There was no immunity to cuckoo ideas on Earth.
The secret to success in any human endeavor is total concentration.
Think of what a paradise this world would be if men were kind and wise.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
No art is possible without a dance with death.
History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.
The programming wasn’t done surgically or electrically, or by any other sort of neurological intrusiveness. It was done socially, with nothing but talk, talk, talk.
Find a subject you care about and which you feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
I am committing suicide by cigarette, I replied. She thought that was reasonably funny. I didn't. I thought it was hideous that I should scorn life that much, sucking away on cancer sticks.
And I left the seashell roar and the aurora borealis of the city's heart farther and farther behind me.
I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.
Labor history was pornography of a sort in those days, and even more so in these days. In public schools and in the homes of nice people it was and remains pretty much taboo to tell tales of labor's sufferings and derring-do.
I have never identified with the K in Kafka's works, by the way. Having grown up in a democracy, I have dared to imagine that I know at all times who is really in charge, what is really going on. This could be a mistake.
I am the Emperor! cried Harrison. Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once! He stamped his foot and the studio shook.
Even as I stand here he bellowed, crippled, hobbled, sickened -- I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become.
The statue was of a nude woman playing a slide trombone. It was entitles, enigmatically, Evelyn and Her Magic Violin.
Their beauty was to the beauty of Miss Canal Zone as the glory of the Sun was to the glory of a lightning bug.
The church, which squatted among the headstones like a wet mother dodo, had been at various times Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Unitarian, and Universally Apocalyptic. It was now the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent.
In The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain proves to his own grim satisfaction, and to mine as well, that Satan and not God created the planet earth and the damned human race. If you doubt that, read your morning paper. Never mind what paper. Never mind what date.
That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today's war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.
It was going to be about the love my wife and I had for each other. It was going to show how a pair of lovers in a world gone mad could survive by being loyal only to a nation composed of themselves -- a nation of two.
My father died many years ago now -- of natural causes. So it goes. He was a sweet man. He was a gun nut, too. He left me his guns. They rust.
The smoke from her cigarette passed beneath the nostrils of the brown and white girls, and their space-annihilating concupiscence seemed centered on mentholated smoke along.
I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.
I speak of humorless people as having a moral flaw, and that's not fair. It's just like regarding it as a moral flaw that someone can't sing. An awful lot of humorless people come into this world, and they make very good Nazis.
The most radical, audacious thing to think is that there might be some point to working hard and thinking hard and reading hard and writing hard and trying to be of service.
My advice to writers just starting out? Don't use semi-colons! They are transvestite hermaphrodites, representing exactly nothing. All they do is suggest you might have gone to college.
I think the planet's immune system is trying to get rid of us with AIDS and new strains of flu and tuberculosis, and so on. I think the planet should get rid of us. We're really awful animals.
Private -' I said. 'I've been living alone so long, everything about me's private. I'm surprised anyone's able to understand a word I say.
And I apologize to all of you who are the same age as my grandchildren. And many of you reading this are the same age as my grandchildren. They, like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government.
Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic.
But if today is really in honor of a hundred children murdered in a war, he said, is today a day for a thrilling show? The answer is yes, on one condition: that we, the celebrants, are working tirelessly to reduce the stupidity and viciousness of ourselves and of all mankind.
About astrology and palmistry: they are good because they make people vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.
I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'.
Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.
Fuller's cigar in the night was a beacon warning carefree, frivolous people away. It was plainly a cigar smoked in anger.
The Earthlings behaved at all times as though there were a big eye in the sky as though that big eye were ravenous for entertainment.
I was hoping to build a country and add to its literature. That's why I served in World War II, and that's why I wrote books.
Never had I seen a human being better adjusted to such a humiliating physical handicap. I shuddered with admiration.
Most of the supposed wealth held by American banks at that point had become so wholly imaginary, so weightless and impalpable, that any amount of it could be transferred instantly to Ecuador, or anyplace else capable of receiving a written message by wire or radio.
I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still.
I concluded that the best thing for me and for those around me was to want nothing, to be enthusiastic about nothing, to be as unmotivated as possible, in fact, so that I would never again hurt anyone.
Honest to God, Bill, the way things are going, all I can think of is that I'm a character in a book by somebody who wants to write about somebody who suffers all the time.
This much I knew and know: I was making myself hideously uncomfortable by not narrowing my attention to details of life which were immediately important, and by refusing to believe what my neighbors believed.
I think it's important to live in a nice country rather than a powerful one. Power makes everybody crazy.
It's the writer's job to stage confrontations, so the characters will say surprising and revealing things, and educate and entertain us all.
Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it.
I would have had him hanged from the yardarm, hick--if somebody hadn't stolen the, hick, yardarm, hick. At dawn, hick--if somebody hadn't stolen the dawn.
One good thing about TV is, if you die violently, God forbid, on camera, you will not have died in vain because you will be great entertainment.
I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.
The slaves were simply turned loose without any property. They were easily recognizable. They were black. They were suddenly free to go exploring.
It was a hideous discovery for the stranger to make--that a man at the end of his days was capable of inflicting pain as the rawest, loudest youth. With so little time left, the stranger added one more item to his long, long list of regrets.
The surface of Earth heaved and seethed in fecund restlessness. Earth was most fertile where the most death was.
You're learning that you do not inhabit a solid, reliable social structure -- that the older people around you are worried, moody, goofy human beings who themselves were little kids only a few days ago.
My special situation was that I was the son and grandson of architects. And so I saw building. We were building the city, and that was exciting.
Just in the nick of time they realized that it was their own habitat they were wrecking -- that they weren't merely visitors.
The truth is, we know so little about life, we don't really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.
I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better.
The most racist, nastiest act by America, after human slavery, was the bombing of Nagasaki. Not of Hiroshima, which might have had some military significance. But Nagasaki was purely blowing away yellow men, women, and children. I'm glad I'm not a scientist because I'd feel so guilty now.
Thinking doesn't seem to help very much. The human brain is too high-powered to have many practical uses in this particular universe.
I am simply impressed by the unexpected insights which shower down on me when my job is to imagine, as contrasted with the woodenly familiar ideas which clutter my desk when my job is to tell the truth.
Some jerk infected the Internet with an outright lie. It shows how easy it is to do and how credulous people are.
Well, we are terribly divided politically, yes, and, you know, I don't mean to intimidate you and your listeners but I have a master's degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago.
If I wrote something that hadn't really happened, and I tried to sell it, I could go to jail. That's fraud!
My nose, thank god, had conked out by then. Noses are merciful that way. They will report that something smells awful. If the owner of a nose stays around anyway, the nose concludes that the smell isn't so bad after all. It shuts itself off, deferring to superior wisdom.
It's a widely accepted principle,' he says, 'that you can claim a piece of land which has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, if only you repeat this mantra endlessly: 'We discovered it, we discovered it, we discovered it.
Well, you know, in a way I wish I hadn't met you two. It's much more convenient to think of the opposition as a nice homogeneous, dead-wrong mass. Now I've got to muddy my thinking with exceptions.
A lot of people were opposed to it.
A lot of people were for it.
I myself think about it
as little as possible.
I was raised by a black maid by the name of Ida Young and I probably talked to her more than anybody, so whatever is nutty about me was nutty about her, too, I think because I saw a lot more of her than I did of my parents.
He became fubar in the classic way, which is to say that he was the victim of a temporary arrangement that became permanent.
The late twentieth century will go down in history, i'm sure, as an era of pharmaceutical buffoonery.
There is this feeling that I have a destiny far away from the shallow and preposterous posing that is our life.
I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.
No one can amount to a damn in the arts if he becomes sweetly reasonable, seeing all sides of a picture, forgiving all sins.
It seems to me that the most universal revolutionary wish now or ever is a wish for heaven, a wish by a human being to be honored by angels for something other than beauty or usefulness.
He hadn't had the satisfaction of telling someone he'd quit, of being believed; but he'd quit. Goodbye. None of this had anything to do with him anymore. Better to be nothing than a blind doorman at the head of civilization's parade.
Do I resent rich people? No. The best or worst I can do is notice them. I agree with the great Socialist writer George Orwell, who felt that rich people were poor people with money.
It is always pitiful when any human being falls into a condition hardly more respectable than that of an animal. How much more pitiful it is when the person who falls has had all the advantages!
Now, the engineers and managers believe with all their hearts the glorious things their forebears hired people to say about them. Yesterday's snow job becomes today's sermon.
The mountebank told them that God was surely trying to kill them, possibly because He was through with them, and that they should have the good manners to die. This, as you can see, they did.
I might have been vaguely inclined to dismiss the stone angel as meaningless, and to go from there to the meaninglessness of all. But after I saw what Krebbs had done, in particular what he had done to my sweet cat, nihilism was not for me. Somebody or something did not wish me to be a nihilist.
And we all vied, in saving face, to be the greatest student of human nature, the person with the quickest sense of humor.
Everybody who is alive is a survivor, and everybody who is dead isn't, I said.So everybody alive must have the Survivor's Syndrome. It's that or death. I am so damn sick of people telling me proudly that they are survivors!
The highest treason in the USA is to say Americans are not loved, no matter where they are, no matter what they are doing there.
Jack Benny, Fred Allen. Their jokes were wonderful. It takes skill to be funny. The timing of Jack Benny was so fine. It is a form of genius for which we should be grateful.
I can still remember what I was like when I was sixteen. It was hell to be that excited. Then as now, orgasms gave no relief. Ten minutes after an orgasm, guess what? Nothing would do but that you have another one. And there was homework besides!
The Bible may be the Greatest Story Ever Told, but the most popular story you can ever tell is about a good-looking couple having a really swell time copulating outside wedlock, and having to quit for one reason or another while doing it is still a novelty.
It distresses me deeply that ideas are not to be circulated freely in the USA if certain persons have their way. One of the things that was great about this country was that I could say anything and that everyone else could say anything and we would compare all possible ideas and arrive at opinions.
You are being suffocated by tradition... Why don't you say, 'I am going to build a life for myself, for my time, and make it a work of art'? Your life isn't a work of art -- -it's a thirdhand Victorian whatnot shelf, complete with someone else's collection of seashells and hand-carved elephants.
In Vietnam, though, I really was the mastermind. Yes, and that still bothers me. During my last year there, when my ammunition was language instead of bullets, I invented justifications for all the killing and dying we were doing which impressed even me! I was a genius of lethal hocus pocus.
My own feeling is that if adultery is wickedness then so is food. Both make me feel so much better afterward.
They tell him that there is no why, since the moment simply is and since all of them are trapped in the moment, like bugs in amber.
Thanks to their decreased brainpower, people aren't diverted from the main business of life by the hobgoblins of opinion anymore.
His mother understood my illness immediately, that it was my world rather than myself that was diseased.
I'm wild again, beguiled again, a whimpering, simpering child again. Bewitched, bothered, bewildered am I.
The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.
The other American divisions on our flanks managed to pull out: We were obliged to stay and fight. Bayonets aren't much good against tanks.
You know what truth is? ... It's some crazy thing my neighbor believes. If I want to make friends with him, I ask him what he believes. He tells me, and I say, Yeah, yeah -- ain't it the truth?
But anyway, it's obvious through human experience that extended families and tribes are terribly important. We can do without an extended family as human beings about as easily as we can do without vitamins or essential minerals.
What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too. And even if wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.
And I say to Sam now: Sam -- here's the book.
It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre.
The human beings also passed canteens, which guards would fill with water. When food came in, the human beings were quiet and trusting and beautiful. They shared.
You know, I think the main purpose of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps is to get poor Americans into clean, pressed, unpatched clothes, so rich Americans can stand to look at them.
That's what is was to be young -- to be enthusiastic rather than envious about the good work other people could do.
On Tralfamadore, says Billy Pilgrim, there isn't much interest in Jesus Christ. The Earthling figure who is most engaging to the Tralfamadorian mind, he says, is Charles Darwin -- who taught that those who die are meant to die, that corpses are improvements. So it goes.
What I would really like to have been, given a perfect world, is a jazz pianist. I mean jazz. I don't mean rock and roll. I mean the never-the-same-twice music the American black people gave the world.
The arts are not a way to make a living.
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.
Ideas on earth were badges of friendship or enimity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enimity.
She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.
Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.
I beg you to believe the most ridiculous superstition of all: that humanity is at the center of the universe, the fulfiller or frustrateor of the grandest dreams of God Almighty.
It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that man can always solve his problems ... This is so untrue that it makes me want to cry-or laugh.
As for myself: I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing sacred about myself or about any human being, that we were all machines, doomed to collide and collide and collide.
He had no idea that people thought he was clowning. It was Fate, of course, which had costumed him -- Fate, and a feeble will to survive.
I saw the destruction of Dresden. I saw the city before and then came out of an air-raid shelter and saw it afterward, and certainly one response was laughter. God knows, that's the soul seeking some relief.
Vonnegut could not help looking back, despite the danger of being turned metaphorically into a pillar of salt, into am emblem of the death that comes to those who cannot let go of the past.
I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it's unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing.
What do my science fiction stories have in common with pornography? Fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world, I'm told.
In the middle of Siberia I guess there's a lake that big like the Great Lakes, but there are practically no other lakes that big with fresh water.
The sermon was based on what he claimed was a well-known fact, that there were no Atheists in foxholes. I asked Jack what he thought of the sermon afterwards, and he said, There's a Chaplain who never visited the front.
With words alone, Gail Godwin has created an important piece of music about a love which death can only increase and deepen. Yes, and Frances Halsband's illustrations are a haunting countermelody.
I would not be interested in writing if I didn't feel that what I wrote was an act of good citizenship or an attempt, at any rate, to be a good citizen.
I taught writing for a while and whenever somebody would tell me they were going to write about their dad, I would tell them they might as well go write about killing puppies because neither story was going to work. It just doesn't work.
Or they'll talk about fear, which we used to call politics- job politics, social politics, government politics.
My god-life! who can understand eve one little minute of it? 'don't try' he said 'just pretend you understand.
He was seemingly born not only with a gift for language, but with a particularly nasty clock which makes him go crazy every three years or so.
Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why. They are simply liking machines and hating machines.
I think William Shakespeare was the wisest human being I ever heard of. To be perfectly frank, though, that's not saying much.
I'm so sorry -- we had this cottage up in Lake Maxinkuckee, in Culver. I've thought so often of the poor Pottawattomies we took this land away from. They must have loved it so.
And, if you'll investigate the history of science, my dear boy, I think you'll find that most of the really big ideas have come from intelligent playfulness. All the sober, thin-lipped concentration is really just a matter of tidying up around the fringes of the big ideas.
I love you, because the love you gave me was the only love I've ever had, the only love I ever will have.
Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgment Day: We never asked to be born in the first place.
Our classes were relatively small. Those small classes can feel like family. After a class in French or chemistry or whatever, we'd be talking in the halls about what we just learned.
1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.
I can see where influential people would like Maharishi better than Jesus. My God, if the Beatles and Mia Farrow went to Jesus, He'd tell them to give all their money away.
On the day they dropped the bomb Frank had a tablespoon and a Mason jar. What he was doing was spooning different kinds of bugs into the jar and making them fight....I can remember other bug fights we staged later on...They won't fight unless you keep shaking the jar.
I love cell phones. I see people so happy and proud, walking around. Gesturing, you know. I'm like Karl Marx, I'm up for anything that makes people happy.