You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

— Harlan Ellison

The most cheerful Harlan Ellison quotes that are little-known but priceless

The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

97

Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them.

Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself.

51

Like a wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we were, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.

51

Star Wars is adolescent nonsense; Close Encounters is obscurist drivel; ‘Star Trek’ can turn your brains into puree of bat guano; and the greatest science fiction series of all time is Doctor Who! And I'll take you all on, one-by-one or all in a bunch to back it up!

48

I think [religion] is presumptuous and I think it is silly, because it makes you believe that you are less than what you can be. As long as you can blame everything on some unseen deity, you don’t ever have to be responsible for your own behavior.

35

It is a love/hate relationship I have with the human race.

I am an elitist, and I feel that my responsibility is to drag the human race along with me, that I will never pander to, or speak down to, or play the safe game.

34

In these days of widespread illiteracy, functional illiteracy.

.. anything that keeps people stupid is a felony.

29

K is for "Kenghis Khan"; He was a very nice person. History has no record of him. There is a moral in that, somewhere.

29

People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it.

29

Love ain't nothing but sex misspelled.

24

They minute people fall in love they become liars.

20

The world is turning into a cesspool of imbeciles.

20

About Harlan Ellison

Quotes 83 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Writer
Birthday October 16

Why let them order you about? Why let them tell you to hurry and scurry like ants or maggots? Take your time! Saunter a while! Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the breeze, let life carry you at your own pace! Don't be slaves of time, it's a helluva way to die, slowly, by degrees...down with the Ticktockman!

18

Writing is the hardest work in the world.

I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven't been told a million times already – that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.

18

Posing the question: does the god of love use underarm deodorant, vaginal spray and fluoride toothpaste?

13

I was the green monkey, the pariah. And I had no friends. Not just a few friends, or one good friend, or grudging acceptance by other misfits and outcasts. I was alone. All stinking alone, without even an imaginary playmate.

11

I cannot pay attention to what people say about my work.

For me, personally, I am just this shards-and-ashes human being, who really gets upset when someone says something bad about me. If it's true, I cop to it. If I have any good qualities, it's that.

9

Thus, from admiration of one wise and innocent child, and from a misheard remark, the process that not even Aristotle could codify was triggered. Where do you get your ideas? I purposely mishear things.

8

I hate being wrong, but I love it when I'm set straight.

7

Entertain, yes. That goes without saying. But a good writer does that automatically, it's built into the machine. Telling a thumpingly good, mesmerizing story is what one does without question. But beyond that, any writer worth his/her hire knows that all writing, one way or another, is subversive. It is guerrilla warfare against the status quo.

7

Y is for YGGDRASIL. The legendary Nordic ash tree with its three roots extending into the lands of mortals, giants, and Niflheim, the land of mist, grows in Wisconsin. Legend has it that when the tree falls, the universe will fall. Next Wednesday, the State Highway Commission comes through that empty pasture with a freeway.

5

Get a day job, make your money from that, and write to please yourself.

4

My philosophy of life is that the meek shall inherit nothing but debasement, frustration, and ignoble deaths.

4

Uh, excuse me, sir, I, uh, don't known how to uh, to uh, tell you this, but you were three minutes late. The schedule is a little, uh, bit off." He grinned sheepishly. "That's ridiculous!" murmured the Ticktockman behind his mask. "Check your watch." And then he went into his office, going mrmee, mrmee, mrmee, mrmee.

4

The real story of our times is seldom told in the horse-puckey-filled memoirs of dopey, self-serving presidents or generals, but in the outrageous, demented lives of guys like Lenny Bruce, Giordano Bruno, Scott Fitzgerald - and Paul Krassner. The burrs under society's saddle. The pains in the ass.

3

I have no mouth. And I must scream.

3

Don't start an argument with somebody who has a microphone when you don't.

They'll make you look like chopped liver.

3

I refuse to write the same story twice.

I keep experimenting. I keep learning how to work. I've been at it pretty much 50 years, and I'm now beginning to learn how to do the job well.

3

Perfection. Excellence. What a passionate lover. But once having tasted the lips of excellence, once having given oneself to its perfection, how dreary and burdensome and filled with anomie are the remainder of one's waking hours trapped in the shackled lock-step of the merely ordinary, the barely acceptable, the just okay and not a stroke better.

3

A man may truly live in his dreams, his noblest dreams, but only, only if he is worthy of those dreams.

2

[On love:] I have no respect for anyone who says they've given up, or that they're not looking or that they're tired. That is to abrogate one's responsibility as a human being.

2

They change scapegoats at the networks more regularly than some people change socks.

2

When you're all alone out there, on the end of the typewriter, with each new story a new appraisal by the world of whether you can still get it up or not, arrogance and self-esteem and deep breathing are all you have. It often looks like egomania. I assure you it's the bold coverup of the absolutely terrified.

2

I see all. I hear all. I know all. And I spend a great deal of time in the bathroom.

2

If you let the image of the messenger get in the way of whatever message there may be, however large or small, that's your problem, not his.

2

In my ugly, elitist opinion we are not all entitled to voice our opinions, we are entitled to pass along our informed opinions.

2

For the first time we have a weapon that nobody has used for thirty years.

This gives me great hope for the human race.

1

I will use big words from time to time, the meanings of which I may only vaguely perceive, in hopes such cupidity will send you scampering to your dictionary: I will call such behavior 'public service'.

0

I will live to piss in the open mouths or the open graves of my enemies, whichever comes first.

0

Repent, Harlequin," said the Ticktock Man. "Get stuffed," the Harlequin replied.

0

Now begin in the middle, and later learn the beginning; the end will take care of itself.

0

I made as many mistakes as anybody else.

I sound as if I'm an egomaniac, and I suppose in some ways I'm filled with hubris because I know how good I am at certain things. But other things, I can't do at all. I can't draw.

0

I know that pain is the most important thing in the universes.

Greater than survival, greater than love, greater even than the beauty it brings about. For without pain, there can be no pleasure. Without sadness, there can be no happiness. Without misery there can be no beauty. And without these, life is endless, hopeless, doomed and damned. Adult. You have become adult.

0

be careful of monsters with teeth

0

The only thing worth writing about is people.

People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. [...] There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the 'normal', the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.

0

The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.

0

I think love and sex are separate and only vaguely similar.

Like the word bear and the word bare. You can get in trouble mistaking one for the other.

0

There is no nobler chore in the craft of writing than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the 'normal,' the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.

0

Everybody has a talent, whether it's scrapbooking, or kite-flying, or brain surgery, or writing, everybody has a talent. And if they discover it, and they turn it to their purposes and make a living out of it, then they become not "that person," but they become "that writer" or "that doctor" or "that supervisor."

0
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