“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there were two brothers. One was big and strong and highly respected as a great warrior; the other was looked upon with scorn, for he was soft, gentle, and effeminately given to lying among the flowers to play his flute as he gazed into the sky. A time came when the town of the brothers set about the work of constructing a great temple to honor their gods. Since the oldest brother was the largest and strongest man in the community, the elders asked him to move the huge stones needed to make a truly holy temple, after the fashion of the ancients. The older brother responded with muscle, but he could not move even the smallest of the large rocks the priests wanted. So then in good warrior fashion, he set about organizing the conquered slaves in work gangs; but no matter how hard he beat them with the whip, the slaves could not budge the stones. While the slaves and the oldest brother were struggling with great effort, the younger brother came strolling in from his morning with the flowers and the sky. He looked at the people and the stones, and then he looked into the stones and recognized them, for he could see their names. With a smile he took out his flute and began to play. The older brother shouted that this was no time to play, that there was real work for real men to do, but his shouts were stopped by an exclamation from the slaves, for the great stones were beginning to sway back and forth in rhythm with the music of the younger brother’s flute. Stopping for a moment, the younger brother told the priests that they should speak to the stones and tell them that they were being moved to make a great temple to honor the gods. And when the priests had done this, the younger brother told the slaves to take the stones gently in hand, for they were very, very old, and lead them along the path to the site of the temple. And then he began to play his flute again. The stones began to sway back and forth; and as they did, the slaves gently guided them and the great stones danced themselves down the road and into the place the priests had chosen for them.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light (emphasis in original)

“History, by definition, is a civilized, literate record of events; it is a conscious self-image of a society projected by an elite. In a sense, history is the self-image of a culture, the ego of a culture. History is controlled through education and tradition, and is monitored, if not manipulated, by elitist institutions, whether these are temples, academies, or universities. History is the story told by the elite in power and is a way of articulating human time so that it reinforces the institutional power of the elite.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“Trees die, and from their wood human beings build homes and furniture, statues and Stradivariuses. If humans died in a healthy culture, they would not lock out the earth in metal coffins and carve their names on stone monuments, but would instead place the naked body in the earth and plant a tree above the silent heart.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“The culture of fossil fuels literally feeds off the past, of the world of the dinosaurs, but the culture of solar energy feeds off light, and so the shift from the subterranean world of coal mine and oil well to the open horizons of wind and sun is really a shift in archetypes which will have profound repercussions in the collective unconscious.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“A deep and affirming consciousness of death indicates a deep and affirming consciousness of life. In the shift from community to consumption, we became what we owned, and so alone with all our purchases, we became frightened and death became a hysterical obsession. Disconnected from nature and the human community, the isolated ego became terrified of its aloneness and sought a denial of death in massive collectivization in monstrous institutions. In gigantic and impersonal hospitals, the isolated ego looked to technology to deliver it from pain and death; and in the usual twist of opposites in life, the ego’s very fear of pain and death put it in the hands of techniques of impersonal medical engineering, for which it paid dearly.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“What the media have done is to create a new electronic peasantry. The experiment with democratization through mass education has failed, and the message of civilization, in achieving its widest audience, has moved toward entropy.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“There can be no love in one who does not love himself, and one can only love himself if he has the compassion that grows out of the terrifying confrontation with one’s own self. To look into one’s own shadow is to learn compassion for the shadow of others, and if one has no compassion for himself, then he can have no compassion for others. If you hate yourself with a fierce loathing, you may try to run from your own shadow in a campaign to do good, not for love, but to rescue your ego and convince yourself that you are not evil.” – William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order

“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

“When the factories began to replace cottage industries, the parents became collectivized in the new institution, and so it was thought only natural that the children should be too. But the younger members of the human species did not take to industrialization so readily; the factory literally became a Procrustean bed, and as the children began to lose eye and limb from their encounter with the machines, it became obvious that they did not fit in the new institution of the factory. And so a new institution was created, the public school, and the collectivization of the parents was matched in the collectivization of the children.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“The role of an educational bureaucracy is to educate people to bureaucracy, and this can be done as well in a course in humanities as in one in business administration. If one controls the structure, one can afford to allow a liberal amount of play in the content.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“Myth is not an early level of human development, but an imaginative description of reality in which the known is related to the unknown through a system of correspondences in which mind and matter, self, society, and cosmos are integrally expressed in an esoteric language of poetry and number which is itself a performance of the reality it seeks to describe. Myth expresses the deep correspondence between ‘the universal grammar’ of the mind and the universal grammar of events in spacetime. A hunk of words does not create a language, and a hunk of matter does not create a cosmos. The structures by which and through which man realizes the intellectual between himself and the universe of which he is a part are his mathematical, musical, and verbal creations. Mediating between Nous and Cosmos is the Logos.” – William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History

“Rationality was possible in Greek, Roman, and European civilizations because there were only a few hundred books one needed to know. We have now reached the point where even an academic who devotes his whole life to reading cannot possibly keep up, even with his own limited field.” – William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History

“At the moments when we are at a turning point, we are permitted to look out across all the curves of the road to see the end hanging down almost within our grasp; but when we come to the top of the first incline, we find that the road cuts back and we can only see what is straight in front of us, and that doesn’t even seem to be going in the right direction.” – William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History

“There are only two choices open to those who have discovered that society is a madhouse. In the tradition of Plato’s cave, they can withdraw and seek light elsewhere to discover the larger landscape in which the madhouse is located. Or, if that Platonic tradition of the Good seems merely an infantile fantasy, they can deny self-determination to the insane majority and burn the madhouse to the ground to force people out into the open.” – William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History