Sagan on Humans

There will be no humans elsewhere. Only here. Only on this small planet. We are a rare as well as an endangered species. Every one of us, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.

Sagan on Books

A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.

However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Lovely interview with Stanley Kubrick:

> **Playboy**: If life is so purposeless, do you feel that it’s worth living?

> **Kubrick**: Yes, for those of us who manage somehow to cope with our mortality. The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their *joie de vivre*, their idealism–and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But if he’s reasonably strong–and lucky–he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s *élan*. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death–however mutable many may be able to make them–our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Two things strike me in reading this: how autobiographical these kinds of assertions can be–that, or my own childhood was simply that much more pleasant thank Kubrick’s–and that I really want to make that sense of wonder prominent in my book on the crawfish boats: these things really are amazing.

> It stood on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind Euroclydon kept up a worse howling than ever it did about poor Paul’s tossed craft. Euroclydon, nevertheless, is a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doors, with his feet on the hob quietly toasting for bed.

From _Moby Dick_.

Because the guy who can turn it around isn’t good at fighting internal BigCo political battles. — [Dave Winer](