Time Enough for Love

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Time Enough for Love (1973) is a science fiction novel, written by Robert A. Heinlein, about the life of Lazarus Long (birth name: Woodrow Wilson Smith), the oldest living human, now more than two thousand years old.

Quotes[edit]

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.
Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.
Most, if not all, of these quotations are of the recurring Heinlein character "Lazarus Long", and most were labeled within that work as "Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long". Many of these were later published as a separate poster book. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (1978).
  • If the human animal has any value at all, he is too valuable to be property. If he has an inner dignity, he is much too proud to own other men. I don't give a damn how scrubbed and perfumed he may be, a slave owner is subhuman.
  • It’s not enough to be able to lie with a straight face; anybody with enough gall to raise on a busted flush can do that. The first way to lie artistically is to tell the truth — but not all of it. The second way involves telling the truth, too, but is harder: Tell the exact truth and maybe all of it…but tell it so unconvincingly that your listener is sure you are lying.
  • Progress doesn't come from early risers — progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.
  • $100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $100,000,000 — by which time it will be worth nothing.
  • A "critic" is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased — he hates all creative people equally.
  • A "pacifist male" is a contradiction in terms. Most self-described "pacifists" are not pacific; they simply assume false colors. When the wind changes, they hoist the Jolly Roger.
  • A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.
  • A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
  • A fake fortuneteller can be tolerated. But an authentic soothsayer should be shot on sight. Cassandra did not get half the kicking around she deserved.
  • A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.
    • Paraphrased variant: A generation without history has no past — and no future.
  • A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. p. 248.
  • A motion to adjourn is always in order.
  • A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
  • A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an "intellectual" — find out how he feels about astrology.
  • A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.
  • A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.
  • All men are created unequal.
  • All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can — and must — be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly — and no doubt will keep on trying.
Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.
Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.
  • A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill.
  • Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.
  • Always store beer in a dark place.
  • An elephant. A mouse built to government specifications.
  • Another ingredient in a happy marriage: Budget the luxuries first!
  • Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure "good" government; it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare — most people want to run things but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the "backseat-driver syndrome."
  • Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.
  • Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.
  • Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. N.B.: Circumstances can force your hand. So think ahead!
The more you love, the more you can love ...
The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy — and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful.
You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?
Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. ... The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family.
Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards.
Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But the astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing ...
He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.
This is how a man dies. This is how a man ... lives!
  • Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors — and miss.
  • Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.
  • Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.
  • By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man — man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him.
  • Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.
  • Cheops' Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
  • Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.
  • Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)
  • Darling, a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your persona requires.
  • Dear, don't bore him with trivia or burden him with your past mistakes. The happiest way to deal with a man is never to tell him anything he does not need to know.
  • Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.
  • Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.
    Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?
  • Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.
  • Does history record any case in which the majority was right?
  • Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
    But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
    So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.
    Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
    (This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)
    .
  • Don't ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.
  • Early rising may not be a vice ... but it is certainly no virtue. The old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed.
  • Everybody lies about sex.
  • Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.
  • Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.
  • Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect.
  • God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
  • History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
  • History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion — i.e., none to speak of.
  • Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way.
  • I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he is picking my pocket. But if he is acting in his own self-interest and says so, I have usually been able to work out some way to do business with him.
  • If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. It has long been known that one horse can run faster than another — but which one? Differences are crucial.
  • If men were the automatons that behaviorists claim they are, the behaviorist psychologists could not have invented the amazing nonsense called "behaviorist psychology."
  • If tempted by something that feels "altruistic," examine your motives and root out that self-deception. Then, if you still want to do it, wallow in it!
  • If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I've never heard of it.
  • If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for, but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.
  • If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.
  • If you happen to be one of the fretful minority who can do creative work, never force an idea; you'll abort it if you do. Be patient and you'll give birth to it when the time is ripe. Learn to wait.
  • In a mature society, "civil servant" is semantically equal to "civil master."
  • It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
  • It is better to copulate than never.
  • It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.
  • It's amazing how much "mature wisdom" resembles being too tired.
  • Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.
  • Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing — and you don't have to go home in the cold. But it's lonely.
  • Men are more sentimental than women. It blurs their thinking.
  • Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
  • Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.
  • Money is the sincerest of all flattery. Women love to be flattered. So do men.
  • Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion — in the long run these are the only people who count.
  • Most "scientists" are bottle washers and button sorters.
  • Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.
  • Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.
  • Never attempt to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. (see also English proverbs)
  • Never crowd youngsters about their private affairs — sex especially. When they are growing up, they are nerve ends all over, and resent (quite properly) any invasion of their privacy. Oh, sure, they'll make mistakes — but that's their business, not yours. (You made your own mistakes, did you not?).
  • Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
  • "No man is an island — " Much as we may feel and act as Individuals, our race is — a single organism, always growing and branching — which must be pruned regularly to be healthy.
    This necessity need not be argued; anyone with eyes can see that any organism which grows without limit always dies in its own poisons. The only rational question is whether pruning is best done before or after birth.
    Being an incurable sentimentalist I favor the former of these methods — killing makes me queasy, even when it's a case of "He's dead and I'm alive and that's the way I wanted it to be."
    But this may be a matter of taste. Some shamans think that it is better to be killed in a war, or to die in childbirth, or to starve in misery, than never to have lived at all. They may be right.
    But I don't have to like it — and I don't.
  • No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: "Come back with your shield, or on it." Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome.
  • Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman's breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy.
  • Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of nothing, "blasphemy"is the most amazing — with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for second and third place.
  • One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word.
  • One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
  • Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbow room is pleasanter — and much safer.
  • People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy a half slug who must tighten his belt.
  • Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.
  • Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
  • Rub her feet.
  • Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it's more sanitary.
  • Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful —just stupid).
  • Being generous is inborn; being altruistic is a learned perversity. No resemblance.
  • Small change can often be found under seat cushions.
  • Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.
  • Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
  • The first time I was a drill instructor I was too inexperienced for the job — the things I taught those lads must have got some of them killed. War is too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.
  • The more you love, the more you can love — and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.
  • The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
    The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.
  • The phrase "we (I) (you) simply must —" designates some thing that need not be done. "That goes without saying" is a red warning. "Of course" means you had best check it yourself. These small-change clichés and others like them, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.
  • The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man.
    But it's lovely work if you can stomach it.
  • The second best thing about space travel is that the distances involved make war very difficult, usually impractical, and almost always unnecessary. This is probably a loss for most people, since war is our race's most popular diversion, one which gives purpose and color to dull and stupid lives. But it is a great boon to the intelligent man who fights only when he must — never for sport.
  • The shamans are forever yacking about their snake-oil "miracles." I prefer the Real McCoy — a pregnant woman.
  • The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
  • The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute — get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.
  • There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who "love Nature" while deploring the "artificialities" with which "Man has spoiled 'Nature.'" The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature" — but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race — i.e., his own self-hatred.
    In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate.
    As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women — it strikes me as a fine arrangement — and perfectly "natural" Believe it or not, there were "Naturists" who opposed the first flight to old Earth's Moon as being "unnatural" and a "despoiling of Nature."
  • There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?
  • There is no such thing as "social gambling." Either you are there to cut the other bloke's heart out and eat it — or you're a sucker. If you don't like this choice — don't gamble.
  • There is only one way to console a widow. But remember the risk.
  • Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
    This is known as "bad luck."
  • To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy — and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful.
  • Touch is the most fundamental sense. A baby experiences it, all over, before he is born and long before he learns to use sight, hearing, or taste, and no human ever ceases to need it. Keep your children short on pocket money — but long on hugs.
  • Was there ever a time when the majority was right?
  • What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it!
  • What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
  • When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere.
  • When the need arises — and it does — you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don't farm it out — that doesn't make it nicer, it makes it worse.
  • Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.
  • Work is not an end in itself; there must always be time enough for love.
  • Writing poetry is not necessarily something to be ashamed of — but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
  • You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
  • You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
  • Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.
  • Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament — it is possible to be both. How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can’t avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome.
  • Being privileged to work hard for long hours at something you think is worth doing is the best kind of play.

External links[edit]

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