Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quotes from C L Moore's "No Woman Born" (novella)

Here is the main post of this story. This post collects interesting quotes from this very important story: some wise quotes, others highlighting issues & mood in the story.

  1. "there are always women with perfection of features in the world, & they are not the ones that legend remembers. It was the light within, shining through her charming, imperfect features, that had made this Deirdre's face so lovely."
  2. "Has anyone the right to preserve a brain alive when its body is destroyed? Even if a new body can be provided, necessarily so very unlike the old?"
  3. "We knew we couldn't work out anything like a facsimile of the way I used to look, so we had to find some other basis to build on. And motion is the other basis of recognition, after actual physical likeness."
  4. "I never was beautiful. It was all - well, vivacity, I suppose, & muscular coordination. Years & years of training, & all of it engraved here ... in the habit patterns grooved into my brain."
  5. "voice control is almost wholly a matter of hearing what you produce, once you've got adequate mechanism, of course. That's why deaf people, with the same vocal chords as ever, let their voices change completely & lose all inflection when they've been deaf long enough."

    Hey, I didn't know this! Assuming it's true.
  6. "what a tremendous force the human ego really is. I'm not sure I want to suggest it has any mystical power it can impress on mechanical things, but it does seem to have a power of some sort. It does instill its own force into inanimate objects, & they take on a personality of their own. People do impress their personalities on the houses they live in... Even empty rooms. And it happens with other things too, especially, I think, with inanimate things that men depend on for their lives. Ships, for instance - they always have personalities of their own.

    And planes - in wars you always hear of planes crippled too badly to fly, but struggling back anyhow with their crews. Even guns acquire a sort of ego. Ships & guns & planes are 'she' to the men who operate them & depend on them for their lives. It's as if machinery with complicated moving parts almost simulates life, & does acquire from the men who used it - well, not exactly life, of course - but a personality".
  7. "where did the grace & charm come from? Not out of the habit patterns in her brain. No, out of human contacts, out of all the things that stimulate sensitive minds to creativeness. And she’s lost three of her five senses. Everything she can't see & hear is gone. One of the strongest stimuli to a woman of her type was the knowledge of sex competition. You know how she sparkled when a man came into the room? All that's gone, & it was an essential. You know how liquor stimulated her? She's lost that. She couldn't taste food or drink even if she needed it. Perfume, flowers, all the odors we respond to mean nothing to her now. She can't feel anything with tactual delicacy any more. She used to surround herself with luxuries - she drew her stimuli from them - & that's all gone too."
  8. "Sight ... is the most highly civilized of the senses. It was the last to come. The other senses tie us in closely with the very roots of life; I think we perceive with them more keenly than we know. The things we realize through taste & smell & feeling stimulate directly, without a detour through the centers of conscious thought. You know how often a taste or odor will recall a memory to you so subtly you don't know exactly what caused it? We need those primitive senses to tie us in with nature & the race... Sight is a cold, intellectual thing compared with the other senses. But it's all she has to draw on now. She isn't a human being any more, & I think what humanity is left in her will drain out little by little & never be replaced."