A Local Habitation and a Name
the inspiration of words by reality

arranged alphabetically by author

Compilation by
Robert Wilfred Franson


I have fallen in love with American names,
The sharp names that never get fat,
The snakeskin titles of mining-claims,
The plumed war-bonnet of Medicine Hat,
Tucson and Deadwood and Lost Mule Flat.
Stephen Vincent Benet
"American Names"  (1931)

Cybernetic models of feedback loops seemed to [many ecologists] such beautiful conceptual tools that they hated to admit they didn't fit the facts. ...

Thus, rather than serving as a reality check on pop ecology, science remained to a large extent part of the problem. By 1990 the federal government controlled nearly all environmental research, and its various agencies retained an interest in the outcome of ecological debates. Most wildlife biologists worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other preservation agencies. Since state and federal governments owned a third of the country's land area and all its wildlife, few ecologists could do research without permission from appropriate authorities. And as study became more expensive, scholars relied increasingly on public sources of financial aid.

The growing popularity of biocentrism exacerbated this politicization, making partisanship seem respectable. Motivated by teleological beliefs in the stability of ecosystems, researchers regularly crossed the line between science and partisanship. ... Ecosystem assumptions remained built into nearly all policy-oriented environmental research. Forced to choose between their models and the data, many scientists opted fror the former, relying more heavily on computer modeling and less on real-world testing. And when their field studies failed to find projected equilibria, they took this as a sign that ecological catastrophe was imminent.

Alston Chase
In a Dark Wood
The Fight over Forests and the Rising Tyranny of Ecology  (1995)

Despite our difficulties with the insanity defense, it continues, for it serves an unspoken function. The insanity defense exists not to excuse the mentally disordered offender from criminal responsibility, as legal theory teaches, but to make all of us feel safer. The irrational offender frightens us more than the rational offender; we have therefore made provisions whereby certain offenders, labeled legally insane, are sent to a mental institution rather than to a prison. We assume that psychiatrists at the mental hospital will treat the person until he is "sane" once more and no longer dangerous. In essence, we relay on the insanity defense not because we wish to excuse some offenders, but because we believe it offers us, through the role of the psychiatrists, better protection from future crimes than an ordinary prison sentence offers.

Lee Coleman
"The Insanity Defense: The Hidden Purpose"
condensed from
The Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority and Law  (1984)

Criminal Justice?
The Legal System Versus Individual Responsibility  (1994; 2nd edition 1996)
edited by Robert James Bidinotto

... one of the most absurd, and from every point of view, horrifying events in the whole history of the Soviet labour camp system — the short stay in Kolyma of the Vice-President of the United States, Henry A. Wallace, with a group of advisors headed by Professor Owen Lattimore, in the summer of 1944. ...

Both Wallace and Lattimore published enthusiastic accounts. In his book, Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace tells us that the gold miners at Kolyma are 'big husky young men who came out to the Far East from European Russia'. He adds that they are 'pioneers of the machine age, builders of cities'. He was much impressed by the horrible Nikishov, who enchanted him when he 'gambolled about enjoying the wonderful air immensely'. ...

[Nikishov was the vicious and high-living wartime head of Dalstroy, the NKVD Far Northern Construction Trust, administering a vast stretch of Soviet Russia plus its portion of the Gulag. Robert Conquest provides several more examples of stupefying gullibility, including Wallace's praise of paid overtime and free schooling in the mining camps, and the much-improved Soviet wages versus Tsarist mine workers. — RWF]

Wallace, whose background was of course agricultural, was taken out to the farm 23 kilometres from Magadan — normally a penal camp. He asked the well-dressed girl swineherds a polite question about their work; which caused some confusion as they were in fact NKVD office staff selected for their looks and smartness and had little knowledge of pigs. However, the interpreter saved the situation.

Robert Conquest
"A Clownish Interlude"
The Arctic Death Camps  (1978)

Some of you want to know "where" we're located ....

We're clandestine, after all. But we will say that we are everywhere. In the highest echelons of media and government, in universities and public schools. Yes, everywhere there is fear of unbridled patriotism, fear of hockey moms with lipstick, fear of special needs kids, fear of sparsely populated states and fear of moose hunting.

Nicole O. Coulter
Advice to Sarah Palin From the Know-It-Alls
A Satirical Journey  (2010)

As time passed, the playtime repertoire expanded. In mid-1947, a teacher in Osaka reported that his pupils seemed absorbed in playing "train" ganes, using the teacher's platform at the front of the classroom as the center of their activities. In "repatriate train," children put on their school knapsacks, jammed together on the dais, shook and trembled, and got off at "Osaka."

"Special train" — obviously a takeoff on the railway cars reserved for [American] occupation personnel — allowed only "pretty people" to get on. A "conductor" judged who was favored and who wasn't. A button missing? Rejected. Dirty face? Rejected. Those who passed these arbitrary hurdles sat in leisure on the train. Those rejected stood by enviously.

In "ordinary train," everyone piled on, pushing and shoving, complaining about being stepped on, crying out for help. Every so often, the conductors balancing on the edges of the platform announced that the train had broken down and everyone had to get off. It was, the teacher lamented, a sorry spectacle to behold: from playing war to playing at utter confusion.

John W. Dower
Ch. 3. "Kyodatsu: Exhaustion and Despair" in
Part II. "Transcending Despair"
Embracing Defeat
Japan in the Wake of World War II  (1999)

I am very much surer where I stand — where my arguments come from and where they will lead me — with regard to practical questions than with regard to ethical ones. And I have found that it is much easier to persuade people with practical arguments than with ethical arguments. This leads me to suspect that most political disagreement is rooted in questions of what is, not what should be.

I have never met a socialist who wanted the kind of society that I think socialism would produce.

David D. Friedman
"Postscript for Perfectionists"
The Machinery of Freedom
Guide to a Radical Capitalism  (1973; 1989)

The attitude of city-state Greeks to this sub-Homeric enclave was one of genial and sophisticated contempt. They regarded Macedonians in general as semi-savages, uncouth of speech and dialect, retrograde in their political institutions, negligible as fighters, and habitual oath-breakers, who dressed in bear-pelts and were much given to deep and swinish potations, tempered with regular bouts of assassination and incest.

In a more benevolent mood, Athenians would watch the attempts of the Argead court [of Macedon] to Hellenize itself with the patronizing indulgence of some blue-blooded duke called upon to entertain a colonial sugar-baron.

Peter Green
"Philip of Macedon"
Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.:
A Historical Biography  (1970; 1974; 1991)

Sonnet writing was a courtly and aristocratic performance, and Shakespeare was decidedly not a courtier or an aristocrat. Yet the challenge of this form proved agreeable to him. To be a very public man — an actor onstage, a successful playwright, a celebrated poet; and at the same time to be a very private man — a man who can be trusted with secrets, a writer who keeps his intimate affairs to himself and subtly encodes all references to others: this was the double life Shakespeare had chosen for himself. If his astonishing verbal skills and his compulsive habit of imaginative identification, coupled with deep ambition, drove him to public performance, his family secrets and his wary intelligence — perhaps reinforced by the sight of the severed heads on London Bridge — counseled absolute discretion.

Stephen Greenblatt
Will in the World
How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare  (2004)

The Thomist and later derivative systems of universal law rest upon the basic assumption of ascertainable norms of conduct for every entity in the world — norms universally valid and, as operative in the individuals comprising each species, possessing objective reality. Hence, when Ockham asserted that the universal was merely a word (nomen), and that nothing was real except the individual, he dealt a blow directly at the heart of this systemization. ...

In short, nominalism begets a scientific skepticism which prohibits the knowledge and validity of law, since law cannot be applied successfully in a universe where each individual unit is considered unique. Category and abstract concept, essential for science, are dismissed as unreal.

Philosophical skepticism goes beyond nominalism, in denying the certainty of any knowledge, even that of the individual. Whereas Ockham would admit that any individual object may be known through sense percept and intuitive concept, Sextus Empiricus, denying any certain objective validity to whatever is grasped by sense and intuition, as well as by intellect, would insist upon the complete relativity of all knowledge.

These two streams, nominalism and philosophical skepticism, as well as their tributaries, swelled the broad river of the Counter-Renaissance. It is not difficult to surmise the consequence to the surrounding country, that beautifully surveyed, fenced-in and marked-off land of universal law. The cartography of Aquinas and his successors has no counterpart in reality after the inundation, and the resulting wasteland is redeemed and newly developed only with the full advent of the Scientific Reformation.

Hiram Haydn
"The Repeal of Universal Law"
The Counter-Renaissance  (1950)

Rand continued to write [The Fountainhead] in longhand and to read aloud to the O'Connor brothers, who would sometimes suggest American expressions or idiomatic bits of dialogue. Then she would expertly type her new pages, making alterations based on how they sounded. She regularly consulted [Isabel] Paterson, too, particularly about her characters' speeches. Among other suggestions the older woman made was one to eliminate explicit references to Hitler, Stalin, Fascism, Nazism — to all contemporary history. "The theme of your book is wider than the politics of the moment," Patterson told her. "You are really writing about collectivism — any past, present, or future form of it." This was excellent advice, and Rand took it, not only in The Fountainhead but also in Atlas Shrugged. The novels' timeless, almost mythical atmosphere is surely one of the reasons for their enduring popularity.

Anne C. Heller
Ayn Rand and the World She Made  (2009)

"I'm sorry," said Mr. Scogan. "I for one, without ever having had the slightest appreciation of painting, have always taken particular pleasure in Cubismus. I like to see pictures from which nature has been completely banished, pictures which are exclusively the product of the human mind. They give me the same pleasure as I derive from a good piece of reasoning or a mathematical problem or an achievement of engineering. Nature, or anything that reminds me of nature, disturbs me; it is too large, too complicated, above all too utterly pointless and incomprehensible.

"I am at home with the works of man; if I choose to set my mind to it, I can understand anything that any man has made or thought. That is why I always travel by Tube, never by bus if I can possibly help it. For, travelling by bus, one can't avoid seeing, even in London, a few stray works of God — the sky, for example, an occasional tree, the flowers in the window-boxes. But travel by Tube and you see nothing but the works of man — iron riveted into geometrical forms, straight lines of concrete, patterned expanses of tiles. All is human and the product of friendly and comprehensible minds.

"All philosophies and all religions — what are they but spiritual Tubes bored through the universe! Through these narrow tunnels, where all is recognisably human, one travels comfortable and secure, contriving to forget that all round and below and above them stretches the blind mass of earth, endless and unexplored. Yes, give me the Tube and Cubismus every time; give me ideas, so snug and neat and simple and well made. And preserve me from nature, preserve me from all that's inhumanly large and complicated and obscure. I haven't the courage, and, above all, I haven't the time to start wandering in that labyrinth."

Aldous Huxley
Chrome Yellow  (1921)

It is just the fact that we know no more about the ether than its form of elasticity which makes the conception of it somewhat unsatisfactory; and led the late Lord Salisbury, in his Presidential Address to the British Association at Oxford in 1894, to say of it that it merely 'furnishes a nominative case to the verb to undulate'.

H. W. B. Joseph
"Of Non-Reciprocating Causal Relations"
An Introduction to Logic  (1906; 2nd edition 1916)

Sixth Column (ASF Jan 1941, Rogers) - Heinlein (mini) If my [youthful] experience was typical, and I think it was, people turn to science fiction for a blend of two feelings — fantasy, the roller-coaster shock of fantasy — and reality, the instinctive feel of reality — the feeling that this might be true. ...

[Robert A.] Heinlein's identification with his viewpoint character [in Starship Troopers] is so absolute, and his attention to detail so careful, that he shows you one picture, with everything fitting together, and you have to believe it, at least for a moment, just as you have to believe a photograph.

With Heinlein, unique among present-day science fiction writers, you feel that what he writes about might very easily be possible, simply because the man knows so much and writes so carefully. But please notice that you can have this feeling about something that actually is completely impossible. ...

Sinister Barrier (Unknown, March 1939, Scott) - Eric Frank Russell (mini) I've quoted ... examples to try to show that the quality I'm talking about can be present in fiction all the way from realism to the purest fantasy. The best stories in Unknown had it, because those writers were able to convince you that the horrors they wrote about could be real, that they weren't just conventional sprites and goblins. ... You can't do it by taking your subject lightly, by kidding it, by being cute, by writing just for kicks or for money. You can't do it if you start out by assuming that what you're writing about is not to be taken seriously. ...

I want to call your attention to Heinlein's declaration, in the Advent: Publishers book, The Science Fiction Novel, that s-f is a branch of realistic fiction. It would be nice if we could try harder to earn that label.

Damon Knight
"Good Science Fiction — Where Is It?"
Guest of Honor Speech,
17th World Science Fiction Convention
Detroit, 6 September 1959

New Frontiers #3, August 1960

The dawn of literature ... was bathed in the twilight of mysticism and mythology. ... But the earliest literati — priests, prophets, rhapsodes, bards — had less direct means to impress their audiences than their older colleagues, the masked and painted illusion-mongers. They had to 'dramatize' their tales, by techniques which we can only infer from hints.

The dramatization of an epic recital aims, like stage-craft from which it is derived, at creating, to some extent at least, the illusion that the events told are happening now and here. Perhaps the oldest of these techniques is the use of direct speech, to make the audience believe that it is listening not to the narrator but to the characters themselves; ...

There is hardly a novelist who had not wished at times that he were a histrion [stage-player], and could convey by direct voice, grimace, and gesture what his characters look like and feel. But writers have evolved other techniques to create the illusion that their characters are alive, and to make their audience fall in love with a heroine who exists only as printer's ink on paper. The real tears shed over Anna Karenina or Emma Bovary are the ultimate triumph of sympathetic magic.

Arthur Koestler
The Act of Creation  (1964)

The decision that the main Nazi forces should be deployed agains the Soviet Union, that the Soviet-German Front should become the main battlefront in the summer of 1943, and that the main question pertaining to the outcome of World War II would be settled there did not raise any doubt in higher political and military circles of Nazi Germany. And they were most resolute in implementing this policy.

To launch the offensive, the German warlords chose the Kursk direction. The [Soviet armies'] Kursk salient — extending far to the west in the Kursk area — created, according to the concept of the German command, the proper prerequisites for surrounding and smashing the defending armies of the [Soviet] Central and Voronezh Fronts and their strategic reserves. The operation received the code name Citadel. The main stake was placed on the effectiveness of a sudden massive strike of tank forces on narrow sectors of the breach. ...

On April 8, Marshal G. K. Zhukov, who was in the Kursk salient area, sent a report on the character of possibile military actions in the summer of 1943, in which he particularly stressed the following: "I consider it inexpedient for our troops to launch a preventive offensive in the near future." He also considered: "It would be better to wear down the enemy on our defensive positions, knock out his tanks, and then bring in fresh reserves and finish off his main groupings in a general offensive." ...

The Soviet Command, knowing the date set for the enemy's offensive, at the dawn of 5 July 1943 launched powerful artillery and air counter-preparations agains the enemy poised for a thrust. A rain of artillery and mortar shells and air bombs fell on his positions. The main blows were directed at artillery battery positions, observation posts, HQs, troop concentrations and airfields. The enemy sustained considerable losses while in assault position, and was compelled to assume the offensive somewhat behind schedule. The Nazis had failed to gain the element of surprise. ...

V. Larionov, N. Yeronin, B. Solovyov, V. Timokhovich
"4. The Battle of Kursk: Force Versus Force"
World War II: Decisive Battles of the Soviet Army
(Vazhneĭshie bitvy Sovetskoĭ Armii vo vtoroĭ mirovoĭ voĭne)
Progress Publishers: Moscow  (1984)
translated by William Biley

Some ministers found the craze for Omar Khayyam, which swept England and America in the 1870s and lasted well into the 1920s, far more dangerous [than pantheistic mysticism]. Though some erroneously read Khayyam's poems in a Sufi spirit, most recognized them as expressions of a philosophical hedonism and agnostic or even atheological bent of mind; the fact that churchgoing folk were forming clubs and societies around the reading and appreciation of Khayyam's poetry spurred the clergy to action.

Whatever the dangers of alien and non-Christian modes of spirituality may have been, at least, as spiritual modes, they shared the assumption of God, which an increasing number of Westerners, as a result of higher criticism or secular philosophies, alarmingly did not. If Persian poetry appealed to Western audiences, as it clearly did, why not replace the epicurean and despairing Khayyam with Rumi, for whom the universe was theosemic, everything a sign pointing toward God?

Franklin D. Lewis
Past and Present, East and West;
The Life, Teaching, and Poetry of Jalal Al-Din Rumi

"You go over there [Plaquemines Parish] to look up a title on land for a client that's an outsider and has a suit against an insider, and you find old books of deeds handwritten on parchment dating back to the seventeenth century. But when you come to the page about the land in dispute, it's typewritten on brand-new paper. You ask the parish clerk what happened, and he says, 'Cockroaches ate the old page so bad we had to copy it out and replace it.'"

[The lawyer's] admiration was as pronounced as his taste for pie a la mode.

A. J. Liebling
The Earl of Louisiana  (1961)

If they [recent immigrants to America] look back through this history to trace their connection with those days [of the American Revolution] by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,"

and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote the Declaration, and so they are.

That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

Abraham Lincoln
Speech on the Dred Scott Decision, etc.
Chicago, Illinois; 10 July 1858
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II: 1848-1858
Speeches and Writings: 1832-1858

4.3  Psycho-Kinetic Felinecide

In 1935, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment — that he certainly had no intention of carrying out — intended to ridicule the notion that the act of becoming conscious of an outcome determined that outcome. ...

... quantum mechanics says that the photon ... has been both detected and not detected, that the signal to the gun has been both sent and not sent, that the gun has been both fired and not fired, and that the cat is both dead and alive. The act of opening the container and looking at the condition of the cat would be the first act by which the experimenter could determine which way the photon went. It would thus be that act that would either kill the cat or grant it a stay of execution. ... Whether the cat lives or dies is determined exclusively by the experimenter's becoming consciously aware of the cat's state by looking at it. ...

4.4  TEW Rescues the Cat

[The theory of elementary waves] explains these polarization experiments without any special measurement theory. ...

Consciousness does not create reality.

Lewis E. Little
"Schrödinger's Cat"
The Theory of Elementary Waves
A New Explanation of Fundamental Physics  (2009)

There will shortly be circulated among the gang (you can be on the list if you like) a remarkable unpublished novelette by young Leiber — "Adept's Gambit", rejected by Wright [for Weird Tales] and now under revision according to my suggestions. It is a very brilliant piece of fantastic imagination — with suggestions of Cabell, Beckford, Dunsany, and even Two-Gun Bob [Robert E. Howard] — and ought to see publication some day. Being wholly out of the cheap tradesman tradition, it has small chance of early magazine placement — ...

"Adept's Gambit" is laid in Syria of the earlier Hellenistic period, but soon moves away from Tyre and Ephesus to a fabulous mountain realm of inland Asia ...

H. P. Lovecraft
to James F. Morton, 15 March 1937
[Lovecraft's last letter, uncompleted at his death]

H. P. Lovecraft
Selected Letters  (1976)

Fritz Leiber
Author's Foreword to Swords in the Mist
but included in some editions only —
Swords in the Mist  (Gregg Press, 1977)
Lean Times in Lankhmar  (White Wolf, 1996)
[see Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series]

In this town, he thought, The Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name almost never shuts up.

Armistead Maupin
Tales of the City  (1978)

What has kept England on its feet during the past year? In part, no doubt, some vague idea about a better future, but chiefly the atavistic emotion of patriotism, the ingrained feeling of the English-speaking peoples that they are superior to foreigners.

For the last twenty years the main object of English left-wing intellectuals has been to break this feeling down, and if they had succeeded, we might be watching the S.S. men patrolling the London streets at this moment.

George Orwell
"Wells, Hitler and the World State", Horizon, August 1941

[On his last meeting with Friedrich Nietzsche, circa 1885-86:]

He was surrounded by an indescribable atmosphere of strangeness, by something that seemed to me completely uncanny. There was something in him which I had not known before, and much that had formerly distinguished him was missing. As if he came from a land where no one else lives.

Erwin Rohde
to Franz Overbeck, 24 January 1889

R. J. Hollingdale
The Man and His Philosophy

The false confusion of freedom with abundance rests on a failure to distinguish between the conditions given by nature and man-made actions to transform nature. In a state of raw nature, there is no abundance; in fact, there are few, if any, goods at all. Crusoe is absolutely free, and yet on the point of starvation.

Of course, it would be pleasanter for everyone if the nature-given conditions had been far more abundant, but these are vain fantasies. For vis-a-vis nature, this is the best of all possible worlds, because it is the only possible one. Man's condition on earth is that he must work with the given natural conditions and improve them by human action. It is a reflection on nature, not on the free market, that everyone is "free to starve."

Murray Rothbard
Man, Economy, and State
A Treatise on Economic Principles  (1962; 2004)

In the front row of the upper circle a woman with a restless starling-voice was discussing the work of a temporarily fashionable composer, chiefly in relation to her own emotions, which she seemed to think might prove generally interesting to those around her.

"Whenever I hear his music I feel that I want to go up into a mountain and pray. Can you understand that feeling?"

The girl to whom she was unburdening herself shook her head.

"You see, I've heard his music chiefly in Switzerland, and we were up among the mountains all the time, so it wouldn't have made any difference."

"In that case," said the woman, who seemed to have emergency emotions to suit all geographical conditions, "I should have wanted to be in a great silent plain by the side of a rushing river."

Saki  (H. H. Munro)
The Unbearable Bassington  (1912)

A more pressing problem — it was the one Tolkien continually faced — was that of converting image into story. John Rateliff has suggested ... in [Flieger & Hostetter's] Tolkien's 'Legendarium', that the famous discussion of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien (recorded most clearly in [Tolkien's] Letters p. 378) to write a story each, the one about space-travel, the other about time-travel, was triggered by Lewis's reading of Charles Williams and realization that it was possible to write such a thing as a 'philosophical thriller'. ...

Mr. Rateliff argues that Tolkien was getting there, and that the story might have succeeded as a 'philosophical thriller' if Tolkien's attention and his energies had not been drawn off by the many problems connected with getting The Hobbit into print, in 1937, but the contrast with Lewis's companion-piece is not encouraging. Five thousand words into Out of the Silent Planet, its hero has been kidnapped and is on a space-ship heading for Mars on a mission of conquest. Five thousand words into 'The Lost Road' and the characters are still considering the history of languages, the story as yet invisible.

T. A. Shippey
J.R.R. Tolkien:
Author of the Century

... Ruritania is in the eye of the beholder. The big Budapest hit of 1902 was Jenö Huszka's Prince Bob, the only Hungarian operetta set in London and the story of a son of Queen Victoria who goes out into the streets to woo a Cockney serving wench. That's Hungary's Ruritania: the United Kingdom. When a later Prince of Wales took up with a serving wench — or, anyway, an American divorcee — the Hungarians were quick to point out the plot had been lifted from a show they'd done 30 years earlier.
Mark Steyn
"The Real World"
Broadway Babies Say Goodnight
Musicals Then and Now  (1997)

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Hunter S. Thompson
"Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl"
Rolling Stone #155, 28 February 1974
The Great Shark Hunt  (1979)

Governments that rest only on a single idea or on a single, easy-to-define sentiment are perhaps not the best, but they are surely the strongest and the most lasting.

When one examines the Constitution of the United States, the most perfect of all known federal constitutions, one is frightened, on the contrary, by the quantity of diverse knowledge and by the discernment that it supposes in those whom it must rule. The government of the Union rests almost wholly on legal fictions. The Union is an ideal nation that exists so to speak only in minds, and whose extent and bounds intelligence alone discovers.

Alexis de Tocqueville
Democracy in America  (1835-1840)
edited & translated by Mansfield & Winthrop


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