War and Peace

53 If everyone fought only for his own convictions, there would be no wars.

p. 745 Better quarters could have been found for him, but Marshal Davoud was one of those men who purposely put themselves in the most dismal conditions in order to have a justification for being morose. For the same reason they are always hard at work and in a hurry. "How can I think of the bright side of life when, as you see, I am sitting on a keg in a dirty shed and working?" the expression of his face seemed to say. The chief satisfaction and need of such people is to make a display of their own dreary, persistent activity whenever they encounter anyone who is enjoying life.

776 A good commander not only has no need of any special qualities but, on the contrary, is better for the lack of the highest, finest human attributes--love, poetic feelings, tenderness, and a philosophical, inquiring skepticism. He should be limited, and firmly convinced that what he is doing is of great importance (otherwise he will not have sufficient perseverance), for only then will he be an intrepid leader. God forbid that he should be humane, feel love or compassion, think of what is right or wrong. It is understandable that as far back as ancient times this theory of their 'genius' was devised for them: they represent power. The success of military action depends not on them, but on the man who shouts: 'We are lost!' or 'Hurrah!' And only in the ranks can one serve with the assurance of being useful.

824 There are always so many conjectures as to the issue of any event that, whatever the outcome, there will always be people to say: "I said then that it would be so," quite forgetting that among their innumerable conjectures many were to the very opposite effect.

1208 ...the craving for positive happiness is implanted in us only to torment us without ever being satisfied.

1266 He had learned that just as there is no condition in which man can be happy and entirely free, so there is no condition in which he need be unhappy and not free. He learned that suffering and freedom have their limits and that those limits are soon reached; that a man lying on a bed of roses suffered as much from one crumpled petal as he suffered now from sleeping on the bare damp earth....

1285 When a man sees a dying animal he is seized with horror: substance similar to his own is patently extinguished before his eyes--ceases to exist. But when the dying creature is human, and a loved one, besides this horror in the presence of the extinction of life there is a rupture and a spiritual wound which, like a physical wound, is sometimes mortal, sometimes heals, but always aches and shrinks from any external, exacerbating touch.

1286 But pure and perfect sorrow is as impossible as pure and perfect joy.

1354 If we concede that human life can be governed by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.


And yet I could give no reasonable meaning to any actions of my life. And I was surprised that I had not understood this from the very beginning. My state of mind was as if some wicked and stupid jest was being played upon me by some one. One can live only so long as one is intoxicated, drunk with life; but when one grows sober one cannot fail to see that it is all a stupid cheat. What is truest about it is that there is nothing even funny or silly in it; it is cruel and stupid, purely and simply.