Born: January 12, 1883
Birthplace: Canandaigua, New York, U.S.A.
Died: March 25, 1969
Occupation: Author, Journalist, and Writer
Profile: Editor of The Masses (1911-1917) in 1913. Later co-founded The Liberator (1918-1922).
Number of Quotes: 22
A joke is not a thing but a process, a trick you play on the listener's mind. You start him off toward a plausible goal, and then by a sudden twist you land him nowhere at all or just where he didn't expect to go.
A liberal mind is a mind that is able to imagine itself believing anything.
A poet in history is divine, but a poet in the next room is a joke.
A smile is the universal welcome.
Classic art was the art of necessity: modern romantic art bears the stamp of caprice and chance.
Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails.
Emotion is the surest arbiter of a poetic choice, and it is the priest of all supreme unions in the mind.
History is not an escalator.
Humour is the instinct for taking pain playfully.
I don't know why it is we are in such a hurry to get up when we fall down. You might think we would lie there and rest for a while.
It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.
It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humour.
Laughter is, after speech, the chief thing that holds society together.
Nothing could be more calamitous than for patriotism to become the established religion of this country.
People who demand neutrality in any situation are usually not neutral but in favor of the status quo.
Robert Benchley has a style that is weak and lies down frequently to rest.
Socialism is no mean religion. But it is not a religion that binds or blesses the rich and powerful, and so it could hardly become established in a country like ours. For an established religion we needed something a little more like God... a little vaguer and more elegant and better adapted to bind in among other motives the economic self-interest of those who rule. We needed something that would give us the same emotional crystallization without greatly disturbing the profits on capital.
The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.
The words socialist and communist are changing their meaning just as the word Christian did. Just as heretics were burned by thousands in the name of the love of the neighbour, so peasants have been starved by millions in the name of the workers' and peasants' republic. The crude animal egoisms of men and classes of men thus grab ideas and use them, not as heroic lights to action, but as blinds to hide inaction or actions that are too base.
The worst enemy of human hope is not brute facts, but men of brains who will not face them.
This magazine is owned and published cooperatively by its editors. It has no dividends to pay, and nobody is trying to make money out of it. A revolutionary and not a reform magazine: a magazine with a sense of humour and no respect for the respectable: frank, arrogant, impertinent, searching for true causes: a magazine directed against rigidity and dogma wherever it is found: printing what is too naked or true for a money-making press: a magazine whose final policy is to do as it pleases and conciliate nobody, not even its readers.
What is thesecret ballotwhen only one party can run candidates for office, and that the party in power? What isfree press and assemblagewhen no man can form, advocate, or support the platform of any but the gang in power, and when ten to twenty thousand of those who have done so are in jail or exile while you talk about it? What is the whole talk under these conditions about howweare going togive the Russian peoplethe most democratic constitution on earth? Is there any term in the language to describe it except apple-sauce?