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Famous John Updike Quotations

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"A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience."
by John Updike
"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit."
by John Updike
"Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better."
by John Updike
"I love my government not least for the extent to which it leaves me alone."
by John Updike
"America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy."
by John Updike
"America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy"
by John Updike
"Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better."
by John Updike
"Art is like baby shoes. When you coat them with gold, they can no longer be worn."
by John Updike
"Critics are like pigs at the pastry cart."
by John Updike
"Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity . . . any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about dong it right, or better."
by John Updike
"Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them."
by John Updike
"Four years was enough of Harvard. I still had a lot to learn, but had been given the liberating notion that now I could teach myself."
by John Updike
"Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five."
by John Updike
"If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men, and become merely machines for eating and earning money."
by John Updike
"It seems to me the book has not just aesthetic values-- the charming little clothy box of the thing, the smell of the glue, even the print, which has its own beauty. But there's something about the sensation of ink on paper that is in some sense a thing, a phenomenon rather than an epiphenomenon. I can't break the association of electric trash with the computer screen. Words on the screen give the sense of being just another passing electronic wriggle."
by John Updike
"Life is like an overlong drama through which we sit being nagged by the vague memories of having read the reviews."
by John Updike
"Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solicitude is the enemy of well-being."
by John Updike
"School is where you go between when your parents can't take you and industry can't take you."
by John Updike
"The essential support and encouragement comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it."
by John Updike
"The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on parents. So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called education. School is where you go between when your parents can't take you and industry can't take you."
by John Updike
"The yearning for an afterlife is the opposite of selfish it is love and praise for the world that we are privileged, in this complex interval of light, to witness and experience."
by John Updike
"There are times when fear is good It must keep its watchful place at the heart's controls. There is advantage in the wisdom won from pain."
by John Updike
"Truth should not be forced; it should simply manifest itself, like a woman who has in her privacy reflected and coolly decided to bestow herself upon a certain man."
by John Updike
"We are most alive when we're in love."
by John Updike
"You can never get the smell of smoke out. Like the smell of failure in life."
by John Updike
"By the time a partnership dissolves, it has dissolved."
by John Updike
"Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face. As soon as one is aware of being somebody, to be watched and listened to with extra interest, input ceases, and the performer goes blind and deaf in his overanimation. One can either see or be seen."
by John Updike
"Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-thou second-guessing in The New York Review of Books."
by John Updike
"The city overwhelmed our expectations. The Kiplingesque grandeur of Waterloo Station, the Eliotic despondency of the brick row in Chelsea"
by John Updike
"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them."
by John Updike
"Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it cost them."
by John Updike
"Government is either organized benevolence or organized madness; its peculiar magnitude permits no shading."
by John Updike
"The guarantee that our self enjoys an intended relation to the outer world is most, if not all, we ask from religion. God is the self projected onto reality by our natural and necessary optimism. He is the not-me personified."
by John Updike
"The essential self is innocent, and when it tastes its own innocence knows that it lives for ever."
by John Updike
"It rots a writer's brain, it cretinises you. You say the same thing again and again, and when you do that happily you're well on the way to being a cretin. Or a politician."
by John Updike
"For male and female alike, the bodies of the other sex are messages signaling what we must do -- they are glowing signifiers of our own necessities."
by John Updike
"Being naked approaches being revolutionary; going barefoot is mere populism."
by John Updike
"It skims in through the eye, and by means of the utterly delicate retina hurls shadows like insect legs inward for translation. Then an immense space opens up in silence and an endlessly fecund sub-universe the writer descends, and asks the reader to descend after him, not merely to gain instructions but also to experience delight, the delight of mind freed from matter and exultant in the strength it has stolen from matter."
by John Updike
"Religion enables us to ignore nothingness and get on with the jobs of life."
by John Updike
"We take our bearings, daily, from others. To be sane is, to a great extent, to be sociable."
by John Updike
"Lawrence had done it in a way, and Joyce. But I think it's an important thing to do now and then, to describe the sex act as our descent, or adventure, into a primordial or strange world, having very little to do with how we look in suits or what our educations have been. It's a well of darkness, as it were, that leaves you refreshed."
by John Updike
"In asking forgiveness of women for our mythologizing of their bodies, for being unreal about them, we can only appeal to their own sexuality, which is different but not basically different, perhaps, from our own. For women, too, there seems to be that tangle of supplication and possessiveness, that descent toward infantile undifferentiation, that omnipotent helplessness, that merger with the cosmic mother-warmth, that flushed pulse-quickened leap into overestimation, projection, general mix-up."
by John Updike
"What more fiendish proof of cosmic irresponsibility than a Nature which, having invented sex as a way to mix genes, then permits to arise, amid all its perfumed and hypnotic inducements to mate, a tireless tribe of spirochetes and viruses that torture and kill us for following orders?"
by John Updike
"Sex is like money; only too much is enough."
by John Updike
"Every marriage tends to consist of an aristocrat and a peasant. Of a teacher and a learner."
by John Updike
"That a marriage ends is less than ideal; but all things end under heaven, and if temporality is held to be invalidating, then nothing real suc..."
by John Updike


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