“Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.”


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Rod Serling dictating, 1959

“We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”  

“Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete.”  

“…the worst aspect of our time is prejudice… In almost everything I’ve written, there is a thread of this—man’s seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.”  

“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible.”  

“Coming up with ideas is the easiest thing on earth. Putting them down is the hardest.”  

“For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized.”  

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard, into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its rememberance. Then we become the grave diggers.”  

“If you need drugs to be a good writer, you are not a good writer.” 

“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”  

“Imagination… its limits are only those of the mind itself.”  

“According to the Bible, God created the heavens and the Earth. It is man’s prerogative—and woman’s—to create their own particular and private hell.” [The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories]

“If you write, fix pipes, grade papers, lay bricks or drive a taxi—do it with a sense of pride. And do it the best you know how. Be cognizant and sympathetic to the guy alongside, because he wants a place in the sun, too. And always…always look past his color, his creed, his religion and the shape of his ears. Look for the whole person. Judge him as the whole person.”  

“In his grave, we praise him for his decency—but when he walked amongst us, we responded with no decency of our own. When he suggested that all men should have a place in the sun—we put a special sanctity on the right of ownership and the privilege of prejudice by maintaining that to deny homes to Negroes was a democratic right.

Now we acknowledge his compassion—but we exercised no compassion of our own. When he asked us to understand that men take to the streets out of anguish and hopelessness and a vision of that dream dying, we bought guns and speculated about roving agitators and subversive conspiracies and demanded law and order.We felt anger at the effects, but did little to acknowledge the causes. We extol all the virtues of the man—but we chose not to call them virtues before his death.

And now, belatedly, we talk of this man’s worth—but the judgement comes late in the day as part of a eulogy when it should have been made a matter of record while he existed as a living force. If we are to lend credence to our mourning, there are acknowledgements that must be made now, albeit belatedly. We must act on the altogether proper assumption that Martin Luther King asked for nothing but that which was his due… He asked only for equality, and it is that which we denied him.” [from a letter to The Los Angeles Times in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.; April 8, 1968] 

“Some people possess talent, others are possessed by it. When that happens, a talent becomes a curse.”  

“It has forever been thus: So long as men write what they think, then all of the other freedoms—all of them—may remain intact. And it is then that writing becomes a weapon of truth, an article of faith, an act of courage.” 

“If in any quest for magic, in any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human spirit.” [The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories]

“The ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in, becoming narcissistic.”  

“Science fiction makes the implausible possible, while science fantasy makes the impossible plausible.”  

“The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.”  

“It’s simply a national acknowledgement that in any kind of priority, the needs of human beings must come first. Poverty is here and now. Hunger is here and now. Racial tension is here and now. Pollution is here and now. These are the things that scream for a response. And if we don’t listen to that scream—and if we don’t respond to it—we may well wind up sitting amidst our own rubble, looking for the truck that hit us—or the bomb that pulverized us. Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our own name.” [from a Commencement Address at the University of Southern California; March 17, 1970]  

“A sickness known as hate; not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ—but a sickness nonetheless, highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don’t look for it in the Twilight Zone—look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether.”  

“Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.”  

“I was deeply interested in conveying what is a deeply felt conviction of my own. This is simply to suggest that human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake.”  

“To My Children: I’m dedicating my little story to you; doubtless you will be among the very few who will ever read it. It seems war stories aren’t very well received at this point. I’m told they’re out-dated, untimely and as might be expected—make some unpleasant reading. And, as you have no doubt already perceived, human beings don’t like to remember unpleasant things. They gird themselves with the armor of wishful thinking, protect themselves with a shield of impenetrable optimism, and, with a few exceptions, seem to accomplish their “forgetting” quite admirably.

But you, my children, I don’t want you to be among those who choose to forget. I want you to read my stories and a lot of others like them. I want you to fill your heads with Remarque and Tolstoy and Ernie Pyle. I want you to know what shrapnel, and “88’s” and mortar shells and mustard gas mean. I want you to feel, no matter how vicariously, a semblance of the feeling of a torn limb, a burnt patch of flesh, the crippling, numbing sensation of fear, the hopeless emptiness of fatigue. All these things are complimentary to the province of War and they should be taught and demonstrated in classrooms along with the more heroic aspects of uniforms, and flags, and honor and patriotism.

I have no idea what your generation will be like. In mine we were to enjoy “Peace in our time.” A very well meaning gentleman waved his umbrella and shouted those very words… less than a year before the whole world went to war. But this gentleman was suffering the worldly disease of insufferable optimism. He and his fellow humans kept polishing the rose colored glasses when actually they should have taken them off. They were sacrificing reason and reality for a brief and temporal peace of mind, the same peace of mind that many of my contemporaries derive by steadfastly refraining from remembering the War that came before.”[excerpt from a dedication to an unpublished short story—“First Squad, First Platoon”—from Serling to his as yet unborn children] 

“I don’t think playing it safe constitutes a retreat, necessarily. In other words, I don’t think if, by playing safe he means we are not going to delve into controversy, then if that’s what he means he’s quite right. I’m not going to delve into controversy. Somebody asked me the other day if this means that I’m going to be a meek conformist, and my answer is no. I’m just acting the role of a tired non-conformist.”  

“In eleven or twelve years of writing, Mike [Mike Wallace, CBS News], I can lay claim to at least this: I have never written beneath myself. I have never written anything that I didn’t want my name attached to. I have probed deeper in some scripts and I’ve been more successful in some than others. But all of them that have been on, you know, I’ll take my lick. They’re mine and that’s the way I wanted them.”  

“As long as they talk about you, you’re not really dead, as long as they speak your name, you continue. A legend doesn’t die, just because the man dies.”  

“It may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.” [The Twilight Zone: Complete Stories]

“The writer in any field, and particularly the television writer, runs into “dry periods”—weeks or months when it seems that everything he writes goes the rounds and ultimately gets nowhere. This is not only a bad moment but an endless one. I remember a five-month period late in 1952 when my diet consisted chiefly of black coffee and fingernails. I’d written six half-hour television plays and each one had been rejected at least five times. What this kind of thing does to a family budget is obvious; and what it does to the personality of the writer is even worse.” [From Patterns: Four Television Plays with the Author’s Personal Commentaries] 

“You see, we can feed the stomach with concentrates, we can supply microfilm for reading, recreation, even movies of a sort, we can pump oxygen in, and waste material out, but there’s one thing we can’t simulate. That’s a very basic need. Man’s hunger for companionship. The barrier of loneliness, that’s one thing we haven’t licked yet.”  

“Never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.” 

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…Rod Serling did say the quotes below (in Twilight Zone narrations) but George Clayton Johnson may have written them. They are wisdom either way!

“There is nothing in the dark that isn’t there when the lights are on.” 

“Being like everybody is the same as being nobody.” 

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