I find Isaac Asimov quotes popping up all over the place lately, and not just his words, but his ideas. The Gods Themselves is one of my favorite sci-fi books.
I’m trying something a little different with this book. I’ve pulled some of my favorite quotes from The Gods Themselves. If you’d like to read it, you can find it at Thriftbooks.com, but be sure to come back and comment about what you thought of it!
Usually, while I read, I make small notes and underline things that have caught my attention. Then I go back through the book and find something that sparks my thinking still and I write about that. It’s like a writing prompt. The thoughts that the quote trigger may not have anything to do with the story itself or the author’s intentions. They are my thoughts.
Lately, like the past few weeks, I’ve been going back through the book page by page and creating a list of the things I noted if they still stir a feeling or thought in me. Then I go through that list and write a post focused on one quote at a time.
I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately and falling behind my intended posting schedule. So, because I’m self-employed and I’m constantly preaching that we should all be paying closer attention to ourselves and following our own leads, I’m doing just that. I clearly have set myself up to accomplish too much, too quickly.
I’m pulling back with this book and writing one post about all the Isaac Asimov quotes that I found interesting the second time I thumbed through The Gods Themselves. Fiction generally triggers fewer ah-ha moments for me anyway, and this sci-fi book was far more technical a book than I’m used to reading, so there are fewer quotes that I felt drawn to anyway.
Without further ado…the first quote.
“It’s a mistake to suppose that the public wants the environment to be protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort.”
True on so many fronts. If we all really wanted to protect the environment, we’d turn off our electronics, grow our own food, dismantle our cars, and never travel outside walking distance again. But that would suck, wouldn’t it? What we want is to look like we’re trying to protect the environment by making other people and companies pay for it, making laws and regulations for other people to follow, while every day we run down to the organic grocery store that is twice as far as the regular one, in our air-conditioned Prius that uses electricity created by burning coal, to get our individually wrapped frozen organic quinoa meal that was shipped to the store from overseas.
What’s the alternative?
“Do you know what the Pump means to mankind? It’s not just the free, clean, and copious energy. Look beyond that. What it means is that mankind no longer has to work for a living. It means that for the first time in history, mankind can turn its collective brains to the more important problem of developing its true potential.”
That’s the premise of Star Trek right there and why I love the show so much. A world where energy is unlimited by our current physical universe would mean scarcity was gone. And scarcity is what causes many problems for humans. It wouldn’t solve all the issues though, as you can see in Star Trek. Evolution has created many ingrained pathways in our collective brains. We would still fight over territory, sex, and just plain greed for what others have even though we could all have some.
But just think of it. A world where using energy held no consequences for anyone, anywhere. We could make whatever we want and as much of it, go where we wanted to go, create until our hearts content without ever taking anything from anyone else.
There are ways we can get a taste of that right now. There are some resources that never run dry. Love is one of them.
“As the old saying had it: Everyone either admitted doing it or lied about it.”
What is it that you’re lying about not doing?
“She hadn’t the vaguest notion at first of what was so queer and so funny about wanting to know.”
This took me right back to high school, college, and many times still today. Why is it so odd to be curious and engaged in the world around you? Why do we shun those that question what everyone around us seems to take for granted? Insecurity?
“On Earth, we are unmanned by our longing for a pastoral past that never existed; and that, if it had existed, could never exist again.”
Pastoral: portraying or suggesting idyllically the life of shepherds or of the country, as a work of literature, art, or music
Life on earth in the past was never idyllic. It has always been harder to stay alive than it is today. Do not fool yourself.
“The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it.”
You know that joke? “I don’t have a drinking problem. I drink. I get drunk. I fall down. No problem.” That’s the first thing that came to mind. We need to look at our lives and think. If something isn’t working for you, even if everyone else around you thinks it’s great, it’s a problem for you. You have to change things for you. That’s the only way to live honestly and happily.
“You don’t beat refusal to believe in a frontal attack.”
This last one is my personal favorite and one I think the whole world should consider at the moment. Belief is far older a system and much stronger than your science. Leave people alone. You’re making everything worse.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop doing your science and studies. You can change your own thinking and share your discoveries as much as you want. But every time you get up in someone’s face and attempt to force them to think your way, you create more violence in this world.
Show others your way through living your own life out loud, the way you see fit. And let others do the same. You catch more flies with sugar.
Isaac Asimov quotes are comfort food to me. If anyone could time travel, it would be him. His ideas keep coming back, reaching out from the past like a warning.
I posted about The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov back in February when I started reading it. Go back and take a look at my first thoughts on it and let me know what you think.