Karl Kraus: Half Truths and One and a Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms on The Company One Keeps

09 November 2019



  • Solitude would be an ideal state if one were able to pick the people one avoids.
  • A gourmet once told me that he preferred the scum of the earth to the cream of society.
  • I must be with people again. For this summer– among bees and dandelions– my misanthropy got really out of hand.
  • Many desire to kill me, and many wish to spend an hour chatting with me. The law protects me from the former.
  • Not greeting people isn’t enough. One also doesn’t greet people one doesn’t know.
  • What torture, this life in society! Often someone is obliging enough to offer me a light, and in order to oblige him I have to fish a cigarette out of my pocket.
  • The world is a prison in which solitary confinement is preferable.
  • Nothing is more narrow-minded than chauvinism or race hatred. To me all men are equal: there are jack-asses everywhere, and I have the same contempt for all. No petty prejudices!
  • The unattractive thing about chauvinism is not so much the aversion to other nations, but the love of one’s own.
  • One’s need for loneliness is not satisfied if one sits at a table alone. There must be empty chairs as well. If the waiter takes away a chair on which no one is sitting, I feel a void and my sociability is aroused. I can’t live without empty chairs.
  • His way of pushing into the background was a general nuisance.
  • He who gladly does without the praise of the crowd will not miss the opportunity of becoming his own fan.
  • I take the liberty of conferring on myself all the blessings of a coterie.
  • If I were sure that I should have to share immortality with certain people, I would prefer a separate oblivion.
  • If you wish to form a clear judgement of your friends, consult your dreams.
  • I don’t like to meddle in my private affairs.
  • To those who have doubts about my health I will admit that I suffer from gout. But I won’t let anyone deny that I can also feel a thunderstorm coming.
  • If the world had any idea of how afraid the comet is of contact with it!
  • When the end of the world comes, I want to be living in retirement.

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