Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Tom Robbins, fully Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins

American Novelist

"Our purpose is to consciously, deliberately evolve toward a wise, more liberated and luminous state of being. Deep down, all of us are probably aware that some kind of mystical evolution is our true task. Yet we suppress the notion with considerable force because to admit to it is to admit that most of our political gyrations, religious dogmas, social ambitions and financial ploys are not merely counterproductive but trivial. Our mission is to jettison those pointless preoccupations and take on once again the primordial cargo of inexhaustible ecstasy."

"It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

"If little else, the brain is an educational toy."

"80% of all deaths may actually be succeed. Persons who lack curiosity about life, who are guilt-ridden and depressed and conditioned by parental example, are all to willing, subconsciously, to co-operate with and attract disease, accident and violence."

"A better world has gotta start somewhere. Why not with you and me?"

"A lot of progress was being made there at MIT. Those guys had molecules jumping through hoops like poodles in a circus."

"A mask has but one expression, frozen and eternal, yet it is always and ever the essential expression, and to hide one’s telltale flesh behind the external skeleton of the mask is to display the universal identity of the inner being in place of the outer identity that is transitory and corrupt. The freedom of the masked is not the vulgar political freedom of the successful revolutionary, but the magical freedom of the Divine, beyond politics and beyond success. A mask, any mask, whether horned like a beast or feathered like an angel, is the face of immortality. Meet me in Cognito, baby. In Cognito, we’ll have nothing to hide."

"A mockingbird ... was heard to blend the songs of 32 different kinds of birds into a ten minute performance, a virtuoso display that served no practical purpose, falling, therefore, into the realm of pure art."

"A perfumer, of course, is neither a quantum physicist nor a painter, but at his best, when his purposes are high purposes, when his imagination is liberated, his choices inspired, he, too, enters the poetic. And it is revealed to him, then, what the ancients meant when they said with conviction that the soul receives its sustenance via the sense of smell."

"A person can't make a career out of somebody else's invective."

"A pox on mutton if sleep were so rude to the probiscus."

"A rabbi's dog could score pork chops in the streets of Tel Aviv easier than Bernard could acquire tequila in King County Jail."

"A sausage is an image of rest, peace and tranquility in stark contrast to the destruction and chaos of everyday life."

"A sense of humor, properly developed, is superior to any religion so far devised."

"A slow smile bent back his foliage. I’ve a mind to lay you down and split you like a rack of mutton. What do you say to that?"

"A sudden squawked command caused everyone within earshot to act for a split second as if they were shaking invisible martinis"

"A trailer of rain fell for an hour at sunrise, but then afternoon was dry. The hot dog was erected on the roof of the cafe. It looked good. It could be seen for miles."

"A woodpecker's movement around a tree trunk defines a perfect spiral. To connect the hoppity helix of the woodpecker to the macrocosmic spiral of our stellar system or to the microcosmic spiral of the DNA molecule or, for that matter, to the hundreds of natural spirals in between--snail shells, crowns of daisies and sunflowrs, fingerprints, cyclones, etc.--may be assigning to geometry more meaning than the mundane can abide. Suffice to say that a woodpecker is first on one side of a tree and then the other; disappearing, then reappearing at a point slightly higher up the trunk."

"A writer's first obligation is not to the many-bellied beast but to the many-tongued beast, not to Society, but to Language. Everyone has a stake in the husbandry of Society, but Language is the writer's special charge. A grandiose animal it is, too. If it weren't for Language there wouldn't be Society."

"Above the building, the sky recalled passages from Les Miserables, threadbare and gray."

"Accept that you're a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace - and maybe even glory."

"According to my mother, some sort of phantom stole into the room where I lay in my cradle and struck me on the head with a silver hammer. [In response to “To what do you attribute that marvelous imagination of yours?]"

"After the monkeys came down from the trees and learned to hurl sharp objects, they had had to move into caves for protection–not only from the big predatory cats but, as they began to lose their monkey fur, from the elements. Eventually, they started transposing their hunting fantasies onto cave walls in the form of pictures, first as an attempt at practical magic and later for the strange, unexpected pleasure they discovered in artistic creation. Time passed. Art came off the walls and turned into ritual. Ritual became religion. Religion spawned science. Science led to big business. And big business, if it continues on its present mindless, voracious trajectory, could land those of us lucky enough to survive its ultimate legacy back into caves again."

"Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not. Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning or an end. Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm. There is only one serious question. And that question is: 'Who knows how to make love stay?'"

"All animals copulate but only humans osculate. Parakeets rub beaks? Sure they do, but only little old ladies who murder schoolchildren with knitting needles to steal their lunch money so that they can buy fresh kidneys to feed overweight kitty cats would place bird billing in the realm of the true kiss."

"All depression has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously."

"All dreams continue in the beyond."

"All Uncle Larry is saying is that individuals have to accept responsibility for their own bad choices. If every time we choose a turd, society, at great expense, simply allows us to redeem it for a pepperoni, then not only will we never learn to make smart choices, we will also surrender the freedom to choose, because a choice without consequences is no choice at all. Maybe it boils down to the premium we want to place on liberty."

"Amnesia is not knowing who one is and wanting desperately to find out. Euphoria is not knowing who one is and not caring. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who one is - and still not caring."

"Amoebae leave no fossils. They haven't any bones. (No teeth, no belt buckles, no wedding rings.) It is impossible, therefore, to determine how long amoebae have been on Earth."

"And to pacify a harem with so sturdy a shaft."

"And what would our ideas of God, of religion, be like if they had come to us through the minds of women? Ever think of that?"

"And who ever said the world was fair, little lady? Maybe death is fair, but certainly not life. We must accept the unfairness as proof of the sublime flux of existence, the capricious music of the universe- and go on about our tasks"

"Any half-awake materialist well knows - that which you hold holds you."

"Approximately two thousand years ago, a pellet of wisdom dropped into the fetid, heavy, squirming, gasping, bloody, bug-eyed, breast-beating, anguished, wrathful, greasy and inflamed world of Jewish-Oriental culture as a pearl might drop into a pail of sweat."

"Are you aware that rushing toward a goal is a sublimated death wish? It's no coincidence we call them 'deadlines'."

"Are You Ready for New Urban Fragrances? Yeah, I guess I’m ready, but listen: Perfume is a disguise. Since the middle ages, we have worn masks of fruit and flowers in order to conceal from ourselves the meaty essence of our humanity. We appreciate the sexual attractant of the rose, the ripeness of the orange, more than we honor our own ripe carnality. Now today we want to perfume our cities, as well; to replace their stinging fumes of disturbed fossils’ sleep with the scent of gardens and orchards. Yet, humans are not bees any more than they are blossoms. If we must pull an olfactory hood over our urban environment, let it be of a different nature. I want to travel on a train that smells like snowflakes. I want to sip in cafes that smell like comets. Under the pressure of my step, I want the streets to emit the precise odor of a diamond necklace. I want the newspapers I read to smell like the violins left in pawnshops by weeping hobos on Christmas Eve. I want to carry luggage that reeks of the neurons in Einstein’s brain. I want a city’s gases to smell like the golden belly hairs of the gods. And when I gaze at a televised picture of the moon, I want to detect, from a distance of 239,000 miles, the aroma of fresh mozzarella."

"As a child, I was an imaginary playmate."

"As long as a population can be induced to believe in a supernatural hereafter, it can be oppressed and controlled. People will put up with all sorts of tyranny, poverty, and painful treatment if they're convinced that they'll eventually escape to some resort in the sky where lifeguards are superfluous and the pool never closes. Moreover, the faithful are usually willing to risk their skins in whatever military adventure their government may currently be promoting."

"As unrefined and basic as an animal's emotional equipment may be, it is not insensitive to freedom. Somewhere in the archives of crudest instinct is recorded the truth that it is better to be endangered and free than captive and comfortable."

"Assisted by the chemistry of cider."

"At first light ere a rooster had reached the doodle part of his cock-a-doodle do."

"At least I will have tasted the banquet that they have spread before me on this rich, round planet rather than recoiling from it like a toothless bunny. I cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us to tempt us, to make it more difficult for us to capture the grand prize: the safety of the void. To fashion a life such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods."

"At night in the dark, we become our shadows."

"At the start of the monsoon season, where the great cloudships rolled in from the sea to discharge their tanks of green rain in the rice fields and haul away the dust balls, scorpion skins and the mounds of worthless diamonds made of heat."

"At the time Switters had disputed her assertion. Even at seventeen, he was aware that depression could have chemical causes."

"Banish here where the wolves might suck her bones."

"Bernard Mickey Wrangle had developed a psychological test of his own. It was short, simple, and infallible. To administer the test, merely ask the subject to name his or her favorite Beatle. If you are at all familiar with the distinct separate public images of the four Beatles, then you'll recognize that the one chosen reveals as much about the subject's personality as most of us will ever hope to know."

"Birth and death were easy. It was life that was hard."

"Blushed like bloods rich red uncle."