Cosmic Quotes: Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume

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Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins: “Breathe properly. Stay curious. And eat your beets.”


Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins on Cosmic Quotes

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Birth and death were easy. It was the life that was hard.


The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely unthinkable that must be thought.


If you want your tree to produce plenty o’ fruit, you’ve got to cut it back from time to time. Same thing with your neural cells. Some people might call it brain damage. I call it prunin’.


It is better to be small, colorful, sexy, careless, and peaceful, like the flowers than large, conservative, repressed, fearful, and aggressive, like the thunder lizards; a lesson, by the way, that the Earth has yet to learn.


There is plenty of misery in the world, all right, but there is ample pleasure, as well. If a person forswears pleasure in order to avoid misery, what has he gained?…how can you admire a human who consciously embraces the bland, the mediocre, and the safe rather than risks the suffering that disappointments can bring?…If desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire…why not get better at fulfilling desire? I cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us, to tempt us, to make it the more difficult for us to achieve the grand prize – they safety of the void. To fashion of life, such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods.


The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.


gif by Emma Martschinke

Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. When you come upon a man who has been dead many years, his bones will still be lying there, in place, content, patiently wait, but his flesh will have gotten up and left him. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me, then, Alobar, in order to achieve immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should you trust your flesh or your bones?


Alcoholism is an imperfect spiritual longing.


In order to tame death, they refuse to completely enjoy life. In rejecting complete enjoyment, they are half-dead in advance – and that with no guarantee that their sacrifice will actually benefit them when all is done.


Perhaps the most terrible (or wonderful) thing that can happen to an imaginative youth, aside from the curse (or blessing) of imagination itself, is to be exposed without preparation to the life outside his or her own sphere – the sudden revelation that there is a there out there.


To physically overcome death – is that not the goal? – we must think the unthinkable thoughts and ask unanswerable questions. Yet we must not lose ourselves in abstract vapors of philosophy. Death ahs his concrete allies, we must enlist ours. Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how many souls and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer. The solution to the ultimate problem may prove to be elemental and quite practical. Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have known all along that it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek.


The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being. Still, lovers quarrel. Frequently, they quarrel simply to recharge the air between them, to sharpen the aliveness of their relationship. To precipitate such a quarrel, the sweaty kimono of sexual jealousy is usually dragged out of the hamper, although almost any excuse will do. Only rarely is the spat rooted in the beet-deep soil of serious issue, but when it is, a special sadness attends it, for the mind is slower to heal than the heart, and such quarrels can doom a union, even one that has prospered for a very long time.


gif by Dai Ruiz

There are people in this world who can wear whale masks and people who cannot, and the wise know to which group they belong.


Teachers who offer you the ultimate answers do not possess the ultimate answers, for if they did, they would know that the ultimate answers cannot be given, they can only be received.


The party in Alobar’s head, which agitation and anxiety were throwing, now was crashed by a notion: existence can be rearranged.


Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked.


“It was wonderful, Pris.”

“What was, honey? The meeting? The champagne?”

“The eclipse,” said Ricki. “It was probably the most real thing I’ve ever seen, but it was also like a dream. You know what I mean? Real and unreal, beautiful and strange, like a dream. It got me high as a kite, but it didn’t last long enough. It ended too soon and left nothing behind.”

“That’s how it is with dreams,” said Priscilla. “They’re a perfect crime.”


When we accept small wonders, we qualify ourselves to imagine great wonders.


gif by Abbey Lossing

All dreams continue in the beyond.


My desire was no less than before, you understand, but I no longer identified with the desire. Perhaps that is why taking them too seriously, we not only increase our susceptibility to disappointment, we actually create a climate inhospitable to the free and easy fulfillment of those desires.


I mean that god do not limit men. Men limit men.


A mask has but one expression, frozen and eternal, yet it is always and ever the essential expression, and to hide one’s telltale flesh behind the external skeleton of the mask is to display the universal identity of the inner being in a place of the outer identity that is transitory and corrupt. The freedom of the masked is not the vulgar political freedom of the successful revolutionary, but the magical freedom of the Divine, beyond politics and beyond success. A mask, any mask, whether horned like a beast or feathered like an angel, is the face of immortality. Meet me in Cognito, baby. In Cognito, we’ll have nothing to hide.


At birth, we are red-faced, round, intense, pure. The crimson fire of universal consciousness burns in us. Gradually, however, we are devoured by our parents, gulped by schools, chewed up by peers, swallowed by social institutions, wolfed by bad habits, and gnawed by age; and by that time we have been digested, cow style, in those six stomachs, we emerge a single disgusting shade of brown. The lesson of the beet, then, is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you’re brown, you’ll find that you’re blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means, Indigo. Indigoing. Indigone.


The word desire suggests that there is something we do not have. If we have everything already, then there can be no desire, for there is nothing left to want. I think that what the Buddha may have been trying to tell us is that we have it all, each of us, all the time; therefore, desire is simply unnecessary.


I do not know why the dead does not come back to life. Perhaps death is so wonderful, in ways we cannot comprehend, that they prefer it over and above their friends and loved ones, although I am inclined to doubt that be the case.


gif by Anna Salmi

The rich are the most discriminated-against minority in the world. Openly or covertly, everybody hates the rich because, openly or covertly, everybody envies the rich. Me, I love the rich. Somebody has to love them. Sure, a lot o’ rich people are assholes, but believe me, a lot o’ poor people are assholes, too, and an asshole with money can at least pay for his own drinks.


There is a comfort in conformity, a security in control, that is appealing. There is a thrill in domination, and we are all secretly attracted to violence.


If desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire. Instead of hiding our heads in a prayer cloth and building walls against temptation, why not get better at fulfilling desire? Salvation is for the feeble, that’s what I think. I don’t want salvation, I want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb. If the gods would tax ecstasy, then I shall pay; however, I shall protest their taxes at each opportunity, and if Woden or Shiva or Buddha or that Christian fellow–what’s his name?–cannot respect that, then I’ll accept their wrath. At least I will have tasted the banquet that they have spread before me on this rich, round planet, rather than recoiling from it like a toothless bunny. I cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us, to tempt us, to make it the more difficult for us to capture the grand prize: the safety of the void. To fashion of life, such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods.


The reality is subjective, and there’s an unenlightened tendency in this culture to regard something as ‘important’ only if it’s sober and severe. Your Cheerful Dumb are not so much happy as lobotomized. But your Gloomy Smart are just as ridiculous. When you’re unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. And you get to take yourself oh so very seriously. Your truly happy people, which is to say, your people who truly LIKE themselves, they don’t think about themselves very much. Your unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up because that means he has to stop dwelling on himself and start paying attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence.


Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how many souls and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.


If you lack the iron and the fuzz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked. The dull and prosaic will be granted adventures that will dice their central nervous systems like an onion, romantic dreamers will end up in the rope yard. You may protest that it is too much to ask of an uneducated fifteen-year-old girl that she defy her family, her society, her weighty cultural and religious heritage in order to pursue a dream that she doesn’t really understand. Of course, it is asking too much. The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely unthinkable that must be thought.


gif by Anna Salmi

The difference between love and logic is that in the eyes of a lover, a toad can be a prince, whereas, in the analysis of a logistician, the lover would have to prove that the toad was a prince, an enterprise destined to dull the shine of many a passion.


Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life’s bittersweet route.


In addition, Dr. Dannyboy has suggested a fifth element: positive thinking. Pointing out that their breathing, bathing, dining, and screwing brought Alobar and Kudra much physical pleasure, and that an organism steeped in pleasure is an organism disposed to continue, he has said that the will to live cannot be overestimated as a stimulant to longevity. Indeed Dr. Dannyboy goes so far as to claim that ninety percent of all deaths are suicides. Persons, says Wiggs, who lack curiosity about life, who find minimal joy in existence, are all too willing, subconsciously, to cooperate with- and attract- disease, accident, and violence.


I do not fear death. I resent it. Everything must die, apparently, and I am no exception. But I want to be consulted. You know what I mean? Death is impatient and thoughtless. It barges into your room when you are right in the middle of something, and it doesn’t bother to wipe its boots. I have a new passion, my darlings, a passion for being myself, and for being more than previously has been manifested for a single lifetime. I am determined to die at my own convenience. Therefore, I journey to the east, where, I have been told, there are men who have taught death some manners.


Existence can be rearranged. A man can be many things. I am special and free. And the world is round round round.


Breathe properly. Stay curious. And eat your beets.


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