seul contre tous

—Tu sais ce que c’est que la morale ? Moi je vais te dire ce que c’est la morale. La morale, c’est fait pour ceux qui la tiennent, les riches. Et tu sais qui a raison à chaque fois ? C’est les riches. Et c’est les pauvres qui trinquent. Tu veux la voir ma morale à moi ?
—Euh… Ouais.
—Ouais ? Tu vas pas regretter après hein ?
—Je sais pas.
—Je crois que tu vas avoir un peu peur. La voilà ma morale. La morale c’est ça. Tu sais pourquoi je me balade avec ça ? Hein… ? Parce que celui qui m’amènera la morale avec son uniforme, OK ? Il aura plus de chance, OK ? D’avoir sa putain de justice derrière lui. Et moi, la voilà ma justice. Que tu te trompes ou que t’aies raison c’est la même chose mon grand.

—You know what morality is? I’ll tell you what it is. Morality is made for those who own it, the rich. And you know who is right every time? The rich. And it is the poor who pay the price. You want to see my morality?
—Uh… Yeah.
—Yeah? Sure you won’t regret it?
—I don’t know.
—I think it’s gonna scare you a little. Here is my morality. That’s morality for you. You know why I’m walking around with it? Huh…? Because the guy in blue shows off his morality, OK? He’s got the upper hand, OK? To have his fucking justice backing him up. But me, here is my justice. Right or wrong, same difference, my friend.

—Gaspar Noé, Seul contre tous, 1998

where the extremes meet

The German optimist believes that God created the actual world as the best of all possible worlds. The German pessimist is certain that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds.

The Russian pessimist believes that the world is so bad that it couldn’t get any worse. The Russian optimist is certain that everything can — and will — get worse.

The American optimist invests in the world-wide march of democracy. The American pessimist arms against democracy poised to trample his inalienable rights. They are both right.

old klingon proverb

ὀψέ θεῶν ἀλέουσι μύλοι, ἀλέουσι δὲ λεπτά
—Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos I, 287 Oracula Sibyllina VIII, 14 ≈ Plutarch, Moralia, “De sera numinis vindicta549dParœmiographi Græci, C396

Gottes Mühlen mahlen langsam, mahlen aber trefflich klein;
Ob auß Langmuth er sich seumet, bringt mit Schärff er alles ein.
—Friedrich von Logau, „Göttliche Rache“, Sinngedichte III, ii, 24, circa 1654

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Retribution”, Poems, Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co., 1869, Vol. I, p. 292

Quid mihi si fueras miseros laesurus amores,
Foedera per divos, clam violanda, dabas?
A miser, et siquis primo periuria celat,
Sera tamen tacitis Poena venit pedibus.
—Tibullus, Elegiae I, ix, 1-4 and commentary

dixerat, et tandem cunctante modestior ira
ille refert: ‘equidem non uos ad moenia Thebes
rebar et hostiles huc aduenisse cateruas.
pergite in excidium socii, si tanta uoluptas,
sanguinis, imbuite arma domi, atque haec inrita dudum
templa Iouis (quid enim haud licitum?) ferat impius ignis,
si uilem, tanti premerent cum pectora luctus,
in famulam ius esse ratus dominoque ducique.
sed uidet haec, uidet ille deum regnator, et ausis,
sera quidem, manet ira tamen.
’ sic fatus, et arces
—Statius, Thebaid V 680-690

ut sit magna, tamen certe lenta ira deorum est
—Juvenal, Satura XIII 100

Itaque dii pedes lanatos habent, quia nos religiosi non sumus.
—Petronius, Satyricon XLIV,18

Et dum pro se quisque deos tandem esse et non neglegere humana fremunt et superbiae crudelitatique etsi seras, non leues tamen uenire poenas—prouocare qui prouocationem sustulisset, et implorare praesidium populi qui omnia iura populi obtrisset, rapique in uincla egentem iure libertatis qui liberum corpus in seruitutem addixisset,—ipsius Appi inter contionis murmur fidem populi Romani implorantis uox audiebatur.
—And while the people muttered, each man to himself, that there were gods after all, who did not neglect the affairs of men; and that pride and cruelty were receiving their punishment, which though late was nevertheless not light—that he was appealing who had nullified appeal; that he was imploring the protection of the people who had trodden all the rights of the people under foot; that he was being carried off to prison, deprived of his right to liberty, who had condemned the person of a free citizen to slavery—the voice of Appius himself was heard amidst the murmurs of the assembly, beseeching the Roman People to protect him.
—Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 3, 56, 7, translated by Benjamin Oliver Foster

La parole des dieux n’est point vaine et trompeuse ;
Leurs desseins sont couverts d’une nuit ténébreuse ;
La peine suit le crime : elle arrive à pas lents.
—Voltaire, Oreste, I, ii

Courage, if carried to daring, leads to death; courage, if not carried to daring, leads to life. Either of these two things is sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful.

“Why ’t is by heaven rejected,
 Who has the reason detected?”

    Therefore the holy man also regards it as difficult.
    The Heavenly Reason strives not, but it is sure to conquer. It speaks not, but it is sure to respond. It summons not, but it comes of itself. It works patiently but is sure in its designs.
    Heaven’s net is vast, so vast. It is wide-meshed, but it loses nothing.
—Lao-Tze’s Tao-Teh-King, translated by Paul Carus, 73, “Daring To Act”