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Random Utterances

Things read or heard that are worth remembering.

Try not to be an asshole.

—tMG | "Short Song for Justin Bieber and His Paparazzi"

Danger, cannonballs, bullets were what he needed in his wrathful state. One of the first bullets killed him, and the bullets that followed killed many of his soldiers. And for some time his division went on standing uselessly under fire.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 999

There are not and cannot be any causes of a historical event, except for the one cause of all causes. But there are laws that govern events, which are partly unknown, partly groped for by us. The discovery of these laws is possible only when we wholly give up looking for causes in the will of one man, just as discovering the laws of planetary movement became possible only when people gave up the notion that the earth stood still.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 987

The totality of causes of phenomena is inaccessible to the human mind. But the need to seek causes has been put into the soul of man. And the human mind, without grasping in their countlessness and complexity the conditions of phenomena, of which each separately may appear as a cause, takes hold of the first, most comprehensible approximation and says: here is the cause.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 987

Clarity suddenly came to his soul, and the curtain that until then had concealed the unknown was raised before his inner gaze. He felt the release of a force that previously had been as if bound in him and that strange lightness which from then on did not leave him.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 985

These thoughts seemed comforting to him. But they were only thoughts. Something was lacking in them, there was something one-sidedly personal, cerebral—there was no evidence. And there was the same uneasiness and vagueness.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 984

He did not and could not understand the meaning of words taken separately from speech. Each of his words and each of his acts was the manifestation of an activity he knew nothing about, which was his life. But his life, as he looked at, had no meaning as a separate life. It had meaning only as part of the whole, which he constantly sensed. His words and acts poured out of him as evenly, necessarily, and immediately as fragrance comes from a flower. He was unable to understand either the value or the meaning of a word or act taken separately.

—Leo Tolstoy | War and Peace | trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky | p. 974

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”

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

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