The darkest secret of this country, I am afraid, is that too many of its citizens imagine that they belong to a much higher civilization somewhere else. That higher civilization doesn't have to be another country. It can be the past instead—the United States as it was before it was spoiled by immigrants and the enfranchisement of the blacks.
This state of mind allows too many of us to lie and cheat and steal from the rest of us, to sell us junk and addictive poisons and corrupting entertainments. What are the rest of us, after all, but sub-human aborigines?
—Kurt Vonnegut. Bluebeard.
Well—I've got news for Mr. Santayana: we're doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That's what it is to be alive.
—Kurt Vonnegut. Bluebeard.
Transmission problem. Can't get my ass in gear.
—Edward Abbey. "Letter to Doug Peacock, December 1986." Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast.
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
And all music is.
—Kurt Vonnegut. Breakfast of Champions.
It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive. There are people who think that honesty is always the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it.
—Mark Twain. "Chapter V." Following the Equator.
It is easier to devise a scheme of this character at one's writing-table than it is to carry it out.
—Sven Hedin. "The Plan and Objects of My Journey." Through Asia.
But our civilization is rapidly becoming one in which only two values are recognized: power and amusement.
—Joseph Wood Krutch. "The north rim world." The Grand Canyon: Today and All Its Yesterdays.
This is the problem with this rich and anguished generation. Somewhere a long time ago they fell in love with the idea that politicians—even the slickest and brightest presidential candidates—were real heroes and truly exciting people.
That is wrong on its face. They are mainly dull people with corrupt instincts and criminal children.
—Hunter S. Thompson. "Dance of the Seven Dwarfs." San Francisco Examiner. 6 July 1986. (Collected in Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80's)
It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.
—Hunter S. Thompson. "The Gonzo Salvage Co." San Francisco Examiner. 3 March 1986. (Collected in Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80's)
In youth, before I lost any of my senses, I can remember that I was all alive, and inhabited my body with inexpressible satisfaction; both its weariness and its refreshment were sweet to me. This earth was the most glorious musical instrument, and I was audience to its strains.
—Henry David Thoreau. "Journal: July 16, 1851." I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau.