“The past is never simply what it is. Subjects have the capacity to create a different past by changing the present. . . . When we change what counts as valuable in the past, we engage in a retroactive causality that moves in the opposite direction of traditional causality. We retroactively transform the significance of what’s already happened and thereby effectively change what has happened. The subject is capable of a constant revision of the past. Retroactive causality has its basis in the insubstantiality of the past, but it doesn’t license the subject to change the past in an arbitrary fashion. Instead, the subject must come to see itself as a break in the continuum of history, an interruption capable of acting in a way that has no license from the past, and then it must act. The subject’s free act is what institutes the retroactive change in the past” – Todd McGowan, “We Are the Change that We Seek”

“Without absolute knowing, subjects are unable to act freely because they posit an authoritative substance that ultimately functions as a barrier to the act. The belief in substance limits what one conceives of as possible. For instance, the subject that believes in the substantiality of God can’t act in a way free of God or the subject that believes in the substantiality of the atom can’t act in a way that would challenge the existence of atoms. Whatever entity has the status of ‘substance’ for the subject impedes the subject’s ability to act freely.” – Todd McGowan, “We Are the Change that We Seek”

“The act of teaching the young so that they can carry our humanity, what we’ve made of ourselves, into future worlds is an act that in a sense defies the forward march of time and the relentless annihilation and oblivion of death. Even as a father’s material being abandons his children, he leaves something of himself behind, often lessons that are unpacked only as his children’s own lives unfold.” – Peter S, Fosl, “You Don’t Know Who You Are”

“We have been so turned around by our society that we no longer feel the stars turn. We have become so used to feeling religious only when we are uncomfortable and full of pride for having bothered to go to church at all that we no longer remember that religion was once a force that created civilization out of barbarism and inspired almost all the great works of art in history.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“You can imagine that if our civilization were to be wiped out, no scholar a thousand years from now would be willing to accept the fact that pieces of things as different as Volkwagens, Cadillacs, and buses all represented, not isolated cultures, but parts of one industrial civilization that covered the face of the earth. They would split it all up in tiny pieces and talk about how the Volkswagen I people conquered the Ford II people until both were replaced by an empire which moved people in large vehicles. Other scholars would argue that no one could possibly have crossed the great ocean, and that the Ford and Volkswagen cultures had nothing to do with one another but were separate and independent inventions.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“Imagine a vehicle as large as a planet that began a voyage an aeon ago. After generations of voyaging, the mechanics lose all sense of who they are and where they are going. They begin to grow unhappy with their condition and say that the notion that they are on a journey in an enormous vehicle is a myth put forth by the ruling class to disguise its oppression of the mechanical class. There is a revolution and the captain is killed. Elated by their triumph, the mechanics proclaim the dictatorship of the proletariat and destroy the captain’s log, which contains, they claim, nothing but the lies of the old ruling class.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“Imagine insects with a life span of two weeks, and then imagine further that they are trying to build up a science about the nature of time and history. Clearly, they cannot build a model on the basis of a few days in summer. So let us endow them with a language and a culture through which they can pass on their knowledge to future generations. Summer passes, then autumn; finally it is winter. The winter insects are a whole new breed, and they perfect a new and revolutionary science on the basis of the ‘hard facts’ of their perceptions of snow. As for the myths and legends of summer: certainly the intelligent insects are not going to believe the superstitions of their primitive ancestors.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“Scientists now work as stonemasons did once on cathedrals. They put the stones next to one another with great attention to detail and the work of the fellow next to them, but they have no sense of the architectonics of the whole. And sometimes they do not even have a sense of the purpose of a cathedral.” – Werner Heisenberg (interviewed by William Irwin Thompson in Passages About Earth)

“The separation of authority from power is not easily understood in terms of American culture. We based a whole revolution on rejecting European authority and power and lumped geniuses, lords, and cardinals all together into one untrustworthy group. It is, therefore, an historical irony that the country that rejected kings and crowns ended up by idolizing the Presidency and allowed the holder of the office to become more powerful than any Caesar.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“One of the primary rules of language is that there must be a good reason for the listener to attend to a second sentence after the first one; to supply a good reason is called ‘being interesting.’ Not to attend to the second sentence is called ‘not listening.’ The reasons to listen are always selfish, but that does not mean they are only selfish. It is hard to listen. It is also hard to write well and to think. These ought not to be unfamiliar statements. This ought not to be news. See you in the bookstores soon.” – Harold Brodkey, “Reading, the Most Dangerous Game”