If Rosa Parks had moved to the back of the bus, you and I might never have heard of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.
They can gas me, but I am famous. I have achieved in one day what it took Robert Kennedy all his life to do.
If it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
The causes we know everything about depend on causes we know very little about, which depend on causes we know absolutely nothing about.
The real 1960s began on the afternoon of November 22, 1963. . . . It came to seem that Kennedy’s murder opened some malign trapdoor in American culture, and the wild bats flapped out.
It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility; they must have action, and they will make it if they cannot find it.
I am doomed to an eternity of compulsive work. No set goal achieved satisfies. Success only breeds a new goal. The golden apple devoured has seeds. It is endless.
Fucking up, if you aspire to be an artist, may be the great creative principle: getting broken, broken wide open, and then delving into the shards. Moving on. Painting, writing — these are always, first and foremost, struggles for authenticity.
We have no art; we do everything as well as we can.
Diamonds are only chunks of coal That stuck to their jobs, you see.
A young man’s ambition [is] to get along in the world and make a place for himself. Half your life goes that way, till you’re forty-five or fifty. Then, if you’re lucky, you make terms with life, you get released.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
I am the shadow my words cast.
We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: we cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions. We do not live in reality; we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality, but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us.
I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in His saints.
In heaven, an angel is no one in particular.
I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.
My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now [that] when people wave at me they use all their fingers.
As a young, little-known writer, Auden was once asked what effect fame might have upon him. “I believe,” he said after a moment’s reflection, “that I would always wear my carpet slippers.” When fame did eventually come, Auden was always to be seen in carpet slippers, even when wearing evening dress.