Ten thousand times the web could be destroyed, and ten thousand times the spider would rebuild it. There was neither annoyance nor despair, nor any delight, just as it had been for a billion years.
“First: Survival is the primary need of civilization. Second: Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.”
To derive a basic picture of cosmic sociology from these two axioms, you need two other important concepts: chains of suspicion, and the technological explosion.”
Time is the one thing that can’t be stopped. Like a sharp blade, it silently cuts through hard and soft, constantly advancing. Nothing is capable of jolting it even the slightest bit, but it changes everything.
First, survival is the primary need of civilization. Second, civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.”
For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the man or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, then they can be together. If not, they split up. It’s as simple as that. You differ from the majority in one respect: You didn’t need a template.”
Life needed smoothness, but it also needed direction. One could not always be returning to the point of origin.
One thing in particular that struck him was the total absence of landscapes, the mark of a mature aesthetic sensibility: hanging landscape paintings in a house situated in the Garden of Eden would be as pointless as pouring a bucket of water into the ocean.
The universe had once been bright, too. For a short time after the big bang, all matter existed in the form of light, and only after the universe turned to burnt ash did heavier elements precipitate out of the darkness and form planets and life. Darkness was the mother of life and of civilization.
Don’t dismiss simplicity. Simple means solid. The entire mansion of mathematics was erected on a foundation of this kind of irreducibly simple, yet logically rock-solid, axiom.
Don’t say where we are! Once we know where we are, then the world becomes as narrow as a map. When we don’t know, the world feels unlimited.”
To sum up: one, letting you know I exist, and two, letting you continue to exist, are both dangerous to me and violate the first axiom.”
The brevity of a human lifespan tormented them as never before, and their hearts soared above the vault of time to join with their descendants and plunge into blood and fire in the icy cold of space, the eventual meeting place for the souls of all soldiers.
“It’s a wonder to be alive. If you don’t understand that, how can you search for anything deeper?”
“I wouldn’t usually bother the girls I liked. I believed in what Goethe said: ‘If I love you, what business is it of yours?’”
“There are no permanent enemies or comrades, only permanent duty.”
Growing up, his father had used silence rather than speech to educate him, and words were merely the punctuation between the silences.
In the words of a well-known Trisolaran saying, “Hiding the self through a faithful mapping of the universe is the only path into eternity.”
As that distant world held its breath to listen, neither ant nor spider was aware that they, out of all life on Earth, were the sole witnesses to the birth of the axioms of cosmic civilization.
Real shrewdness means not letting any shrewdness show.
“The source of this defeatism stems primarily from the worship of technology, and the underestimation or complete dismissal of the role of human initiative and the human spirit in war.