"In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence. Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceeding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable - which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous ressemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us.
Maybe I should have said we are like planets. But then I would have lost some of the point of saying that we are like civilizations. The planets may have been sloughed from the same star, but still the historical dimension is missing from that simile, and it is true that we all do live in the ruins of the lives of other generations, so there is a seeming continuity which is important because it deceives us."
Marilynne Robinson a Gilead (2004)