"Since the dawn of life, in successive waves they had been dashing against the coasts of flesh. Each wave was broken, but, like the sea, wore away ever so little of the granite on which it failed, and some day, ages yet, might roll unchecked over the place where the material world had been, and God would move upon the face of those waters. One such wave (and not the least) I raised and rolled before the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more."

Thomas Edward Lawrence, regarding the Arab Revolt, 1922



Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Young and Wild

A perpetually-ill law student with a wicked sense of humor applies for a motorcycle license. His road test inspector gives instructions to ride the bike down the slopes of the hill, past the lake, and return -- oblivious to the fact that the student does not know how to brake. The student putt-putt starts up the motorcycle and begins his journey. At the lakeshore, the site of an open market -- he crashes into a fruit stand and overturns it. The owner, an elderly woman, yells angrily, "Cochon, cochon!"

The Prime Minister says casually to the diplomat and the translator, "Can you imagine what that meant to me, a Muslim, to be called a pig?"

He pays for the damages, picks up the screaming motorcycle which is still lying on its side, and makes his slow and careful way up the hill. The inspector sees him and gives congratulations, "You have taken a long time, you must have driven carefully." He hands him the driving license.

Averill Harriman sits by the bedside of this old man, listening to all of this being told in French - patient but anxious to begin negotiations about the recently nationalized Abadan refinery. Muhammad Mossadegh pays no mind and continues with his anecdotes, jokes, and pithy sayings -- periodically interspersed with peals of laughter.


А Translation

А что я оставлю, когда я уйду?
Чем имя потомках прославлю?
Наследства - не будет. Имейте в виду -
Я вам ничего не оставлю.
И берег балтийский, и крымский придой,
И яхту! И парус на мачте

Я весь этот свет забираю с собой,
Живите без света
И - плачьте!

- Геннадий Григоьев

What will I leave, when I go?
What, to glorify my descendants' name?
There will be no inheritances.
Bear this in mind: I have nothing to leave behind.

The Baltic coast, the Crimean surf,
The yacht! The sails on the mast,

All this I take with the light,
So live without it, and weep.

- Gennady Grigoryev



One who doesn't know you might easily be mistaken, seeing your force and your industry, your devotion to the nationalist ideal, to science, to poetry or to any other great aim which is above personal feelings... [But it] is only a special form of vanity. For you are incapable of loving your mother or your sister or your own blood brother, so how much less an idea.

- Nikolai Glasicanin, Bridge on the Drina


Queen Tomyris: Destroyer of Heroes, Part I

Restore my son to me and get you from the land unharmed, triumphant over a third part of the host of the Massagetai. Refuse, and I swear by the sun, the sovereign lord of the Massagetai, bloodthirsty as you are, I will give you your fill of blood. - Herodotus I.212

She commanded a search among the slain for the body of Cyrus. When it was found she took a skin, filled it full of human blood, and as she dipped his dismembered head in the gore, insulted the corpse by saying, "I live and have conquered you in fight, and yet by you am I ruined, for you took my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, and give you your fill of blood."

Great Cyrus of Persia, conqueror of worlds, was defeated by the wrath of a mother.


The Maiden of Kosovo

"...awoke to brilliant sun
And rolled her sleeves above her snow-white elbows;
On her back she carries warm, white bread.."

They did not win the battle. In a textbook map made to show the scope of Ottoman conquests, there was no 'X' to even mark Kosovo as militarily significant. But 600 years after 1389 AD, at a convention in Los Angeles, a woman -- not even a Serb, merely a scholar -- recites in their own language this epic song about a young bride who has lost everything dear to the Turks: her groom, her country. The battle, the loss, carve a memory so deep that even in Greece children recite and sing it. By the time she is finished the hundreds of Serbians in the audience have tears streaming down their faces, an ache and a nationalism so palpable that she realizes suddenly, that if she were to now command them to go do anything -- they would do it, for the sake of remembering.

"Jao, jadna! hude ti sam sreće!
Da se, jadna, za zelen bor hvatim,
I on bi se zelen osu

"O pity, pity! I am cursed so utterly
That if I touched a greenly leafing tree

it would dry and wither, blighted and defiled."