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Notes From Prison, 1983 -1988
Alija Izetbegović
CONTENTS
 Preface
 Chapter 1 - On Life People and Freedom
 Chapter 2 - On Religion and Morality
 Chapter 3 - Political Notes
 Chapter 4 - Islam Between East and West
 Chapter 5 - Communism and Nazism
 Chapter 6 - Thoughts on Islam - Historical and Other Observations
 Appendix - From My Children's Letters
Note from Taskforce Ezania
Taskforce Ezania scanned the original book with the courtesy of Bakir Izetbegović.
After the scanning the text was recomposed using an OCR engine. The plain text
that was the result of this process needed to be edited and formatted into a
layout, a composition, resembling the original. We truly have done our best.
Due to the international character of our Taskforce and circumstances beyond our
reach perfection was not possible. You will notice that some "typical OCR
characters" have been left over in the text. Maybe some names, using "foreign"
characters with "weird" accents, are not completely spelled correctly. As the final
editor - at least of this version - has not the actual book to compare the scanned
text with, it was not possible to correct this kind of errors. Nevertheless, we are
convinced that the thoughts in this book are of tremendous more importance as
some more or less irrelevant typos.
Without doubt shall any reader, very soon after starting to read, notice the
importance of Alija Izetbegović thoughts for the future of our Islamic Movement.
Allah gave our brother Alija Izetbegović a sharp mind and a warm hart for those
who care for Islam and thus for the well-being of what Allah has entrusted to Man.
May we soon meet.
Allah promised victory to the ummah of the prophet (saws);
Allah's Word is Truth.
Ezania Taskforce 1
11 Rabi-Awal 1427
Courtesy: Bakir Izetbegović
© 2006 by Right Holders
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Preface
What the reader is about to embark upon (and perhaps read) is my escape to
freedom.
To my regret, this, of course, was not a real escape, but I wish it were. This was
the only possible escape from the Foca prison, with its high walls and iron bars-an
escape of mind and thought. Had I been able to escape, I would have given
preference to the real, physical escape.
I also assume that the readers would rather hear an exciting story of a prisoner's
escape from a well-guarded prison rather than read my thoughts and comments
on issues in politics and philosophy.
I could not speak, but I could think, and I decided to use that possibility to the
maximum. At first I had silent discussions on all kinds of things and I commented
on the books I was reading and the events taking place outside. I then started
taking notes, secretly at first, but I then became quite "arrogant"-I sat, read and
wrote. Thus, 13 little notebooks came about, in the format that technicians call A-
5, written in the smallest script and deliberately illegible, so that Mirsada, my
typist, went into torment to copy them. I want to thank her for her patience in
deciphering my codes. In those notes, "dangerous" words such as religion, Islam,
communism, freedom, democracy and authority were replaced by other words
that only I knew, words that years later even I found strange and hardly
understandable.
For almost the entire first year I wrote nothing, I could not write. That was the
year of investigation, trial and adjustment. I think that the first notes were made
in 1984, and then notes continued every day for almost five years. As I can see,
the last one is marked 3676 and dated 30 September 1988. At the time I was still
facing almost 13 years in prison, and death seemed to be my only hope. I kept
this hope well hidden, like a big secret that only I knew, a secret that they could
not take away from me.
The value of these thoughts, therefore, is not in the thoughts themselves, but
rather in the circumstances they were written in. On this side of the wall there was
the total silence of the prison, and on the outside there were inklings of a tempest
that was to become a hurricane in 1988, that would crush the Berlin Wall, sweep
away Honecker and Ceausescu, destroy the Warsaw Treaty and shake the Soviet
Union and Yugoslavia. I had an almost physical sensation of the passage of time
and its phases changing right before my eyes.
It was a time of radical revision of thought and belief, following the disastrous
experiences of communist governments of the European East. The world was
going through an immense transformation that was to change the lives of millions
of people and turn the flow of history in a different direction. The world that had
been bipolar for a long time became unipolar. I do not know if that is good, but it
did happen.
In addition to bookbinder's glue, those well over 2,000 days were the only things
keeping together these scattered thoughts. They are, to an extent, a comment on
key events made by a man who was prevented from taking part in them, but who
had plenty of time to follow them and to give his own judgments-however right or
wrong.
These are thoughts on freedom, the physical and the inner, on life and destiny, on
people and events, on books read and their authors, on imagined, unwritten
letters to my children-in other words, on everything that could have crossed a
prisoner's mind during those long 2,000 days (and nights).
While writing, I marked the notes 1, 2 and 3.
Notes marked number 1 were some general thoughts that seemed to me, at the
time, to be on life, people and freedom. In want of a better name, I gave them the
same title now.
Number 2 was some facts and opinions of others that I would have, had there
been an opportunity, indicated to my son Bakir, with a desire that he should read
them and know them. I used to do that quite often when I was free. This chapter
was, in a way, a series of unwritten letters to my son.
Number 3 was everything I would have added to my book "Islam Between East
and West" if I had written it then. Just a reminder, facts and ideas of this book are
grouped around one basic thought, forming what I call, for a reason or not, "the
third way theory."
While preparing the final version of the manuscript, I moved thoughts on religion,
politics and communism from Chapter 1 to separate chapters (2, 3 and 5), and I
moved notes on Islam out of "number 2" (Chapter 6).
The Appendix was added later. It is a collection of parts of almost 1,500 letters
that I received from my children while I was in prison. If literature was my
intellectual escape to freedom, those letters were my emotional escape. I am not
certain if my children knew or if they ever will know what they meant to me. When
I read them, I felt not only as a free man, but also as a person upon whom God
had bestowed all the riches of this world. That is why I took the liberty of
publishing them in the Appendix. It seemed to me that some of their sentences
gave a good picture of the time and the circumstances, of thoughts and
atmosphere in the family of a political prisoner and, of course, a little something
on their authors.
When I started working on the manuscript more than ten years later, my intention
was to transform it into a consistent, complete text. Unfortunately, I did not get
much further from the original arrangement I had made in prison (the "three
stacks," as I called them). I felt that I did not have the time, and perhaps nothing
better could be made from the material available. So, I give the readers my
manuscript almost raw, the way it was produced.
Perhaps I could tell you a story related to these notebooks, since it is an
illustration of the prison atmosphere.
Whenever I finished a notebook, I never left it in my own locker. I deposited it with
a colleague-a prisoner convicted for murder. Thus, only one notebook, the one
being "worked on," could be confiscated at one time. The prison authorities, in
fact, searched our lockers looking for "dangerous things." Dangerous things were
weapons-and manuscripts. Everyone was equally subject to searches, only some
of us were "more equal." My friend's locker-for he was a peasant-was merely
looked at. Towards the end of my imprisonment, another friend from prison,
Veselin K., convicted for forgery, carried ten of these notebooks outside in a chess
box. When he delivered the package to my children, he refused to take any
money. People whom we call criminals sometimes enjoy certain popularity, even
liking. The reason is that they usually know what real comradeship is, and they
are willing to take chances. So-called "nice people" often lack these qualities.
My son Bakir went through the entire manuscript before the final editing. I am
grateful for his patience and numerous useful suggestions.
This is all. All I have left to say is that within each chapter notes are presented
chronologically.
Alija Izetbegović
Sarajevo, 15 September 1998
CHAPTER 1
On Life, People and Freedom
When I lose the reasons to live, I shall die.
Life has a purpose in itself and on its own. It becomes visible once life has lost all
its outer sense: youth, beauty, health, freedom. We then see that the beauty of
life is not in these desirable yet impermanent values, but rather in life itself!
I have no hatred but I do have bitterness.
To despise death, often excessively praised, can be a consequence of the lack of
respect for life (or man). Hegel gives a very bad image of the Blacks, the Indians,
the Chinese. Thus, for example: "There is nothing in the nature of the Blacks to
resemble humanity. . . . Human worthlessness can reach incredible levels; tyranny
is not considered to be an injustice, and cannibalism is a widespread permissible
activity." Or: "China does not know the sense of honour... . Since there is no
honour the prevailing sense is that of servility, which transforms easily into
viciousness. Related to this viciousness is the immorality of the Chinese. They are
known to cheat wherever they can; a friend cheats on a friend and if found out, it
is not held against them.. . . Slyness and wiliness are the main features of the
Indian; submissively low and sly is he to the conqueror and the master, and totally
ruthless and cruel to the conquered and the submissive" (Hegel, Philosophy of
History). My comment: there is clear racism, or at least Eurocentrism, in these
statements. If a sense of morality were a privilege of only some races or nations,
it would no longer be what it really is. It is an individual who is moral (or immoral),
not a people, thus any generalization is unacceptable.
Two truths; a poet's and a scientist's. To a poet, stars are either twinkling and sad,
or they look at us from the skies and tell us about eternity; the moon is the light of
heaven and the lovers' friend; a brook murmurs and tells a story, an old oak hides
secrets; the skies smile or thunder with rage, and mountaintops reflect in the big
blue sky and tell of the eternity of nature and the transience of all things human,
etc. Science sees things quite differently. For science, nature is detached and the
universe is blank and everything in it is just a game of blind and impersonal
forces. The moon is a plain, cold planet that has been moving in the dark of space
for millions of years, with no known or comprehensible purpose. We would learn
so much about ourselves if we were able to say with certainty which held more
truth to us and which was closer: the untruth of the poet or the truth of the
scientist. This is, perhaps, where the answer is to who we are and where we are
from, in fact, the answer about our nature and our origin.
Funny is a sober man among drunks. For in the company of drunks, the drunks are
the majority and they set the standard of normality. In such company a sober man
seems abnormal.
When we say that the work of any true artist is essentially autobiographical, we
certainly do not mean that the adventures he leads his characters through are, in
fact, events from the writer's life. We simply mean that descriptions of inner lives,
dilemmas, suspicions, sufferings-especially the sufferings-are a description of
one's own life. For no one has ever described someone else's suffering, nor is it
possible to. The suffering any writer describes is his own, past or future, but his
own, not someone else's. In that sense, every novel is autobiographical in its
essential part.
Only he who asks shall receive an answer.
There is a reason why I am enduring all this. The reason is just one, but sufficient:
I must.
Fasting has something truly human to it, taking the better sense of the word. It
cannot, of course, be analyzed, nor can it be proved, for it is a purely personal
experience. When I was in prison, in moments of the kind of depression that can
absorb a man in such a situation, I always felt worse if I ate well. Hunger always
helped me more than a wonderful parcel from home. For the worst combination is
an empty soul and a full stomach. Why is it so? Thoughts on this could contribute
to our understanding of the essence of a human being more than deep and
learned philosophical discussion on the topic.
However paradoxical it may sound, the invention of gunpowder enhanced the rule
of the spirit over naked physical force. It provided an opportunity for the
physically weak, provided they had the spirit and the courage.
Advantages of freedom do not have to be proved by something outside freedom
itself. It is its own underwriter.
There are signs of upheaval everywhere. It is a turmoil that reaches to the bottom
of our world, to its very foundations.
Heidegger and his philosophy of death are totally a part of the Christian world of
thought and emotion, as much as Marx and his optimistic philosophy of life belong
to the Jewish world of the Old Testament. Nominal alignments do not mean much.
Marx and Heidegger are like Moses and Jesus, the New and the Old Testament,
Judaism and Christianity. Marx's philosophy is shallow and optimistic; Heidegger's
is deep and pessimistic. True philosophy is only the one that takes into account
the fact of death. Otherwise, the question that always remains is how can one
speak truly of life, while avoiding the fact the truth of which is the only one void of
any doubt-the fact of death.
294. Two men are gambling on the sinking Titanic. One of them is cheating.
Many people resemble these two in real life.
304. When you are in prison, you have but one desire: freedom. If you fall ill in
prison, you do not think about freedom, you think about health. Health is,
therefore, more important than freedom.
325. I do not know if one can speak of a stupid peasant. Stupidity is far more
frequent with so-called intellectual imbeciles. That is the most repelling and the
most obvious form of stupidity. False erudition reveals rather than conceals
stupidity. In it, stupidity is at its most obvious. I have never found such stupidity
with peasants.
326. Excessive reading does not make us smarter. Some people simply "devour"
books. They do it without the necessary intervals of thought, which are necessary
in order to "digest," to process what has been read, to absorb and comprehend it.
When people of that kind speak, pieces of Hegel, Heidegger and Marx come out
raw, unprocessed. Reading requires personal contribution as much as a bee
requires "inner" work, as well as time, to transform pollen into honey.
328. Newton, Darwin and Freud introduced determinism into everything they
studied: the first into the universe, the second into the living world, and the third
into the psyche. All three types of determinism were to be questioned later, and in
the same sequence. It all started with Einstein's denial of Newton's universe.
355. In the world, things are in relations of mutual dependence rather than
those of cause and effect. Instead of observing them in a cause-and-effect
relationship, we should observe them in their correlation.
360. Their entire long story, with an abundance of words, is usually just a clear
sign that they have nothing to say.
366. Life is a game where nobody wins. . . except for those who believe and do
good deeds. . . (Qur'an, Surah "Al Asr").
377. Kundera' s Theresa (Unbearable Lightness of Being) felt nakedness as a
sign of the compulsory uniformity of a concentration camp, a sign of humiliation.
413. Is the world divided into good and evil, and is man thus halved? I think that
that is where lies the difference between a "romantic" and a "realist." Romantics
see the world as a battle arena between men, of whom some are good and some
are evil. Realists see the same battle, but primarily within man himself. I think that
the latter is closer to the truth.
417. In King Lear, Shakespeare shows that only when mad does Lear understand
life, and only when blind does Gloucester "see" life. The mind and eyes often do
not see. It is the soul that understands and sees.
418. There are places more desolate than cemeteries. People go there with
memories and emotions, they cry and lay flowers. So, let us not say: desolate as a
cemetery. The comparison is false.
423. If I cannot speak freely with a friend-and I obviously cannot, read my
judgment-if all privacy is denied, then it is a concentration camp. It is not just
ordinary violence; it is the total elimination of privacy, one of the features of a
concentration camp.
426. There is no proof of the existence of the soul, unless some of our questions
that have no answers reveal something like that. One of those questions is why
poetry tells about the human soul more than all the psychology of our time. Why
is it poets rather than psychologists uncover the soul, why Shakespeare, and not
Freud or Jung? Another question may be: why is it that the better off we are, the
more displeased we are? Or: Why is pessimistic philosophy born in regions of
affluence? Why is man negatively affected by comfort?
428. Look at a daring building: true, it is held together by adhesives or by steel
built into it, but the real truth is that it is held together by the thought inside its
basic balance and ratios.
457. As the case of Voltaire (and not just his case) shows, upbringing may result
in the unintended. Voltaire was brought up by Jesuits, and in him they bred their
fiercest enemy.
500. There are paradoxes. If there were no night, we would be deprived of the
magnificent image of a starry sky. Thus light deprives us of "vision," and darkness
helps us "see."
509. A word uncovers the truth; it can also be used to conceal it.
521. Imitation is the most obvious form of acceptance.
523. The deepest, most important question the human mind ever asked itself,
the most important question ever asked, is: Why does something exist, rather
than nothing? Or: why does something exist at all? For me, this is the fundamental
question of ontology.
533. Endless lies are possible on one and the same thing. The truth about it is
just one.
534. Life is a dangerous thing. Insecurity is the price of living. Only those who
died and those who will never be born are absolutely safe.
540. It was Plato who, long ago, found that it was impossible to discuss anything
before agreeing on the terminology, that is, on the meaning of notions and
names.
562. Existentialism is philosophy in its subject, and art in the means it uses to
resolve it.
563. All Heidegger's efforts, supported by incredible perseverance, knowledge
and passion, to build a "philosophy of existence," by his own admission, ended in
failure.
578. "It is better to deal with an intelligent devil rather than a good-natured
fool," says a proverb. This is probably so because an intelligent rascal is guided by
interest, thus being, contrary to a good-natured fool, mainly predictable. You know
where you stand and what you can expect.
585. In moments of real tragedy, there is no place for acting or complacent
grief.
588. History sometimes makes fun of us and of our best intentions.
591. Ivo Andric was once asked what would have been his most important
message, if he had been asked to give just a very short one, and he said: "Do not
get drunk." He did believe that there were other evils, most of which would have
disappeared, though, if people stopped drinking. Still, the writer emphasized:
"When people speak about how damaging alcohol is, they give numerous
convincing examples. A doctor speaks about how damaging it is for health, a
social worker speaks about problems of alcoholics' families, divorces, unhappy
children and devastated homes, public officials speak about economic damages,
etc., but one reason, perhaps the most important one, is often left out: human
dignity. I would like to say to people: do not drink for your own sake, out of self-
respect, for your own dignity, do not humiliate yourselves." My comment:
That is, presumably, the reason how a ban on alcohol came to be the subject of a
religious ban. For religion may be indifferent towards this calculation of damages
and benefits, but it cannot remain indifferent towards violations of human dignity.
695. Between sorrow and indifference, I will choose sorrow.
696. Falsity is the only thing uglier than an ugly truth.
782. If I do not kill time, time will kill me.
790. Melancholy is a matter of the soul, not a matter of the psyche, and it was
thus always of more interest to philosophers and poets (as well as theologians)
rather than psychiatrists.
824. If there is anything that has charisma, it is suffering ("charisma of
suffering").
825. A man can flee the unpleasant present in two directions: into the past or
into the future. The choice depends on character and convictions. The so-called
dignified withdrawal from reality can be mere cowardice, capitulation in the face
of reality or a whining self-deception. It is hard to learn exactly which one of these
is valid for a particular case.
847. The matter is not only of dignity of life, but also of dignity of death. The
two are connected. Lack of respect for death is a consequence of the lack of
respect of life.
853. Our skill of life and our knowledge of life are two completely different
things. In a similar way, it is one thing to be an artist, to create, and our
knowledge of art, or our ignorance of it is something different, the latter being
more frequent and more true.
873. It is said that mathematics is a synthesis of rationality.
876. I am convinced that there are illnesses that stupid people cannot succumb
to. I think that if I tried, I could even list some of them.
878. What is the biggest question of honor? One thing above all: stay true to
yourself and your destiny.
879. How big is disappointment? As big as hope was. Big hopes create big
disappointments.
880. "Sad is this time of ours, when it is more difficult to break a bias than a
atom"-A. Einstein.
898. Prison allows for realizations that can be said to be "painfully
fundamental."
929. A true man speaks most harshly with those he loves or of things he cares
for the most.
966. Can life have a happy end? How do you imagine it? Doesn't every man
suffer losses? (Qur'an, Surah "Al Asr").
998. "For a man to be able to read a lot, he should be either very rich, or very
poor," said a famous film director. I would add: or a prisoner (in my case).
1010. During my time in prison, I never noticed a drop in my will to live, but I
often realized that I was finding relief in the fact that I was old enough to know
that death was not too far away. This thought brought me comfort. I treasured it
like a big secret.
1012. Realists object that what we say or think about man is excessive idealism
rather than the truth. Yes, it is possible that we do not speak of men, but rather of
our desires, not of what man is, but what he should be. That may be true. But,
despite all, this beautiful dream of what man is like is what makes us human. If we
ever cast away this idea as an illusion or a folly, in the name of "truth" or "reality,"
everything that makes our life bearable will disappear and we will become
definitively prepared for all the evils and atrocities that humanity is prone to.
Unfortunately, many of them, initiated in the name of the "truth" that man does
not exist, are already implemented in large parts of our planet.
1049. A happy man does not have a life story. One may say: boring as a biography
of a happy man living in peaceful times. At least that is what it looks like. And is it
so? Is there a truly happy man? Is an average Swiss or an average Swede truly
happy today? Bauer and Ibsen tell us something about that.
1080. There are realizations that we cannot confirm in any other way but to go
through them ourselves. It takes hardship (and suffering) to reach that level, to
see and be assured. There is no other way.
1094. A man can be as old as an old shoe, or as old as an old town or at least as
an old, centennial oak tree. If he wants to, a man can grow old in this second way.
It requires spirit. And what is spirit? This question has almost no answer, certainly
not a direct one, but Socrates comes to my mind. This tragic Ancient Greek
scholar had an ugly face, an ugly face that was loved by all. Despite that, he was
a model of dignity and respect for those who knew him best, especially by his
students. Perhaps at least some part of the answer to the question: what is human
spirit, lies here.
1117. It is the kind of people, too wise and spiritual, who know how to rejoice
endlessly and how to suffer endlessly. Extremes are typical of this kind of people.
1122. Even the most profound, the most versatile wisdom a man may "know," feel
or "live," once spoken, becomes a thought, is reduced to a thought. And a thought
is, by definition, one-sided. Those are the inevitable human limits, or the limits of
knowledge, information and human communication.
1123. A true poet, a true artist, is "engaged" even when he does not wish to be.
His art-if it is true-is always a testimony against lies. That is where the inevitable
engagement of artists lies.
1182. There are situations in a man's life when a mere thought of death can
awaken a desire and move the soul out of total numbness.
1187. This is how they praised old age (and I still do not know if they were right):
Plato: "Eyes of the spirit become discerning only when the eyes of the body start
to decline." Seneca: "The soul is flourishing and it is rejoicing the fact that it has
little to do with the body." Zuber: "Those who have long old age are as if purged of
the body." Tolstoy: "It is to the old that we owe the moral advancement of the
world." Vuando: "As much as the body reclines towards its fall, so much the soul
ascends to its peak," etc.
1193. In prison, man has a shortage of space and an excess of time.
Unfortunately, space and time cannot compensate here.
1232. Some people are alive merely biologically. Emotionally and psychologically
they are dead. To be alive means, first of all, to be alive in spirit.
1233. Despite numerous exaggerations, even nonsense, fashion has a good side
to it: it expresses the need of an individual to be individual, to be "different."
1235. In a certain way, a child is more human than an adult: it possesses the most
appealing and the most convincing features-spontaneity of will and emotions. So,
while growing up, man loses some of his "humanness," some of what he brought
with him from Paradise. By living, he moves further from its source and that is why
"every man suffers losses" (Qur'an). Is our life, just like the "life" of nature, a
continuous increase of entropy?
1257. I always wondered what was the difference between a story and a report of
an event. The content of the story is not just the event itself, the reality, but
rather the event as I experienced it. The story is not realistic, but it makes sense.
A report is just realistic, it makes no sense, it is a mere collection of facts, whereas
a story is an organized event. A story with no end is not a story, time in it stops
being an endless flow. In a story, time is somehow bordered. A story is not the
truth-it can be, but the truth impedes the story more than it helps it in being a
story.
1267. Neither is the irrational senseless, nor is the rational always sensible. It is
sometimes the other way round.
1275. Suffering cannot be avoided, but it may be complemented by ideas.
Everything that lives, suffers. But only men give ideas to suffering. That is the
difference.
1276. Any reasonable thinking naturally strives towards a system. It is its good as
well as its bad side.
1295. A true man carries out his human task, or exhausts himself trying to fulfill it.
That is the beginning and the end of what we call human. The task itself is usually
understood in an individual way. Religion and ethics are but attempts to objectify
this task, to determine it and make it less subjective. It is always something
outside mere biology. For, animals live, too. In order to be human, man must
possess something above biological life alone. The question is not how, but why
one lives.
1324. I have often boasted (to myself and others) that I am turned toward the
future rather than the past, and this has been true. I thought that this was a
particular virtue of mine. It was certainly useful, but it was not a virtue. Only much
later did I understand that it was an escape from the past and from bad
memories. It seemed to me at certain moments that there was nothing beautiful
in anything that I had gone through; it all seemed like an inferno that I was able to
rescue (have I?) my three children from.
1325. Kant claims that the laws of natural phenomena must a priori correspond to
reason and its forms, and its categories prescribe even the laws of phenomena,
thus also of the nature as the "synthesis of all phenomena." Reason is therefore of
a legislative nature. As there is obviously a correspondence between nature and
notions on subjects of experiences. How is this correspondence possible?
1329. (Politicians and thinkers): Whoever still remembers Baron Cedlic- whom
Kant addresses as a "humble and most obedient servant" (in the dedication of
Critique of Pure Reason)?
1332. It sometimes seems to me that for a man to endure the pressures of life, he
must descend to the ninth circle of the inferno. That means enduring the
unendurable and accepting the unacceptable. Accepting everything one fears,
absolutely everything. And just when it seems that all the troubles of this world
have already befallen him, that he has drank all the cups of bitterness except for
the most bitter one, it means to take that one and drink it all. There are people
who are said to have gone gray overnight. Are they the ones who descended to
the very bottom? And when they returned, all that was left of them was something
that can face the entire world, heaven and earth, and can look any truth in the
eye. Everything that could have happened did happen to them and they have
nothing left to fear, there is no fear left. They are the ones who are prepared to
live their life, no matter what it may be like, to endure with serenity and dignity all
the way to the end. And those who can endure life, can endure death. For life is
more difficult and more dangerous than death.
1356. Man is born in blood, pain and scream, the first thing heard is crying, the
birth is not exactly a natural act, it is painful, almost cruel. Does this not say
something about the very life that has just been created?
1388. It may sound awkward, but evil gives sense to our existence. If there is no
evil, there is no good. If there are no good and evil, everything is reduced to
mechanics, thus to non-existence (non-sense).
1395. I have sometimes doubted my faith. I wondered if it really existed. But one
thing was certain: I was already an old man, but I had no great fear of death. In
fact, I never thought I would really die. I was more absorbed by the fear of the
responsibility that awaited me. It was then that I understood that my faith was
stronger than I thought and that such an emotion could only have originated from
and been maintained by faith in God.
1407. I sometimes vividly remember my youth, the early youth when all the
illusions were there. Life that was to come would blow like the wind, shatter them
all and leave behind a wasteland. Still, not everything is gone, I have my children.
I am grateful to God.
1417. What we call good fortune is sometimes just concurrence of our personal
task and our historical one, of our biography and our history, our personal
aspirations and historical trends. Some find this "good fortune" in foregoing the
personal and accepting the historical imperative as one's own. If I look at things
that way, most of my life has been in collision with the historical one and harmony
began to appear only recently. It is a paradox that such good fortune is happening
at such a late stage of my life, the one I am spending here. I may also say: I was
born too early to be happy, I should have been born a little later. However, birth is
one of many things we do not choose. It is part of our destiny.
1431. I finished reading Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. It is Saturday,
June 28, 1986. (My son is exactly 30 years old today and I have almost nine years
of prison before me.) The reading was so "dense" that at times it felt like a jungle
where I had to cut my way through with a machete. It is one of the best books I
have read, and it is certainly one of the closest to my own thoughts and
dilemmas.
1452. True love only chooses to reside in a noble heart. Selfish hearts cannot love.
1458. The ninth, the worst circle of the Inferno. Dante intended it for traitors.
1516. In literature, the greatness of a hero is not in his social significance, but in
the greatness of the moral dilemma he represents. A character is great if he
represents the good and the evil in a novel, irrespective of his social ranking, his
title or position. That is why, in a novel or a drama, a king may be an insignificant
character and a servant may be a hero. Why is it not so in life? The reason is that
in writing the writer introduces us to the soul of a hero, and in real life we get to
know people only by their outer side. A man may be in our vicinity for years (at
work or in the neighborhood) and we may believe that we know him, and what we
know, in fact, are exactly the things that bear no moral value: name, profession,
financial situation and social standing, etc. What is truly important and what no
one but a writer could tell us about that person usually remains unknown.
1525. There are "mighty" personalities, mighty only because the society or the
environment where they act is weak.
1526. You cannot give up your ideals, and you see quite clearly that there is no
place for them in reality. That is a tragic situation.
1529. There are people who accumulate knowledge without expanding their
views. The latter is achieved only through ideas.
1530. Writers may be well received by society or they may be rejected and
misunderstood. In the former case, they are faced with the danger of alienating
themselves from life and reality, and in the latter, to disappear. Both have
happened.
1551. Contempt toward people can be twofold and can originate from totally
opposite emotions. It can be a product of selfishness and insensitivity to people; in
that case, contempt is an excuse for one's own emptiness. However, it can also be
the other side of love for them, thus a result of continuing love for people and
constant disappointment with them. The first is a feature of the selfish and the
insensitive, and the latter of generous and noble souls.
1552. What is a star (or sky) for an astronomer and what is it for a poet, and
which of the two is right? To an astronomer, the sky is an empty, desolate space
that embodies a kind of algebra (or geometry). To a poet, stars are shimmering
messages that create melancholy emotions, or symbols of eternity and order
above a transient, forever changing world. Again we have two truths. What should
one teach a child first: a beautiful poem about the moon or astronomic
information about it?
1555. A starry sky is equally interesting to a scientist, a mystic, an ethics scholar
and a poet. Looking at the stars, each experiences something different and each
sees his own picture. An image (a scene) is endless; it can be compared to itself
and nothing else.
1579. I have just finished Dickens's David Coppeifield and I wondered: from the
point of view of formal morality, are Mr. Murdstone and his sister, who devised the
monstrous system of upbringing, bad people? Perhaps not, but the scenes
described by Dickens, where Mr. Murdstone's every word and Mrs. Murdstone's
every move spread a deadly coldness, uncovering a kind of cruel order and
mercilessness. God, save me from righteous people who possess honesty but
have no heart. (God, save me from their heartless honesty.)
1583. Principles alone are insufficient. The second "decisive parameter" is man.
The most sublime deeds of kindness and mercy have been done in the name of
Christian principles, but stakes have burned too. It depended on the people who
were applying the principles. Let alone the hypocrites.
1588. A toothache hurts, stupidity does not. A hollow head does not hurt the way
a hollow tooth does. It is just damaging, but one does not die of stupidity.
1596. The political and material circumstances and troubles I have gone through
in my life made my children, I believe, think and judge life and its problems much
earlier than would normally have been the case. The consequences of this in their
lives must have been both good and bad. God grant that there were more of the
good ones.
1600. There are people who are not materialists in the philosophical sense, but
are by their instincts and behaviour. Most people are, in fact, like that.
1607. Faust sells his soul for the treasures of this world-an old story, very old and
often repeated. And true.
1613. "Speaking of history, it is art that flicks through the pages of the book of
centuries, questions chronicles, fills in what the chroniclers missed out, reawakens
facts, customs and characters, bridges analyses, groups what has been
separated, introduces harmony into disharmony"-thus writes Victor Hugo. Still,
speaking of history and art, I believe that there is a difference in the subject itself.
History describes external events. Historical novels describe life itself. History
deals with events, and novels deal with experiences. The subject of history is a
people, a society, a community or a group; the subject of a novel is a person (an
individual). History written on the basis of a novel or an epic poem would be very
bad, but at the same time our complete knowledge of an epoch is not possible
without a novel or a poem about it. However inaccurate literature may be in its
presentation of historical facts, it is true in terms of local colour, social climate,
spirit of the time, emotions and a subjective experience of a historical event
recorded truly, albeit only externally, by history. We should therefore leave history
to historians and life to poets. The latter will tell us truths about a time gone by,
truths of a kind that we can never find in history. There is obviously an outer and
an inner history of any era.
1645. It is difficult to help a man without hurting his pride. Everyone wants to be a
giver and not a receiver.
1649. Nietzsche's "super-humans" are weak. For it is easy to live only for oneself,
follow one's own instincts, which is Nietzsche's advice to his superhuman; it is
hard to live for others and against one's own instinct. It is easy to retaliate, it is
hard to forgive. It is easy to want the wife of thy neighbour, it is hard to resist the
temptation. The first requires less than a man. Only the second requires a super-
human.
1652. There is a strange link between good and evil. Were there no evil, would
there be good? Is there good but in the struggle for good? Ibsen had nothing
against oppression, for-he used to say-what else would awaken inside us the love
for freedom? When he learnt that the Italian army had liberated Rome, he was not
particularly delighted. He said: "The beautiful yearning for freedom is lost forever.
I myself must admit that the struggle for freedom is the only thing about freedom
that I like. I am not interested in the exercise of freedom" (Henrik Ibsen, Brand).
My comment: these are the thoughts of a man who lives in freedom. I do not know
if Brand would think the same way if he were in my situation.
1665. Has it ever happened to you that you actually like a rogue more than a so-
called honest citizen? Have you ever wondered why? I believe that this can only
be so because a rogue is more original and more his own. He is what he is. An
honest citizen often acts according to a law that is not his own, that which was
imposed upon him, and a rogue acts true to himself, according to his own law. It
does not mean that you like misdemeanours, nor that you approve of crime or sin,
it is about the other part of the pair-personality. We like a man who is his own
legislator. And conversely, we like the acts of a moral man, we do not like the man
himself, since he obeys, and obedience is a form of non-freedom. Actions in
accordance with a code that does not arise from the soul can easily be odious. In
the end of nineteenth-century poetry, we find certain understanding for rogues
and sinners, and the understanding originates from the above. "Be whatever you
want to be, but be true to yourself all the way," says Ibsen's Brand. In certain
extreme situations, a rogue seems a free man, and a moral man seems a slave to
rules. Faced with a choice like this one, our spontaneous sympathies are with the
free man. A slave can be pitied, but no one wishes to identify with him.
1674. I often wondered, especially in the first days after the verdict, whether I had
the courage that could endure all that was ahead of me. There were days when
death was my only hope. I kept it as a secret that only I knew, a secret THEY
neither knew nor could take away from me.
1678. Love cannot exist as something general, just as something individual. That
is why Jesus speaks of love for a neighbour. Only this specific love has meaning
and only this love exists. Love for mankind-what is it? How does one love
mankind? There is love for a human being or no love at all.
1679. "Be serious with your work, always and everywhere," says Kierkegaard-
bearing in mind the Ibsenian (or Nietzschean) law of either-or. You either are the
one who is called for and ready to sacrifice unconditionally for an ideal, or you are
not, in which case, your seriousness toward work means that you do not accept it
at all. There is nothing worse than doing things halfway. It sometimes equals
treason and lies.
1680. To have one's own self, to be aware of it, to defend it-irrespective of what
else the "I" may mean-is the first condition for being human. That is why we can
sometimes feel respect and be interested in the destiny of a negative hero-if he is
consistent and ready to draw consequences of his own attitude.
1691. A man and a woman are the basic cell of the world and of life. No
revolutions, changes of empires, changes of laws and owners over the goods of
the world were ever able to change real life unless they changed the relationship
between man and woman. And vice-versa: the smallest shift in this basic element
of life leads to an overall upheaval. The first image of Him and Her, this primordial
image, is linked to Paradise, to sin, to responsibility and punishment. Everything
else that happened later, starting from the epoch-making Descent, is linked to
Adam and Eve and their relationship. What happened between them started as
metaphysics, and metaphysics it remained. All subsequent history has been
determined by this first drama and its main characters, Him and Her.
1717. That was the embrace of the unfortunate, those who could not belong to
each other under the laws of this world. And there was but one way out of this
embrace reminiscent more of a struggle: death. For "love and death are the
same"-I do not know whose words these are, but they are implanted deep in my
memory.
1727. It can be said of many people: they wanted to destroy the mechanism,
instead they became its victims.
1728. Justice is one of those few things that need no proof. To prove the need for
justice and fairness is either superfluous for those who have a heart or useless for
those who do not. The very question why there is a need to be just shows that any
conversation and any explanation are pointless.
1729. A metropolis has a strange influence on men. A man poisoned by a
metropolis loses the immediate sense of life that he had when he came to this
world. He starts to hate nature, the sea, the sky, the clouds and becomes an
"addict" just as he would with any extensively administered poison.
1735. American writers-contrary to European writers-do not strive to improve the
world nor do they believe in such a mission of literature. To them, ideology is one
of the grave dangers of this world. I agree with them.
1746. To seek trouble-this is not courage, this is madness. Courage is the
willingness of man to sensibly face the troubles he cannot avoid.
1748. Accustomed to darkness, moles cannot tolerate light. To them, darkness is a
normal state and light is unnatural and unbearable. Some people are like them.
They are accustomed to darkness, they dislike light.
1751. Nietzsche once wrote that he hated "the weak, the moralists and the
slaves." For him, these were one and the same kind of people.
1760. In order to build, there must be destruction. Only anger can destroy, love
cannot. That is why anger is a necessary and a useful part of life.
1762. We seek freedom, but are we worthy of it?
1763. This one great hardship saved me from hundreds of small ones that would
have eaten away at me every day, in bits, yet systematically.
1766. I took revenge on hardship from my earlier life by forgetting it.
1774. I would like to live like a human being but I would like to ail and die quietly,
like an animal.
1780. When Prophet Yahweh, God's Emissary, asked Satan about the time when
his power over man was the strongest, he replied: "When man has eaten enough
and drank enough."
1789a. After seeing a large exhibition of modern painting (in Sarajevo in 1980) it
took me some time to re-establish balance and a normal link with the outer world
and to start walking through it straight. Upon leaving the exhibition and entering
the street, I felt a mild clash between the two worlds, the one from the painting
and the real one. It is obvious that laws governing these worlds are not the same.
1790. When you see a painting you do not understand, you may think that the
creator is not an artist but rather a charlatan playing with a naive audience.
However, you may also think this: How high did the creator have to climb and how
low did he have to descend in order to see a scene or a truth he is trying to tell
you? If you do this, you will err less. For, think about it, you do not understand an
essay on electronics, nor do you understand much of what a scientist may tell you
about how he is building a spaceship to go to Saturn and how he plans to direct its
flight from Earth. Although what he is telling you is fantastic and hard to
understand, the scientist is not a charlatan. So why should a painter whose
painting you do not understand be one?
1795. Injustice can be remedied by justice, by punishment. Same for same. Crime
and punishment, remedium peccati. But the only way to truly overpower injustice
is forgiveness. That is why the Qur'an instructs justice and recommends
forgiveness. And yet, how does one know that justice is truly just, and not just a
new injustice? And is there the same in human life? Are crime and punishment
ever-can they at all be-the same, one at the measure of the other? Is not every
justice, for it is pronounced and executed by men, always a new injustice, seeking
again justice of its own? Over and over again.
1797. It was in Andric, I think, where I read that surplus imagination and laziness
go together. Imaginative people are often lazy. Hard working ones are often dry,
rational, calculating. Some people are pushed towards hard work by selfishness,
ambition, desire for attention. Yet lazy people are not as disliked as we may
expect, since their nonchalance is often accompanied by a total absence of
ambition and calculation. In this respect there is a parallel with teetotallers and
drunks. While we basically praise teetotalism and condemn drinking, we do not
always feel the same towards teetotallers and drunks. The only thing we respect
in some teetotallers is their sobriety, wishing them to be as far from us as
possible.
1799. It is impossible to go forward, and backward there is nothing to go back to.
1801. Is there anything more beautiful than a rainbow? But the man who is inside
it, cannot see it.
1802. It is one thing to do evil unto man, but it is another, though not a very
different thing, to not do unto them the good you were able and obliged to do. If
you summarize your life from time to time, do not forget the latter.
1804. Philosophy came to be and continues to exist out of man's natural
endeavour to conceive or at least to comprehend the world. Of as long as this
endeavour lives, so shall philosophy.
1826. All my reasons remained helpless, as if before a wall or a kind of madness.
Madness knows no reasons. No comparison with other people and events was of
help. For this comparison was based on the typical and the normal, and here
everything was atypical and abnormal.
1833. Life is full of paradoxes. Thus, for example, a true man who loves and
honours others in principle goes by his conscience and cares very little about
criticisms or praise of others. Conversely, a vain man usually despises others but
secretly cherishes their opinion, hence cares about the opinion of those he
despises. We usually find this in dictators and tyrannical natures. Stalin is said to
have despised his surroundings bitterly. He was particularly disparaging towards
poets and intellectuals (Osip Mandelstam, a poet, lost his head because of a poem
about Stalin written too liberally). The logical question is: Why are they affected
by the opinions of those whom they consider beneath them and whom they
despise?
1851. Hatred is said to be blind, but so is love, in its own way. I cannot remember
truly hating anyone, but I am certain that I have known much better the people I
disliked or even could not stand the sight of. The distance I felt towards them
helped me to see all their weaknesses, lack of talent and intelligence, basically all
their faults that would have remained unknown to me had I liked them. It is a
different question whether this "knowledge" of mine (or lack thereof) is a good
thing, and should we know all the bad truths about people close to us.
1852. A temptation that lurks at us: We sometimes feel disgust (or even hatred)
for a person against whom we have nothing to say and who is no worse than us or
those we love and respect. This unfounded antipathy towards people is a frequent
and an ugly occurrence. It is one of our temptations.
1855. Reading is, more or less-depending on the reader-a creative act, for the
reader provides his own interpretation to what he read. Ten readers-ten different
characters of Fyodor Karamazov, and with it numerous unexpected judgments and
associations, totally subjective, varying from one reader to the next. That is, to an
extent, the difference between reading a story and watching a film. While reading
we reconstruct a character (or a landscape), in film it is given and the viewer
receives it passively. While reading a novel the image is in the mind of the reader,
and while watching a film the image is on the screen. We should therefore read,
for film cannot replace that.
1861. I have always found modern painting a little difficult to understand, but it
always attracted me, like a secret. I read with curiosity everything on paintings of
this style that I could lay my hands on. And here in prison, there have been days
when I was "attacked" by a desire to understand a secret, an essence eluding me
yet feeling so near. If I had been a painter, I am certain that, feeling the
inadequacy of words, I would have painted those incomprehensible images that I
used to gaze at with bewilderment and awe. I think that at such times I did
understand modern painting, inasmuch as anyone but the creator can understand
it at all.
1863. As for the difficult, the ultimate questions, the ones on life and death,
especially the latter, some keep asking themselves and some keep avoiding them.
But neither is finding any answers. The first because there is no answer, the latter
because they are not looking. At first sight, the result is the same. Still, the
difference between those two categories of people is immense, just like the
difference between wisdom and recklessness.
1864. Is life without desires imaginable? Are not life and desires one and the same
thing? Even if you want to (are endeavouring to) overcome a desire, it is
nonetheless a desire. Thought and desires cannot be stopped.
1866. I have read writings by Tolstoy, Hugo, Dostoyevsky, Rousseau, and came to
a conclusion: none, not even people whom we hold to be geniuses, were free from
vices and weaknesses. The only difference is how much people are willing to
admit this to themselves and others. To courageously face all the sins and failures
of one's life, in a confrontation that poisons and purges the soul at the same time,
this is something that only a truly brave, great man is capable of. There are no
imperfect human beings, just insincere ones.
1869. Describing his childhood, Tolstoy tells us that the memory of that time fills
him with a sensation of something poetic and mysterious and how then, growing
up, he lost this true feeling of the depth of life. We all feel something similar. Does
not the same happen to mankind and has not mankind, when leaving its
childhood, lost that feeling (or that memory) for the mysterious or the supra-
sensory? Is not the drama (or the entire development) that mankind has gone
through repeated in human life? And this time, the development does not just
consist of advancement, but also of retrogression or loss?
1870. I do not know much about computers, but I can say with certainty that the
intelligence of computers is stupid and that it is at best a simulation of
intelligence. This simulation can be endlessly improved but it will never cross that
magic line and become spontaneous and authentic. And it is exactly that fact that
represents the endlessly great (or, if you prefer, the endlessly small) difference
between the animate and the inanimate. No human product can cross this
threshold. Only God was capable of that. "God is not reluctant to give you an
example of a fly" (Qur'an). However great our knowledge is, do we not
overestimate it at times? If all the knowledge of all the libraries of the world were
to be concentrated into a single imaginary computer, and if all the greatest
scientists of the world were to be gathered into an imaginary institute or
laboratory, and if they were to be given all the time and all the resources they
may ask for, they would not be able to produce a single swamp mosquito (a fly).
That is the message of the Qur'an's ayyah on a fly.
1872. When we try to imagine a good writer, we usually think of the qualities he
should possess: imagination, experience, talent, perceptiveness, intellect. But I
read somewhere that Turgenev made a list of flaws a man should possess in order
to be a writer. Thinking about this unexpected or the "inverted" way of looking at
things, I think that one flaw should be very high on this list: vanity. For why does a
writer believe in the first place that he should teach us or educate us or that we
should know what he thinks? Is this not a form of vanity?
1875. As for the relationship of these two histories (the inner and the outer- see
note 1613) the inner may contain the real truth about events, if it were not an
excellent field for the writer's arbitrariness, subjectivity, bias and imagination. For
what is there that guarantees to us that people were exactly the way the writer
describes them in his novels? For example, Ivo Andric is persistently reproached
for being biased against Islam and Moslems and that this bias drew all his
characters with Moslem names. In his stories, Moslems are always primitive,
dishonest, weak and idle, prone to deceit and laziness. The outer history, despite
everything, lends itself a lot less to mystification and arbitrariness of this kind. In
any case, it is more verifiable. For not all writers are as conscientious when writing
so-called inner histories as Leo Tolstoy. For example, while writing his 30-page
story titled "Why?," he is known to have read a number of books on the history of
the 1830-1831 Polish rebellion, in order to be as truthful as possible. He wrote in
his diary: "I need to read a lot in order to write five lines scattered throughout the
story." The opposite example may be the said Andric, who is said to have totally
misrepresented the land expropriation prior to the construction of the bridge on
the Dma. According to Andric, it was a ruthless grab with no compensation and no
right to complain, accompanied by violence. However, Osman Sokolovic, a
historian, found and published court archive documents that showed that one by
one the owners went to the Turks' office and how the purchase price was
determined for each lot that was taken. Sokolovic quoted literal translations of
records that were no different than the modern ones put together on similar
occasions. If Andric did not follow historical facts or if he did not confirm them, if
he drew everything he wrote on people, their character, beliefs, feelings and
relationships from his imagination (and he was undoubtedly very imaginative)
then there is in his Bridge on the Drina, The Travnik Chronicle, The Damned Yard
and Djerzelez nothing one may learn and understand about time and people that
really existed. What can be learnt from Andric' s novels is perhaps something
about people in general, about what they may have been like and not what they
were really like. But in that case his works have a philosophical value and have no
significance for what we call an inner history of an epoch.
1903. Time and use wear out most things, but there are those-like folk songs-that
go from mouth to mouth and are shaped and enriched with time, thus becoming
shorter and more meaningful.
1915. There is one thing that we want and hate at the same time: old age.
1951. There is no wisdom without experience, one's own, of course. However, if it
is true that a clever man uses someone else's rather than his own experience,
what arises is that recklessness in youth is the condition of wisdom in old age.
What follows is that young smart men never achieve true wisdom and that such
wisdom is achieved only by those who were neither very wise nor very thoughtful
in their youth.
2018. Water reduced to turbines of a plant is useful. Water that remains free and
falls free is not useful, but it is beautiful.
2019. Can something be said of "nothing"?
2076. One of the arguments of the feminist movement is that a woman has been
expressing herself as a mother and that it is now time for her to express herself as
a personality. In their argumentation, mother and personality are opposed terms. I
would like someone to explain this to me. I have always thought that there is
nothing more personal or richer in personality than a mother, that a mother is a
superb personality. Feminist dialectics is confusing.
2078. Why else do we treasure objects and memories of times long gone, if not
because they represent symbols of human continuation and tradition.
2079. If it is sincere, remorse is a moral category of the ultimate kind. In my eyes,
a man who sinned and repented is better than those who never sinned (and there
are such). I have always had an aversion to so-called sinless men and, despite my
great desire to do so, I have never been able to free myself from this mistrust.
Perhaps this is because I am neither sinless nor perfect.
2080. It is no wonder that painters paint. The world is full of shapes, colours, light
and shadow-therefore made to be painted, and a human being with eyes and soul
is made to paint. Thus a painter and his world are at each other's measure.
2109. Real men are not rough. They have emotions and they are not ashamed of
them. Homer's famous heroes, whose heroic deeds he described so vividly, do not
hide tears. When Patroclus saw his Achaeans killed before Troy, "tears streamed
down his cheeks like water down a rocky mountain." Achilles said to him: "Why do
you cry, Patroclus, like a little girl running behind her mother and crying until the
mother takes her in her arms?" And when Patroclus was killed, Achilles "fell on the
ground.. . and cried, with such pain that even his mother Tehida heard him in the
depths of the sea." Antioch cried, "shedding bitter tears." Homer and his heroes
are no less manly because of their tears.
2135. A "better life" (as a slogan, a motto, a goal) is something a man can work
toward but not die for. One may suffer for something above the "standard of
living," despite the fact that what is "above" is in some cases an illusion, even a
delusion. It is, in fact, something that belongs to the same order of things as
death itself: love, honor, freedom, dignity, glory, idea, homeland, etc. To sacrifice
life is an irrational act, and something like that can be done only based on
emotions, and not based on reason.
2143. Decency is not just a question of good morality, but also a question of good
taste. Immoral things are usually also in poor taste.
2144. If Islam is understood correctly, it will become clear that it holds that a true
man is above a saint, that a saint is a man who has perhaps tried but failed to
become a complete man. Whoever reads Tolstoy's biography, a moving story of "a
struggle which continued for 80 years and which was participated by all virtues
and all vices, all vices but one-lie" (R. Roland), will understand how any biography
of a "sinless" saint (if such exists) would be pale, boring, even fake, compared to
the life of this true man. One can appreciate that the great writer's dramatic life
was exactly what God wanted and that that was the reason why He ordered
sinless angels to bow before a sinful man.
2153. It is interesting that some people constantly request the right to an opinion,
and once they win the right, they do not use it.
2167. Fire can keep us warm, but we can also burn in it.
2178. How can I judge people? Edgar Allan Poe, one of the greatest writers in the
past 150 years, who wrote unforgettable prose, poems and essays, died at the
age of 40, eaten by alcohol and who knows what else, practically homeless. Only
Allah can judge people.
2198. A person is not defined by his or her opinions, but by his or her feelings. A
man can change his opinion completely and remain the same person.
We can talk of a change of a person only once his feelings have changed. It can
be said that we adopt opinions with a belief that they will contribute to easier
achievement of what we are emotionally committed to or linked with.
2200. One man's death is as valuable as his life has been.
2204. "In Memoriam-Borivoj Niksic
"Borivoj Bora Niksic, Justice of the Federal Court, participant of the National
Liberation War from its beginning, member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia
since 1939, was buried on Saturday, 18 October, at the New Cemetery in
Belgrade. Persecuted for spreading communist ideas, he remained firm and
unwavering. A warrior, a partisan, a brave son of his Srem, he fought honourably
until the final victory. Awarded several war and peacetime medals, he remained
the humble bearer of his communist ideals. Well known to the Yugoslav legal
community as a long serving judge of Circuit, Supreme and Federal Courts, he
gave full contribution to the development of criminal legislation and legal theory
and practice. Gravely ill and aware of his approaching end, he left a message for
his family and colleagues that he was to be buried with no speeches, no flowers,
no obituaries, in the presence of just his immediate family and closest associates.
A quiet departure of this long serving judge of the Federal Court, a warrior and
-above all a good man, left a huge void among his colleagues, close associates
and friends" (Politika, Belgrade, October 28, 1986).
My note: Borivoj Niksic was the vice-chair of the Federal Court Chamber that
passed the final ruling in my case. Legal qualification was changed (from
counterrevolutionary association aimed at destroying constitutional order to so-
called verbal offence-Article 133 of the Criminal Code) and the sentence was
reduced from twelve to nine years of imprisonment. According to the Criminal
Code in effect, the maximum penalty was ten years.
2215. My mind keeps vacillating and wondering, but my heart has always been
and is firmly on the side of faith. My moments of true happiness were those when
my mind and my heart were in agreement.
It is January 1st today. We have just entered 1987. What is ahead of us?
2268. Perhaps sorrow is a natural state of the soul, here, ici-bas, in this world.
2268a. What else is a characteristic of the human soul? It loves fairy tales. Why?
2275. "A man is not what he thinks, but what he does," says Mesa Selimovic
(Death and the Dervish). My comment: I am not what I think, even less what I do.
Both are clearly conditioned. I am what I want and feel. Thought is "outside of
me," my actions are even more "alien," even more "outside." Emotions are closest
to the soul, if they are not the soul itself.
2324. When you have lived and survived everything, when you have stumbled a
hundred times and then risen again, when you have given up all false hopes and
comforts and you have clenched your teeth to look the truth in the eye, only then
do you realize that the sole purpose of life is the fight against evil. Little can be
done in this fight, but that is the only thing we have left. Outside it, there is
disaster and death forever.
2330. People have not sung about wisdom, they have sung about courage. People
have dedicated their most beautiful poems to a virtue held in esteem higher than
anything else, probably because it is the rarest of all: the virtue of courage, the
contempt toward danger and death. This goes equally for folk poems of all times,
from Japan, to India and Persia, to England and America.
2341. In prison, a man has to pass a very difficult test. After years of loneliness
and deprivation, only a man of strong spirit can leave with no signs of numbness
and frailty. This is a sign that, despite all the hardship, his inner life has not been
boring, that he amused himself even in solitude with his thoughts and his plays of
fantasy. While his body has been behind bars, his spirit was able to be with his
loved ones, in his thoughts he could "see" a show at the theatre or even be in a
distant country.
2343. Have you noticed that when watching comedy, some people do not find it
funny at all? While the politicians usually get upset, some intelligent people find
comedies sad.
2354. The soul aches as much as the body. There are days when all the scars, all
the old and long forgotten hurts "light up," just- like old injuries awaken before
bad weather or bones hurt from blows you have collected in a long life and only
forgotten for a short while. In those days you are bad tempered and absorbed in
yourself, in your soul whose wounds reopened only to remind you that nothing is
lost, nothing vanishes, least of all pains and bad memories. They just whither
away for a while, withdraw into an unknown depth, just like they will this time and
you will put them behind you. Until the next time.
2355. There is only one way to avoid defeat when you are facing the world. Even
that one is not quite safe, but it is the only possible one: It is that you move the
ratio of strength between you in your favour. Instead of moving and changing
thousands of things, each of which is stronger and heavier than you, you
strengthen yourself to be "above" the world. The latter you can do, it is in your
power at least to some extent, and the world is huge and unconquerable. You
cannot cover all the roads you take with leather, you can make shoes for yourself,
you can cover your feet with leather and the result will be the same. That is the
only way to rule the world and the circumstances we find ourselves in. Have you
ever thought why old people feel cold even when they are dressed warmly? They
lack their own warmth. The best way to resist the outer cold is for your blood to
work, so that you are warm within. That is the only real solution.
2357. An ornament cannot replace content, just like a spice cannot replace food.
When content dissolves into form in a culture, we certainly become witnesses of
decadence and disappearance of that culture.
2374. A clever man knows how to speak. A wise man knows how to be silent too.
2376. One can speak of sense or senselessness of suffering, of its role in a man's
life and in history, but one is certain, we all feel it: The composition of suffering is
noble, it is made of noble matter.
2393. It is February 26, 1987, today, a day of some excitement. I was called to the
prison administration this morning. In the visitors' room, I found Lejla and Sabina
with happy faces. I guess they wanted to let me know immediately that it was
nothing bad. They then told me that Nikola Stojanovic, the president of the
Pardons Commission of the RB&H Presidency, had suggested that I should file an
application for a pardon and I would be released. The mediator was Zdravko
Djuricic, then secretary of the Commission, Lejla's old school classmate. He had
put together the text of the application. I read it. I did not sign. The prison
continues.
2401. Excessive erudition can sometimes suffocate creative thinking. A man can
possess knowledge in many fields, but with no organization, no vision. Many
learned men have lived and died without real knowledge, which can be brought to
life only by an idea. It is generally accepted that research with a wrong hypothesis
is more promising than research with no hypothesis. A pile of good material with
no plan remains just a pile. A starting hypothesis may even be a prejudice that we
shall be free from once we complete the research, just as we free ourselves of the
scaffolding once a building has been built.
2405. Do not kill a mosquito, dry the swamp.
2429. Only freedom cannot be worn out by frequent use.
2518. The "humanity" of a man is not primarily in the fact that he is good and
kind, but rather in the possibility that he may or may not be such. Therefore, not
because he is not a criminal, but because he is not necessarily, inevitably such. A
man has a way out and that is his greatness.
2529. Fasting in prison-for me, that was a confirmation of my human dignity on
days and occasions when everything around me violated it.
2547. The fact of death changes all our standards. For no rational order of
thoughts and values can cope when faced with this fact. Only strong passions-
love, faith, hatred, pride, vengeance-and they are rejected by reason-are capable
of that. That perhaps justifies them in the eyes of many.
2557. The question why something is, why is there Something and not Nothing,
for me the most far-reaching question a man can ever ask himself. I wonder:
How could a man, being in reality as a part of it, ever come across a question like
that, how could he think of it? The first time I heard it, I was astounded.
2572. Art is not worthy of that name if it merely describes, follows, copies, or even
reveals, unless it all grows in its eyes to the limits of the invisible and the
miraculous.
2581. A pure mind embodies the unity of essence and existence: It is at the same
time a real existence, and this characteristic of real existence is inherent in the
very essence of the mind, that is, it is one, unquestionable and absolute being.
The world cannot be compared with the light that expands into infinity and sheds
itself onto everything it comes across (Husserl' s views, presented in Ideen).
2703. Man is in conflict with the forces of history. These forces are blind to the life
of an individual. An individual, his life, his feelings, are victims of these forces.
"Senselessness of history and its unfulfilled promises overcasts the individual
human being" (Emile Sioran, History and Utopia). Sioran speaks about evil,
violence and barbarism as the main driving forces of history. According to him,
morality, goodness and humanist ideals have always been on the verge of defeat
in their conflict with the forces of tyranny and evil.
2735. Among poor peoples, slenderness and paleness are not held in high regard-
they remind them of hunger and poverty.
2862. Optimism sometimes sounds cynical.
2127. Unlike animals, God made us walk upright. Most people do not use this
privilege; most of their lives they bend, even crawl. Should one do that? Is it not
blasphemous to reject this great gift from God: walking upright?
2152. A man is not a "social animal." The more he is a man, the more he is a
person, the more he strives toward solitude. An ordinary (average) man is
sociable not because of his love for other men, but because he is self-insufficient.
It is an escape from emptiness, from monotony, from one's own life. A superficial
person does not like to be alone and vice versa: a truly spiritual man, a monk, a
recluse can be alone all his life.
2156. In Italy, instead of hitting a donkey thus making it move forward, which
sometimes has no effect due to the donkey's stubbornness, peasants have
thought of a trick: They fasten a stick with a bunch of hay to the donkey's head,
so the donkey stares at it and hopes to reach it. Are not many people like these
donkeys, and are there not some people who turn others into donkeys like the
ones in Italy?
2161. Envy is a misfortune that affects unhappy people. They are envious
because they feel unhappy. Envy does not soothe their misfortune, it just worsens
it.
2173. Some people consider their arrogance to be a form of self-awareness, but
the two are totally different.
2178. Real knowledge is possessed by the people who are belonging to the
majority-thus the lower, rougher nature. A better kind of people seem naive and
ignorant. I often had a dilemma: Should I respect them for their kindness, or
resent them for their naiveté. For ignorance is no virtue. And vice versa:
should I resent the experienced kind for their resemblance with the majority (for
"the majority is not good"-Qur'an) or should I appreciate them for their knowledge
and realism? Of course, I had no real dilemma: Honesty is superior to knowledge,
but I must admit that I was never able to truly forgive the naiveté and clumsiness
of good and honest people. I have always dreamed of an ideal: a good and honest
man, yet experienced and realistic. Can that be united in one person or is it just a
lucky coincidence?
2182. Just as we carry the burdens of our own children, in the same way we do not
feel our own faults and vices, but rather only those of other people.
2184. We express noisily and passionately the opinions that come from our will,
and those that come from our knowledge and conviction, we express calmly and
coldly. That is why we always rely more on judgments expressed coldly; we feel
that they come from understanding rather than passion.
2185. Interests in general truths and personal truths are in inverted proportion. If
we come across a person of great curiosity towards personal matters and lives of
their near and not so near dear ones (which is quite frequent, not only in women),
in them we will find less interest in the general truths of the world, which are
subjects of science and philosophy. With his well-known sting, Schopenhauer
observes that ordinary people, who normally do not show particular sharpness,
are "excellent algebraists in someone else's personal matters, where they solve
the most complicated equations with only one given value."
2193. Nietzsche was a very sensitive man, not at all like his own Ubermensch. At
the age of 44 he lost his mind and-according to biographers-the immediate cause
was a scene at a Turin square, when the philosopher, upon leaving his flat, saw a
carriage driver giving his horse a merciless whipping. He went to the animal,
embraced it gently and cried, and then just collapsed. He lived for another 12
years, but he never returned to his senses. We are what we are, not what we think
or wish we are.
2228. We cannot achieve perfection. But there is one thing we can do: we can
constantly try to be more men, try for every man to be more like a man.
3054. The presence of death gives the picture of life the necessary dark shades,
without which it would have been pale and insignificant. A novel and a drama that
contain no dying seem incomplete.
3066. To a man who gives me his opinions I would love to say: I am not interested
in your ideas, your alleged convictions, nor in your views of the world, nor in
whatever you call it. The only thing that matters to me and the only thing that
matters at all is: what are you like? Are you a good or a bad person? In fact, all
your stories, even your actions, are interesting only as much as they help me find
the answer to this question about you: who are you?
3069. Even darkness may be light. Stars are invisible during the day. Their glow is
the strongest in the greatest darkness. If there were no dark nights, we would not
have known the magic of a starry sky. Even if we knew of it, we would not be able
to see this incredible sight.
3078. What is characteristic of a real writer? First of all, perceptiveness. There are
people who lived their lives as if they passed through the world with their eyes
closed. A real writer is the total opposite: sensitive as a photo-plate.
3085. The world cannot be won by rejection. This can be done only by
acceptance. In fact, acceptance of the world is the precondition for changing it or
winning it.
3103. The Japanese ideogram for the verb "to think" means "to be sad." A
coincidence or hidden logic?
3134. The problem of solitude. Some think that that is the only way for man to
confirm or to experience his humanity. Others think the opposite: Man can
become and remain man only when surrounded by other men. Patrick Suskind, a
new-generation German writer, wrote his story titled "Pigeon" only to show that in
solitude, man loses his humanity and that human existence is human only with
other humans.
3137. There are rules of the game in everything one does in life. Follow the rules,
and in order to follow them, either learn them or establish them yourself.
3140. Why do we always appreciate morality and almost always despise
moralizing? Because morale is an action, moralization is a word. Morale is a
request from yourself, moralization is a request directed at someone else. That is
why morale is always moral, and moralization is often hypocritical, thus immoral.
3179. It seems that conflict is the way life exists. A conflict-free life cannot be
imagined. Conflict can be constructive, destructive or futile (redundant). The latter
resolves nothing, nor does it serve any purpose. And many cherish only this type
of conflict.
3180. At a certain stage of their lives, salmon go upstream, back to their
birthplace, crossing huge distances, conquering rapids and waterfalls, even dying
in the effort. Why? They know they must. That is all.
3260. One night during a scientific expedition in the Pacific, three crewmembers
of the Kon-Tiki are said to have caught a snake-like fish of magic colours, unlike
anything else they had ever seen. They took it immediately to the fourth
crewmember, a marine zoologist. They woke him up and showed him the fish. He
looked at it and said, "There is no such fish," and went back to sleep. Many people
behave like this expert.
3333. People who took part in or witnessed one and the same event often see and
describe it differently. Everyone is absolutely convinced of his or her own version
(the film Rashomon is a story about that). How does one explain that? I think that
the only explanation is that our observations are never mechanical and objective.
They, as well as our views of an event, are always intermingled with our thoughts,
our emotions, desires and passions. This creates numerous views and numerous
misunderstandings.
3334. To live or to die, which is the greater problem? Perhaps Thomas Bailey
Aldrich, an American writer, had this question in mind when he stated that "we cry
when we are born, not when we die."
3340. What is the true meaning of the rational and the irrational-it is hard to say
because, among other things, the notion of ratio is not identical in different
cultures and different languages. Latin Ratio, English Reason and German Vernunfi
do not have the same meaning.
3341. What was or has been done cannot but be, it cannot be erased for that
would be contrary to the law of time.
It is March 23, 1988 today, five years of prison are over, four remain.
3375a. What should we think of Picasso's paintings, most of us standing before
them confused? It is interesting to hear what the painter himself thinks about his
art. In a letter to Giovanni Papini from 1952, Picasso wrote: "People of
sophisticated taste, rich men, idle men, thinkers, all seek in art something new,
extravagant, scandalous. I myself, starting from cubism and onwards, have
entertained those connoisseurs and those critics with all the impulsive bizarreness
that crossed my mind, and they, the less they understood it, the more they
admired it. . . . But when I face myself, I do not have the courage to consider
myself an artist in the classical sense of the word. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt and
Goya were artists. I am just a public entertainer who understood his time and
used as well as he could the stupidity, vanity and recklessness of his
contemporaries." My comment: I do not know how sincere this confession was.
How do I put it together with the fact that Picasso prepared over 700 studies and
sketches just for his painting Ladies from Avignon, which was, as it is held, a real
revolution in Western painting? Perhaps Picasso just played a joke on us with this
statement.
3377. A writer may fight against the evil in men, if that is his goal. By describing
Macbeth, Shakespeare spoke about good and evil more than a hundred
aestheticists.
3391. Most people do evil out of interest (power, wealth, glory, love, etc.). But
there is also evil for the sake of evil, evil that is its own purpose. That is real hell. I
have unfortunately had the opportunity to get to know such evil and the people
who do it.
3439. Suffering and pain play a huge moral role in human life. It is hard to explain
but we all feel it. Of course, this is not the quality of the world, but rather of man.
With no pain and no suffering, what is lacking is the important thing we call
credibility.
3464. I was right at the wrong time.
3501. I, to them: you could hide the past. The present you cannot.
3514. A man I knew died. Reading the obituary, I thought: there are people whom
we feared for their strength or strictness, whom we respected for their wisdom or
superiority of a different kind, whom we admired for their virtues and finally, those
whom we loved for their kindness. When they die, it is only the latter that we
remember with true sorrow and with a feeling of irreparable loss. For me, this has
always been the proof that only love and kindness are the values that defy time
and oblivion more than any other, and which can be questioned by nothing, even
death itself. In a sense, love and kindness testify human immortality.
3519. I am aware of my faults, but I live with them. However, if I see them in
someone else, then I dislike the person and the fault. This is the measure of my
"fairness" and my objectivity.
3527. A tragedian and a poet transform the rough experiences of their lives into
an exciting story, like a silk worm that transforms mulberry leaves into silk. Both
are equally miraculous.
3528. The closer you are to the stars, the closer you are to their destiny:
loneliness, distance and cold.
3540. An average aborigine (savage) from Central Africa knows the stars in the
sky better than an average inhabitant of a European or an American city. While a
primitive man tells time by the sun and follows the stars when travelling at night,
the knowledge of this kind of our average man from the street is zero. We left our
knowledge of the sky to astronomers and physicists. But the main problem is not
this knowledge or ignorance. The damage is more of a moral nature. The man who
never or hardly ever looks up at the sky loses his sense of orientation. Without
this picture, he is deprived of the sight that all the wisdom of the world comes
from. It is only in this heavenly perspective that man could assess his own
greatness and his own insignificance, never forgetting either of the two.
3548. Some complain of human ungratefulness. They are afraid that their love will
not be requited, that their kindness will remain unrewarded and unrecognised.
This is an obvious misunderstanding. No truly good deed can ever remain
unrewarded for the reward is simultaneous. Those who have ever done a truly
unselfish, that is, a truly good deed, know this very well. A good deed and its
reward cannot be separated, like an object and its shadow. The reward you have
in mind would only belittle it. Look at a child looking after a wounded bird or
feeding a puppy that followed him in the street. Does the child seek any particular
reward or does he feel rewarded already? Look at the joy in his eyes.
3559. Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Omer and Merima, Layla and Marjoun,
all love each other. And we love them. We love them because they love each
other. We love them although we do not know them. What follows is: We do not
love them, in fact, we love love.
3574. Man is fallible. A robot is not. In this case, the fallibility of man is an
advantage, and the infallibility of a robot is a fault or "a virtue we are averted
from."
3575a. Science should be neither praised not cursed, it should be used. In any
case, science is not pure truth, as some see it and claim it to be, but it is one of
the roads to truth.
3599. All men, even those who are unaware of it, deep inside their souls admire
courage, unselfishness and generosity. Why else would we untiringly continue to
invent characters who courageously defy destiny and death? All men are poets,
mystics and romantics, at least a little. For where does this weakness for flags,
symbols, hymns, romantic heroes who die for their homeland or the loved woman
with no regret, come from? Who are these creatures who fill cinemas where they
can see heroes who are themselves as much as they are not like us? And if it is
true that such people do not exist in real life (that they exist only in literature), the
question remains, why has the imagination of all the peoples continued to create
them from time immemorial? We do not give our admiration to what we are but to
what we are not, and what we would like to or should be.
3661. Language is said to be a writer's homeland. Strange things happen with
immigrant writers. Even when they have mastered the language of their new
homeland, they still write verse in their mother tongue. Thus, for example, after
moving to the West, Joseph Brodsky continued to write prose in English and poetry
only in Russian. Deep inside we all understand this, but it is hard to explain.
3676. This time of ours: hard, but endlessly interesting. We may complain that we
have had it rough, but not that we have been bored. I can only regret that I will
not live long enough to see the outcome. I am talking about death. But perhaps
there is no outcome and no death. Perhaps the eyes that have been watching it
will just close and life will just continue. New births, new eyes open up like flowers,
new stories and so on with no end. God, You are great and so is the world You
created!
3677. There have been pain and suffering before, horrific and monstrous, but the
sword of repression has never before been so conscientiously pointed against the
man inside man, and the intention to humiliate and destroy men has never been
conducted with so much satanic skill and perseverance. It was-as Bloch said-"the
collapse of the upright walk of mankind."
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
CHAPTER 2
On Religion and Morality
20. As a historical phenomenon, every religion has two sides to it. As a science, it
is a revelation; as practice, it is the work of men. God reveals faith, and people
apply it. All that is in it that is great and sublime is of God; all that is wrong and
unworthy is of men. In this compromise to religious learning, man's role is also
dual: on one hand, he abuses, does not apply or applies wrongly, the still
uncorrupted religious learning. On the other hand, he twists, changes only the
learning. History gives us numerous examples of both.
Hegel wrote: "History of the highly educated Eastern Roman Empire, where, as
one would think, the spirit of Christianity could have been understood in its truth
and purity, is presented to us as a thousand year long sequence of continuous
crimes, weaknesses, wiliness and shamelessness. . . . Everywhere there were
scenes of killings, burning and looting in the name of Christian dogma. In a
discussion if Christ is of quality same or similar to that of God, this one letter [in
Greek these two adjectives: similar and same, differ in just one letter-my note]
had cost thousands of human lives" (Hegel, Philosophy of History). Studying a
similar phenomenon in the history of India, we never remain unmoved:
One moment we are absorbed in admiration for the depth and the superiority of
the thoughts, in the next, disgust for the incredible examples of triviality and
senselessness. And all this is mixed into an inextricable ball that wishes to be
called one and the same name. In fact, it is a tragic deviation from God's
teaching, where grains of the Revelation are clearly discernible and in the
background of human darkness they glow with an undying and untainted glow.
Still, this is not the real question of history: what evils have been done in the
name of history. The real question is: What would the world have looked like if
there had been no Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam? What would
mankind have looked like if it had not gone through these schools, the preachers
of which had not been perfect and where, in addition to sublime truths, some
nonsense and absurdity had been taught as well? It would be useful if an
impartial, fair historian could try to write "history" for the sake of all of us, of
course, if such history could be conceived and written at all.
90. A true man who abides by the law is not necessarily a moral man. Formal
correctness of behavior can be the result of habit or fear. Habit is not moral and
fear is even less so. Only conscientious actions are truly moral. Just as I must
make a conscientious decision to fast or pray, so I must make a conscientious
decision to act well and honestly, and in order to make such a decision the other
option must be open to me too. A eunuch is not an example of honesty, just as
weakness is no virtue.
91. Drama and tragedy, even comedy, sharpen the moral dilemmas of the
audience by bringing the question of the good and the evil to full awareness.
Since awareness is important, the fact that in a tragedy the good is defeated
remains peripheral. The result here is unimportant because essentially the moral
cannot lose.
In comedies, people laugh or mock themselves. They are a strong means of
sharpening the awareness of the evil and the good, faults and virtues. That is why
with peoples who do not know drama (or comedy), we find moral awareness of a
lower level, and therefore many distortions in human relations are treated and
maintained as normal and natural. For evils to be removed, the first precondition
is for them to be understood as evils.
91a. Thoughts on the essence of the tragic are pure metaphysics. For there is no
tragedy without God, there are just misfortunate events, incidents.
99. Pagan and all other fake religions are religions of gains. The revealed and all
true religions are religions of sacrifice.
203. How to resolve a logical contradiction of God's omnipotence (and universal
knowledge) and man's responsibility? How can all power be of God, and all
responsibility of man? The reply is: It can, just like the world can be finite and
endless at the same time. It is not logical, but it is so.
257a. By its definition religion is personal.
367. Religion is a request for man to behave in a way that would be harmonious
with the peace and depth of heaven. But "man is in a hurry" (Qur'an), he is petty,
frightened, greedy, selfish. All this is contrary to all that heaven testifies so
obviously.
492. Schelling's opinion that there is a correlation between Renaissance painting
and Christianity and between Greek plasticism and Greek mythology cannot be
accepted. A Greek polytheist saw divinity in a statue, thus an object, so this is
pure idolatry. Any reasonably educated Christian believer does not see divinity in
the image of the Madonna, but something that spirit is revealed in. Here, the
image is a sensory expression of supra-sensory (infiniteness presented in the
finite). Despite a dangerous Christian deviation, one can thus not speak of
Christian idolatry (the Qur'an also makes this distinction, and it can thus not be
ignored). In fact, it is a different inner motivation of creators of Greek and Roman
idols and painters who populated the churches across the world with numerous
images of saints and God-men. In the latter, it is rather an original religious
striving towards image and individuality. Religion testifies over and over again of
one world that lives, thinks, feels, sees, contrary to the objective, uniform, single
and always self-identical world, as science sees it (or has to see it). By the
relentless painting of new images, by these floods of persons streaming from
every corner of the temple, religion denies and suppresses a material, objective,
dead and impersonal world. The soul (and not the mind) sees this inner empire of
images and cannot resist the temptation of revealing it. I would thus interpret the
medieval Christian painting. Still, it should be emphasized that, irrespective of the
feeling of the painter himself, the consequence could have been the lowest
idolatry of the viewer.
495. Someone called, at the same time, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dminor the
greatest religious composition of all times and the most godless. The latter, I do
not know why. Toccata is here a preparation for a religious experience. It removes
obstacles between man and God, and Fugue is a realization of the relationship
with God, a moment of encounter.
497. Mechanical order seems senseless, like a clock. Only moral notions have true
sense. Those are: good, evil, patience, submission, rebellion, shame, pride,
dignity, remorse, punishment, reward, fear, loyalty, betrayal. Only a world of
these qualities has meaning. The universe is impressive, amazing, horrific, but in
relation to a drama, its endless emptiness and absolute correctness seem
senseless. This is a problem of order and sense. A telephone directory or a foreign
language dictionary is an example of order rather than sense. Compare their
"sense" with a novel by Dostoyevsky or a drama by Shakespeare.
Only human life has true sense and its meanings. That is why Man can study the
universe (nature) and remain an atheist. Without God, however, it is impossible to
understand Man and the meaning of his life. Drama remains the strongest and the
most visible trace of the divine in the world.
535. If morality were useful, God would not be necessary to understand the
meaning of life. If morality were not useful, what is, then, the meaning of
morality? There are only two possible answers: (1) morality is meaningless, (2)
God is the guarantee of the meaning of moral behavior. Another meaning is a
necessary quality of morality because morality is not purposeful and such
meaning presupposes a living God.
552. In nature there is force, time, space, interaction, speed, mutual collision,
light, darkness, coldness, warmth, constants, attraction and rejection, movement,
mass, etc. In spirit there is guilt, mercy, credit, justice, submission, remorse, fear,
anxiety, forgiveness, shame, dignity, humiliation, conceitedness, rebellion. This
other world is outside the natural one and it is superior to it. That is why above all
and at the end of all there is God and Judgment, and not nature and entropy.
583. Morality is, if real, always linked with sacrifice and suffering. Otherwise, it is
mere stupidity and hypocrisy.
586. In a story by a Polish author, a man tortured by the Germans and knowmg
that he would be shot betrays his friend because he is afraid to die alone. They
meet before the firing squad and the betrayed forgives the one who betrayed.
"This forgiveness cannot be justified by any utilitarian ethics," comments Czeslaw
Milosz (The Forbidden Mind).
596. All inner commandments that make us human are in essence irrational.
609. The seven so-called Noah's Commandments, in fact, moral rules given to
Adam and Noah (they are in the Bible): mutual assistance, establishment of
justice, ban on idolatry and blasphemy, ban on theft, ban on murder, ban on
sexual sin and ban on cruelty towards animals.
769. Man's dignity lies in the fact that God made him worthy of his commands and
his bans, thus made him responsible.
843. Europe is too absorbed by the artistic and religious heritage of the Middle
Ages to be able to accept atheistic stories.
864. Must my religion, like all others, rest on the a priori refusal of any question on
its truthfulness? From the way the Qur'an assures, from its constant referrals to
ayyahs (signs, proofs) I would say that it will not and does not have to. In addition,
the Qur'an speaks as if it finds the ultimate reason for me (and for you) in
something close to my heart and my mind. - For what purpose would there
otherwise be in the sentences that constantly refer to observation of the outer
world?
1004. Feuerbach, the ideologue of atheism, said that the grave was the cradle of
religion. He wanted to say that religion fed on the human fear of death. Neither
biographies of the most religious men nor any personal experiences of deeply
religious ones confirm this statement.
1026. A man should love man, not mankind. The latter is an excuse for the
absence of love for a man ("Love thy neighbor").
1040. God forgive me if I am wrong, but I respect a good Christian more than a
bad Muslim. I cannot defend something just because it is Muslim (and not Islamic),
nor can I ignore good just because it is someone else's.
1047. Two faces of things: A seemingly proper man may seem to be truly honest,
and he can be a fearful Philistine who would not mind breaking many rules, but
does not do that out of fear or weakness. Some condemn the tumultuous lives of
others out of secret envy, because they are incapable of living that way. A weak
person is usually unaware of this envy and considers it to be morality, which it is
certainly not. Two men, one weak and one strong but moral, seem to behave the
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF
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Notes From Prison By Alija Izetbegović PDF

  • 1. Notes From Prison, 1983 -1988 Alija Izetbegović
  • 2. CONTENTS  Preface  Chapter 1 - On Life People and Freedom  Chapter 2 - On Religion and Morality  Chapter 3 - Political Notes  Chapter 4 - Islam Between East and West  Chapter 5 - Communism and Nazism  Chapter 6 - Thoughts on Islam - Historical and Other Observations  Appendix - From My Children's Letters
  • 3. Note from Taskforce Ezania Taskforce Ezania scanned the original book with the courtesy of Bakir Izetbegović. After the scanning the text was recomposed using an OCR engine. The plain text that was the result of this process needed to be edited and formatted into a layout, a composition, resembling the original. We truly have done our best. Due to the international character of our Taskforce and circumstances beyond our reach perfection was not possible. You will notice that some "typical OCR characters" have been left over in the text. Maybe some names, using "foreign" characters with "weird" accents, are not completely spelled correctly. As the final editor - at least of this version - has not the actual book to compare the scanned text with, it was not possible to correct this kind of errors. Nevertheless, we are convinced that the thoughts in this book are of tremendous more importance as some more or less irrelevant typos. Without doubt shall any reader, very soon after starting to read, notice the importance of Alija Izetbegović thoughts for the future of our Islamic Movement. Allah gave our brother Alija Izetbegović a sharp mind and a warm hart for those who care for Islam and thus for the well-being of what Allah has entrusted to Man. May we soon meet. Allah promised victory to the ummah of the prophet (saws); Allah's Word is Truth. Ezania Taskforce 1 11 Rabi-Awal 1427 Courtesy: Bakir Izetbegović © 2006 by Right Holders Fair Use Policy Edited OCR-version: Taskforce Ezania Polity Ezania - The Islamic micro nation - http://www.ezania.net/ http://www.ezania.net/library/ Distribution on: http://www.muslimtorrents.net/ Presence on: http://www.muslimspace.com/
  • 4. Preface What the reader is about to embark upon (and perhaps read) is my escape to freedom. To my regret, this, of course, was not a real escape, but I wish it were. This was the only possible escape from the Foca prison, with its high walls and iron bars-an escape of mind and thought. Had I been able to escape, I would have given preference to the real, physical escape. I also assume that the readers would rather hear an exciting story of a prisoner's escape from a well-guarded prison rather than read my thoughts and comments on issues in politics and philosophy. I could not speak, but I could think, and I decided to use that possibility to the maximum. At first I had silent discussions on all kinds of things and I commented on the books I was reading and the events taking place outside. I then started taking notes, secretly at first, but I then became quite "arrogant"-I sat, read and wrote. Thus, 13 little notebooks came about, in the format that technicians call A- 5, written in the smallest script and deliberately illegible, so that Mirsada, my typist, went into torment to copy them. I want to thank her for her patience in deciphering my codes. In those notes, "dangerous" words such as religion, Islam, communism, freedom, democracy and authority were replaced by other words that only I knew, words that years later even I found strange and hardly understandable. For almost the entire first year I wrote nothing, I could not write. That was the year of investigation, trial and adjustment. I think that the first notes were made in 1984, and then notes continued every day for almost five years. As I can see, the last one is marked 3676 and dated 30 September 1988. At the time I was still facing almost 13 years in prison, and death seemed to be my only hope. I kept this hope well hidden, like a big secret that only I knew, a secret that they could not take away from me. The value of these thoughts, therefore, is not in the thoughts themselves, but rather in the circumstances they were written in. On this side of the wall there was the total silence of the prison, and on the outside there were inklings of a tempest that was to become a hurricane in 1988, that would crush the Berlin Wall, sweep away Honecker and Ceausescu, destroy the Warsaw Treaty and shake the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. I had an almost physical sensation of the passage of time and its phases changing right before my eyes. It was a time of radical revision of thought and belief, following the disastrous experiences of communist governments of the European East. The world was going through an immense transformation that was to change the lives of millions of people and turn the flow of history in a different direction. The world that had been bipolar for a long time became unipolar. I do not know if that is good, but it did happen. In addition to bookbinder's glue, those well over 2,000 days were the only things keeping together these scattered thoughts. They are, to an extent, a comment on key events made by a man who was prevented from taking part in them, but who had plenty of time to follow them and to give his own judgments-however right or wrong. These are thoughts on freedom, the physical and the inner, on life and destiny, on people and events, on books read and their authors, on imagined, unwritten
  • 5. letters to my children-in other words, on everything that could have crossed a prisoner's mind during those long 2,000 days (and nights). While writing, I marked the notes 1, 2 and 3. Notes marked number 1 were some general thoughts that seemed to me, at the time, to be on life, people and freedom. In want of a better name, I gave them the same title now. Number 2 was some facts and opinions of others that I would have, had there been an opportunity, indicated to my son Bakir, with a desire that he should read them and know them. I used to do that quite often when I was free. This chapter was, in a way, a series of unwritten letters to my son. Number 3 was everything I would have added to my book "Islam Between East and West" if I had written it then. Just a reminder, facts and ideas of this book are grouped around one basic thought, forming what I call, for a reason or not, "the third way theory." While preparing the final version of the manuscript, I moved thoughts on religion, politics and communism from Chapter 1 to separate chapters (2, 3 and 5), and I moved notes on Islam out of "number 2" (Chapter 6). The Appendix was added later. It is a collection of parts of almost 1,500 letters that I received from my children while I was in prison. If literature was my intellectual escape to freedom, those letters were my emotional escape. I am not certain if my children knew or if they ever will know what they meant to me. When I read them, I felt not only as a free man, but also as a person upon whom God had bestowed all the riches of this world. That is why I took the liberty of publishing them in the Appendix. It seemed to me that some of their sentences gave a good picture of the time and the circumstances, of thoughts and atmosphere in the family of a political prisoner and, of course, a little something on their authors. When I started working on the manuscript more than ten years later, my intention was to transform it into a consistent, complete text. Unfortunately, I did not get much further from the original arrangement I had made in prison (the "three stacks," as I called them). I felt that I did not have the time, and perhaps nothing better could be made from the material available. So, I give the readers my manuscript almost raw, the way it was produced. Perhaps I could tell you a story related to these notebooks, since it is an illustration of the prison atmosphere. Whenever I finished a notebook, I never left it in my own locker. I deposited it with a colleague-a prisoner convicted for murder. Thus, only one notebook, the one being "worked on," could be confiscated at one time. The prison authorities, in fact, searched our lockers looking for "dangerous things." Dangerous things were weapons-and manuscripts. Everyone was equally subject to searches, only some of us were "more equal." My friend's locker-for he was a peasant-was merely looked at. Towards the end of my imprisonment, another friend from prison, Veselin K., convicted for forgery, carried ten of these notebooks outside in a chess box. When he delivered the package to my children, he refused to take any money. People whom we call criminals sometimes enjoy certain popularity, even liking. The reason is that they usually know what real comradeship is, and they are willing to take chances. So-called "nice people" often lack these qualities. My son Bakir went through the entire manuscript before the final editing. I am grateful for his patience and numerous useful suggestions. This is all. All I have left to say is that within each chapter notes are presented chronologically. Alija Izetbegović Sarajevo, 15 September 1998
  • 6. CHAPTER 1 On Life, People and Freedom When I lose the reasons to live, I shall die. Life has a purpose in itself and on its own. It becomes visible once life has lost all its outer sense: youth, beauty, health, freedom. We then see that the beauty of life is not in these desirable yet impermanent values, but rather in life itself! I have no hatred but I do have bitterness. To despise death, often excessively praised, can be a consequence of the lack of respect for life (or man). Hegel gives a very bad image of the Blacks, the Indians, the Chinese. Thus, for example: "There is nothing in the nature of the Blacks to resemble humanity. . . . Human worthlessness can reach incredible levels; tyranny is not considered to be an injustice, and cannibalism is a widespread permissible activity." Or: "China does not know the sense of honour... . Since there is no honour the prevailing sense is that of servility, which transforms easily into viciousness. Related to this viciousness is the immorality of the Chinese. They are known to cheat wherever they can; a friend cheats on a friend and if found out, it is not held against them.. . . Slyness and wiliness are the main features of the Indian; submissively low and sly is he to the conqueror and the master, and totally ruthless and cruel to the conquered and the submissive" (Hegel, Philosophy of History). My comment: there is clear racism, or at least Eurocentrism, in these statements. If a sense of morality were a privilege of only some races or nations, it would no longer be what it really is. It is an individual who is moral (or immoral), not a people, thus any generalization is unacceptable. Two truths; a poet's and a scientist's. To a poet, stars are either twinkling and sad, or they look at us from the skies and tell us about eternity; the moon is the light of heaven and the lovers' friend; a brook murmurs and tells a story, an old oak hides secrets; the skies smile or thunder with rage, and mountaintops reflect in the big blue sky and tell of the eternity of nature and the transience of all things human, etc. Science sees things quite differently. For science, nature is detached and the universe is blank and everything in it is just a game of blind and impersonal forces. The moon is a plain, cold planet that has been moving in the dark of space for millions of years, with no known or comprehensible purpose. We would learn so much about ourselves if we were able to say with certainty which held more truth to us and which was closer: the untruth of the poet or the truth of the scientist. This is, perhaps, where the answer is to who we are and where we are from, in fact, the answer about our nature and our origin. Funny is a sober man among drunks. For in the company of drunks, the drunks are the majority and they set the standard of normality. In such company a sober man seems abnormal. When we say that the work of any true artist is essentially autobiographical, we certainly do not mean that the adventures he leads his characters through are, in fact, events from the writer's life. We simply mean that descriptions of inner lives, dilemmas, suspicions, sufferings-especially the sufferings-are a description of one's own life. For no one has ever described someone else's suffering, nor is it possible to. The suffering any writer describes is his own, past or future, but his own, not someone else's. In that sense, every novel is autobiographical in its essential part. Only he who asks shall receive an answer.
  • 7. There is a reason why I am enduring all this. The reason is just one, but sufficient: I must. Fasting has something truly human to it, taking the better sense of the word. It cannot, of course, be analyzed, nor can it be proved, for it is a purely personal experience. When I was in prison, in moments of the kind of depression that can absorb a man in such a situation, I always felt worse if I ate well. Hunger always helped me more than a wonderful parcel from home. For the worst combination is an empty soul and a full stomach. Why is it so? Thoughts on this could contribute to our understanding of the essence of a human being more than deep and learned philosophical discussion on the topic. However paradoxical it may sound, the invention of gunpowder enhanced the rule of the spirit over naked physical force. It provided an opportunity for the physically weak, provided they had the spirit and the courage. Advantages of freedom do not have to be proved by something outside freedom itself. It is its own underwriter. There are signs of upheaval everywhere. It is a turmoil that reaches to the bottom of our world, to its very foundations. Heidegger and his philosophy of death are totally a part of the Christian world of thought and emotion, as much as Marx and his optimistic philosophy of life belong to the Jewish world of the Old Testament. Nominal alignments do not mean much. Marx and Heidegger are like Moses and Jesus, the New and the Old Testament, Judaism and Christianity. Marx's philosophy is shallow and optimistic; Heidegger's is deep and pessimistic. True philosophy is only the one that takes into account the fact of death. Otherwise, the question that always remains is how can one speak truly of life, while avoiding the fact the truth of which is the only one void of any doubt-the fact of death. 294. Two men are gambling on the sinking Titanic. One of them is cheating. Many people resemble these two in real life. 304. When you are in prison, you have but one desire: freedom. If you fall ill in prison, you do not think about freedom, you think about health. Health is, therefore, more important than freedom. 325. I do not know if one can speak of a stupid peasant. Stupidity is far more frequent with so-called intellectual imbeciles. That is the most repelling and the most obvious form of stupidity. False erudition reveals rather than conceals stupidity. In it, stupidity is at its most obvious. I have never found such stupidity with peasants. 326. Excessive reading does not make us smarter. Some people simply "devour" books. They do it without the necessary intervals of thought, which are necessary in order to "digest," to process what has been read, to absorb and comprehend it. When people of that kind speak, pieces of Hegel, Heidegger and Marx come out raw, unprocessed. Reading requires personal contribution as much as a bee requires "inner" work, as well as time, to transform pollen into honey. 328. Newton, Darwin and Freud introduced determinism into everything they studied: the first into the universe, the second into the living world, and the third into the psyche. All three types of determinism were to be questioned later, and in the same sequence. It all started with Einstein's denial of Newton's universe. 355. In the world, things are in relations of mutual dependence rather than those of cause and effect. Instead of observing them in a cause-and-effect relationship, we should observe them in their correlation.
  • 8. 360. Their entire long story, with an abundance of words, is usually just a clear sign that they have nothing to say. 366. Life is a game where nobody wins. . . except for those who believe and do good deeds. . . (Qur'an, Surah "Al Asr"). 377. Kundera' s Theresa (Unbearable Lightness of Being) felt nakedness as a sign of the compulsory uniformity of a concentration camp, a sign of humiliation. 413. Is the world divided into good and evil, and is man thus halved? I think that that is where lies the difference between a "romantic" and a "realist." Romantics see the world as a battle arena between men, of whom some are good and some are evil. Realists see the same battle, but primarily within man himself. I think that the latter is closer to the truth. 417. In King Lear, Shakespeare shows that only when mad does Lear understand life, and only when blind does Gloucester "see" life. The mind and eyes often do not see. It is the soul that understands and sees. 418. There are places more desolate than cemeteries. People go there with memories and emotions, they cry and lay flowers. So, let us not say: desolate as a cemetery. The comparison is false. 423. If I cannot speak freely with a friend-and I obviously cannot, read my judgment-if all privacy is denied, then it is a concentration camp. It is not just ordinary violence; it is the total elimination of privacy, one of the features of a concentration camp. 426. There is no proof of the existence of the soul, unless some of our questions that have no answers reveal something like that. One of those questions is why poetry tells about the human soul more than all the psychology of our time. Why is it poets rather than psychologists uncover the soul, why Shakespeare, and not Freud or Jung? Another question may be: why is it that the better off we are, the more displeased we are? Or: Why is pessimistic philosophy born in regions of affluence? Why is man negatively affected by comfort? 428. Look at a daring building: true, it is held together by adhesives or by steel built into it, but the real truth is that it is held together by the thought inside its basic balance and ratios. 457. As the case of Voltaire (and not just his case) shows, upbringing may result in the unintended. Voltaire was brought up by Jesuits, and in him they bred their fiercest enemy. 500. There are paradoxes. If there were no night, we would be deprived of the magnificent image of a starry sky. Thus light deprives us of "vision," and darkness helps us "see." 509. A word uncovers the truth; it can also be used to conceal it. 521. Imitation is the most obvious form of acceptance. 523. The deepest, most important question the human mind ever asked itself, the most important question ever asked, is: Why does something exist, rather than nothing? Or: why does something exist at all? For me, this is the fundamental question of ontology. 533. Endless lies are possible on one and the same thing. The truth about it is just one. 534. Life is a dangerous thing. Insecurity is the price of living. Only those who died and those who will never be born are absolutely safe.
  • 9. 540. It was Plato who, long ago, found that it was impossible to discuss anything before agreeing on the terminology, that is, on the meaning of notions and names. 562. Existentialism is philosophy in its subject, and art in the means it uses to resolve it. 563. All Heidegger's efforts, supported by incredible perseverance, knowledge and passion, to build a "philosophy of existence," by his own admission, ended in failure. 578. "It is better to deal with an intelligent devil rather than a good-natured fool," says a proverb. This is probably so because an intelligent rascal is guided by interest, thus being, contrary to a good-natured fool, mainly predictable. You know where you stand and what you can expect. 585. In moments of real tragedy, there is no place for acting or complacent grief. 588. History sometimes makes fun of us and of our best intentions. 591. Ivo Andric was once asked what would have been his most important message, if he had been asked to give just a very short one, and he said: "Do not get drunk." He did believe that there were other evils, most of which would have disappeared, though, if people stopped drinking. Still, the writer emphasized: "When people speak about how damaging alcohol is, they give numerous convincing examples. A doctor speaks about how damaging it is for health, a social worker speaks about problems of alcoholics' families, divorces, unhappy children and devastated homes, public officials speak about economic damages, etc., but one reason, perhaps the most important one, is often left out: human dignity. I would like to say to people: do not drink for your own sake, out of self- respect, for your own dignity, do not humiliate yourselves." My comment: That is, presumably, the reason how a ban on alcohol came to be the subject of a religious ban. For religion may be indifferent towards this calculation of damages and benefits, but it cannot remain indifferent towards violations of human dignity. 695. Between sorrow and indifference, I will choose sorrow. 696. Falsity is the only thing uglier than an ugly truth. 782. If I do not kill time, time will kill me. 790. Melancholy is a matter of the soul, not a matter of the psyche, and it was thus always of more interest to philosophers and poets (as well as theologians) rather than psychiatrists. 824. If there is anything that has charisma, it is suffering ("charisma of suffering"). 825. A man can flee the unpleasant present in two directions: into the past or into the future. The choice depends on character and convictions. The so-called dignified withdrawal from reality can be mere cowardice, capitulation in the face of reality or a whining self-deception. It is hard to learn exactly which one of these is valid for a particular case. 847. The matter is not only of dignity of life, but also of dignity of death. The two are connected. Lack of respect for death is a consequence of the lack of respect of life. 853. Our skill of life and our knowledge of life are two completely different things. In a similar way, it is one thing to be an artist, to create, and our
  • 10. knowledge of art, or our ignorance of it is something different, the latter being more frequent and more true. 873. It is said that mathematics is a synthesis of rationality. 876. I am convinced that there are illnesses that stupid people cannot succumb to. I think that if I tried, I could even list some of them. 878. What is the biggest question of honor? One thing above all: stay true to yourself and your destiny. 879. How big is disappointment? As big as hope was. Big hopes create big disappointments. 880. "Sad is this time of ours, when it is more difficult to break a bias than a atom"-A. Einstein. 898. Prison allows for realizations that can be said to be "painfully fundamental." 929. A true man speaks most harshly with those he loves or of things he cares for the most. 966. Can life have a happy end? How do you imagine it? Doesn't every man suffer losses? (Qur'an, Surah "Al Asr"). 998. "For a man to be able to read a lot, he should be either very rich, or very poor," said a famous film director. I would add: or a prisoner (in my case). 1010. During my time in prison, I never noticed a drop in my will to live, but I often realized that I was finding relief in the fact that I was old enough to know that death was not too far away. This thought brought me comfort. I treasured it like a big secret. 1012. Realists object that what we say or think about man is excessive idealism rather than the truth. Yes, it is possible that we do not speak of men, but rather of our desires, not of what man is, but what he should be. That may be true. But, despite all, this beautiful dream of what man is like is what makes us human. If we ever cast away this idea as an illusion or a folly, in the name of "truth" or "reality," everything that makes our life bearable will disappear and we will become definitively prepared for all the evils and atrocities that humanity is prone to. Unfortunately, many of them, initiated in the name of the "truth" that man does not exist, are already implemented in large parts of our planet. 1049. A happy man does not have a life story. One may say: boring as a biography of a happy man living in peaceful times. At least that is what it looks like. And is it so? Is there a truly happy man? Is an average Swiss or an average Swede truly happy today? Bauer and Ibsen tell us something about that. 1080. There are realizations that we cannot confirm in any other way but to go through them ourselves. It takes hardship (and suffering) to reach that level, to see and be assured. There is no other way. 1094. A man can be as old as an old shoe, or as old as an old town or at least as an old, centennial oak tree. If he wants to, a man can grow old in this second way. It requires spirit. And what is spirit? This question has almost no answer, certainly not a direct one, but Socrates comes to my mind. This tragic Ancient Greek scholar had an ugly face, an ugly face that was loved by all. Despite that, he was a model of dignity and respect for those who knew him best, especially by his students. Perhaps at least some part of the answer to the question: what is human spirit, lies here.
  • 11. 1117. It is the kind of people, too wise and spiritual, who know how to rejoice endlessly and how to suffer endlessly. Extremes are typical of this kind of people. 1122. Even the most profound, the most versatile wisdom a man may "know," feel or "live," once spoken, becomes a thought, is reduced to a thought. And a thought is, by definition, one-sided. Those are the inevitable human limits, or the limits of knowledge, information and human communication. 1123. A true poet, a true artist, is "engaged" even when he does not wish to be. His art-if it is true-is always a testimony against lies. That is where the inevitable engagement of artists lies. 1182. There are situations in a man's life when a mere thought of death can awaken a desire and move the soul out of total numbness. 1187. This is how they praised old age (and I still do not know if they were right): Plato: "Eyes of the spirit become discerning only when the eyes of the body start to decline." Seneca: "The soul is flourishing and it is rejoicing the fact that it has little to do with the body." Zuber: "Those who have long old age are as if purged of the body." Tolstoy: "It is to the old that we owe the moral advancement of the world." Vuando: "As much as the body reclines towards its fall, so much the soul ascends to its peak," etc. 1193. In prison, man has a shortage of space and an excess of time. Unfortunately, space and time cannot compensate here. 1232. Some people are alive merely biologically. Emotionally and psychologically they are dead. To be alive means, first of all, to be alive in spirit. 1233. Despite numerous exaggerations, even nonsense, fashion has a good side to it: it expresses the need of an individual to be individual, to be "different." 1235. In a certain way, a child is more human than an adult: it possesses the most appealing and the most convincing features-spontaneity of will and emotions. So, while growing up, man loses some of his "humanness," some of what he brought with him from Paradise. By living, he moves further from its source and that is why "every man suffers losses" (Qur'an). Is our life, just like the "life" of nature, a continuous increase of entropy? 1257. I always wondered what was the difference between a story and a report of an event. The content of the story is not just the event itself, the reality, but rather the event as I experienced it. The story is not realistic, but it makes sense. A report is just realistic, it makes no sense, it is a mere collection of facts, whereas a story is an organized event. A story with no end is not a story, time in it stops being an endless flow. In a story, time is somehow bordered. A story is not the truth-it can be, but the truth impedes the story more than it helps it in being a story. 1267. Neither is the irrational senseless, nor is the rational always sensible. It is sometimes the other way round. 1275. Suffering cannot be avoided, but it may be complemented by ideas. Everything that lives, suffers. But only men give ideas to suffering. That is the difference. 1276. Any reasonable thinking naturally strives towards a system. It is its good as well as its bad side. 1295. A true man carries out his human task, or exhausts himself trying to fulfill it. That is the beginning and the end of what we call human. The task itself is usually
  • 12. understood in an individual way. Religion and ethics are but attempts to objectify this task, to determine it and make it less subjective. It is always something outside mere biology. For, animals live, too. In order to be human, man must possess something above biological life alone. The question is not how, but why one lives. 1324. I have often boasted (to myself and others) that I am turned toward the future rather than the past, and this has been true. I thought that this was a particular virtue of mine. It was certainly useful, but it was not a virtue. Only much later did I understand that it was an escape from the past and from bad memories. It seemed to me at certain moments that there was nothing beautiful in anything that I had gone through; it all seemed like an inferno that I was able to rescue (have I?) my three children from. 1325. Kant claims that the laws of natural phenomena must a priori correspond to reason and its forms, and its categories prescribe even the laws of phenomena, thus also of the nature as the "synthesis of all phenomena." Reason is therefore of a legislative nature. As there is obviously a correspondence between nature and notions on subjects of experiences. How is this correspondence possible? 1329. (Politicians and thinkers): Whoever still remembers Baron Cedlic- whom Kant addresses as a "humble and most obedient servant" (in the dedication of Critique of Pure Reason)? 1332. It sometimes seems to me that for a man to endure the pressures of life, he must descend to the ninth circle of the inferno. That means enduring the unendurable and accepting the unacceptable. Accepting everything one fears, absolutely everything. And just when it seems that all the troubles of this world have already befallen him, that he has drank all the cups of bitterness except for the most bitter one, it means to take that one and drink it all. There are people who are said to have gone gray overnight. Are they the ones who descended to the very bottom? And when they returned, all that was left of them was something that can face the entire world, heaven and earth, and can look any truth in the eye. Everything that could have happened did happen to them and they have nothing left to fear, there is no fear left. They are the ones who are prepared to live their life, no matter what it may be like, to endure with serenity and dignity all the way to the end. And those who can endure life, can endure death. For life is more difficult and more dangerous than death. 1356. Man is born in blood, pain and scream, the first thing heard is crying, the birth is not exactly a natural act, it is painful, almost cruel. Does this not say something about the very life that has just been created? 1388. It may sound awkward, but evil gives sense to our existence. If there is no evil, there is no good. If there are no good and evil, everything is reduced to mechanics, thus to non-existence (non-sense). 1395. I have sometimes doubted my faith. I wondered if it really existed. But one thing was certain: I was already an old man, but I had no great fear of death. In fact, I never thought I would really die. I was more absorbed by the fear of the responsibility that awaited me. It was then that I understood that my faith was stronger than I thought and that such an emotion could only have originated from and been maintained by faith in God. 1407. I sometimes vividly remember my youth, the early youth when all the illusions were there. Life that was to come would blow like the wind, shatter them all and leave behind a wasteland. Still, not everything is gone, I have my children. I am grateful to God. 1417. What we call good fortune is sometimes just concurrence of our personal task and our historical one, of our biography and our history, our personal aspirations and historical trends. Some find this "good fortune" in foregoing the personal and accepting the historical imperative as one's own. If I look at things
  • 13. that way, most of my life has been in collision with the historical one and harmony began to appear only recently. It is a paradox that such good fortune is happening at such a late stage of my life, the one I am spending here. I may also say: I was born too early to be happy, I should have been born a little later. However, birth is one of many things we do not choose. It is part of our destiny. 1431. I finished reading Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. It is Saturday, June 28, 1986. (My son is exactly 30 years old today and I have almost nine years of prison before me.) The reading was so "dense" that at times it felt like a jungle where I had to cut my way through with a machete. It is one of the best books I have read, and it is certainly one of the closest to my own thoughts and dilemmas. 1452. True love only chooses to reside in a noble heart. Selfish hearts cannot love. 1458. The ninth, the worst circle of the Inferno. Dante intended it for traitors. 1516. In literature, the greatness of a hero is not in his social significance, but in the greatness of the moral dilemma he represents. A character is great if he represents the good and the evil in a novel, irrespective of his social ranking, his title or position. That is why, in a novel or a drama, a king may be an insignificant character and a servant may be a hero. Why is it not so in life? The reason is that in writing the writer introduces us to the soul of a hero, and in real life we get to know people only by their outer side. A man may be in our vicinity for years (at work or in the neighborhood) and we may believe that we know him, and what we know, in fact, are exactly the things that bear no moral value: name, profession, financial situation and social standing, etc. What is truly important and what no one but a writer could tell us about that person usually remains unknown. 1525. There are "mighty" personalities, mighty only because the society or the environment where they act is weak. 1526. You cannot give up your ideals, and you see quite clearly that there is no place for them in reality. That is a tragic situation. 1529. There are people who accumulate knowledge without expanding their views. The latter is achieved only through ideas. 1530. Writers may be well received by society or they may be rejected and misunderstood. In the former case, they are faced with the danger of alienating themselves from life and reality, and in the latter, to disappear. Both have happened. 1551. Contempt toward people can be twofold and can originate from totally opposite emotions. It can be a product of selfishness and insensitivity to people; in that case, contempt is an excuse for one's own emptiness. However, it can also be the other side of love for them, thus a result of continuing love for people and constant disappointment with them. The first is a feature of the selfish and the insensitive, and the latter of generous and noble souls. 1552. What is a star (or sky) for an astronomer and what is it for a poet, and which of the two is right? To an astronomer, the sky is an empty, desolate space that embodies a kind of algebra (or geometry). To a poet, stars are shimmering messages that create melancholy emotions, or symbols of eternity and order above a transient, forever changing world. Again we have two truths. What should one teach a child first: a beautiful poem about the moon or astronomic information about it? 1555. A starry sky is equally interesting to a scientist, a mystic, an ethics scholar and a poet. Looking at the stars, each experiences something different and each
  • 14. sees his own picture. An image (a scene) is endless; it can be compared to itself and nothing else. 1579. I have just finished Dickens's David Coppeifield and I wondered: from the point of view of formal morality, are Mr. Murdstone and his sister, who devised the monstrous system of upbringing, bad people? Perhaps not, but the scenes described by Dickens, where Mr. Murdstone's every word and Mrs. Murdstone's every move spread a deadly coldness, uncovering a kind of cruel order and mercilessness. God, save me from righteous people who possess honesty but have no heart. (God, save me from their heartless honesty.) 1583. Principles alone are insufficient. The second "decisive parameter" is man. The most sublime deeds of kindness and mercy have been done in the name of Christian principles, but stakes have burned too. It depended on the people who were applying the principles. Let alone the hypocrites. 1588. A toothache hurts, stupidity does not. A hollow head does not hurt the way a hollow tooth does. It is just damaging, but one does not die of stupidity. 1596. The political and material circumstances and troubles I have gone through in my life made my children, I believe, think and judge life and its problems much earlier than would normally have been the case. The consequences of this in their lives must have been both good and bad. God grant that there were more of the good ones. 1600. There are people who are not materialists in the philosophical sense, but are by their instincts and behaviour. Most people are, in fact, like that. 1607. Faust sells his soul for the treasures of this world-an old story, very old and often repeated. And true. 1613. "Speaking of history, it is art that flicks through the pages of the book of centuries, questions chronicles, fills in what the chroniclers missed out, reawakens facts, customs and characters, bridges analyses, groups what has been separated, introduces harmony into disharmony"-thus writes Victor Hugo. Still, speaking of history and art, I believe that there is a difference in the subject itself. History describes external events. Historical novels describe life itself. History deals with events, and novels deal with experiences. The subject of history is a people, a society, a community or a group; the subject of a novel is a person (an individual). History written on the basis of a novel or an epic poem would be very bad, but at the same time our complete knowledge of an epoch is not possible without a novel or a poem about it. However inaccurate literature may be in its presentation of historical facts, it is true in terms of local colour, social climate, spirit of the time, emotions and a subjective experience of a historical event recorded truly, albeit only externally, by history. We should therefore leave history to historians and life to poets. The latter will tell us truths about a time gone by, truths of a kind that we can never find in history. There is obviously an outer and an inner history of any era. 1645. It is difficult to help a man without hurting his pride. Everyone wants to be a giver and not a receiver. 1649. Nietzsche's "super-humans" are weak. For it is easy to live only for oneself, follow one's own instincts, which is Nietzsche's advice to his superhuman; it is hard to live for others and against one's own instinct. It is easy to retaliate, it is hard to forgive. It is easy to want the wife of thy neighbour, it is hard to resist the temptation. The first requires less than a man. Only the second requires a super- human. 1652. There is a strange link between good and evil. Were there no evil, would there be good? Is there good but in the struggle for good? Ibsen had nothing
  • 15. against oppression, for-he used to say-what else would awaken inside us the love for freedom? When he learnt that the Italian army had liberated Rome, he was not particularly delighted. He said: "The beautiful yearning for freedom is lost forever. I myself must admit that the struggle for freedom is the only thing about freedom that I like. I am not interested in the exercise of freedom" (Henrik Ibsen, Brand). My comment: these are the thoughts of a man who lives in freedom. I do not know if Brand would think the same way if he were in my situation. 1665. Has it ever happened to you that you actually like a rogue more than a so- called honest citizen? Have you ever wondered why? I believe that this can only be so because a rogue is more original and more his own. He is what he is. An honest citizen often acts according to a law that is not his own, that which was imposed upon him, and a rogue acts true to himself, according to his own law. It does not mean that you like misdemeanours, nor that you approve of crime or sin, it is about the other part of the pair-personality. We like a man who is his own legislator. And conversely, we like the acts of a moral man, we do not like the man himself, since he obeys, and obedience is a form of non-freedom. Actions in accordance with a code that does not arise from the soul can easily be odious. In the end of nineteenth-century poetry, we find certain understanding for rogues and sinners, and the understanding originates from the above. "Be whatever you want to be, but be true to yourself all the way," says Ibsen's Brand. In certain extreme situations, a rogue seems a free man, and a moral man seems a slave to rules. Faced with a choice like this one, our spontaneous sympathies are with the free man. A slave can be pitied, but no one wishes to identify with him. 1674. I often wondered, especially in the first days after the verdict, whether I had the courage that could endure all that was ahead of me. There were days when death was my only hope. I kept it as a secret that only I knew, a secret THEY neither knew nor could take away from me. 1678. Love cannot exist as something general, just as something individual. That is why Jesus speaks of love for a neighbour. Only this specific love has meaning and only this love exists. Love for mankind-what is it? How does one love mankind? There is love for a human being or no love at all. 1679. "Be serious with your work, always and everywhere," says Kierkegaard- bearing in mind the Ibsenian (or Nietzschean) law of either-or. You either are the one who is called for and ready to sacrifice unconditionally for an ideal, or you are not, in which case, your seriousness toward work means that you do not accept it at all. There is nothing worse than doing things halfway. It sometimes equals treason and lies. 1680. To have one's own self, to be aware of it, to defend it-irrespective of what else the "I" may mean-is the first condition for being human. That is why we can sometimes feel respect and be interested in the destiny of a negative hero-if he is consistent and ready to draw consequences of his own attitude. 1691. A man and a woman are the basic cell of the world and of life. No revolutions, changes of empires, changes of laws and owners over the goods of the world were ever able to change real life unless they changed the relationship between man and woman. And vice-versa: the smallest shift in this basic element of life leads to an overall upheaval. The first image of Him and Her, this primordial image, is linked to Paradise, to sin, to responsibility and punishment. Everything else that happened later, starting from the epoch-making Descent, is linked to Adam and Eve and their relationship. What happened between them started as metaphysics, and metaphysics it remained. All subsequent history has been determined by this first drama and its main characters, Him and Her. 1717. That was the embrace of the unfortunate, those who could not belong to each other under the laws of this world. And there was but one way out of this embrace reminiscent more of a struggle: death. For "love and death are the
  • 16. same"-I do not know whose words these are, but they are implanted deep in my memory. 1727. It can be said of many people: they wanted to destroy the mechanism, instead they became its victims. 1728. Justice is one of those few things that need no proof. To prove the need for justice and fairness is either superfluous for those who have a heart or useless for those who do not. The very question why there is a need to be just shows that any conversation and any explanation are pointless. 1729. A metropolis has a strange influence on men. A man poisoned by a metropolis loses the immediate sense of life that he had when he came to this world. He starts to hate nature, the sea, the sky, the clouds and becomes an "addict" just as he would with any extensively administered poison. 1735. American writers-contrary to European writers-do not strive to improve the world nor do they believe in such a mission of literature. To them, ideology is one of the grave dangers of this world. I agree with them. 1746. To seek trouble-this is not courage, this is madness. Courage is the willingness of man to sensibly face the troubles he cannot avoid. 1748. Accustomed to darkness, moles cannot tolerate light. To them, darkness is a normal state and light is unnatural and unbearable. Some people are like them. They are accustomed to darkness, they dislike light. 1751. Nietzsche once wrote that he hated "the weak, the moralists and the slaves." For him, these were one and the same kind of people. 1760. In order to build, there must be destruction. Only anger can destroy, love cannot. That is why anger is a necessary and a useful part of life. 1762. We seek freedom, but are we worthy of it? 1763. This one great hardship saved me from hundreds of small ones that would have eaten away at me every day, in bits, yet systematically. 1766. I took revenge on hardship from my earlier life by forgetting it. 1774. I would like to live like a human being but I would like to ail and die quietly, like an animal. 1780. When Prophet Yahweh, God's Emissary, asked Satan about the time when his power over man was the strongest, he replied: "When man has eaten enough and drank enough." 1789a. After seeing a large exhibition of modern painting (in Sarajevo in 1980) it took me some time to re-establish balance and a normal link with the outer world and to start walking through it straight. Upon leaving the exhibition and entering the street, I felt a mild clash between the two worlds, the one from the painting and the real one. It is obvious that laws governing these worlds are not the same. 1790. When you see a painting you do not understand, you may think that the creator is not an artist but rather a charlatan playing with a naive audience. However, you may also think this: How high did the creator have to climb and how low did he have to descend in order to see a scene or a truth he is trying to tell you? If you do this, you will err less. For, think about it, you do not understand an essay on electronics, nor do you understand much of what a scientist may tell you about how he is building a spaceship to go to Saturn and how he plans to direct its flight from Earth. Although what he is telling you is fantastic and hard to
  • 17. understand, the scientist is not a charlatan. So why should a painter whose painting you do not understand be one? 1795. Injustice can be remedied by justice, by punishment. Same for same. Crime and punishment, remedium peccati. But the only way to truly overpower injustice is forgiveness. That is why the Qur'an instructs justice and recommends forgiveness. And yet, how does one know that justice is truly just, and not just a new injustice? And is there the same in human life? Are crime and punishment ever-can they at all be-the same, one at the measure of the other? Is not every justice, for it is pronounced and executed by men, always a new injustice, seeking again justice of its own? Over and over again. 1797. It was in Andric, I think, where I read that surplus imagination and laziness go together. Imaginative people are often lazy. Hard working ones are often dry, rational, calculating. Some people are pushed towards hard work by selfishness, ambition, desire for attention. Yet lazy people are not as disliked as we may expect, since their nonchalance is often accompanied by a total absence of ambition and calculation. In this respect there is a parallel with teetotallers and drunks. While we basically praise teetotalism and condemn drinking, we do not always feel the same towards teetotallers and drunks. The only thing we respect in some teetotallers is their sobriety, wishing them to be as far from us as possible. 1799. It is impossible to go forward, and backward there is nothing to go back to. 1801. Is there anything more beautiful than a rainbow? But the man who is inside it, cannot see it. 1802. It is one thing to do evil unto man, but it is another, though not a very different thing, to not do unto them the good you were able and obliged to do. If you summarize your life from time to time, do not forget the latter. 1804. Philosophy came to be and continues to exist out of man's natural endeavour to conceive or at least to comprehend the world. Of as long as this endeavour lives, so shall philosophy. 1826. All my reasons remained helpless, as if before a wall or a kind of madness. Madness knows no reasons. No comparison with other people and events was of help. For this comparison was based on the typical and the normal, and here everything was atypical and abnormal. 1833. Life is full of paradoxes. Thus, for example, a true man who loves and honours others in principle goes by his conscience and cares very little about criticisms or praise of others. Conversely, a vain man usually despises others but secretly cherishes their opinion, hence cares about the opinion of those he despises. We usually find this in dictators and tyrannical natures. Stalin is said to have despised his surroundings bitterly. He was particularly disparaging towards poets and intellectuals (Osip Mandelstam, a poet, lost his head because of a poem about Stalin written too liberally). The logical question is: Why are they affected by the opinions of those whom they consider beneath them and whom they despise? 1851. Hatred is said to be blind, but so is love, in its own way. I cannot remember truly hating anyone, but I am certain that I have known much better the people I disliked or even could not stand the sight of. The distance I felt towards them helped me to see all their weaknesses, lack of talent and intelligence, basically all their faults that would have remained unknown to me had I liked them. It is a different question whether this "knowledge" of mine (or lack thereof) is a good thing, and should we know all the bad truths about people close to us. 1852. A temptation that lurks at us: We sometimes feel disgust (or even hatred) for a person against whom we have nothing to say and who is no worse than us or
  • 18. those we love and respect. This unfounded antipathy towards people is a frequent and an ugly occurrence. It is one of our temptations. 1855. Reading is, more or less-depending on the reader-a creative act, for the reader provides his own interpretation to what he read. Ten readers-ten different characters of Fyodor Karamazov, and with it numerous unexpected judgments and associations, totally subjective, varying from one reader to the next. That is, to an extent, the difference between reading a story and watching a film. While reading we reconstruct a character (or a landscape), in film it is given and the viewer receives it passively. While reading a novel the image is in the mind of the reader, and while watching a film the image is on the screen. We should therefore read, for film cannot replace that. 1861. I have always found modern painting a little difficult to understand, but it always attracted me, like a secret. I read with curiosity everything on paintings of this style that I could lay my hands on. And here in prison, there have been days when I was "attacked" by a desire to understand a secret, an essence eluding me yet feeling so near. If I had been a painter, I am certain that, feeling the inadequacy of words, I would have painted those incomprehensible images that I used to gaze at with bewilderment and awe. I think that at such times I did understand modern painting, inasmuch as anyone but the creator can understand it at all. 1863. As for the difficult, the ultimate questions, the ones on life and death, especially the latter, some keep asking themselves and some keep avoiding them. But neither is finding any answers. The first because there is no answer, the latter because they are not looking. At first sight, the result is the same. Still, the difference between those two categories of people is immense, just like the difference between wisdom and recklessness. 1864. Is life without desires imaginable? Are not life and desires one and the same thing? Even if you want to (are endeavouring to) overcome a desire, it is nonetheless a desire. Thought and desires cannot be stopped. 1866. I have read writings by Tolstoy, Hugo, Dostoyevsky, Rousseau, and came to a conclusion: none, not even people whom we hold to be geniuses, were free from vices and weaknesses. The only difference is how much people are willing to admit this to themselves and others. To courageously face all the sins and failures of one's life, in a confrontation that poisons and purges the soul at the same time, this is something that only a truly brave, great man is capable of. There are no imperfect human beings, just insincere ones. 1869. Describing his childhood, Tolstoy tells us that the memory of that time fills him with a sensation of something poetic and mysterious and how then, growing up, he lost this true feeling of the depth of life. We all feel something similar. Does not the same happen to mankind and has not mankind, when leaving its childhood, lost that feeling (or that memory) for the mysterious or the supra- sensory? Is not the drama (or the entire development) that mankind has gone through repeated in human life? And this time, the development does not just consist of advancement, but also of retrogression or loss? 1870. I do not know much about computers, but I can say with certainty that the intelligence of computers is stupid and that it is at best a simulation of intelligence. This simulation can be endlessly improved but it will never cross that magic line and become spontaneous and authentic. And it is exactly that fact that represents the endlessly great (or, if you prefer, the endlessly small) difference between the animate and the inanimate. No human product can cross this threshold. Only God was capable of that. "God is not reluctant to give you an example of a fly" (Qur'an). However great our knowledge is, do we not overestimate it at times? If all the knowledge of all the libraries of the world were to be concentrated into a single imaginary computer, and if all the greatest
  • 19. scientists of the world were to be gathered into an imaginary institute or laboratory, and if they were to be given all the time and all the resources they may ask for, they would not be able to produce a single swamp mosquito (a fly). That is the message of the Qur'an's ayyah on a fly. 1872. When we try to imagine a good writer, we usually think of the qualities he should possess: imagination, experience, talent, perceptiveness, intellect. But I read somewhere that Turgenev made a list of flaws a man should possess in order to be a writer. Thinking about this unexpected or the "inverted" way of looking at things, I think that one flaw should be very high on this list: vanity. For why does a writer believe in the first place that he should teach us or educate us or that we should know what he thinks? Is this not a form of vanity? 1875. As for the relationship of these two histories (the inner and the outer- see note 1613) the inner may contain the real truth about events, if it were not an excellent field for the writer's arbitrariness, subjectivity, bias and imagination. For what is there that guarantees to us that people were exactly the way the writer describes them in his novels? For example, Ivo Andric is persistently reproached for being biased against Islam and Moslems and that this bias drew all his characters with Moslem names. In his stories, Moslems are always primitive, dishonest, weak and idle, prone to deceit and laziness. The outer history, despite everything, lends itself a lot less to mystification and arbitrariness of this kind. In any case, it is more verifiable. For not all writers are as conscientious when writing so-called inner histories as Leo Tolstoy. For example, while writing his 30-page story titled "Why?," he is known to have read a number of books on the history of the 1830-1831 Polish rebellion, in order to be as truthful as possible. He wrote in his diary: "I need to read a lot in order to write five lines scattered throughout the story." The opposite example may be the said Andric, who is said to have totally misrepresented the land expropriation prior to the construction of the bridge on the Dma. According to Andric, it was a ruthless grab with no compensation and no right to complain, accompanied by violence. However, Osman Sokolovic, a historian, found and published court archive documents that showed that one by one the owners went to the Turks' office and how the purchase price was determined for each lot that was taken. Sokolovic quoted literal translations of records that were no different than the modern ones put together on similar occasions. If Andric did not follow historical facts or if he did not confirm them, if he drew everything he wrote on people, their character, beliefs, feelings and relationships from his imagination (and he was undoubtedly very imaginative) then there is in his Bridge on the Drina, The Travnik Chronicle, The Damned Yard and Djerzelez nothing one may learn and understand about time and people that really existed. What can be learnt from Andric' s novels is perhaps something about people in general, about what they may have been like and not what they were really like. But in that case his works have a philosophical value and have no significance for what we call an inner history of an epoch. 1903. Time and use wear out most things, but there are those-like folk songs-that go from mouth to mouth and are shaped and enriched with time, thus becoming shorter and more meaningful. 1915. There is one thing that we want and hate at the same time: old age. 1951. There is no wisdom without experience, one's own, of course. However, if it is true that a clever man uses someone else's rather than his own experience, what arises is that recklessness in youth is the condition of wisdom in old age. What follows is that young smart men never achieve true wisdom and that such wisdom is achieved only by those who were neither very wise nor very thoughtful in their youth. 2018. Water reduced to turbines of a plant is useful. Water that remains free and falls free is not useful, but it is beautiful.
  • 20. 2019. Can something be said of "nothing"? 2076. One of the arguments of the feminist movement is that a woman has been expressing herself as a mother and that it is now time for her to express herself as a personality. In their argumentation, mother and personality are opposed terms. I would like someone to explain this to me. I have always thought that there is nothing more personal or richer in personality than a mother, that a mother is a superb personality. Feminist dialectics is confusing. 2078. Why else do we treasure objects and memories of times long gone, if not because they represent symbols of human continuation and tradition. 2079. If it is sincere, remorse is a moral category of the ultimate kind. In my eyes, a man who sinned and repented is better than those who never sinned (and there are such). I have always had an aversion to so-called sinless men and, despite my great desire to do so, I have never been able to free myself from this mistrust. Perhaps this is because I am neither sinless nor perfect. 2080. It is no wonder that painters paint. The world is full of shapes, colours, light and shadow-therefore made to be painted, and a human being with eyes and soul is made to paint. Thus a painter and his world are at each other's measure. 2109. Real men are not rough. They have emotions and they are not ashamed of them. Homer's famous heroes, whose heroic deeds he described so vividly, do not hide tears. When Patroclus saw his Achaeans killed before Troy, "tears streamed down his cheeks like water down a rocky mountain." Achilles said to him: "Why do you cry, Patroclus, like a little girl running behind her mother and crying until the mother takes her in her arms?" And when Patroclus was killed, Achilles "fell on the ground.. . and cried, with such pain that even his mother Tehida heard him in the depths of the sea." Antioch cried, "shedding bitter tears." Homer and his heroes are no less manly because of their tears. 2135. A "better life" (as a slogan, a motto, a goal) is something a man can work toward but not die for. One may suffer for something above the "standard of living," despite the fact that what is "above" is in some cases an illusion, even a delusion. It is, in fact, something that belongs to the same order of things as death itself: love, honor, freedom, dignity, glory, idea, homeland, etc. To sacrifice life is an irrational act, and something like that can be done only based on emotions, and not based on reason. 2143. Decency is not just a question of good morality, but also a question of good taste. Immoral things are usually also in poor taste. 2144. If Islam is understood correctly, it will become clear that it holds that a true man is above a saint, that a saint is a man who has perhaps tried but failed to become a complete man. Whoever reads Tolstoy's biography, a moving story of "a struggle which continued for 80 years and which was participated by all virtues and all vices, all vices but one-lie" (R. Roland), will understand how any biography of a "sinless" saint (if such exists) would be pale, boring, even fake, compared to the life of this true man. One can appreciate that the great writer's dramatic life was exactly what God wanted and that that was the reason why He ordered sinless angels to bow before a sinful man. 2153. It is interesting that some people constantly request the right to an opinion, and once they win the right, they do not use it. 2167. Fire can keep us warm, but we can also burn in it. 2178. How can I judge people? Edgar Allan Poe, one of the greatest writers in the past 150 years, who wrote unforgettable prose, poems and essays, died at the
  • 21. age of 40, eaten by alcohol and who knows what else, practically homeless. Only Allah can judge people. 2198. A person is not defined by his or her opinions, but by his or her feelings. A man can change his opinion completely and remain the same person. We can talk of a change of a person only once his feelings have changed. It can be said that we adopt opinions with a belief that they will contribute to easier achievement of what we are emotionally committed to or linked with. 2200. One man's death is as valuable as his life has been. 2204. "In Memoriam-Borivoj Niksic "Borivoj Bora Niksic, Justice of the Federal Court, participant of the National Liberation War from its beginning, member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 1939, was buried on Saturday, 18 October, at the New Cemetery in Belgrade. Persecuted for spreading communist ideas, he remained firm and unwavering. A warrior, a partisan, a brave son of his Srem, he fought honourably until the final victory. Awarded several war and peacetime medals, he remained the humble bearer of his communist ideals. Well known to the Yugoslav legal community as a long serving judge of Circuit, Supreme and Federal Courts, he gave full contribution to the development of criminal legislation and legal theory and practice. Gravely ill and aware of his approaching end, he left a message for his family and colleagues that he was to be buried with no speeches, no flowers, no obituaries, in the presence of just his immediate family and closest associates. A quiet departure of this long serving judge of the Federal Court, a warrior and -above all a good man, left a huge void among his colleagues, close associates and friends" (Politika, Belgrade, October 28, 1986). My note: Borivoj Niksic was the vice-chair of the Federal Court Chamber that passed the final ruling in my case. Legal qualification was changed (from counterrevolutionary association aimed at destroying constitutional order to so- called verbal offence-Article 133 of the Criminal Code) and the sentence was reduced from twelve to nine years of imprisonment. According to the Criminal Code in effect, the maximum penalty was ten years. 2215. My mind keeps vacillating and wondering, but my heart has always been and is firmly on the side of faith. My moments of true happiness were those when my mind and my heart were in agreement. It is January 1st today. We have just entered 1987. What is ahead of us? 2268. Perhaps sorrow is a natural state of the soul, here, ici-bas, in this world. 2268a. What else is a characteristic of the human soul? It loves fairy tales. Why? 2275. "A man is not what he thinks, but what he does," says Mesa Selimovic (Death and the Dervish). My comment: I am not what I think, even less what I do. Both are clearly conditioned. I am what I want and feel. Thought is "outside of me," my actions are even more "alien," even more "outside." Emotions are closest to the soul, if they are not the soul itself. 2324. When you have lived and survived everything, when you have stumbled a hundred times and then risen again, when you have given up all false hopes and comforts and you have clenched your teeth to look the truth in the eye, only then do you realize that the sole purpose of life is the fight against evil. Little can be done in this fight, but that is the only thing we have left. Outside it, there is disaster and death forever. 2330. People have not sung about wisdom, they have sung about courage. People have dedicated their most beautiful poems to a virtue held in esteem higher than anything else, probably because it is the rarest of all: the virtue of courage, the
  • 22. contempt toward danger and death. This goes equally for folk poems of all times, from Japan, to India and Persia, to England and America. 2341. In prison, a man has to pass a very difficult test. After years of loneliness and deprivation, only a man of strong spirit can leave with no signs of numbness and frailty. This is a sign that, despite all the hardship, his inner life has not been boring, that he amused himself even in solitude with his thoughts and his plays of fantasy. While his body has been behind bars, his spirit was able to be with his loved ones, in his thoughts he could "see" a show at the theatre or even be in a distant country. 2343. Have you noticed that when watching comedy, some people do not find it funny at all? While the politicians usually get upset, some intelligent people find comedies sad. 2354. The soul aches as much as the body. There are days when all the scars, all the old and long forgotten hurts "light up," just- like old injuries awaken before bad weather or bones hurt from blows you have collected in a long life and only forgotten for a short while. In those days you are bad tempered and absorbed in yourself, in your soul whose wounds reopened only to remind you that nothing is lost, nothing vanishes, least of all pains and bad memories. They just whither away for a while, withdraw into an unknown depth, just like they will this time and you will put them behind you. Until the next time. 2355. There is only one way to avoid defeat when you are facing the world. Even that one is not quite safe, but it is the only possible one: It is that you move the ratio of strength between you in your favour. Instead of moving and changing thousands of things, each of which is stronger and heavier than you, you strengthen yourself to be "above" the world. The latter you can do, it is in your power at least to some extent, and the world is huge and unconquerable. You cannot cover all the roads you take with leather, you can make shoes for yourself, you can cover your feet with leather and the result will be the same. That is the only way to rule the world and the circumstances we find ourselves in. Have you ever thought why old people feel cold even when they are dressed warmly? They lack their own warmth. The best way to resist the outer cold is for your blood to work, so that you are warm within. That is the only real solution. 2357. An ornament cannot replace content, just like a spice cannot replace food. When content dissolves into form in a culture, we certainly become witnesses of decadence and disappearance of that culture. 2374. A clever man knows how to speak. A wise man knows how to be silent too. 2376. One can speak of sense or senselessness of suffering, of its role in a man's life and in history, but one is certain, we all feel it: The composition of suffering is noble, it is made of noble matter. 2393. It is February 26, 1987, today, a day of some excitement. I was called to the prison administration this morning. In the visitors' room, I found Lejla and Sabina with happy faces. I guess they wanted to let me know immediately that it was nothing bad. They then told me that Nikola Stojanovic, the president of the Pardons Commission of the RB&H Presidency, had suggested that I should file an application for a pardon and I would be released. The mediator was Zdravko Djuricic, then secretary of the Commission, Lejla's old school classmate. He had put together the text of the application. I read it. I did not sign. The prison continues. 2401. Excessive erudition can sometimes suffocate creative thinking. A man can possess knowledge in many fields, but with no organization, no vision. Many learned men have lived and died without real knowledge, which can be brought to life only by an idea. It is generally accepted that research with a wrong hypothesis
  • 23. is more promising than research with no hypothesis. A pile of good material with no plan remains just a pile. A starting hypothesis may even be a prejudice that we shall be free from once we complete the research, just as we free ourselves of the scaffolding once a building has been built. 2405. Do not kill a mosquito, dry the swamp. 2429. Only freedom cannot be worn out by frequent use. 2518. The "humanity" of a man is not primarily in the fact that he is good and kind, but rather in the possibility that he may or may not be such. Therefore, not because he is not a criminal, but because he is not necessarily, inevitably such. A man has a way out and that is his greatness. 2529. Fasting in prison-for me, that was a confirmation of my human dignity on days and occasions when everything around me violated it. 2547. The fact of death changes all our standards. For no rational order of thoughts and values can cope when faced with this fact. Only strong passions- love, faith, hatred, pride, vengeance-and they are rejected by reason-are capable of that. That perhaps justifies them in the eyes of many. 2557. The question why something is, why is there Something and not Nothing, for me the most far-reaching question a man can ever ask himself. I wonder: How could a man, being in reality as a part of it, ever come across a question like that, how could he think of it? The first time I heard it, I was astounded. 2572. Art is not worthy of that name if it merely describes, follows, copies, or even reveals, unless it all grows in its eyes to the limits of the invisible and the miraculous. 2581. A pure mind embodies the unity of essence and existence: It is at the same time a real existence, and this characteristic of real existence is inherent in the very essence of the mind, that is, it is one, unquestionable and absolute being. The world cannot be compared with the light that expands into infinity and sheds itself onto everything it comes across (Husserl' s views, presented in Ideen). 2703. Man is in conflict with the forces of history. These forces are blind to the life of an individual. An individual, his life, his feelings, are victims of these forces. "Senselessness of history and its unfulfilled promises overcasts the individual human being" (Emile Sioran, History and Utopia). Sioran speaks about evil, violence and barbarism as the main driving forces of history. According to him, morality, goodness and humanist ideals have always been on the verge of defeat in their conflict with the forces of tyranny and evil. 2735. Among poor peoples, slenderness and paleness are not held in high regard- they remind them of hunger and poverty. 2862. Optimism sometimes sounds cynical. 2127. Unlike animals, God made us walk upright. Most people do not use this privilege; most of their lives they bend, even crawl. Should one do that? Is it not blasphemous to reject this great gift from God: walking upright? 2152. A man is not a "social animal." The more he is a man, the more he is a person, the more he strives toward solitude. An ordinary (average) man is sociable not because of his love for other men, but because he is self-insufficient. It is an escape from emptiness, from monotony, from one's own life. A superficial person does not like to be alone and vice versa: a truly spiritual man, a monk, a recluse can be alone all his life.
  • 24. 2156. In Italy, instead of hitting a donkey thus making it move forward, which sometimes has no effect due to the donkey's stubbornness, peasants have thought of a trick: They fasten a stick with a bunch of hay to the donkey's head, so the donkey stares at it and hopes to reach it. Are not many people like these donkeys, and are there not some people who turn others into donkeys like the ones in Italy? 2161. Envy is a misfortune that affects unhappy people. They are envious because they feel unhappy. Envy does not soothe their misfortune, it just worsens it. 2173. Some people consider their arrogance to be a form of self-awareness, but the two are totally different. 2178. Real knowledge is possessed by the people who are belonging to the majority-thus the lower, rougher nature. A better kind of people seem naive and ignorant. I often had a dilemma: Should I respect them for their kindness, or resent them for their naiveté. For ignorance is no virtue. And vice versa: should I resent the experienced kind for their resemblance with the majority (for "the majority is not good"-Qur'an) or should I appreciate them for their knowledge and realism? Of course, I had no real dilemma: Honesty is superior to knowledge, but I must admit that I was never able to truly forgive the naiveté and clumsiness of good and honest people. I have always dreamed of an ideal: a good and honest man, yet experienced and realistic. Can that be united in one person or is it just a lucky coincidence? 2182. Just as we carry the burdens of our own children, in the same way we do not feel our own faults and vices, but rather only those of other people. 2184. We express noisily and passionately the opinions that come from our will, and those that come from our knowledge and conviction, we express calmly and coldly. That is why we always rely more on judgments expressed coldly; we feel that they come from understanding rather than passion. 2185. Interests in general truths and personal truths are in inverted proportion. If we come across a person of great curiosity towards personal matters and lives of their near and not so near dear ones (which is quite frequent, not only in women), in them we will find less interest in the general truths of the world, which are subjects of science and philosophy. With his well-known sting, Schopenhauer observes that ordinary people, who normally do not show particular sharpness, are "excellent algebraists in someone else's personal matters, where they solve the most complicated equations with only one given value." 2193. Nietzsche was a very sensitive man, not at all like his own Ubermensch. At the age of 44 he lost his mind and-according to biographers-the immediate cause was a scene at a Turin square, when the philosopher, upon leaving his flat, saw a carriage driver giving his horse a merciless whipping. He went to the animal, embraced it gently and cried, and then just collapsed. He lived for another 12 years, but he never returned to his senses. We are what we are, not what we think or wish we are. 2228. We cannot achieve perfection. But there is one thing we can do: we can constantly try to be more men, try for every man to be more like a man. 3054. The presence of death gives the picture of life the necessary dark shades, without which it would have been pale and insignificant. A novel and a drama that contain no dying seem incomplete. 3066. To a man who gives me his opinions I would love to say: I am not interested in your ideas, your alleged convictions, nor in your views of the world, nor in whatever you call it. The only thing that matters to me and the only thing that matters at all is: what are you like? Are you a good or a bad person? In fact, all
  • 25. your stories, even your actions, are interesting only as much as they help me find the answer to this question about you: who are you? 3069. Even darkness may be light. Stars are invisible during the day. Their glow is the strongest in the greatest darkness. If there were no dark nights, we would not have known the magic of a starry sky. Even if we knew of it, we would not be able to see this incredible sight. 3078. What is characteristic of a real writer? First of all, perceptiveness. There are people who lived their lives as if they passed through the world with their eyes closed. A real writer is the total opposite: sensitive as a photo-plate. 3085. The world cannot be won by rejection. This can be done only by acceptance. In fact, acceptance of the world is the precondition for changing it or winning it. 3103. The Japanese ideogram for the verb "to think" means "to be sad." A coincidence or hidden logic? 3134. The problem of solitude. Some think that that is the only way for man to confirm or to experience his humanity. Others think the opposite: Man can become and remain man only when surrounded by other men. Patrick Suskind, a new-generation German writer, wrote his story titled "Pigeon" only to show that in solitude, man loses his humanity and that human existence is human only with other humans. 3137. There are rules of the game in everything one does in life. Follow the rules, and in order to follow them, either learn them or establish them yourself. 3140. Why do we always appreciate morality and almost always despise moralizing? Because morale is an action, moralization is a word. Morale is a request from yourself, moralization is a request directed at someone else. That is why morale is always moral, and moralization is often hypocritical, thus immoral. 3179. It seems that conflict is the way life exists. A conflict-free life cannot be imagined. Conflict can be constructive, destructive or futile (redundant). The latter resolves nothing, nor does it serve any purpose. And many cherish only this type of conflict. 3180. At a certain stage of their lives, salmon go upstream, back to their birthplace, crossing huge distances, conquering rapids and waterfalls, even dying in the effort. Why? They know they must. That is all. 3260. One night during a scientific expedition in the Pacific, three crewmembers of the Kon-Tiki are said to have caught a snake-like fish of magic colours, unlike anything else they had ever seen. They took it immediately to the fourth crewmember, a marine zoologist. They woke him up and showed him the fish. He looked at it and said, "There is no such fish," and went back to sleep. Many people behave like this expert. 3333. People who took part in or witnessed one and the same event often see and describe it differently. Everyone is absolutely convinced of his or her own version (the film Rashomon is a story about that). How does one explain that? I think that the only explanation is that our observations are never mechanical and objective. They, as well as our views of an event, are always intermingled with our thoughts, our emotions, desires and passions. This creates numerous views and numerous misunderstandings. 3334. To live or to die, which is the greater problem? Perhaps Thomas Bailey Aldrich, an American writer, had this question in mind when he stated that "we cry when we are born, not when we die."
  • 26. 3340. What is the true meaning of the rational and the irrational-it is hard to say because, among other things, the notion of ratio is not identical in different cultures and different languages. Latin Ratio, English Reason and German Vernunfi do not have the same meaning. 3341. What was or has been done cannot but be, it cannot be erased for that would be contrary to the law of time. It is March 23, 1988 today, five years of prison are over, four remain. 3375a. What should we think of Picasso's paintings, most of us standing before them confused? It is interesting to hear what the painter himself thinks about his art. In a letter to Giovanni Papini from 1952, Picasso wrote: "People of sophisticated taste, rich men, idle men, thinkers, all seek in art something new, extravagant, scandalous. I myself, starting from cubism and onwards, have entertained those connoisseurs and those critics with all the impulsive bizarreness that crossed my mind, and they, the less they understood it, the more they admired it. . . . But when I face myself, I do not have the courage to consider myself an artist in the classical sense of the word. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt and Goya were artists. I am just a public entertainer who understood his time and used as well as he could the stupidity, vanity and recklessness of his contemporaries." My comment: I do not know how sincere this confession was. How do I put it together with the fact that Picasso prepared over 700 studies and sketches just for his painting Ladies from Avignon, which was, as it is held, a real revolution in Western painting? Perhaps Picasso just played a joke on us with this statement. 3377. A writer may fight against the evil in men, if that is his goal. By describing Macbeth, Shakespeare spoke about good and evil more than a hundred aestheticists. 3391. Most people do evil out of interest (power, wealth, glory, love, etc.). But there is also evil for the sake of evil, evil that is its own purpose. That is real hell. I have unfortunately had the opportunity to get to know such evil and the people who do it. 3439. Suffering and pain play a huge moral role in human life. It is hard to explain but we all feel it. Of course, this is not the quality of the world, but rather of man. With no pain and no suffering, what is lacking is the important thing we call credibility. 3464. I was right at the wrong time. 3501. I, to them: you could hide the past. The present you cannot. 3514. A man I knew died. Reading the obituary, I thought: there are people whom we feared for their strength or strictness, whom we respected for their wisdom or superiority of a different kind, whom we admired for their virtues and finally, those whom we loved for their kindness. When they die, it is only the latter that we remember with true sorrow and with a feeling of irreparable loss. For me, this has always been the proof that only love and kindness are the values that defy time and oblivion more than any other, and which can be questioned by nothing, even death itself. In a sense, love and kindness testify human immortality. 3519. I am aware of my faults, but I live with them. However, if I see them in someone else, then I dislike the person and the fault. This is the measure of my "fairness" and my objectivity. 3527. A tragedian and a poet transform the rough experiences of their lives into an exciting story, like a silk worm that transforms mulberry leaves into silk. Both are equally miraculous.
  • 27. 3528. The closer you are to the stars, the closer you are to their destiny: loneliness, distance and cold. 3540. An average aborigine (savage) from Central Africa knows the stars in the sky better than an average inhabitant of a European or an American city. While a primitive man tells time by the sun and follows the stars when travelling at night, the knowledge of this kind of our average man from the street is zero. We left our knowledge of the sky to astronomers and physicists. But the main problem is not this knowledge or ignorance. The damage is more of a moral nature. The man who never or hardly ever looks up at the sky loses his sense of orientation. Without this picture, he is deprived of the sight that all the wisdom of the world comes from. It is only in this heavenly perspective that man could assess his own greatness and his own insignificance, never forgetting either of the two. 3548. Some complain of human ungratefulness. They are afraid that their love will not be requited, that their kindness will remain unrewarded and unrecognised. This is an obvious misunderstanding. No truly good deed can ever remain unrewarded for the reward is simultaneous. Those who have ever done a truly unselfish, that is, a truly good deed, know this very well. A good deed and its reward cannot be separated, like an object and its shadow. The reward you have in mind would only belittle it. Look at a child looking after a wounded bird or feeding a puppy that followed him in the street. Does the child seek any particular reward or does he feel rewarded already? Look at the joy in his eyes. 3559. Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Omer and Merima, Layla and Marjoun, all love each other. And we love them. We love them because they love each other. We love them although we do not know them. What follows is: We do not love them, in fact, we love love. 3574. Man is fallible. A robot is not. In this case, the fallibility of man is an advantage, and the infallibility of a robot is a fault or "a virtue we are averted from." 3575a. Science should be neither praised not cursed, it should be used. In any case, science is not pure truth, as some see it and claim it to be, but it is one of the roads to truth. 3599. All men, even those who are unaware of it, deep inside their souls admire courage, unselfishness and generosity. Why else would we untiringly continue to invent characters who courageously defy destiny and death? All men are poets, mystics and romantics, at least a little. For where does this weakness for flags, symbols, hymns, romantic heroes who die for their homeland or the loved woman with no regret, come from? Who are these creatures who fill cinemas where they can see heroes who are themselves as much as they are not like us? And if it is true that such people do not exist in real life (that they exist only in literature), the question remains, why has the imagination of all the peoples continued to create them from time immemorial? We do not give our admiration to what we are but to what we are not, and what we would like to or should be. 3661. Language is said to be a writer's homeland. Strange things happen with immigrant writers. Even when they have mastered the language of their new homeland, they still write verse in their mother tongue. Thus, for example, after moving to the West, Joseph Brodsky continued to write prose in English and poetry only in Russian. Deep inside we all understand this, but it is hard to explain. 3676. This time of ours: hard, but endlessly interesting. We may complain that we have had it rough, but not that we have been bored. I can only regret that I will not live long enough to see the outcome. I am talking about death. But perhaps there is no outcome and no death. Perhaps the eyes that have been watching it will just close and life will just continue. New births, new eyes open up like flowers,
  • 28. new stories and so on with no end. God, You are great and so is the world You created! 3677. There have been pain and suffering before, horrific and monstrous, but the sword of repression has never before been so conscientiously pointed against the man inside man, and the intention to humiliate and destroy men has never been conducted with so much satanic skill and perseverance. It was-as Bloch said-"the collapse of the upright walk of mankind."
  • 30. CHAPTER 2 On Religion and Morality 20. As a historical phenomenon, every religion has two sides to it. As a science, it is a revelation; as practice, it is the work of men. God reveals faith, and people apply it. All that is in it that is great and sublime is of God; all that is wrong and unworthy is of men. In this compromise to religious learning, man's role is also dual: on one hand, he abuses, does not apply or applies wrongly, the still uncorrupted religious learning. On the other hand, he twists, changes only the learning. History gives us numerous examples of both. Hegel wrote: "History of the highly educated Eastern Roman Empire, where, as one would think, the spirit of Christianity could have been understood in its truth and purity, is presented to us as a thousand year long sequence of continuous crimes, weaknesses, wiliness and shamelessness. . . . Everywhere there were scenes of killings, burning and looting in the name of Christian dogma. In a discussion if Christ is of quality same or similar to that of God, this one letter [in Greek these two adjectives: similar and same, differ in just one letter-my note] had cost thousands of human lives" (Hegel, Philosophy of History). Studying a similar phenomenon in the history of India, we never remain unmoved: One moment we are absorbed in admiration for the depth and the superiority of the thoughts, in the next, disgust for the incredible examples of triviality and senselessness. And all this is mixed into an inextricable ball that wishes to be called one and the same name. In fact, it is a tragic deviation from God's teaching, where grains of the Revelation are clearly discernible and in the background of human darkness they glow with an undying and untainted glow. Still, this is not the real question of history: what evils have been done in the name of history. The real question is: What would the world have looked like if there had been no Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam? What would mankind have looked like if it had not gone through these schools, the preachers of which had not been perfect and where, in addition to sublime truths, some nonsense and absurdity had been taught as well? It would be useful if an impartial, fair historian could try to write "history" for the sake of all of us, of course, if such history could be conceived and written at all. 90. A true man who abides by the law is not necessarily a moral man. Formal correctness of behavior can be the result of habit or fear. Habit is not moral and fear is even less so. Only conscientious actions are truly moral. Just as I must make a conscientious decision to fast or pray, so I must make a conscientious decision to act well and honestly, and in order to make such a decision the other option must be open to me too. A eunuch is not an example of honesty, just as weakness is no virtue. 91. Drama and tragedy, even comedy, sharpen the moral dilemmas of the audience by bringing the question of the good and the evil to full awareness. Since awareness is important, the fact that in a tragedy the good is defeated remains peripheral. The result here is unimportant because essentially the moral cannot lose. In comedies, people laugh or mock themselves. They are a strong means of sharpening the awareness of the evil and the good, faults and virtues. That is why with peoples who do not know drama (or comedy), we find moral awareness of a lower level, and therefore many distortions in human relations are treated and maintained as normal and natural. For evils to be removed, the first precondition is for them to be understood as evils.
  • 31. 91a. Thoughts on the essence of the tragic are pure metaphysics. For there is no tragedy without God, there are just misfortunate events, incidents. 99. Pagan and all other fake religions are religions of gains. The revealed and all true religions are religions of sacrifice. 203. How to resolve a logical contradiction of God's omnipotence (and universal knowledge) and man's responsibility? How can all power be of God, and all responsibility of man? The reply is: It can, just like the world can be finite and endless at the same time. It is not logical, but it is so. 257a. By its definition religion is personal. 367. Religion is a request for man to behave in a way that would be harmonious with the peace and depth of heaven. But "man is in a hurry" (Qur'an), he is petty, frightened, greedy, selfish. All this is contrary to all that heaven testifies so obviously. 492. Schelling's opinion that there is a correlation between Renaissance painting and Christianity and between Greek plasticism and Greek mythology cannot be accepted. A Greek polytheist saw divinity in a statue, thus an object, so this is pure idolatry. Any reasonably educated Christian believer does not see divinity in the image of the Madonna, but something that spirit is revealed in. Here, the image is a sensory expression of supra-sensory (infiniteness presented in the finite). Despite a dangerous Christian deviation, one can thus not speak of Christian idolatry (the Qur'an also makes this distinction, and it can thus not be ignored). In fact, it is a different inner motivation of creators of Greek and Roman idols and painters who populated the churches across the world with numerous images of saints and God-men. In the latter, it is rather an original religious striving towards image and individuality. Religion testifies over and over again of one world that lives, thinks, feels, sees, contrary to the objective, uniform, single and always self-identical world, as science sees it (or has to see it). By the relentless painting of new images, by these floods of persons streaming from every corner of the temple, religion denies and suppresses a material, objective, dead and impersonal world. The soul (and not the mind) sees this inner empire of images and cannot resist the temptation of revealing it. I would thus interpret the medieval Christian painting. Still, it should be emphasized that, irrespective of the feeling of the painter himself, the consequence could have been the lowest idolatry of the viewer. 495. Someone called, at the same time, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dminor the greatest religious composition of all times and the most godless. The latter, I do not know why. Toccata is here a preparation for a religious experience. It removes obstacles between man and God, and Fugue is a realization of the relationship with God, a moment of encounter. 497. Mechanical order seems senseless, like a clock. Only moral notions have true sense. Those are: good, evil, patience, submission, rebellion, shame, pride, dignity, remorse, punishment, reward, fear, loyalty, betrayal. Only a world of these qualities has meaning. The universe is impressive, amazing, horrific, but in relation to a drama, its endless emptiness and absolute correctness seem senseless. This is a problem of order and sense. A telephone directory or a foreign language dictionary is an example of order rather than sense. Compare their "sense" with a novel by Dostoyevsky or a drama by Shakespeare. Only human life has true sense and its meanings. That is why Man can study the universe (nature) and remain an atheist. Without God, however, it is impossible to understand Man and the meaning of his life. Drama remains the strongest and the most visible trace of the divine in the world. 535. If morality were useful, God would not be necessary to understand the meaning of life. If morality were not useful, what is, then, the meaning of
  • 32. morality? There are only two possible answers: (1) morality is meaningless, (2) God is the guarantee of the meaning of moral behavior. Another meaning is a necessary quality of morality because morality is not purposeful and such meaning presupposes a living God. 552. In nature there is force, time, space, interaction, speed, mutual collision, light, darkness, coldness, warmth, constants, attraction and rejection, movement, mass, etc. In spirit there is guilt, mercy, credit, justice, submission, remorse, fear, anxiety, forgiveness, shame, dignity, humiliation, conceitedness, rebellion. This other world is outside the natural one and it is superior to it. That is why above all and at the end of all there is God and Judgment, and not nature and entropy. 583. Morality is, if real, always linked with sacrifice and suffering. Otherwise, it is mere stupidity and hypocrisy. 586. In a story by a Polish author, a man tortured by the Germans and knowmg that he would be shot betrays his friend because he is afraid to die alone. They meet before the firing squad and the betrayed forgives the one who betrayed. "This forgiveness cannot be justified by any utilitarian ethics," comments Czeslaw Milosz (The Forbidden Mind). 596. All inner commandments that make us human are in essence irrational. 609. The seven so-called Noah's Commandments, in fact, moral rules given to Adam and Noah (they are in the Bible): mutual assistance, establishment of justice, ban on idolatry and blasphemy, ban on theft, ban on murder, ban on sexual sin and ban on cruelty towards animals. 769. Man's dignity lies in the fact that God made him worthy of his commands and his bans, thus made him responsible. 843. Europe is too absorbed by the artistic and religious heritage of the Middle Ages to be able to accept atheistic stories. 864. Must my religion, like all others, rest on the a priori refusal of any question on its truthfulness? From the way the Qur'an assures, from its constant referrals to ayyahs (signs, proofs) I would say that it will not and does not have to. In addition, the Qur'an speaks as if it finds the ultimate reason for me (and for you) in something close to my heart and my mind. - For what purpose would there otherwise be in the sentences that constantly refer to observation of the outer world? 1004. Feuerbach, the ideologue of atheism, said that the grave was the cradle of religion. He wanted to say that religion fed on the human fear of death. Neither biographies of the most religious men nor any personal experiences of deeply religious ones confirm this statement. 1026. A man should love man, not mankind. The latter is an excuse for the absence of love for a man ("Love thy neighbor"). 1040. God forgive me if I am wrong, but I respect a good Christian more than a bad Muslim. I cannot defend something just because it is Muslim (and not Islamic), nor can I ignore good just because it is someone else's. 1047. Two faces of things: A seemingly proper man may seem to be truly honest, and he can be a fearful Philistine who would not mind breaking many rules, but does not do that out of fear or weakness. Some condemn the tumultuous lives of others out of secret envy, because they are incapable of living that way. A weak person is usually unaware of this envy and considers it to be morality, which it is certainly not. Two men, one weak and one strong but moral, seem to behave the