33 "Olaf Stapledon" Quotes And Sayings

Olaf Stapledon was a British writer of science fiction. He wrote several science fiction novels, some of which are considered classics of the genre. His works feature deeply philosophical or mystical themes, often exploring concepts of the afterlife.

1
Philosophy is an amazing tissue of really fine thinking and incredible, puerile mistakes. It's like one of those rubber 'bones' they give dogs to chew, damned good for the mind's teeth, but as food - no bloody good at all. Olaf Stapledon
2
There is much in this vision that will remind you of your mystics; yet between them and us there is far more difference than similarity, in respect both of the matter and the manner of our thought. For while they are confident that the cosmos is perfect, we are sure only that it is very beautiful. While they pass to their conclusion without the aid of intellect, we have used that staff every step of the way. Thus, even when in respect of conclusions we agree with your mystics rather than your plodding intellectuals, in respect of method we applaud most your intellectuals; for they scorned to deceive themselves with comfortable fantasies. . Olaf Stapledon
3
Sitting there on the heather, on our planetary grain, I shrank from the abysses that opened up on every side, and in the future. The silent darkness, the featureless unknown, were more dread than all the terrors that imagination had mustered. Peering, the mind could see nothing sure, nothing in all human experience to be grasped as certain, except uncertainty itself; nothing but obscurity gendered by a thick haze of theories. Man's science was a mere mist of numbers; his philosophy but a fog of words. His very perception of this rocky grain and all its wonders was but a shifting and a lying apparition. Even oneself, that seeming-central fact, was a mere phantom, so deceptive, that the most honest of men must question his own honesty, so insubstantial that he must even doubt his very existence. Olaf Stapledon
4
For the former, activity, any kind of activity, was an end in itself; for the latter, activity was but a progress toward the true end, which was rest, and peace of mind. Action was to be undertaken only when equilibrium was disturbed. Olaf Stapledon
5
I perceived that I was on a little round grain of rock and metal, filmed with water and with air, whirling in sunlight and darkness. And on the skin of that little grain all the swarms of men, generation by generation, had lived in labour and blindness, with intermittent joy and intermittent lucidity of spirit. And all their history, with its folk-wanderings, its empires, its philosophies, its proud sciences, its social revolutions, its increasing hunger for community, was but a flicker in one day of the lives of the stars. Olaf Stapledon
6
The truth of the matter was something much more subtle and tremendous than any plain physical miracle could ever be. But never mind that. The important thing was that, when I did see the stars (riotously darting in all directions according to the caprice of their own wild natures, yet in every movement confirming the law), the whole tangled horror that had tormented me finally presented itself to me in its truth and beautiful shape. And I knew that the first, blind stage of my childhood had ended. . Olaf Stapledon
7
The older Puritans had trampled down all fleshly impulses; these newer Puritans trampled no less self-righteously upon the spiritual cravings. But in the increasingly spiritistic inclination of physics itself, Behaviorism and Fundamentalism had found a meeting place. Since the ultimate stuff of the physical universe was now said to be multitudinous and arbitrary “quanta” of the activity “spirits”, how easy was it for the materialistic and the spiritistic to agree? At heart, indeed, they were never very far apart in mood, though opposed in doctrine. The real cleavage was between the truly spiritual view on the one hand, and the spiritistic and materialistic on the other. Thus the most materialistic of Christian sects and the most doctrinaire of scientific sects were not long in finding a formula to express their unity, their denial of all those finer capacities which had emerged to be the spirit of man. Olaf Stapledon
8
They were a remarkable company, each one of them a unique person, yet characterized to some extent by his particular national type. And all were distinctively “scientists” of the period. Formerly this would have implied a rather uncritical leaning towards materialism, and an affectation of cynicism; but by now it was fashionable to profess an equally uncritical belief that all natural phenomena were manifestations of the cosmic mind. In both periods, when a man passed beyond the sphere of his own serious scientific work he chose his beliefs irresponsibly, according to his taste, much as he chose his recreation or his food. . Olaf Stapledon
9
Very soon the heavens presented an extraordinary appearance, for all the stars directly behind me were now deep red, while those directly ahead were violet. Rubies lay behind me, amethysts ahead of me. Olaf Stapledon
10
It was strange to us that none of these three victims made any attempt to resist the attack. Indeed, not one inhabitant in any of these worlds considered for a moment the possibility of resistance. In every case the attitude to disaster seemed to express itself in such terms as these:" To retaliate would be to wound our communal spirit beyond cure. We choose rather to die. The theme of spirit that we have created must inevitably be broken short, whether by the ruthlessness of the invader or by our own resort to arms. It is better to be destroyed than to triumph in slaying the spirit. Such as it is, the spirit that we have achieved is fair; and it is indestructibly woven into the tissue of the cosmos. We die praising the universe in which at least such an achievement as ours can be. We die knowing that the promise of further glory outlives us in other galaxies. We die praising the Star Maker, the Star Destroyer. . Olaf Stapledon
11
Why is it that all individuals today, at least all who are socially conscious, are in one way or another tortured by social guilt? Because whatever they do is fatally false, falsified by the pressure of an utterly false society. If you live solely for individual contacts and personal service, then you betray your obligation to the suffering millions with whom you have no contact. If you live for economic or social and political action to cure the sick world, then, either you will be entirely ineffective, or else you will gain power, and so be corrupted by power; and then you will contribute to the burden of the institutionalism and mechanized tyranny that is turning all men into robots. If you withdraw from the world to purge your soul of the world’s poison, seeking a lone salvation in religious discipline and contemplation, then again you betray your immediate obligation to your fellows, even if you innocently suppose you will discover truth invaluable to a future generation. No! As I see it, do what you will, you are damned, just because you are all of a piece with a damned world, a damned species. Olaf Stapledon
My dear, it is a great strength to have faced...
12
My dear, it is a great strength to have faced the worst and to have *felt* it a feature of beauty. Nothing ever after can shake one. Olaf Stapledon
13
With characteristic lack of false modesty, John once said to me, "My looks are a rough test of people. If they don't begin to see me beautiful when they have had a chance to learn, I know they're dead inside, and dangerous. Olaf Stapledon
14
But why, " he said with animation, "do the English not read their own great literature?" Victor laughed triumphantly, and said, "Because at school they are made to hate it. Olaf Stapledon
15
Many of the great economic masters, though they had originally favored radio-bliss in moderation as an opiate for the discontented workers, now turned against it. Their craving was for power; and for power they needed slaves whose labor they could command for their great industrial ventures. They therefore developed an instrument which was at once an opiate and a spur. By every method of propaganda they sought to rouse the passions of nationalism and racial hatred. They created, in fact, the "Other Fascism", complete with lies, with mystical cult of race and state, with scorn of reason, with praise of brutal mastery, with appeal at once to the vilest and to the generous motives of the deluded young. Olaf Stapledon
16
My soul, sir? I haven't got one. The management doesn't allow them. Olaf Stapledon
17
In this passionately social world, loneliness dogged the spirit. People were constantly “getting together, ” but they never really got there… For everyone searched his neighbor’s eyes for the image of himself, and never saw anything else. Or if he did, he was outraged and terrified. Olaf Stapledon
18
In this passionately social world, loneliness dogged the spirit. People were constantly “getting together, ” but they never really got there. Everyone was terrified of being alone with himself; yet in company, in spite of the universal assumption of comradeship, these strange beings remained as remote from one another as the stars. For everyone searched his neighbour’s eyes for the image of himself, and never saw anything else. Or if he did, he was outraged and terrified. Olaf Stapledon
19
I am the scent that he will follow always, hunting for God. Olaf Stapledon
20
Thus and thus is the world. Seeing the depth, we shall see also the height, and praise both. Olaf Stapledon