If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Category: General

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

The mechanism of life, the arrangement of the day so as to be in time everywhere, absorbed the greater part of his vital energy. He did nothing, did not even think or find time to think, but only talked, and talked successfully, of what he had thought while in the country.

He sometimes noticed with dissatisfaction that he repeated the same remark on the same day in different circles. But he was so busy for whole days together that he had no time to notice that he was thinking of nothing.

Advertisements

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

“…And the main thing is,” he continued, “that I know, and know for certain, that the enjoyment of doing this good is the only sure happiness in life.”

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

“One thing I thank God for is that I did not kill that man,” said Pierre.
“Why so?” asked Prince Andrew. “To kill a vicious dog is a very good thing really.”
“No, to kill a man is bad–wrong.”
“Why is it wrong?” urged Prince Andrew. “It is not given to man to know what is right and what is wrong. Men always did and always will err, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

No matter what he thought about, he always returned to these same questions which he could not solve and yet could not cease to ask himself. It was as if the thread of the chief screw which held his life together were stripped, so that the screw could not get in or out, but went turning uselessly in the same place.

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

“Who is right and who is wrong? No one! But if you are alive–live: tomorrow you’ll die as I might have died an hour ago. And is it worth tormenting oneself, when one has only a moment of life in comparison with eternity?”

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the struggle of the Frenchmen with the gunners ended, whether the red-haired gunner had been killed or not and whether the cannon had been captured or saved. But he saw nothing. Above him there was now nothing but the sky–the lofty sky, not clear yet still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds gliding slowly across it. “How quiet, peaceful, and solemn; not at all as I ran,” thought Prince Andrew–“not as we ran, shouting and fighting, not at all as the gunner and the Frenchman with frightened and angry faces struggled for the mop: how differently do those clouds glide across that lofty infinite sky! How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity, all falsehood, except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing, but that. But even it does not exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace.”

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

Weyrother evidently felt himself to be at the head of a movement that had become unrestrainable. He was like a horse running downhill harnessed to a heavy cart. Whether he was pulling it or being pushed by it he did not know, but rushed along at headlong speed with no time to consider what this movement might lead to.

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

“I am very sorry you did not find me in yesterday. I was fussing about with Germans all day. We went with Weyrother to survey the dispositions. When Germans start being accurate, there’s no end to it!”

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

Bilíbin liked conversation as he liked work, only when it could be made elegantly witty. In society he always awaited an opportunity to say something striking and took part in a conversation only when that was possible. His conversation was always sprinkled with wittily original, finished phrases of general interest. These sayings were prepared in the inner laboratory of his mind in a portable form as if intentionally, so that insignificant society people might carry them from drawing room to drawing room.

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

He was one of those, who, liking work, knew how to do it, and despite his indolence would sometimes spend a whole night at his writing table. He worked equally well whatever the import of his work. It was not the question “What for?” but the question “How?” that interested him.