Quotations about   collapse

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Why weren’t these problems obvious to the Maya kings, who could surely see their forests vanishing and their hills becoming eroded? Part of the reason was that the kings were able to insulate themselves from problems afflicting the rest of society. By extracting wealth from commoners, they could remain well fed while everyone else was slowly starving. What’s more, the kings were occupied with their own power struggles. They had to concentrate on fighting one another and keeping up their images through ostentatious displays of wealth. By insulating themselves in the short run from the problems of society, the elite merely bought themselves the privilege of being among the last to starve.

Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond (b. 1937) American geographer, historian, ornithologist, author
“The Ends of the World as We Know Them,” New York Times (1 Jan 2005)
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Added on 21-Jun-22 | Last updated 21-Jun-22
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In fact, one of the main lesson to be learned from the collapses of the Maya, Anasazi, Easter Islanders, and those other past societies (as well as from the recent collapse of the Soviet Union) is that a society’s steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the society reaches its peak numbers, wealth, and power. […] The reason is simple: maximum population, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production mean maximum environmental impact, approaching the limit where impact outstrips resources. On reflection, it’s no surprise that declines of societies tend to follow swiftly on their peaks.

Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond (b. 1937) American geographer, historian, ornithologist, author
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Part 4, ch. 16 (2005)
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Added on 18-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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He bent drooping his head to one side, as a garden poppy
bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime;
so his head bent slack to one side beneath the helm’s weight.

[Μήκων δ’ ὡς ἑτέρωσε κάρη βάλεν, ἥ τ’ ἐνὶ κήπῳ
καρπῷ βριθομένη νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσιν,
ὣς ἑτέρωσ’ ἤμυσε κάρη πήληκι βαρυνθέν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 8, l. 306ff (8.306-308) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Lattimore (1951)]
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Describing the death of Gorgythion, son of Priam.

Alt. trans.:
And, as a crimson poppy flow’r, surchargéd with his seed,
And vernal humours falling thick, declines his heavy brow,
So, of one side, his helmet’s weight his fainting head did bow.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 265-67]

As full-blown poppies, overcharged with rain,
Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain, --
So sinks the youth; his beauteous head, depressed
Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

As in the garden, with the weight surcharged
Of its own fruit, and drench’d by vernal rains
The poppy falls oblique, so he his head
Hung languid, by his helmet’s weight depress’d.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 351ff]

And as a poppy, which in the garden is weighed down with fruit and vernal showers, droops its head to one side, so did his head incline aside, depressed by the helmet.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Down sank his head, as in a garden sinks
A ripen'd poppy charg'd with vernal rains;
So sank his head beneath his helmet's weight.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 349-51]

Now he bowed his head as a garden poppy in full bloom when it is weighed down by showers in spring -- even thus heavy bowed his head beneath the weight of his helmet.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

And he bowed his head to one side like a poppy that in a garden is laden with its fruit and the rains of spring; so bowed he to one side his head, laden with his helmet.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Fallen on one side, as on the stalk a poppy falls, weighed down by showring spring, beneath his helmet's weight his head sank down.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

As a garden poppy, burst into red bloom, bends
by its full seeds and a sudden spring shower,
so Gorgythion's head fell limp over one shoulder,
weighed down by his helmet.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 349-53]

Off to one side his head he let drop, like a poppy that in some
garden is heavy with its own seed and the showers of springtime --
so to one side did his head incline, weighed down by his helmet.
[tr. Merrill (2007), ll. 306-08]
Added on 14-Oct-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.

William James (Will) Durant (1885-1981) American historian, teacher, philosopher
The Story of Civilization, Vol. 3: Caesar and Christ (1944)
Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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When a man feels that he cannot leave his work, it is a sure sign of an impending collapse. … When men are so tired, they cannot be trusted in their business judgment and cannot properly tend to their affairs.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Letter to Alfred Brandeis (8 Mar 1897)
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Added on 23-Sep-14 | Last updated 23-Sep-14
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I should mention that there had been many floating castles before the Interregnum. I guess the spell isn’t all that difficult, if you care to put enough work into it in the first place. The reason that they are currently out of vogue is the Interregnum itself. One day, over four hundred years ago now, sorcery stopped working … just like that. If you look around in the right places in the countryside you will still find broken husks and shattered remnants of what were once floating castles.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Jhereg, ch. 7 (1983)
Added on 25-Aug-14 | Last updated 25-Aug-14
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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“The Second Coming,” ll.1-8 (1920)
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More examination of this quotation: The Best Lack All Conviction While the Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity – Quote Investigator. See also Russell and Bukowski.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-21
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One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
The Conquest of Happiness, ch. 5 (1930)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Feb-21
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