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Posted by on Jan 27, 2007 in At TMV | 8 comments

Literary Quote of the Day: Ken Kesey 2

Today’s literary quote of the day is, yet again, from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Normally, I wouldn’t use two quotes of the same book easily, but there are so many usuable quotes in this magnificent book that I chose to use a second one today…

And, to make matters even worse, I might use a third one somewhere next week.

Confession: sadly, stupidly, unbelievably enough for a literature lover and American Studies student, I had never read this book… before just now.

Better late than never I suppose.

Anyway, here’s the quote (or passage):

“This world… it belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf as the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn’t challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?”

Share your thoughts on today’s literary quote in the comment section of this post.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • SteveK

    For a quick overview of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters here’s a link dedicated to his works and times:

    IN 1959, Ken Kesey, a graduate student in creative writing at Stanford University, volunteered to take part in a government drug research program at Menlo Park Veterans Hospital that tested a variety of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, which was legal at the time, psilocybin, mescaline, and amphetamine IT-290. Over a period of several weeks, Kesey ingested these hallucinogens and wrote of his drug-induced experiences for government researchers. From this experience, Kesey wrote his most celebrated novel, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest…

    Kesey and the Pranksters were on the leading edge of one of the most talked about, but least understood, social / psychological turning point of the twentieth century and all that seems to be remembered about them, and their vision, was that they were a bunch of “dirty old hippies”.

    That’s too bad, but old hippies seem comfortable enough with what and who they were and are to be overly concerned. A lot of us spend our days golfing rather than worrying about the opinions of those that don’t really care.

    Speaking of ‘golfing’ and ‘merry pranksters’ I highly recommend Michael Murphy’s (another Stanford Alum) “Golf in the Kingdom” (1972) it will add to your your understanding of both golf and pranksters.

  • Steve K., thanks for the link, information and book suggestion! I see your something like a fan?

    If so, why? What is it that makes, in this case, Kesey so good in your opinion.

  • “The earth continues to go round, whether it’s the man who kills the tiger or the tiger who eats the man. The stronger asserts his will, it’s the law of nature. The world doesn’t change; its laws are eternal.”

    Adolf Hitler, cited by Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens, trans., (Oxford, 1953), Hitler’s Table-Talk, p. 38-39

  • “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  • Hmm, I guess I shouldn’t post a Hitler quote without explaining my reasoning for doing so. Actually, I think this Kersey quote is a very misleading, even dangerous one. This reasoning has been used by strongmen as a reason for terrorising the weak since the beginning of civilisation.

    But it is wrong. Just an example: An ant may be weak compared to a grown up rat, but the rodent would be ill advised in attacking an ant colony. And a group of rats is able to kill the biggest cat. So, the real law of nature isn’t the reign of the strongest, but the survival of the fittest. Small, weak creatures forming ‘societies’ are fitter than lone predators. Consequently, dinosaurs vanished from earth while insects are going strong.

    Remember the tale of Gulliver? Even the strongest man might be brought down by a big enough group of determined weaklings working together.

  • Gray, have you read the book I quote from? You have to interprete it in that context. I do not just use quotes I find inspiring or ‘true’… I also uses quotes that relate to how many other people might think / and or to challenge you all.

  • “Gray, have you read the book I quote from?”
    Yes, I did. The German translation, though.
    “You have to interprete it in that context.”
    I know. And I think to quote it out of context leaves a misleading impression, that might be seen by some as supporting their dangerously wrong views…

  • But that’s their mistake then, isn’t it?

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