Karl Kraus
Quotations


The esthete stands in the same relation to beauty as the pornographer stands to love, and the politician stands to life.

An aphorism can never be the whole truth; it is either a half-truth or a truth-and-a-half.

Children play soldier. That makes sense. But why do soldiers play children?

Only he is an artist who can make a riddle out of a solution.

A child learns to discard his ideals, whereas a grown-up never wears out his short pants.

My unconscious knows more about the consciousness of the psychologist than his consciousness knows about my unconscious.

Artists have a right to be modest and a duty to be vain.

Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.

Squeeze human nature into the straitjacket of criminal justice and crime will appear.

Culture is the tacit agreement to let the means of subsistence disappear behind the purpose of existence. Civilization is the subordination of the latter to the former.

The secret of the demagogue is to appear as dumb as his audience so that these people can believe themselves as smart as he is.

Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.

The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people worse than they are.

The discovery of the North Pole is one of those realities which could not be avoided. It is the wages which human perseverance pays itself when it thinks that something is taking too long. The world needed a discoverer of the North Pole, and in all areas of social activity, merit was less important here than opportunity.

The sound principle of a topsy-turvy lifestyle in the framework of an upside-down world order has stood every test.

Adults who still derive childlike pleasure from hanging gifts of a ready-made education on the Christmas tree of a child waiting outside the door to life do not realize how unreceptive they are making the children to everything that constitutes the true surprise of life.

Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that they are not idiots.

Hate must make a man productive. Otherwise one might as well love.

It is the style of idealism to console itself for the loss of something old with the ability to gape at something new.

My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin.

Democracy divides people into workers and loafers. It makes no provision for those who have no time to work.

Sentimental irony is a dog that bays at the moon while pissing on graves.

Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes.

If the reporter has killed our imagination with his truth, he threatens our life with his lies.

Justice is a whore that won't let herself be stiffed, and collects the wages of shame even from the poor.

Language is the mother of thought, not its handmaiden.

The immorality of men triumphs over the amorality of women.

It is uplifting to lose one's faith in a reality which looks the way it is described in a newspaper.

If one reads a newspaper only for information, one does not learn the truth, not even the truth about the paper. The truth is that the newspaper is not a statement of contents but the contents themselves; and more than that, it is an instigator.

The agitator seizes the word. The artist is seized by it.

The press, that goiter of the world, swells up with the desire for conquest and bursts with the achievements which every day brings. A week has room for the boldest climax of the human drive for expansion.

Matrimony is the union of meanness and martyrdom.

Progress celebrates Pyrrhic victories over nature. Progress makes purses out of human skin. When people were traveling in mail coaches, the world got ahead better than it does now that salesmen fly through the air. What good is speed if the brain has oozed out on the way? How will the heirs of this age be taught the most basic motions that are necessary to activate the most complicated machines? Nature can rely on progress; it will avenge it for the outrage it has perpetrated on it.

Progress, under whose feet the grass mourns and the forest turns into paper from which newspaper plants grow, has subordinated the purpose of life to the means of subsistence and turned us into the nuts and bolts for our tools.

The psychoanalysts pick our dreams as if they were our pockets.

The ultimate aim of psychoanalysis is to attribute art to mental weakness, and then to trace the weakness back to the point where, according to analytic dogma, it originated--namely, the lavatory.

Science is spectral analysis. Art is light synthesis.

The world has become uglier since it began to look into a mirror every day; so let us settle for the mirror image and do without an inspection of the original.

Scandal begins when the police put a stop to it.

Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world.

He who sleeps half a day has won half a life.

Stupidity gets up early; that is why events are accustomed to happening in the morning.

Truth is a clumsy servant that breaks the dishes while washing them.

War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.

When a culture feels that its end has come, it sends for a priest.

How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.

The heroes of obtrusiveness, people with whom no soldier would lie down in the trenches, though he has to submit to being interviewed by them, break into recently abandoned royal castles so that they can report, "We got there first!" It would be far less shameful to be paid for committing atrocities than for fabricating them.

Experiences are savings which a miser puts aside. Wisdom is an inheritance which a wastrel cannot exhaust.

The closer the look one takes at a word, the greater distance from which it looks back.

The world is a prison. That's why solitary confinement is the best place in it.



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