Quotes from a Remarkable Author

Every now and then something happens that makes you feel foolish.  For me, it was the sudden discovery of the thoughts, writings and ideas of an acclaimed author, who I had not bothered to read or find out anything about, throughout my entire adult life.  I had heard that his prose was turgid and that reading his works was something of a trial, rather than a pastime.  How wrong I was.

By the accident of viewing a television documentary, followed by a dramatisation, I was suddenly awakened to a man who, while he died over a century ago, stood for many of the ideals I personally hold dear.  Here was an author, more than half a century before the hippy movement, espousing the universal values of peace and love.  Here was a man with the courage to speak out against oppression, to be the change he wished to see in the world, who believed that the world was lead by maniacs.  He wrote thoughtfully and insightfully on beauty and art.  Much of what he believed predated the positive psychology movement and spoke of a humanism and humanity that would be sadly lacking during the twentieth century.

This author was a philosopher, a critic of Church and State, an artist, an anarchist, an iconoclast, but a human, in the most essential sense of being one.  He was a thorn in the side of authority and the conscience of humanity.  For me, he is a prototype John Lennon.  In fact, it is widely held that John Lennon was also a fan and profoundly influenced by this man.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you some of my favourite, remarkable quotes from an author I commend to all of you:  Leo Tolstoy:

“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”

“When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.”

“And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.”

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

“I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.”

“I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.”

“If there existed no external means for dimming their consciences, one-half of the men would at once shoot themselves, because to live contrary to one’s reason is a most intolerable state, and all men of our time are in such a state.”

“Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.  If you want to be happy, be.”

“Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible.”

“In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.”

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.  What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.”

“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.”

“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.  Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

“Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity.”

“Music is the shorthand of emotion. “

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.”

“The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life.”

“The law condemns and punishes only actions within certain definite and narrow limits; it thereby justifies, in a way, all similar actions that lie outside those limits.”

“The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.”

“There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.”

“To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can’t eat it.”

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”

“Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”

“War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves.  War is such a terrible thing, that no man has the right to assume the responsibility of starting it.  If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”

“All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.  Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.  The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.  We must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the state, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening.”

“We lost because we told ourselves we lost.”
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”

“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”

“Rest, nature, books, music…such is my idea of happiness.”

“Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.”

“A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself.  The larger the denominator; the smaller the fraction.”

“Every lie is a poison; there are no harmless lies. Only the truth is safe. Only the truth gives me consolation – it is the one unbreakable diamond.”

“To get rid of an enemy one must love him.  You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.  Love those who hate you.”

“Error is the force that welds men together; truth is communicated to men only by deeds of truth.”

“The best stories don’t come from “good vs. bad” but “good vs. good.”

“The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.”

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.”

“Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.”

“To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then by means of movements, lines, colours, sounds, or forms expressed through words, so to convey this so that others may experience the same feeling — this is the activity of art.”

“Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one consciously, by means of certain external symbols, conveys to others the feelings one has experienced, whereby people so infected by these feelings, also experience them.”
“The activity of art is… as important as the activity of language itself, and as universal.”

“I know that most men — not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic, problems — can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.”

“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”

About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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