Ever since reading Dune 📖 by Frank Herbert 📖 I’ve loved epigraphs. In that novel, the epigraphs are quotes from fictional works written within the Dune universe. Below are quotes that I’ve gathered, and in some cases, I’ve used as epigraphs throughout Take on Rules. Where applicable, I link to the page (or pages) of Take on Rules that include those quotes as epigraphs.

We choose—or choose not—to be alone when we decide whom we will accept as our fellows, and whom we will reject. Thus an eremite in a mountain cave is in company, because the birds and coneys, the initiates whose words live in his “forest books,” and the winds—the messengers of the Increate—are his companions. Another man, living in the midst of millions, may be alone, because there are none but enemies and victims around him.
, The Citadel of the Autarch
:: On Gathering an Online Group for Gaming
      Of seed
   To leafling
So tall
   Now fallen
      Again soil
, Day of the Tree
:: The Kvarzflett - A “Stars without Number” Sophont
When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.
:: Recontextualizing my Relationship with Burning Wheel
Prophecy is a kind of speaking that is out of time, out of joint, producing a kind of disjunction in the flow of time, in the usual order of succession. The past happens right now in an action that shapes the future.

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

There must be in-groups whom the law protectes but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

There is nothing more or else to it, and there never has been, in any place or time.

For millenia, conservatism had no name, because no other model of polity had ever been proposed. “The king can do no wrong.” In practice, this immunity was always extended to the king’s friends, however fungible a group they might have been. Today, we still have the king’s friends even where there is no king (dictator, etc.). Another way to look at this is that the king is a faction, rather than an individual.

As the core proposition of conservatism is indefensible if stated baldly, it has always been surrounded by an elaborate backwash of pseudophilosophy, amounting over time to millions of pages. All such is axiomatically dishonest and undeserving of serious scrutiny. Today, the accelerating de-education of humanity has reached a point where the market for pseudophilosophy is vanishing; it is, as The Kids Say These Days, tl;dr . All that is left is the core proposition itself — backed up, no longer by misdirection and sophistry, but by violence.

I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract
Explain the change, the difference between
What you want and what you need, there's the key
Your adventure for today, what do you do
Between the horns of the day
, I Believe
:: Separated from the Cadence of Life
In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
, Proverbs of Hell
:: “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk
Theater at its best somehow allows us to become ecstatically stretched out into another time in another space, another way of experiencing things in the world.
:: Listening to Phil Dragash's reading of “The Lord of the Rings”
We need a Christian and a pagan schooling; from the one we gain profit for the soul, from the other we learn the witchery of words.
, Landatio Marciani Secunda
Myth is a tear in the fabric of reality, and immense energies pour through these holy fissures. Our stories, our poems, are rips in this fabric as well, however slight.
:: What Do We Lose When We Sack Libraries?
:: The Open Gaming License and Potential Attempt at Revocation
One of the privileges novelists enjoy is creating characters who kill off those of the historians. The reason is that historians call up mere ghosts while novelists create people in flesh and blood.
:: The Steadfastness and Mutability of Fiction
Anything that passes through memory becomes fiction.
Any sufficiently advanced hobby is indistinguishable from work.
:: Using Emacs While Running Online Games
:: Using Ruby to Merge Traveller and Stars without Number System Generators
We may no longer believe in our myths, but we have to pay a price for not believing in them.
Speech is a powerful lord who can defend the seemingly indefensible.
This is the enigma of ideology. It operates behind our backs and without our consent yet still requires our free action, our complicity with it. We know that ideology is not true, yet we still believe.
:: Ongoing Bad Faith Actions of Wizards of the Coast
The best song will never get sung
The best life never leaves your lungs
So good, you won't ever know
You'll never hear it on the radio
, The Late Greats
:: “Borges and Me: An Encounter” by Jay Parini
We live surrounded by ideas and objects infinitely more ancient than we imagine; and yet at the same time everything is in motion.
:: Revisiting Eberron: Why I am Excited to Explore the Campaign Setting
If it weren't for rationalization, sublimation, denial — all the little tricks we let ourselves perform — if instead we simply saw the world as it was, with nothing to protect us, honestly and courageously, it would break our hearts.
, Flights
Harsh combats will await us. But peace will return to this torn earth and to hearts tortured by hopes and memories. One cannot always live on murders and violence. Happiness and proper affection will have their time. But that peace will not find us forgetful. And for some among us, the faces of our brothers disfigured by bullets, the great virile brotherhood of recent years will never forsake us. May our dead comrades enjoy by themselves the peace that is promised us during this panting night, for they have already won it. Our fight will be theirs.
, The Liberation of Paris
:: Today Has Been a Hard Day
Manuscripts, after all, being only as safe as the libraries in which they reside, which is to say as safe cities in which the libraries reside, and as we know the cities of men are remarkably prone to destruction.
, The Three Rings
Thinner and thinner wears the cloth,
however; moths pass out of sight
beyond belief, their absence briefly
noted, if at all, as distant memory
half-forgotten grief.
, The Lost Spells
While I'm alive, I'll make tiny changes to earth.
, Head Rolls Off
Keeping the secret of ourselves from ourselves can be exhausting.
[I]t often seems to me that of all the good things in the world, the only ones humanity can claim for itself are stories and music; the rest, mercy, beauty, sleep, clean water and hot food…are all the work of the Increate. Thus, stories are small things indeed in the scheme of the universe, but it is hard not to love best what is our own…
, The Citadel of the Autarch
Failure is not punishment. Abandon that stance. Failure is a new obstacle that tightens the noose around the character's belief.
:: Burning Warhammer: The Captain and the Witch (Session 2)
Our reward systems spike not when we achieve what we are after but when we are in pursuit of it. It's the pursuit that makes a life in the pursuit that makes a plot. Without a goal to follow and at least some sense we're getting closer to it there's only disappointment, depression, and despair. A living death.
We should not forget that the concept of history as a progressive movement toward a better future is an invention of the Fathers of the Church—as in, from creation to redemption and then to the coming of Christ triumphant.
, On the Shoulders of Giants
But what if we proceed in a zigzag fashion, as in this maze, or within any labyrinthine structure? We wrinkle time, you see. Divagations! If we linger in these loopholes of history, these timeless tortuous stretches, perhaps we shall never come to the end, or if we do, we will find an opening there and start again.
Nothing is given to people, and the little they can conquer is paid for with unjust deaths. But a person's greatness lies elsewhere. It lies in their decision to be stronger than their condition. And if their condition is unjust, they have only one way of overcoming it, which is to be just themself.
, The Night of Truth
:: Letter Sent to Samvera Community in Regards to Github
Utnapishtim's face grew tight, then relaxed,
As when one is relieved of inner pain
By one who sees more deeply than oneself.
He looked at the younger man
Who had come into his consciousness. Youth is very
Cruel to an old face,
He said in a hushed voice.
It looks into its lines for wisdom
So touchingly
But there is nothing there to find.
Books are a uniquely portable magic.
, On Writing
:: “The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time” by David L. Ulin

Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.

Walker, there is no road, the road is made by walking.

:: Regarding Documentation: A Letter to My Earlier Selfs
What each of us can do in our multiple roles as Tops, Middles, Bottoms, and Customers to create a system with outstanding capacity to survive and develop.
:: “Total Systems Power” by Barry Oshry
In modern knowledge work, we've largely lost interest in moving boldly ahead, embracing the resulting hardships as the cost of doing business better than before. We still talk about “innovation” but this term now applies almost exclusively to the products and services we offer, not the means by which we produce them. When it comes to the latter topic, business thinkers tend to focus on secondary factors, like better leadership or clearer objectives to help stimulate productivity. Little attention is dedicated to the actual mechanics of how work is assigned, executed, and reviewed.
White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.
, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Standing there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that — in spite of all the risks involved — a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity.
, Flights
The map is not the territory.
:: Regarding Documentation: A Letter to My Earlier Selfs
Beware of rules and guidelines for the universe includes them but is not them.
Once the right number of words had been handed over to the hero we’d all be allowed to drink from the trench and I can’t see much in praise of the table manners on such occasions. There was a lot of pushing and shoving, and a lot of slurping and spilling; there were a lot of crimson chins. However, it was glorious to feel the blood coursing in our nonexistent veins again, if only for an instant.
, The Penelopiad

Prophets never come from within. All prophets must come from elsewhere, must suddenly appear, seem strange, out of the ordinary. Be shrouded in mystery, like the one the goyim have, even, of the virgin birth. A prophet has to walk differently, talk differently. Ideally he hails from some unimaginable locale, source of exotic words and untasted dishes and unsmelled smells-myrrh, oranges, bananas.

And yet a prophet must also be one of our own. Let him have at least a drop of our blood, let him be a distant relative of somebody we know, even if perhaps we've forgotten what they look like. God never speaks through our neighbor, through the guy we're in a fight with about the well, or the one whose wife attracts us with her charms.

It is a precarious existence. When you serve at the pleasure of the platforms, you can be de-platformed.
:: Deplatforming
Theater is the spectacle of politics looking at itself.
Even if you decide never to write a single line of a manuscript, you will improve your reading, thinking, and other intellectual skills just by doing everything as if nothing counts other than writing.
, How to Take Smart Notes
:: The Why and How of Yardoc
For the world is only a tissue of masks and veils; And when the veils are lifted, in birth or death or the other ecstasies, we look beyond them, and see faces that we already know, but cannot bear to look at for long.
:: “The Legend of Vortigern” by Simon Heywood
Drawn by the undertow
My life is out of control
I believe this wave will bear my weight
So let it flow
, Sit Down
As for sins, well, he knows more about them than anyone. Sins get written on the human body like on parchment. The parchment differs little from person to person. Their sins are surprisingly similar, too.
, The Book of Jacob
Disdain can kill, suspicions true or false
can bring down patience; and jealousy slays
with grim ferocity; long absence can
confound life; feared oblivion defeats
the surest hope for all a life of happiness.
, Don Quixote (translated by Edith Grossman)
Praise of the ancients was a way for innovators to justify their modern ways as approaches drawing on traditions their fathers had forgotten.
, On the Shoulders of Giants
I looked at the earth and all was silence.
Bodies lay like alewives dead
And in the clay.
Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past.
:: The Ruby Throne
Everyone wants to live in safe communities but when individuals and communities look to the police to solve their problems they are in essence mobilizing the machinery of their own oppression.
, The End of Policing
:: Let's Read “The End of Policing” by Alex S Vitale - Chapter 2 (Part 2)
So, we're now at the next phase of this game: maintaining these very complex systems is hard and not your core business, so outsource it (simplifying it would cost too many managers' jobs, so that is not an option). The Cloud was born, first as a marketing label for an old business model (offering “virtual private servers” to the public), but more and more as a marketing label for an even older business model (the mainframe - we run it, we own it, you lease capacity).
:: Technology Doomed to Repeat Itself
Now, in the semidarkness and the throng of guests, all names seem somehow fluid, interchangeable, secondary. After all, no mortal holds on to his name for very long.
, The Book of Jacob (translated by Jennifer Croft)
There are men who through the ownership of land, are able to make others pay for the privilege of being allowed to exist and to work. These landowners are idle, and I might therefore be expected to praise them. Unfortunately, their idleness is only rendered possible by the industry of others; indeed their desire for comfortable idleness is historically the source of the whole gospel of work. The last thing they have ever wished is that others should follow their example.
For being human holds special grief
Of privacy within the universe
That yearns and waits to be retouched
By someone who can take away
The memory of death
Just as a flower blooms, throws down its seed, dies, and rises from its seed to bloom again, so the universe we know diffuses itself to nullity in the infinitude of space, gathers its fragments (which because of the curvature of that space meet at last where they began) and from that seed blooms again. Each such cycle of flowering and decay marks a divine year.
:: “The Book of the New Sun” by Gene Wolfe
Journeys of discovery are not something you start doing, but something you gradually stop doing.
:: The Why of a Blog?
The horses showered the fine dry snow on the faces of those in the sledge — beside them sounded the quick ringing bells and they caught confused glimpses of swiftly moving legs and the shadows of the troyka they were passing. The whistling sound of the runners on the snow and the voices of girls shrieking, were heard from different sides. Again checking his horses, Nicholas looked around him. They were still surrounded by the magic plain bathed in moonlight and spangled in stars.
, War and Peace
:: Eager to Spill Ink
One that works themselves to tatters on minor details has no ability to handle the more vital issues.
Old gods are terrible to look at when
They weap, all bloated like spoiled fish.
One wonders if they ever understand
That they have caused their grief.
:: To Rob a Fox…
Not of mother nor of father was my creation.
I was made from the nine fold elements —
From fruit trees, from paradisal fruit,
From primroses and hill-flowers,
From the blossom of trees and bushes.
From the roots of the earth was I made,
From the broom and the nettle,
From the water of the ninth wave.
Math enchanted me before I was made
Gwydion created me with his magic wand.
From Emrys and Euryon, from Mabon and
From five fifties of magicians was I made —
Made by the master in his highest ecstasy —
By the wisest of druids before the world
I know star-knowledge from the beginning of
, The Book of Celtic Verse (translated by John Matthews)
Readers become invisible, even to themselves. Only the story lives. It's the fate of the writer, yes, as well, to disappear.
And when a groups collective status feels threatened and they fear even the possibility of humiliation by another group, the result can be massacre, crusade, and genocide.
I'm confident that the experience of immersion in a world made of words will survive if and only if readers continue to carve out places and times to have words with one another.
:: The Why of a Blog?
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.
, Slowness
:: Slowing Down to Synthesize
:: The Why and How of Yardoc
There before Argoed Llwyfain,
An abundance of corpses,
Crows red with warriors' blood,
As the people marched with their lord.
I shall plan a whole year for my victory song.
, The Book of Taliesin
History is not only the midwife of the universal, it is a bloody archive of the particulars…
:: Happy 10th Birthday Take on Rules
:: Regarding Documentation: A Letter to My Earlier Selfs
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.
, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
:: Tangents that Cling to Memory
The problem with freedom is that it encourages the license to do whatever one wishes, and this leads to a systemic confusion of public goods and private pleasures. In democracy, as a consequence, freedom rapidly descends into licentiousness and the gratification of private pleasures. And out of this many-colored populist chaos of desire emerged the figure of the tyrant, for whom political power and excessive private desire coincide. Tyranny flows from democracy because the tyrant is voted into office as he seems to offer everyone what they want.
If it had been possible for me to acquaint myself with all the works that has been done on so many subjects, I might have never reached the point of writing.
, Mimesis
:: Recent Readings and Serendipitous Pairings
The overall effect of storytelling around the fire was to convey the big picture of the group's existence.
:: The Why of a Blog?
He goes out at night with his big boots on
None of his friends know right from wrong
They kick a boy to death 'cause he don't belong
You've got to humanize yourself

A policeman put on his uniform
He'd like to have a gun just to keep him warm
Because violence here is a social norm
You've got to humanize yourself
, Rehumanize Yourself
:: Let's Read “The End of Policing” by Alex S Vitale
The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery.
Save some time to dream
Save some time for yourself
Don't let your time slip away
Or be stolen by somebody else
, Save Some Time to Dream
:: On Sharpening Your Tools
For Philosophy, ambiguity is a sign of crisis that has to be arrested and avoided through an appeal to some higher, ideal transcendental source of meaning or intelligibility they can be a basis for political authority. For tragedy, that crisis his life and has to be lived as such.
If you speak you die, if you do not speak you die, so speak and die.
, Review of Meursault's Investigation
:: Farewell Github Pages, Hello Nearly Free Speech
Some of the most most devastating acts of destruction acts of such destruction, it is worth noting, were inflicted on Byzantium, a Christian empire, not by the Muslims (as many people assume) but by the Christian armies of western Europe.
, The Three Rings
Stop hoping for happiness tomorrow. Happiness is being engaged in the process.
If being human is to mean anything at all in the Anthropocene, if we are going to refuse to let ourselves sink into the futility of life without memory, and we must not lose our few thousand years of hard won knowledge, accumulated at great cost and against great odds. We must not abandon the memory of the dead.
, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

“I haven't read [Don Quixote], Borges. I should have.”

“Yes, and yet, believe me, you will one day read it with a profound sense of recollection. That happens when you read a classic. It finds you where you have been.”

Notes aren’t a record of my thinking process. They are my thinking process.
Find what comes near to you that can be put to the use of weighing in considering, and that addresses you as though you share the one nature, free of time’s tyranny.
, How to Read and Why
We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life
, How to Read and Why
The moon’s my constant mistress
And the lovely owl my marrow;
The flaming drake and the night crow make
Me music to my sarrow.
, Tom o' Bedlam
To learn that a man has said or done a foolish thing is nothing: a man must learn that he is nothing but a fool, a much more ample, and important instruction.
, Of Experience
Nothing is worse than that assertion and decision should precede knowledge and perception.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind.
Long was he at work, and slow at first and barren was his labour. But he who sows lies in the end shall not lack a harvest, and soon he may rest from toil indeed while others reap and sow in his stead.
, The Silmarillion
But nobody gets a life time rehearsal
As specks of dust, we're universal
To let this love survive be the greatest gift we could give
, Love's Recovery
And if the whole world's singing your songs
And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours
Is everyone's from now on
And that's not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
You'll only get uptight
, What Light
:: The Open Gaming License and Potential Attempt at Revocation
It is necessary to be sometimes exclusive, not on behalf of rank or wealth, but of those human qualities that can apprehend loneliness.
, The Living Mountain
One cannot know the rivers till one has seen them at their sources; but this journey to the sources is not to be undertaken lightly. One walks among elementals, and elementals are not governable. They’re awakened also in onesself by the contact elementals that are as unpredictable as wind or snow.
, The Living Mountain
Admit the shame of who you are,
your crooked traits are now laid bare
and so are those deceits you cloak
when spending time with decent folk.
And if you deal in dirty business
check it’s done without a witness;
treachery becomes disgrace
when played out in a public place.
, The Owl and the Nightingale (translated by Simon Armitage)
:: On Safe Harbours, Shareholder Obligations, and Fey Contracts
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
:: Revisiting Section 15 Copyright Notice of the Open Game License
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
, The Annals of Imperial Rome
Trees are an invitation to think about time and to travel in it the way they do, by standing still and reaching out and down.
, Orwell’s Roses
Writing is a murky business: you are never entirely sure what you are doing or when it will be finished and whether you got it right and how it will be received months or years or decades after you finish. What it does, if it does anything, is largely imperceptible business that takes place in the minds of people you will mostly never see and never hear from (unless they want to argue with you).
, Orwell’s Roses
As a writer, you withdraw and disconnect yourself from the world in order to connect to it in the far-reaching way that is other people elsewhere reading the words that came together in a contemplative state.
, Orwell’s Roses
What is vivid in writing is not in how it hits the senses but what it does to th imagination; you can describe a battlefield, a birth, a muddy road, or a smell but it is still black letters on a white page, with no real blood or boiled cabbage.
, Orwell’s Roses
Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe.
, Paradise Lost
:: Enshittification Anti-Pattern and the Ongoing D&D Licensing Debacle
Your hands are empty
The streets are empty
You can't control us
You can't control us anymore
, When the Angels Fall
The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.
, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
Local wisdom gets no respect until it’s travelled a-ways.
, The Citadel of Forgotten Myths