The doctor was thinking: All this fantastic effort, giant machines, road networks, strip mines, conveyor belt, pipelines, slurry lines, loading towers, railway and electric train, hundred-million-dollar coal-burning power plant; ten thousand miles of high-tension towers and high-voltage power lines; the devastation of the landscape, the destruction of Indian homes and Indian grazing lands, Indian shrines and Indian burial grounds; the poisoning of the last clean-air reservoir in the forty-eight contiguous United States, the exhaustion of precious water supplies - all that ball-breaking labour and all that backbreaking expense and all that heartbreaking insult to land and sky and human heart, for what? All that for what? Why, to light the lamps of Phoenix suburbs not yet built, to run the air conditioners of San Diego and Los Angeles, to illuminate shopping-center parking lots at two in the morning, to power aluminium plants, magnesium plants, vinyl-chloride factories and copper smelters, to charge the neon tubing that makes the meaning (all the meaning there is) of Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Tucson, Salt Lake City, the amalgamated metropoli of Southern California, to keep alive the phosphorescent putrefying glory (all the glory there is left) called Down Town, Night Time, Wonderville, U.S.A.
Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Watching children sleep makes me feel devout, part of a spiritual system. It is the closest I can come to God. If there is a secular equivalent of standing in a great spired cathedral with marble pillars and streams of mystical light slanting through two tier Gothic windows, it would be watching children in their little bedrooms, fast asleep.
Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985)
(via @Letters of Note)
Could reality come into direct contact with sense and consciousness, could we enter into immediate communion with things and with ourselves, probably art would be useless, or rather we should all be artists, for then our soul would continually vibrate in perfect accord with nature.
Henri Bergson - from Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic (quoted in Patrick Keiller's Robinson in Space, which you can watch on line for free at Blinkbox).
How convenient it would be sometimes to off consciousness and carry on with ordinary behaviour. Imagine flicking a switch on difficult days and flipping into oblivion, knowing that your body will continue going about its normal business. No one would notice. A pre-programmed wake up would return you to sentience in time for a film or the football. Controlled automatism might be preferable to periods of physical or emotional discomfort, or sheer boredom. If everyone had a consciousness switch then the world, most of the time, would be teeming with zombies. Perhaps it already is.
Paul Broks - Into The Silent Land
When the air is thick and the sky overcast, we need not walk so far. We give our attention to nearer objects, being less distracted from them. I take occasion to explore some near wood which my walks commonly overshoot.
What a difference it makes between two ravines in other respects exactly similar that in the one there is a stream which drains it, while the other is dry!
I see nowadays in various places the scattered feathers of robins, etc., where some hawk or beast of prey has torn them to pieces.
I step over the slip-noose which some woodling has just set. How long since men set snares for partridges and rabbits?
Ah, my friends, I know you better than you think, and love you better, too. The day after never, we will have an explanation.
Henry David Thoreau
Man is separated from the past (even from the past only a few seconds old) by two forces that go instantly to work and cooperate: the force of forgetting (which erases) and the force of memory (which transforms)... Beyond the slender margin of the incontestable (there is no doubt that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo), stretches an infinite realm: the realm of the approximate, the invented, the deformed, the simplistic, the exaggerated, the misinformed, an infinite realm of non-truths that copulate, multiply like rats, and become immortal.
Milan Kundera, The Curtain