Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Norman O. Brown, fully Norman Oliver Brown

American Classicist Philosopher

"What education does is to put a series of filters over your awareness so that year by year... you experience less and less."

"What is always speaking silently is the body."

"In its famous paradox, the equation of money and excrement, psychoanalysis becomes the first science to state what common sense and the poets have long known - that the essence of money is in its absolute worthlessness"

"I am what is mine. Personality is the original personal property."

"The dynamics of capitalism is postponement of enjoyment to the constantly postponed future."

"The view only changes for the lead dog."

"All currency is neurotic currency."

"History is the enactment of ritual on a permanent and universal stage; and its perpetual commemoration."

"I perceive a necessary gap between seeing and being. I would not be able to have said certain things if I had been under the obligation to unify the word and the deed. As it is I can let my words reach out and net impossible things - things that are impossible for me to do. And this is a way to pay the price for saying or seeing things."

"I want to write epic poems disguised as novels."

"Freedom is poetry, taking liberties with words, breaking the rules of normal speech, violating common sense. Freedom is violence."

"I've been impressed by the extent to which one gets sentenced by one's own sentences. One explores certain things in play and then in a strange way they become commitments which one has to live. I have gained a deep respect for the demonic power of the word. Words are not idle. They have consequences."

"Listing what body parts he has broken."

"Love without attachment is light."

"Meaning is not in things but in between them."

"My skull, my eyes, my nose three times, my jaw, my shoulder, my chest, two fingers, a knee, everything from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet."

"Personality is the original personal property."

"Resisting madness is the maddest way of being mad."

"The human body is not a thing or substance, given, but a continuous creation. The human body is an energy system which is never a complete structure; never static; is in perpetual inner self-construction and self-destruction; we destroy in order to make it new."

"The insane do not share the normal prejudice in favor of external reality."

"The money complex is the demonic, and the demonic is God's ape; the money complex is therefore the heir to and substitute for the religious complex, an attempt to find God in things."

"The Pentecostal darkness: the sun shall be turned to darkness. To overcome the opposition of darkness and light, cleanliness and dirt, order and chaos, the marriage of heaven and hell (a concept borrowed from the heterodox mystic William Blake). To seduce the world to madness."

"There is no breakthrough without breakage."

"Utopian speculations ... must come back into fashion. They are a way of affirming faith in the possibility of solving problems that seem at the moment insoluble. Today even the survival of humanity is a utopian hope."