A blocked path also offers guidance.
A blunt statement can be as false as any other.
A great reader seldom recognizes his solitude.
A happy arrangement: many people prefer cats to other people, and many cats prefer people to other cats.
A real idea keeps changing and appears in many places.
A sense of blessedness comes from a change of heart, not from more blessings.
Affection reproaches, but does not denounce.
After an argument, silence may mean acceptance or the continuation of resistance by other means.
After my spectacular failures, I could not be satisfied with an ordinary success.
Amazing that the human race has taken enough time out from thinking about food or sex to create the arts and sciences.
An academic dialect is perfected when its terms are hard to understand and refer only to one another.
An omnipotent God is the only being with no reason to lie.
Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.
Art seduces, but does not exploit.
As equality increases, so does the number of people struggling for predominance.
At sixty, I know little more about wisdom than I did at thirty, but I know a great deal more about folly.
Bad faith likes discourse on friendship and loyalty.
‘Be faithful to your roots’ is the liberal version of ‘Stay in your ghetto.’
Cats are inquisitive, but hate to admit it.
Children now expect their parents to audition for approval.
Children use all their wiles to get their way with adults. Adults do the same with children.
City people make most of the fuss about the charms of country life.
Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves.
Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining.
Conscious thought is the tidying up at the end.
Consciousness is our only reprieve from Time.
Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.
Critic’s delight: scolding the Mighty Dead.
Cruelty is softened by fear, not pity.
Cure for an obsession: get another one.
Cynicism is full of naive disappointments.
Dancing and running shake up the chemistry of happiness.
Death is frightening, and so is Eternal Life.
Documents create a paper reality we call proof.
Don’t stare into a mirror when you are trying to solve a problem.
Eternity eludes us, even as a thought.
Even boredom has its crises.
Even cats grow lonely and anxious.
Even the most fickle are faithful to a few bad habits.
Events are called inevitable only after they have occurred.
Every day begins with an act of courage and hope: getting out of bed.
Every literary critic believes he will outwit history and have the last word.
Excuses change nothing, but make everyone feel better.
Expensive advertising courts us with hints and images. The ordinary kind merely says, Buy.
Fail, and your friends feel superior. Succeed, and they feel resentful.
Faith moves mountains, but you have to keep pushing while you are praying.
Families in which nothing is ever discussed usually have a lot not to discuss.
Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it.
Fastidious taste makes enjoyment a struggle.
Fears and lies intensify consciousness.
Few artists can afford artistic temperament.
Few friendships could survive the moodiness of love affairs.
First literature came to refer only to itself, the literary theory.
Flattery and insults raise the same question: What do you want?
Folly always knows the answer.
For many, immaturity is an ideal, not a defect.
Forgiveness is like faith. You have to keep reviving it.
Friends are sometimes boring, but enemies never.
Fulfillment is often more trouble than it is worth.
General statements omit what we really want to know. Example: some horses run faster than others.
Good parties create a temporary youthfulness.
Hatred observes with more care than love does.
Hatred of the mother is familiar, but the mother’s hatred still comes as a surprise.
Human society sustains itself by transforming nature into garbage.
Humor does not rescue us from unhappiness, but enables us to move back from it a little.
Hypocrisy is the outside of cynicism.
I did not know I was in my prime until afterwards.
I have learned to keep to myself how exceptional I am.
I know that I am what I am. But I am not sure what I am.
I love you is the inscription on Pandora’s box.
I read less and less. I have not forgiven books for their failure to tell me the truth and make me happy.
I see what you mean, but I do not think what you think.
I’m being treated like a sex object, cried the lady. No matter. I will take care of it, said Time soothingly.
Ideology has shaped the very sofa on which I sit.
If beggars do not hate the rest of us, they are even more abject than I had imagined.
If I play hard to get, soon the phone stops ringing altogether.
If modesty disappeared, so would exhibitionism.
If success is a habit, it is a hard one to acquire.
If the world would apologize, I might consider a reconciliation.
If we think about the obvious long enough, it dissolves.
If you are going to break a Law of Art, make the crime interesting.
If you call failures experiments, you can put them in your resume and claim them as achievements.
Imagination has rules, but we can only guess what they are.
In bridge clubs and in councils of state, the passions are the same.
In every death, a busy world comes to an end.
In love, we worry more about the meaning of silences than the meaning of words.
In psychoanalysis, only the fee is exactly what it seems to be.
In the game of love, the losers are more celebrated than the winners.
In the street, the gaze of desire is furtive or menacing.
Innocence is thought charming because it offers delightful possibilities for exploitation.
Innocence: I am only stepping on your face because it lies in my path.
Irony regards every simple truth as a challenge.
It is possible to interpret without observing, but not to observe without interpreting.
Journalism never admits that nothing much is happening.
Kafka: cries of helplessness in twenty powerful volumes.
Kindness eases everything almost as much as money does.
Language is the friendliest of the things from which we cannot escape.
Listening to people keeps them entertained.
Living alone makes it harder to find someone to blame.
Logic and fact keep interfering with the easy flow of conversation.
Logic teaches rules for presentation, not thinking.
Love begins with an image; lust with a sensation.
Lust and greed are more gullible than innocence.
Lying just for the fun of it is either art or pathology.
Magic trick: to make people disappear, ask them to fulfill their promises.
Malice is always authentic and sincere.
Many gloat over their own troubles.
Melancholy is as seductive as Ecstasy.
Middle age went by while I was mourning for my lost youth.
Mind and body obstruct one another’s pleasures.
Minds will wander even during the Last Judgment.
Mistakes are the only universal form of originality.
Money is to my social existence what health is to my body.
Money: power at its most liquid.
Moo may represent an idea, but only the cow knows.
Most people regard getting their way as a matter of simple justice.
Most reputations are not ruined but forgotten.
My mind is led astray by every faint rustle.
My parents wanted me to solace them for sorrows they denied having had.
My passions have never jumped out of the fireplace and set fire to the carpet.
My thought has been shaped by books; my desires by pictures.
Never ask a bore a question.
Never try to leap from a standstill.
No chaos, no creation. Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.
Observe decorum, and it will open a path to morality.
Office politics are bloody-minded, but weak on content.
Often, when I want to consult my impulses, I cannot find them.
Old age: I fall asleep during the funerals of my friends.
Old and young disbelieve one another’s truths.
Only the broken-hearted know the truth about love.
Opportunity knocks, but doesn’t always answer to its name.
Orgasm: the genitals sneezing.
Other people’s beliefs may be myths, but not mine.
Outside books, we avoid colorful characters.
People believe that photographs are true and therefore cannot be art.
People who abhor solitude may abhor company almost as much.
Philosophy likes to keen common sense on the run.
Poor but happy is not a phrase invented by a poor person.
Preserving tradition has become a nice hobby, like stamp collecting.
Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.
Promiscuity is like never reading past the first page. Monogamy is like reading the same book over and over.
Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort.
Rage is exciting, but leaves me confused and exhausted.
Reality is the name we give to our disappointments.
Reason enables us to get around in the world of ideas, but cannot prescribe our thoughts.
Reputation runs behind the current state of affairs.
Rereading, we find a new book.
Rescue someone unwilling to look after himself, and he will cling to you like a dangerous illness.
Romance is tempestuous. Love is calm.
Romantics consider common sense vulgar.
Seeing my malevolent face in the mirror, my benevolent soul shrinks back.
Self-hatred and self-love are equally self-centered.
Self-reform is the only kind that works.
Sincerity: willingness to spend one’s own money.
Sloth, not ill-will, makes me unjust.
Some loves are like a vice that has ceased to give pleasure.
Staid middle age loves the hurricane passions of opera.
Stated clearly enough, an idea may cancel itself out.
Talk about yourself as much as you like, but do not expect others to listen.
Taste refers to the past, imagination to the future.
The aim of literary ambition is to demonstrate one’s greatness of soul.
The beginning of self-knowledge: recognizing that your motives are the same as other people’s.
The beloved is the ultimate fetish.
The body has a mind of its own.
The discontented believe that their regrets are about the past.
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul has more threat than comfort.
The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.
The gods are watching, but idly, yawning.
The higher the moral tone, the more suspect the speaker.
The horse stares at its captor, barely remembering the free kicks of youth.
The laughter of the aphorism is sometimes triumphant, but seldom carefree.
The lonely become either thoughtful or empty.
The man in the street is always a stranger.
The man of sensibility is too busy talking about his feelings to have time for good deeds.
The novel avoids the sublime and seeks out the interesting.
The only peace is being out of earshot.
The passion for money is never fickle.
The passions are the same in every conflict, large or small.
The power of lying is much less than the power of what is not to be discussed.
The ravaged face in the mirror hides the enchanting youth that is the real me.
The real secrets are not the ones I tell.
The sage belongs to the same obsolete repertory as the virtuous maiden and the enlightened monarch.
The shades of respectability begin to close about the greying head.
The time I kill is killing me.
The wisdom of age: don’t stop walking.
There are different rules for reading, for thinking, and for talking. Writing blends all three of them.
Think carefully before asking for justice. Mercy might be safer.
Thinking about the universe has now been handed over to specialists. The rest of us merely read about it.
Three meals plus bedtime make four sure blessings a day.
To be successful be ahead of your time, but only a little.
To confer dignity, forgive. To express contempt, forget.
To understand a literary style, consider what it omits.
To understand someone, find out how he spends his money.
Totem poles and wooden masks no longer suggest tribal villages but fashionable drawing rooms in New York and Paris.
Travelers never think that they are the foreigners.
Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind.
Unlike the actual, the fictional explains itself.
We are more tied to our faults than to our virtues.
We are prepared for insults, but compliments leave us baffled.
Well-behaved: he always speaks as if his mother might be listening.
What lies behind appearance is usually another appearance.
When a man bores a woman, she complains. When a woman bores a man, he ignores her.
When I prayed for success, I forgot to ask for sound sleep and good digestion.
When sages commend excess, Desire is sick.
While there’s life, there’s fear.
While we are reading, we are all Don Quixote.
Who would not give up wit for power and beauty?
Why do we never expect dull people to be rascals?
Without civilization, we would not turn into animals, but vegetables.
Women encourage men to be childish, then scold them.
Worried about being a dull fellow? You might develop your talent for being irritating.
Writers mean more than they say and say more than they mean.
Young men preen. Old men scheme.
Young poets bewail the passing of love; old poets, the passing of time. There is surprisingly little difference.