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  1. The Consultation H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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"That is all very well," said Sir Richmond in the resolute voice of one who will be pent no longer. "That is all very well as far as it goes. But it does not cover my case. I am not suffering from inadaptation. I HAVE adapted. I have thought things out. I think--much as you do. Much as you do. So it's not that. But-- . . . Mind you, I am perfectly clear where I am. Where we are. What is happening to us all is the breakup of the entire system. Agreed! We have to make another system or perish amidst the wreckage. I see that clearly. Science and plan have to replace custom and tradition in human affairs. Soon. Very soon. Granted. Granted. We used to say all that. Even before the war. Now we mean it. We've muddled about in the old ways overlong. Some new sort of world, planned and scientific, has to be got going. Civilization renewed. Rebuilding civilization--while the premises are still occupied and busy. It's an immense enterprise, but it is the only thing to be done. In some ways it's an enormously attractive enterprise. Inspiring. It grips my imagination. I think of the other men who must be at work. Working as I do rather in the dark as yet. With whom I shall presently join up. . . The attempt may fail; all things human may fail; but on the other hand it may succeed. I never had such faith in anything as I have in the rightness of the work I am doing now. I begin at that. But here is where my difficulty comes in. The top of my brain, my innermost self says all that I have been saying, but-- The rest of me won't follow. The rest of me refuses to attend, forgets, straggles, misbehaves."

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The word irritated Sir Richmond. "Not 'exactly' at all. 'Amazingly,' if you like. . . . I have this unlimited faith in our present tremendous necessity--for work--for devotion; I believe my share, the work I am doing, is essential to the whole thing--and I work sluggishly. I work reluctantly. I work damnably."

"Exact--" The doctor checked himself . "All that is explicable. Indeed it is. Listen for a moment to me! Consider what you are. Consider what we are. Consider what a man is before you marvel at his ineptitudes of will. Face the accepted facts. Here is a creature not ten thousand generations from the ape, his ancestor. Not ten thousand. And that ape again, not a score of thousands from the monkey, his forebear. A man's body, his bodily powers, are just the body and powers of an ape, a little improved, a little adapted to novel needs. That brings me to my point. CAN HIS MIND AND WILL BE ANYTHING BETTER? For a few generations, a few hundreds at most, knowledge and wide thought have flared out on the darknesses of life. . . . But the substance of man is ape still. He may carry a light in his brain, but his instincts move in the darkness. Out of that darkness he draws his motives."

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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