“A day came when I should have died, and after that nothing seemed very important. So I have stayed as I am, without regret, separated from the normal human condition.”
“Too many people learn about war with no inconvenience to themselves. They read about Verdun or Stalingrad without comprehension, sitting in a comfortable armchair, with their feet beside the fire, preparing to go about their business the next day, as usual.
One should really read such accounts under compulsion, in discomfort, considering oneself fortunate not to be describing the events in a letter home, writing from a hole in the mud. One should read about war in the worst circumstances, when everything is going badly, remembering that the torments of peace are trivial, and not worth any white hairs. Nothing is really serious in the tranquility of peace; only an idiot could be really disturbed by a question of salary.
One should read about war standing up, late at night, when one is tired, as I am writing about it now, at dawn, while my asthma attack wears off. And even now, in my sleepless exhaustion, how gentle and easy peace seems!”
“Then there was the war, and I married it because there was nothing else when I reached the age of falling in love.”
“War always reaches the depths of horror because of idiots who perpetuate terror from generation to generation under the pretext of vengeance.”
“A day came when I should have died,
and after than nothing seemed very important,
so I stayed as I am, without regret
separated from the normal human condition.”
“Only the victors have stories to tell. We, the vanquished, were all cowards and weaklings by then, whose memories, fears, and enthusiasms should not be remembered.”
“Abandoned by a God in whom many of us believed, we lay prostrate and dazed in our demi-tomb. From time to time, one of us would look over the parapet to stare across the dusty plain into the east, from which death might bear down on us at any moment. We felt like lost souls, who had forgotten that men are made for something else, that time exists, and hope, and sentiments other than anguish; that friendship can be more than ephemeral, that love can sometimes occur, that the earth can be productive, and used for something other than burying the dead.”
“What happened next? I retain nothing from those terrible minutes except indistinct memories which flash into my mind with sudden brutality, like apparitions, among bursts and scenes and visions that are scarcely imaginable. It is difficult even to even to try to remember moments during which nothing is considered, foreseen, or understood, when there is nothing under a steel helmet but an astonishingly empty head and a pair of eyes which translate nothing more than would the eyes of an animal facing mortal danger. There is nothing but the rhythm of explosions, more or less distant, more or less violent, and the cries of madmen, to be classified later, according to the outcome of the battle, as the cries of heroes or of murderers. And there are the cries of the wounded, of the agonizingly dying, shrieking as they stare at a part of their body reduced to pulp, the cries of men touched by the shock of battle before everybody else, who run in any and every direction, howling like banshees. There are the tragic, unbelievable visions, which carry from one moment of nausea to another: guts splattered across the rubble and sprayed from one dying man to another; tightly riveted machines ripped like the belly of a cow which has just been sliced open, flaming and groaning; trees broken into tiny fragments; gaping windows pouring out torrents of billowing dust, dispersing into oblivion all that remains of a comfortable parlor...”
“The problems I had existed before I did, and I discovered them.”
“It is a mistake to use intense words without carefully weighing and measuring them, or they will have already been used when one needs them later.”
“No time to spare: the expression assumed its full significance, as so many expressions do in wartime.”
“Only victors have stories to tell,
we the vanquished were then thought of
as cowards and weaklings whose memories
and fears should not be remembered.”
“Men who have embraced one idea can live only by and for that idea. Beyond it, they have nothing but their memories.”
“Peace has brought me many pleasures, but nothing as powerful as that passion for survival in wartime, that faith in love, and that sense of absolutes. It often strikes me with horror that peace is really extremely monotonous. During the terrible moments of war one longs for peace with a passion that is painful to bear. But in peacetime one should never, even for an instant, long for war!”
“Why do you guys want to take all the mystery away? Isn't the mystery an exciting part of sex?”
“innovators need to be disagreeable. By disagreeable, I don’t mean obnoxious or unpleasant. I mean that on that fifth dimension of the Big Five personality inventory, “agreeableness,” they tend to be on the far end of the continuum. They are people willing to take social risks—to do things that others might disapprove of.”
“Well, that was easy,' I whisper as we follow the little signs with arrows that lead toward room 126. 'No, that was very dangerous and daring, and it was only through my extreme charm that we pulled it off.”
“Do not chase boys. Chasing boys is bad. Chasing boys can lead to horrible things like mansions going up into flames, hand amputations, and blindness. So have some self respect and don't let things get too far before the wedding day.”
“My fantasy life. Without it I'm afraid to exist.”
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