23 May, 2016

Quotes #1

A collection of interesting passages I've come across in the interim.


From Greg Egan's Diaspora:
Inoshiro said, "I feel great compassion for all conscious beings. But there's nothing to be done. There will always be suffering. There will always be death."

"Oh, will you listen to yourself? Always! Always! You sound like that phosphoric acid replicator you fried outside Atlanta!" Yatima turned away, trying to calm down. Ve knew that Inoshiro had felt the death of the fleshers more deeply than ve had. Maybe ve should have waited before raising the subject; maybe it seemed disrespectful to the dead to talk so soon about leaving the Earth behind.

It was too late now, though. Ve had to finish saying what ve'd come here to say.

"I'm migrating to Carter-Zimmerman. What they're doing makes sense, and I want to be part of it."

Inoshiro nodded blithely. "Then I wish you well."

"That's it? Good luck and bon voyage?" Yatima tried to read vis face, but Inoshiro just gazed back with a psychoblast's innocence. "What's happened to you? What have you done to yourself?"
Inoshiro smiled beatifically and held out vis hands. A white lotus flower blossomed from the center of each palm, both emitting identical reference tags. Yatima hesitated, then followed their scent.

It was an old outlook, buried in the Ashton-Laval library, copied nine centuries before from one of the ancient memetic replicators that had infested the fleshers. It imposed a hermetically sealed package of beliefs about the nature of the self, and the futility of striving ... including explicit renunciations of every mode of reasoning able to illuminate the core beliefs' failings.

Analysis with a standard tool confirmed that the outlook was universally self-affirming. Once you ran it you could not change your mind. Once you ran it, you could not be talked out of it.

Yatima said numbly, "You were smarter than that. Stronger than that." But when Inoshiro was wounded by Lacerta, what hadn't ve done that might have made a difference? That might have spared ver the need for the kind of anesthetic that dissolved everything ve'd once been?

Inoshiro laughed. "So what am I now? Wise enough to be weak? Or strong enough to be

"What you are now-" Ve couldn't say it.

What you are now is not Inoshiro.

Yatima stood motionless beside ver, sick with grief, angry and helpless. Ve was not in the fleshers' world anymore; there was no nanoware bullet ve could fire into this imaginary body. Inoshiro had made vis choice, destroying vis old self and creating a new one to follow the ancient meme's dictates, and no one else had the right to question this, let alone the power to reverse it.

Yatima reached out to the scape and crumpled the satellite into a twisted ball of metal floating between them, leaving nothing but the Earth and the stars. Then ve reached out again and grabbed the sky, inverting it and compressing it into a luminous sphere sitting in vis hand.

"You can still leave Konishi." Yatima made the sphere emit the address of the portal to Carter-Zimmerman, and held it out to Inoshiro. "Whatever you've done, you still have that choice."

Inoshiro said gently, "It's not for me, Orphan. I wish you well, but I've seen enough."

Ve vanished.

Yatima floated in the darkness for a long time, mourning Lacerta's last victim. 


I am nanometers from perfection and no longer answer to any mortal authority. They weren't there for me and I won't waste time helping them as I rise asymptotically toward the ultimate virtue. Every corpse I leave should be one less investigation to make, instead of one more open case. But I'm not here for human justice any more. When you see the Paolenti penthouse burn with white fire and the dreams of serpents, you'll know that, and so will every other man-mask-wearing machine-demon in this city. They'll never love me for the things I've done, but I never asked for love. Only for perfection.


From Fallout: Equestria — Project Horizons:
“The only theory I’ll accept,” I thought bluntly at her. “If we don’t find any proof, then
we keep digging till we do. Like with science. And if we still don’t, then we lie till we


From Twig (chapter):

“What’s your perfect world, Simon?” Jamie asked, using the fake name he’d stuck me with.  I wondered if he’d chosen it for a reason.  Harkening back to the old days.  “If the big problems were fixed and everything was working the way it should?” 
“That has nothing to do with it,” I said. 
“But?  What’s your perfect world?” 
I sighed.  “A world where everyone is surrounded by people who are striving to be their best, because we only grow as people when we’re around people who are equal to or better than us in intelligence, skill, and industry.  It’s in stupidity and stagnation that we fail as a species.” 
“But ethically?  Morally?” he prodded. 
“I just gave my answer.  In a perfect world, we’re all different, ethically and morally.  We argue, we challenge each other, and everyone is working to make their ideas better and more… more.” 
“A lot of hostility, arguments, competition.” 
“Nothing good awaiting us as a species if we lose that,” I said.  I broke off a small bit of my oversized cookie and popped it into my mouth.  I chewed and swallowed.  “Stagnation.” 
“I can’t help but notice you haven’t mentioned anything about the positive human relationships,” Jamie said.  “Only the confrontational ones.” 
“Humans are a social species.  Push us, pressure us, challenge us, and the weak elements will break apart, the stronger elements will band together,” I said. 
“Wallace’s law, applied to a group,” Jamie said. 
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said.  “I’m not proposing something where we’re all supposed to act like animals, or that we should model ourselves after them.  I’m saying humans are humans, and being human means struggling.  In the course of those struggles, we form the strongest bonds.  Could be us and a life and death struggle with a pair of people who want to stalk and kill us, or two people working in a tea shop in a town that’s gotten embroiled in a civil war.” 
“Seems like your worldview is a little bit, uh,” Jamie said, “Conveniently you?” 
“Of course it is,” I said.  “I’m eleven.  Ish.” 
Jamie rolled his eyes. 
“What’s your worldview?” I asked.  “Don’t let my answer bias you.” 
“I wouldn’t,” he said, staring out the window.  “But world peace would be nice.” 
“World peace would destroy humanity,” I said.  “Do I need to get into how?  Because-” 
“You don’t need to get into how,” Jamie said.  “I get it.  I really do.  I agree with you on a lot of things, believe it or not.  That we need the challenge, that we have to surround ourselves with people that as as bright and talented as we are, if not better.  I like the differences in people, ethically or otherwise- I wouldn’t be able to stand you if I didn’t.” 
I kicked him lightly in the shin under the table.  He kicked me, harder.  I pinned his foot down with mine, and he relented rather than fighting to get it free, content with a one-for-one.
He spoke, adding, “But if it came down to it, I’d rather have peace than war.  Both would do us a lot of harm, but I’d rather the sleepy, apathetic sort of ruin to the violent sort.  Especially if it means we can be gentle and kind and not worry about the damage you somehow do by acting nice.” 
I sighed. 
“I know,” Jamie said.  “We’re different people like that.” 
“You’re a boring person.  The most boring.” 
He stuck his tongue out at me. 
“Stick out your tongue all you want, you’re still boring.” 
He ignored me,  turning to Helen.  “What about you, Helen?  Worldview?” 
“I was hoping that being nice would get me another bit of dessert,” she said, looking in the general direction of the wait-staff. 
“If you timed it differently, you might have,” I said.  “But there isn’t much behind the display.  Stuff is in the oven.  They’re short, so it’s hard to justify.  By the time the stuff comes out of the oven, they’ll be too busy, the comment will be mostly forgotten.” 
“Dang it,” Helen said. 
“Have to say, that’s not a worldview,” Jamie muttered. 
“It is so,” Helen said, sounding offended.  “Ethics, morals?  Everyone acts in certain ways because it gets us things.  Some things are more basic than others.  People want to eat, they want shelter, they want to be around other people…” 
Jamie and I nodded.  Helen was the most alien of us, and it was interesting to hear where she came from. 
“We act a certain way because it gets us those things.  If we can’t act nice then nobody wants to give us those basics, like food.” 
“You keep coming back to that,” Jamie murmured.  “Food.” 
Jamie and Helen were at odds, in a way, now that I thought about it. 
“We build up this image and it’s all based around getting what we want.  Everyone does it, they play along, and in a roundabout, complicated way, selfishness breeds connectedness,” she said. 
I nodded.  Jamie leaned over.  “And your perfect world?” 
“Mmm,” Helen smiled.  “Perfect is complicated.  Hard to explain.” 
“Give it a shot,” I prodded her. 
“It’s… beautiful is the best word to describe it,” she said. 
Jamie and I nodded. 
“Everything that isn’t necessary to getting what we want is gone,” she said, eyes closing, as if she was vividly imagining.  “There’s an abundance of it all, thanks to science.  Food is everywhere and it overflows and there’s nothing to worry about because we have and we want and we take.  We’re, and by we I mean people, we’re everywhere and we spill over into one another and we’re all knit together, physically and mentally.  It’s an exquisite landscape of things that don’t ever run out to see and touches and tastes and smells and mating and eating and mindless fighting and eating-mating and fighting-eating and fighting-” 
“Okay,” I said, interrupting.  I paused, then when I couldn’t think of what to say. “Okay.”
Helen reached down to her plate, used a fingertip to wipe up a bit of frosting, and popped it into her mouth, sucking it off. 
“Okay,” I said, still at a bit of a loss for words. 
“That’s a mental image that’s going to be with me forever,” Jamie said, dropping his head down until his face was in his hands. 
“I don’t see where ethics come into that world,” I said, more to see Jamie’s reaction than out of curiosity. 
“No,” Jamie said.  “Don’t-” 
“The closer you get to perfection, the further you get from ethics,” Helen said, as if it was common sense.”
“Can we drop this?” Jamie asked.
“Sounds like something Ibott would say,” I commented. 
“Um,” Jamie cut in, before Helen could answer, putting a hand over her mouth.  “Can we drop the topic?  Please?  I’m sorry I brought it up.  Let’s talk about the threats on our lives?  The others?” 
I nodded.  “We can do that.  Mustn’t break our Jamie, right Hel?”

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