Quotes from Mother Night

Kurt Vonnegut ·  282 pages

Rating: (62K votes)


“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“And yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It's good for you.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“We'd been apart so long--I'd been dead so long," she said in English. "I thought surely you'd built a new life, with no room in it for me. I'd hoped that."
"My life is nothing but room for you." I said. "It could never be filled by anyone but you.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love.
It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him.
What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.
Now even that had flickered out.
How long I stood frozen there, I cannot say. If I was ever going to move again, someone else was going to have to furnish the reason for moving.
Somebody did.
A policeman watched me for a while, and then he came over to me, and he said, "You alright?"
Yes," I said.
You've been standing here a long time," he said.
I know," I said.
You waiting for somebody?" he said.
No," I said.
Better move on, don't you think?" he said.
Yes, sir," I said.
And I moved on.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night



“There are plenty of good reasons for fighting...but no good reason to ever hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side. It's that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive....it's that part of an imbecile that punishes and vilifies and makes war gladly.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“All people are insane. They will do anything at any time, and God help anybody who looks for reasons.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“You hate America, don't you?'

That would be as silly as loving it,' I said. 'It's impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn't interest me. It's no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to a human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“...this is a hard world to be ludicrous in, with so many human beings so reluctant to laugh, so incapable of thought, so eager to believe and snarl and hate.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night



“There is nothing left of him but curiosity and a pair of eyes.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“I love you, because the love you gave me was the only love I've ever had, the only love I ever will have”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“There are plenty of good reasons for fighting,' I said, 'but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side. It's that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“Oh, God — the lives people try to lead.
Oh, God — what a world they try to lead them in.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which might be linked unto a system of gears where teeth have been filed off at random. Such snaggle-toothed thought machine, driven by a standard or even by a substandard libido, whirls with the jerky, noisy, gaudy pointlessness of a cuckoo clock in Hell.
The boss G-man concluded wrongly that there were no teeth on the gears in the mind of Jones. 'You're completely crazy,' he said.
Jones wasn't completely crazy. The dismaying thing about classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, thought mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined.
Hence the cuckoo clock in Hell - keeping perfect time for eight minutes and twenty-three seconds, jumping ahead fourteen minutes, keeping perfect time for six seconds, jumping ahead two seconds, keeping perfect time for two hours and one second, then jumping ahead a year.
The missing teeth, of course, are simple, obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten-year-olds, in most cases.
The wilful filling off a gear teeth, the wilful doing without certain obvious pieces of information -
That was how a household as contradictory as one composed of Jones, Father Keeley, Vice-Bundesfuehrer Krapptauer, and the Black Fuehrer could exist in relative harmony -
That was how my father-in-law could contain in one mind an indifference toward slave women and love fora a blue vase -
That was how Rudolf Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz, could alternate over the loudspeakers of Auschwitz great music and calls for corpse-carriers -
That was how Nazi Germany sense no important difference between civilization and hydrophobia -
That is the closest I can come to explaining the legions, the nations of lunatics I've seen in my time.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night



“Society is more concerned with material possessions than it is with the true love and compassion of another human being.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“The New York Daily News suggested that my biggest war crime was not killing myself like a gentleman. Presumably Hitler was a gentleman.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“I saw a huge steam roller,
It blotted out the sun.
The people all lay down, lay down;
They did not try to run.
My love and I, we looked amazed
Upon the gory mystery.
"Lie down, lie down!" the people cried.
"The great machine is history!"
My love and I, we ran away,
The engine did not find us.
We ran up to a mountain top,
Left history far behind us.
Perhaps we should have stayed and died,
But somehow we don't think so.
We went to see where history'd been,
And my, the dead did stink so. ”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“Since there is no one else to praise me, I will praise myself -- will say that I have never tampered with a single tooth in my thought machine, such as it is. There are teeth missing, God knows -- some I was born without, teeth that will never grow. And other teeth have been stripped by the clutchless shifts of history -- But never have I willfully destroyed a tooth on a gear of my thinking machine. Never have I said to myself, 'This fact I can do without.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“People should be changed by world wars," I said, "else what are world wars for?”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night



“No young person on earth is so excellent in all respects as to need no uncritical love.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“Let there be nothing harmonious about our children's playthings, lest they grow up expecting peace and order, and be eaten alive.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“Most things in this world don´t work, aspirin do.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“What can any one person do?' he said.
'Each person does a little something,' I said, 'and there you are.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“So I am about to be a free man again, to wander where I please.
I find the prospect nauseating.
I think that tonight I will hand Howard W, Campbell, Jr., for crimes against himself.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night



“I froze. It was not guilt that froze me. I had taught myself never to feel guilt. It was not a ghastly sense of loss that froze me. I had taught myself to covet nothing. It was not a loathing of death that froze me. I had taught myself to think of death as a friend. It was not heartbroken rage against injustice that froze me. I had taught myself that a human being might as well look for diamond tiaras in the gutter as for rewards and punishments that were fair. It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love. It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him. What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“His mother understood my illness immediately, that it was my world rather than myself that was diseased.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


“I found the words to kill the love, didn't I -" she said, "the love that couldn't be killed?”
― Kurt Vonnegut, quote from Mother Night


About the author

Kurt Vonnegut
Born place: in Indianapolis, Indiana, The United States
Born date November 11, 1922
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