Criticism Excerpts from my Journals History Politics

Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

  1. Watching Rubashov, page 108:

    He found that those processes wrongly known as ‘monologues’ are really dialogues of a special kind; dialogues in which one partner remains silent while the other, against all grammatical rules, addresses him as ‘I’ instead of ‘you’, in order to creep into his confidence and to fathom his intentions; but the silent partner remains silent, shuns observation and even refuses to be localized in space and time…

  2. Listening to Ivanov, page 157:

    There are only two conceptions of human ethics, adn they are at opposite poles. One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacronsanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units. The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community–which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb. The first concept could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second vivisection morality. Humbugs and dilettantes have always tried to mix the two conceptions; in practice it is impossible. Whoever is burdened with power and responsibility finds out on the first occasion that he has to choose; and he is fatally driven to the second alternative. Do you know, since the establishment of Christianity as a state religion, a single example of a state which really followed a Christian policy? You can’t point out one. In times of need–and politics are chronically in a time of need–rulers were alwats able to evoke ‘exceptional circumstances’, which demanded exceptional measures of defence. Since the existence of nations and classes, they live in a permanent state of mutual self-defence, which forcecs them to defer to another time the putting into practice of humanism…

  3. In the mind of Rubanov, page 255:

    The sole object of revolution was the abolition of senseless suffering. But it had turned out that the removal of this second kind of suffering was only possible at the price of a temporary enormous increase in the sum total of the first. So the question now ran: Was such an operation justified? Obviously it was, if one spoke in the abstract of ‘mankind’; but applied to ‘man’ in the singular, to the cipher 2-4, the real human being of bone and flesh and blood and skin, the principle led to absurdity. As a boy, he believed that working for the Party he would find an answer to all questions of this sort. The work had lasted forty years and right at the start he had forgotten the question for whose sake he had embarked on it. Now the forty years were over, and he returned to the boy’s original perplexity. That Party had taken all he had to give and never supplied him with the answer. And neither did the silent partner, whose magic name he had tapped on the wall of the empty cell. He was deaf to direct questions, however urgent and desperate they might be.

My favorite Quotations from Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler.