Great critics do not explicate a text; they describe it and then report on what they have described, if the description itself is not the criticism.
As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests
In America, the race goes to the loud, the solemn, the hustler. If you think you’re a great writer, you must say that you are.
On 16 September 1985, when the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation, the American Empire died.
I’m all for bringing back the birch, but only between consenting adults.
The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western World. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity—much less dissent.
Laughing at someone else is an excellent way of learning how to laugh at oneself; and questioning what seem to be the absurd beliefs of another group is a good way of recognizing the potential absurdity of many of one’s own cherished beliefs.
There is something about a bureaucrat that does not like a poem.
It is not enough to succeed, others must fail.
It makes no difference whom you vote for—the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people.
It is the spirit of the age to believe that any fact, no matter how suspect, is superior to any imaginative exercise, no matter how true.
A talent for drama is not a talent for writing, but is an ability to articulate human relationships.
All in all, I would not have missed this century for the world.
Topics: Twentieth Century
Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.
Style is knowing who you are, what to say, and not giving a damn.
Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.
It is marvelous indeed to watch on television the rings of Saturn close; and to speculate on what we may yet find at galaxy’s edge. But in the process, we have lost the human element; not to mention the high hope of those quaint days when flight would create “one world.” Instead of one world, we have “star wars,” and a future in which dumb dented human toys will drift mindlessly about the cosmos long after our small planet’s dead.
For half a century, photography has been the art form of the untalented. Obviously some pictures are more satisfactory than others, but where is credit due? To the designer of the camera? To the finger on the button? To the law of averages?
There is hardly an American male of my generation who has not at one time or another tried to master the victory cry of the great ape as it issued from the androgynous chest of Johnny Weissmuller, to the accompaniment of thousands of arms and legs snapping during attempts to swing from tree to tree in the backyards of the Republic.
To a man, ornithologists are tall, slender, and bearded so that they can stand motionless for hours, imitating kindly trees, as they watch for birds.
Major Barkinson had a sure method of foretelling weather, or anything else for that matter. He would, for instance, select a certain patch of sky and then count slowly to three; if, during that time, no sea gull crossed the patch of sky, the thing he wanted would come true
When Ronald Reagan’s career in show business came to an end, he was hired to impersonate, first, a California governor and then an American president who would reduce taxes for his employers, the Southern and Western New Rich, much of whose money came from the defence industries. There is nothing unusual about this arrangement. All recent presidents have had their price-tags.
Teaching has ruined more American novelists than drink
It is difficult to find a reputable American historian who will acknowledge the crude fact that a Franklin Roosevelt, say, wanted to be President merely to wield power, to be famed and to be feared. To learn this simple fact one must wade through a sea of
What is a long life but a nightmare of endless repetition?
Democracy is supposed to give you the feeling of choice, like Painkiller X and Painkiller Y. But they’re both just aspirin.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Kurt Vonnegut American Novelist
- Joyce Carol Oates American Novelist
- Ayn Rand Russian-born American Novelist
- Anita Loos American Actor
- Thornton Wilder American Novelist, Dramatist
- Henry Miller American Novelist
- Reynolds Price American Novelist
- Langston Hughes American Poet, Writer
- Jane Addams American Social Reformer
- Booth Tarkington American Novelist