Why 300,000 varieties of beetles? The great English geneticist J.B.S. Haldane was once cornered by a distinguished theologian who asked him what inferences one could draw, from a study of the created world, as to the nature of its Creator. Haldane answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”
Knowledge is one. Its division into subjects is a concession to human weakness.
Art does not like to lie down on the bed that is made for it; it runs away as soon as one says its name; it loves to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what it is called.
Actually, light dazzles me. I keep only enough of it in me to look at night, the whole night, all nights.
Do not be a magician, be magic.
I learned long ago that the world could neither deprive me of something nor give me anything, and I now have one ambition and one joy.
I knew of a physicist at the University of Chicago who was rather crazy like some scientists, and the idea of the insolidarity, the instability of the physical world, impressed him so much that he used to go around in enormous padded slippers for fear he should fall through the floor.
Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of our classes — our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.
I had a rough marriage. Well, my wife was an immature woman, that’s all I can say. See if this is not immature to you: I would be home in the bathroom taking a bath, and my wife would walk in whenever she felt like it and sink my boats.
Without self-respect you are a criminal in hiding, living in a prison you have built around yourself, and even if the prison is comfortable and luxurious, it is still a prison.
To live several lives, you have to die several deaths.
In the range of my character at any given moment, I have acted in the only way it seemed to me I could have acted. This in no way means that I have done what was right; only what was possible for me. Sometimes I have done what I knew was wrong, and have rationalized. But rationalization is a form of desperation. It takes kindness to forgive oneself for one’s life.
Even crumbs are bread.
When I get sick of what men do, I have only to walk a few steps in another direction to see what spiders do. Or what the weather does. This sustains me very well indeed.
I was going to buy a copy of The Power Of Positive Thinking, and then I thought: what the hell good would that do?
I noticed in New York, where the traffic is so bad and the air is so bad, everything, and the food, and the coffee, everything, and the streets are falling to pieces, you get into a taxi and frequently the poor taxi driver is just beside himself with irritation. And one day I got into one and the driver began talking a blue streak, accusing absolutely everyone of being wrong. You know, he was full of irritation about everything, and I simply remained quiet. I did not answer his questions, I did not enter into a conversation, and very shortly the driver began changing his ideas and simply through my being silent he began, before I got out of the car, saying rather nice things about the world around him.
Our alphabet’s first sound is but the lengthening of a sigh.