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70+ Unforgettable Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

In his more than 50-year creative career, successful American author Kurt Vonnegut has produced 14 novels, three collections of short stories, five plays, and five non-fiction books.

kurt vonnegut quotes

The best-selling books by Kurt Vonnegut include “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle,” “Welcome to the Monkey House,” and many others. He emphasized the tragedies and paradoxes of the 20th century using fantasy and science fiction.

Short stories are where Vonnegut started. His debut book was called “Player Piano” (1952). He gained a great deal of prominence after “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Children’s Crusade” were published in 1969. For his innovative use of science, astronomer Charles W. Juels gave Vonnegut the honor of having an asteroid named in his honor on his 77th birthday.

This assortment of Kurt Vonnegut quotes is just a glimpse of the gems found throughout the works of this great author.

Quotes about Time

1. “The timequake of 2001 was a cosmic charley horse in the sinews of Destiny. At what was in New York City 2:27 p.m. on February 13th of that year, the Universe suffered a crisis in self-confidence. Should it go on expanding indefinitely? What was the point?”

2. “Listen, if it isn’t a timequake dragging us through knothole after knothole, it’s something else just as mean and powerful.”

3. “Actors know everything they are going to say and do, and how everything is going to come out in the end, for good or ill, when the curtain goes up on Act One, Scene One. Yet they have no choice but to behave as though the future were a mystery.”

4. “There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”

5. “All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.”

6. “It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.”

7. “All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

8. “This was when Billy first came unstuck in time. His attention began to swing grandly through the full arc of his life, passing into death, which was violet light. There wasn’t anybody else there, or anything. There was just violet light—and a hum.”

9. “We cannot get rid of mankind’s fleetingly wicked wishes. We can get rid of the machines that make them come true. I give you a holy word: Disarm.”

10. “My wife has been killed by a machine which should never have come into the hands of any human being. It is called a firearm. It makes the blackest of all human wishes come true at once, at a distance: that something die. There is evil for you.”

kurt vonnegut quotes

Quotes about War and Death

11. “You’ll forget it when you’re dead, and so will I. When I’m dead, I’m going to forget everything—and I advise you to do the same.”

12. “Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.”

13. “Here is all she had to say about death: ‘Oh my, oh my.’”

14. “Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”

15. “The nicest veterans… the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.”

16. “The advocates of nuclear disarmament seem to believe that, if they could achieve their aim, war would become tolerable and decent. They would do well to…ponder the fate of Dresden, where 135,000 people died as the result of an air attack with conventional weapons.”

17. “If you protest, if you think that death is a terrible thing, then you have not understood a word I’ve said… It is time for you to go home to your wives and children, and it is time for me to be dead for a little while—and then live again.”

18. “We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. ‘My God, my God—’, I said to myself. ‘It’s a Children’s Crusade.’”

19. “If I should ever die, again God forbid, I hope some of you will say, ‘Kurt’s up in Heaven now.’ That’s my favorite joke.”

20. “On other days we have wars as horrible as any you’ve ever seen or read about. There isn’t anything we can do about them, so we simply don’t look at them. We ignore them. We spend eternity looking at pleasant moments—like today at the zoo.”

kurt vonnegut quotes

Quotes about Life

21. “I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.”

22. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

23. “In real life, as in Grand Opera, arias only make hopeless situations worse.”

24. “Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different!”

25. “Here is my understanding of the Universe and mankind’s place in it at the present time: The seeming curvature of the Universe is an illusion. The Universe is really as straight as a string, except for a loop at either end. The loops are microscopic. One tip of the string is forever vanishing.”

26. “What passes for a culture in my head is really a bunch of commercials, and this is intolerable. It may be impossible to live without a culture.”

27. “My longer-range schemes have to do with providing all Americans with artificial extended families of a thousand members or more. Only when we have overcome loneliness can we begin to share wealth and work more fairly. I honestly believe that we will have those families by-and-by, and I hope they will become international.”

28. “But I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren’t crazy to begin with.”

29. “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.”

30. “People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.”

Inspirational words

Inspirational Quotes

31. “No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of X’s between somebody’s hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X’s. . .No damn cat, and no damn cradle.”

32. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

33. “Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

34. “Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.”

35. “But you find out quick enough that old friends are old friends, and nothing more—no wiser, no more help than anyone else.”

36. “The machines are to practically everybody what the white men were to the Indians. People are finding that, because of the way the machines are changing the world, more and more of their old values don’t apply any more. People have no choice but to become second-rate machines themselves, or wards of the machines.”

37. “But his head no longer sheltered ideas of how things could be and should be on the planet, as opposed to how they really were. There was only one way for the Earth to be, he thought: the way it was.”

38. “Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”

39. “The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time.”

40. “How nice—to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”

Inspirational words

Motivational Quotes

41. “That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.”

42. “And the charming little cottage he’d taken as a symbol of the good life of a farmer was as irrelevant as a statue of Venus at the gate of a sewage-disposal plant.”

43. “The planet was being destroyed by manufacturing processes, and what was being manufactured was lousy, by and large.’”

44. “Nobody’s so damn well educated that you can’t learn ninety percent of what he knows in six weeks. The other ten percent is decoration.”

45. “People took such awful chances with chemicals and their bodies because they wanted the quality of their lives to improve. They lived in ugly places where there were only ugly things to do. They didn’t own doodley-squat, so they couldn’t improve their surroundings. So they did their best to make their insides beautiful instead.”

46. “So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’”

47. “I am being so silly because I pity you so much. I pity all of us so much. Life is going to be very tough again, just as soon as this is over. And the most useful thought we can hold when all hell cuts loose again is that we are not members of different generations, as unlike, as some people would have us believe, as Eskimos and Australian Aborigines. We are all so close to each other in time that we should think of ourselves as brothers and sisters.”

48. “Egregious. Most people think that word means terrible or unheard of or unforgivable. It has a much more interesting story than that to tell. It means ‘outside the herd.’ Imagine that–thousands of people, outside the herd.”

49. “You want to know something? We are still in the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages–they haven’t ended yet.”

50. “I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”

Inspirational words

Great Quotes

51. “That’s what it was to be young—to be enthusiastic rather than envious about the good work other people could do.”

52. “That is my principal objection to life, I think: It is too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.”

53. “Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, ‘There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamned lonely anymore.’”

54. “Be aware of this truth that the people on this earth could be joyous, if only they would live rationally, and if they would contribute mutually to each others’ welfare.”

55. “You know what else I think? I think life is no way to treat an animal, and not just people, but pigs and chickens, too. Life just hurts too much.”

56. “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”

57. “I admire anybody who finishes a work of art, no matter how awful it may be.”

58. “The nation of two my Helga and I had—its territory, the territory we defended so jealously, didn’t go much beyond the bounds of our great double bed. Flat, tufted, springy little country, with my Helga and me for mountains. And, with nothing in my life making sense but love, what a student of geography I was!”

59. “I was sitting alone on a park bench in the sunshine that day, thinking of a fourth play that was beginning to write itself in my mind. It gave itself a title, which was ‘Das Reich der Zwei’—’Nation of Two.’ It was going to be about the love my wife and I had for each other. It was going to show how a pair of lovers in a world gone mad could survive by being loyal only to a nation composed of themselves—a nation of two.”

60. “My life is nothing but room for you.”

Quotes about Love

61. “We Bokononists believe that it is impossible to be sole-to-sole with another person without loving the person, provided the feet of both persons are clean and nicely tended.”

62. “A man who wants all of somebody’s love. That’s very bad.”

63. “If somebody says, ‘I love you,’ to me, I feel as though I had a pistol pointed at my head. What can anybody reply under such conditions but what the pistol-holder requires?”

64. “Actually, I am highly suspicious of love, and any honest biography of me would bear that out.”

65. “No matter what I was really, no matter what I really meant, uncritical love was what I needed.”

66. “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

67. “I do not propose to discuss my love life. I will say that I still can’t get over how women are shaped, and that I will go to my grave wanting to pet their butts and boobs. I will say, too, that lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve.”

68. “Make love when you can. It’s good for you.”

69.“It was very exciting for her, taking his dignity away in the name of love.”

70. “And how can you say a man had a good mind when he couldn’t even bother to do anything when the best-hearted, most beautiful woman in the world, his own wife, was dying for lack of love and understanding.”

Great Love Quotes

71. “There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look. I am proof of that.”

72. “They were lovebirds. They entertained each other endlessly with little gifts: sights worth seeing out the plane window, amusing or instructive bits from things they read, random recollections of times gone by.”

73. “I will tell you how to win love: wear nice clothing and smile all the time. Learn the words to all the latest songs.”

74. “Americans…are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.”

75. “The heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality and the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it”

76. New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.”

77. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”

78.“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

79. If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.”

80. Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly, Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land, Man got to tell himself he understand.”

Inspirational words

Interesting Quotes

81.”Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies you’ve got a hundred years here.”

82. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

83. “Ideas on earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.”

84. “All-time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

85. Father needs some kind of book to read to people who are dying or in terrible pain. I don’t suppose you’ve written anything like that.”

86. ‘The thing I like,’ said Hazel, ‘is they all speak English and they’re all Christians. That makes things so much easier.'”

87. Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.”

88. It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”

89. “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”

90. ” That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”

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