The Quotable Book of The Damned

  • "If anybody can define the true characteristics of anything, or who can localise trueness anywhere, he makes the discovery for which cosmos is labouring. He will be instantly transformed, like Elijah, into the Positive Absolute. My own notion is that, in a moment of super concentration, Elijah became so nearly a real prophet that he was translated to heaven, or to the Positive Absolute, with such a velocity that he left an incandescent train behind him."


  • "I think were fished for."


  • "We are not realists. We are not idealists. We are intermediatists that nothing is real, but that nothing is unreal: that all phenomena are approximations one way or the other between realness and unrealness. So...that our whole quasi-existence is an intermediate stage between positiveness and negativeness or realness and unrealness. Like purgatory, I think."


  • "By Realness, I mean that which does not merge away into something else, and that which is not partly something else: that which is not a reaction to, or an imitation of, something else. By a real hero, we mean one who is not partly a coward, or whose actions and motives do not merge away into cowardice. But, if in Continuity, all things do merge, by Realness, I mean the Universal, besides which there is nothing with which to merge."


  • "I think we're property. I should say we belong to something. That once upon a time, this earth was No-man's Land, that other worlds explored and colonised here, and fought among themselves for possession, but that now it's owned by something ... all others warned off."


  • "A secret of power -

I think it's another profundity.

Do you want power over something?

Be more nearly real than it."


  • "In mere impressionism we take our stand. We have no positive tests nor standards. Realism in art: realism in science--they pass away. In 1859, the thing to do was to accept Darwinism; now many biologists are revolting and trying to conceive of something else. The thing to do was to accept it in its day, but Darwinism of course was never proved:

          The fittest survive.

          What is meant by the fittest?

          Not the strongest; not the cleverest -

          Weakness and stupidity everywhere survive.

          There is no way of determining fitness except in that a thing does survive.

          "Fitness," then, is only another name for "survival."

          Darwinism: That survivors survive."


  • "What is a house? It is not possible to say what anything is, as positively distinguished from anything else, if there are no positive differences. A barn is a house if one lives in it. If residence constitutes houseness, because style of architecture does not, then a bird's nest is a house: and human occupancy is not the standard to judge by, because we speak of dogs' houses; nor material, because we speak of snow houses of Eskimos - or a shell is a house to a hermit crab - or was to the mollusc that made it - or things seemingly so positively different as the White House at Washington and a shell on the seashore are seen to be continuous."


  • "All biologic phenomena act to adjust: there are no biologic actions other than adjustments. Adjustment is another name for Equilibrium. Equilibrium is the Universal, or that which has nothing external to derange it."


  • "It is not possible to define. Nothing has ever been finally found out. Because there is nothing final to find out."


  • "So, by the damned, I mean the excluded. But by the excluded I mean that which will some day be the excluding. Or everything that is, won't be. And everything that isn't, will be - But, of course, will be that which won't be -"


  • "In Continuity, it is impossible to distinguish phenomena at their merging-points, so we look for them at their extremes. Impossible to distinguish between animal and vegetable in some infusoria but hippopotamus and violet. For all practicable purposes they're distinguishable enough. No one but a Barnum or a Bailey would send one a bunch of hippopotami as a token of regard."


  • "The fate of all explanation is to close one door only to have another fly wide open."


  • "By 'beauty,' I mean that which seems complete. Obversely, that the incomplete, or the mutilated, is the ugly ... A hand thought of only as a hand, may seem beautiful. Found on a battlefield - obviously a part - not beautiful ... every attempt to achieve beauty is an attempt to give to the local the attribute of the universal."


  • "A seeker of Truth. He will never find it. But the dimmest of possibilities - he may himself become Truth. Or that science is more than an inquiry: That it is a pseudo-construction, or a quasi-organisation: that it is an attempt to break away and locally establish harmony, stability, equilibrium, consistency, entity - Dimmest of all possibilities - that it may succeed."


  • "If the whole world should seem to conspire against you, it is only unreal combination, or intermediateness to unity and disunity. Every resistance is itself divided into parts resisting one another. The simplest strategy seems to be never bother to fight a thing: Set its own parts fighting one another."


  • "Existence is Appetite: the gnaw of being; the one attempt of all things to assimilate to some higher attempt."


  • "My own pseudo-conclusion: That we've been damned by giants sound asleep, or by great scientific principles and abstractions that cannot realise themselves: that little harlots have visited their caprices upon us; that clowns, with buckets of water from which they pretend to cast thousands of good-sized fishes have anathematised us for laughing disrespectfully, because, as with all clowns, underlying buffoonery is the desire to be taken seriously; that pale ignorance's, presiding over microscopes by which they cannot distinguish flesh from nostoc or fishes' spawn, have visited upon us their wan solemnities. We've been damned by corpses and skeletons and mummies, which twitch and totter with pseudo-life derived from conveniences."


  • "To think is to conceive incompletely, because all thought relates only to the local. We metaphysicians, of course, like to have the notion that we think of the unthinkable."


  • "All 'things' are not things, but only relations, or expressions of relations."


  • "The damned and the saved, and there's little to choose between them; and angels are beings that have not obviously barbed tails to them or never have such bad manners as to stroke an angel below the waist-line."


  • "We shall now have an unusual experience. We shall read of some reports of extraordinary circumstances that were investigated by a man of science not of course that they were really investigated by him, but that this phenomena occupied a position approximating higher to real investigation than to utter neglect. Over and over we read of extraordinary occurrences no discussion; not even a comment afterwards findable; mere mention occasionally burial and damnation. The extraordinary and how quickly it is hidden away. Burial and damnation, or the obscurity of the conspicuous."


  • "It is our expression that the flux between that which isn't and that which won't be, or the state that is commonly and absurdly called "existence," is a rhythm of heavens and hells: that the damned won't stay damned; that salvation only precedes perdition."


  • "But Truth is that besides which there is nothing: nothing to modify it, nothing to question it, nothing to form an exception: the all-inclusive, the complete - By Truth, I mean the Universal."


  • "The outrageous is the reasonable, if introduced politely."

The Book of The Damned



     A PROCESSION of the damned.

     By the damned, I mean the excluded.

     We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.

     Battalions of the accursed, captained by pallid data that I have exhumed, will march. You'll read them -- or they'll march. Some of them livid and some of them fiery and some of them rotten.

     Some of them are corpses, skeletons, mummies, twitching, tottering, animated by companions that have been damned alive. There are giants that will walk by, though sound asleep. There are things that are theorems and things that are rags: they'll go by like Euclid arm in arm with the spirit of anarchy. Here and there will flit little harlots. Many are clowns. But many are of the highest respectability. Some are assassins. There are pale stenches and gaunt superstitions and mere shadows and lively malices: whims and amiabilities. The naïve and the pedantic and the bizarre and the grotesque and the sincere and the insincere, the profound and the puerile.

     A stab and a laugh and the patiently folded hands of hopeless propriety.

     The ultra-respectable, but the condemned, anyway.

     The aggregate appearance is of dignity and dissoluteness: the aggregate voice is a defiant prayer: but the spirit of the whole is processional.

     The power that has said to all these things that they are damned, is Dogmatic Science.

     But they'll march.

     The little harlots will caper, and freaks will distract attention, and the clowns will break the rhythm of the whole with their buffooneries -- but the solidity of the procession as a whole: the impressiveness of things that pass and pass and pass, and keep on and keep on and keep on coming.



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