Return to the essay table of contents
Return to the Home Page
Quotes From My Self - New Sept. 2007
Years ago I started writing down quotations I was especially taken with-- a sort of commonplace book. Eventually, one-sentence, sometimes two- or three-sentence, compositions of that type came to me too, and I added them to the book. Commonplace the book might be, but it's amazing how dense and right a few words can prove and, to this new electronic commonplace book, why not add some of my brief inspirations from the old?
Most minds are like first drafts.
Humanity deserves as much credit for persevering as a bowling ball for rolling.
Artists, like snakes, should shed their skins. Unlike snakes, they should keep the old skins around.
Only the ambitious write about death.
Do we think that becoming gods is the answer? We are gods-- to the ants.
Sometimes we fail, and sometimes the world fails us.
A great price is a great gift.
All heterosexual males are fetishists.
My art is not me. It is a purging of me.
The palace society builds today will be tomorrow's prison-- because man will have to live in it.
Things are never as simple as the words that describe them.
For a civilization to advance, it must attack, continually and with all its energy, even those imperfections it is comfortable with.
An adult is a child out of its element.
The question is no longer what kind of technology man is achieving, but what kind of man technology is achieving.
Men can adjust to anything short of death, since they have adjusted to that too.
The great artist, unlike other artists, has no vested interest in his weakness.
The reason for men's and women's antagonism is that they come at each other from
opposite directions; the reason for their
love is that they collide.
What a government does is almost less important than the consistency and fairness with which it does it.
The greatest attraction of sex is that it is real; its greatest limitation is the same.
A free citizen is the slave of a good state.
There are some books you can only read with profit when you are young, and some
you can only read with profit when your
civilization is young.
What is a skyscraper but a spire without a church?
Accept your limitations. But be sure they're your limitations-- and not a resting place short of them.
One of the most repulsive traits of man is that his desire for superiority is almost always a desire for superiority over someone.
The first draft displays a writer's talent, the last draft displays his will.
The environmental movement helps to ensure the triumph of that which it opposes by rendering its victory gradual.
News: A record of the extreme.
No society can survive that doesn't pour at least some of its genius into government.
We must stop believing in everything in turn.
There is probably no people more willing to take risks with their lives and less
willing to take risks with their system than
In decadence a people find their private pleasure and their public grief.
When a person says he is overwhelmed by a piece of music, what he means is he is
overwhelmed by his own coming alive
to it, he is overwhelmed with gratitude that parts of him have been touched which he couldn't touch himself.
Let those who think that "others" are the criminals answer this question: If you
could press a button and eliminate anyone at
will, with no chance of ever being discovered, how many times up to the present would you have done so? Not whether
you would have, but how many times?
Dostoevsky is perhaps the most moving of writers because no other writer gives
us, at one and the same time, such a sense
of the distance men must travel to achieve the expression of their better selves, and such a sense of the need to do so.
Coincidence is the means by which authors try to create wholes out of natural fragments.
Most artists are willing to expend only enough effort to become famous.
I think one of the greatest disappointments for a writer is when you write what
you know is the truth and it is taken by
others as just another opinion.
A genius is one who does with ease what others do with difficulty worse.
Government should let people alone to do the good they naturally will, and
absolutely keep them from, or punish them
severely for, the evil they naturally will.
Life is nature's overlap.
We escape nothing by declaring life "meaningless" and acting accordingly.
Football is to baseball as rape is to seduction.
It is after a people's specific complaints are ignored that they begin to question the general order that ignores them.
All civilizations die in adolescence.
The trouble with sexual education is that the mechanics can be explained in five
minutes while the emotions can't in a
Some people take the attitude that if the world can only be saved by mundane means, better it shouldn't be saved at all.
The trouble with America is that those with power are impotent, while those who lack power are impotent.
Modern civilization has replaced adventures of place with adventures of self.
Behavior can be moral or, if that's too hard, legal.
A street is a way of getting people to do the same thing.
Modern civilization makes life too easy or impossible.
Will historians ever be able to fully calculate the damage done to Earth and man by Americans trying to make money?
Race is a subject that is more fascinating than important.
History can be taught, but not a sense of history.
It is characteristic of an American to act with hysteria to the manifestation of a problem, but lethargy to the problem itself.
In the average composer one note follows another; in the great composer one note demands the next.
Romantics desire beauty everywhere; realists want it for themselves.
You can't be great just through effort; nor without it.
All work, yet nothing works.
More appalling than the thought that civilization may collapse through its amorality is the thought that it may thereby prosper.
If we were only conscious enemies of nature then there would be no problem-- we could control that.
The only true religion is man acting as if life mattered.
When we remember a melody, we forget ourselves.
Woman is a force which withholds itself, man a lack of force which intrudes.
Technology is not beyond man's control, but man is.
The child lives longest.
There are now only two cultures: America and poverty.
To feel is to loathe.
Human beings act as if their own lives were all-important and the human race's
fate unimportant. Yet why their own lives
should be so important when the whole human race doesn't matter is a mystery.
Societies punish the small crimes within themselves, not a crime they themselves may be.
Reason is exile.
The Earth is a canvas on which man can paint but once.
The future: the poor man's present.
The universe makes life meaningless, but only man makes it ugly.
Some gold's too deep to be mined.
Even the deepest love has an element of narcissism.
Man's often been defined as the one creature that knows he's going to die.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to define him
as the creature who's told he's going to die and doesn't believe it.
Men want looks; women want the impossible.
Wealth is a capacity to change the Earth, and a claim on the result.
A woman seeks filling; a man seeks more hunger.
We forgive the beautiful everything, except their disappointing us.
For man, history is a nightmare that can't end; for women, a dream that can't begin.
Men are attracted to beauty, not loyal to it.
It's amazing how many ways bad men have of getting good women.
Modern civilization is a mansion built by giants for the enjoyment of dwarfs.
Our world is filled with men who feel fine, because they feel nothing.
We all need two lifetimes: The first to learn enough to get the second right.
We say "I will die."-- but our mind translates that into "He will die."
We live in a world where destruction is the church, and preservation is a cult.
A man will forgive you a thousand times for pointing out his mistakes, but never for calling him a fool.
The fatal flaw of so many good people is that they only understand themselves.
To the sophisticated person life is a joke filled with pleasures.
Some experiments were meant to fail; others fail.
Every masterpiece is a revenge against nature.
Man is both a god and an animal-- his failures lie inbetween.
All men are Western. Western Man just got there first.
How many truly believe other people are as real as they are?
Women say Where are the good men?, meaning, Where are the bad men who can excite us?
We dream more boldly when awake.
We foolishly relate to the dead as if they are alive in a different way.
If a thought is hard, all the more reason for its language to be easy.
In a sense, every great idea is its own technology.
The paradox of religion is that, while always a weight, sometimes the weight's burden, sometimes wings.
Initially, religions seem to solve everything, until it's realized they are just new divisions entering the battlefield.
Return to the essay table of contents
Return to the Home Page