Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Seven Quotes on Belief, Truth, Knowledge, and Imagination

From: Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.

(Albert Einstein)

From: Tremendous Trifles

What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

Often paraphrased as:  "Fairy tales are more than true -- not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten."

(C.K. Chesterton)

From: American Gods

I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen - I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone's ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we'll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind's destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it's aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there's a cat in a box somewhere who's alive and dead at the same time (although if they don't ever open the box to feed it it'll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know that I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what's going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman's right to choose, a baby's right to live, that while all human life is sacred there's nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it. 

(Neil Gaiman)

From: One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock

His head swam with religions: the weekend was now given to the intricate patterns and language of Judaism; each week-day morning to the wood-scented, stained-glass solemnities of the Church of England; and the nights belonged to his own religion, the one he made up for himself, a strange, multicoloured pantheon in which the Lords of Chaos (Arioch, Xiombarg and the rest) rubbed shoulders with the Phantom Stranger from the DC Comics and Sam the trickster-Buddha from Zelazny’s Lord of Light, and vampires and talking cats and ogres, and all the things from the Lang coloured Fairy books: in which all mythologies existed simultaneously, in a magnificent anarchy of belief.

Richard had, however, finally given up (with, it must be admitted, a little regret), his belief in Narnia. From the age of six — for half his life — he had believed devoutly in all things Narnian; until, last year, rereading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for perhaps the hundredth time, it had occurred to him that the transformation of the unpleasant Eustace Scrub into a dragon, and his subsequent conversion to belief in Aslan the lion, was terribly similar to the conversion of St. Paul, on the road to Damascus; if his blindness were a dragon…

This having occurred to him, Richard found correspondences everywhere, too many to be simple coincidence.

Richard put away the Narnia books, convinced, sadly, that they were allegory; that an author (whom he had trusted) had been attempting to slip something past him. He had had the same disgust with the Professor Challenger stories, when the bull-necked old professor became a convert to Spiritualism; it was not that Richard had any problems with believing in ghosts — Richard believed, with no problems or contradictions, in everything — but Conan Doyle was preaching, and it showed through the words. Richard was young, and innocent in his fashion, and believed that authors should be trusted, and that there should be nothing hidden beneath the surface of a story.

(Neil Gaiman)

From House, MD - You Don't Want To Know (Ep. 4.08)

If the wonder's gone when the truth is known, there never was any wonder.


HOUSE: Looks like an envelope with the results of the genetic test for Huntington's inside.
THIRTEEN: Did you look?
HOUSE: I thought it'd be fun to find out together.
THIRTEEN: I don't want to know.
HOUSE: No, you're afraid to know.
THIRTEEN: I might die. So could you, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. The only difference is you don't have to know about it today, so why should I?
HOUSE: I don't have to know the lottery numbers, but if someone offered them to me, I'd take them.
THIRTEEN: You spend your whole life looking for answers. Because you think the next answer will change something, maybe make you a little less miserable. And you know that when you run out of questions, you don't just run out of answers, you run out of hope. You glad you know that?
Thirteen leaves. House thinks for a few seconds then drops the envelope in the bin unopened.

(Writer: Sara Hess)

From an online debate:

Knowledge is the building blocks for imagination.

(Anonymous Poster)

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