Eight Keys to Eden


by Mark Clifton


Seven Doors to Seven Rooms of Thought

  1. Accept the statement of Eminent Authority without basis, without question.
  2. Disagree with the statement without basis, out of general contrariness.
  3. Perhaps the statement is true, but what if it isn't? How then to account for the phenomenon?
  4. How much of the statement rationalizes to suit man's purpose that he and his shall be ascendant at the center of things?
  5. What if the minor should become major, the recessive dominant, the obscure prevalent?
  6. What if the statement were reversible, that which is considered effect is really cause?
  7. What if the natural law perceived in one field also operates unperceived in all other phases of science. What if there be only one natural law manifesting itself, as yet, to us in many facets because we cannot apperceive the whole, of which we have gained only the most elementary glimpses, with which we can cope only at the crudest level?

And are those still other doors, yet undefined, on down the corridor?

"If you disbelieved what science said was true, where were you? And if it might not be true, why was it said?" "The essence of E science, that any requirement outside of his own making didn't exist."

"That kind of mind (extrapolator) could not tolerate barriers, but spent itself constantly destroying them. Erect barriers of triviality, and it would waste its substance upon trivial matters."

"... would regard the absolutely true facts proved beyond question by science with an attitude of skepticism, temporarily accepting the uncontestably immutable as only provisionary, and probably quite wrong."

"Disregard everything everybody has ever said; to start out from scratch as if nobody had ever had the sense to think about the problem before; to doubt most of all the opinion of the experts, for, obviously, if the experts were right then there would be no problem."

"You tackle something outside the normal frame of reference, something that requires the E kind of thinking. You brought it off successfully."

"...an example of the way petty restrictions can bring a fine mind down to trivial problems."

"Anything is magic if you don't understand how it happens, and science if you do."

"An alien coordinate system, never before encountered by man. But how to get hold of it? How to reconcile with it? Coexist with it? ... Never before encountered by man?"

"Organized protoplasmic life? Felt close to a solution, or at least an understanding of the nature of the problem, which is the first step toward solution. Non-protoplasmic life?

"Man manipulated natural laws by use of tools and materials, but he doesn't suspend them. Without tools, at least tools we can perceive (have perceived) - -"

"But answers also carry in themselves their commands and their penalties. The penalty being that when one thinks one has the answer, he stops looking for it. The command being that he must conduct himself in accord with the answer."

"Man was still tortured by his determination to be the center of things, himself the fixed absolute."

"If you were lonely, if you had searched through the years for companionship, and thought you might have found it, would it please you to have that companionship drop to his knees, grovel before you? Would this be your idea of companionship? What manner of monstrous egotism would require that?"

"Rightness and goodness, wrongness and evil, these could not possibly be other than assessments of furtherance or threat to the ascendancy of me-and-mine at the center of things, and had no meaning beyond that context."

"It is a law of the nature of man that he will resist the ascendancy of any special me-and-mine group over him; that this resistance will grow until man will even destroy himself in the attempt to defeat that ascendancy."

Source: Mark Clifton, Eight Keys to Eden, Doubleday, NY, 1960

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