Lyra's heart was thumping hard, because something in the bear's presence made her feel close to coldness, danger, brutal power, but a power controlled by intelligence; and not a human intelligence, nothing like a human, because of course bears had no daemons. This strange hulking presence gnawing its meat was like nothing she had ever imagined, and she felt a profound admiration and pity for the lonely creature.
"We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not," said the witch, "or die of despair.
... men pass in front of our eyes like butterflies, creatures of a brief season. We love them; they are brave, proud, beautiful, clever; and they die almost at once. They die so soon that our hearts are continually racked with pain.
Human beings can't see anything without wanting to destroy it, Lyra. That's original sin.
It is the Magisterium, the Church. For all its history--and that's not long by our lives, but it's many, many of theirs--it's tried to suppress and control every natural impulse. And when it can't control them, it cuts them out. Some of you have seen what they did at Bolvangar. And that was horrible, but it is not the only such place, not the only such practice. Sisters, you know only the north; I have traveled in the south lands. There are churches there, believe me, that cut their children too, as the people of Bolvangar did--not in the same way, but just as horribly. They cut their sexual organs, yes, both boys and girls; they cut them with knives so that they shan't feel. That is what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling. So if a war comes, and the Church is on one side of it, we must be on the other, no matter what strange allies we find ourselves bound to.
And she sobbed so passionately he thought that hearts really did break, and hers was breaking now, for she fell to the ground wailing and shuddering, and Pantalaimon beside her became a wolf and howled with bitter grief.
"There are two great powers," the man said, "and they've been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.
She seemed younger than Mary herself, though Lyra had said she was hundreds of years old; the only hint of age came in her expression, which was full of a complicated sadness.
... She said that all the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity. She and the rebel angels, the followers of wisdom, have always tried to open minds; the Authority and his churches have always tried to keep them closed. She gave me many examples from my world."
"I can think of many from mine."
"And for most of that time, wisdom has had to work in secret, whispering her words, moving like a spy through the humble places of the world while the courts and palaces are occupied by her enemies."
And at the word alone, Will felt a great wave of rage and despair moving outward from a place deep within him, as if his mind were an ocean that some profound convulsion had disturbed. All his life he'd been alone, and now he must be alone again, and this infinitely precious blessing that had come to him must be taken away almost at once. He felt the wave build higher and steeper to darken the sky, he felt the crest tremble and begin to spill, he felt the great mass crashing down with the whole weight of the ocean behind it against the iron-bound coast of what had to be. And he found himself gasping and shaking and crying aloud with more anger and pain than he had ever felt in his life, and he found Lyra just as helpless in his arms. But as the wave expended its force and the waters withdrew, the bleak rocks remained; there was no arguing with fate; neither his despair nor Lyra's had moved them a single inch.
He meant the Kingdom was over, the Kingdom of Heaven, it was all finished. We shouldn't live as if it mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place."
"Seems to me--" Lee said, feeling for the words, "seems to me the place you fight cruelty is where you find it, and the place you give help is where you see it needed.
"Mrs. Coulter, I am a king, but it's my proudest task to join Lord Asriel in setting up a world where there are no kingdoms at all. No kings, no bishops, no priests. The Kingdom of Heaven has been known by that name since the Authority first set himself above the rest of the angels. And we want no part of it. This world is different. We intend to be free citizens of the Republic of Heaven."
And slander's what it is; you made this world, and it's lovely, every inch of it. When I think of the things I've loved I find myself choking with happiness, or maybe sorrow, I don't know; and every one of them has been something in this world that you made. If anyone can smell frying fish on an evening by the lake, or feel a cool breeze on a hot day, or see a little animal trying to run around and tumbling over and getting up again, or kiss a pair of soft and willing lips, if anyone can feel those things and still maintain they're nothing but crude imperfect copies of something much better in another world, they are slandering you, Lord, as surely as words mean anything at all. But then they don't think words do mean anything; they're just tokens to play sophisticated games with. Truth is this, and truth is that, and what is truth anyway, and on and on they go, these bloodless phantoms. 193
Is that what you're saying to me? That when I hear the wind, I hear your voice? When I look at the stars I see your writing, or in the bark of a tree, or the ripples in the sand at the edge of the water? Lovely things, yes, all of them, no doubt about that, but why did you make them so hard to read? Who can translate them for us? You conceal yourself in enigmas and riddles. Can I believe that the Lord God would behave like one of those philosophers and say things in order to baffle and confuse? No, I can't believe it. Why do you treat your people like this? The God who made water to be clear and sweet and fresh wouldn't fill it with mud before giving it to his children to drink. So, what's the answer? These things are full of your words, and we just have to persevere till we can read them? Or they're blank and meaningless? Which is it? 194-195
Does the tree say to the sparrow "Get out, you don't belong here?" Does the tree say to the hungry man "This fruit is not for you?" Does the tree test the loyalty of the beasts before it allows them into the shade? 200
You thought we could get on without you; no—you didn't care whether we got on without you or not. You just got up and left. So that's what we're doing, we're getting on. I'm part of the world, and I love every grain of sand and blade of grass and drop of blood in it. There might as well not be anything else, because these things are enough to gladden the heart and calm the spirit; and we know they delight the body. 200