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Absurdity
Engrave this Quote Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.
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-Vaclav Havel
Action(s)
Engrave this Quote A human action becomes genuinely important when it springs from the soil of a clear-sighted awareness of the temporality and the ephemerally of everything human. It is only this awareness that can breathe any greatness into an action.
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-Vaclav Havel
Age
Engrave this Quote Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.
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-Vaclav Havel
Alienation
Engrave this Quote Human beings are compelled to live within a lie, but they can be compelled to do so only because they are in fact capable of living in this way. Therefore not only does the system alienate humanity, but at the same time alienated humanity supports this system as its own involuntary master plan, as a degenerate image of its own degeneration, as a record of people's own failure as individuals.
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-Vaclav Havel
Apathy
Engrave this Quote The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life but that it bothers him less and less.
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-Vaclav Havel
Art
Engrave this Quote There is only one art, whose sole criterion is the power, the authenticity, the revelatory insight, the courage and suggestiveness with which it seeks its truth. Thus, from the standpoint of the work and its worth it is irrelevant to which political ideas the artist as a citizen claims allegiance, which ideas he would like to serve with his work or whether he holds any such ideas at all.
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-Vaclav Havel
Authors & Writing
Engrave this Quote The role of the writer is not simply to arrange Being according to his own lights; he must also serve as a medium to Being and remain open to its often unfathomable dictates. This is the only way the work can transcend its creator and radiate its meaning.
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-Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, ch. 2 (1986; tr. 1990)
Books
Engrave this Quote The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it.
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-Vaclav Havel
Engrave this Quote I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
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-Vaclav Havel
Citizenship
Engrave this Quote Without free, self-respecting, and autonomous citizens there can be no free and independent nations. Without internal peace, that is, peace among citizens and between the citizens and the state, there can be no guarantee of external peace.
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-Vaclav Havel
Conservation
Engrave this Quote It cannot suffice to invent new machines, new regulations, new institutions. It is necessary to change and improve our understanding of the true purpose of what we are and what we do in the world. Only such a new understanding will allow us to develop new models of behavior, new scales of values and goals, and thereby invest the global regulations, treaties and institutions with a new spirit and meaning.
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-Vaclav Havel, 2001
Discovery
Engrave this Quote The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning -- in other words, of absurdity --the more energetically meaning is sought.
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-Vaclav Havel
Dissent
Engrave this Quote You do not become a dissident just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.
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-Vaclav Havel
Hope
Engrave this Quote Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.
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-Vaclav Havel
Engrave this Quote Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
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-Vaclav Havel
Humor
Engrave this Quote Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.
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-Vaclav Havel
Intelligence
Engrave this Quote There's always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side.
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-Vaclav Havel
Language
Engrave this Quote This is a confusing and uncertain period, when a thousand wise words can go completely unnoticed, and one thoughtless word can provoke an utterly nonsensical furor.
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-Vaclav Havel
Law
Engrave this Quote The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better. Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions.
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-Vaclav Havel
Masses
Engrave this Quote None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
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-Vaclav Havel
Oppression
Engrave this Quote True enough, the country is calm. Calm as a morgue or a grave, would you not say?
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-Vaclav Havel
Engrave this Quote My dear fellow citizens: For forty years you have heard from my predecessors on this day different variations of the same theme: how our country flourished, how many millions of tons of steel we produced, how happy we all were, how we trusted our government, and what bright perspectives were unfolding in front of us. I assume you did not propose me for this office so that I, too, would lie to you. . . We live in a contaminated moral environment. We have fallen morally ill because we became used to saying one thing and thinking another. We have learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only about ourselves. Notions such as love, friendship, compassion, humility, or forgiveness have lost their depth and dimensions. . . The previous regime . . . reduced man to a means of production and nature to a tool of production. Thus it attacked both their very essence and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people to nuts and bolts in some monstrously huge, noisy, and stinking machine.
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-Vaclav Havel
Power
Engrave this Quote The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both.
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-Vaclav Havel
Presidency
Engrave this Quote If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become President.
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-Vaclav Havel
Protest
Engrave this Quote Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
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-Vaclav Havel

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