Happy birthday, Theodore Sturgeon!
“Ask the next question, and the one that follows that, and the one that follows that. It’s the symbol of everything humanity has ever created, and is the reason it has been created. This guy is sitting in a cave and he says, ‘Why can’t man fly?’ Well, that’s the question. The answer may not help him, but the question now has been asked.
The next question is what? How? And so all through the ages, people have been trying to find out the answer to that question. We’ve found the answer, and we do fly. This is true of every accomplishment, whether it’s technology or literature, poetry, political systems or anything else. That is it. Ask the next question. And the one after that.”
“Science fiction, outside of poetry, is the only literary field which has no limits, no parameters whatsoever. You can go not only into the future, but into that wonderful place called ‘other,’ which is simply another universe, another planet, another species.”
“You have questions—urgent questions—I know that. And what makes them urgent is that you have in your mind the answers you want to hear. You will be more and more angry if you do not get those answers, but some can’t be given as you would hear them, because they would not be true. “
“You cannot be objective about this because you have been indoctrinated, sermonized, drenched, imbued, inculcated and policed on the matter since first you wore blue booties. You come from a time and place in which the maleness of the male, and the femaleness of the female, and the importance of their difference, were matters of almost total preoccupation.”
“Live long and prosper.”
“The only thumbnail you’ll get from me is this: no one knows what’s really wrong with you but you; no one can find a cure for it but you; no one but you can identify it as a cure; and once you find it, no one but you can do anything about it.”
“Living things aren’t finished, you see. Everything they have ever been in contact with, each thought they have had, each person they have known – these things are still at work in them; nothing’s finished.”
“This is the answer!
The answer is not in getting and keeping, but in getting and giving.
The answer is not in saving and preserving, but in growing and changing.
The answer is not in making things stop, but in making things go.
The answer is not in covering and hiding, but in touching and sharing.
The answer is not in thinking, but in feeling.
The answer is not in death, but love.
Not death, but life.
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.