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 :: 1936-, Czech Playwright, President

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A human action becomes genuinely important when it springs from the soil of a clear-sighted awareness of the temporality and the ephemerally of everything human. It is only this awareness that can breathe any greatness into an action.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Action]

 

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A state that denies its citizens their basic rights becomes a danger to its neighbors as well: internal arbitrary rule will be reflected in arbitrary external relations. The suppression of public opinion, the abolition of public competition for power and its public exercise opens the way for the state power to arm itself in any way it sees fit. A state that does not hesitate to lie to its own people will not hesitate to lie to other states.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Civil Rights]

 

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Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Sense of Humor]

 

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As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Reason]

 

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Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have -- by disrupting that order -- a way of surprising.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Theater]

 

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Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Protest]

 

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Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Hope]

 

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Human beings are compelled to live within a lie, but they can be compelled to do so only because they are in fact capable of living in this way. Therefore not only does the system alienate humanity, but at the same time alienated humanity supports this system as its own involuntary master plan, as a degenerate image of its own degeneration, as a record of people's own failure as individuals.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Alienation]

 

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I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Literature]

 

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I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Theater]

 

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If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Submission]

 

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If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become President.
~ Vaclav Havel - [President]

 

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Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Decay]

 

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Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Absurdity]

 

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None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Masses]

 

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People who live in the post-totalitarian system know only too well that the question of whether one or several political parties are in power, and how these parties define and label themselves, is of far less importance than the question of whether or not it is possible to live like a human being.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Totalitarianism]

 

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Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Suicide]

 

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The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Literature]

 

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The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning -- in other words, of absurdity --the more energetically meaning is sought.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Meaning of Life]

 

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The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin -- and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.
~ Vaclav Havel - [Truth]

 

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