Gore Vidal quotes

  • It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Failure #Envy #Political

  • People are worse educated than they used to be. Certainly they are not very interested in reading books, as opposed to watching television, movies. They are used to getting things through the eye and the ear. In a small way, literature goes on being written, but few people like it. Once it's bureaucratized by the schoolteachers, the game's up.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Book #Reading #Eye

  • I regard monotheism as the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race. I see no good in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam - good people, yes, but any religion based on a single, well, frenzied and virulent god, is not as useful to the human race as, say, Confucianism, which is not a religion but an ethical and educational system.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Educational #Race #People

  • Sex was a great no-no for Americans, so that was obviously an attraction to the writers, and since sex is a great part of most people's lives, it's a great subject.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Sex #People #Subjects

  • The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity - much less dissent.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Media #Objectivity

  • I don't think contemporary writers spend a lot of time reading each other. Particularly writers of the same nationality.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Reading #Thinking #Contemporary

  • Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #People #Political #Voting

  • I started to read my first book at about the age of six. I started to write a book simultaneously. Not to compete, just to augment. And that's how one starts. Or I started.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Book #Writing #Age

  • You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Class #People

  • What begins with comedy ends with comedy... in my short view of the matter.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Views #Matter #Comedy

  • The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Beautiful #Four #Common

  • There's no such thing as a war against terrorism. It's idiotic. These are slogans. These are lies. It's advertising, which is the only art form we ever invented and developed.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Art #War #Lying

  • At least when the Emperor Justinian, a sky-god man, decided to outlaw sodomy, he had to come up with a good practical reason, which he did. It is well known, Justinian declared, that buggery is a principal cause of earthquakes, and so must be prohibited. But our sky-godders, always eager to hate, still quote Leviticus, as if that looney text had anything useful to say about anything except, perhaps, the inadvisability of eating shellfish in the Jerusalem area.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Hate #Men #Earthquakes

  • I am a born novelist, which does not happen all that often. There are people who try to write for a certain time, then they become Ministers of Culture under de Gaulle, and they begin living their own fictions.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Writing #People #Trying

  • The unfed mind devours itself.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Mind

  • Between Malraux, Balzac, and Montaigne, I choose Montaigne. Montaigne will survive all the others, because the essay, meaning direct communication between the writer and his reader, will outlast the novel, by at least a thousand years.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Communication #Years #Balzac

  • For the average American, freedom of speech is simply the freedom to repeat what everyone else is saying and no more.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Average #Freedom Of Speech #Liberty

  • Writing of history is our only heuristic principle. The Germans have a word for it, einfühlen. It is the ability to experience the past in the present and to recreate it. In my books, I have tried to recreate it in the most natural way possible: History must be integrated into the story without the weight of premonition.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Book #Writing #Past

  • Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose. Any movement of a liberal nature endangers his authority and that of his delegates on earth. One God, one King, one Pope, one master in the factory, one father-leader in the family at home.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Atheist #Kings #Father

  • The world came so close to self-destruction during my lifetime. I was serving in the American Army, in the Pacific, at the time they bombed Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, and I felt there something like a foretaste of the end of the world.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Army #Self #World

  • The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven't seen them since.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #People #United States

  • Memory is strange. Scientifically, it is not a mechanical means of repeating something. I can think a thousand times about when I broke my leg at the age of ten, but it is never the same thing which comes to mind when I think about it. My memory of this event has never been, in reality, anything except the memory of my last memory of that event. This is why I use the image of a palimpsest - something written over something partially erased - that is what memory is for me. It's not a film you play back in exactly the same way. It's like theater, with characters who appear from time to time.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Memories #Character #Mean

  • I do not much care for nature, and believe that flowers belong in vases rather than loose and untidy on the ground.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Believe #Flower #Modern Life

  • Now the long-feared Asiatic colossus takes its turn as world leader, and we--the white race--have become the yellow man's burden.Let us hope that he will treat us more kindly than we treated him.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Men #Race #Yellow

  • Nothing human is finally calculable; even to ourselves we are strange.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Strange #Humans

  • We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Democracy #Earth #Republic

  • No one reads novels anymore. And I don't see the situation improving. People prefer video games, reality TV, and films. There are so many reasons now not to read novels.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Reality #Games #People

  • The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Class #Government #People

  • Democracy is something America has never really practiced. Because the Founding Fathers hated two things: monarchy and democracy. They wanted a republic, a replica of the Roman or Venetian republics. They didn't even like the etymology of the word "democracy."
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Father #Two #America

  • We affect one another quite enough merely by existing. Whenever the stars cross, or is it comets? fragments pass briefly from one orbit to another. On rare occasions there is total collision, but most often the two simply continue without incident, neither losing more than a particle to the other, in passing.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Stars #Two #Orbit

  • USA belongs to a handful of men who also control the media. Look at General Electric. It produces nuclear weapons for the Pentagon and also owns the NBC News cable channel, which is a very sophisticated censure apparatus, intrinsic to the system. It's genius. It's like an electronic cage around the nation which blocks information from getting through.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Block #Men #Nbc

  • Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Sarcastic #Book #Writing

  • Instead of finding alternative energy sources, we try to subjugate entire regions of the world. People do not understand that by doing this, the United States are going to absolute ruin.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #People #Trying #Energy

  • There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Inspirational #People #Personality

  • USA is suffering between imperialists and anti-imperialists. That is the situation. The most powerful country in the world is on its way back to the Stone Age.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Powerful #Usa

  • It makes no difference who you vote for - the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Party #Two #Differences

  • I'm not for real revolutions, because they always bring you the opposite of what you want. You very seldom get what you want if you have a violent revolution.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Real #Opposites #Want

  • Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. ... I have 10 or so, and thats a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Writing #Player #Casting

  • Americans worship the Constitution but do not observe it.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Constitution #Worship

  • Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of the constitution as a working machine.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #War #Machines #Constitution

  • Americans are not only a less homogenous population than we were when we were 3 million ex-colonists, but we're less educated. On top of that, we have constant misinformation and manipulation by media.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Media #Population #Manipulation

  • The more money an American accumulates, the less interesting he becomes.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Money #Interesting #More Money

  • I have never been particularly impressed by the self centered musings of my fellow writers.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Self #Self Centered

  • Ayn Rand's 'philosophy' is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society.... To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Philosophy #Evil #Perfect

  • A writer represents his family history. My grandfather was a senator and my father served in the Roosevelt administration. In other words, I grew up in politics. This is why it seemed perfectly natural to take part in the battles of my time, and to participate in the writing of the history of my country.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Father #Writing

  • All in all, I would not have missed this century for the world.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #World #Century

  • "Terrorism" is a metaphor, it's an abstract noun. It's like having a war on dandruff. It's something from advertising, it's meaningless.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #War #Nouns #Advertising

  • A good deed never goes unpunished.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Deeds #Good Deeds

  • U.S. certainly are not warlike. We don't want that. We want to make money, which I always thought was one of the most admirable things about Americans.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Want #Making Money #Admirable

  • Write what you know will always be excellent advice for those who ought not to write at all. Write what you think, what you imagine, what you suspect!
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Writing #Thinking #Advice

  • There is something about the state putting the power to bully into the hands of subnormal, sadistic apes that makes my blood boil.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Blood #Hands #Bully

  • Movie acting, I later realized, reminds me of contract bridge. Each requires the same concentration, intense short-term memory, and obliviousness to everything else until the last trump is called - or whatever it is they do.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Memories #Bridges #Acting

  • We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #United States #Politics #Remember

  • It was a pity that movies and live TV left New York for Hollywood. London theater, movies, television - until (Britain's) money ran out - were always better than ours since the city was the political capital of the country, as well as the artistic and literary one. In L.A. we've always been slightly sealed off from real life. It's no accident that two of our most interesting directors, Woody Allen and Bob Altman, are more or less settled in the real world.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #New York #Real

  • He's a full-fledged housewife from Kansas with all the prejudices.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Kansas #Prejudice #Insult

  • I am glad my life is coming to an end. To think that it might last another five hundred years, now that would be terrible, in my case.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Thinking #Years #Lasts

  • Writing fiction has become a priestly business in countries that have lost their faith.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Business #Writing

  • The Americans are clever. They thoroughly understand things that have to do with money, war, death, sickness. And there is also a real tradition of skepticism in this country.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Clever #Real

  • Constant work, constant writing and constant revision. The real writer learns nothing from life. He is more like an oyster or a sponge. What he takes in he takes in normally the way any person takes in experience. But it is what is done with it in his mind, if he is a real writer, that makes his art.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Art #Real #Writing

  • All I want is that Americans still be able to read the alphabet in a hundred years. I am not very ambitious.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Years #Ambitious #Want

  • Everybody likes a bit of gossip to some point, as long as it's gossip with some point to it. That's why I like history. History is nothing but gossip about the past, with the hope that it might be true.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Past #Long #Gossip

  • We have been at war almost constantly since the last century. And it has not helped our institutions. Congress no longer represents the people. The courts do not practice justice any more. The armies never stop playing at being the policemen of the world and of oil.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #War #Army #Practice

  • I write in the morning at a table, longhand on yellow legal pads, just like Nixon, when I’m doing fiction.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Morning #Writing #Yellow

  • Writing when you are already very old means you have lived through the endings of so many things, you are more aware of the shape life takes. You begin to know Death, you've been close to it. But youth can barely imagine the end of this journey.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Writing #Mean #Journey

  • Southerners make good novelists: they have so many stories because they have so much family.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Novelists #Stories #Southerner

  • The critics are like tourists who return from a trip saying they've "done" Machu Picchu: "Okay, we've done magical realism," so now we can throw it out.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Tourists #Done #Return

  • I am an obsessive rewriter, doing one draft and then another and another, usually five. In a way, I have nothing to say, but a great deal to add.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Add #Way #Deals

  • Maybe there is no good God. But there is definitely a devil, and his predominant passion is the religion of Protestant fundamentalists. I believe my country is beginning to resemble a theocracy. Using television, the evangelists raise appalling amounts of money which they then invest in the election of mentally disabled obscurantists.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #Believe #Passion

  • Andy Warhol is the only genius I've ever known with an I.Q. of 60.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Genius #Literature #Warhol

  • Since there is no system of public education, the great majority of my fellow citizens is frighteningly ignorant. They have no idea where Iraq is. They accept as the gospel whatever the government tells them. Good grief, any other normal country would have been against the Iraq war! But we live in an abnormal country, governed by experts in deceptive advertising.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #War #Grief

  • Christianity is such a silly religion.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Silly #Atheism #Christianity

  • We were to be forever at war with somebody. We were going to fight communism everywhere on earth even if it didn't threaten us. It was a holy war, just as we've made one on terrorism and Islam, equally stupid and equally irrelevant.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Stupid #War #Fighting

  • Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Life #Friendship #Success

  • A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Sarcastic #Sarcasm #Cynicism

  • All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting to encounter yourself.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Children #Parent #Forever

  • Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Issues #Political #Historical

  • Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Thinking #Numbers #Years

  • I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Witty #Sex #Powerful

  • Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won't be.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Nice #Believe #Men

  • You hear all this whining going on, 'Where are our great writers?' The thing I might feel doleful about is: 'Where are the readers?'
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Might #Whining #Doleful

  • The war against terror is like a war against dandruff. It's a metaphor. It's not about anything.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #War #Metaphor #Terror

  • Our form of democracy is bribery, on the highest scale.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Democracy #Politics #Form

  • Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge, all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. Because there is nothing else. Nothing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Dust #Balance #Reason

  • Never have children, only grandchildren.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Children #Humorous #Kids

  • The American press exists for one purpose only, and that is to convince Americans that they are living in the greatest and most envied country in the history of the world. The Press tells the American people how awful every other country is and how wonderful the United States is and how evil communism is and how happy they should be to have freedom to buy seven different sorts of detergent.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Country #People #Evil

  • I’m exactly as I appear. There is no warm, lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the ice, you find cold water.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Ice #Water #Cold

  • By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he's been bought ten times over.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Men #Presidential #Political

  • The creation of a work of art, like an act of love, is our one small 'yes' at the center of a vast 'no.'
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Art #Love Is #Creation

  • I suspect that one of the reasons we create fiction is to make sex exciting.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Sex #Writing #Fiction

  • I wanted to be a politician and a movie star. But I was born a writer. If you're born that, you can't change it. You're going to do it whether you want to or not.~
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Stars #Writing #Want

  • The important thing is not the object of love, but the emotion itself.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Gay #Important #Emotion

  • Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Life #Running #Native American

  • My father had a deep and lifelong contempt for politicians in general ("They tell lies," he used to say with wonder, "even when they don't have to").
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Father #Lying #Wonder

  • Love is a fan club with only two fans.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Love Is #Two #Fans

  • There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Party #Wings #Two

  • I sometimes think it is because they are so bad at expressing themselves verbally that writers take to pen and paper in the first place
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Writing #Thinking #Paper

  • In fact, life itself is a contradiction if only because birth is the direct cause, in every single case, of death
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Causes #Facts #Birth

  • How marvelous books are, crossing worlds and centuries, defeating ignorance and, finally, cruel time itself.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Book #Ignorance #World

  • On 16 September 1985, when the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation, the American Empire died.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Literature #Empires #Debtors

  • In America, the race goes to the loud, the solemn, the hustler. If you think you're a great writer, you must say that you are.
    -- Gore Vidal

    #Thinking #America #Race