Literary Quotations
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SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION

by: Ken Kesey


The fool Man will oppose everything except a Hand Extended ... he will stand up in the face of every hazard except Lonely Time ... for the sake of his poorest and shakiest principles he will lay down his life, endure pain, ridicule, and even, sometimes, that most demeaning of American hardships, discomfort, but will relinquish his firmest stand for Love.

--Chapter 1

Truth doesn't run on time like a commuter train.

--Chapter 1

NEVER GIVE A INCH!

--Chapter 1

The dead's dead ... get 'em in the ground and look to the live ones.

--Chapter 1

Some men are so wonderfully blest by nature that they don't need to prove theirselfs night after night; they're so fine-lookin' and so special, they can keep a woman pantin' with the pure mem'ry an' the wild hope that what happened once is liable to happen again.

--Chapter 1

Anesthetized time; nothing moves and everything is at once.

--Chapter 1

Napoleon needed no elevator shoes to make him as big as the next man: he had a chestful of medals. It was these symbols of success that proved his size.

--Chapter 2

Men are forever eager to press drink upon those they consider their superiors, hoping thereby to eliminate that distinction between them.... And women, when confronted by superiors, substitute for drink the crippling liquor of their sex.

--Chapter 2

We had ideas about relationships. We both agreed that each pair of people must have a mutually compatible system all their own within which they can communicate, or communication falls like the Tower of Babel. A man should be able to expect his wife to play the role of Wife--be she bitchy or dutiful--when she relates to him. For her lover she may have a completely different role, but at home, on the Husband-Wife set, she must stay within the confines of that part. Or we would all wander around never knowing our friends from our strangers.

--Chapter 2

At one time people conveniently "went mad" and were never heard from again. Like a character in a romantic novel. But now ... you are too hip to yourself on a psychological level. You all are too intimate with too many of the symptoms of insanity to be caught completely off your guard.

--Chapter 2

There are some things that can't be the truth even if they did happen.

--Chapter 2

Man is certain of nothing but his ability to fail.

--Chapter 2

The hardest man ... is but a shell.

--Chapter 2

The raw materials of reality without the glue of time are materials adrift and reality is as meaningless as the balsa parts of a model airplane scattered to the wind.

--Chapter 4

Time overlaps itself. A breath breathed from a passing breeze is not the whole wind, neither is it just the last of what has passed and the first of what will come, but is more--let me see--more like a single point plucked on a single strand of a vast spider web of winds, setting the whole scene atingle. That way; it overlaps ... as prehistoric ferns grow from bathtub planters.

--Chapter 5

The clever assassin doesn't worm his way into the king's castle only to blow his chance of success by telling the king what he thinks of him. Certainly not. Quite the opposite. He is charming, witty, fawning, and he applauds the king's tales of triumph, however paltry they may be. It is the way the game is played.

--Chapter 5

The man who seeks revenge digs two graves.

--Chapter 5

The past is funny ... it never seems to let things lie, finished. It never seems to stay in place as it should.

--Chapter 5

I sometimes have these spells of compulsive truth. But as Lady Macbeth would say, "The fit is momentary."

--Chapter 5

Alongside the statement about one man's poison being another man's high, one might as well add that one man's saint can be another man's sore and one man's hero can turn out to be that man's biggest hangup.

--Chapter 7

There's the Big-Asses like them, an' the Little-Asses like us. It's easy to tell who's on whose side. There's just a few Big-Asses; they own the world an' all the corn. There's millions of us Little-Asses; they grow the corn an' all go hungry.

--Chapter 7

There is nothing like a sense of difference for getting a man lined up, shoulder to shoulder, with everybody as different as he is, in a dedicated campaign for the Common Good; which means a campaign either for the ramming of that difference down the throat of an ignorant and underprivileged and unholy world--this is only true, of course, in the case of a bona fide holy difference--or, at the other extreme, a campaign for the stamping out of the thing that caused the damned difference in the first place.

--Chapter 8

That's the one thing that everybody in the world can do, ain't it, Willard? is die ... living is the hassle.

--Chapter 8

There's shames a man can never reason away, though he looks back and piles up reasons over them forty dozen deep. And maybe those are the shames a man never should reason away.

--Chapter 8

We made love. How pedestrian the words look--trite, worn, practically featureless with use--but how can one better describe that which happens when it happens? that creation? that magic blending? I might say we became figures in a mesmerized dance before the rocking talisman of the moon, starting slow, so slow ... a pair of feathers drifting through clear liquid substance of sky ... gradually accelerating, faster and faster and finally into photon existence of pure light ... as my whole straining body burst like fluid electricity into hers.

--Chapter 9

The reverberation often exceeds through silence the sound that sets it off; the reaction occasionally outdoes by way of repose the event that stimulated it; and the past not uncommonly takes a while to happen, and some long time to figure out.

--Chapter 10

A man has to know he had a choice before he can enjoy what he chose.

--Chapter 11