Quotes by Yevgeny Zamyatin

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Is it not clear, however, that bliss and envy are the numerator and denominator of the fraction called happiness? more...

What the self-styled modern artists are doing is a sort of unemotional pseudo-intellectual masturabtion ... whereas creative art is more like intercourse, in which the artist must seduce - render emotional - his audience, each time. more...

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. more...

Now I no longer live in our clear, rational world; I live in the ancient nightmare world, the world of square roots of minus one. more...

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. more...

And everyone must lose his mind, everyone must! The sooner the better! It is essential - I know it. more...

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. more...

Accentuated plainness and accentuated vice ought to bring about harmony. Beauty lies in harmony, in style, whether it be the harmony of ugliness or beauty, vice or virtue. more...

The most wonderful thing in life is to be delirious and the most wonderful kind of delirium is being in love. In the morning mist, hazy and amorous, London was delirious. London squinted as it floated along, milky pink, without caring where it was going. more...

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? more...

And happiness...Well, after all, desires torment us, don't they? And, clearly, happiness is when there are no more desires, not one...What a mistake, what ridiculous prejudice it's been to have marked happiness always with a plus sign. Absolute happiness should, of course, carry a minus sign - the divine minus. more...

What is it to you if I don't want others to want for me, if I want to want myself - if I want the impossible... more...

We need writers who fear nothing. ("Our Goal") more...

The world is kept alive only by heretics: the heretic Christ, the heretic Copernicus, the heretic Tolstoy. Our symbol of faith is heresy. ("Tomorrow") more...

If we have no heretics we must invent them, for heresy is essential to health and growth. more...

Literature is painting, architecture, and music. more...

The nights were long, like the braids of a pretty girl, and the days were short, like a girl's sense. ("The North") more...

They do not need the sun. Who needs the sun when the eyes glow? Darkness. A woolen fog has wrapped the earth, has dropped a heavy curtain. From far away, from beyond the curtain, comes the sound of drops falling on stone. Far, far away - the autumn, people, tomorrow. ("The North") more...

But you can't plead with autumn. No. The midnight wind stalked through the woods, hooted to frighten you, swept everything away for the approaching winter, whirled the leaves. ("The North") more...

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") more...

The lilac branches are bowed under the weight of the flowers: blooming is hard, and the most important thing is - to bloom. ("A Story About The Most Important Thing") more...

We have long become overgrown with calluses; we no longer hear people being killed. ("X") more...

The knife is the most durable, immortal, the most genius thing that man created. The knife was the guillotine; the knife is the universal means of solving all knots; and along the blade of a knife lies the path of paradox - the single most worthy path of the fearless mind. more...

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? more...

Her smile was a bite, and I was its target. more...

Here I saw, with my own eyes, that laughter was the most terrible weapon: you can kill anything with laughter - even murder itself. more...

We comes from God, I from the Devil. more...

knowledge, absolutely sure of its infallibility, is faith more...

The only means of ridding man of crime is ridding him of freedom. more...

You're in a bad way! Apparently, you have developed a soul. more...

...Those two, in paradise, were given a choice: happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness. There was no third alternative... more...

All of life in its complexity and beauty is forever minted in the gold of words. more...

You are afraid of it because it is stronger than you; you hate it because you are afraid of it; you love it because you cannot subdue it to your will. Only the unsubduable can be loved. more...

A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don't know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn't be worth reading. more...

There is no final one; revolutions are infinite. more...

It is said there are flowers that bloom only once in a hundred years. Why should there not be some that bloom once in a thousand, in ten thousand years? Perhaps we never know about them simply because this "once in a thousand years" has come today. more...

The old, slow, creaking descriptions are a thing of the past; today the rule is brevity - but every word must be supercharged, high-voltage. more...

There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. more...

The speed of her tongue is not correctly calculated; the speed per second of her toungue should be slightly less than the speed per second of her thoughts -at any rate not the reverse. more...

Heretics are the only bitter remedy against the entropy of human thought. more...

Explosions are not comfortable. more...

what primitive tastes the ancients must have had if their poets were inspired by those absurd, untidy clumps of mist, idiotically jostling one another about more...

And a question stirred within me: What if he, this yellow-eyed creature, in his disorderly, filthy mound of leaves, in his uncomputed life, is happier than we are? more...

Midsummer Night was roasting hot. The shore, of red granite, glowed with the heat; the dark blood of the earth seemed to be rising from below. There was a sharp, unbearable smell of birds, of cod, of green decaying seaweed. Through the mist the huge ruddy sun loomed nearer and nearer. And in the sea, dark blood welled up to meet it - in bloated, rearing, huge white waves. Night. The mouth of the bay between two cliffs was like a window. A window shutting out curious eyes with a white shade-white woolly fog. And all that you could see was that behind it something red was happening. (The North) more...

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... more...

The most effective way of destroying art is the canonization of one given form. And one philosophy. more...

Revolution is everywhere, in everything. There is no final revolution, no final number. more...

You're in bad shape. It looks like you're developing a soul. more...

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. more...

And why do you think that foolishness is bad? If human foolishness had been as carefully nurtured and cultivated as intelligence has been for centuries, perhaps it would have turned into something extremely precious. more...

The microspeed of the tongue ought to be always slightly less than the microspeed of the thoughts and certainly not ever the reverse. more...

Love and hunger rule the world. Ergo, to rule the world, one must master love and hunger. more...

The most agonising thing is to drop doubt into a man about his being a reality, three-dimensional - and not some other kind of reality. more...

Only lifeless mechanisms move along faultlessly straight lines and compass circles. In art the surest way to destroy is to canonize one given form and one philosophy: that which is canonized quickly dies of obesity, of entropy. more...

The purpose of art ... is not to reflect life but to organize it, to build it. more...

To an artist, creating an image means being in love with it. more...

The myth about the angel who rebelled against his Lord is the most beautiful of all myths, the proudest, the most revolutionary, the most immortal of them all. more...

I've read and heard a lot of unbelievable stuff about those times when people lived in freedom - that is, in disorganized wildness. more...

Knowledge! What does that mean? Your knowledge is nothing but cowardice. No, really, that's all it is. You just want to put a little wall around infinity. And you're afraid to look on the other side of that wall. more...

All women are lips, nothing but lips. more...

The mighty power of logic cleanses all it touches. more...

The most wonderful thing in life is to be delirious and the most wonderful kind of delirium is being in love. more...

I was born with the wrong sign In the wrong house With the wrong ascendancy I took the wrong road That led to the wrong tendencies I was in the wrong place at the wrong time For the wrong reason and the wrong rhyme On the wrong day of the wrong week I used the wrong method with the wrong technique Wrong more...

The moon ... is a mad woman holding up her dress So that her white belly shines. Haughty, Impregnable, Ridiculous, Silent and white as a debauched queen. more...

Sentences of the court on moral issues are always passed in absentia. more...

Children are the boldest philosophers. They enter life naked, not covered by the smallest fig leaf of dogma, absolutes, creeds. This is why every question they ask is so absurdly naive and so frighteningly complex. more...

Every genuine poet is necessarily a Columbus. America existed for centuries before Columbus but it was only Columbus who was able to track it down. more...

There is an excellent way to make predictions without the slightest risk of error: predict the past. more...

And tomorrow-who knows what happens? Do you get it? I don't know and no one knows-it's all unknown! You understand, that this is the end to the Known? This is the new, the improbable, the unpredictable. more...

We appeal, not to those who reject today in the name of a return to yesterday, not to those who are hopelessly deafened by today; we appeal to those who see the distant tomorrow - and judge today in the name of tomorrow. more...

An error is more useful than truth: truth is a thought suffering from arteriosclerosis. more...

All truths are erroneous. This is the very essence of the dialectical process: today's truths become errors tomorrow; there is no final number. more...

The art of the word is painting + architecture + music. more...

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. more...

How do you know that nonsense isn't a good thing? If human nonsense had been nurtured and developed for centuries, just as intelligence has, then perhaps something extraordinarily precious could have come from it. more...

Children are the only brave philosophers. And brave philosophers are, inevitably, children. more...

I prefer being wrong in my own way to being right in someone else's. more...

The world is kept alive only by heretics. more...

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. more...

Let the answers be wrong, let the philosophy be mistaken - errors are more valuable than truths: truth is of the machine, error is alive; truth reassures, error disturbs. more...

The ancient God created the old man, capable of erring-thus he erred himself. more...

At night numbers must sleep; it is their duty, just as it is their duty to work in the daytime. Not sleeping at night is a criminal offense. more...

The inner world: those spiritual apartments to which we are reluctant to admit strangers. more...

By complex ways, by looking deep into the dark well of the human soul, full of filth, somewhere at the very bottom of it Chekhov at last found his faith. And this faith turned out to be faith in man, in the power of human progress. And man became his god. more...

It has never occurred to me before, but this is truly how it is: all of us on earth walk constantly over a seething, scarlet sea of flame, hidden below, in the belly of the earth. We never think of it. But what if the thin crust under our feet should turn into glass and we should suddenly see? more...

It is not possible to build on negative emotions. Genuine literature will come only when we replace hatred for man with love for man. more...

Along the blade of a knife lies the path of paradox-the single most worthy path of the fearless mind . . . . more...

It is an error to divide people into the living and the dead: there are people who are dead-alive, and people who are alive-alive. The dead-alive also write, walk, speak, act. But they make no mistakes; only machines make no mistakes, and they produce only dead things. The alive-alive are constantly in error, in search, in questions, in torment. more...

The whole world is one immense woman, and we are in her very womb, we are not yet born, we are joyfully ripening. more...

True literature can exist only where it is created, not by diligent and trustworthy functionaries, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels, and skeptics. more...

Individual consciousness is just sickness. more...

I turned. She was in a light, saffron-yellow dress of the ancient model. This was a thousand times more cruel than if she had worn nothing. more...

Knowledge, absolutely sure of its infallibility, is faith. more...

Those two, in paradise, were given a choice: happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness. There was no third alternative. more...

The ancient God created the old man, capable of erring- thus he erred himself. more...

There is no joy nobler than suffering for the sake of love for man. more...

The next stage of development, perhaps in the distant future, will be a social order under which there will be no need for the coercive power of the state. more...

We have lived through the epoch of suppression of the masses; we are living in an epoch of suppression of the individual in the name of the masses; tomorrow will bring the liberation of the individual - in the name of man. more...

Name me the final number, the highest, the greatest. But that's absurd! If the number of numbers is infinite, how can there be a final number? Then how can you speak of a final revolution? There is no final one. Revolutions are infinite. more...

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. more...

The literature of the immediate future will inevitably turn away from painting, whether respectably realistic or modern, and from daily life, whether old or the very latest and revolutionary, and turn to artistically realized philosophy. more...

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. more...

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. more...

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. more...

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. more...

Dogma, static positions, consonance - all these are obstacles to catching the disease of art, at least in its more complex forms. more...

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. more...

To reflect the entire spectrum, the dynamics of the adventure novel must be invested with a philosophic synthesis of one kind or another. more...

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). more...

The flame will cool tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.... But someone must see this already today, and speak heretically today about tomorrow. Heretics are the only (bitter) remedy against the entropy of human thought. more...

What we need in literature today are vast philosophic horizons... we need the most ultimate, the most fearsome, the most fearless "Why?" and "What next?". more...

Philosophers of genius, children, and the people are equally wise - because they ask equally foolish questions. Foolish to a civilized man who has a well-furnished European apartment, with an excellent toilet, and a well-furnished dogma. more...

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. more...

Truth is the first thing that present-day literature lacks. The writer has drowned himself in lies, he is too accustomed to speak prudently, with a careful look over his shoulder. more...

When we remove the snowdrift piled up over Chekhov in recent years, we uncover a man profoundly agitated by social problems; a writer whose social ideals are the same as those we live by; a philosophy of the divinity of man, of fervent faith in man - the faith that moves mountains. more...

In order to write about the machine you have to know it, to live with it, to love it (or hate it). I think that true writing could be done on industrial subjects by people who work in industry, who are firmly linked with it. But ... and here is the opposite 'but', the technology of literary craftsmanship is itself a very fine and complex matter. Qualified specialists from industry prove themselves dilettantes in the field of literature. The needed synthesis is not yet in sight. more...

The highly complex, almost mathematical, nature of music creates for it an ironclad protection against the microbes of dilletantism, which penetrate much more easily into the fields of painting, literature, and the theater. more...

The latest literary discussions reflect a struggle between two artistic methods - romanticism and realism, with the latter clearly ascendant for the time being. more...

The knife is the most permanent, the most immortal, the most ingenious of man's creations. The knife was a guillotine; the knife is a universal means of resolving all knots... more...

What makes you think that nonsense is bad? If they'd nurtured and cared for human nonsense over the ages the way they did intelligence, it might have turned into something of special value. more...


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