The Meaning of Life Is That Nobody Knows the Meaning of Life

Woody Allen? Ken Kelley? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Philosophers, religious figures, and spiritual gurus have been making claims about the meaning of life for millennia. The comedian Woody Allen apparently offered his own quixotic analysis. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: On July 1, 1976 “Rolling Stone” magazine printed an interview with Woody Allen conducted by Ken Kelley. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Do you believe in reincarnation?

I certainly don’t believe in anything. It’s conceivable, but I don’t believe in it. Perhaps we come back as a deck reshuffling itself. Maybe we turn into birds. Who knows?

What, then, is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life is that nobody knows the meaning of life. We are not put here to have a good time and that’s what throws most of us, that sense that we all have an inalienable right to a good time.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1976 July 1, Rolling Stone, Issue 216, A conversation with The Real Woody Allen (or someone just like him), Interview of Woody Allen conducted by Ken Kelley, Start Page 34, Quote Page 87 and 88, Rolling Stone, New York. (ProQuest)