“…It’s all down to knowing how to do it, knowing how to concentrate your mind on a single point, knowing how to abstract yourself sufficiently to bring about the hallucination and therefore substitute the dream of reality for reality itself. In short, artifice seemed to des Esseintes to be the distinctive stamp of man’s genius.

‘Nature has had her day,’ as he put it, ‘she’s finally worn out the mindful patience of the man of refinement through the sickening uniformity of her landscapes and her skies. At bottom, what were they but the platitudes of a specialist confined to her own petty sphere, the narrow-mindedness of a tradeswoman prizing a particular article to the exclusion of all others, what was she but a monotonous storehouse of meadows and trees, a banal purveyor of mountains and seas! ‘Moreover, there’s not a single one of her inventions, reputed to be so subtle and so grandiose, that human ingenuity cannot create; no forest of Fontainebleau, no moonlight that some theatrical scenery flooded with electric light cannot reproduce; no waterfall that hydraulics cannot imitate to perfection; no rock that papier-mâché cannot be made to look like; no flower that specious taffetas and delicately painted papers cannot equal..!”

J-K. Huysmans, À rebours
Translated as Against Nature by Brendan King


“…Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry?  What’s the motive?  If we leave a chemistry professor out on a rock in the sun long enough the forces of nature will convert him into simple compounds of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, and small amounts of other minerals.  It’s a one-way reaction.  No matter what kind of chemistry professor we use and no matter what process we use we can’t turn these compounds back into a chemistry professor.  Chemistry professors are unstable mixtures of predominantly unstable compounds which, in the exclusive presence of the sun’s heat, decay irreversibly into simpler organic and inorganic compounds.  That’s scientific fact.

The question is: Then why does nature reverse this process?  What on earth causes the inorganic compounds to go the other way?  It isn’t the sun’s energy.  We just saw what the sun’s energy did.  It has to be something else.  What is it?…”

Robert M. Pirsig, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.