Company Manners: A Cultural Inquiry into American Life (1954)
- On a very rough-and-ready basis we might define an eccentric as a man who is a law unto himself, and a crank as one who, having determined what the law is, insists on laying it down to others. An eccentric puts ice cream on steak simply because he likes it; should a crank do so, he would endow the act with moral grandeur and straightaway denounce as sinners (or reactionaries) all who failed to follow suit […] Cranks, at their most familiar, are a sort of peevish prophets, and it's not enough that they should be in the right; others must also be in the wrong.
- "The One and the Many", Company Manners: A Cultural Inquiry into American Life (1954). Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill. 229 pages
- There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding on the part of a great many people to the effect that when you cease to believe you may cease to behave.
- "The Spirit of the Age", p. 14
- The trouble with us in America isn't that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.
- "The Spirit of the Age", p. 18
- The trouble with our age is all signposts and no destination.
- p. 26
- In art there are tears that do often lie too deep for thoughts.
- p. 28
- This is a play on "Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears", the last line of William Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood".
- Ours must be the first age whose great goal, on a nonmaterial plane, is not fulfilment but adjustment; and perhaps just such a goal has served as maladjustment's weapon.
- p. 65
- One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well.
- p. 76
- The Englishman wants to be recognized as a gentleman, or as some other suitable species of human being, the American wants to be considered a good guy.
- p. 120
- Conformity may not always reign in the prosperous bourgeois suburb, but it ultimately always governs.
- Company Manners: A Cultural Inquiry into American Life (1954), p. 122
- Individualism is rather like innocence; there must be something unconscious about it.
The Cart and the Horse (1964)
- Once you have money, you can quite truthfully affirm that money isn't everything.
- For young people today things move so fast there is no problem of adjustment. Before you can adjust to A, B has appeared leading C by the hand, and with D in the distance.
- There are, of course, good happy endings as well as bad ones, but surely they are of a kind that in some way expresses happiness rather than glibly promises it.
- For tens of millions of people television has become habit-forming, brain-softening, taste-degrading.
- Highly educated bores are by far the worst; they know so much, in such fiendish detail, to be boring about.
- It is the gossip columnist's business to write about what is none of his business.
- Many people today don't want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing, They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety.
- Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of greater vanity in others; it make us vain, in fact, of our modesty.
- Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week.
- Privacy was in sufficient danger before TV appeared, and TV has given it its death blow.
- The closer and more confidential our relationship with someone, the less we are entitled to ask about what we are not voluntarily told.