"Things have come to a pass where lying sounds like truth, truth like lying. Each statement, each piece of news, each thought has been pre-formed by the centres of the culture industry. Whatever lacks the trace of such pre-formation lacks credibility...Truth that opposes these pressures not only appears improbable, but is in addition too feeble to make any headway in competition with their highly-concentrated machinery of dissemination."
"Power (or what takes its place) no longer believes in the university. It knows fundamentally that it is only a zone for the shelter and surveillance of a whole class of a certain age...it will find its elite elsewhere, or by other means. Diplomas are worthless: why would it refuse to award them, in any case it is ready to award them to everybody..."
"The eye that sees nobility and beauty in what another would regard as ordinary is the eye of prayer."
"Our task as men is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks men take a long time to accomplish..."
"The spectator's consciousness, imprisoned in a flattened universe, bound by the screen of the spectacle behind which his life has been deported, knows only the fictional speakers who unilaterally surround him with their commodities and the politics of their commodities. The spectacle, in its entirety, is his 'mirror image.' Here the stage is set with the false exit of generalized autism."
"...we have all lost touch with life, we all limp, each to a greater or lesser degree. In fact, we have lost touch so badly that we often feel a kind of loathing for genuine 'living life,' and hence cannot endure being reminded of it. We've reached the point where we virtually regard 'living life' as hard labor, almost servitude, and we all agree in private that it's much better 'according to the books.'"
"There is no logical reason for the existence of a snowflake any more than there is for evolution. It is an apparition from that mysterious shadow world beyond nature, that final world which contains -- if anything contains -- the explanation of men and catfish and green leaves."
"...what is more insidious than any censorship, is the steady influence which operates silently in any mass society organized for profit, for the depression of standards of art and culture. The increasing organization of advertisement and propaganda -- or the influencing of masses of men by any means except through their intelligence -- is all against them. The economic system is against them...and against them is the disappearance of any class of people who recognize public and private responsibility of patronage of the best that is made and written."
"[T]he present age...prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence...in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness."
"A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business. This minding of other people's business expresses itself in gossip, snooping and meddling, and also in feverish interest in communal, national and racial affairs. In running away from ourselves we either fall on our neighbor's shoulder or fly at his throat."
"The carnivorous-minded 'strong man,' the adult male and cannibal, can see nothing but mouldiness and morbidness in the saint's gentleness and self-severity, and regards him with pure loathing. The whole feud revolves essentially upon two pivots: Shall the seen world or the unseen world be our chief sphere of adaptation? And must our means of adaptation in this seen world be aggressiveness or non-resistance?"
"If people insist on calling my crumbs of wisdom sophistry I should just like to draw their attention to the fact that it lacks at least one of the characteristics, according to the definitions of both Plato and Aristotle: that one earns money with it."
"Exactly what is it that I, especially, find intolerable; that I am unable to cope with; that asphyxiates me? A bad smell. The smell of failure, of a soul that has gone stale."
"Why not be content without philosophizing, with what we find in the world, with what already is, what stands there clear before us? For this simple reason: all that there is, there in front of us, given to us, present and clear, is in its very essence a mere piece, a bit, a fragment, the stump of something absent. And we cannot see it without sensing and missing the part that is not there. In every given being, every datum of the world, we find its essential fracture line, its character as a part and only a part; we see the scar of its ontological mutilation...its nostalgia for the bit that is lacking, its divine discontent."
"Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And, indeed, it was not by any accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were also deeply religious souls, even though they made no public show of their religious feeling."
"We discover that we do not know our role; we look for a mirror; we want to remove our make-up and take off what is false and be real. But somewhere a piece of disguise that we forgot still sticks to us. A trace of exaggeration remains in our eyebrows; we do not notice that the corners of our mouth are bent. And so we walk around, a mockery and a mere half: neither having achieved being nor actors."
"The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded for ever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light among the thorns."
"Students and scholars of all kinds and of every age aim, as a rule, only at information, not insight. They make it a point of honour to have information about everything, every stone, plant, battle, or experiment and about all books, collectively and individually. It never occurs to them that information is merely a means to insight, but in itself is of little or no value...With the impressive erudition of those great pundits, I sometimes say to myself: 'Ah, how little they must have had to think about, to have been able to read so much!'"
"Were I to make any claim to be wiser than others, it would be because I do not think that I have any sufficient knowledge of the other world, when in fact I have none."
"The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly. They make shift to live merely by conformity, practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a nobler race of men."
"The long dark night of trade is all the illumination our inhuman history has ever known. It will lift as life dawns. Death stares at our passions and we mute them; we mesh our desires with what is inimical to life; and we base the greater part of existence on the bloody search for profit and power...Once cloaked in divinity, then fleshed in ideology, power is now revealed in its bare bones: Economics. If this carries all the bets, the game from now on must go against us."