Star Well (1968)
|"Srb subscribed to a theory of great antiquity concerning the foundation of civilization, a theory beyond proof, but sufficiently within the bounds of possibility to merit endorsement. Civilization depends on stable living conditions for populations of some size that will allow them to build, invent, coin, keep records, and stock supplies for making war. Civilization in this sense is not possible for migrant populations, that is, populations whose staff of life is roots, berries and wild animal carcasses, the search for which keeps them eternally on the move. Civilization is the offspring of the invention of agriculture. But why did man take up agriculture? Not to allow himself to build, invent, coin, keep records, and stock rocks. That could not be foreseen. No, the invention of agriculture was to save men trouble in collecting the wherewithal for making beer. And when he drank beer, which he liked to do, Srb relished the thought that he was secretly preserving civilization without its knowledge, as was his duty.” Star Well p.78|
The Thurb Revolution [La Révolution Thurb] (1968)
"La nuit est clandestine. Ce qui ne se fait pas de jour devient possible la nuit: la meurtre, les rapports sexuels et la réflexion.|
Les hommes simples sont poussés vers leur lit par les exigences de la journée du lendemmain et par la crainte des ténèbres, et n'ont aucune idée de ce qu'est le monde clandestin de l'extérieur. Pendant ce temps-là, un vicomte et un petit bagagiste d'astroport passent put-être la nuit a jouer au boc dans le parc municipal. Cela est plus qu'inhabituel ... c'est clandestin." Chapitre Premier
"The human animal's most distinguishing characteristic is his need to manipulate objects. He has to do it. He can't help himself.|
Given this need, men react to it in three ways:
Some justify their tinkering with the notion of progress. Manipulations become the rational attempt to reach the ends of more and larger, bigger and better. There are many men of this sort in the service of the Nashuite Empire. They are happy or not as they succeed or fail, ultimately they are all unhappy.
Some others see that more and larger, bigger and better are not ends at all, but mere vague points on an infinite line to nowhere. These men are unhappy, too, because they need reasons for what their hands choose to do, and without the notion of progress, they have none.
The final group? A small one. Those are the men who accept the fact that manipulation is what human beings do, and happily manipulate away.
Take a string about seven feet long and tie the ends together with a neat small knot. Hang the string over the thumb and little finger of each hand. Hook your right forefinger over the left hand palm string. Draw the string away, twisting it several times by rotating the index finger. With the left index finger pick up from below the string crossing the right palm at the base of the right index finger. Draw the hands apart, and allow the loops to slip off the right thumb and little finger. Lo and behold, between your two hands you will have a palpable Fish Spear.
That's an easy one. It would take you an hour to learn how to make Coral, and a day to learn Woven Door. And a wise man knows that he could spend a lifetime with a seven foot piece of string and not exhaust all its possibilities.
Strings happened not to be Villiers' choice of object, but they might have been, as might buisness or elections or any of the other ready possibilities. He chose, however, in this moment to involve himself in the construction of rustic furniture and traps and stuff. Happily." Chapter 10
"The amoeba only knows as much of the universe as it can touch, and its direct image of the world is necessarily incomplete. But generation to generation the amoeba remembers what it has touched, and builds and builds its picture.|
We know at first hand a boutiful universe beyond the amoeba's dreams. We are the amoeba's dreams, the result of its striving to know more of the universe. And generation to generation, we remember what we have touched, and build and build our picture.
When man first started counting, he thought he had five senses: hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch. On a recount he discovered that subsumed under touch were at least three senses, separate and distinct --- pressure, temperature, and texture --- and that subsumed under taste were at least two.
He kept counting, and added the vestibular and kinesthetic senses. And the so-called Synesthetic Gearbox, which added confusion to sense.
One count totaled twenty-six, and another thirty-two. The difinitive study by DeJudicibus in 1107 listed seventeen common senses from sight to smell to asthetics and self-awareness, and twenty more senses as rare, indistinct or only rumored.
The seventeen basic senses appear in every combination and degree in humans, the variance accounting for so many of our everyday differences in opinion. Any one sense can be strengthened to impressive limits by attention, experience and practice. But even all seventeen senses at their limit yield an imperfect picture of the universe. Subtle harmonies lie beyond our detection. The stars sing songs no man has ever heard.
However, if man doesn't hear the songs the stars sing, there are those that do. The Bessain, for instance, have been engaged in an eon-long conversation with their star to claimed mutual benefit.
And we have our strengths. Our senses are more than receptors. They acknowledge the presence of other sensitive concentrations of energy. Without sight --- and our appreciation --- the stars would not shine.
The Bessain report their star is delighted that its theoretical efforts are appreciated. So ask not for whom the stars shine. They shine for thee, and they are glad to do it."