Monday, June 15, 2009

Two Views

From Herman Hesse's Demian:

Novelists when they write novels tend to take an almost godlike attitude towards their subject, pretending to be a total comprehension of the story, a man's life, which they therefore recount as God Himself might, nothing standing between them and the naked truth, the entire story meaningful in every detail. I am as little able to do this as the novelist is, even though my story is more important to me than any novelist's is to him - for this is my story; it is the story of a man, not of an invented, or possible, or idealized, or otherwise absent figure, but a unique being of flesh and blood. Yet, what a real human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men - each of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature - are therefore shot wholesale nowadays. If we were not something more than unique human beings, if each of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storytelling would lose all purpose. But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why each man's story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the way of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of every consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross.

Few nowadays know what man is. Many sense this ignorance and die more easily because of it, the same way I will die more easily once I have completed this story.

From Alan Moore's Watchmen:

[Dr. Manhattan] "Thremodynamic miracles . . . events with odds against them so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing.

"And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter ... Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you that emerged.

"To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air into gold - that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle."

[Laurie] "But . . . if me, my birth, if that's a thermodynamic miracle . . . You could say that anybody in the world!"

[Dr. Manhattan] "Yes. Anybody in the world. . . But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget. . . We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away."


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