Month: January 2024

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:57 am

“When you stand expecting the overstrained string to snap at any moment, when everyone is expecting the inevitable catastrophe, as many as possible must join hands as closely as they can to withstand the general calamity.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:45 am

“As the sun and each atom of ether is a sphere complete in itself, and yet at the same time only a part of a whole too immense for man to comprehend, so each individual has within himself his own aims and yet has them to serve a general purpose incomprehensible to man. A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people. A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers. A beekeeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey. Another beekeeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race. A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bee’s existence. Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee. But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern. The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes, that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension. All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life. And so it is with the purpose of historic characters and nations.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 8:50 am

“‘Chance created the situation; genius utilized it,’ says history. But what is chance? What is genius? The words chance and genius do not denote any really existing thing and therefore cannot be defined. Those words only denote a certain stage of understanding of phenomena. I do not know why a certain event occurs; I think that I cannot know it; so I do not try to know it and I talk about chance. I see a force producing effects beyond the scope of ordinary human agencies; I do not understand why this occurs and I talk of genius. To a herd of rams, the ram the herdsman drives each evening into a special enclosure to feed and that becomes twice as fat as the others must seem to be a genius. And it must appear an astonishing conjunction of genius with a whole series of extraordinary chances that this ram, who instead of getting into the general fold every evening goes into a special enclosure where there are oats—that this very ram, swelling with fat, is killed for meat. But the rams need only cease to suppose that all that happens to them happens solely for the attainment of their sheepish aims; they need only admit that what happens to them may also have purposes beyond their ken, and they will at once perceive a unity and coherence in what happened to the ram that was fattened. Even if they do not know for what purpose they are fattened, they will at least know that all that happened to the ram did not happen accidentally, and will no longer need the conceptions of chance or genius. Only by renouncing our claim to discern a purpose immediately intelligible to us, and admitting the ultimate purpose to be beyond our ken, may we discern the sequence of experiences in the lives of historic characters and perceive the cause of the effect they produce (incommensurable with ordinary human capabilities), and then the words chance and genius become superfluous.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)(emphases in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:59 am

“If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:51 am

“We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:30 am

“When two people quarrel they are always both in fault, and one’s own guilt suddenly becomes terribly serious when the other is no longer alive.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 8:48 am

“When seeing a dying animal a man feels a sense of horror: substance similar to his own is perishing before his eyes. But when it is a beloved and intimate human being that is dying, besides this horror at the extinction of life there is a severance, a spiritual wound, which like a physical wound is sometimes fatal and sometimes heals, but always aches and shrinks at any external irritating touch.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:18 am

“When it is impossible to stretch the very elastic threads of historical ratiocination any farther, when actions are clearly contrary to all that humanity calls right or even just, the historians produce a saving conception of ‘greatness.’ ‘Greatness,’ it seems, excludes the standards of right and wrong. For the ‘great’ man nothing is wrong, there is no atrocity for which a ‘great’ man can be blamed.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:32 am

“While imprisoned in the shed Pierre had learned not with his intellect but with his whole being, by life itself, that man is created for happiness, that happiness is within him, in the satisfaction of simple human needs, and that all unhappiness arises not from privation but from superfluity. And now during these last three weeks of the march he had learned still another new, consolatory truth—that nothing in this world is terrible. He had learned that 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 lack freedom. He learned that suffering and freedom have their limits and that those limits are very near together; that the person in a bed of roses with one crumpled petal suffered as keenly as he now, sleeping on the bare damp earth with one side growing chilled while the other was warming; and that when he had put on tight dancing shoes he had suffered just as he did now when he walked with bare feet that were covered with sores—his footgear having long since fallen to pieces. He discovered that when he had married his wife—of his own free will as it had seemed to him—he had been no more free than now when they locked him up at night in a stable. Of all that he himself subsequently termed his sufferings, but which at the time he scarcely felt, the worst was the state of his bare, raw, and scab-covered feet. (The horseflesh was appetizing and nourishing, the saltpeter flavor of the gunpowder they used instead of salt was even pleasant; there was no great cold, it was always warm walking in the daytime, and at night there were the campfires; the lice that devoured him warmed his body.) The one thing that was at first hard to bear was his feet. After the second day’s march Pierre, having examined his feet by the campfire, thought it would be impossible to walk on them; but when everybody got up he went along, limping, and, when he had warmed up, walked without feeling the pain, though at night his feet were more terrible to look at than before. However, he did not look at them now, but thought of other things. Only now did Pierre realize the full strength of life in man and the saving power he has of transferring his attention from one thing to another, which is like the safety valve of a boiler that allows superfluous steam to blow off when the pressure exceeds a certain limit.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 8:46 am

“A man in motion always devises an aim for that motion. To be able to go a thousand miles he must imagine that something good awaits him at the end of those thousand miles. One must have the prospect of a promised land to have the strength to move . . . and for a man going a thousand miles it is absolutely necessary to set aside his final goal and to say to himself: ‘Today I shall get to a place twenty-five miles off where I shall rest and spend the night,’ and during the first day’s journey that resting place eclipses his ultimate goal and attracts all his hopes and desires.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 9:01 am

“An apple should not be plucked while it is green. It will fall of itself when ripe, but if picked unripe the apple is spoiled, the tree is harmed, and your teeth are set on edge.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:45 am

“A superfluity of the comforts of life destroys all joy in satisfying one’s needs.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:11 am

“Man’s mind cannot grasp the causes of events in their completeness, but the desire to find those causes is implanted in man’s soul. And without considering the multiplicity and complexity of the conditions any one of which taken separately may seem to be the cause, he snatches at the first approximation to a cause that seems to him intelligible and says: ‘This is the cause!’ In historical events (where the actions of men are the subject of observation) the first and most primitive approximation to present itself was the will of the gods and, after that, the will of those who stood in the most prominent position—the heroes of history. But we need only penetrate to the essence of any historic event—which lies in the activity of the general mass of men who take part in it—to be convinced that the will of the historic hero does not control the actions of the mass but is itself continually controlled. It may seem to be a matter of indifference whether we understand the meaning of historical events this way or that.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:28 am

“Is it possible that the truth of life has been revealed to me only to show me that I have spent my life in falsity?” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:19 am

“It is natural for us who were not living in those days to imagine that when half Russia had been conquered and the inhabitants were fleeing to distant provinces, and one levy after another was being raised for the defense of the fatherland, all Russians from the greatest to the least were solely engaged in sacrificing themselves, saving their fatherland, or weeping over its downfall. The tales and descriptions of that time without exception speak only of the self-sacrifice, patriotic devotion, despair, grief, and the heroism of the Russians. But it was not really so. It appears so to us because we see only the general historic interest of that time and do not see all the personal human interests that people had. Yet in reality those personal interests of the moment so much transcend the general interests that they always prevent the public interest from being felt or even noticed. Most of the people at that time paid no attention to the general progress of events but were guided only by their private interests, and they were the very people whose activities at that period were most useful. Those who tried to understand the general course of events and to take part in it by self-sacrifice and heroism were the most useless members of society, they saw everything upside down, and all they did for the common good turned out to be useless and foolish.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 10:09 am

“Social class is probably the single most important variable in society. From womb to tomb, it correlates with almost all other social characteristics of people that we can measure. Affluent expectant mothers are more likely to get prenatal care, receive current medical advice, and enjoy general health, fitness, and nutrition. Many poor and working-class mothers-to-be first contact the medical profession in the last month, sometimes the last hours, of their pregnancies. Rich babies come out healthier and weighing more than poor babies. The infants go home to very different situations. Poor babies are more likely to have higher levels of poisonous lead in their environments and their bodies. Rich babies get more time and verbal interaction with their parents and higher quality day care when not with their parents. When they enter kindergarten, and through the twelve years that follow, rich children benefit from suburban schools that spend two to three times as much money per student as schools in inner cities or impoverished rural areas. Poor children are taught in classes that are often 50 percent larger than the classes of affluent children.” – James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:46 am

“Though tattered, hungry, worn out, and reduced to a third of their original number, the French entered Moscow in good marching order. It was a weary and famished, but still a fighting and menacing army. But it remained an army only until its soldiers had dispersed into their different lodgings. As soon as the men of the various regiments began to disperse among the wealthy and deserted houses, the army was lost forever and there came into being something nondescript, neither citizens nor soldiers but what are known as marauders. When five weeks later these same men left Moscow, they no longer formed an army. They were a mob of marauders, each carrying a quantity of articles which seemed to him valuable or useful. The aim of each man when he left Moscow was no longer, as it had been, to conquer, but merely to keep what he had acquired. Like a monkey which puts its paw into the narrow neck of a jug, and having seized a handful of nuts will not open its fist for fear of losing what it holds, and therefore perishes, the French when they left Moscow had inevitably to perish because they carried their loot with them, yet to abandon what they had stolen was as impossible for them as it is for the monkey to open its paw and let go of its nuts. Ten minutes after each regiment had entered a Moscow district, not a soldier or officer was left. Men in military uniforms and Hessian boots could be seen through the windows, laughing and walking through the rooms. In cellars and storerooms similar men were busy among the provisions, and in the yards unlocking or breaking open coach house and stable doors, lighting fires in kitchens and kneading and baking bread with rolled-up sleeves, and cooking; or frightening, amusing, or caressing women and children. There were many such men both in the shops and houses—but there was no army.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:57 am

“In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:57 am

“One need only admit that public tranquillity is in danger and any action finds a justification. All the horrors of the reign of terror were based only on solicitude for public tranquillity.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:11 am

“The spoken word is silver but the unspoken is golden. Man can be master of nothing while he fears death, but he who does not fear it possesses all. If there were no suffering, man would not know his limitations, would not know himself.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:31 am

“Absolute continuity of motion is not comprehensible to the human mind. Laws of motion of any kind become comprehensible to man only when he examines arbitrarily selected elements of that motion; but at the same time, a large proportion of human error comes from the arbitrary division of continuous motion into discontinuous elements. There is a well known, so-called sophism of the ancients consisting in this, that Achilles could never catch up with a tortoise he was following, in spite of the fact that he traveled ten times as fast as the tortoise. By the time Achilles has covered the distance that separated him from the tortoise, the tortoise has covered one tenth of that distance ahead of him: when Achilles has covered that tenth, the tortoise has covered another one hundredth, and so on forever. This problem seemed to the ancients insoluble. The absurd answer (that Achilles could never overtake the tortoise) resulted from this: that motion was arbitrarily divided into discontinuous elements, whereas the motion both of Achilles and of the tortoise was continuous. By adopting smaller and smaller elements of motion we only approach a solution of the problem, but never reach it. Only when we have admitted the conception of the infinitely small, and the resulting geometrical progression with a common ratio of one tenth, and have found the sum of this progression to infinity, do we reach a solution of the problem. A modern branch of mathematics having achieved the art of dealing with the infinitely small can now yield solutions in other more complex problems of motion which used to appear insoluble. This modern branch of mathematics, unknown to the ancients, when dealing with problems of motion admits the conception of the infinitely small, and so conforms to the chief condition of motion (absolute continuity) and thereby corrects the inevitable error which the human mind cannot avoid when it deals with separate elements of motion instead of examining continuous motion. In seeking the laws of historical movement just the same thing happens. The movement of humanity, arising as it does from innumerable arbitrary human wills, is continuous. To understand the laws of this continuous movement is the aim of history. But to arrive at these laws, resulting from the sum of all those human wills, man’s mind postulates arbitrary and disconnected units. The first method of history is to take an arbitrarily selected series of continuous events and examine it apart from others, though there is and can be no beginning to any event, for one event always flows uninterruptedly from another. The second method is to consider the actions of some one man—a king or a commander—as equivalent to the sum of many individual wills; whereas the sum of individual wills is never expressed by the activity of a single historic personage. Historical science in its endeavor to draw nearer to truth continually takes smaller and smaller units for examination. But however small the units it takes, we feel that to take any unit disconnected from others, or to assume a beginning of any phenomenon, or to say that the will of many men is expressed by the actions of any one historic personage, is in itself false. It needs no critical exertion to reduce utterly to dust any deductions drawn from history. It is merely necessary to select some larger or smaller unit as the subject of observation—as criticism has every right to do, seeing that whatever unit history observes must always be arbitrarily selected. Only by taking infinitesimally small units for observation (the differential of history, that is, the individual tendencies of men) and attaining to the art of integrating them (that is, finding the sum of these infinitesimals) can we hope to arrive at the laws of history.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)(emphases in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:40 am

“The profoundest and most excellent dispositions and orders seem very bad, and every learned militarist criticizes them with looks of importance, when they relate to a battle that has been lost, and the very worst dispositions and orders seem very good, and serious people fill whole volumes to demonstrate their merits, when they relate to a battle that has been won.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:31 am

“War is not courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 8:22 am

“At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal power in the human soul: one very reasonably tells a man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of escaping it; the other, still more reasonably, says that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger, since it is not in man’s power to foresee everything and avert the general course of events, and it is therefore better to disregard what is painful till it comes, and to think about what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally listens to the first voice, but in society to the second.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:25 am

“Among the innumerable categories applicable to the phenomena of human life one may discriminate between those in which substance prevails and those in which form prevails.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:25 am

“Heat and drought had continued for more than three weeks. Each day fleecy clouds floated across the sky and occasionally veiled the sun, but toward evening the sky cleared again and the sun set in reddish-brown mist. Heavy night dews alone refreshed the earth. The unreaped corn was scorched and shed its grain. The marshes dried up. The cattle lowed from hunger, finding no food on the sun-parched meadows. Only at night and in the forests while the dew lasted was there any freshness. But on the road, the highroad along which the troops marched, there was no such freshness even at night or when the road passed through the forest; the dew was imperceptible on the sandy dust churned up more than six inches deep. As soon as day dawned the march began. The artillery and baggage wagons moved noiselessly through the deep dust that rose to the very hubs of the wheels, and the infantry sank ankle-deep in that soft, choking, hot dust that never cooled even at night. Some of this dust was kneaded by the feet and wheels, while the rest rose and hung like a cloud over the troops, settling in eyes, ears, hair, and nostrils, and worst of all in the lungs of the men and beasts as they moved along that road. The higher the sun rose the higher rose that cloud of dust, and through the screen of its hot fine particles one could look with naked eye at the sun, which showed like a huge crimson ball in the unclouded sky. There was no wind, and the men choked in that motionless atmosphere. They marched with handkerchiefs tied over their noses and mouths. When they passed through a village they all rushed to the wells and fought for the water and drank it down to the mud.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:33 am

“The Indians did not have any written languages. Even though archaeologists can tell us a great deal about aspects of Indian subsistence such as diet, settlement patterns, and population size and density, to date they have not developed adequate methods for studying gender. Pot shards, for example, are not labeled ‘made by a woman’ or ‘made by a man’ nor do tools indicate who used them. Unfortunately, we do not really know what division of labor or other gender relations looked like archaeologically. Inferences about women and men based on archaeological findings too often tend to be little more than speculations based on our own stereotypes about gender.” – Sara M. Evans, Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:51 am

“In quantum mechanics the angular momentum of a thing does not have an arbitrary direction, but its component along a given axis can take on only certain equally spaced, discrete values. It is a shocking and peculiar thing. . . . There isn’t any descriptive way of making it intelligible that isn’t so subtle and advanced in its own form that it is more complicated than the thing you were trying to explain. The behavior of matter on a small scale is different from anything that you are used to and is very strange indeed. . . . It is a good idea to try to get a growing acquaintance with the behavior of things on a small scale, at first as a kind of experience without any deep understanding. Understanding of these matters comes very slowly, if at all. Of course, one does get better able to know what is going to happen in a quantum-mechanical situation—if that is what understanding means—but one never gets a comfortable feeling that these quantum-mechanical rules are ‘natural’ . . . . It would be dishonest to describe the magnetic properties of materials without mentioning the fact that the classical description of magnetism—of angular momentum and magnetic moments—is incorrect.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. II