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gore vidal Quotes

Gore Vidal Quotes

Birth Date: 1925-10-03 (Saturday, October 3rd, 1925)



    • I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.
    • The theater needs continual reminders that there is nothing more debasing than the work of those who do well what is not worth doing at all.
    • At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice.
    • The more money an American accumulates the less interesting he himself becomes.
    • In any case, rather like priests who have forgotten the meaning of the prayers they chant, we shall go on for quite a long time talking of books and writing books, pretending all the while not to notice that the church is empty and the parishioners have gone elsewhere to attend other gods, perhaps in silence or with new words.
    • that peculiarly American religion, President-worship.
    • The period of Prohibition - called the noble experiment - brought on the greatest breakdown of law and order the United States has known until today. I think there is a lesson here. Do not regulate the private morals of people. Do not tell them what they can take or not take. Because if you do, they will become angry and antisocial and they will get what they want from criminals who are able to work in perfect freedom because they have paid off the police.
    • The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country - and we haven't seen them since.
    • Big oil, big steel, big agriculture avoid the open marketplace. Big corporations fix prices among themselves and thus drive out of business the small entrepreneur. Also, in their conglomerate form, the huge corporations have begun to challenge the very legitimacy of the state.
    • Precocious talents mature slowly if at all.
    • It is reasonable to assume that, by and large, what is not read now will not be read, ever. It is also reasonable to assume that practically nothing that is read now will be read later. Finally, it is not too farfetched to imagine a future in which novels are not read at all.
    • In any case, write what you know will always be excellent advice to those who ought not to write at all.
    • Television is a great leveler. You always end up sounding like the people who ask the questions.
    • Religions are manipulated in order to serve those who govern society and not the other way around.
    • Actually, there is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person. The words are adjectives describing sexual acts, not people. The sexual acts are entirely normal; if they were not, no one would perform them.
    • The reason no one has yet been able to come up with a good word to describe the homosexualist (sometimes known as gay, fag, queer, etc.) is because he does not exist. The human race is divided into male and female. Many human beings enjoy sexual relations with their own sex, many don't; many respond to both. This plurality is the fact of our nature and not worth fretting about.
    • My father had a deep and lifelong contempt for politicians in general ('They tell lies,' he used to say with wonder, 'even when they don't have to').
    • The last best hope on earth, two trillion dollars in debt, is spinning out of control, and all we can do is stare at a flickering cathode-ray tube as Ollie 'answers' questions on TV while the press, resolutely irrelevant as ever, asks politicians if they have committed adultery. From V-J Day 1945 to this has been, my fellow countrymen, a perfect nightmare.
    • In a nation that has developed to a high art advertising, the creator who refuses to advertise himself is immediately suspected of having no product worth selling.
    • The average 'educated' American has been made to believe that, somehow, the United States must lead the world even though hardly anyone has any information at all about those countries we are meant to lead. Worse, we have very little information about our own country and its past. That is why it is not really possible to compare a writer like Howells with any living American writer because Howells thought that it was a good thing to know as much as possible about his own country as well as other countries while our writers today, in common with the presidents and paint manufacturers, live in a present without past among signs whose meanings are uninterpretable.
    • I suspect that one of the reasons we create fiction is to make sex exciting.
    • Class is the most difficult subject for American writers to deal with as it is the most difficult for the English to avoid.
    • I regard monotheism as the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race. I see no good in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam - good people, yes, but any religion based on a single... well, frenzied and virulent god, is not as useful to the human race as, say, Confucianism, which is not a religion but an ethical and educational system that has worked pretty well for twenty-five hundred years. So you see I am ecumenical in my dislike for the Book. But like it or not, the Book is there; and because of it people die; and the world is in danger.
    • Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.
    • Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.
    • The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western World. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity - much less dissent.
    • To speak today of a famous novelist is like speaking of a famous cabinetmaker or speedboat designer. Adjective is inappropriate to noun.
    • Half the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President - the same half?
    • Lonely children often have imaginary playmates but I was never lonely; rather, I was solitary, and wanted no company at all other than books and movies, and my own imagination.
    • Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the higher altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for the freedom not only to conform but to consume.
    • I shared, naturally, in that hatred of organized labor which has been the one political constant in my lifetime, culminating in Ronald Reagan's most popular gesture, the smashing of the air-controllers' union. No alternative view of organized labor has ever come to us through the popular media. If labor leaders were not crooks like Jimmy Hoffa, they were in the pay of Moscow.
    • It is notable how little empathy is cultivated or valued in our society. I put this down to our traditional racism and obsessive sectarianism. Even so, one would think that we would be encouraged to project ourselves into the character of someone of a different race or class, if only to be able to control him. But no effort is made.
    • By and large, serious fiction was the work of victims who portrayed victims for an audience of victims who, it was oddly assumed, would want to see their lives realistically portrayed.
    • Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won't be. Any individual who is able to raise $25 million to be considered presidential is not going to be much use to the people at large. He will represent oil, or aerospace, or banking, or whatever moneyed entities are paying for him. Certainly he will never represent the people of the country, and they know it. Hence, the sense of despair throughout the land as incomes fall, businesses fail and there is no redress.
    • As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.
    • I have begun writing what I have said I'd never write, a memoir ('I am not my own subject,' I used to say with icy superiority). [1]
    • Anais Nin gave me my most original, or so I thought, creation. As I read Incest, I realized that something which I had always taken to be unique, the voice of Myra Breckinridge, was actually that of Anais in all the flowing megalomania of the diaries. Of course, I had not read the diaries then, but even so, if only for that one thundering voice, I am forever in her debt.
    • I used to be able to summon up scenes at will, but now aging memory is so busy weeding its own garden that, promiscuously, it pulls up roses as well as crabgrass.
    • Celebrities are invariably celebrity-mad, just as liars always believe liars.
    • The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved - Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal - God is the Omnipotent Father - hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is in place not for just one tribe but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose.
    • Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of the constitution as a working machine.
    • Happily for the busy lunatics who rule over us, we are permanently the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing.
    • We have ceased to be a nation under law but instead a homeland where the withered Bill of Rights, like a dead trumpet vine, clings to our pseudo-Roman columns.
    • Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
    • Envy is the central fact of American life.
    • It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
    • I can understand companionship. I can understand bought sex in the afternoon, but I cannot understand the love affair.
    • As one gets older, litigation replaces sex.
    • A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.
    • Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television.
    • We're supposed to procreate and society, god knows, is ferocious on the subject. Heterosexuality is considered such a great and natural good that you have to execute people and put them in prison if they don't practice this glorious act.
    • We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic. The founding fathers hated two things, one was monarchy and the other was democracy, they gave us a constitution that saw to it we will have neither. I don't know how wise they were.
    • Lennon was somebody who was a born enemy of those who govern the United States. He was everything they hated. So I just say that he represented life, and that is admirable; and Mr. Nixon and Mr. Bush represent death, and that is a bad thing.
    • We must always remember that the police are recruited from the criminal classes.
    • Somebody was here the other day from BBC Radio. It's odd to meet a rather elderly man who says, 'I've been reading you all my life.' It makes you feel a slight chill.
    • God has been expelled. I think he knows when he's on a losing wicket.
    • I went into a line of work in which jealousy is the principal emotion between practitioners. I don't think I ever suffered from it, because there was no need. But I was aware of it in others, and I found it a regrettable fault.
    • There was more of a flow to my output of writing in the past, certainly. Having no contemporaries left means you cannot say, 'Well, so-and-so will like this,' which you do when you're younger. You realize there is no so-and-so anymore. You are your own so-and-so. There is a bleak side to it.
    • You hear all this whining going on, 'Where are our great writers?' The thing I might feel doleful about is: Where are the readers?
    • Everything's wrong on Wikipedia.
    • My general response to boarding school was: anything to get away from that fucking mother of mine. She was a monster.
    • Some of my father's fellow West Pointers once asked him why I turned out so well, his secret in raising me. And he said, 'I never gave him any advice, and he never asked for any.' We agreed on nothing, but we never quarreled once.
    • Every fool I knew had gone to university. I didn't think it necessary. I'd seen some of the results, you know?
    • When I was young, I was bored shitless with being desired by others. I don't look in the mirror anymore.
    • I lived with Howard [Austen] for fifty years, but what we had was certainly not romantic love, not passionate love. And it certainly was nonsexual. Try to explain that to the fags.
    • Nonprofit status is what created the Bible Belt. The tax code brought religion back to this country.
    • At a certain age, you have to live near good medical care - if, that is, you're going to continue. You always have the option of not continuing, which, I fear, is sometimes nobler.
    • There are some joys in the higher hypochondria.
    • When you get a hereditary disease, you realize you're part of the main. No matter how much you may have tried to be your own man, you're going to be like your parents.
    • I've developed a total loathing for McCain, conceited little asshole. And he thinks he's wonderful. I mean, you can just tell, this little simper of self-love that he does all the time. You just want to kick him.
    • Patriotism is as sickening today as it has ever been. I was watching the news before you came and there was a lot of coverage of Kosovo and the problems there. They showed footage of people burning an American flag. And the newscaster got all broken up and teary-eyed. He says, 'I guess [sob] I just feel something here, folks, when I see the American flag being burned.' And I said, 'You fucking asshole. Whatever happened to the news?'
    • When she was running for the Senate, Hillary's psephologists discovered that the one group that really hated her was white, middle-aged men of property. She got the whole thing immediately - I heard she said, 'I remind them of their first wife.'
    • 'You got to meet everyone - Jackie Kennedy, William Burroughs.' People always put that sentence the wrong way around. I mean, why not put it the true way, that these people got to meet me, and wanted to? Otherwise it sounds like I spent my life hustling around trying to meet people: 'Oh, look, there's the governor.'
    • I met a lot of people, but I didn't get to know them.
    • People in my situation get to read about themselves whether they want to or not. It's generally wrong. Or oversimplified - which is sometimes useful.
    • For a writer, memory is everything. But then you have to test it; how good is it, really? Whether it's wrong or not, I'm beyond caring. It is what it is. As Norman Mailer would say, 'It's existential.' He went to his grave without knowing what that word meant.
    • I was the meanest kid on the block.
    • We're the most captive nation of slaves that ever came along. The moral timidity of the average American is quite noticeable. Everybody's afraid to be thought in any way different from everyone else.
    • Get rid of religion. It'll do you no good.
    • As the Greeks sensibly believed, should you get to know yourself, you will have penetrated as much of the human mystery as anyone need ever know.
    • I wasn't like everyone, you know. What everyone did, I was sure not to do.
    • Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.
    • My favorite sex fantasy is becoming president, so I can do it to two hundred million people at once.
    • Television is now so desperately hungry for material that they're scraping the top of the barrel.
    • Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them, either.
    • Never have children, only grandchildren.
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