The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
If you can’t get excited about things that are going to end poorly, life is not for you.
There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
The reformist party sees as unshakable that which it intends to reform.
All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.
A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.
Ambiguity is our most valuable thingie.
Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.
It’s not enough to be Hungarian, you must have talent, too.
Facts are stubborn things.
I play Cards Against Humanity to get ideas on how to spend the rest of my evening.
Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.
…that is the moral of the opponents of violence in politics: they renounce violence when it comes to introducing changes in what already exists, but in defense of the existing order they will not stop at the most ruthless acts.
The core problem with the New Left was that it wasn’t an ideology, it was a mood–and if you are susceptible to one mood, you are susceptible to another.
Bourgeois democracy is democracy of pompous phrases, solemn words, exuberant promises and the high-sounding slogans of freedom and equality. But, in fact, it screens the non-freedom and inferiority of women, the non-freedom and inferiority of the toilers and exploited.
A bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you company.
“A bland and deadly courtesy is more devastating, don’t you think?” “Infinitely.”
Anything that stays trite long enough becomes quaint.
If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people He gave it to.
The oppressed are allowed every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them in parliament.
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.
If someone tries to kill you with a shotgun, misses, and cures your hiccups, you still don’t think that what he did was a good thing.
Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.
Being human means throwing your whole life on the scales of destiny when need be, all the while rejoicing in every sunny day and every beautiful cloud.
What do you want with these special Jewish pains? I feel as close to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations in Putamayo and the blacks of Africa with whose bodies the Europeans play ball… I have no special corner in my heart for the ghetto: I am at home in the entire world, where there are clouds and birds and human tears.
Brevity is the soul of lingerie.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Some laws of state aimed at curbing crime are even more criminal.
The state is nothing but an instrument of oppression of one class by another – no less so in a democratic republic than in a monarchy.
Political economy came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced by a developed system of licensed fraud, an entire science of enrichment.
I prefer rogues to idiots, because they sometimes take a rest.
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
If the cards are stacked against you, reshuffle the deck.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
Of course truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.
Never play pool with a man who brings his own table.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.
I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
In his famous dictionary, Dr. Johnson defined patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.
Remember: Safety third.
It’s hard to convince a winner that he’s losing.
The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.
It would be nice if there were some one thing constant and unchanging in the universe. If there is such a thing, then it is a thing which would have to be stronger than love, and it is a thing which I do not know.
Nature, who was not thoughtful enough to arm the majority of men with rhinoceros skin, also endowed the soldier with a nervous system. Revolutions serve to remind us from time to time of this carelessness on the part of nature.
A revolution is always distinguished by impoliteness, probably because the ruling classes did not take the trouble in good season to teach the people fine manners.
Property is a relation among people. It represents an enormous power as long as it is universally recognized and supported by that system of compulsion called Law and the State.
A failure of correspondence between subjective and objective is, generally speaking, the fountain-source of the comic, as also the tragic, in both art and life.
When enlightened pacifists try to abolish war by rationalistic arguments they are merely ridiculous, but when the armed masses themselves bring weapons of reason into action against a war, that means that the war is about over.
No one goes around suggesting that everyone should become their own autonomous cheesemakers and cheering the death of the cheese industry. Why? Because that would result in a lot of shitty cheese.
The language fictional characters use is chosen for effect, at least if the author is concentrating.
Every book is three books, after all; the one the writer intended, the one the reader expected, and the one that casts its shadow when the first two meet by moonlight.
Sometimes you think you’re justified, but it turns out to be ragged right.
He shoved the curtains back and looked into the yard like it’d better not have anything to say about it.
I ain’t in the helping business no more. I’m in the fuck off while I smoke a blunt business and business is about to pick way the fuck up.
In the relations of a weak Government and a rebellious people there comes a time when every act of the authorities exasperates the masses, and every refusal to act excites their contempt.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.
Don’t waste time arguing about allocating blame. There will be plenty to go around.
Brust’s Law: Truth is counter-intuitive.
There’s lots of parables about a poor man learning to be content to be poor. That’s cuz most of ‘em were made up by rich folk who were content to be rich.
That which doesn’t kill us provides us the opportunity to return fire.
If several people witness an event, each will see it differently. Some people believe there is no objective truth, just a collection of subjective opinions. I believe the second is a gross over-reaction to the first.
May I trouble you for the salt?
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.
He had such a great regard for the truth that he spent most of his time embellishing it.
Being happy is not the victory condition of life.
It’s not worth following any deity who says things I don’t want to hear.
Men make history, but not just as they please.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
What is polyamory even FOR if not to gather a wider range of book recs?
In Hungary acting is a profession. In America it is a decision.
Make no mistake, Hungarian romance, as most other things Hungarian, conforms
to and, as usual, self-consciously outdoes other European traditions.
In mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them.
To become whole, human beings require the truth about the world, and about themselves, that art offers.
History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.
Nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making, or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.
Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
Moral responsibility is what is lacking in a man when he demands it of a woman.
Whenever I get my ‘moon time’ I want to punch a pagan in the mouth.
There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.
Rick: If it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?
Sam: What? My watch stopped.
Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.
Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
I admit it is better fun to punt than be punted, and that a desire to have all the fun is nine-tenths of the law of chivalry.
The thing about identity politics is that, for the most part, they actually reinforce sexist and racist categories.
I’m not procrastinating. I’m delegating important tasks to future-me.
Ignorance is not a crime until it becomes willful.
Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American.
I have no belief in (or desire for) any post-mortem existence, other in the memories of friends and the hope that some of my books may still ‘speak’ to people after my death.
The decline of religion in countries like Denmark and Sweden proves the point that education, combined with an equitable standard of living, can and do replace the need for religion. If your country and community provides for these basic needs, there really is no need to seek assistance from a power outside of nature.
Whistle-blowing has become the civil disobedience of the information age.
‘Empathy’ doesn’t mean obeying a political dogma because some of the people supporting it are oppressed, it means trying to understand, having an insight into the emotional experiences of others
Writing is just word puppetry.
Events are just the transitions from one bit of Cool Shit to another.
God is a hack writer.
Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.
Truth in philosophy means that concept and external reality correspond.
The idea is always a generalization, and generalization is a property of thought. To generalize means to think.
The middle class is always a firm champion of equality when it concerns humbling a class above it, but it is its inveterate foe when it concerns elevating a class below it.
People are altered, in a profound manner, by art. The altering is a complex process, and it may not be immediate or direct, but it takes place just the same.
Anyone who thinks that was a flame is an idiot. This is a flame. The difference should be obvious.
It is becoming quite common to under-rate heroism that saved Kansas for freedom. The cold blooded historian goes mousing among old letters and he finds that these early heroes were men and women, of like frailties with ourselves. But the glory of heroism is not that angels come down to mingle in the affairs of men, but that common men and women, when the occasion demands, can rise to such sublime heights of heroism and self sacrifice.
The two commonest elements in the universe are hydrogen and hypocrisy.
Steve Brust doesn’t make idle threats. They also characterize, advance the plot, or both.
I don’t know about you, but I want the person who designed the building I’m in to believe there is a real world.
Just walk up the hill, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. We’ll have a picnic, they said.
The revolutionary duty of the writer is to write well.
A blunting of sharp edges, even distribution of light and shadow, a conciliatory moralizing, with a thorough disguising of the author’s sympathies easily secures for an historical work the high reputation of objectivity.
Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.
I learned to hate from a strip mine, love from a strip bar
Honesty and charity? I stole ’em from a tip jar
A lot of hairs were at stake here, so you had to split some of them.
Art demands dogged work, work in spite of everything and continuous observation. By dogged, I mean, in the first place incessant labor, but also not abandoning one’s views upon the say-so of this person or that.
The human word is the most portable of all materials.
What are you DOING here?
The more the opinions of the author remain hidden, the better for the work of art. The realism I allude to may crop out even in spite of the author’s opinions.
It is indubitable that the militia did employ violence: it was created exactly for that. Its crime consisted, however, in resorting to violence in dealing with representatives of that class which was not accustomed to be the object of violence and did not want to get accustomed to it.
Racism is the art of pretending circumstances are characteristics.
All revolutions are impossible until they happen, at which time they were inevitable.
Yet there are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for heath. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is; it is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
The masses are long-suffering, but they are not clay out of which you can fashion anything you want to. Moreover, in a revolutionary epoch they learn fast.
You know what the fellow said–in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace–and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
The petty-bourgeois intellectuals are introspective by nature. They mistake their own emotions, their uncertainties, their fears and their own egoistic concern about their personal fate for the sentiments and movements of the great masses. They measure the world’s agony by their own inconsequential aches and pains.
That’s my secret: I’m always uncomfortable.
Attribute that to someone else.
In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission.
Don’t mourn, organize.
The history of philosophical system is the picture gallery of reason.
To theology, … only what it holds sacred is true, whereas to philosophy, only what holds true is sacred.
People are too eager to say ‘This legendary person had flaws!’ instead of, ‘Wow, this flawed human being managed to do something legendary.’
If you’re an author and think it’s hard to act cheerful online when you’re not feeling it, try working at Starbucks
Some people have been drinking hot dog water for so long, they think it’s soup.
The ruling classes . . . lose faith in themselves; the old parties fall to pieces; a bitter struggle of groups and cliques prevails; hopes are place in miracles or miracle workers.
Well, it’s a nice soft night, so I think I’ll go and join me comrades and talk a little treason.
I knew your grandfather. He died in Australia, in a penal colony. And your father, he was a good man too.
If Lenin and Trotsky had behaved in 1917 as ‘respectable’ social democrats, collaborated with the Provisional Government, cleared the way for Kornilov’s victory, and then perished in a fascist debacle, liberal historians today would no doubt write of them as sympathetically as they do of Salvador Allende.
Of all the services rendered by Stalinism to world imperialism, none is more important than its discrediting of socialism in the eyes of broad sections of the working class.
Suspension of disbelief is a lot easier when somebody is naked.
I used to think that churches should pay taxes like any major corporation, then I realized that they already do.
Dinner is a major daily activity, which can be accomplished in worthy fashion only by intelligent people. It is not enough to eat. To dine, there must be diversified, calm conversation. It should sparkle with the rubies of the wine between the courses, be deliciously suave with the sweetness of dessert, and acquire true profundity with the coffee.
Police repression stifles and distorts a political struggle, but does not eliminate it.
Time spent hanging out with friends, reading a good book, or videotaping the police is never wasted.
Revolution can never be forecast; it cannot be foretold; it comes of itself. Revolution is brewing and is bound to flare up.
You can’t write music right unless you know how the man that’ll play it plays poker.
Trust your demon.
We have always distinguished the social kernel from the political form of bourgeois democracy; we have always revealed the hard kernel of social inequality and lack of freedom hidden under the sweet shell of formal equality and freedom.
They say that midway between two opposing opinions lies the truth. By no means: between them lies the problem.
It was not easy to make decisions when a concern for one’s virtue was viewed as unvirtuous.
A government, once it has established itself, may endure much longer than the relationship of forces which produced it. It is precisely out of this historical contradiction that revolutions, coup d’etats, counter- revolutions, etc., arise.
The difference between the bourgeois women’s movement and the working-women’s movement is as clear as day. We are not hostile to the ‘women’s movement’, but we also have not the slightest reason to give it support.
From an economics viewpoint, every penny spent on counter-terrorism is a penny wasted. From a civil rights stand point, every penny spent on counter-terrorism is a tragedy.
Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
A slave-owner who through cunning and violence shackles a slave in chains, and a slave who through cunning or violence breaks the chains – let not the contemptible eunuchs tell us that they are equals before a court of morality!
To investigate retrospectively the genealogy of ideas, even those most reactionary and muddleheaded, is to leave not a trace of racism standing.
When a lack of being actively oppressed is treated as privilege, we’ve got some serious problems to consider.
Easy revisions are like UFOs; you have to doubt anyone who claims to have seen one.
Man must hold to the conviction that the incomprehensible is comprehensible, for therein lies the drive to study and investigate.
Of all the species of political fauna, none was lower, none more contemptible, none more dangerous than the Socialist who defended his country in time of war.
Make your work obssessable.
Art is dependent on striving for truth to the greatest degree possible. Ideas that historical experience has proven are demonstrably false, that the artist leans on out of laziness or self-interest, or the desire to be socially acceptable or have a career, are a bad basis for art.
Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it was for a rich man to get into heaven. So, for the past 2000+ years, the church has feverishly worked on making bigger needles and smaller camels.
[The executive committee] supported the government set up by itself only “as a whole and in general,” and took the responsibility for the war “in so far as.” These petty trickeries are alien to the masses. Soldiers cannot fight “ in so far as,” or die “as a whole and in general.”
Is it not remarkable that those who talk most indignantly about the victims of social revolutions are usually the very ones who, if not directly responsible for the victims of the world war, prepared and glorified them, or at least accepted them?
The need to know nature is imposed upon men by their need to subordinate nature to themselves.
One must always try to be as radical as reality itself.
You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity.
I am constantly amazed by how far the Republicans have to go to stay to the right of the Democrats.
Kim Chee isn’t just a food, it’s a companion!”
All of the Scotch names means that the Scots have a 100 different words for “my peat bog is on fire.”
For a Hungarian married to a Japanese and living in the United States, cooking rice can be traumatic
“I have seen how the sausage is made, and it is made with the flesh of the working class.”
Racism and antiracism: Blaming people for things they didn’t do because they belong to groups that don’t exist.
Humans mistake desire as the root of sin and suffering, but they think too narrowly. Desire is simply the source. Of their sinning, yes, but of their dignity as well. People are shaped by and they shape their wanting. The channels it carves through their lives define the contours of their nobility or degradation.
Life is on the wire, the rest is just waiting.
Now that we’ve fucked ourselves anyway I think we have a responsibility to keep fucking ourselves.
Capitalism came into the world covered with blood, the product of revolution and war. In spite of all of that, it gave us great benefits–it was progressive at one time. Now that it is exhausted and reactionary, its defenders argue that revolution never accomplishes anything.
When you ask that the Devil not be blamed for things the Devil did not do, God’s most partisan advocates will ask why you’re defending the Devil. They cannot see that you’re defending Justice.
For a writer to tackle a subject in which the country, social background, and temperament of the people are outside his or her inherent knowledge is the height of impertinence. But writers are impertinent. They also frequently become obsessed by themes outside their own experience, and once a writer is obsessed there is nothing to do but give way and indulge the obsession.
The exercise of rights should not be a zero-sum contest for a scarce resource,