Herger:The All-Father wove the skein of your life a long time ago. Go and hide in a hole if you wish, but you won’t live one instant longer.Your fate is fixed. Fear profits a man nothing.
— “The 13th Warrior” (1999)
Madame Kovarian:The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules.The Doctor:Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many!
— “A Good Man Goes to War” – Doctor Who, Series 6 (2011)
…[The] Minoans were worshippers of the Great Goddess, a faith which they had brought with them from their homeland in the Middle East, most probably the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia.
To the followers of this faith (which had held unchallenged supremacy in Europe and the Middle East for nearly twenty thousand years), the entire cosmos—earth, sky, waters, and the plants and animals within and upon them—was a single entity enveloped by the life-giving and -receiving Great Mother, she who created, nurtured, and took into her bosom all living things, just as, on a much smaller scale, the females of every species daily performed mirroring aspects of the same miracle. The statues that were offered to her, or fashioned to be worshipped in her stead, were the same tiny but enormously voluptuous female figurines that the Greeks had made such cautious fun of upon their arrival in the area. Wide-hipped, sometimes large-vulvaed, and full-breasted, these effigies were the essence of Earth in all its endless fecundity. Some of them, however, were tellingly blind. The goddess, who could at one moment bestow wondrous bounties upon her creation and the next, visit it with all manner of afflictions—earthquakes, plagues, storms, floods, and droughts, all without apparent provocation—was utterly indifferent to individuals, blind to their tiny needs and little sorrows. She cherished only Life itself.
— Zeus, pp. 17-18
It is often a mistake to refer to a religion as a “faith,” or to its adherents as “believers.” As odd as this might sound, faith and belief don’t matter much in most religions. Often ritual is far more important, as in Confucianism. Or story, as in Yoruba religion. Many Jews do not believe in God, and the world’s Hindus get along quite well without any creed. When it comes to religion, we are more often what we do than what we think. Of course, there are churchgoers who baptize their children and partake of the bread and wine of Holy Communion without much regard for what it all means, but to be a Christian has typically been to care about both faith and belief….
— God Is Not One, p. 69
Motivation is the reason your characters do the things they do. Characters need to have a solid motivation for all the decisions they make throughout the story, but…the most important motivation you need to give them is the motivation to participate in the story in the first place. Motivation is the reason the stakes matter.
[Harry Potter’s] goal is to destroy Voldemort.
Voldemort will take over the wizarding world otherwise—this is what’s at stake.
But why does Harry want to stop Voldemort himself? Why not step back and let someone else do it? Because Voldemort killed Harry’s parents. That’s Harry’s motivation.
Motivation is the emotional investment in the story for both the character and the reader. It gives the characters depth, which makes them more engaging. The reader wouldn’t be very interested if, at any point, the protagonist could decide that the stakes aren’t such a big deal after all and go home. Motivation locks the character into the story.
It’s important to understand the particular way in which human beings have affinities with the physical world according to the ancients. They believed in a quite literal way that nothing inside us is without a correspondence in nature. Worms, for example, are the shape of intestines and worms process matter as intestines do. The lungs that enable us to move freely through space with a bird-like freedom are the same shape as birds. The visible world is humanity turned inside out. Lung and bird are both expressions of the same cosmic spirit, but in different modes.
To the teachers of the Mystery schools it was significant that if you looked down on to the internal organs of the human body from the skies, their disposition reflected the solar system.
In the view of the ancients, then, all biology is astrobiology….
— The Secret History of the World, p. 39
Human nature is so formed that any power I may have to resist my animal desires—indeed what stops me from becoming a mere animal—derives from my capacity for thought and reflection. Venus was traditionally depicted holding a mirror, but not out of vanity as is nowadays supposed. The mirror was a symbol of the power of reflection to modify desire.
The god of reflection was the god of the great reflector in the sky—the moon. In all ancient cultures the moon regulated not only fertility but thought.
— The Secret History of the World, pp. 95-96
5. Bling: One of the things that D&D has historically not paid enough attention to is playing dress-up. I don’t mean that the players should show up in costume. I mean that the PCs should be spending much more time on fantastical Vancian couture, terrifying battle-masks or makeup inspired by various parts of real-world history, necklaces made of their enemy’s teeth, and actually wearing the jewelry they’ve pulled out of various tombs in order to advertise that they are successful stone-cold badasses. I’ve instituted a rule in a lot of my campaigns that if you openly wear articles of jewelry, they don’t count towards your encumbrance. Ten [coins] worth of encumbrance here and there can make a big difference when you want portable wealth. Also, you can use it to modify reaction rolls (people can immediately tell that a sorceress with a 5,000gp crown of onyx and platinum is a VIP, and they’d probably better not fuck with her, or anyone else who can accumulate and keep that kind of wealth) and morale rolls (enemies might fight harder for a chance to loot the PCs’ goods)….
General Susan Ivanova:Babylon 5 was last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future and it changed us.It taught us that we have to create the future…or others will do it for us.It taught us that we have to care for one another; because if we don’t, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places.Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings. Even for people like us.
— “Sleeping In Light” – Babylon 5, Season 5 (1998)
Heroes always emerge in a time of dying—of self, of social sanctions, of society’s forms, of standard-brand religions, governments, economics, psychologies, and relationships. In answering the call of the eternal, they discover the courage to perform the first great task of the hero or heroine—to undergo all the gestations, growth, and trauma required for a new birth. This occurs so that they can then serve as midwife in the larger society for the continuum of births necessary to redeem both the time and the society in which they live and bring them to a higher level of functioning.
Thus, the second great task of the hero or heroine—as The Odyssey and many other myths show us—is to return to the world. Plato tells us that, after receiving illumination in the vast world of eternal realities, philosophers must go back into the cave of ordinary society. In just such a fashion, Jesus comes back from the desert. The Buddha returns from his ascetic meditations. And Odysseus returns, at last, from his voyage into the depth world. All are deeply changed; some are transformed. And they immediately begin teaching the lessons they have learned of palingenesia, of life renewed and deepened.
— The Hero and the Goddess, p. 73
The Champawat Tiger killed, as far as anyone was able to record, 436 human beings in her lifetime. Mostly they were women and children, gone out into the forest to collect firewood or livestock fodder. She killed strategically, never hitting the same location twice and constantly staying on the move.
By any stretch of the imagination that is more than enough to call her a monster. It’s a perfectly fair assessment, and the leap of faith to ascribe it supernatural power would be quite small, given the circumstances. It’s as close to a true monster as you’re liable to get.
When the tiger finally died at the hands of Jim Corbett, the body revealed a different story: The two canine teeth on the right side of her jaw had been broken by a hunter’s bullet some 8 years before.
The Champawat Tiger was starving.
The damage to her teeth meant that she was unable to hunt her normal prey, and given the long-term pressure of habitat loss she would have been hard-up to find sufficient food in the first place. The killings were acts of desperation, brought upon by circumstances that made life as a normal tiger impossible. Perhaps it’s still right to call her a monster, but she was not a monster because she was born with some innate malice—she was only a very large cat getting on in years, desperate for food.
Jim Corbett was called upon to hunt down another fifty maneaters over the course of the next 35 years. Together, those tigers had killed over 2000 people, for much the same reasons as the Champawat Tiger—injury, desperation, starvation, and habitat loss.
Would you look at that.
The root cause was British colonialism.
436 people dead because some dumb shit went trophy hunting, because he just had to prove how big and strong his penis was to all his dumb shit friends….
Monsters have a cause.
That is the lesson of the Champawat Tiger.
Monsters are made to be so.
Sharina watched the young man. He’d paused at the stern to let the woman precede him off the ship. “He’s only a boy,” she murmured.
“About twenty, I’d guess,” [Nonnus] said, this time with dispassionate appraisal. “Nobles don’t age as fast as common folk.”
As the youth strode across the ramp, his black cape fluttering in the sea breeze, Nonnus added, “It’s a bad age for a man, twenty. You have the strength to do almost anything you want, but you don’t have the judgment to know what the price of some of those things is going to be in later times.”
— Lord of the Isles, Book I, Chapter 10
Lamont Cranston:You know my real name?The Tulku:Yes. I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your spirit, your very face, change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren’t you?[Cranston leaps at the Tulku who magically avoids the attack.]The Tulku:You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own heart. Every man pays a price for redemption; this is yours.Lamont Cranston:I’m not looking for redemption.The Tulku:You have no choice. You will be redeemed, because I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil.[Cranston continues to violently resist but only succeeds in exhausting himself.]Lamont Cranston:Am I in Hell?The Tulku:Not yet.
— “The Shadow” (1994)
An unique and fascinating concept: a holy man forcibly redeeming an evil man—a lost soul, really—through both great compassion and (implied) harsh discipline.
Katsumoto:…You do not fear death, but sometimes you wish for it. Is this not so?Algren:Yes.Katsumoto:I, also. It happens to men who have seen what we have seen. And then I come to this place of my ancestors, and I remember: like these blossoms, we are all dying. To know life in every breath. Every cup of tea. Every life we take.The Way of the Warrior.Algren:(whispers) Life in every breath….Katsumoto:That is Bushidō.
— “The Last Samurai” (2003)
Walker Smith:That’s what the game is all about. To be the best, you have to face the best.
— “TKO” – Babylon 5, Season 1 (1994)
By the middle of the thirteenth century [C.E.], however, certain features seem to be characteristic of all [European] baronial households. There was a seignorial council made up of both knights and officials which fulfilled the same function of advice and consent for its lord that the curia regis did for the king. There were auditors who normally travelled around the baron’s lands, overseeing and checking the complicated system of accounts. Two officials dealt with financial matters, receiving income and making expenditures. Their titles varied on different estates, and they might be known a treasurer, receiver-general, or wardrober. The keystone of the baronial household was the steward: he held courts, headed the lord’s council, occasionally acted as an attorney at the king’s court, supervised, and often appointed, such local officials as bailiffs and reeves, and acted as his lord’s deputy. These various officials were the important nucleus who carried on the day-to-day affairs of the barony. Their number and their exact function depended on the importance and wealth of the lord whom they served.
A list of officials for the barony of Eresby in the last quarter of the thirteenth century gives a good idea of the actual household of even a minor baron, and also suggests the large number of officials and servants concerned with purely domestic affairs. The lord of Eresby had a steward who was a knight, and a wardrober who was the chief clerical officer and examined the daily expenditures with the steward every night. The wardrober’s deputy was clerk of the offices, and the chaplain and almoner could be required to help write letters and documents or act as controller of expenses. There were also two friars with their boy clerk who could substitute for the chaplain. The purely domestic officials and servants were numerous. They included a chief buyer, a marshal, two pantrymen and butlers, two cooks and larderers, a saucer—the medieval term for the sauce cook—and a poulterer, two ushers and chandlers, a porter, a baker, a brewer, and two farriers. These men were assisted by their own boy helpers. This actual list has the great advantage of illustrating the dual character of the officials who made up the baron’s household, and the number of individuals who travelled with it on its many moves. The most important officials were only incidentally concerned with daily affairs. They dealt primarily with the long-range problems of the administration of the scattered lands and the collection of the various revenues of the barony, serving as the overseers and directors of such rooted local officials as reeves, bailiffs, or constables. But the nucleus of officials also included those whose total concern was with the daily domestic routine, and one man above all—the steward of the household—was primarily responsible for the smooth running of daily life.
— A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century, pp. 54-55
Vinny Terranova:I don’t believe in luck. I make it and I take it, but I don’t stand around waiting for it to happen.
— “Independent Operator” – Wiseguy, Season 1 (1987)
G’Kar:There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless…and if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants. And we have as much chance of communicating with them as an ant has with us. We know; we’ve tried. And we’ve learned that we can either stay out from underfoot, or be stepped on.Catherine Sakai:That’s it? That’s all you know?G’Kar:Yes. They are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe—that we have not yet explained everything. Whatever they are, Miss Sakai, they walk near Sigma Nine-Five-Seven, and they must walk there…alone.
— “Mind War” – Babylon 5, Season 1 (1994)
Marcus Cole:I am a Ranger! We walk in the dark places no others will enter! We stand on the bridge, and no one may pass! We live for the One! We die for the One!
— “Grey 17 Is Missing” – Babylon 5, Season 3 (1996)
Into [European feudalism’s] backward-looking, ritualistic, rigidly structured life, the growing economic forces at work in the new towns brought stress. As the trade in surplus goods increased, merchants found that the raw materials they needed were controlled by feudal lords who neither understood nor cared about commerce. Transportation of goods through their lands was both dangerous and costly. Alternative sites for commerce had to be found and the towns seemed to offer the best alternative.
Free from the feudal bonds of the countryside, the urban dweller was envied by his peasant counterpart. ‘Stadtluft machtfrei’ (the air of the town makes you free), they said in eleventh-century Germany, because after a statutory period of residence there a serf would automatically become a freedman. Soon enough the townspeople, with their economic strength and their craftsmen supported by the general surplus, began to demand from kings and emperors those statutes which would reinforce their freedom in law. Merchants who had no place in the feudal pyramid of serf, knight, priest and king now had the money to buy social status.
As the aristocrats began to commute their serfs’ dues from service to cash, money began to weaken the old social structure. Ambition began to express itself in outward show. ‘It is too easy to change your station now’ complained the Italian, Thomasin of Zirclaria. ‘Nobody keeps his place!’ The word ‘ambition’ took on common usage for the first time.
— The Day the Universe Changed, p. 31