Ernest Becker quotes

  • We might say that both the artist and theneurotic bite off more than they can chew, but the artist spews it back out again and chews it over in an objectified way, as an ex­ternal, active, work project...
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Artist #Might #Way

  • People create the reality they need in order to discover themselves
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Reality #Order #People

  • The greatest cause of evil included all human motives in one giant paradox. Good and bad were so inextricably mixed that we couldn't make them out; bad seemed to lead to good, and good motives led to bad. The paradox is that evil comes from man's urge to heroic victory over evil.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Evil #Victory

  • What is the ideal for mental health, then? A lived, compelling illusion that does not lie about life, death, and reality; one honest enough to follow its own commandments: I mean, not to kill, not to take the lives of others to justify itself.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Lying #Mean #Reality

  • The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Creativity #Detours #Ends

  • The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity - designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny of man.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Death #Animal #Destiny

  • War is a sociological safety valve that cleverly diverts popular hatred for the ruling classes into a happy occasion to mutilate or kill foreign enemies.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #War #Class #Safety

  • Each society is a hero system which promises victory over evil and death.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Hero #Evil #Promise

  • I think that taking life seriously means something such as this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false. Whatever is achieved must be achieved with the full exercise of passion, of vision, of pain, of fear, and of sorrow. How do we know, that our part of the meaning of the universe might not be a rhythm in sorrow?
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Pain #Inspirational Life #Passion

  • Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Levels #Existentialism

  • The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Inspirational Life #Men #Anxiety

  • What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Mean #Animal #Self

  • To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Awareness #Rumble #Terror

  • Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Two #Feet

  • When you confuse personal love and cosmic heroism you are bound to fail in both spheres. The impossibility of the heroism undermines the love, even if it is real. This double failure is what produces the sense of utter despair that we see in modern man... Love, then, is seen a religious problem
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Religious #Real #Men

  • Genuine heroism for man is still the power to support contradictions, no matter how glaring or hopeless they may seem.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Support #May

  • Horror alone brings peace of mind.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Mind #Peace Of Mind #Horror

  • Once you base your whole life striving on a desperate lie, and try to implement that lie, you instrument your own undoing.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Lying #Trying #Desperate

  • The real world is simply too terrible to admit. it tells man that he is a small trembling animal who will someday decay and die. Culture changes all of this,makes man seem important,vital to the universe. immortal in some ways
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Real #Animal #Men

  • If the love object is divine perfection, then one's own self is elevated by joining one's destiny to it... All our guilt, fear, and even our mortality itself can be purged in a perfect consummation with perfection itself.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Destiny #Self #Perfect

  • Man's natural and inevitable urge to deny mortality and achieve a heroic self-image are the root causes of human evil.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Self #Roots

  • All power is in essence power to deny mortality.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Essence #Existential #Mortality

  • The artist takes in the world, but instead of being oppressed by it, he reworks it in his own personality and recreates it in the work of art.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Art #Personality #World

  • What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Extinction #Insignificance

  • The road to creativity passes...
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Creativity

  • Modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awareness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Drinking #Men #Shopping

  • For man, maximum excitement is the confrontation of death and the skillful defiance of it by watching others fed to it as he survives transfixed with rapture.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Sports #Men #Feds

  • Love is the problem of an animal...
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Animal #Love Is #Problem

  • the best existential analysis of the human condition leads directly into the problems of God and faith
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Analysis #Existentialism #Problem

  • Obviously, all religions fall far short of their own ideals.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Fall #Existential

  • When we understand that man is the only animal who must create meaning, who must open a wedge into neutral nature, we already understand the essence of love. Love is the problem of an animal who must find life, create a dialogue with nature in order to experience his own being.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Animal #Love Is #Men

  • The creativity of people on the schizophrenic end of the human continuum is a creativity that springs from the inability to accept the standardized cultural denials of the real nature of ex­perience. And the price of this kind of almost "extra human" crea­tivity is to live on the brink of madness, as men have long known.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Real #Spring #Creativity

  • Relationship is thus always slavery of a kind, which leaves a residue of guilt.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Guilt #Slavery #Kind

  • Better guilt than the terrible burden of freedom and responsibility.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Responsibility #Guilt #Burden

  • What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consiousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression and with all this yet to die. It seems like a hoax, which is why one type of cultural man rebels openly against the idea of God. What kind of deity would crate such a complex and fancy worm food?
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Mean #Men #Animal

  • It is fateful and ironic how the lie we need in order to live dooms us to a life that is never really ours.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Lying #Order #Ironic

  • The key to the creative type is that he is separated out of the common pool of shared meanings. There is something in his life experience that makes him take in the world as a problem; as a result he has to make personal sense out of it.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Keys #Creative #World

  • We might say that psychoanalysis revealed to us the complex penalties of denying the truth of man's condition, what we might call the costs of pretending not to be mad.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Mad #Cost

  • Men use one another to assure their personal victory over death.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Victory #Dying

  • We consult astrology charts like the Babylonians, try to make our children into our own image with a firm hand like the Romans, elbow others to get a breath-quickening glimpse of the queen in her ritual procession, and confess to the priests and attend church. And we wonder why, with all this power capital drawn from so many sources, we are deeply anxious about the meaning of our lives. The reason is plain enough: none of these, nor all of them taken together, represents an integrated world conception into which we fit ourselves with pure belief and trust.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Queens #Children #Taken

  • We are gods with anuses.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Anus

  • The man of knowledge in our time is bowed down under a burden he never imagined he would ever have: the overproduction of truth that cannot be consumed.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Burden

  • Guilt results from unused life, from the unlived in us.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Guilt #Results

  • Why would a person prefer the accusations of guilt, unworthiness, ineptitude - even dishonor and betrayal- to real possibility? This may not seem to be the choice, but it is: complete self effacement, surrender to the "others", disavowal of any personal dignity and freedom-on the one hand; and freedom and independence, movement away from the others, extrication of oneself from the binding links of family and social duties-on the other hand. This is the choice that the depressed person actually faces.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Betrayal #Real #Self

  • ...Erich Fromm wondered why most people did not become insane in the face of the existential contradiction between a symbolic self, that seems to give man infinite worth in a timeless scheme of things, and a body that is worth about 98¢.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Men #Self #People

  • To live is to play at the meaning of life...The upshot of this . . . is that it teaches us once and for all that childlike foolishness is the calling of mature men.
    -- Ernest Becker

    #Fun #Men #Play