Dr. Zeus' Favorite Quotations

67 Quotes Collected

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Franz Kafka

And here you thought you were a prisoner in a labyrinth of evil, where everything was pregnant with meaning. ... Hence your mental somersaults and contortions. You writhed on the hook of your own question mark to solve that equation of horror.

Stanislaw Lem
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

If you can piss in it, it's craft. If you can piss on it, it's art.

Thor Froslov

Then the anguish increased to unendurable massivity and nightmare dimensions, making her scream and vomit. She wanted...to have her dark curls shaved to an aquamarine prickle, because they grew into her porous skull and curled inside. Jigsaw pieces of sky or wall came apart, no matter how delicately put together, but a careless jolt or a nurse's elbow can disturb so easily those lightweight fragments which became incomprehensible blancs of anonymous objects, or the blank backs of 'Scrabble' counters, which she could not turn over sunny side up, because her hands had been tied by a male nurse with Demon's black eyes.

Vladimir Nabokov

The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer.

Victor Borge

An individual's life consisted of certain classified things: 'real things' which were unfrequent and priceless, simply 'things' which formed the routine stuff of life; and 'ghost things,' also called 'fogs,' such as fever, toothache, dreadful disappointments, and death. Three or more things occurring at the same time formed a 'tower,' or if they came in immediate succession, they made a 'bridge.' 'Real towers' and 'real bridges' were the joys of life, and when the towers came in a series, one experienced supreme rapture; it almost never happened, though. In some circumstances, in a certain light, a neutral 'thing' might look or even actually become 'real' or else, conversely, it might coagulate into a fetid 'fog.' When the joy and the joyless happened to be intermixed, simultaneously or along the ramp of duration, one was confronted with 'ruined towers' and 'broken bridges.'

Vladimir Nabokov

Van sealed the letter, found his Thunderbolt pistol in the place he had visualized, introduced one cartridge into the magazine, and translated it into its chamber. Then, standing before a closet mirror, he put the automatic to his head, at the point of the pterion, and pressed the comfortably concaved trigger. Nothing happened - or perhaps everything happened, and his destiny simply forked at that instant, as it probably does sometimes at night, especially in a strange bed, at stages of great happiness or great desolation, when we happen to die in our sleep, but continue our normal existence, with no perceptible break in the fakes serialization, on the following, neatly prepared morning, with a spurious past discreetly but firmly attached behind.

Vladimir Nabokov

...It seems hard that a man in his need could be so flouted by a road.

William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying

No left turn unstoned.


...As every one of us knows, there are some festivals and games in which everything goes right, and every element lifts up, animates, and exalts every other, just as there are theatrical and musical performances which without any clearly discernible cause seem to ascend miraculously to glorious climaxes and intensely felt experiences, whereas others, just as well prepared, remain no more than decent tries.

Hermann Hesse
Magister Ludi

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

Jack Handey

One day the husband of a woman who was being painted by Picasso called at the artist's studio. 'What do you think?' asked the painter, indicating the nearly finished picture. 'Well...' said the husband, trying to be polite, 'it isn't how she really looks.' 'Oh,' said the artist, 'and how does she really look?' The husband decided not to be intimidated. 'Like this!' he said, producing a photograph from his wallet. Picasso studied the photograph. 'Mmm...' he said, 'small, isn't she?'

Charles Hampden-Turner
Maps of the Mind

What if the book (of Genesis) is describing a dawning awareness of the world? The anthropologist Edmund Leach has argued that the 'bit' or binary digit is the basic unit of pre-logical communication. Genesis is a sprouting of 'bits', ie elementary binary distinctions...

Charles Hampden-Turner
Maps of the Mind

That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox...

Stanislaw Lem

We are forever asking Nature whether it has stopped beating its wife.

Abraham Kaplan

Above all, creators remain drawn to the age-old paradoxes that philosophy grapples with [and]...that art occasionally resolves...the problem of the one and the many; unity and variety; determinism and freedom; mechanism and vitalism; good and evil; time and eternity; the plenum and the void; moral absolutism and relativism... These are the basic problems of human existence, and as far as we possibly can we arrange things to forget them.

Frank Barron

In the battle against insanity, the best defense is surrender.

Dr. Zeus

[Ego-identity is]...the accrued confidence that one's ability to maintain inner sameness and continuity...is matched by the sameness and continuity of one's meaning for others.

Erik Erikson

Hardening of the categories leads to art failure.

Rolf Faste

And so we come to the last crisis, that of integrity versus disgust and despair. Throughout the life-cycle the pieces have been assembled, structure built on structure around the ego's continuity. Now with death not too far away, can it all hold up or will it crumble? Are the links of love and meaning strong enough so that we are ourselves content to fall away?

Charles Hampden-Turner
Maps of the Mind

When you are confronted by any complex social system, such as an urban center or a hamster, with things about it that you're dissatisfied with and anxious to fix, you cannot just step in and set about fixing with much hope of helping. This realization is one of the sore discouragements of our century. Jay Forrester has demonstrated it mathematically, with his computer models of cities in which he makes clear that whatever you propose to do, based on common sense, will almost inevitably make matters worse rather than better. You cannot meddle with one part of a complex system from the outside without the almost certain risk of setting off disastrous events that you hadn't counted on in other, remote parts. If you want to fix something you are first obliged to understand, in detail, the whole system, and for very large systems you can't do this without a very large computer. Even then, the safest course seems to be to stand by and wring hands, but not to touch. Intervening is a way of causing trouble.

Lewis Thomas
On Meddling

Verbing weirds language.


When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

Buckminster Fuller

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.

Thomas Jefferson

Behind you, long, night-long queues of men in uniform move away slowly, kicking AWOL bags along, mostly silent, toward exit doors painted beige, but with edges smudged browner in bell-curves of farewell by the generation of hands.

Thomas Pynchon
Gravity's Rainbow

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.


Colonies are the outhouses of the European soul, where a fellow can let his pants down and relax, enjoy the smell of his own shit. Where he can fall on his slender prey roaring as loud as he feels like, and guzzle her blood with open joy. Eh? Where he can just wallow and rut and let himself go in a softness, a receptive darkness of limbs, of hair as woolly as the hair on his own forbidden genitals. ... Out and down in the colonies, life can be indulged, life and sensuality in all its forms, with no harm done to the Metropolis, nothing to soil those cathedrals, white marble statues, noble thoughts... Tibet is a special case. Tibet was deliberately set aside by the Empire as free and neutral territory, a Switzerland for the spirit where there is no extradition, and Alp-Himalayas to draw the soul upward, and danger rare enough to tolerate...

Thomas Pynchon
Gravity's Rainbow

If you think the human body is dirty, complain to the manufacturer.

Lenny Bruce

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

H. G. Wells
The War of the Worlds

Flotsam from his childhood are rising through his attention. He's remembering the skin of an apple, bursting with nebulae, a look into curved reddening space.

Thomas Pynchon
Gravity's Rainbow

To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other.

Jack Handey

In Southern California it didn't make any difference anyhow where you went; there was always the same McDonaldburger place over and over, like a circular strip that turned past you as you pretended to go somewhere. And when finally you got hungry and went to the McDonaldburger place and bought a McDonald's hamburger, it was the one they sold you last time and the time before that and so forth, back to before you were born, and in addition bad people -- liars -- said it was made out of turkey gizzards anyhow. They had by now, according to their sign, sold the same original burger fifty billion times. He wondered if it was to the same person. Life in Anaheim, California, was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed. Nothing changed; it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze... Someday, he thought, it'll be mandatory that we all sell the McDonald's hamburger as well as buy it; we'll sell it back and forth to each other forever from our living rooms.

Philip K. Dick
A Scanner Darkly

Dorito Ergo Yum.

Dr. Zeus

Photography is all right if you don't mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed cyclops -- for a split second.

David Hockney

If I had known it was harmless I would have killed it myself.

Philip K. Dick
A Scanner Darkly

Why should the actions of the imagination not be as real as those of perception?

Gaston Bachelard

Any given man sees only a tiny portion of the total truth, and very often, in fact almost perpetually, he deliberately deceives himself about the little precious fragment as well. A portion of him turns against him and acts like another person, defeating him from inside.

From A Scanner Darkly

It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.

Muhammad Ali

To a great extent, conventional photography is about edges, about how to frame the object of vision. Indeed, that is the ordinary photographer's main contribution to the moment of seeing; his sense of composition, how he chooses to frame the world within four perpendicular edges.

Lawrence Wechsler

Don't drop acid, take it pass/fail.


There is no ideal height or weight, but to perfectly frank, most guys want as much of a girl's weight as possible to be in her chest. However, if someone doesn't know you, their perception of you is based entirely on who you hang out with. Girls should surround themselves with beautiful people. Guys will come over to flirt with the pretty girls and get acquainted with you, too. Guys, on the other hand, should hang around people uglier than they are. That way, when a chick is checking out your posse, she will compare you to your loser friends and think you are a regular Brad Pitt by comparison.

Benjamin Gwynn, 17
In Parade Magazine's Fresh Voices

Thought is a disease of the brain. The mind defends itself against the degenerative process of creativity; it begins to jell; notions solidify into inalterable systems.

Thomas M. Disch
Camp Concentration

Some people's idea of free speech is that they are free to say anything they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

Winston Churchill

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

Mark Twain

An artist painting a picture should have at his side a man with a club to hit him over the head when the picture is finished.

John Singer Sargent

Jesus is coming -- look busy!

Wavy Gravy

Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.

Tiger Woods

We survived the 1980's. Back then, the economic program was called 'trickle down.' That actually meant they were pissing on you. How the whole theory goes was this: 'We have all the money. If we drop some, it's yours. Go for it.'

Bill Maher

A conclusion is simply the place where someone got tired of thinking.

Arthur Block

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history -- with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.

Mitch Ratliffe

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.


Perception is less of a recording system and more of a protection system against external stimuli.

Sigmund Freud

Build a man a fire; he is warm for the night. Set a man on fire; he is warm for the rest of his life.

Terry Pratchett

I don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't a fish.

Marshall McLuhan

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

Carl Sagan

Didn't wake up this mornin'.

Bluesman's epitaph

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Groucho Marx

All the great truths are basically trivial and so we have to find new ways, preferably paradoxical ways, of expressing them, in order to keep them from falling into oblivion.

Friedrich von Schlegel, via José Saramago

But the eyes were horrible. Looking at them I got the feeling that they were not genuine eyes at all but mechanical dummies animated by electricity or the like, with a tiny pinhole in the centre of the 'pupil' through which the real eye gazed out secretively and with great coldness. Such a conception, possibly with no foundation at all in fact, disturbed me agonisingly and gave rise in my mind to interminable speculations as to the colour and quality of the real eye and as to whether, indeed, it was real at all or merely another dummy with its pinhole on the same plane as the first one so that the real eye, possibly behind thousands of these absurd disguises, gazed out through a barrel of serried peep-holes. Occasionally the heavy cheese-like lids would drop down slowly with great languor and then rise again.

Flann O'Brien
The Third Policeman

Cogito Ergot Sum.


Maybe (he kept thinking) it was the names of the things. The names were tex and frequently koid. Or they were flex and oid, or they were duroid (sani) or flexan (duro), but everything was glass (but not quite glass) and the thing that you touched (the surface, washable, crease-resistant) was rubber, only it wasn't quite rubber and you didn't quite touch it but almost." E. B. White
The Door

Erotic is when you use a feather. Kinky is when you use the whole chicken.


They are dark caves. [...] There is little to see, and no eye to see it, until the visitor arrives for his five minutes, and strikes a match. Immediately another flame rises in the depths of the rock and moves towards the surface like an imprisoned spirit: the walls of the circular chamber have been most marvellously polished. The two flames approach and strive to unite, but cannot, because one of them breathes air, the other stone. A mirror inlaid with lovely colours divides the lovers, delicate stars of pink and grey interpose, exquisite nebulae, shadings fainter than the tail of a comet or the midday moon, all the evanescent life of the granite, only here visible.

E. M. Forster
A Passage to India

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..."

Isaac Asimov

If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.

Henry Ford

Oh longing for places that were not
Cherished enough in that fleeting hour
How I long to make good from far
The forgotten gesture, the additional act.


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