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Sun Apr 20 2003 at 23:14:26 (15.7 years ago )
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mission drive within everything
To perceive, recognize, and (eventually) create beauty.
It'll be an adventure.
most recent writeup
The Two Voices
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I have seen something like this happen in battle. A man was coming at me, I at him, to kill. Then came a sudden great gust of wind that wrapped our cloaks over our swords and almost over our eyes, so that we could do nothing to one another but must fight the wind itself. And that ridiculous contention, so foreign to the business we were on, set us both laughing, face to face--friends for a moment--and then at once enemies again and forever.

-- C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Close to our vineyard there was a pear tree laiden with fruit. This fruit was not enticing, either in appearance or in flavor. We nasty lads went there to shake down the fruit and carry it off at dead of night, after prolonging our games out of doors until that late hour according to our abominable custom. We took enormous quantities, not to feast on ourselves but perhaps to throw to the pigs; we did eat a few, but that was not our motive: we derived pleasure from the deed simply because it was forbidden.

Look upon my heart, O God, look upon this heart of mine, on which you took pity in its abysmal depths. Enable my heart to tell you now what it was seeking in this action which made me bad for no reason, in which there was no motive for my malice except malice. The malice was lothesome, and I loved it. I was in love with my own ruin, in love with decay: not with the thing for which I was falling into decay but with decay itself, for I was depraved in soul, and I lept down from your strong support into destruction, hungering not for some advantage to be gained by the foul deed, but for the foulness of it.

-- St. Augustine, Confessions

How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know who refracted your own light to you? People were more often--he searched for a simile, found one in his work--torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people's faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?

-- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.

-- Keats, Hyperion

Cette fin du monde s'operera sans bruit, sans revolution, sans cataclysme. Comme l'arbre perd les feuilles, au souffle du vent d'automne, ainsi la terre verra successivement tomber et perir tous ses enfants, et dans cet hiver eternel, qui l'enveloppera desormais, elle ne pourra plus esperer un nouveau soleil, ni un nouveau printemps.

"This end of the world will happen without noise, without revolution, without cataclysm. As a tree loses its leaves, in a gust of autumn wind, so will the earth see all her children successively tumble and fall, and in the eternal winter, which will then swallow her forever, she will be unable to hope for a new sun, or a new spring."

-- Flammarion, La Fin du Monde

Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunder-bolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true in either Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought.

-- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

There are natures in which, if they love us, we are conscious of having a sort of baptism or consecration; they bind us over to recitude and purity by their pure belief about us; and our sins become that worst kind of sacrilege which tears down the invisible altar of trust. "If you are not good, none is good"--those little words may give a terrific meaning to responsibility, may hold a vitriolic intensity for remorse.

-- George Eliot, Middlemarch

The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and kindness of her beloved instructress, or perhaps more than all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her. They woke, they kindled: first, they glowed in the bright tint of her cheek, which till this hour I had never seen but pale and bloodless; then they shone in the liquid lustre of her eyes, which had suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple's—a beauty neither of fine colour nor long eyelash, nor penciled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance. Then her soul sat on her lips, and language flowed, from what source I cannot tell: has a girl of fourteen a large heart enough, vigorous enough to hold the swelling spring of pure, full, fervid eloquence? Such was the characteristic of Helen's discourse on that, to me, memorable evening: her spirit seemed hastening to live within a very brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence.

-- Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Kahn

A lack in power of judgment is in fact what we call stupidity, and for such a handicap there is no remedy. A dull or limited mind, if lacking only in the proper degree of understanding and in what concepts of understanding it owns, can indeed be equipped through learning, even to the point of erudition. Yet commonly such minds tend to be wanting also in power of judgment. Hence there is nothing unusual in meeting very learned men who, in using their science, frequently reveal this lack, which can never be improved.

-- Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.

-- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

O man, whatever country you may be from, whatever your opinions may be, listen; here is your history, as I have thought to read it, not in the books of your fellowmen, who are liars, but in nature, who never lies. Everything that comes from nature will be true; there will be nothing false except what I have unintentionally added. The times about which I am going to speak are quite remote: how much you have changed from what you were! It is, as it were, the life of your species that I am about to describe to you according to the qualities you have received, which your education and your habits have been able to corrupt but have been unable to destroy. There is, I feel, an age at which an individual man would want to stop. You will seek the age at which you would want your species to have stopped. Dissatisfied with your pesent state for reasons that portend even greater grounds for the dissatisfaction for your unhappy posterity, perhaps you would like to be able to go backwards in time. This feeling should be a hymn in praise of your first ancestors, the criticism of your contemporaries, and the dread of those who have the unhappiness of living after you.

-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

And from true lordship it follows that the true God is living, intelligent, and powerful; from the other perfections, that he is supreme, or supremely perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient, that is, he endures from eternity to eternity, and he is present from infinity to infinity; he rules all things, and he knows all things that happen or can happen. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration and space, but endures and is present. He endures always and is present everywhere, and by existing always and everywhere he constitutes duration and space. Since each and every particle of space is always, and each and every indivisible moment of duration is everywhere, certainly the maker and lord of all things will not be never or nowhere.

-- Isaac Newton, The Principia

If these States should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, a man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously doubt that the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of indipendent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.

-- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 6

Marry, and love thy Flavia, for she
Hath all things whereby others beauteous be,
For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great,
Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet,
Though they be dim, yet she is light enough,
And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is rough;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair is red;
Give her thine, and she hath a maidenhead.
These things are beauty's elements, where these
Meet in one, that one must, as perfect, please.
If red and white and each good quality
Be in thy wench, ne'er ask where it doth lie.
In buying things perfumed, we ask if there
Be musk and amber in it, but not where.
Though all her parts be not in th' usual place,
She hath yet an anagram of a good face.

-- John Donne, Anagram

He allowed himself a hollow laugh at what he had just thought. He looked at his old watch, and shook it a bit to wind it. It had taken him, according to his own time-scale, a year of hard travelling to get here. A year since the accident in hyperspace in which Fenchurch had completely vanished. One minute she had been sitting there next to him in the SlumpJet; the next minute the ship had done a perfectly normal hyperspace hop and when he had next looked she was not there. The seat wasn't even warm. Her name wasn't even on the passenger list.

-- Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

Unlucky Dido, burning, in her madness
Roamed through all the city, like a doe
Hit by an arrow shot from far away
By a shepherd hunting in the Cretan woods--
Hit by surprise, nor could the hunter see
His flying steel had fixed itself in her;
But though she runs for life through copse glade
The fatal shaft clings to her side.

-- Virgil, The Aeneid

In view of this it is clear that group Gc in the limit when c = ∞, that is the group G, becomes no other than that complete group which is appropriate to Newtonian mechanics. This being so, and since Gc is mathematically more intelligible than G, it looks as though the thought might have struck some mathematician, fancy-free, that after all, as a matter of fact, natural phenomena do not possess an invarience with the group G, but rather with a group Gc, c being finite and determinate, but in ordinary units of measure, extremely great. Such a premonition would have been an extraordinary triumph for pure mathematics. Well, mathematics, though it now can display only a staircase-wit, has the satisfaction of being wise after the event, and is able, thanks to its happy antecedents, with its senses sharpened by an unhampered outlook to far horizons, to grasp forthwith the far-reaching consequences of such a metamorphosis of our concept of nature.

-- H. Minkowski, Space and Time

None of them, not even the middle-aged Dimmler, wanted to break off their conversation and leave that corner of the sitting-room, but Natasha rose to her feet and Nikolai seated himself at the clavichord. Standing as usual in the middle of the room, and choosing the place where the acoustics were best, Natasha began to sing her mother's favourite song.

She had said she did not feel like singing, but it was long since she had sung, and long before she was to sing again, as she did that evening. The count, from his study where he was talking to Mitenka, heard her, and like a schoolboy in a hurry to run out and play, stumbled over his instructions to the steward, and at last he stopped speaking, while Mitenka stood in front of him, also listening and smiling. Nikolai did not take his eyes off his sister, and drew breath in time with her. Sonya, as she listened, thought of the immense difference there was between herself and her friend, and how impossible it was for her to be anything like as bewitching as her cousin. The old countess sat with a blissful yet sad smile, and with tears in her eyes, ever and anon shaking her head. She was thinking of Natasha, and of her own youth, and of how there was something unnatural and dreadful in this impending marriage between Natasha and Prince Andrei.

-- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Just as little has consciousness an outer existence, for the objective aspect does not get as far as being a negative of the actual self, in the same way that this self does not attain to an actual existence. It lacks the power to externalize itself, the power to make itself into a Thing, and to endure being. It lives in dread of besmirching the splendour of its inner being by action and an existence; and, in order to preserve the purity of its heart, it flees from contact with the actual world, and persists in its self-willed impotence to renounce itself which is reduced to the extreme of ultimate abstraction, and to give itself a substantial existence, or to transform its thought into being and put its trust in the absolute difference. The hollow object which it has produced for itself now fills it, therefore, with a sense of emptiness. Its activity is a yearning which merely loses itself as consciousness becomes an object devoid of substance, and, rising above this loss, and falling back on itself, it finds itself only as a lost soul. In this transparent purity of its moments, an unhappy, so-called 'beautiful soul', its light dies away within it, and it vanishes like a shapeless vapour that dissolves into thin air.

-- G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit

Do you give the horse his strength?
  or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?
Do you make him leap like a locust,
  striking terror with his proud snorting?
He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength,
  and charges into the fray.
He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
  he does not shy away from the sword.
The quiver rattles against his side,
  along with the flashing spear and lance.
In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground;
  he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, 'Aha!'
  He catches the scent of battle from afar,
  The shout of commanders and the battle cry.

-- Author disputed, Book of Job

Later she would learn that Father had had to be tied and gagged during her test, that when she climbed the statue and made as if to press her throat against the sword he flung himself forward with such force that his chair fell and his head struck the floor. This was regarded as a great mercy, since it meant he didn't see her terrible fall from the statue. He wept for her all the time she lay unconscious.

-- Orson Scott Card, Xenocide

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!

-- The basses, Ode to Joy

Again, in Britain, when some of the foremost officers had accidentally got into a morass full of water, and there were assaulted by the enemy, a common soldier, whilst Caesar stood and looked on, threw himself in the midst of them, and after many signal demonstrations of his valour, rescued the officers and beat off the barbarians. He himself, in the end, took to the water, and with much difficulty, partly by swimming, partly by wading, passed it, but in the passage lost his shield. Caesar and his officers saw it and admired, and went to meet him with joy and acclamation. But the soldier, much dejected and in tears, threw himself down at Caesar's feet and begged his pardon for having let go his buckler.

-- Plutarch, Life of Caesar

He had years afterward to think back on this conversation, this single moment, to imagine the ways he might have avoided disaster. But the present did not feel the desperate gaze of the future, and he blundered on.

-- Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky

As an experimentalist, I feel bound to let experiment guide me into any train of thought which it may justify; being satisfied that experiment, like analysis, must lead to strict truth if rightly interpreted; and believing also, that it is in its nature far more suggestive of new trains of thought and new conditions of natural power.

-- Michael Faraday, Experimental Researches in Electricity

Night after night, summer and winter, the torment of storms, the arrow-like stillness of fine weather, held their court without interference. Listening (had there been anyone to listen) from the upper rooms of the empty house only gigantic chaos streaked with lightening could have been heard tumbling and tossing, as the winds and waves disported themselves like the amorphous bulks of leviathans whose brows are pierced by no light of reason, and mounted one on top of another, and lunged and plunged in the darkness or the daylight (for night and day, month and year ran shapelessly together) in idiot games, until it seemed as if the universe were battling and tumbling, in brute confusion and wanton lust aimlessly by itself.

In spring the garden urns, casually filled with wind-blown plants, were gay as ever. Violets came and daffodils. But the stillness and the brightness of the day were as strange as the chaos and tumult of night, with the trees standing there, and the flowers standing there, looking before them, looking up, yet beholding nothing, eyeless, and so terrible.

-- Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

I hate the dreadful hollow behind the little wood,
Its lips in the field above are dabbled with blood-red heath,
The red-ribb'd ledges drip with a silent horror of blood,
And Echo there, whatever is ask'd her, answers 'Death.'

-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Maud

Filled with rapture, his soul yearned for freedom, space, vastness. Over him the heavenly dome, full of quiet, shining stars, hung boundlessly. From the zenith to the horizon the still-dim Milky Way stretched its double strand. Night, fresh and quiet, almost unstirring, enveloped the earth. The white towers and golden domes of the church gleamed in the sapphire sky. The luxuriant autumn flowers in the flowerbeds near the house had fallen asleep until morning. The silence of the earth seemed to merge with the silence of the heavens, and the mystery of the earth touched the mystery of the stars...

-- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself:

— A day of dappled seaborne clouds. —

The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the greyfringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of a language manycoloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?

-- James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A doll is among the most pressing needs as well as the most charming instincts of feminine childhood. To care for it, adorn it, dress and undress it, give it lessons, scold it a little, put it to bed and sing it to sleep, pretend that the object is a living person—all the future of the woman resides in this. Dreaming and murmuring, tending, cosseting, sewing small garments, the child grows into girlhood, from girlhood into womanhood, from womanhood into wifehood, and the first baby is the successor of the last doll. A little girl without a doll is nearly as deprived and quite as unnatural as a woman without a child. So Cosette made her sword into a doll.

-- Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

As if the instrumentalists were not so much playing the little phrase as performing the rituals it required in order to make its appearance, and proceeding to the incantations necessary for obtaining and prolonging a few moments the wonder of its evocation, Swann, who could no more see it than if it had belonged to an ultraviolet world, and who was experiencing something like the refreshing sense of a metamorphosis in the momentary blindness with which he was struck as he approached it, felt it to be present, like a protective goddess, a confidant of his love, who in order to be able to come to him in the midst of the crowd and take him aside to talk to him, had assumed the disguise of this body of sound. And while it passed, light, soothing, murmured like a perfume, telling him what it had to tell him, as he scrutinized every word, sorry to see them fly off so quickly, he involuntarily made the motion with his lips of kissing the harmonious fleeting body as it passed.

-- Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time)

"You might, from your appearance, be the wife of Lucifer," said Miss Pross, in her breathing. "Nevertheless, you shall not get the better of me. I am an Englishwoman."

-- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

"All I know is that while I am asleep I have neither fear nor hope nor troubles nor any concern about glory. Blessings on the one who invented sleep, the cloak that covers all human thoughts, the food that relieves hunger, the water that quenches thirst, the fire that keeps the cold away, the cold that tempers heat—in short, the common currency with which all things are bought, the weight and the balance that makes the shepard equal to the king and that puts the fool on an equal footing with the wise man. There is only one fault to be found with sleep, according to what I've heard, and that is the fact that it resembles death; for between a sleeping man and a dead one there is very little difference."

-- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Thus the civil wars led to every sort of depravity imaginable in Greece, and openness, which is the better part of liberality, disappeared in utter ridicule. Ideological strife produced distrust everywhere, and nothing--no binding word or awe-inspiring oath--could end it, because when any one side had the upper hand, they were incapable of trusting others and made sure to provide against attack, convinced that they could not hope for security.

Lesser intellects fared best, on the whole, because their apprehensions about their own shortcomings and their opponents' intelligence, ability to manipulate ideas, and win debates, let them to get a head start in hatching plots, which they then moved boldly to execute. The more intelligent, disdainfully thinking that they would know about such things in time, and that they did not have to take by force what it was possible to achieve by policy, were often caught off guard and slaughtered.

-- Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War

But I have none: the king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them, but abound
In the division of each several crime,
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.

                    O Scotland, Scotland!

If such a one be fit to govern, speak:
I am as I have spoken.

                       Fit to govern!
No, not to live. O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter'd,
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accursed,
And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king: the queen that bore thee,
Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,
Died every day she lived. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself
Have banish'd me from Scotland. O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!

-- Shakespeare, Macbeth

Everything was gone inside of me. I did not think. I could not think. I knew she was going to die and I prayed that she would not. Don't let her die. Oh, God, please don't let her die. I'll do anything for you if you won't let her die. Please, please, please dear God, don't let her die. Dear God, don't let her die. Please, please, please don't let her die. God please make her not die. I'll do anything you say if you don't let her die. You took the baby but don't let her die. That was all right but don't let her die. Please, please, dear God, don't let her die.

-- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

There is an element of moral overstrain and a curious lack of humor among American educationalists which will perhaps always remain a mystery to those more worldly minds that are locked out of their mental universe. The more humdrum the task the educationalists have to undertake, the nobler and more exalted their music grows. When they see a chance to introduce a new course in family living or home economics, they begin to tune the fiddles of their idealism. When they feel they are about to establish the school janitor's right to be treated with respect, they grow starry-eyed and increase their tempo. And when they are trying to assure that the location of the school toilets will be so clearly marked that the dullest child can find them, they grow dizzy with exaltation and launch into wild cadenzas about democracy and self-realization.

-- Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

A grey-eyed two-year-old with a makeshift bludgeon is chasing some bigger kids down a stone arcade. Some of his hairs are the color of Bobby's and some are the color of Glory's, and Bobby Shaftoe can see Glory-ness shining almost fluoroscopically out of his face. The boy has the same bone structure that he saw on the sandbar a few days ago, but this time it is clothed in chubby pink flesh. The flesh admittedly bears bruises and abrasions. No doubt honorably earned. Bobby squats down and looks the little Shaftoe in the eye, wondering how to begin to explain everything. But the boy says, "Bobby Shaftoe, you have boo-boos," and drops his club and walks up to examine the wounds on Bobby's arm. Little kids don't bother to say hello, they just start talking to you, and Shaftoe figures that's a good way to handle what would otherwise be pretty damn awkward. The Altamiras have probably been telling little Douglas M. Shaftoe, since the day he was born, that one day Bobby Shaftoe would come in glory from across the sea. That he has now done so is just as routine and yet just as much of a miracle as that the sun rises every day.

"I see that you and yours have displayed adaptability and that is good," says Bobby Shaftoe to his son, but sees immediately that he's not getting through to the kid at all. He feels a need to get something into the kid's head that is going to stick, and this need is stronger than the craving for morphine or sex ever was.

So he picks up the boy and carries him through the compound, down semicollapsed hallways and over settling rubble heaps and between dead Nipponese boys to that big staircase, and shows him the giant slabs of granite, tells how they were laid, one on top of the next, year by year, as the galleons full of silver came from Acapulco. Doug M. Shaftoe has been playing with blocks, so he zeroes in on the basic concept right away. Dad carries son up and down the stairway a few times. They stand at the bottom and look up at it. The block analogy has struck deep. Without any prompting, Doug M. raises both arms over his head and hollers "Soooo big" and the sound echoes up and down the stairs. Bobby wants to explain to the boy that this is how it's done, you pile one thing on top of the next and you keep it up and keep it up—sometimes the galleon sinks in a typhoon, you don't get your slab of granite that year—but you stick with it and eventually you end up with something sooo big.

He wishes that he could also make some further point about Glory and how she's been hard at work building her own staircase. Maybe if he was a word man like Enoch Root he would be able to explain. But he knows that this is going way over the toddler's head, just as it went over Bobby's head when Glory first showed him the steps. The only thing that'll stick with Douglas MacArthur Shaftoe is the memory that his father brought him here and carried him up and down the staircase, and if he lives long enough and thinks hard enough maybe he'll come to understand it too, the way Bobby does. That is a good enough start.

-- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon

Yossarian sidled up drunkenly to Colonel Korn at the officers' club one night to kid with him about the new Lepage gun that the Germans had moved in.

"What Lepage gun?" Colonel Korn inquired with curiosity.

"The new three-hundred-and-forty-four-millimeter Lepage glue gun," Yossarian answered. "It glues a whole formation of planes together in mid-air."

Colonel Korn jerked his elbow free from Yossarian's clutching fingers in startled affront. "Let go of me, you idiot!" he cried out furiously, glaring with vindictive approval as Nately leaped upon Yossarian's back and pulled him away. "Who is that lunatic, anyway?"

Colonel Cathcart chortled merrily. "That's the man you made me give a medal to after Ferrara. You had me promote him to captain, too, remember? It serves you right."

Nately was lighter than Yossarian and had great difficulty maneuvering Yossarian's lurching bulk across the room to an unoccupied table. "Are you crazy?" Nately kept hissing with trepidation. "That was Colonel Korn. Are you crazy?"

Yossarian wanted another drink and promised to leave quietly if Nately brought him one. Then he made Nately bring him two more. When Nately finally coaxed him to the door, Captain Black came stomping in from outside, banging his sloshing shoes down hard on the wood floor and spilling water from his eaves like a high roof.

"Boy, are you bastards in for it!" he announced exuberantly, splashing away from the puddle forming at his feet. "I just got a call from Colonel Korn. Do you know what they've got waiting for you at Bologna? Ha! Ha! They've got the new Lepage glue gun. It glues a whole formation of planes together right in mid-air."

"My God, it's true!" Yossarian shrieked, and collapsed against Nately in terror.

-- Joseph Heller, Catch-22