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Random Utterances

Things read or heard that are worth remembering.

It must be confessed that, for the most part, this literature has not the slightest value.

—Stepniak | Underground Russia Peter Lavroff | Preface | p. v

On the day that I forget you, I hope my heart explodes.

—tMG | Full Force Galesburg | “Twin Human Highway Flares”

On the day that I become so forgetful that all of this melts away, I will burn all the calendars that counted the years down to such a worthless day.

—tMG | Full Force Galesburg | “Twin Human Highway Flares”

There are countries out there where people speak English. But not like us—we have our own languages hidden in our carry-on luggage, in our cosmetics bags, only ever using English when we travel, and then only in foreign countries, to foreign people. It’s hard to imagine, but English is their real language! Oftentimes their only language. They don’t have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt.

How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all the lyrics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures—even the elevator buttons!—are in their private language. They may be understood by anyone at any moment, whenever they open their mouths. They must have to write things down in special codes. Wherever they are, people have unlimited access to them—they are accessible to everyone and everything! I heard there are plans in the works to get them some little language of their own, one of those dead ones no one else is using anyway, just so that for once they can have something just for themselves.

—Olga Tokarczuk | Bieguni | trans. Jennifer Croft | Excerpt

All those times they thought you were praying, Tom, you should have been praying.

—Casiotone for the Painfully Alone | Vs. Children | “Tom Justice, The Choir Boy Robber, Apprehended at Ace Hardware in Libertyville, IL”

‘Where there’s law, there’s lies,’ the little man put in.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 970

Ça leur apprendra à incendier,’ someone among the Frenchmen said. Pierre glanced around at the speaker and saw that it was a soldier who wanted to comfort himself at least somehow for what had been done, but could not. Without finishing what he was saying, he waved his arm and walked away.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 968

We are as gods and might as well get used to it.

—Stewart Brand | Whole Earth Catalog | “Purpose”

In historical events what is most obvious is the prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Only unconscious activity bears fruit, and a man who plays a role in a historical event never understands its significance. If he attempts to understand it, he is struck with fruitlessness.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 944

There was nothing terrible about a small, distant fire in a huge city.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 913

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