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In our buildings and music, beauty was always present even if I didn’t notice. Orolo was on to something; when I saw any of those kinds of beauty I knew I was alive, and not just in the sense that when I hit my thumb with a hammer I knew I was alive, but rather in the sense that I was partaking of something–something was passing through me that it was in my nature to be a part of. This was both a good reason not to die and a hint that death might not be everything. I knew I was perilously close to Deolater territory now. But because people could be so beautiful it was hard not to think that there was something of people that came from the other world that Cnoüs had seen through the clouds.

Neal Stephenson, Anathem

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