Stranger in a Strange Land

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There was so much to grok, so little to grok from.

Stranger In a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein; it was later republished in a longer "Uncut" edition in 1991. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. The novel explores his interaction with—and eventual transformation of—terrestrial culture. The title is an allusion to the phrase in Exodus 2:22. Moses flees ancient Egypt, where he has lived all his life, and later marries Zipporah: Exodus 2:22: "And she [Zippo'rah] bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land". KJV

Note: This page presents quotes from both published editions of Heinlein's most famous work. The edited first edition of 1961 (FE) contains some memorable quotes that are not in the longer "Uncut" ACE/Putnam edition of 1991 (UC), based on his original manuscripts, because a few significant lines were actually added, rather than trimmed down, during the editing process of the first edition.

His Maculate Origin[edit]

Smith is not a man. He is an intelligent creature with the genes and ancestry of a man, but he is not a man...
  • ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith.
    • First line of "first edition" of 1961 (FE)
  • ONCE UPON A TIME when the world was young there was a Martian named Smith.
    Valentine Michael Smith was as real as taxes but he was a race of one.
    • First lines "uncut edition" of Ace/Putnam 1991, Part1:Chapter1,p.5 (UC)
  • Smith is not a man. He is an intelligent creature with the genes and ancestry of a man, but he is not a man. He's more a Martian than a man. Until we came along he had never laid eyes on a human being. He thinks like a Martian, he feels like a Martian. He's been brought up by a race which has nothing in common with us. Why, they don't even have sex. Smith has never laid eyes on a woman — still hasn't if my orders have been carried out. He's a man by ancestry, a Martian by environment. Ace/Putnam 1991 Part1:Chapter3,p.10 (UC)
  • The abrupt change from rapport of water ritual to a situation in which a newly won water brother might possibly be considering withdrawal or discorporation would have thrown him into panic had he not been consciously suppressing such disturbance. But he decided that if it died now he must die at once also — he could not grok it in any other wise, not after the giving of water. (FE), Ace/Putnam 1991 Part1:Chapter4, p.20-21, (UC)
Ben, have you ever seen an angel?
  • There was so much to grok, so little to grok from. (FE/UC)
  • Jill looked puzzled. "I don't know how to express it. Yes, I do! — Ben, have you ever seen an angel?"
    "You, cherub. Otherwise not."
    "Well, neither have I — but that is what he looked like. He had old, wise eyes in a completely placid face, a face of unearthly innocence." She shivered. (UC)
  • There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk "his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor" on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else. Jill Boardman encountered her personal challenge — and accepted it — at 3:47 that afternoon. (UC)
  • Jill suddenly had the feeling that Smith would unhesitatingly jump out the window if she told him to — in which belief she was correct; he would have jumped, enjoyed every scant second of the twenty-storey drop, and accepted without surprise or resentment the discorporation on impact. Nor would he have been unaware that such a fall would kill him; fear of death was an idea utterly beyond him. If a water brother selected for him such a strange discorporation, he would cherish it and try to grok. (UC)
  • This brother wanted him to place his whole body in the water of life. No such honor had ever come to him; to the best of his knowledge and belief no one had ever before been offered such a holy privilege. Yet he had begun to understand that these others did have greater acquaintance with the stuff of life… a fact not yet grokked but which he had to accept. (UC)
He had begun to understand that these others did have greater acquaintance with the stuff of life… a fact not yet grokked but which he had to accept.
  • Johnson did not hit Jill as hard as he used to hit his wife before she left him, not nearly as hard as he hit prisoners who were reluctant to talk. Until then Smith had shown no expression and had said nothing; he had simply let himself be forced along. He had understood none of it and had tried to do nothing at all.
    When he saw his water brother struck by this other, he twisted, got free — and reached toward Johnson —
    — and Johnson was gone.
    Only blades of grass, straightening up where his big feet had been, showed that he had ever been there. Jill stared at the spot and felt that she might faint. (FE)
  • Johnson should not have slapped her. He had not hit her hard, not even as hard as he used to hit his wife before she went home to her parents, and not nearly as hard as he had often hit prisoners who were reluctant to talk. Up to this time Smith had shown no expression at all and had said nothing; he had simply let himself be forced into the room with the passive, futile resistance of a puppy who does not want to be walked on a leash. But he had understood nothing of what was happening and had tried to do nothing at all.
    When he saw his water brother struck by this other, he twisted and ducked, got free — and reached in an odd fashion for Johnson.
    Johnson was not there any longer.
    He was not anywhere. The room did not contain him. Only blades of grass, straightening up where his big feet had been, showed that he had ever been there. Jill stared through the space he had occupied and felt that she might faint. (UC)
  • Smith had relapsed into his attitude of passive waiting. Not understanding what it was all about, he had done only the minimum he had to do. But guns he had seen before, in the hands of men on Mars, and the expression on Jill's face at having one aimed at her he did not like. He grokked that this was one of the critical cusps in the growth of a being wherein contemplation must bring forth right action in order to permit further growth. He acted.
    The Old Ones taught him well. He stepped toward Berquist; the gun swung to cover him. Nevertheless he reached out — and Berquist was no longer there.
  • Jill put a hand to her mouth and screamed.
    Smith's face had been completely blank. Now it became tragically forlorn as he realized that he must have chosen wrong action at the cusp. He looked imploringly at Jill and began to tremble. His eyes rolled up; he slipped slowly down to the grass, pulled himself tightly into a foetal ball and was motionless. (UC)

His Preposterous Heritage[edit]

Harshaw stopped long enough to remind himself that this baby innocent was neither babyish nor innocent...
  • My dear, I used to think I was serving humanity... and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it.
    • Jubal Harshaw (FE/UC)
  • Remind me to write a popular article on the compulsive reading of news. The theme will be that most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers. The title is 'Gossip Unlimited' — no, make that 'Gossip Gone Wild.'
    • Jubal Harshaw (FE/UC)
  • He has this crazy Martian idea that he can trust utterly anyone with whom he has shared a drink of water. With a 'water brother' he is completely docile and with anybody else he is stubborn as a mule. (UC)
  • Here, by the grace of God and an inside straight, we have a personality untouched by the psychotic taboos of our tribe — and you want to turn him into a carbon copy of every fourth-rate conformist in this frightened land! (FE)
  • "Customs, morals — is there a difference? Woman, do you realize what you are doing? Here, by the grace of God and an inside straight, we have a personality untouched by the psychotic taboos of our tribe — and you want to turn him into a carbon copy of every fourth-rate conformist in this frightened land! Why don't you go whole hog? Get him a brief case and make him carry it wherever he goes — make him feel shame if he doesn't have it." (UC)
  • Sit back down — and for God's sake quit trying to be as nasty as I am; you don't have my years of practice. Now let me get something straight: you are not in my debt. You can't be. Impossible — because I never do anything I don't want to do. Nor does anyone, but in my case I am always aware of it. (UC)
This had been a very short word. Smith still felt that he had grokked rightly the human word "God"...
  • I have learned two ways to tie my shoes. One way is only good for lying down. The other way is good for walking. (FE/UC)
  • The concept of fiction was nowhere in Mike's experience; there was nothing on which it could rest, and Jubal's attempts to explain the idea were so emotionally upsetting to Mike that Jill was afraid that he was about to roll up into a ball and withdraw himself. (UC)
  • Harshaw stopped long enough to remind himself that this baby innocent was neither babyish nor innocent — was in fact sophisticated in a culture which he was beginning to realize, however dimly, was far in advance of human culture in some very mysterious ways… and that these naive remarks came from a superman — or what would do in place of a "superman" for the time being. (UC)
  • The Universe was a damned silly place at best… but the least likely explanation for its existence was the no-explanation of random chance, the conceit that some abstract somethings "just happened" to be some atoms that "just happened" to get together in configurations which "just happened" to look like consistent laws and then some of these configurations "just happened" to possess self-awareness and that two such "just happened" to be the Man from Mars and the other a bald-headed old coot with Jubal himself inside.
    No, Jubal would not buy the "just happened" theory, popular as it was with men who called themselves scientists. Random chance was not a sufficient explanation of the Universe — in fact, random chance was not sufficient to explain random chance; the pot could not hold itself. (UC)
I am explain. I did not have the word. You grok. Anne groks. I grok. The grass under my feet groks in happy beauty. But I needed the word. The word is God.
  • "You told me, 'God made the World.'"
    "No, no!" Harshaw said hastily. "I told you that, while all these many religions said many things, most of them said, 'God made the World.' I told you that I did not grok the fullness, but that 'God' was the word that was used."
    "Yes, Jubal," Mike agreed. "Word is 'God'" He added. "You grok."
    "No, I must admit I don't grok."
    "You grok," Smith repeated firmly. "I am explain. I did not have the word. You grok. Anne groks. I grok. The grass under my feet groks in happy beauty. But I needed the word. The word is God."
    Jubal shook his head to clear it. "Go ahead."
    Mike pointed triumphantly at Jubal. "Thou art God!"
    Jubal slapped a hand to his face. "Oh, Jesus H. — What have I done? Look, Mike, take it easy! Simmer down! You didn't understand me. I'm sorry. I'm very sorry! Just forget what I've been saying and we'll start over again on another day. But — "
    "Thou art God," Mike repeated serenely. "That which groks. Anne is God. I am God. The happy grass are God, Jill groks in beauty always. Jill is God. All shaping and making and creating together — ." He croaked something in Martian and smiled. (UC)
'Grok' means 'to drink.'
  • Short human words were never like a short Martian word — such as "grok" which forever meant exactly the same thing. Short human words were like trying to lift water with a knife.
    And this had been a very short word.
    Smith still felt that he had grokked rightly the human word "God" — the confusion had come from his own failure in selecting other human words. The concept was truly so simple, so basic, so necessary that any nestling could have explained it perfectly — in Martian. The problem, then, was to find human words that would let him speak rightly, make sure that he patterned them rightly to match in fullness how it would be said in his own people's language.
    He puzzled briefly over the curious fact that there should be any difficulty in saying it, even in English, since it was a thing everyone knew else they could not grok alive. (UC)
  • It would be a waste of breath to tell a man who believes in guns that you've got something better. (FE/UC)
  • Language itself shapes a man's basic ideas. (FE/UC)
  • 'Grok' means 'to drink.' (FE/UC)

His Eccentric Education[edit]

Our hymns was loaded with arrogance — self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, and what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.
  • He was not in a hurry, "hurry" being one human concept he had failed to grok at all. He was sensitively aware of the key importance of correct timing in all acts — but with the Martian approach: correct timing was accomplished by waiting. He had noticed, of course, that his human brothers lacked his own fine discrimination of time and often were forced to wait a little faster than a Martian would — but he did not hold their innocent awkwardness against them; he simply learned to wait faster himself to cover their lack. (UC)
  • Religion is a solace to many and it is even conceivable that some religion, somewhere, is Ultimate Truth. But being religious is often a form of conceit. The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was 'saved,' they were 'damned' — we were in a state of grace and the rest were 'heathens.' By 'heathen' they meant such as our brother Mahmoud. Ignorant louts who seldom bathed and planted corn by the Moon claimed to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled them to look down on outsiders. Our hymns was loaded with arrogance — self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, and what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day. (FE)
  • Religion is a solace to many people and it is even conceivable that some religion, somewhere, really is Ultimate Truth. But in many cases, being religious is merely a form of conceit. The Bible Belt faith in which I was brought up encouraged me to think that I was better than the rest of the world; I was 'saved' and they were 'damned' — we were in a state of grace and the rest of the world were 'heathens' and by 'heathen' they meant such people as our brother Mahmoud. It meant that an ignorant, stupid lout who seldom bathed and planted his corn by the phase of the Moon could claim to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled him to look down his nose at everybody else. Our hymn book was loaded with such arrogance — mindless, conceited, self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us and us alone, and what hell everybody else was going to catch come Judgment Day. (UC)
The Universe has variety, something for everybody — a fact you field workers often miss.
  • At this point the being sprung from human genes shaped by Martian thought, and who could never be either one, completed one stage of his growth, burst out and ceased to be a nestling. The solitary loneliness of predestined free will was then his and with it the Martian serenity to embrace it, cherish it, savour its bitterness, and accept its consequences. With tragic joy he knew that this cusp was his, not Jill's. His water brother could teach, admonish, guide — but choice at a cusp was not shared. Here was "ownership" beyond any possible sale, gift, hypothecation; owner and owned grokked fully, inseparable — He eternally was the action he had taken at cusp.
    Now that he knew himself to be self he was free to grok ever closer to his brothers, merge without let. Self's integrity was and is and ever had been. Mike stopped to cherish all his brother selves, the many threes-fulfilled on Mars, both corporate and discorporate, the precious few on Earth — the as-yet-unknown powers of three on Earth that would be his to merge with and cherish now that at last long waiting he grokked and cherished himself. (UC)
  • The Universe has variety, something for everybody — a fact you field workers often miss.
  • There are times when we human females appreciate at least a semblance of jealousy — but I don't think there is the slightest chance that you will ever grok 'jealousy.'
  • I grok people. I am people… so now I can say it in people talk. I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much… because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting.
  • I had thought — I had been told — that a 'funny' thing is a thing of a goodness. It isn't. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to. Like that sheriff without his pants. The goodness is in the laughing itself. I grok it is a bravery . . . and a sharing… against pain and sorrow and defeat.

His Scandalous Career[edit]

  • Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist — a master — and that is what Auguste Rodin was — can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is… and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…. and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart…. no matter what the merciless hours have done to her. Look at her, Ben. Growing old doesn't matter to you and me; we were never meant to be admired — but it does to them. Look at her! (UC)
The crummiest painted plaster crucifix can evoke emotions in the human heart so strong that many have died for them. The artistry with which such a symbol is wrought is irrelevant.
  • "A poor portrayal is about as effective as a good one for most people. They don't see the defects; they see a symbol which inspires their deepest emotions; it recalls to them the Agony and Sacrifice of God."
    "Jubal, I thought you weren't a Christian?"
    "Does that make me blind to human emotion? I was saying that the crummiest painted plaster crucifix can evoke emotions in the human heart so strong that many have died for them. The artistry with which such a symbol is wrought is irrelevant. (FE)
  • Now here we have another emotional symbol — wrought with exquisite craftsmanship, but we won't go into that, yet. Ben, for almost three thousand years or longer, architects have designed buildings with columns shaped as female figures — it got to be such a habit that they did it as casually as a small boy steps on an ant. After all those centuries it took Rodin to see that this was work too heavy for a girl. But he didn't simply say, 'Look, you jerks, if you must design this way, make it a brawny male figure.' No, he showed it… and generalized the symbol. Here is this poor little caryatid who has tried — and failed, fallen under the load. She's a good girl — look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, but not blaming anyone else, not even the gods… and still trying to shoulder her load, after she's crumpled under it.
    But she's more than good art denouncing some very bad art; she's a symbol for every woman who has ever tried to shoulder a load that was too heavy for her — over half the female population of this planet, living and dead, I would guess. But not alone women — this symbol is sexless. It means every man and every woman who ever lived who sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude, whose courage wasn't even noticed until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage, Ben, and victory. (UC)
  • Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up, Ben; she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. She's a father going down to a dull office job while cancer is painfully eating away his insides, so as to bring home one more pay check for the kids. She's a twelve-year-old girl trying to mother her baby brothers and sisters because Mama had to go to Heaven. She's a switchboard operator sticking to her job while smoke is choking her and the fire is cutting off her escape. She's all the unsung heroes who couldn't quite cut it but never quit. (UC)
A prude is a person who thinks that his own rules of propriety are natural laws. You are almost entirely free of this prevalent evil.
  • "Jubal, why isn't there stuff like this around where a person can see it?"
    "Because the world has gone nutty and contemporary art always paints the spirit of its times. Rodin died about the time the world started flipping its lid. His successors noted the amazing things he had done with light and shadow and mass and composition and they copied that part. What they failed to see was that the master told stories that laid bare the human heart. They became contemptuous of painting or sculpture that told a stories — they dubbed such work 'literary.' They went all out for abstractions.
    Jubal shrugged. "Abstract design is all right — for wall paper or linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror. What modern artists do is pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Creative art is intercourse, in which the artist renders emotional his audience. These laddies who won't deign to do that — or can't — lost the public." (FE)
  • Mmm, one does have to learn to look at art. But it's up to the artist to use the language that can be understood. Most of these jokers don't want to use the language you and I can learn; they would rather sneer because we 'fail' to see what they're driving at. If anything. Obscurity is the refuge of the incompetent. (UC)
  • Patricia Paiwonski gave Ben Caxton the all-out kiss of brotherhood before he knew what hit him. (FE)
  • Patricia's nature was an endless wish to make other people as happy as she was. (FE/UC)
  • His idea is that whenever you encounter any other grokking thing — he didn't say 'grokking' at this stage — any other living thing, man, woman, or stray cat… you are simply encountering your 'other end'… and the universe is just a little thing we whipped up among us the other night for our entertainment and then agreed to forget the gag. He put it in a much more sugar-coated fashion, being extremely careful not to tread on competitors' toes. (UC)
  • We're not trying to bring people to God; that's a contradiction in terms, you can't even say it in Martian. We're not trying to save souls, because souls can't be lost. We're not trying to get people to have faith, because what we offer is not faith but truth — truth they can check; we don't urge them to believe it. Truth for practical purposes, for here-and-now, truth as matter of fact as an ironing board and as useful as a loaf of bread… so practical that it can make war and hunger and violence and hate as unnecessary as…. as — well, as clothes here in the Nest. But they have to learn Martian first. That's the only hitch — finding people who are honest enough to believe what they see, and then are willing to do the hard work — it is hard work — of learning the language it can be taught in. A composer couldn't possibly write down a symphony in English… and this sort of symphony can't be stated in English any more than Beethoven's Fifth can be. (UC)
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
  • A prude is a person who thinks that his own rules of propriety are natural laws. You are almost entirely free of this prevalent evil. (UC)
  • Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. (FE)
    • Jubal to Ben; Heinlein also later used a variant of this in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls where he has Xia quote Harshaw: "Dr. Harshaw says that 'the word "love" designates a subjective condition in which the welfare and happiness of another person are essential to one's own happiness.'"
  • Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy — in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other. (FE)
  • "This poor ersatz Martian is saying that sex is a way to be happy. Sex should be a means of happiness. Ben, the worst thing about sex is that we use it to hurt each other. It ought never to hurt; it should bring happiness, or at least pleasure.
    "The code says, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.' The result? Reluctant chastity, bitterness, blows and sometimes murder, broken homes and twisted children — and furtive little passes degrading to woman and man. Is this Commandment ever obeyed? If a man swore on his own Bible that he refrained from coveting his neighbor's wife because the code forbade it, I would suspect either self-deception or subnormal sexuality. Any man virile enough to sire a child has coveted many women, whether he acts or not.
    "Now comes Mike and says: 'There is no need to covet my wife... love her! There's no limit to her love, we have everything to gain — and nothing to lose but fear and guilt and hatred and jealousy.' The proposition is incredible. So far as I recall only pre-civilization Eskimos were this naive — and they were so isolated that they were almost 'Men from Mars' themselves. But we gave them our 'virtues' and now they have chastity and adultery just like the rest of us." (FE)
Mike is like the first man to discover fire. Fire was there all along — after he showed them how, anybody could use it…
  • "Eskimos were invariably described as the happiest people on Earth. Any unhappiness they suffered was not through jealousy; they didn't have a word for it. They borrowed spouses for convenience and fun — it did not make them unhappy. So who's looney? Look at this glum world around you, then tell me: Did Mike's disciples seem happier, or unhappier, than other people?"
    "I didn't talk to them all, Jubal. But — yes, they're happy. So happy they seem slap-happy. There's a catch in it somewhere."
    "Maybe you were the catch." (FE)
  • "You claim to love Jill... yet you won't give her the fair shake you give a crooked politician. Not a tenth the effort she made to help you when you were in trouble. Where would you be if she had made so feeble a try? Rotting in Hell, most likely. You're bitching about friendly fornication — do you know what I'm worried about?"
    "What?"
    "Christ was crucified for preaching without a police permit. Sweat over that, instead!" (FE)

His Happy Destiny[edit]

A lesser man taught the things the Martians know, might have set himself up as a pipsqueak god. Mike is above that temptation. Prometheus… but that is all.
  • Mike is like the first man to discover fire. Fire was there all along — after he showed them how, anybody could use it… anybody with sense enough not to get burned with it.
  • Mike is our Prometheus — but that's all. Mike keeps emphazing this. Thou art God, I am God, he is God — all that groks. Mike is a man like the rest of us. A superior man admittedly — a lesser man taught the things the Martians know, might have set himself up as a pipsqueak god. Mike is above that temptation. Prometheus… but that is all. (FE)
  • The ability to grok more of the universe than that piece near to you. Mike has it from years of Martian discipline. (FE)
  • My failures are so much more numerous than my successes that I am beginning to wonder if full grokking will show that I am on the wrong track entirely — that this race must be split up, hating each other, fighting each other, constantly unhappy and at war even with their own individual selves… simply to have that weeding out that every race must have.
  • If one tenth of one percent of the population is capable of getting the news, then all you have to do is show them — and in a matter of some generations all the stupid ones will die out and those with your discipline will inherit the Earth. Whenever that is — a thousand years from now, or ten thousand — will be plenty soon enough to worry about whether some new hurdle is necessary to make them jump higher. But don't go getting faint-hearted because only a handful have turned into angels overnight. Personally, I never expected any of them to manage it.

Miscellaneous quotes[edit]

Not yet placed into proper sequence

  • Man, as a social animal, can no more escape government than the individual can escape bondage to his bowels.
  • "Each sunrise is a precious jewel…for it may never be followed by its sunset."
  • "Is there more than one Berquist?"
    "Maybe not; he is something of a bastard."
  • I do know that the slickest way to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time — and then shut up.
    • Jubal Harshaw
  • A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human 'wisdom'...and the other twenty percent isn't very important.
    • Jubal Harshaw
  • Who said I was wise? I'm a professional bad example. You can learn a lot by watching me. Or listening to me. Either one.
    • Jubal Harshaw
  • Kiss girls all you want to — it beats the hell out of card games.
    • Jubal Harshaw
  • "Audacity, always audacity" — soundest principle of strategy. In practicing medicine I learned that when you are most at loss is the time when you must appear confident. In law I had learned that, when your case seems hopeless, you must impress the jury with your relaxed certainty.
    • Jubal Harshaw
  • I mean it. A confidence man knows he's lying; that limits his scope. But a successful shaman believes what he says — and belief is contagious; there is no limit to his scope. But I lacked the necessary confidence in my own infallibility; I could never become a prophet ... just a critic — a sort of fourth-rate prophet with delusions of gender.
    • Jubal Harshaw
  • Thou art God. May you always drink deep May you never be thirsty.
  • With water of life we grow closer.
  • Our nest is yours.
  • I give you the water of life.
  • May you always drink deep.
  • We grow ever closer.
  • Share water. Never thirst.
  • Grok in fullness.
  • Nest. Water. Life.
  • Waiting always fills.
  • Secrecy begets tyranny.
    • Ben Caxton
  • Aquafraternally yours,
  • The essence of the discipline is, first, self-awareness, then, self control.
  • He had long ago made a pact with himself to postulate a Created Universe on even-numbered days, a tail-swallowing eternal-and-uncreated Universe on odd-numbered days — since each hypothesis, while equally paradoxical, neatly avoided the paradoxes of the other — with, of course, a day off each leap year for sheer solipsist debauchery. (UC)

By Jubal Harshaw, the doctor, lawyer, writer:

  • Self awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together.
  • There is no safety this side of the grave.
  • God forgives necessity.
  • The size of mammary glands is only a concern for infants. (and, I could add, for men or women who are temporarily or inappropriately thinking or acting like infants.)
  • "The golden sunshine of Italy congealed into tears. Here's to the alcoholic brotherhood... much more suited to the frail human soul, if any, than any other sort."
  • Most moral philosophers consciously or unconsciously assume the essential correctness of our cultural sexual code — family, monogamy, continence, the postulate of privacy, ... restriction of intercourse to the marriage bed, etcetera. Having stipulated our cultural code as a whole, they fiddle with details - even such piffle as solemnly discussing whether or not the female breast is an "obscene" sight! But mostly they debate how the human animal can be induced or forced to obey this code, blandly ignoring the high probability that the heartaches and tragedies they see all around them originate in the code itself rather than the failure to abide by the code.
  • "...You know how Fair Witnesses behave."
    "Well . . . no, I don't. I've never had any dealings with Fair Witnesses."
    "So? Perhaps you weren't aware of it. Anne!"
    Anne was seated on the springboard; she turned her head. Jubal called out, "That new house on the far hilltop - can you see what color they've painted it?"
    Anne looked in the direction in which Jubal was pointing and answered, "It's white on this side." She did not inquire why Jubal had asked, nor make any comment.
    Jubal went on to Jill in normal tones. "You see? Anne is so thoroughly indoctrinated that it doesn't even occur to her to infer that the other side is probably white too. All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't force her to commit herself as to the far side . . . unless she herself went around to the other side and looked - and even then she wouldn't assume that it stayed whatever color it might be after she left . . . because they might repaint it as soon as she turned her back.
    "Anne is a Fair Witness?"
    "Graduate, unlimited license, and admitted to testify before the High Court. ..."
  • Live each golden moment as if it were eternity — without fear, without hope, but with a sybaritic gusto.

Quotes about Stranger in a Strange Land[edit]

  • Jubal... is a devout and fierce individualist in a world filled with cults and bureaucracies, and by novel’s end it is he, not Jill nor Mike, that is still a stranger, still tilting against the windmills. He honestly believes in his own free will, which Mike, Jill, and the Fosterites misinterpret as a pandeistic urge, ‘Thou art God!’ Mike, by contrast, readily abandons his Martian beliefs for human ones, even as he claims to merely find a congress between them.

External links[edit]

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