Joseph Heller quotes

  • When I grow up I want to be a little boy.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Inspirational #Children #Growing Up

  • It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Character #Humility #Justice

  • Every writer I know has trouble writing.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Writing #Trouble

  • All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Stars #Night #Men

  • [They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #People #Educate

  • The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Country #Exercise #Rights

  • Her own body was such a familiar and unremarkable thing to her that she was puzzled by the convulsive ecstasy men could take from it, by the intense and amusing need they had merely to touch it, to reach out urgently and press it, squeeze it, pinch it, rub it. She did not understand Yossarian's lust; but she was willing to take is word for it.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Men #Lust #Needs

  • The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Three #Texan #Be Good

  • There is no disappointment so numbing...as someone no better than you achieving more.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Disappointment #Envy #Achieve

  • What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can't all be worth dying for.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Country #War #Fighting

  • So many things were testing his faith. There was the Bible, of course, but the Bible was a book, and so were Bleak House, Treasure Island, Ethan Frome and The Last of the Mohicans. Did it then seem probable, as he had once overheard Dunbar ask, that the answers to riddles of creation would be supplied by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall? Had Almighty God, in all His infinite wisdom, really been afraid that men six thousand years ago would succeed in building a tower to heaven?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Book #Men #Years

  • ...[A]nything worth dying for ... is certainly worth living for.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Dying

  • Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't, don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Good Luck #Destiny #Simple

  • -You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Military #Taken #Tradition

  • Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Suicide #Bullying #Failure

  • History was a trash bag of random coincidences torn open in a wind. Surely, Watt with his steam engine, Faraday with his electric motor, and Edison with his incandescent light bulb did not have it as their goal to contribute to a fuel shortage some day that would place their countries at the mercy of Arab oil.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Country #Light #Wind

  • The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Death #Suicide #Enemy

  • I’m not running away from my responsibilities. I’m running to them. There’s nothing negative about running away to save my life.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Running #Responsibility #Negative

  • I think that maybe in every company today there is always at least one person who is going crazy slowly.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Business #Crazy #Thinking

  • You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don't like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate." "Consciously, sir, consciously," Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. "I hate them consciously.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Hate #Hypocrite #People

  • It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #War #Winning #Differences

  • He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Men #Self #Effort

  • mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Atrocities #Tomorrow #Week

  • Rise above principal and do what's right.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Rise Above #Principal

  • Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Success #Humorous #People

  • He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Sarcastic #Hygiene #Literature

  • Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Men #People #Three

  • They can do anything we can't stop them from doing.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #War #Drug #Users

  • And anything worth dying for
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Military #Dying

  • Hasn't it ever occurred to you that in your promiscuous pursuit of women you are merely trying to assuage your subconscious fears of sexual impotence?" "Yes, sir, it has." "Then why do you do it?" "To assuage my fears of sexual impotence.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Trying #Pursuit #Subconscious

  • You wouldn’t be normal if you were never afraid. Even the bravest men experience fear. One of the biggest jobs we all face in combat is to overcome fear.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Jobs #Men #Normal

  • The question is: what is a sane man to do in an insane society?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Depression #Men #Insane

  • The frog is almost five hundred million years old. Could you really say with much certainty that America, with all its strength and prosperity, with its fighting man that is second to none, and with its standard of living that is highest in the world, will last as long as...the frog?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Fighting #Men #Years

  • Who's they?" He wanted to know. "Who, specifically, do you think is trying to murder you?" "Every one of them," Yossarian told him. "Every one of whom?" "Every one of whom do you think?" "I haven't any idea." "Then how do you know they aren't?" "Because..." Clevinger sputtered, and turned speechless with frustration. Clevinger really thought he was right, but Yossarian had proof, because strangers he didn't know shot at him with cannons every time he flew up into the air to drop bombs on them, and it wasn't funny at all.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Thinking #Frustration #Ideas

  • I don't believe in miracles because it's been a long time since we've had any.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Believe #Long #Miracle

  • What do you do when it rains?" The captain answered frankly. "I get wet.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Rain #Captains

  • Under Colonel Korn's rule, the only people permitted to ask questions were those who never did.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #People #Colonels

  • He was never without misery, and never without hope.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Misery #Without Hope

  • Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Hands #One Day #Adjectives

  • He found Luciana sitting alone at a table in the Allied officers' night club, where the drunken Anzac major who had brought her there had been stupid enough to desert her for the ribald company of some singing comrades at the bar. "All right, I'll dance with you," she said, before Yossarian could even speak. "But I won't let you sleep with me." "Who asked you?" Yossarian asked her. "You don't want to sleep with me?" she exclaimed with surprise. "I don't want to dance with you.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Stupid #Sleep #Night

  • The Lord gave us farmers two strong hands so we could grab as much as we could with both of them.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Strong #Work #Hands

  • If God was dead, how could I feel this bad?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Feels

  • In the long run, failure was the only thing that worked predictably. All else was accidental.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Running #Failure #Long

  • I never even realized I was Jewish until I was practically grown up. Or rather, I used to feel that everybody in the world was Jewish, which amounts to the same thing.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #World #Used #Feels

  • There's a rule saying I have to ground anyone who's crazy ... There's a catch. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Crazy #Want #Combat

  • I couldn't see tying myself down with a middle-aged woman with four children, even though the woman was my wife and the children were my own.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Marriage #Children #Wife

  • A man's head is his castle.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Men #Mind #Castles

  • The body stores the trauma of our lives in muscular rigidity, thereby keeping us stuck in the past. When we release the tension in the body and align ourselves with gravity, we take a new stand in life. This allows us to be at ease with ourselves and in harmony in our relationship to others and to our planet.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Past #Ease #Body

  • If Richard Nixon was second-rate, what in the world is third-rate?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #World #Rate #Thirds

  • Everyone in my book accuses everyone else of being crazy. Frankly, I think the whole society is nuts - and the question is: What does a sane man do in an insane society?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Crazy #Book #Men

  • Peace on earth would mean the end of civilization as we know it.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Mean #Civilization #Earth

  • The smartest people in Washington are the political reporters. They write about their inferiors.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Writing #Media #People

  • Everything passes. (That's what makes it endurable.)
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Endurance

  • If a man is going to leave one wife to marry another, it's better if he divorces the first before he marries the second.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Divorce #Men #Wife

  • There are yawning gulfs into which large chunks of me have fallen. I do not always know where I am at present.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Yawning #Fallen

  • Just for once I'd like to see all these things sort of straightened out, with each person getting exactly what he deserves. It might give me some confidence in this universe.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Giving #Might #Persons

  • Fortunately, just when things were blackest, the war broke out.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #War #Broke

  • But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Stupid #Believe #Mean

  • Hungry Joe collected lists of fatal diseases and arranged them in alphabetical order so that he could put his finger without delay on any one he wanted to worry about.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Order #Worry #Delay

  • There was only one catch and that was Catch22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask, and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Crazy #Real #Safety

  • Remember that everyone deserves some fun during working hours.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Leadership #Fun #Remember

  • Gold was not altogether certain what, anatomically, a gorge was, but he knew that his was rising.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Luck #Gold #Gorges

  • I think in every country that there is at least one executive who is scared of going crazy.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Country #Business #Crazy

  • Nurse Duckett found Yossarian wonderful and was already trying to change him.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Nurse #Trying #Wonderful

  • I write longhand and I type and I rewrite on the typed pages.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Writing #Pages #Type

  • Erogenous zones are either everywhere or nowhere.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Body #Zone

  • When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #God #Jobs #Stupid

  • He was sick with lust and mesmerized with regret
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Regret #Sick #Lust

  • Well, he died. You don't get any older than that.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Wells

  • The captain was a good chess player, and the games were always interesting. Yossarian had stopped playing chess with him because the games were so interesting they were foolish.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Player #Games #Interesting

  • She was the epitome of stately sorrow each time she smiled.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Sorrow #Epitome

  • I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Dark #Night #Knives

  • They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly. No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried. Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked. They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone." And what difference does that make?
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Differences #Trying #Doe

  • Gold was not sure of many things, but he was definite about one: for every successful person he knew, he could name at least two others of greater ability, better, and higher intelligence who, by comparison, had failed.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Successful #Names #Two

  • The night was full of horrors, and he thought he knew how Christ must have felt as he walked through the world, like a psychiatrist through a ward full of nuts.......
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Night #Nuts #World

  • Be glad you're even alive.' Be furious you're going to die.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Alive #Glad #Furious

  • Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret. Drop him out a window and he'll fall. Set fire to him and he'll burn. Bury him and he'll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden's secret. Ripeness was all. I'm cold,' Snowden said. 'I'm cold.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Fall #Men #Fire

  • Sure, that's what I mean,' Doc Daneeka said. 'A little grease is what makes this world go round. One hand washes the other. Know what I mean? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.' Yossarian knew what he meant. That's not what I meant,' Doc Daneeka said, as Yossarian began scratching his back.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Mean #Hands #Grease

  • It's a wise person, I guess, who knows he's dumb, and an honest person who knows he's a liar. And it's a dumb person, I guess, whose convinced he's wise...-Bob Slocum
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Wise #Liars #Dumb

  • I wouldn't want to live without strong misgivings.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Strong #Want #Misgivings

  • Catch-22 did not exist, he was positive of that, but it made no difference. What did matter was that everyone thought it existed, and that was much worse, for there was no object or text to ridicule or refute, to accuse, criticize, attack, amend, hate, revile, spit at, rip to shreds, trample upon or burn up.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Hate #Rip #Differences

  • When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don't see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Angel #People #Heaven

  • What would they do to me," he asked in confidential tones, "if I refused to fly them?" We'd probably shoot you," ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen replied. We?" Yossarian cried in surprise. "What do you mean, we? Since when are you on their side?" If you're going to be shot, whose side do you expect me to be on?" ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen retorted
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Mean #Sides #Tone

  • For war there is always enough. It's peace that's expensive.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #War #Enough

  • I am miracle ingredient Z-247. I'm immense. I'm a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman.
    -- Joseph Heller

    #Real #Miracle #Ingredients