"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!"
—Mother Night, 1961
"I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival."
—quoted in The Observer, December 27, 1987
"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center."
—Player Piano, 1952
"There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done."
—Breakfast of Champions, 1973
"Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way."
—Cat's Cradle, 1963
“Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the universe.”
—Hocus Pocus, 1990
"I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a color photograph of God Almighty—and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine. Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima."
—Bennington College address, 1970
"One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us."
—"Cold Turkey," In These Times, May 10, 2004
"Artists use frauds 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."
—"When I Was Twenty-One," Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons, 1974
"How nice—to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive."