Monday, July 31, 2006

My Favourite Quote from the Satanic Verses

Any new idea, Mahound, is asked two questions.
The first is asked when it’s weak:
Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive;
or are you the cursed, bloody-minded ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze?
- the kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, be smashed to bits;
but the hundredth time, will change the world?

What’s the second question? Gibreel asked.

Answer the first one first.

I first posted this two years ago today, in the second week of accidental blogging.


Marco said...

You must expand on this quote and give examples. For instance, an example of the first is an idea of "World Peace". The idea survives without actually changing anything.

An example of the second would be like my idea that Australia would have done better without the US's massive ground force, by itself, to fix Iraq.

I would really like more examples.

Dr. Clam said...

It's a quote from a novel- I don't have to expand on it and give examples!

You must, on the other hand, more clearly define your examples. "World Peace" might mean, for instance, "World Peace is a good end, and it can only be assured if responsible people (i.e., people just like us, preferably us, hopefully me) dominate the world." This leads to both multilateral (people of the same elite class like me shall rule) and unilateral (people of the same nationality as me shall rule) paradigms for world domination embodied in the United Nations and Third Reich experiments, respectively.
On the other hand, "World Peace" might mean "World Peace is a good means, and it should be pursued no matter what the ends turn out to be." This is the paradigm of idealists like Tolstoy and Gandhi as well as 'useful idiots' everywhere.
Clearly, both these embodiments of the "World Peace", when they occur in history, have survived by drastically modifying their aims, have been broken to pieces, or have changed the world. The United Nations exists; and Gandhi's memory is still a potent moral and political force. Those are real changes to the world.

Marco said...

It's just that I'm not going to read the novel, but that quote has no meaning to me without examples. Clearly, we both like to attach ourselves to type II Ideas, and perhaps that defines us in a way. Of course, we have bitter disappointment at seeing our ideas broken.