Howard Bloom Epigrams



In every conversation with the brilliant thinker he seems to utter some string of words that rattles around in your head and refuses to leave until your perception of a given concept (or even the universe at large) is completely altered. Read through below to see just a few.

Every day is a turning point in history. Which way Evolution goes depends on you and me. Change your way of seeing and you change your way of being. New ways of seeing lead to new ways of being.

Civilizations need utopias to thrive. Dystopias look down. Civilizations need to look up to survive. those who don’t see a path to the skies die.

Promotion is about saving living, breathing, feeling humans whether there’s a deadline of nuclear catastrophe or not. There’s always a deadline, it’s called death, or it’s simply called “tomorrow.” Tomorrow is too late. People must wake up today.

My mission is to save mankind in every way I possibly can–through science, art, cartoons, music, TV, radio, and even through humor. I am just as limited as any mortal on this planet–perhaps more limited by fifteen years as an invalid, a victim of myalgic encephalomyalitis. But guess what? Every “great” man and woman who ever turned the course of humanity for better or for worse was just as limited as you and me. If those of us with insecurities, daily aches and pains, and a constant awareness of our weaknesses do not work to save others–not just our contemporaries, but others five or six generations down the line–who will? The task is up to you and me.

If God is the Cosmos, then I believe in God. If God is the incredible creative process called evolution, then I believe in god. If God is the 13.7-billion years of persistent, inanimate trial and error the produced the mind, then I believe in God.

If God is the maker of the rules this cosmos follows as it unfolds, then I believe in God. But if God is content with the death and killing that’s gone on since life began 3.85 billion years ago, then I refuse to believe in God.

If the universe persists in generating suffering, then I believe that the only God, the only force that will carry us to a more humane existence, is the combined force of you and me.

Since there is no god, it is our job to do His work. God is not a being, He is an aspiration, a gift, a vision, a goal to seek. Ours is the responsibility of making a cruel universe turn just, of turning pains to understandings and new insights into joy, of creating ways to soar the skies for generations yet to come, of fashioning wings with which our children’s children shall overcome, of making worlds of fantasy materialize as reality, of mining and transforming our greatest gifts–our passions, our imaginings, our pains, our insecurities, and our lusts. This is the work of deity, and deity is a power that resides in us.

If God exists, he’ll smile and beam with pride at our audacity.

We have to achieve if we want God to happen.

Without heart and meaning in what you do, there’s no heart and meaning inside of you.

Every good thing in overdose is a poison. And many a poison in moderation is a tonic.

Mother Nature isn’t nice. She’s coughed up 148 mass extinctions since life began. But we humans are doomriders, disaster tamers, challengers of catastrophe. We were birthed in the midst of an ice age, an age of glaciers no other primates could stand. We were born naked, without fur or claws or fangs. We invented new ways to cut and throw and clobber, new ways to play, and new ways to celebrate. We created stone tools, makeup, jewelry, new ways to flaunt, new ways to show off, new ways to be ornate, new ways to display just how soundly we’d beaten mother nature’s murderous game. To top it off, we created new ways to show just how soundly we’ve beaten one of nature’s most inescapable challenges, gravity. We stood up straight, we danced our asses off, we leaped and ran. we made fishing hooks and needles out of bone. We sewed together the skins of animals and created the first artificial coats. We invented cave art and music. We built palaces from mammoth tusk and bone. We made our own mountains and called them ziggurats and pyramids. Then we made rockets and clawed our way toward the planets. We dream of flying and we aspire to the stars. We have a long, long way to go before we run out of fantasies, before we run out of dreams. We are mother nature come to life in a whole new way. What does she excpect of us? To rip up her rulebook and break through her boundaries. We are the tools with which Nature seizes the impossible and squeezes it into reality.

Any comprehension of the external world–whether it be a scientific understanding, a spiritual grasp, or a flash of poetic insight–is an act of self-recognition. We are only capable of penetrating “objective realities” through the tools of our own capacities. To see the mysteries outside of ourselves, we must see inside ourselves. (hb summarizing and revising Reed Konsler)

The Cosmos has made a pact with the human soul. The universe’s history, the gods of our imaginings, heaven, hell, and the dream of utopia, all are within us–we contain infinity. We also contain within us all the vastness of a destiny. Anything we can conceive and believe we can achieve. There is nothing permanent about this new testament, this new deal man has been handed by science, intuition, wonder, will, and curiosity. We have been given an open contract by our evolutionary mother. We’ve reached a turning point in history. Which way the cosmos goes depends on you and me.

To see the vastness of all sciences in unity, to soar over the face of space and time, that is our goal. One key to the enterprise is finding everything that you are and never knew in the reaches of infinity. Evolution made you. When your soul cries out, evolution speaks through you. When your wonder lifts off from the heart of you and sees new possibilities implicit in the cosmic jumble, you are doing evolution’s work. You are a finger of creation—a tendril of something far, far larger than your self—a finger of the cosmos sewing the next stitches of its future with a needle of its incarnation: you.

God is in every fiber of your being—in every cell, in every hair. There is a congregation of 100 trillion churches within you, each a miracle of god, a cell. You can not be separated from god. Even sin is a manifestation of him. You cannot fall away no matter how far you stray from the church. Be ethical, moral, and loving to the best of your ability. But whether you sin or serve, god is with you always. You are a manifestation of divinity.

Life gives all of us a narrow aperture through which to view the world. the trick is to see more than the aperture seems capable of revealing. When the aperture closes a bit, the challenge simply grows more interesting.

Blame looks backward. To find solutions, look forward.

“Let’s toss out the bad apples, not burn the orchard down”

No life is ever perfect. No life is finished until it’s dead. Get on with living!!!!! Stop killing your hours when you could be breathing life into them.

You ask, “Is there legitimacy in our own creation?”–that’s not a question, it’s a challenge. We have will and intellect. These are evolutionary experiments. It’s up to us to prove that they’re worthwhile.

If an enemy is intent on slaying you, defeat him.  But once you’ve removed his weapon, take another step: convert him.

When facing an enemy bent on your destruction, use every means available to save yourself. Then gather your energies, use your compassion, and save the soul of your foe.

If you win over a foe, you have a friend for life.

It’s a very unforgiving cosmos, but that doesn’t mean we have to be as mean-spirited as mother nature.

Always use preventive paranoia. Shoot for the best and prepare for the worst.

Ego is a necessary self deception. It is a vision not of what we are but of what we want to be. Those who have a healthy ego—an inflated and overblown sense of themselves—take their self-deception as an aspiration and work toward achieving it. Ego, to them, is the flotation device that keeps them going when they are less than they want to be. It buoys them up until they become what they aspire to. Others fail to work toward what they want. These are sad men who claim to be what they never will achieve. And somewhere deep down they know they are not what they say they are. That knowledge empties them emotionally. It makes them “hollow men, heads filled with straw,” Prufocks who will discover someday that there is no longer time “to murder and create”—to do the great deeds that would make them worthy of their own ideals. When men and women fail to pursue the task of making their false ego real, they become those of the majority, the humans who “lead lives of quiet desperation.” It is our task to awaken ourselves and to strive toward what we want to be—to turn our self-deceptions into realities. Only then can we reach out to those who are lost and help them out of their despond, turning their implicit goals into possibilities, helping them work toward what it is that gives them meaning, that which the illusion of the ego beckons them to achieve.

I’m a big fan of ego.  Not in overdose.  Any good thing in overdose is a poison.  But ego is our flotation device.  It’s what we use to keep our head above water when we’re heading toward an island of achievement that exists only in our imagination and that is, as yet, nowhere in sight.  An island others think doesn’t exist.  An island we’d give up on if ego didn’t keep us afloat.

Those who can build a self-deceptive ego need the power to create their own myth–the ability to conceive an autobiography that lifts them either to greater achievement or to greater self-destruction. Self-destruction arises when one merely dreams the myth but never attempts to live it. But glorious deeds come from those who live out the illusion of their legend to the nth degree.

Try to do the heroic every day…not by breaking away from the normal path but by finding that which is transcendent in it. Be honest and cleave to the truth and heroism will come naturally to you.

Our job is to make miracles of the mundane.

Sun Tsu has many lessons to teach — among them: do not think three years down the road, think 35–and move with full force toward the goals of 35 years ahead of you today.

Tradition is a tool for new creation, not a monkey wrench.

The terrors of love are so classic, but they’re classic because we all go through them in one form or another and they’re ghastly.

The real horrors are in the mundane. which makes the mundane a triple whammy. the mundane contains infinite delights. it also contains infinite pains. The mundane is the stuff of evil and the fabric of happiness and stability. Despite these intense possibilities, it is the stuff that bores us most, the stuff of every day.

Sometimes we dig our own graves, then blame everyone else for shoveling in the dirt.

If you unite the primitive animals of the limbic system with the sunny rational master workers of the human neocortex, the animals turn to gods and through the writhing human brain they sing. This is the source of ecstasy–in art, onstage performance, scientific vision, sexual orgasm, and in prophecy.

The biggest unfolding social process we know is the one we call a cosmos.

Anger is a tool and one must choose very carefully when and when not to use it. But when you use it, control it. Never let it control you.

Thank god we are odd. If we were not, we wouldn’t have landed in the role of culture makers. We’d have been culture consumers or culture sustainers. I’ll take culture making over culture sustaining any day of the week.

Turning the intuitions and metaphors of art into the more explicit and self-consistent metaphors of science is one of science’s major challenges. The job of a scientist is to bring mystery from darkness to the light. It’s the Promethean task of bringing fire to men, of grappling with the unknown so we can come to know its face.

New facts are tools for scaling fresh peaks.

The trick in science is to drag unknowns from unverbalized darkness into linguistic light.

No matter how high you climb the peak is always above you and the pit beneath is just one wrong handhold away.

It’s called nested hierarchies. every peak you reach is the foothill of the next mountain. Fail to see the mountain that’s looming ahead of you, lay down and bask in the sight of the sky, and you will be swept away by the next mudslide.

Said Alice, “There’s no use trying, one can’t believe impossible things.” Said the Queen, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour each day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Our universe is based on the inseparability of opposites.

Every explanation of a phenomenon contains its opposite.

Dichotomies are often the result of faulty understanding. Usually opposites are parts of a more inclusive reality, and both are equally necessary and equally true

“Opposites are joined at the hip.” they look like they are battling, but in reality they are usually collaborating to produce a result that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. Hegel was the philosopher who understood this best. thesis–>antithesis–>synthesis.

Vanity is a virtue in disguise.

An economy is the crucible where spirit and matter meet.

Naming capitalism after its machines is like saying that Michaelangelo was in the chisel industry and that Raphael was in the brush business. Capitalism is the cauldron where matter and spirit meet. And spirit is the active ingredient, not mere things.
hb 01-23-2010

Never simply go with the flow. When all is well, paddle with
all your might. When there’s trouble, paddle even harder.

You can tell the intelligence of a man by the number of things he knows he doesn’t know. He who feels he knows everything blocks curiosity’s path.

Battle bonds you.

If you succeed in giving a new worldview that makes what was formerly mysterious click into place, you can get adults to shift the way they feel and see–you can inspire them to soar.  It’s a process of secular conversion. When their children grow up in the new belief, their brains will be reshaped by the reality of their parents’ dreams. Whether the young accept those dreams or rebel against them, they will remake their world on the foundations of what were once their parents’ fantasies.

If God is Mother Nature’s creativity, then we are the latest experiment in Mother Nature’s lab. She’s given us will and vision and the challenge of seeing the mysteries hidden inside our selves. And she’s given us another challenge–take the next step up, use your moral sense to purge me of my cruelty, or I will take the next step without you, and that may mean a cruelty beyond belief.

The term I’ve avoided for fear that it would be misunderstood is “secular evangelism.” We need to reach and save souls…not in the afterlife, but in the world of here and now. I suspect this is a path many of us are on…but don’t necessarily know it.

The time has come to gather those who are soul-lifters, to affirm them, to show them that they’re not alone, to help their ideas ignite in the fuel of encouragement offered by others who understand. If those who feel the need to save can meet, each can add new facets to the vision that they see and new richness to the way they heal, to the way they elevate and preach.

This twisting gyre of history is an opportunity. Either we who believe in creativity and lifting the soul of a culture will seize it. Or those who peddle the easy way to meaning – hatred and blame – will twist this point of pivot toward a path to hell.

Screw the grim philosophers, create and see the joy.

We are suffering from negativity poisoning.

Do what you do best…fly high.

On the idiocy of reason: Beware the man who allows a tiny portion of his left brain to take over his whole head.

We need intimate guides and friends to get us through these valleys haunted by the shadows of isolation and by the demons of intimacy. You guide me and I guide you. So together we will be.

The basic ethos of the press is the same as that of science: the truth at any price including your life. Truth means hard work, study, and the threat of ostracism. The press prefers to avoid these three things.

Stories of stars and galaxies competing, making war, using mass consumption and mass destruction to create new forms. It ain’t just Western Capitalist slaves who are consumerist. One of the most acquisitive things in the cosmos is a galaxy.

We live in an era of cephalocentrism — we believe the brain controls everything.

Walking a barbed wire tight rope is not a pleasant experience.

Uplift others as you would have them uplift you.

Delight others as you would have them delight you.

Make Today’s Work Messianic.

It’s up to us to put meaning into life. It’s our obligation, our responsibility, our challenge, our fulfillment, and our joy.

The harder you seek answers and the more ways you explore, the better the unexpected fruits are far down the line of time.

Ants make war. Chimps make war. And even flowering plants make war. As evolution with a conscience, it’s time for us to find a way around it. But we can only do that if we take the threat of real enemies seriously. If we lose, the right to choose will go down with us.