Louis Kronenberger quotes and sayings
December 9, 1904
April 30, 1980
Temperament, like liberty, is important despite how many crimes are committed in its name.
In art, there are tears that do lie too deep for thought.
Life for most of us is full of steep stairs to go puffing up and, later, of shaky stairs to totter down; and very early in the history of stairs must have come the invention of banisters.
On a very rough-and-ready basis we might define an eccentric as a man who is a law unto himself, and a crank as one who, having determined what the law is, insists on laying it down to others. An eccentric puts ice cream on steak simply because he likes it; should a crank do so, he would endow the act with moral grandeur and straightaway denounce as sinners all who failed to follow suit. Cranks, at their most familiar, are a sort of peevish prophets, and it's not enough that they should be in the right; others must also be in the wrong.
We are neurotically haunted today by the imminence, and by the ignominy, of failure. We know at how frightening a cost one succeeds: to fail is something too awful to think about.
Someone who gossips well has a reputation for being good company or even a wit, never for being a gossip.
The fascinating necessarily tends to call a certain attention to itself; the interesting need not. An evening spent with a fascinating person leaves vivid memories; one spent with interesting people has merely a sort of bouquet.
One of the saddest things about conformity is the ghastly sort of non-conformity it breeds; the noisy protesting, the aggressive rebelliousness, the rigid counter-fetishism.
A great maxim of personal responsibility and mature achievement: "Do it yourself" is now the enthroned cliche for being occupied with nonessentials.
Humor simultaneously wounds and heals, indicts and pardons, diminishes and enlarges; it constitutes inner growth at the expense of outer gain, and those who possess and honestly practice it make themselves more through a willingness to make themselves less.
It is the gossip columnist's business to write about what is none of his business.
The technique of winning is so shoddy, the terms of winning are so ignoble, the tenure of winning is so brief; and the specter of the has-been-a shameful rather than a pitiable sight today-brings a sudden chill even to our sunlit moments.
Has there ever been an age so rife with neurotic sensibility, with that state of near shudders, or near hysteria, or near nausea, much of it induced by trifles, which used to belong to people who were at once ill-adjusted and over-civilized?
Having disciples is in the end like having children, only not with love but with self-love preeminent.
On any morning these days whole segments of the population wake up to find themselves famous, while, to keep matters shipshape, whole contingents of celebrities wake up to find themselves forgotten.
Doubtless a good general rule for close friendships, where confidences are freely exchanged, is that what one is not informed about, one may not inquire about.
It is disgusting to pick your teeth; what is vulgar is to use a gold toothpick.
Educated people do indeed speak the same languages; cultivated ones need not speak at all.
In an automobile civilization, which was one of constant motion and activity, there was almost no time to think; in a television one, there is small desire.
For tens of millions of people television has become habit-forming, brain-softening, taste-degrading.
Highly educated bores are by far the worst; they know so much, in such fiendish detail, to be boring about.
In the history of thought and culture the dark nights have perhaps in some ways cost mankind less grief than the false dawns, the prison houses in which hope persists less grief than the promised lands where hope expires.
A perfect conversation would run much less to brilliant sentences than to unfinished ones.
It is one of the sublime provincialities of New York that its inhabitants lap up trivial gossip about essential nobodies they've never set eyes on, while continuing to boast that they could live somewhere for twenty years without so much as exchanging pleasantries with their neighbors across the hall.
The thrust of ambition is, and always has been, great, but among the bright-eyed it had once a more adventurous and individualistic air, a much more bracing rivalry.
The materialistic idealism that governs American life, that on the one hand makes a chariot of every grocery wagon, and on the other a mere hitching post of every star, lets every man lead a very enticing double life.
In the history of mankind, fanaticism has caused more harm than vice.
From the failure of the humanist tradition to participate fully or to act decisively, civilizations may perhaps crumble or perish at the hands of barbarians. But unless the humanist tradition itself in some form survives, there can really be no civilization at all.
Privacy was in sufficient danger before TV appeared, and TV has given it its death blow.
Prig and philistine, Ph.D. and C.P.A., despot of English 218c and big shot of the Kiwanis Club-how much, at bottom, they both hate Art, and how hard it is to know which of them hates it the more.
With intellectuals, moral thought is often less a tonic that quickens ethical action than a narcotic that deadens it.
Today's competitiveness, so much imposed from without, is exhausting, not exhilarating; is unending-a part of one's social life, one's solitude, one's sleep, one's sleeplessness.
Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of greater vanity in others; it makes us vain, in fact, of our modesty.
The life of sense begins by assuming that we can only fitfully live the life of reason.
She ate so many clams that her stomach rose and fell with the tide.
The moving van is a symbol of more than our restlessness, it is the most conclusive evidence possible of our progress.
The truly ambitious are always as busy on the landings as they are breathless on the stairs.
If it is the great delusion of moralists to suppose that all previous ages were less sinful than their own, then it is the great delusion of intellectuals to suppose that all previous ages were less sick.
In general, American social life constitutes an evasion of talking to people. Most Americans don't, in any vital sense, get together; they only do things together.
This is, i think, very much the Age of Anxiety, the age of the neurosis, because along with so much that weighs on our minds there is perhaps even more that grates on our nerves.
Individualism is rather like innocence; there must be something unconscious about it.
The trouble with us in America isn't that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.
Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week.
London ... remains a man's city where New York is chiefly a woman's. London has whole streets that cater to men's wants. It has its great solid phalanx of fortress clubs.
He was the mightiest of Puritans no less than of philistines who first insisted that beauty is only skin deep.
Along with being forever on the move, one is forever in a hurry, leaving things inadvertently behind-friend or fishing tackle, old raincoat or old allegiance.
The American Way is so restlessly creative as to be essentially destructive; the American Way is to carry common sense itself almost to the point of madness.
Coyness is a rather comically pathetic fault, a miscalculation in which, by trying to veil the ego, we let it appear stark naked.
One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well.
Nominally a great age of scientific inquiry, ours has become an age of superstition about the infallibility of science; of almost mystical faith in its non-mystical methods; above all-which perhaps most explains the expert's sovereignty-of external verities; of traffic-cop morality and rabbit-test truth.
The essence of the expert is that his field shall be very special and narrow: one of the ways in which he inspires confidence is to rigidly limit himself to the little toe; he would scarcely venture an off-the-record opinion on an infected little finger.
In art there are tears that do often lie too deep for thoughts.
Conformity may not always reign in the prosperous bourgeois suburb, but it ultimately always governs.
The test of interesting people is that subject matter doesn't matter.
The Englishman wants to be recognized as a gentleman, or as some other suitable species of human being, the American wants to be considered a good guy.
Ours must be the first age whose great goal, on a nonmaterial plane, is not fulfillment but adjustment; and perhaps just such a goal has served as maladjustment's weapon.
Henry Louis Gates
Julie Anne Peters
Roy Jones Jr.
Robert W. Service
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