Tom Robbins Quotes

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The conch shell is the voice of Buddha, the birth-bed of Aphrodite, the horn that drives away all demons and draws lost mariners home from the sea. Colored by the moon, shaped by the primal geometry, it is the original dreamboat, the sacred submarine that carries fertility to its rendezvous with poetry.

Shaped by the primal geometry? No, the conch shell is primal geometry. Its perfect logarithmic spiral coils from left to right around an axis of fundamental truth. A house exuded by the dreams of its inhabitant, it is the finest example of the architecture of imagination, the logic of desire.

The illusion of the seventh veil was the illusion that you could get somebody else to do it for you. To think for you. To hang on your cross. The priest, the rabbi, the imam, the swami, the philosophical novelist were traffic cops, at best. They might direct you through a busy intersection, but they wouldn't follow you home and park your car.

For the ethical, political activism was seductive because it seemed to offer the possibility that one could improve society, make things better, without going through the personal ordeal of rearranging one's perceptions and transforming one's self. For the unconscionable, political reactivism was seductive because it seemed to protect one's holdings and legitimize one's greed. But both sides were gazing through a kerchief of illusion.

When humans were young, they were pushed around in strollers. When they were old, they were pushed around in wheelchairs. In between, they were just pushed around.

Both money and art, powdered as they are with the romance and poetry of the age, are magic. Rather, money is magic, art is magik. Money is stagecraft, sleight of hand, a bag of clever tricks. Art is a plexus of forces and influences that act upon the senses by means of practical yet permanently inexplicable secret links. Admittedly, the line between the two can be as thin as a dime. What’s more, the magicians of capitalism strengthen their hold on their audience through the manipulation of artistic images.

...I used to believe that artists went crazy in the process of creating the beautiful works of art that kept society sane. Nowadays, though, artists make intentionally ugly art that's only supposed to reflect society rather than inspire it. So I guess we're all loony together now, loony rats in the shithouse of commercialism.

Information about time cannot be imparted in a straightforward way. Like furniture, it has to be tipped and tilted to get it through the door. If the past is a solid oak buffet whose legs must be unscrewed and whose drawers must be removed before, in an altered state, it can be upended into the entryway of our minds, then the future is a king-size waterbed that hardly stands a chance, especially if it needs to be brought up in an elevator.

What a dull world this would be were we all alike. What an evolutionary dead end! To be brothers, to live in peace, we do not have to be overly similar. We do not have to admire or even like one another's peculiarities. We need only respect those peculiarities—and to be grateful for them. Our similarities provide us with a common ground, but our differences allow us to be fascinated by one another. Differences give human encounters their snap and their fizz and their brew.

The first thunderstorm of the season was in the dressing room, donning its black robes and its necklace of hailstones, strapping on its electrical sword.

Slang possesses an economy, an immediacy that's attractive, all right, but it devalues experience by standardizing and fuzzing it. It hangs between humanity and the real world like a ... a veil. Slang just makes people more stupid, that's all, and stupidity eventually makes them crazy.

Those billions who persist in perceiving time as the pursuit of the future are continually buying waterbeds that will never make it beyond the front porch or the lobby. And if man's mission is to reside in the fullness of the present, then he's got no space for the waterbed, anyhow, not even if he could lower it through a skylight.

Early religions were like muddy ponds with lots of foliage. Concealed there, the fish of the soul could splash and feed. Eventually, however, religions became aquariums. Then hatcheries. From farm fingerling to frozen fish stick is a short swim.

My heart is a Latin American food stall and your love is a health inspector from Zurich.

In this room, the salamander was squashed between the pages of the rhyming dictionary, thereby changing poetry forever. Here, Salome walked around with a big red fish held high up over her head. Old Father spanked her with a ballet slipper, sending her to bed without milk or honey. Dance was changed in this room, too.

There are landscapes in which we feel above us not sky but space. Something larger, deeper than sky is sensed, is seen, although in such settings the sky itself is invariably immense. There is a place between the cerebrum and the stars where sky stops and space commences, and should we find ourselves on a particular prairie or mountaintop at a particular hour, our relationship with sky thins and loosens while our connection to space becomes solid as bone.

The loony legacy of money was that the arithmetic by which things were measured had become more valuable than the things themselves.

Those people who recognise that imagination is reality's master, we call "sages," and those who act upon it, we call "artists."

...to emphasize the afterlife is to deny life. To concentrate on Heaven is to create hell.

In their desperate longing to transcend the disorderliness, friction, and unpredictability that pesters life; in their desire for a fresh start in a tidy habitat, germ-free and secured by angels, religious multitudes are gambling the only life they may ever have on a dark horse in a race that has no finish line.

Of the seven deadly sins, lust is definitely the pick of the litter.

What is politics, after all, but the compulsion to preside over property and make other peoples' decisions for them? Liberty, the very opposite of ownership and control, cannot, then, result from political action, either at the polls or the barricades, but rather evolves out of attitude. If it results from anything, it may be levity.

When a person accepts a broader definition of reality, a broader net is cast upon the waters of fortune.

Mockingbirds are the true artists of the bird kingdom. Which is to say, although they're born with a song of their own, an innate riff that happens to be one of the most versatile of all ornithological expressions, mockingbirds aren't content to merely play the hand that is dealt them. Like all artists, they are out to rearrange reality.

If the world got any smaller, we'd all have to go on a diet.

The inability to correctly perceive reality is often responsible for humans' insane behavior. And every time they substitute an all-purpose, sloppy slang word for the words that would accurately describe an emotion or a situation, it lowers their reality orientations, pushes them further from shore, out onto the foggy waters of alienation and confusion.

Of the seven dwarves, only Dopey had a shaven face. This should tell us something about the custom of shaving.

It occurred to her that despite the failure of her marriage, the failure of her career, despite her hangover and chronic horniness, she suddenly was feeling rather light and giddy. She couldn't understand it. Was she simply too shallow to suffer indefinitely, or was she too wise to become attached to her suffering, too feisty to permit it to rule her life? She voted for wise and feisty, and walked on, kicking leaves.

This is the room of the wolfmother wallpaper. This is the room where the boys slept inside their blowguns to avoid being bitten by the bats, for whom the girls sewed tiny velvet suits.

This is the room where Jezebel frescoed her eyelids with history's tragic glitter, where Delilah practiced for her beautician's license, the room in which Salome dropped the seventh veil while dancing the dance of ultimate cognition, skinny legs and all.

People tend to take everything too seriously. Especially themselves. Yep. And that's probably what makes 'em scared and hurt so much of the time. Life is too serious to take that seriously.

Jerusalem is not caught between a rock and a hard place. Jerusalem is a rock and a hard place.

Whenever a state or an individual cited 'insufficient funds' as an excuse for neglecting this important thing or that, it was indicative of the extent to which reality had been distorted by the abstract lens of wealth.

During periods of so-called economic depression, societies suffer for want of all manner of essential goods, yet investigation almost invariably discloses that there are plenty of goods available. Plenty of coal in the ground, corn in the fields, wool on the sheep. What is missing is not materials but an abstract unit of measurement called 'money.' It is akin to a starving woman with a sweet tooth lamenting that she can't bake a cake because she doesn't have any ounces. She has butter, flour, eggs, milk, and sugar, she just doesn't have any ounces, any pinches, any pints.

Religion is a paramount contributor to human misery. It is not merely the opium of the masses, it is the cyanide.

Anybody who maintains absolute standards of good and evil is dangerous. As dangerous as a maniac with a loaded revolver. In fact, the person who maintains absolute standards of good and evil usually is the maniac with the revolver.

If there were something else I'd rather be doing, I'd damn well be doing it.

Religion was an attempt to pin down the Divine. The Divine was eternally in flux, forever moving, shifting shape. That was its nature. It was absolute, true enough: absolutely mobile. Absolutely transcendent. Absolutely flexible. Absolutely impersonal. It had its god and goddess aspects, but it was ultimately no more male or female that it was star or screwdriver. It was the sum of all those things, but that sum could never be chalked on a slate. The Divine was beyond description, beyond knowing, beyond comprehension. To say that the Divine was Creation divided by Destruction was as close as one could come to definition. But the puny of soul, the dull of wit, weren't content with that. They wanted to hang a face on the Divine. They went so far as to attribute petty human emotions (anger, jealousy, etc.) to it, not stopping to realize that if God were a being, even a supreme being, our prayers would have bored him to death long ago.

A world leader who's convinced that life is merely a trial for the more valuable and authentic afterlife is less hesitant to risk starting a nuclear holocaust. A politician or corporate executive who's expecting the Rapture to arrive on the next flight from Jerusalem is not going to worry much about polluting oceans or destroying forests.

...the male had gone to ludicrous and often violent lengths to compensate for what struck the more insecure of men as an inferior sexual role. One of the lengths to which they went was the establishment of patriarchal religion and the recasting of a father figure as the producer of the show, although from the very beginning, the cosmogonic principal had been feminine. Those men, envious and anxious, not only fired the Great Goddess (who smiled upon all manner of sexual expression, including that which moderns were to label "promiscuous" and "pornographic"), but they also spent thousands of years and billions of dollars trying to conceal the fact of her existence.

The Divine was expansive, but religion was reductive. Religion attempted to reduce the Divine to a knowable quantity with which mortals might efficiently deal, to pigeonhole it once and for all so that we never had to reevaluate it. With hammers of cant and spikes of dogma, we crucified and crucified again, trying to nail to our stationary altars the migratory light of the world.

Thus, since religion bore false witness to the Divine, religion was blasphemy. And once it entered into its unholy alliance with politics, it became the most dangerous and repressive force that the world has ever known.

On the staircase of the haunted house of life, art is the one board that doesn't creak.

If one yearns to see the face of the Divine, one must break out of the aquarium, escape the fish farm, to go swim up wild cataracts, dive in deep fjords. One must explore the labyrinth of the reef, the shadows of the lily pads. How limiting, how insulting to think of God as a benevolent warden, an absentee hatchery manager who imprisons us in the 'comfort' of artificial pools, where intermediaries sprinkle our restrictive waters with sanitized flakes of processed nutriment.

Religion is nothing but institutionalized mysticism. The catch is, mysticism does not lend itself to institutionalization. The moment we attempt to organize mysticism, we destroy its essence. Religion, then, is mysticism in which the mystical has been killed. Or, at least diminished.

Is it not finer, however, to sizzle whole in the flame of freedom than to slowly stew to pieces in one's own diminishing juices, constrained and constricted before the veil?

The ones who're so upset about everybody not being the same, about competition, about standards of quality, about art objects having 'auras' around them, they're usually people with average abilities and average minds. And below average senses of humor. Whether it's a matter of lifting the deprived up or dragging the gifted down, they want everybody to function on their level. Some fun that would be.

The trick is this: keep your eye on the ball. Even when you can't see the ball.

If there's a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn't exist in the world around you, at least not in the form you envision, then you create it so you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn't have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more shallow, predictable way. And that's it. That's all an artist does.

They don't get it. Can't they comprehend that not everything is done for a paycheck? That sometimes you just make a thing 'cause you wanna see how it'll turn out, 'cause you have a feeling it oughta be made?

Don't trust anybody who'd rather be grammatically correct than have a good time.

The hour was 4:00pm, the day Monday, the month September. Late September. So late that you had to look closely to distinguish it from October. Dip a slice of bread in batter. That's September: yellow gold, soft, and sticky. Fry that bread. Now you have October: chewier, drier, streaked with browns. The day in question fell somewhere in the middle of the french toast process. A hint of chilled marmalade in the air.

News: Tom's latest book "Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life" (a memoir of sorts) was released in May 2014.

What follows is an excerpt from the blurb from amazon.com.

Internationally bestselling novelist and American icon Tom Robbins delivers the long awaited tale of his wild life and times, both at home and around the globe.

Tom Robbins’ warm, wise, and wonderfully weird novels — including Still Life With Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates — provide an entryway into the frontier of his singular imagination. Madcap but sincere, pulsating with strong social and philosophical undercurrents, his irreverent classics have introduced countless readers to natural born hitchhiking cowgirls, born-again monkeys, a philosophizing can of beans, exiled royalty, and problematic redheads.

In Tibetan Peach Pie, Robbins turns that unparalleled literary sensibility inward,... Read more...

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