lives longer? the man who takes heroin for two years and dies, or a
man who lives on roast beef, water and potatoes 'till 95? One passes
his 24 months in eternity. All the years of the beefeater are lived
only in time"
"When the doors
of perception are cleansed, things will appear to man as they truly
A bad book is as
much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the
A belief in hell
and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the
hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings
from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumor.
A child-like man
is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he
is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long
after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged
habit and convention.
A competent portraitist
knows how to imply the profile in the full face.
A democracy which
makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily
cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern
war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained
and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.
A man may be a pessimistic
determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom
After silence, that
which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
All gods are homemade,
and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to
is a person who's found one thing that's more interesting than sex.
An unexciting truth
may be eclipsed by a thrilling lie.
Beauty is worse
than wine, it intoxicates both the holder and beholder.
Children are remarkable
for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance
of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.
Consistency is contrary
to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are
Dream in a pragmatic
Every man who knows
how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the
ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.
Every man's memory
is his private literature.
Every person who
knows how to read has it in their power to magnify themselves, to multiply
the ways in which they exist, to make life full, significant, and interesting.
Experience is not
what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you.
only the teachable.
Facts do not cease
to exist because they are ignored.
From their experience
or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only
what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to
Good is a product
of the ethical and spiritual artistry of individuals; it cannot be mass-produced.
Great is truth,
but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about
truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists
have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by
the most eloquent denunciations.
I'm afraid of losing
my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery.
Idealism is the
noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power.
Ignore death up
to the last moment; then, when it can't be ignored any longer, have
yourself squirted full of morphia and shuffle off in a coma. Thoroughly
sensible, humane and scientific, eh?
It's with bad sentiments
that one makes good novels.
Man is an intelligence
in servitude to his organs.
Maybe this world
is another planet's hell.
Most human beings
have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.
Most ignorance is
vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know.
Most of one's life
is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking.
Most vices demand
considerable self-sacrifices. There is no greater mistake than to suppose
that a vicious life is a life of uninterrupted pleasure. It is a life
almost as wearisome and painful - if strenuously led - as Christian's
in The Pilgrim's Progress.
My fate cannot be
mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent,
directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only its noisiest passenger.
My father considered
a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.
No man ever dared
to manifest his boredom so insolently as does a Siamese tomcat when
he yawns in the face of his amorously importunate wife.
Now, a corpse, poor
thing, is an untouchable and the process of decay is, of all pieces
of bad manners, the vulgarest imaginable. For a corpse is, by definition,
a person absolutely devoid of savoir vivre.
One of the great
attractions of patriotism - it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person
of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and
cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous.
One of the many
reasons for the bewildering and tragic character of human existence
is the fact that social organization is at once necessary and fatal.
Men are forever creating such organizations for their own convenience
and forever finding themselves the victims of their home-made monsters.
Orthodoxy is the
diehard of the world of thought. It learns not, neither can it forget.
Proverbs are always
platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.
are always less convincing than one.
is all very well in cows or baboons; in an animal claiming to belong
to the same species as Shakespeare it is simply disgraceful.
So long as men worship
the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and
make them miserable.
Speed provides the
one genuinely modern pleasure.
Speed, it seems
to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.
has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
That all men are
equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being
has ever given his assent.
That men do not
learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of
all the lessons of history.
That we are not
much sicker and much madder than we are is due exclusively to that most
blessed and blessing of all natural graces, sleep.
The author of the
Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name.
The business of
a seer is to see; and if he involves himself in the kind of God-eclipsing
activities which make seeing impossible, he betrays the trust which
his fellows have tacitly placed in him.
The charm of history
and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age,
nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.
The condition of
being forgiven is self-abandonment. The proud man prefers self-reproach,
however painful - because the reproached self isn't abandoned; it remains
The course of every
intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough,
ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.
The finest works
of art are precious, among other reasons, because they make it possible
for us to know, if only imperfectly and for a little while, what it
actually feels like to think subtly and feel nobly.
The most distressing
thing that can happen to a prophet is to be proved wrong. The next most
distressing thing is to be proved right.
The most valuable
of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have
to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.
The proper study
of mankind is books.
The secret of genius
is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing
view of men and women is not satisfying. A man might spend his life
in trains and restaurants and know nothing of humanity at the end. To
know, one must be an actor as well as a spectator.
The vast majority
of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which
they are not familiar... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance
innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools
There is no substitute
for talent. Industry and all its virtues are of no avail.
There isn't any
formula or method. You learn to love by loving - by paying attention
and doing what one thereby discovers has to be done.
There's only one
corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your
Thought must be
divided against itself before it can come to any knowledge of itself.
To his dog, every
man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
To travel is to
discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.
hunger and thirst after God may become an obstacle, cutting off the
soul from what it desires. If a man would travel far along the mystic
road, he must learn to desire God intensely but in stillness, passively
and yet with all his heart and mind and strength.
We are all geniuses
up to the age of ten.
We participate in
a tragedy; at a comedy we only look.
What is absurd and
monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should
be trained to murder one another in cold blood.
What we feel and
think and are is to a great extent determined by the state of our ductless
glands and viscera.
What with making
their way and enjoying what they have won, heroes have no time to think.
But the sons of heroes - ah, they have all the necessary leisure.
Where beauty is
worshipped for beauty's sake as a goddess, independent of and superior
to morality and philosophy, the most horrible putrefaction is apt to
set in. The lives of the aesthetes are the far from edifying commentary
on the religion of beauty.
Which is better:
to have fun with fungi or to have Idiocy with ideology, to have wars
because of words, to have tomorrow's misdeeds out of yesterday's miscreeds?
Words from the thread
on which we string our experiences.
You shall know the
truth, and the truth shall make you mad.
Your true traveller
finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his
liberty - his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes,
not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.