There is no shortcut to life. To the end of our days, life is a lesson imperfectly learned.Harrison Salisbury
- There are women who are not beautiful but only look that way.
- Sprüche und Widersprüche (Dicta and Contradictions) (1909); as translated by Richard Hanser
- What is the Ninth Symphony compared to a Tin Pan Alley hit played on a hurdy-gurdy and a memory?
- Sprüche und Widersprüche (Dicta and Contradictions)
- Love and art do not embrace what is beautiful but what is made beautiful by this embrace.
- Beim Wort genommen (1955); as translated by by Harry Zohn
- Quotations from Die Fackel as translated in Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry (1976) by Thomas Stephen Szasz
- An aphorism can never be the whole truth; it is either a half-truth or a truth-and-a-half.
- Die Fackel no. 270/71 (1909-01-19)
- Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world.
- Die Fackel no. 315/16 (1911-01-26)
- The esthete stands in the same relation to beauty as the pornographer stands to love, and the politician stands to life.
- Die Fackel no. 406/12 (1915-10-05)
- My unconscious knows more about the consciousness of the psychologist than his consciousness knows about my unconscious.
- Die Fackel no. 445/53 (18 January 1917)
- War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.
- Die Fackel no. 46 (9 October 1917)
Half-Truths and One-And-A-Half Truths (1976)
- Half-Truths and One-And-A-Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms (1990) as translated by Harry Zohn
- Science is spectral analysis. Art is light synthesis.
- I hear noises which others don't hear and which disturb for me the music of the spheres, which others don't hear either.
- Many share my views with me. But I don't share them with them.
- It so often happened to me that someone who shared my opinion kept the larger share for himself that I am now forewarned and offer people only ideas.
- Moral responsibility is what is lacking in a man when he demands it of a woman.
- How powerful social mores are! Only a spider's web lies across the volcano, yet it refrains from erupting.
- A woman occasionally is quite a serviceable substitute for masturbation. It takes an abundance of imagination, to be sure.
- A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.
- A weak man has doubts before a decision, a strong man has them afterwards.
- An illusion of depth often occurs if a blockhead is a muddlehead at the same time.
- Christian morality prefers remorse to precede lust, and then lust not to follow.
- Curses on the law! Most of my fellow citizens are the sorry consequences of uncommitted abortions.
- Democracy divides people into workers and loafers. It makes no provision for those who have no time to work.
- Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.
- Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that they are not idiots.
- Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess.
- Feminine passion is to masculine as an epic is to an epigram.
- Hate must make a man productive. Otherwise one might as well love.
- How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read.
- I am already so popular that anyone who vilifies me becomes more popular than I am.
- 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.
- "It is better not to express what one means than to express what one does not mean."
- Language is the mother of thought, not its handmaiden.
- Lichtenberg digs deeper than anyone… . He speaks from the subterranean depths. Only he who himself digs deep hears him.
- On the German polymath Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
- Matrimony is the union of meanness and martyrdom.
- Morality is a venereal disease. Its primary stage is called virtue; its secondary stage, boredom; its tertiary stage, syphilis.
- No ideas and the ability to express them— that's a journalist.
- Progress, under whose feet the grass mourns and the forest turns into paper from which newspaper plants grow, has subordinated the purpose of life to the means of subsistence and turned us into the nuts and bolts for our tools.
- Psychoanalysis is that mental illness for which it regards itself as therapy.
- Psychoanalysis: a rabbit that was swallowed by a boa constrictor that just wanted to see what it was like in there.
- Satires which the censor can understand are justly forbidden.
- Sentimental irony is a dog that bays at the moon while pissing on graves.
- Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match.
- The closer the look one takes at a word, the greater the distance from which it looks back.
- The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner.
- The real truths are those that can be invented.
- The secret of the demagogue is to make himself as stupid as his audience so that they believe they are as clever as he.
- The world has become uglier since it began to look into a mirror every day; so let us settle for the mirror image and do without an inspection of the original.
- To be sure, the dog is loyal. But why, on that account, should we take him as an example? He is loyal to man, not to other dogs.
- To me all men are equal: there are jackasses everywhere, and I have the same contempt for them all.
- When someone behaves like a beast, he says: 'After all, one is only human.' But when he is treated like a beast, he says, 'After all, one is human.'
- When the sun of culture is low, even dwarves will cast long shadows. (Wenn die Sonne der Kultur tief steht, werfen selbst Zwerge lange Schatten, famous German aphorism which is contributed to Karl Kraus, yet there seems no reliable source)
- You don't even live once.