The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.— Gunter Grass
The most inspiring Gunter Grass quotes that are little-known but priceless
Even if surrounded with explanations, Auschwitz can never be grasped.
There must be reasons why we men are so hipped on breasts as if we'd all been weaned too soon.
Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.
Art is uncompromising, and life is full of compromises.
And when the sun goes down and the mood comes upon me, I'll watch the play of the colors on the water, yield to the fleetly dissolving images, and turn into pure feeling, all soft and nice.
How easily the routine of sin establishes itself.
An empty bus hurtles through the starry night Perhaps the driver is singing and happy because he sings.
After the collapse of socialism, capitalism remained without a rival.
This unusual situation unleashed its greedy and - above all - its suicidal power. The belief is now that everything - and everyone - is fair game.
It's dangerous to watch staggering butterflies. They have a plan but it has no meaning.
As a child I was a great liar. Fortunately my mother liked my lies. I promised her marvelous things.
I have found that words that are loaded with pathos and create a seductive euphoria are apt to promote nonsense.
Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital;
my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.
I had an uncle who was a postal official at the Polish post office in Gdansk.
He was one of the defenders of the Polish postal service and, after it capitulated, was shot by the Germans under the provisions of martial law. Suddenly he was no longer a member of the family, and we were no longer allowed to play with his children.
Art is accusation, expression, passion.
Art is a fight to the finish between black charcoal and white paper.
What makes books - and with them writers - so dangerous that church and state, politburos and the mass media feel the need to oppose them?
Cemeteries have always had a lure for me.
They are well kept, free from ambiguity, logical, virile, and alive. In cemeteries you can summon up courage and arrive at decisions, in cemeteries life takes on distinct contours -- I am not referring to the borders of the graves -- and if you will, a meaning.
Believing: it means believing in our own lies.
And I can say that I am grateful that I got this lesson very early.
Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings. It's not God in his heaven who sees everything. A kitchen chair, a clothes hanger, a half-filled ashtray, or the wooden replica of a woman named Niobe can serve perfectly well as an unforgetting witness to our every deed.
Melancholy and utopia are heads and tails of the same coin.
I shall speak of how melancholy and utopia preclude one another.
How they fertilize one another... of the revulsion that follows one insight and precedes the next... of superabundance and surfeit. Of stasis in progress. And of myself, for whom melancholy and utopia are heads and tails of the same coin.
Melancholy has ceased to be an individual phenomenon, an exception.
It has become the class privilege of the wage earner, a mass state of mind that finds its cause wherever life is governed by production quotas.
Where man had been, in every place he left, garbage remained.
Even in his pursuit of the ultimate truth and quest for his God, he produced garbage. By his garbage, which lay stratum upon stratum, he could always - one had only to dig - be known. For more long-lived than man is his refuse. Garbage alone lives after him.
If work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this one utopian principle - absolute busyness - then utopia and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy - and without consciousness.
Art is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same. Pointless and yet necessary, that's hard for a puritan to understand.
What I do is sometimes - at least in Germany - met with wounding campaigns.
I always face the question: should I grow myself a thick skin and ignore it, or should I let myself be wounded? I've decided to be wounded, since, if I grew a thick skin, there are other things I wouldn't feel any more.
Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.
In general, I agree with Jacob Grimm and feel that we ought to permit changes and uncontrolled growth in language. Even though that also allows potentially threatening new words to develop, language needs the chance to constantly renew itself.
I was assigned to the Waffen-SS but was never involved in any crime.
Besides, I always felt the need to write about my experiences in a larger context one day. This has only developed recently, now that I have overcome my inner aversion to writing an autobiography in the first place, specifically one having to do with my younger years.
...I remain restless and dissatisfied; what I knot with my right hand, I undo with my left, what my left hand creates, my right fist shatters
The patience of poverty. In rice fields, backs bent forever. Amazing, man outoxens the oxen and still smiles. The mystery of India, say Indologists.
I catch myself judging myself as that 13-year-old boy, who, of course, rightfully points out that he is only a child. And my membership - well, I was drafted into the Waffen-SS and didn't exactly volunteer, which was just as idiotic. I wanted to be on the submarines and then ended up with the Waffen-SS.
I have heard my fill of hurtful words.
I think it's especially egregious when citizens like me, who point out abuses in their country, are referred to as 'do-gooders.' This is how a phrase that can be used to stop an argument dead becomes part of common usage.
I'm always astonished by a forest. It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn.
Everything bigger than life attracts a crowd.
Art is accusation, expression, passion. Art is black charcoal crushing white paper.
Can it be that action is active resignation? Something is trying to develop;
it moves ever so slightly, and there comes your man of action and bashes in the hothouse windows.
Removed from its more restrictive sense, masturbation has become an expression for everything that has proved, for lack of human contact, to be void of meaning. We have communication problems, suffer from egocentrism and narcissism, are frustrated by information glut and loss of environment; we stagnate despite the rising GNP.
What does a river like the Vistula carry away with it? Everything that goes to pieces: wood, glass, pencils, pacts ... chairs, bones, and sunsets too. What had long been forgotten rose to memory, floating on its back or stomach, with the help of the Vistula.
Everybody knows how fallible memory can sometimes be.
You remember certain fragments precisely, but as soon as you try to join the fragments together, for a story, there is a certain - not falsification, but a shifting.
We dance for the pure joy of it. In the kitchen to the record player. Because we've got it in us. All over ... it's not just in the legs. It comes from inside and runs all through you. In waves. From down below to up above. All the way to the scalp.
Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings.
Writers know that sometimes things are there in the drawer for decades before they finally come out and you are capable of writing about them.
I wept when the muse Ulla bent over me.
Blinded by tears I could not prevent her from kissing me, I could not prevent the Muse from giving me that terrible kiss. All of you who have ever been kissed by the Muse will surely understand that Oskar, once branded by that kiss, was condemned to take back the drum he had rejected years before, the drum he had buried in the sand of Sapse Cemetery.
People change with time. There are things that happened to a person in his childhood and years later they seem to him alien and strange. I am trying to decipher that child. Sometimes he is a stranger to me. When you think about when you were 14, don't you feel a certain alienation?
In statistics, what disappears behind rows of numbers is death.
I don't believe in writing at night because it comes too easily.
When I read it in the morning it's not good. I need daylight to begin. Between nine and ten o'clock I have a long breakfast with reading and music.
What novel - or what else in the world - can have the epic scope of a photograph album? May our Father in Heaven, the untiring amateur who each Sunday snaps us from above, at an unfortunate angle that makes for hideous foreshortening, and pastes our pictures, properly exposed or not, in his album, guide me safely through this album of mine.
Lies that do not hurt, which are different from lies that protect oneself or hurt another person. That is not my business. But the truth is mostly very boring, and you can help it along with lies. There is no harm in that.