'Humanity is old, civilization is new: the mesh of cogs is by no means smooth and this is as it should be.   Never should a man enter a building of glass or metal, or a spaceship, or a submarine, without a small shock of astonishment;  never should he avoid an act of passion without a small sense of effort.   We of the Institute receive an intensive historical inculcation;  we know the men of the past, and we have projected dozens of possible future variations, which, without exception, are repulsive.   Man, as he exists now, with all his faults and vices,  a thousand gloriously irrational compromises between two thousand sterile absolutes is optimal.   Or so it seems to us who are men.'
---   Jack Vance, "Xaviar Skolcamp, Over-Centennial Fellow of the Institute" in  The Killing Machine (Copyright 1964)



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