, , , , , , ,

Karl Kraus

“It is better not to express what one means than to express what one does not mean.”

“When someone has behaved like an animal, he says: ‘I’m only human!’ But when he is treated like an animal, he says: ‘I’m human, too!’”

“There are women who are not beautiful but only look that way.”

“If I return some people’s greetings, I do so only to give them their greeting back.”

“Nothing is more narrow-minded than chauvinism or race hatred. To me all men are equal: there are jackasses everywhere, and I have the same contempt for them all. No petty prejudices!”

“We are sacrificing ourselves for our ready-made goods; we are consumers and live in such a way that the means may consume the end.”

“An aphorism can never be the whole truth; it is either a half-truth or a truth-and-a-half.”

“The esthete stands in the same relation to beauty as the pornographer stands to love, and the politician stands to life.”

“My unconscious knows more about the consciousness of the psychologist than his consciousness knows about my unconscious.”

“War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that the enemy too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.”

“Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.”

“There are people who can never forgive a beggar for their not having given him anything.”

“Do not learn more than you absolutely need to get through life.”

“I don’t like to meddle in my private affairs.”

“Many share my views with me. But I don’t share them with them.”

“I have often been asked to be fair and view a matter from all sides. I did so, hoping something might improve if I viewed all sides of it. But the result was the same. So I went back to viewing things only from one side, which saves me a lot of work and disappointment. For it is comforting to regard something as bad and be able use one’s prejudice as an excuse.”

“I and my public understand each other very well: it does not hear what I say, and I don’t say what it wants to hear.”

“Many things I am experiencing I already remember.”

“Only he is an artist who can make a riddle out of a solution.”

“Today’s literature: prescriptions written by patients.”

“Hate must make a person productive; otherwise one might as well love.”

“Sound opinions are valueless. What matters is who holds them.”

“The real truths are those that can be invented.”

“The making of a journalist: no ideas and the ability to express them.”

“Education is what most people receive, many pass on, and few have.”

“One of the most widespread diseases is diagnosis.”

“Psychoanalysis is that mental illness for which regards itself as therapy.”

“How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.”

“The immorality of men triumphs over the amorality of women.”

“I am not for women but against men.”

“Feminine passion is to masculine as an epic is to an epigram.”

“A ‘seducer’ who boasts of initiating women into the mystery of love is like a stranger who arrives at a railroad station and offers to show the sights to a tourist guide.”

“Many women would like to dream with men without sleeping with them. Someone should point out to them that this is utterly impossible.”

“A woman who cannot be ugly is not beautiful.”

“Women at least have elegant dresses. But what can men use to cover their emptiness?”

“The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner.”

“Solitude would be an ideal state if one were able to pick the people one avoids.”

“Family life is an encroachment on private life.”

“Life is an effort that deserves a better cause.”

“The development of technology will leave only one problem: the infirmity of human nature.”

“You don’t even live once.”

“Keep your passions in check, but beware of giving your reason free rein.”

“Lord, forgive them, for they know what they do!”

“There is no doubt that a dog is loyal. But does that mean we should emulate him? After all, he is loyal to people, not to other dogs.”


Selections from the brilliant collection of Kraus quips Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms, compiled and translated by Harry Zohn.

There’s more:

Karl Kraus 2