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Olaf Stapledon (1886 – 1950)


British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.
Olaf Stapledon
He saw that their distinctive value lay in their finitude, their minute particularity, their tortured balance between dullness and lucidity; and that to save them from these would be to annihilate them.
Stapledon quotes
I spent on the Other Earth many "other years," wandering from mind to mind and country to country, but I did not gain any clear understanding of the psychology of the Other Men and the significance of their history till I encountered one of their philosophers, an aging but still vigorous man whose eccentric and unpalatable views had prevented him from attaining eminance.
Stapledon
The fictitious deities of all races in all worlds once more crowded themselves upon me, symbols of majesty and tenderness, of ruthless power, of blind creativity, and of all-seeing wisdom. And though these images were but the fantasies of created minds, it seemed to me that one and all did indeed embody some true feature of the Star Maker's impact upon the creatures.




Stapledon Olaf quotes
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.
Stapledon Olaf
The universe now appeared to me as a void wherein floated rare flakes of snow, each flake a universe.
Olaf Stapledon quotes
In that instant when I had seen... the Star Maker, I had glimpsed, in the very eye of that splendor, strange vistas of being; as though in the depths of the hypercosmical past and the hypercosmical future also, yet coexistent in eternity, lay cosmos beyond cosmos. ...
Olaf Stapledon
The expansion of the whole cosmos was but the shrinkage of all its physical units and of the wavelengths of light.
Stapledon Olaf quotes
The creator, if he should love his creature, would be loving only a part of himself; but the creature, praising the creator, praises an infinity beyond himself.
Stapledon
They agreed at least in earnest hate of that strange blend of the commercial traveller, the missionary, and the barbarian conqueror, which was the American abroad.
Stapledon Olaf
It is enough to have been created, to have embodied for a moment the infinite and tumultuously creative spirit. It is infinitely more than enough to have been used, to have been the rough sketch for some perfected creation. Looking into the future, I saw without sorrow, rather with quiet interest, my own decline and fall.
Olaf Stapledon
To speak thus of the universal spirit is almost childishly anthropomorphic. For the life of such a spirit, if it exists at all, must be utterly different from human mentality, and utterly inconceivable to man. Nevertheless... perhaps it does contain some genuine reflection of the truth, however distorted.




Olaf Stapledon quotes
Discontent goaded the spirit into fresh creation.
Olaf Stapledon
The cosmos which he now created was that which contains the readers and the writer of this book. In its making he used, but with more cunning art, many of the principles which had already served him in earlier creations; and he wove them together to form a more subtle and more capricious unity than ever before.
Stapledon quotes
The cosmos exploded, actualizing its potentiality of space and time. The centers of power, like fragments of a bursting bomb, were hurled apart. But each one retained in itself, as a memory and a longing, the single point of the whole; and each mirrored in itself aspects of all the others throughout all the cosmical space and time.
Stapledon Olaf
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.
Stapledon Olaf quotes
He knew that this creature, though imperfect, though... a mere figment of his own creative power, was yet in a manner more real than himself. For beside this concrete splendor what was he but a mere abstract potency of creation? Moreover in another respect the thing that he had made was... his teacher. ...As he discriminated its virtue and its weakness, his own perception and his own skill matured. So at least it seemed to my bewildered, awe-struck mind.
Olaf Stapledon
It seemed to me that I, the spirit of so many worlds, the flower of so many ages, was the Church Cosmical, fit at last to be the bride of God. But instead I was blinded and seared and struck down by terrible light.
Olaf Stapledon quotes
The sheer beauty of the planet surprised me. It was a huge pearl, set in spangled ebony. It was nacreous, it was an opal. No, it was far more lovely than any jewel. Its patterned colouring was more subtle, more ethereal. It displayed the delicacy and brilliance, the intricacy and harmony of a live thing. Strange that in my remoteness I seemed to feel, as never before, the vital presence of Earth as of a creature alive but tranced and obscurely yearning to wake.
Olaf Stapledon
No visiting angel could have guessed that this bland orb [Earth] teemed with vermin, with world-mastering, self-torturing, incipiently angelic beasts.
Stapledon Olaf
It seemed that he gazed down on me from the height of his divinity with the aloof though passionate attention of an artist judging his finished work; calmly rejoicing in his achievement, but recognizing at last the irrevocable flaws in his initial conception, and already lusting for fresh creation.


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