Stranger in a Strange Land Quotes
Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy - in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other.
But goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil.
Consider the black widow spider. It's a timid little beastie, useful and, for my taste, the prettiest of the arachnids, with its shiny, patent-leather finish and its red hourglass trademark. But the poor thing has the fatal misfortune of possessing enormously too much power for its size. So everybody kills it on sight.
My dear, I used to think I was serving humanity ... and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it. So now I do what pleases myself.
It's up to the artist to use language that can be understood, not hide it in some private code. Most of these jokers don't even want to use language you and I know or can learn ... they would rather sneer at us and be smug, because we 'fail' to see what they are driving at. If indeed they are driving at anything--obscurity is usually the refuge of incompetence.
Most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers.
Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried.
If God existed (a question concerning which Jubal maintained a meticulous intellectual neutrality) and if He desired to be worshiped (a proposition which Jubal found inherently improbable but conceivably possible in the dim light of his own ignorance), then (stipulating affirmatively both the above) it nevertheless seemed wildly unlikely to Jubal to the point of reductio ad absurdum that a God potent to shape galaxies would be titillated and swayed by the whoop-te-do nonsense the Fosterites offered Him as "worship.
Its very variety, subtlety, and utterly irrational, idiomatic complexity makes it possible to say things in English which simply cannot be said in any other language.
The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time-and then shut up.
I’ve been kissed by men who did a very good job. But they don’t give kissing their whole attention. They can’t. No matter how hard they try parts of their minds are on something else. Missing the last bus—or their chances of making the gal—or their own techniques in kissing—or maybe worry about jobs, or money, or will husband or papa or the neighbors catch on. Mike doesn’t have technique ... but when Mike kisses you he isn’t doing anything else. You’re his whole universe . . . and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and isn’t going anywhere. Just kissing you.
Art is the process of evoking pity and terror, which is not abstract at all but very human. What the self-styled modern artists are doing is a sort of unemotional pseudointellectual masturbation ... whereas creative art is more like intercourse, in which the artist must seduce -- render emotional -- his audience, each time.
English is the largest of human tongues, with several times the vocabulary of the second largest language -- this alone made it inevitable that English would eventually become, as it did, the lingua franca of this planet, for it is thereby the richest and most flexible -- despite its barbaric accretions ... or, I should say, because of its barbaric accretions. English swallows up anything that comes its way, makes English out of it.
Being sorry won't get you into heaven. Get happy, son. Get that old spring into your step and stay on your toes.
Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia - the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death...before they breed more hemophiliacs.
Long human words (the longer the better) were easy, unmistakable, and rarely changed their meanings ... but short words were slippery, unpredictable, changing their meanings without any pattern.
Yes, Boss?' Dorcas, the last twenty or thirty years I've been a worthless, no-good parasite.' She yawned again. 'Everybody knows that.' Nevermind the flattery. There comes a time in every man's life when he has to stop being sensible--a time to stand up and be counted--strike a blow for liberty--smite the wicked.' Ummm...' So quit yawning, the time has come.' She glanced down. 'Maybe I had better get dressed.
Random chance was not a sufficient explanation of the Universe---in fact, random chance was not sufficient to explain random chance; the pot could not hold itself.
The Universe was a silly place at best...but the least likely explanation for it was the no-explanation of random chance, the conceit that abstract somethings 'just happened' to be atoms that 'just happened' to get together in ways which 'just happened' to look like consistent laws and some configurations 'just happened' to possess self-awareness and that two 'just happened' to be the Man from Mars and a bald-headed old coot with Jubal inside.
I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much... because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting" ... But that's not all people laugh at." Isn't it? Perhaps I don't grok all its fullness yet. But find me something that really makes you laugh sweetheart... a joke, or anything else- but something that gave you a a real belly laugh, not a smile. Then we'll see if there isn't a wrongness wasn't there." He thought. "I grok when apes learn to laugh, they'll be people.
No matter what I said they insisted on thinking of God as something outside themselves. Something that yearns to take every indolent moron to His breast and comfort him. The notion that the effort has to be their own ... and that the trouble they are in is all their own doing . . . is one that they can't or won't entertain.
People simplify 'Apollonian' into 'mild', and 'calm', and 'cool'. But 'Apollonian' and 'Dionysian' are two sides of one coin--a nun kneeling in her cell, holding perfectly still, can be in ecstacy more frenzied than any priestess of Pan Priapus celebrating the vernal equinox.
A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human 'wisdom'...and the other twenty percent isn't very important.
Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried. Democracy's worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents - a depressingly low level, but what else can you expect?.
Have you ever known me to be rude to a lady?" "I have seen you be intentionally rude to a woman. I have never seen you be rude to a lady.
Talking with a Martian is something like talking with an echo. You don't get any argument but you don't get results either.
All human behavior, all human motivations, all man’s hopes and fears, were heavily colored and largely controlled by mankind’s tragic and oddly beautiful pattern of reproduction.
The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together.
I happen to be of an almost extinct breed, an old-fashioned gentleman--which means I can be a real revolving son of a bitch when it suits me.
He had learned that close-held secrets could often be cracked by going all the way to the top and there making himself unbearably unpleasant. He knew that such twisting of the tiger's tail was dangerous, for he understood the psychopathology of great power.
Death isn't funny." "Then why are there so many jokes about death? Jill, with us — us humans — death is so sad that we must laugh at it.
Grok’ means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the process being observed—to merge, to blend, to intermarry, to lose personal identity in group experience.
Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up, Ben; she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. She's a father working while cancer eats away his insides, to bring home one more pay check. She's a twelve-year-old trying to mother her brothers and sisters because mama had to go to Heaven. She's a switchboard operator sticking to her post while smoke chokes her and fire cuts off her escape. She's all the unsung heroes who couldn't make it but never quit.
Government! Three-fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling - oh, Harshaw concluded that man, a social animal, could not avoid government, any more than an individual could escape bondage to his bowels. But simply because an evil was inescapable was no reason to term it "good." He wished that government would wander off and get lost! (96).
I see the beauty of Mike's attempt to devise an ideal ethic and applaud his recognition that such must start by junking the present sexual code and starting fresh. Most philosophers haven't the courage for this; they swallow the basics of the present code--monogamy, family pattern, continence, body taboos, conventional restrictions on intercourse, and so forth--then fiddle with details...even such piffle as discussing whether the female breast is an obscene sight! (p.365).
The worst that can possibly have happened to him is death and that we are all in for---if not this morning, then in days, or weeks, or years at most.
English is capable of defining sentiments that the human nervous system is quite incapable of experiencing.
...the word 'love' designates a subjective condition in which the welfare and happiness of another person are essential to one's own happiness.
You have to give an editor something to change, or he gets frustrated. After he pees in it himself, he likes the flavor much better, so he buys it.
Daughters can spend ten percent more than a man can make in any usual occupation. That’s a law of nature, to be known henceforth as ‘Harshaw’s Law.
All those religions--they contradict each other on every point but every one of them is filled with ways to help people to be brave enough to laugh even though they know they are dying.
It's a long story. Want a refill?" "No, let's start the steak. Where's the button?" "Right here." "Well, push it." "Me? You offered to cook." "Ben Caxton, I will lie here and starve before I will get up to push a button six inches from your finger" "As you wish." He pressed the button. "But don't forget who cooked dinner.
But when they began handing out doctorates for comparative folk dancing and advanced fly-fishing, I became too stink in’ proud to use the title. I won’t touch watered whiskey and I take no pride in watered-down degrees.
The country and culture commonly known as "America" had had a badly split personality all through its history. Its overt laws were almost always puritanical for a people whose covert behavior tended to be Rabelaisian; its major religions were all Apollonian in varying degrees---its religious revivals were often hysterical in a fashion almost Dionysian.
Thou art God'. It's not a message of cheer and hope. It's a defiance - and an unafraid, unabashed assumption of personal responsibility.
I’ve never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by faith—it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.
With just a touch more self confidence and a liberal helping of ignorance I could have been a famous evangelist.
I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts... because its the only thing that'll make it stop hurting. But find me something that makes you laugh, a joke, anything--but something that gave you a belly laugh, not a smile. Then we'll see if there isn't wrongness somewhere and whether you would laugh if the wrongness wasn't there.