You’ll forget it when you’re dead, and so will I. When I’m dead, I’m going to forget everything—and I advise you to do the same.
You couldn’t help it that you were born without a heart. At least you tried to believe what the people with hearts believed—so you were a good man just the same.
You can’t just eat food. You’ve got to talk about it, too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.
Why were so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales.
Why so many of us a million years ago purposely knocked out major chunks of our brains with alcohol from time to time remains an interesting mystery. It may be that we were trying to give evolution a shove in the right direction—in the direction of smaller brains.
Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.
Which brings us to the arts, whose purpose, in common with astrology, is to use frauds in order to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on inside.
When I’m being funny, I try not to offend. I don’t think much of what I’ve done has been in really ghastly taste. I don’t think I have embarrassed many people, or distressed them.
When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.
What troubles me most about my lovely country is that its children are seldom taught that American freedom will vanish, if, when they grow up, and in the exercise of their duties as citizens, they insist that our courts and policemen and prisons be guided by divine or natural law.