75 Ken Kesey Quotes from the Famous American Novelist

Ken Kesey was an important American writer and a key figure in the 1960s counterculture and hippie movements.

He studied at the University of Oregon and Stanford University and his experiences using mind-altering drugs as part of an experiment and working in a mental hospital inspired his famous novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Ken Kesey Quotes

Kesey also wrote about his travels and psychedelic experiences with the Merry Pranksters in several nonfiction books.

Here is a collection of the most famous quotes by Ken Kesey.

Best Ken Kesey Quotes


He’s what he is, that’s it. Maybe that makes him strong enough, being what he is. ~ Ken Kesey.


You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things. ~ Ken Kesey.


The world news might not be therapeutic. ~ Ken Kesey.


He’s the sort of guy that gets a laugh out of people. ~ Ken Kesey.


Ritual is necessary for us to know anything. ~ Ken Kesey.


There’s something about taking a plow and breaking new ground. It gives you energy. ~ Ken Kesey.


Take what you can use and let the rest go by. ~ Ken Kesey.

But he won’t let the pain blot out the humor no more’n he’ll let the humor blot out the pain. ~ Ken Kesey.


We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past. ~ Ken Kesey.

More was revealed in a human face than a human being can bear face to face. ~ Ken Kesey.

Like a cartoon world, where the figures are flat and outlined in black, jerking through some kind of goofy story that might be real funny if it weren’t for the cartoon figures being real guys… ~ Ken Kesey.

It’s time to move on to the next step in the psychedelic revolution. We’ve reached a certain point, but we’re not moving any more. ~ Ken Kesey.

Famous Ken Kesey Quotes


I’d take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was. ~ Ken Kesey.


To hell with facts! We need stories. ~ Ken Kesey.

He’s safe as long as he can laugh, he thinks, and it works pretty fair. ~ Ken Kesey.

See with your ears and hear with your eyes. ~ Ken Kesey.


People think love is an emotion. Love is good sense. ~ Ken Kesey.

Nowhere else in history has there ever been a flag that stands for the right to burn itself. This is the fractal of our flag. It stands for the right to destroy itself. ~ Ken Kesey.

Ocean, Ocean I’ll beat you in the end. ~ Ken Kesey.

That ain’t me, that ain’t my face. It wasn’t even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn’t even really me them; I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted. ~ Ken Kesey.


I had to keep on acting deaf if I wanted to hear at all. ~ Ken Kesey.

If you’re a Conservative, why aren’t you behind conserving the land? ~ Ken Kesey.

Popular Ken Kesey Quotes

Since we don’t know where we’re going, we have to stick together in case someone gets there. ~ Ken Kesey.

There’s no doubt in my mind that McMurphy’s won, but I’m not sure what. ~ Ken Kesey.

The Grateful Dead are our religion. This is a religion that doesn’t pay homage to the God that all the other religions pay homage to. ~ Ken Kesey.

People don’t want other people to get high, because if you get high, you might see the falsity of the fabric of the society we live in. ~ Ken Kesey.


What can you pay for the way a man lives? What can you pay for what a man is? ~ Ken Kesey.

The truth doesn’t have to do with cruelty, the truth has to do with mercy. ~ Ken Kesey.

He knows that you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy. ~ Ken Kesey.


The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. ~ Ken Kesey.

High high in the hills, high in a pine tree bed. She’s tracing the wind with that old hand, counting the clouds with that old chant, Three geese in a flock one flew east one flew west one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. ~ Ken Kesey.

Great Ken Kesey Quotes

You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. ~ Ken Kesey.


Now, you’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus. ~ Ken Kesey.

If you’ve got love in your heart, whatever you do from that moment out is likely to be right. If you’ve got that one true note ringing inside you, then whatever you do is going to be OK. ~ Ken Kesey.

But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen. ~ Ken Kesey.

He Who Marches Out Of Step Hears Another Drum. ~ Ken Kesey.

Always stay in your own movie. ~ Ken Kesey.


Plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. ~ Ken Kesey.

The secret of being a top-notch con man is being able to know what the mark wants, and how to make him think he’s getting it. ~ Ken Kesey.

Your trouble is, you keep trying to unscrew the unscrutable. ~ Ken Kesey.

Top Ken Kesey Quotes

It is just as much an offense to take offense as it is to give offense. ~ Ken Kesey.

Sometimes the need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer. ~ Ken Kesey.

No, my friend. We are lunatics from the hospital up the highway, psycho-ceramics, the cracked pots of mankind. Would you like me to decipher a Rorschach for you? ~ Ken Kesey.


The trouble with superheroes is what to do between phone booths. ~ Ken Kesey.

The man who seeks revenge digs two graves. ~ Ken Kesey.

Hell of a life. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Puts a man in one confounded bind, I’d say. ~ Ken Kesey. McMurphy. ~ Ken Kesey.

There are going to be times when we can’t wait for somebody. Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place – then it won’t make a damn. ~ Ken Kesey.

The job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer. ~ Ken Kesey.

Thought-Provoking Ken Kesey Quotes

The job of the writer is to kiss no ass, no matter how big and holy and white and tempting and powerful. ~ Ken Kesey.

All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down. ~ Ken Kesey.

Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn’t it? ~ Ken Kesey.


You can count how many seeds are in the apple, but not how many apples are in the seed. ~ Ken Kesey.

To Vik Lovell who told me dragons did not exist, then led me to their lairs… ~ Ken Kesey.

Loved. You can’t use it in the past tense. Death does not stop that love at all. ~ Ken Kesey.

But if they don’t exist, how can a man see them? ~ Ken Kesey.

The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon. ~ Ken Kesey.

What makes people so impatient is what I can’t figure; all the guy had to do was wait. ~ Ken Kesey.

I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound. ~ Ken Kesey.


But I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did that. ~ Ken Kesey.

But I remember one thing: it wasn’t me that started acting deaf; it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all. ~ Ken Kesey.

Profound Ken Kesey Quotes

I don’t think you fully understand the public, my friend; in this country, when something is out of order, then the quickest way to get it fixed is the best way. ~ Ken Kesey.

Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing. ~ Ken Kesey.

There are going to be times when we can’t wait for somebody. Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. ~ Ken Kesey.

The ’60s aren’t over; they won’t be over until the Fat Lady gets high. ~ Ken Kesey.

You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself. ~ Ken Kesey.

I’ve found psychedelics to be keys to worlds that have always existed, that have to be talked about. ~ Ken Kesey.


The Grateful Dead are faster than light drive. ~ Ken Kesey.

If you don’t watch it, people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite. ~ Ken Kesey.

He knows that there’s no better way in the world to aggravate somebody who’s trying to make it hard for you than by acting like you’re not bothered. ~ Ken Kesey.

I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph. ~ Ken Kesey.

So these were the 75 top Ken Kesey quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Edith Wharton quotes and Steve Irwin quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar