The 1585 Hall of Quotations

        People say stuff.  Sometimes, I like it, and I put it here.

Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.

All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.

Anybody can become angry — that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not so easy.

Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living are to the dead.

Behind every argument is somebody's ignorance.  Rediscover the foundation of truth and the purpose and causes of dispute immediately disappear.

Conventionality is not morality.  Self-righteousness is not religion.  To attack the first is not to assail the last.

And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
'Tis that I may not weep.          

Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.

"Merely having an open mind is nothing; the purpose of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid."


Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?

I am convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile.

To be positive at all times is to ignore all that is important, sacred, or valuable.  To be negative at all times is to be threatened by ridiculousness and instant discreditability.

I would like to get rid of the homophobes, racists, and sexists in our audience.  I know they're out there and it really bothers me.

Without knowing the force of words it is impossible to know men.

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.  In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

Ignorance is the night of the mind, a night without moon or star.

As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.

Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails.

I ought, or I ought not, constitute the whole of morality.

It's important to realize that when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them.  It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.

By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.

Books, we are told, propose to instruct or to amuse.  Indeed!  A true antithesis to knowledge, in this case, is not pleasure, but power.  All that is literature seeks to communicate power; all that is not literature, to communicate knowledge.

In America sex is an obsession; in other parts of the world it is a fact.

I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul...  No, all this talk of an existence for us, as individuals, beyond the grave is wrong.  It is born of our tenacity of life — our desire to go on living…  Our dread of coming to an end.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.  Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities.

Sexual pleasure, wisely used and not abused, may prove the stimulus and liberator of our finest and most exalted activities.

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.

All conservatives are such from personal defects.  They have been effeminated by position of nature, born halt and blind, through luxury of their parents, and can only, like invalids, act on the defensive.

Leave this hypocritical prating about the masses.  Masses are rude, lame, unmade, pernicious in their demands and influence, and need not to be flattered but schooled.

No man can write who is not first a humanitarian.

There is no likelihood of our being able to suppress humanity's aggressive tendencies...  Complete suppression of man's aggressive tendencies is not an issue; what we may try is to direct it into a channel other than that of warfare.

Conscience is the internal perception of the rejection of a particular wish operating within us.

Non-violence does not admit of running away from danger...  Between violence and cowardly flight I can only prefer violence to cowardice.

I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there no cause for severity?  I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.  On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation.  No! no!  Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.

With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.

No maxim can be more pernicious than that which would teach us to consult the temper of the times, and to tell only so much as we imagine our contemporaries will be able to bear.

Let us not dream that reason can ever be popular.  Passions, emotions, may be made popular, but reason remains ever the property of the few.

What one person sees as degrading and disgusting and bad for women might make some women feel empowered and beautiful and strong.

When you tell me that your Deity made you in his own image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.

Americans are funny people: first you shock them, then they put you in a museum.
--MICK JAGGER wildly misquoting JEAN COCTEAU

There is no truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.

“I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature.  They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.  Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned.  What has been the effect of this coercion?  To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.


The death of dogma is the birth of morality.

"The motto of Harvard isn't 'nice,' it's truth.  The motto of Yale isn't
'light and nice,' it's light and truth."

This is the great pornographical class — the really common men-in-the-street and women-in-the-street.  They have as great a hate and contempt of sex as the greyest Puritan, and when an appeal is made to them, they are always on the side of the angels.  They insist that a film-heroine shall be a neuter, a sexless thing of washed-out purity.  They insist that real sex-feeling shall only be shown by the villain or villainess...  They have the grey disease of sex-hatred, coupled with the yellow disease of dirt-lust.

God is a concept by which we measure our pain.

We will make converts day by day; we will grow strong by the violence and injustice of our adversaries.  And, unless truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the majority after a while.

The love of truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.

Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.

I don't trust any man who hasn't kissed another man.

Strong women leave big hickies.

I think I have a dick in my brain.  I don't need to have one between my legs.

If at first you don't succeed, you're obviously not me.

“I always say people would rather be nice than right.  I like to be nice too, but come on.  People frequently ask me, what is my definition of politically correct.  My answer is always the same: the elevation of sensitivity over truth. People would rather be nice than right, rather be sensitive than true.  Well, being nice and sensitive are important, but they’re not more important than being right; they’re not more important than the truth.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.

There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness — to bring him down to the miserable level of "good" men, i.e., of stupid, cowardly, and chronically unhappy men.

The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life.  The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches.  What they mistake for thought is simply repetition of what they have heard.  My guess is that well over 80% of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought.  Whenever a new one appears the average man shows signs of dismay and resentment.

I never meant to say that Conservatives are generally stupid.  I meant to say that stupid people are generally conservative.  I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

Mr. Miyagi didn't teach the Karate Kid to believe in himself.  He taught him how to kick people in the fucking head.”

Faith means not wanting to know what is true.

Independence is an issue that concerns very few people: — it is a prerogative of the strong.  And even when somebody has every right to be independent, if he attempts such a thing without having to do so, he proves that he is probably not only strong, but brave to the point of madness.  He enters a labyrinth, he multiplies by a thousand the dangers already inherent in the very act of living, not the least of which is the fact that no one with eyes will see how and where he gets lost and lonely and is torn limb from limb by some cave-Minotaur of conscience.  And assuming a man like this is destroyed, it is an event so far from human comprehension that people do not feel it or feel for him: — and he cannot go back again!  He cannot go back to their pity again!

The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.

There is a great ladder of religious cruelty, and, of its many rungs, three are the most important.  People used to make human sacrifices to their god, perhaps even sacrificing those they loved the best...  Then, during the moral epoch of humanity, people sacrificed the strongest instincts they had, their 'nature,' to their god...  Finally, what was left to be sacrificed?  Didn't people have to sacrifice god himself and worship rocks, stupidity, gravity, fate, or nothingness out of sheer cruelty to themselves?

I teach you the Superman.  Man is something that is to be surpassed.  What have you done to surpass him?

In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.'  All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.

Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.

There is such a thing as seduction, and it needs encouragement rather than discouragement in our puritanical Anglo-American world.

Bisexuality is our best hope of escape from the animosities and false polarities of the current sex wars.

We must take the best from the left and the best from the right to devise new strategies for the global twenty-first century.  The reluctance of liberal professors to speak out against rampant abuses committed on their side (e.g., suppression of free speech, the excesses of women's studies and French theory) has simply increased the power of the right.

If someone offends you by speech, you must learn to defend yourself by speech.

We will never get great art from women if their education exposes them only to the second-rate and if the idea of greatness itself is denied.  Greatness is not a white male trick.  Every important world civilization has defined its artistic tradition in elitist terms of distinction and excellence.

Because I'm criticizing liberalism, people automatically call me a conservative. This is madness!  The idea that somehow one cannot critique liberalism from the left, from the left wing of liberalism.  I mean, how can people be so stupid?

It has become a commonplace that aggressiveness also often has its roots in fear.  I am inclined to think that this theory has been pushed too far.  [...]  The type of aggressiveness that is the outcome of timidity is not, I think, that which inspires great leaders; the great leaders, I should say, have an exceptional self-confidence which is not only on the surface, but penetrates deep into the subconscious.

Religion is based... mainly on fear... fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death.  Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand...  My own view on religion is that of Lucretius.  I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.

We have been concerned so much... with the evils connected with power, that it might seem natural to draw an ascetic conclusion, and to urge, as the best manner of life for the individual, a complete renunciation of all attempts to influence others, whether for good or evil.  Ever since Lao-Tse, this view has had advocates who were both eloquent and wise...  I cannot agree with these men, although I admit that many of them have been highly beneficent.  But they have been so because, though they believed that they had renounced power, they had, in fact, only renounced it in certain forms; if they had renounced it completely, they would not have proclaimed their doctrines, and would not have been beneficent.  They renounced coercive power, but not the power that rests upon persuasion.

The greatest intellectual capacities are only found in connection with a vehement and passionate will.

Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated.

My way of joking is to tell the truth.  It is the funniest joke in the world.

The crime of inquiry is one which religion never has forgiven.

I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion.

The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences.

When a true genius appears in this world you may know him by the sign that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

It is never too late to give up your prejudices.

I never did give anybody hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.

If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be — a Christian.

I can do very well without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I, which is my life — the power to create.

Every man is the creature of the age in which he lives; very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the times.

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith; I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider to be the most enviable of all titles: the character of an honest man.

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.

There is no sin except stupidity.
If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh.
Otherwise, they'll kill you.”

I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.