If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: life

Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992)

This is a principal means by which life evolves–exploiting imperfections in copying despite the cost. It is not how we would do it. It does not seem to be how a Deity intent on special creation would do it. The mutations have no plan, no direction behind them; their randomness seems chilling; progress, if any, is agonizingly slow. The process sacrifices all those beings who are now less fit to perform their life tasks because of the new mutation–crickets who no longer hop high, birds with malformed wings, dolphins gasping for breath, great elms succumbing to blight. Why not more efficient, more compassionate mutations? Why must resistance to malaria carry a penalty in anemia? We want to urge evolution to get to where it’s going and stop the endless cruelties. But life doesn’t know where it’s going. It has no long-term plan. There’s no end in mind. There’s no mind to keep an end in mind. The process is the opposite of teleology. Life is profligate, blind, at this level unconcerned with notions of justice. It can afford to waste multitudes.


Lewis Thomas – Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony (1983)

All of us, men, women, children, fish, sea grass, sandworms, dolphins, hamsters, and soil bacteria, everything alive on the planet, roll ourselves along through all our generations by replicating DNA and RNA, and although the alignments of nucleotides within these molecules are different in different species, the molecules themselves are fundamentally the same substance. We make our proteins in the same old way, and many of the enzymes most needed for cellular life are everywhere identical.


John Milton – Paradise Lost (1674)

…and every Starr perhaps a World
Of destind habitation…

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

“Life is a question of nerves, and fibers, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe, and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play—I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.”

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Each man lived his own life, and paid his own price for living it.

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

“Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”

(Henry to Dorian)

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.


Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning (2015)

There. Consider yourself warned. There are so many little triggers out there, being squeezed in the darkness even as I write this. This book is correctly labeled. Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.


Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning (2015)

Life imitates art, but clumsily, copying its movements when it thinks it isn’t looking.

(of ‘Feminine Endings’)

Alan Lightman – Mr. g (2012)

Nowhere is the joy of existence so apparent as in music. … The music dances and glides and swoops. Not that all of it is melodic or soft. But even the dissonant and the jarring contain a rapture, an ecstasy, an embrace of existence.