Tuesday, April 5, 2011


"As in the mechanism of a clock, so also in the mechanism of military action, the movement once given is just as irrepressible until the final results, and just as indifferently motionless are the parts of the mechanism not yet involved in the action even a moment before movement is transmitted to them. Wheels whizz on their axles, cogs catch, fast-spinning pulleys whirr, yet the neighboring wheel is as calm and immobile as though it was ready to stand for a hundred years in that immobility; but a moment comes—the lever catches, and, obedient to its movement, the wheel creaks, turning, and merges into one movement with the whole, the result and purpose of which are incomprehensible to it. As in a clock the result of the complex movement of numberless wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and measured movement of the hands pointing to the time, so also the result of all the complex human movements of these hundred and sixty thousand Russians and French—all the passions, desires, regrets, humiliations, sufferings, bursts of pride, fear, rapture—was merely the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the so-called battle of the three emperors, that is, a slow movement of the world-historical hand on the clockface of human history."

"A soldier in movement is as hemmed in, limited, and borne along by his regiment as a sailor by his ship. However far he may go, whatever strange, unknown, and dangerous latitudes he gets into, around him—as for the sailor always and everywhere there are the same decks, masts, and rigging of his ship—always and everywhere there are the same comrades, the same ranks, the same sergeant major Ivan Mitrich, the same company dog Zhuchka, the same superiors. A soldier rarely wishes to know what latitudes his whole ship has gotten to; but on the day of battle, God knows how and from where, a stern note is heard in the moral world of the troops, the same for everyone, which sounds the approach of something decisive and solemn and arouses in them an unaccustomed curiosity. On days of battle, soldiers excitedly try to get beyond the interests of their regiment, listen intently, look about, and greedily inquire into what is going on around them."

~ War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

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