06 July 2009

Monday Quote Frenzy: Two from Karel Čapek

Quoted by Ivan Klima in his introduction to War with the Newts:
You don’t see two bales of hay, but thousands of straws. Straw by straw you gather what is good and useful in the human world; straw by straw you discard the chaff and the weeds. You don’t cry out because of the oppression of thousands but because of the oppression of any individual; you’ve had to destroy the one truth in order to find thousands of them…. Ultimately, for want of anything more perfect, you simply believe in people.

Čapek in a 1926 letter to the New York Sunday Times:
Do you recall how Homer depicts Achilles’ shield? It took one song of the Iliad for the blind poet to describe how that shield was made; in America you would have made a casting and produced tens of thousands per day; granted, shields might be made cheaply and successfully this way, but Iliads could not…. To my knowledge, American efficiency concerns itself with multiplying output, not life. It’s true that man works in order to live; but it is evident that he lives also while he is working. Once could say that European Man is a very poor industrial machine; but this is because he is not a machine at all.


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