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Olaf Stapledon

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Stapledon's visionary account of the end of a universe and the birth of future universes is one of the high points in all human thought.
--
Brad Steiger & John White, Other Worlds, Other Universes (1986) p.227

 
Olaf Stapledon

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I misunderstood Tesla. I think we all misunderstood Tesla. We thought he was a dreamer and visionary. He did dream and his dreams came true, he did have visions but they were of a real future, not an imaginary one. Tesla was the first man to lift his eyes high enough to see that the rarified stratum of atmosphere above our earth was destined to play an important role in the radio telegraphy of the future, a fact which had to obtrude itself on the attention of most of us before we saw it. But Tesla also perceived what many of us did not in those days, namely, the currents which flowed way from the base of the antenna over the surface of the earth and in the earth itself.

 
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The battle was over. Our casualties were some thirteen thousand killed--thirteen thousand minds, memories, loves, sensations, worlds, universes--because the human mind is more a universe than the universe itself--and all for a few hundred yards of useless mud.

 
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Of the three Universes of Experience familiar to us all, the first comprises all mere Ideas, those airy nothings to which the mind of poet, pure mathematician, or another might give local habitation and a name within that mind. Their very airy-nothingness, the fact that their Being consists in mere capability of getting thought, not in anybody's Actually thinking them, saves their Reality. The second Universe is that of the Brute Actuality of things and facts. I am confident that their Being consists in reactions against Brute forces, notwithstanding objections redoubtable until they are closely and fairly examined. The third Universe comprises everything whose being consists in active power to establish connections between different objects, especially between objects in different Universes. Such is everything which is essentially a Sign not the mere body of the Sign, which is not essentially such, but, so to speak, the Sign's Soul, which has its Being in its power of serving as intermediary between its Object and a Mind.

 
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Yes, [I spent] two long years, traveling all over the United States, all over Europe, interviewing many, many, many people who had been thrown out of their academic jobs because they taught that there was a possibility of life coming from something other than Darwinism, who thought that possibly random selection and mutations didn't account for the universe, didn't account for gravity, didn't account for why nobody had ever seen an individual species evolve -- no one's ever seen an individual species evolve!"

 
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[The Roman philosopher Lucretius] thought it a mistake to find the prospect of my death upsetting. Yes, as the deprivation account points out, after death we can't enjoy life's pleasures. But wait a minute, says Lucretius. The time after I die isn't the only period during which I won't exist. What about the period before my birth? If nonexistence is so bad, shouldn't I be upset by the eternity of nonexistence before I was born? But that's silly, right? Nobody is upset about that. So, he concludes, it doesn't make any sense to be upset about the eternity of nonexistence after you die, either.

 
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