"Sir," Saint-Savin replied, "the first quality of an honest man is contempt for religion, which would have us afraid of the most natural thing in the world, which is death; and would have us hate the one beautiful thing destiny has given us, which is life. We should rather aspire to a heaven where only the planets live in eternal bliss, receiving neither rewards nor condemnations, but enjoying merely their own eternal motion in the arms of the void."
Terrorism [is] a biological consequence of the multinationals, just as a day of fever is the reasonable price of an effective vaccine . . . The conflict is between great powers, not between demons and heroes. Unhappily, therefore, is the nation that finds the "heroes" underfoot, especially if they still think in religious terms and involve the population in their bloody ascent to an uninhabited paradise.
Umberto Eco (1932 -)
Source: "Striking at the Heart of the State" (1978) from Travels in Hyperreality
"You cannot believe what you are saying." "Well, no. Hardly ever. But the philosopher is like the poet. The latter composes ideal letters for an ideal nymph, only to plumb with his words the depths of passion. The philosopher tests the coldness of his gaze, to see how far he can undermine the fortress of bigotry."
"I have never doubted the truth of signs, Adso; they are the only things man has with which to orient himself in the world. What I did not understand is the relation among signs. . . . I behaved stubbornly, pursuing a semblance of order, when I should have known well that there is no order in the universe." "But in imagining an erroneous order you still found something. . . ." "What you say is very fine, Adso, and I thank you. The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless. . . . The only truths that are useful are instruments to be thrown away."
When all the archetypes burst out shamelessly, we plumb the depths of Homeric profundity. Two clichés make us laugh but a hundred clichés moves us because we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion. . . . Just as the extreme of pain meets sensual pleasure, and the extreme of perversion borders on mystical energy, so too the extreme of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the Sublime.
Umberto Eco (1932 -)
Source: "Casablanca: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage" (1984) from Travels in Hyperreality