Decisively Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Most people are afflicted with an inability to say what they see or think. They say there's nothing more difficult than to define a spiral in words; they claim it is necessary to use the unliterary hand, twirling it in a steadily upward direction, so that human eyes will perceive the abstract figure immanent in wire spring and a certain type of staircase. But if we remember that to say is to renew, we will have no trouble defining a spiral; it's a circle that rises without ever closing. I realize that most people would never dare to define it this way, for they suppose that defining is to say what others want us to say rather than what's required for the definition. I'll say it more accurately: a spiral is a potential circle that winds round as it rises, without ever completing itself. But no, the definition is still abstract. I'll resort to the concrete, and all will become clear: a spiral is a snake without a snake, vertically wound around nothing. All literature is an attempt to make life real. All of us know, even when we act on what we don't know, life is absolutely unreal in its directly real form; the country, the city and our ideas are absolutely fictitious things, the offspring of our complex sensation of our own selves. Impressions are incommunicable unless we make them literary. Children are particularly literary, for they say what they feel not what someone has taught them to feel. Once I heard a child, who wished to say that he was on the verge of tears, say not 'I feel like crying', which is what an adult, i.e., an idiot, would say but rather, ' I feel like tears.' And this phrase -so literary it would seem affected in a well-known poet, if he could ever invent it - decisively refers to the warm presence of tears about to burst from eyelids that feel the liquid bitterness. 'I feel like tears'! The small child aptly defined his spiral. To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming- like worms when a rock is lifted - under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky.

Fernando Pessoa
The usual short story cannot have a complex plot, but it often has a simple one resembling a chain with two or three links. The short short, however, doesn't as a rule have even that much - you don't speak of a chain when there's only one link... Sometimes... the short short appears to rest on nothing more than a fragile anecdote which the writer has managed to drape with a quantity of suggestion. A single incident, a mere anecdote - these form the spine of the short short. Everything depends on intensity, one sweeping blow of perception. In the short short the writer gets no second chance. Either he strikes through at once or he's lost. And because it depends so heavily on this one sweeping blow, the short short often approaches the condition of a fable. When you read the two pieces by Tolstoy in this book, or I.L. Peretz's 'If Not Higher, ' or Franz Kafka's 'The Hunter Gracchus, ' you feel these writers are intent upon 'making a point' - but obliquely, not through mere statement. What they project is not the sort of impression of life we expect in most fiction, but something else: an impression of an idea of life. Or: a flicker in darkness, a slight cut of being. The shorter the piece of writing, the more abstract it may seem to us. In reading Paz's brilliant short short we feel we have brushed dangerously against the sheer arbitrariness of existence; in reading Peretz's, that we have been brought up against a moral reflection on the nature of goodness, though a reflection hard merely to state. Could we say that the short short is to other kinds of fiction somewhat as the lyric is to other kinds of poetry? The lyric does not seek meaning through extension, it accepts the enigmas of confinement. It strives for a rapid unity of impression, an experience rendered in its wink of immediacy. And so too with the short short... Writers who do short shorts need to be especially bold. They stake everything on a stroke of inventiveness. Sometimes they have to be prepared to speak out directly, not so much in order to state a theme as to provide a jarring or complicating commentary. The voice of the writer brushes, so to say, against his flash of invention. And then, almost before it begins, the fiction is brought to a stark conclusion - abrupt, bleeding, exhausting. This conclusion need not complete the action; it has only to break it off decisively. Here are a few examples of the writer speaking out directly. Paz: 'The universe is a vast system of signs.' Kafka in 'First Sorrow': The trapeze artist's 'social life was somewhat limited.' Paula Fox: 'We are starving here in our village. At last, we are at the center.' Babel's cossack cries out, 'You guys in specs have about as much pity for chaps like us as a cat for a mouse.' Such sentences serve as devices of economy, oblique cues. Cryptic and enigmatic, they sometimes replace action, dialogue and commentary, for none of which, as it happens, the short short has much room. There's often a brilliant overfocussing. ("Introduction")

Irving Howe
The strategic level is concerned with the use of military force to achieve national objectives. In the new American style of war, it has come to be interpreted as the highest political and diplomatic level at which decisions are made to collect and deploy military forces to a distant theater. The size of strategic land forces varies, depending on the nature of the topography and the seriousness of the enemy threat. In past limited wars, deployments involved relatively large armies consisting of multiple corps of 50, 000 soldiers each. The numbers of soldiers deployed in more recent campaigns have been considerably smaller. The strategic challenge in the years ahead will center on "time versus risk"-that is, the decisions that must be made to balance the size of the strategic force to be projected versus the time necessary for the force to arrive ready to fight. The United States must be able to overcome the problems of distance and time without unnecessarily exposing early arriving forces to an enemy already in place within a theater of war. The operational level of warfare provides a connection between strategic deployments and the tactical engagements of small units. The "art" of maneuvering forces to achieve decisive results on the battlefield nest here. As with the deployments of strategic level forces, the basic elements of operational maneuver have shrunk as the conflict environment has changed since the end of the Second World War. During the Cold War, corps conducted operational maneuver. More recently, the task has devolved to brigades, usually self contained units of all arms capable of independent maneuver. An independent brigade consists of about 5, 000 soldiers. At the operational level, ground forces will face the challenge of determining the proper balance between "firepower and maneuver" resources and technologies to ensure that the will of the enemy's army to resist can be collapsed quickly and decisively. Battles are fought at the tactical level. In the past, the tactical fight has been a face-to-face endeavor; small units of about company size, no more that several hundred soldiers, are locked in combat at close range. The tactical fight is where most casualties occur. The tactical challenge of the future will be to balance the anticipated "ends, " or what the combat commander is expected to achieve on the battlefield, with the "means, " measured in the lives of soldiers allocated to achieve those ends. Since ground forces suffer casualties disproportionately, ground commanders face the greatest challenge of balancing ends versus means. All three challenges must be addressed together if reform of the landpower services - the Army and the Marine Corps - is to be swift and lasting. The essential moderating influence on the process of change is balance. At the strategic level, the impulse to arrive quickly must be balanced with the need for forces massive and powerful enough to fight successfully on arrival. The impulse to build a firepower-dominant operational forces will be essential if the transitory advantage of fires is to be made permanent by the presence of ground forces in the enemy's midst. The impulse to culminate tactical battle by closing with and destroying the enemy must be balanced by the realization that fighting too close may play more to the advantage of enemy rather than friendly forces.

Robert H. Scales Jr.
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