Kurt Vonnegut Quotations

-Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.

-What is flirtatiousness but an argument that life must go on and on and on?

-I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.

-This is my principal objection to life, I think: It is too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.

-My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things.

-What is literature but an insider’s newsletter about affairs relating to molecules, of no importance to anything in the Universe but a few molecules who have the disease called ‘thought’.

-Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?

-Belief is nearly the whole of the Universe, whether based on truth or not.

-“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana)
I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.

-Time is liquid. One moment is no more important than any other and all moments quickly run away.

-Mere opinions, in fact, were as likely to govern people’s actions as hard evidence, and were subject to sudden reversals as hard evidence could never be. So the Galapagos Islands could be hell in one moment and heaven in the next, and Julius Caesar could be a statesman in one moment and a butcher in the next, and Ecuadorian paper money could be traded for food, shelter, and clothing in one moment and line the bottom of a birdcage in the next, and the universe could be created by God Almighty in one moment and by a big explosion in the next–and on and on.

-Bergeron’s epitaph for the planet, I remember, which he said should be carved in big letters in a wall of the Grand Canyon for the flying-saucer people to find, was this:
Only he didn’t say ‘doggone.’

-Me and Mike, ve vork in mine,
Holy shit, ve have good time.
Vunce a veek ve get our pay,
Holy shit, no vork next day.

-Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

-We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.

-If you really want to hurt your parents and you don’t have nerve enough to be homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts.

-We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

-History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.

-Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go looking for it, and I think it can often be poisonous.

-If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

-The two prime movers in the Universe are Time and Luck.

-Roses are red and ready for plucking
You’re sixteen and ready for high school.

-I think William Shakespeare was the wisest human being I ever heard of. To be perfectly frank, though, that’s not saying much. We are impossibly conceited animals, and actually dumb as heck. Ask any teacher. You don’t even have to ask a teacher. Ask anybody. Dogs and cats are smarter than we are.

-Pretend to be good always,
and even God will be fooled.

-We’re not too young for love, just too young for about everything there is that goes with love.

-Ideas or the lack of them can cause disease.

-Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.

-There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done.

-Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.

-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.

-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!

-Son–they say there isn’t any royalty in this country, but do you want me to tell you how to be king of the United States of America? Just fall through the hole in a privy and come out smelling like a rose.

-The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.

-There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.

-Take Care of the People, and God Almighty Will Take Care of Himself.

-Puny man can do nothing at all to help or please God Almighty, and Luck is not the hand of God.

-A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

-I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, “Isaac is up in heaven now.” It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, “Kurt is up in heaven now.” That’s my favorite joke.

-Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.

-Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

-Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before… He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

-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.

-People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.

-I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

-Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
Kurt Vonnegut