drisana said. 'Ten trillion synapses in the cortex alone.'
Danlo made a fist and asked, 'What do the synapses look like?'
'They're modelled as points of light. Ten trillion points of light.' She didn't explain how neurotransmitters diffuse across the synapses, causing the individual neurons to fire. Danlo knew nothing of chemistry or electricity. Instead, she tried to give him some idea of how the heaume's computer stored and imprinted language. 'The computer remembers the synapse configuration of other brains, brains that hold a particular language. This memory is a simulation of that language. And then in your brain, Danlo, select synapses are excited directly and strengthened. The computer speeds up the synapses' natural evolution.'
Danlo tapped the bridge of his nose; his eyes were dark and intent upon a certain sequence of thought. 'The synapses are not allowed to grow naturally, yes?'
'Certainly not. Otherwise imprinting would be impossible.'
'And the synapse configuration – this is really the learning, the essence of another's mind, yes?'
'And not just the learning – isn't this so? You imply that anything in the mind of another could be imprinted in my mind?'
'What about dreams? Could dreams be imprinted?'
Drisana squeezed his hand and reassured him. 'No one would imprint a nightmare into another.'
'But it is possible, yes?'
Drisana nodded her head.
'And the emotions ... the fears or loneliness or rage?'
'Those things, too. Some imprimaturs – certainly they're the dregs of the City – some do such things.'
Danlo let his breath out slowly. 'Then how can I know what is real and what is unreal? Is it possible to imprint false memories? Things or events that never happened? Insanity? Could I remember ice as hot or see red as blue? If someone else looked at the world through shaida eyes, would I be infected with this way of seeing things?'
Drisana wrung her hands together, sighed, and looked helplessly at Old Father.
'Oh ho, the boy is difficult, and his questions cut like a sarsara!' Old Father stood up and painfully limped over to Danlo. Both his eyes were open, and he spoke clearly. 'All ideas are infectious, Danlo. Most things learned early in life, we do not choose to learn. Ah, and much that comes later. So, it's so: the two wisdoms. The first wisdom: as best we can, we must choose what to put into our brains. And the second wisdom: the healthy brain creates its own ecology; the vital thoughts and ideas eventually drive out the stupid, the malignant and the parasitical.”
“For our kind, there's always the burning to be more. (...) that is why true human beings feel more pain. Because we are more, but it's never quite enough - never.”
“There are three requisites for growth without bound, and only three: the will to remake oneself, the genius to survive, and the strength to suffer.”
“To a young man, even a student of the most fabulous and powerful school on the Civilized Worlds, the times during which he comes to maturity always seem normal no matter how extraordinary, how turbulent with change they really are. Imminent change and danger act as drugs upon the human brain, or rather, as rich foods that nourish the urge toward more life. And how easily one becomes used to such nourishment. Those who survive the signal events of history – the wars, plagues, alien contacts, vastenings, speciations and religious awakenings – develop a taste for ferment and evolution next to which all the moments of 'normal' existence will seem dull, flat, meaningless. (Indeed, viewed from a godly coign of vantage across more than two million years, nothing about humankind's astonishing journey from the grassy veldts of Afarique to the galaxy's cold, numinous stars can be seen as normal.)”
“A man lusts to become a god…and there is murder. Murder upon murder upon murder. Why is the world of men nothing but murder?”
“After a second, he reaches over and rubs my head playfully, and then pulls me into him. 'Come here,' he says gently. I unbuckle and scoot in close to him. I don't care if this truck full of dials has no airbags and I get killed in a wreck. I'll die happy. He drives slow and careful and we kiss at every stop sign and red light the whole way back to my house.”
“Let Ian laugh. Let him believe pain will ruin me. I know better. I've already been ruined once, and I know how to rise from the ashes. I know how to find my broken pieces.”
“There’s a part of me wishes that Daddy would sleep his life away. A part of me that hopes that after all these years his drinking will finally catch up to him. That one day he’ll just go to bed and never wake up. But who am I kidding with that dream? It’s the people like Daddy, the wicked ones who go on living forever. It’s like God puts people like Daddy on earth on purpose. Making them a test for the good people in the world. If you can withstand what the good Lord throws at you, by staying true to your goodhearted self, and persevering through all of the obstacles thrust before you, then you’ve earned a spot by his side in Heaven. I look forward to that day. I look forward to the day where I’ll be smiling down from Heaven, wondering what made my daddy become so sick, twisted, and rotten. I look forward to the day when I can forgive him for everything he’s done and watch him from a cloud up in Heaven, praying for his damned soul, while he’s doused in flames, and burning in hell.”
“You know what it's like to move from being happy to being not? It's like swinging as high as you can and someone stops you as you come back down.”
“If the bairn is a lass, I’d like to name her after our mothers—Mara Elesaid.”
“’Tis a bonnie name. And if ‘tis a laddie?”
“Then we shall name him after his father.”
“Och, well, ‘tis a grand idea. And what name would that be?”
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