It is the specialist's task to talk about means, about centimeters. An artist's task is to talk about the goal, about kilometers, thousands of kilometers. The organizing role of art consists of infecting the reader, of arousing him with pathos or irony -- the cathode and anode in literature. But irony that is measured in centimeters is pathetic, and centimeter-sized pathos is ridiculous. No one can be carried away by it. To stir the reader, the artist must speak not of means but of ends, of the great goal toward which mankind is moving.
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There are two generic and invariable features that characterize utopias. One is the content: the authors of utopias paint what they consider to be ideal societies; translating this into the language of mathematics, we might say that utopias bear a + sign. The other feature, organically growing out of the content, is to be found in the form: a utopia is always static; it is always descriptive and has no, of almost no, plot dynamics.
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In adopting the form of the adventure novel, Wells deepened it, raised its intellectual value, and brought into it elements of social philosophy and science. In his own field - though, of course, on a proportionately lesser scale - Wells may be likened to Dostoyevsky, who took the form of the cheap detective novel and infused it with brilliant psychological analysis.
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The moon, our own, earthly moon is bitterly lonely, because it is alone in the sky, always alone, and there is no one to turn to, no one to turn to it. All it can do is ache across the weightless airy ice, across thousands of versts, toward those who are equally lonely on earth, and listen to the endless howling of dogs. ("A Story About The Most Important Thing")
I'm like a machine being run over its RPM limit: The bearings are overheating - a minute longer, and the metal is going to melt and start dripping and that'll be the end of everything. I need a quick splash of cold water, logic. I pour it on in buckets, but the logic hisses on the hot bearings and dissipates in the air as a fleeting white mist. Well, of course, it's clear that you can't establish a function without taking into account what its limit is. And it's also clear that what I felt yesterday, that stupid "dissolving in the universe, " if you take it to its limit, is death. Because that's exactly what death is - the fullest possible dissolving of myself into the universe. Hence, if we let L stand for love and D for death, then L = f (D), i.e., love and death...
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Tipsy, they tumbled early into bed - to get as much sleep as they could. So they would feel less hunger. The summer catch had been poor; there wasn't much food. They ate with care and looked sideways at the old: the old were gluttons, everybody knew it, and what was the good of feeding them? It wouldn't harm them to starve a little. The hungry dogs howled. The women rinsed the children's bellies with hot water three times a day, so they wouldn't cry so much for food. The old starved silently. ("The North")
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N-no-o, all that excitement, it wouldn't reach us, ' Timosha spoke gloomily. 'We're like the sunken city of Kitezh, living at the bottom of the lake. We do not hear a thing, and the water over us is muddy and sleepy. And on the surface, way above - why, everything's in flames, and the alarms are ringing.' ('A Provincial Tale')
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Life itself has lost its plane reality: it is projected, not along the old fixed points, but along the dynamic coordinates of Einstein, of revolution. In this new projection, the best-known formulas and objects become displaced, fantastic, familiar-unfamiliar. This is why it is so logical for literature today to be drawn to the fantastic plot, or to the amalgam of reality and fantasy. ("The New Russian Prose")
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The moon, our own, earthly moon is bitterly lonely, because it is alone in the sky, always alone, and there is no one to turn to, no one to turn to it. All it can do is ache across the weightless airy ice, across thousands of versts, toward those who are equally lonely on earth, and listen to the endless howling of dogs. ('A Story About The Most Important Thing')
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White-crested waves crash on the shore. The masts sway violently, every which way. In the gray sky the gulls are circling like white flakes. Rain squalls blow past like gray slanting sails, and blue gaps open in the sky. The air brightens. A cold silvery evening. The moon is overhead, and down below, in the water; and all around it-a wide frame of old, hammered, scaly silver. Etched on the silver-silent black fishing boats, tiny black needles of masts, little black men casting invisible lines into the silver. And the only sounds are the occasional plashing of an oar, the creaking of an oarlock, the springlike leap and flip-flop of a fish. ("The North")
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But if I am not a criminal, I beg to be permitted to go abroad with my wife temporarily, for at least one year, with the right to return as soon as it becomes possible in our country to serve great ideas in literature without cringing before little men, as soon as there is at least a partial change in the prevailing view concerning the role of the literary artist. ('Letter To Stalin')
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Do you believe that you will die? Yes, man is mortal, I am a man, ergo... No, that isn't what I mean. I know that you know that. What I'm asking is: Have you ever actually believed it, believe it completely, believe not with your mind but with your body, actually felt that one day the fingers now holding this very piece of paper will be yellow and icy... ?
Gripped with bitter cold, ice-locked, Petersburg burned in delirium. One knew: out there, invisible behind the curtain of fog, the red and yellow columns, spires, and hoary gates and fences crept on tiptoe, creaking and shuffling. A fevered, impossible, icy sun hung in the fog - to the left, to the right, above, below - a dove over a house on fire. From the delirium-born, misty world, dragon men dived up into the earthly world, belched fog - heard in the misty world as words, but here becoming nothing - round white puffs of smoke. The dragon men dived up and disappeared again into the fog. And trolleys rushed screeching out of the earthly world into the unknown. ("The Dragon")
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The sun's champagne streamed from one body into another. And there was a couple on the green silk of the grass, covered by a raspberry umbrella. Only their feet and a little bit of lace could be seen. In the magnificent universe beneath the raspberry umbrella, with closed eyes, they drank in the sparkling madness. 'Extra! Extra! Zeppelins over the North Sea at 3 o'clock.' But under the umbrella, in the raspberry universe, they were immortal. What did it matter that in another far-away universe people would be killing each other?
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Darkness. The door into the neighboring room is not quite shut. A strip of light stretches through the crack in the door across the ceiling. People are walking about by lamplight. Something has happened. The strip moves faster and faster and the dark walls move further and further apart, into infinity. This room is London and there are thousands of doors. The lamps dart about and the strips dart across the ceiling. And perhaps it is all delirium... Something had happened. The black sky above London burst into fragments: white triangles, squares and lines - the silent geometric delirium of searchlights. The blinded elephant buses rushed somewhere headlong with their lights extinguished. The distinct patter along the asphalt of belated couples, like a feverish pulse, died away. Everywhere doors slammed and lights were put out. And the city lay deserted, hollow, geometric, swept clean by a sudden plague: silent domes, pyramids, circles, arches, towers, battlements.
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Latchkey! I mean... I want to talk to you... ' He fell silent, glancing behind him and shifting from foot to foot, his waterproof trousers rattling like the bulls' bladders that boys use to learn swimming. Sterlingov angrily spat out his cigarette. 'Well? What about?' 'A... about a secret matter , ' Alyoshka whispered. Dozens of ears floated around them in the dust waves; the whisper was heard, and it ran on like a spark along a gunpowder wick. Alyoshka's secret message, the mysterious special clothing, the deacon's catastrophe-all this was too much. The atmosphere was charged with thousands of volts, and something was needed to discharge the electricity, to clear the air. ("X")
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Don't forget that we lawyers, we're a higher breed of intellect, and so it's our privilege to lie. It's as clear as day. Animals can't even imagine lying: if you were to find yourself among some wild islanders, they too would only speak the truth until they learned about European culture.
So, take the idea of "rights" and drip some acid on it. Even the most adult of the Ancients knew: the source of a right is power, a right is a function of power. Take two trays of a weighing scale: put a gram on one, and on the other, put a ton. On one side is the "I", on the other is the "WE", the One State. Isn't it clear? Assuming that "I" has the same "rights" compared to the State is exactly the same thing as assuming that a gram can counterbalance a ton. Here is the distribution: a ton has rights, a gram has duties. And this is the natural path from insignificance to greatness: forget that you are a gram, and feel as though you are a millionth part of the ton...
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I am like a machine being driven to excessive rotations: the bearings are incandescing and, in a minute, melted metal will begin to drip and everything will turn to nothing. Quick: get cold water, logic. I am pouring it over myself by the bucketload but the logic sizzles on the hot bearings and dissipates elusive white steam into the air.
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More wine for me, pour me some more!" "You smart girl, I knew you're a smart girl, just teasing... ' Faces turn red, the dark earth blood is rising. They wink at Pelka, wink at the host: "He knows his goods!" The women feel the buttons constricting them - they undo one, another, a third. By twos the guests go outside to get some air. "Well, my dear guests, are you soaked to the gills? Eh? And now-to dance! Get lively!" The table and the chairs vanish. The middle of the room is empty. Ivan the Monk jumps out of his hole, a tambourine in his hands: "Tim-ta-a-am! Tim-ta-a-am!" 'Eh-hey!" the redhead suddenly snatches the tambourine and sweeps off, tapping wildly in a circle. Eyes closed: a white sleepless sun-a white night on the meadow-white columns of smoke swaying over fires... "Eh-ah!"-to whirl herself to death, to whirl out everything, to empty herself - nothing has ever been... Heavy boots are thumping on the floor, beards fly in the wind, the frock-coat tails go flying... hey, get going, faster, faster - a hundred versts an hour! ("The North")
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But clouds bellied out in the sultry heat, the sky cracked open with a crimson gash, spewed flame-and the ancient forest began to smoke. By morning there was a mass of booming, fiery tongues, a hissing, crashing, howling all around, half the sky black with smoke, and the bloodied sun just barely visible. And what can little men do with their spades, ditches, and pails? The forest is no more, it was devoured by fire: stumps and ash. Perhaps illimitable fields will be plowed here one day, perhaps some new, unheard-of wheat will ripen here and men from Arkansas with shaven faces will weigh in their palms the heavy golden grain. Or perhaps a city will grow up-alive with ringing sound and motion, all stone and crystal and iron-and winged men will come here flying over seas and mountains from all ends of the world. But never again the forest, never again the blue winter silence and the golden silence of summer. And only the tellers of tales will speak in many-colored patterned words about what had been, about wolves and bears and stately green-coated century-old grandfathers, about old Russia; they will speak about all this to us who have seen it with our own eyes ten years - a hundred years! - ago, and to those others, the winged ones, who will come in a hundred years to listen and to marvel at it all as at a fairy tale. ("In Old Russia")
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In the widely open cup of the armchair was I-330. I, on the floor, embracing her limbs, my head on her lap. We were silent. Everything was silent. Only the pulse was audible. Like a crystal I was dissolving in her, in I-330. I felt most distinctly how the polished facets which limited me in space were slowly thawing, melting away. I was dissolving in her lap, in her, and I became at once smaller and larger, and larger, unembraceable. For she was not she but the whole universe. For a second I and that armchair near the bed, transfixed with joy, we were one.
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It was clear: I was sick. I never used to dream. They say in the old days it was the most normal thing in the world to have dreams. Which makes sense: Their whole life was some kind of horrible merry-go-round of green, orange, Buddha, juice. But today we know that dreams point to a serious mental illness. And I know that up to now my brain has checked out chronometrically perfect, a mechanism without a speck of dust.
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She moved nearer, leaned her shoulder against me "" and we were one, and something flowed from her into me, and I knew: this is how it must be. I knew it with every nerve, and every hair, every heartbeat, so sweet it verged on pain. And what joy to submit to this 'must'. A piece of iron must feel such joy as it submits to the precise, inevitable law that draws it to a magnet. Or a stone, thrown up, hesitating a moment, then plunging headlong back to earth. Or a man, after the final agony, taking a last deep breath "" and dying.
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O, mighty, divinely delimited wisdom of walls, boundaries! I is perhaps the most magnificent of all inventions. Man ceased to be a wild animal only when he build the first wall. Men ceased to be a wild man only when we built the Green Wall, only when, by means of that wall, we isolated our perfect machine world from the irrational, ugly world of trees, birds, and animals...
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All truths are erroneous. This is the very essence of the dialectical process: today's truths become errors tomorrow; there is no final number. This truth (the only one) is for the strong alone. Weak-nerved minds insist on a finite universe, a last number; they need, in Nietzsche's words, "the crutches of certainty". The weak-nerved lack the strength to include themselves in the dialectic syllogism.
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Life itself today has lost its plane reality: it is projected, not along the old fixed points, but along the dynamic coordinates of Einstein, of revolution. In this new projection, the best-known formulas and objects become displaced, fantastic, familiar-unfamiliar. This is why it is so logical for literature today to be drawn to the fantastic plot, or to an amalgam of reality and fantasy.
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Revolution is everywhere, in everything. It is infinite. There is no final revolution, no final number. The social revolution is only one of an infinite number of numbers: the law of revolution is not a social law, but an immeasurably greater one. It is a cosmic, universal law - like the laws of the conservation of energy and of the dissipation of energy (entropy).
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None of us older writers had gone through such a school. We are all self-taught. And, of course, there is always, in such a school, the danger of goose-stepping, uniformed ranks. But the Serapion Brethren have already, it seems to me, outgrown this danger. Each of them has his own individuality and his own handwriting. The common thing they have derived from the studio is the art of writing with ninety-proof ink, the art of eliminating everything that is superfluous, which is, perhaps, more difficult than writing.
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Crossing out is an art that is, perhaps, even more difficult than writing. It requires the sharpest eye to decide what is superfluous and must be removed. And it requires ruthlessness toward yourself -- the greatest ruthlessness and self-sacrifice. You must know how to sacrifice parts in the name of the whole.
I am aware of myself. And, of course, the only things that are aware of themselves and conscious of their individuality are irritated eyes, cut fingers, sore teeth. A healthy eye, finger, tooth might as well not even be there. Isn't it clear that individual consciousness is just sickness?
Every artist of importance creates his own world, with its own laws - creates and shapes it in his own shape and image, and no one else's. This is why it is difficult to fit the artist into a world that has already been created, a seven-day, fixed and solidified world: he will inevitably slip out of the set of laws and paragraphs, he will be a heretic.
To the feudal aristocracy and the aristocracy of the spirit, nobility derives from diametrically opposite sources. The glory of the feudal aristocrat is in being a link in the longest possible chain of ancestors. The glory of the aristocrat of the spirit is in having no ancestors - or having as few as possible. If an artist is his own ancestor, if he has only descendents, he enters history as a genius; if he has few ancestors, or is related to them distantly, he enters history as a talent.
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