The Lost World (Crichton novel)

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The Lost World (1995) by Michael Crichton

  • "What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? There's no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told-and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion. Next question."
    • Prologue: "Life at the Edge of Chaos"
  • Malcolm sighed. “Are you familiar with the concept of a technomyth? It was developed by Geller at Princeton. Basic thesis is that we've lost all the old myths, Orpheus and Eurydice and Perseus and Medusa. So we fill the gap with modern techno-myths. Geller listed a dozen or so. One is that an alien's living at a hangar at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Another is that somebody invented a carburetor that gets a hundred and fifty miles to the gallon, but the automobile companies bought the patent and are sitting on it. Then there's the story that the Russians trained children in ESP at a secret base in Siberia and these kids can kill people anywhere in the world with their thoughts. The story that the lines in Nazca, Peru, are an alien spaceport. That the CIA released the AIDS virus to kill homosexuals. That Nikola Tesla discovers an incredible energy source but his notes are lost. That in Istanbul there's a tenth-century drawing that shows the earth from space. That the Stanford Research Institute found a guy whose body glows in the dark. Get the picture?”
    • "The Lost World Hypothesis"
  • Levine moved forward and crouched in the maid by the stream. He peered at the footprints left by the tiny animal. The footprints were three-toed, like the tracks of a bird. He saw more three-toed tracks, including some bigger ones, which were several inches across. Levine had seen such prints before, in trackways such as the Purgatoire River in Colorado, where the ancient shoreline was now fossilized, the dinosaur tracks frozen in stone. But these prints were in fresh mud. And they had been made by living animals.
    • "The Lost World"
  • "In the conservative region far from the chaotic edge, individual elements coalesce slowly, showing no clear pattern." - Ian Malcolm
    • First Configuration:
  • "Standing next to Arby, Kelly always felt awkward and gawky. Kelly had to wear her sister's old clothes, which her mother had bought from Kmart about a million years ago. She even had to wear Emily's old Reeboks, which were so scuffed and dirty that they never came clean, even after Kelly ran them through the washing machine. Kelly washed and ironed all her own clothes; her mother never had time. Her mother was never even home, most of the time. Kelly looked enviously at Arby's neatly pressed khakis, his polished penny loafers, and sighed. Still, even though she was jealous, Arby was her only real friend - the only person who thought it was okay that she was smart. Kelly worried that he'd be skipped to ninth grade, and she wouldn't see him any more."
    • First Configuration: "School"
  • Elizabeth Gelman sighed. “You're a lying son of a bitch.”
  • He held out his hand. “May I have my sample back?”
  • She said, “Ian. After all I've done for you.”
  • “The sample?”
  • “I think you owe me an explanation.”
  • “And I promise, you'll have one. In about two weeks. I'll buy dinner.”
    • First Configuration: "Tag"
  • "Because it means the end of innovation," Malcolm said. "This idea that the whole world is wired together is mass death. Every biologist knows that small groups in isolation evolve fastest. You put a thousand birds on an ocean island and they’ll evolve very fast. You put ten thousand on a big continent, and their evolution slows down. Now, for our own species, evolution occurs mostly through our behavior. We innovate new behavior to adapt. And everybody on earth knows that innovation only occurs in small groups. Put three people on a committee and they may get something done. Ten people, and it get harder. Thirty people, and nothing happens. Thirty million, it becomes impossible. That’s the effect of mass media—it keeps anything from happening. Mass media swamps diversity. It makes every place the same… Regional differences vanish. All differences vanish. In a mass-media world, there’s less of everything except the top ten books, records, movies, ideas. People worry about losing species diversity in the rain forest. But what about intellectual diversity—our most necessary resource. That’s disappearing faster than trees. "
    • Fifth Configuration: "Malcolm"
  • "A hundred years from now, people will look back on us and laugh. They'll say, 'You know what people used to believe? They believed in photons and electrons. Can you imagine anything so silly?' They'll have a good laugh, because by then there will be newer and better fantasies. And meanwhile, you feel the way the boat moves? That's the sea. That's real. You smell the salt in the air? You feel the sunlight on your skin? That's all real. You see all of us together? That's real. Life is wonderful. It's a gift to be alive, to see the sun and breathe the air. And there isn't really anything else."
    • Seventh Configuration "Departure"

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