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The art of war deals with living and with moral forces. Consequently, it cannot attain the absolute, or certainty; it must always leave a margin for uncertainty, in the greatest things as well as in the smallest. With uncertainty in one scale, courage and self-confidence should be thrown into the other to correct the balance. The greater they are, the greater the margin that can be left for accidents.

[Die Kriegskunst hat es mit lebendigen und mit moralischen Kräften zu thun; daraus folgt, dass sie nirgends das Absolute und Gewisse erreichen kann; es bleibt also überall dem Ungefähr ein Spielraum, und zwar eben so gross bei dem Grössten, wie bei dem Keinsten. Wie dieses Ungefähr auf dereinen Seite steht, muss Muth und Selbstvertrauen auf die andere treten und die Lücke ausfüllen. So gross, wie diese sind, so gross darf der Spielraum für jenes werden.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 1 “What Is War? [Was ist der Krieg?],” § 22 (1.1.22) (1832) [tr. Howard & Paret (1976)]

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

The art of war has to deal with living and with moral forces; the consequence of which is that it can never attain the absolute and positive. There is therefore everywhere a margin for the accidental; and just as much inthe greatest things as in the smallest. As there is room for this accidental on the one hand, so on the other there must be courage and self-reliance in proportion to the room left. If these qualities are forthcoming in a high degree, the margin left may likewise be great.
[tr. Graham (1873)]

The art of war has to do with living and with moral forces; from this it follows that it can nowhere attain the absolute and certain; there remains always a margin for the accidental just as much with the greatest things as with the smallest. As on the one side stands this accidental element, so on the other courage and self-confidence must step forward and fill up the gap. The greater the courage and self-confidence, the larger the margin that may be left for the accidental.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

Added on 29-Sep-22 | Last updated 28-Mar-23
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Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is.

Saul Bellow (1915-2005) Canadian-American writer
Herzog (1964)
Added on 20-May-20 | Last updated 20-May-20
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The future always arrives too fast — and in the wrong order.

Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) American writer and futurist
Added on 24-Jan-20 | Last updated 24-Jan-20
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Uneventful. Boring. Tedious. All good adjectives to apply to long-haul travel; much better than exciting, unexpected, and abrupt.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 21-Mar-17 | Last updated 21-Mar-17
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Solutions nearly always come from the direction you least expect, which means there’s no point trying to look in that direction because it won’t be coming from there.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Salmon of Doubt (2002)
Added on 29-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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The result of a single action may spread like the circles that expand when a stone is thrown into a pond, until they touch places and people unguessed at by the person who threw the stone.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
“Literature and Moral Purpose” (1990)
Added on 18-May-15 | Last updated 18-May-15
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You have no lease of your lives, and death is not bound to give you warning before it gives you that deadly blow that will send you to everlasting misery or everlasting felicity.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
The Hypocrite Detected, Anatomized (1650)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
2 Peter 3 [NIV]

Alternate translation:

  • "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." [KJV]
Added on 18-Dec-14 | Last updated 18-Dec-14
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No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.

[Nemo est tam fortis, quin rei novitate perturbetur.]

Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) Roman general and statesman [Gaius Julius Caesar]
The Gallic Wars [De Bello Gallico], Book 6, ch. 39 (49 BC)

Alt. trans.: "No one is so courageous as not to be disconcerted by the suddenness of the affair." [tr. McDevitte and Bohn]
Added on 23-Jun-14 | Last updated 23-Jun-14
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Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.

Lemony Snicket (b. 1970) American author, screenwriter, musician (pseud. for Daniel Handler)
The Slippery Slope, ch. 1 (2003)
Added on 8-Sep-08 | Last updated 17-Mar-21
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When we talk of tomorrow, the gods laugh.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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