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william s. burroughs Quotes

William S. Burroughs Quotes

Birth Date: 1914-02-05 (Thursday, February 5th, 1914)
Date of Death: 1997-08-02 (Saturday, August 2nd, 1997)



    • 1. Never give anything away for nothing. 2. Never give more than you have to (always catch the buyer hungry and always make him wait). 3. Always take back everything if you possibly can.
    • A paranoid man is a man who knows a little about what's going on.
    • England has the most sordid literary scene I've ever seen. They all meet in the same pub. This guy's writing a foreword for this person. They all have to give radio programs, they have to do all this just to scrape by. They're all scratching each other's backs.
    • Hustlers of the world, there is one Mark you cannot beat: The Mark Inside. (p. 11)
    • A functioning police state needs no police. (p. 31)
    • I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and in reasonably good health except for a weakened liver and the look of borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness... When I speak of drug addiction I do not refer to keif, marijuana or any preparation of hashish, mescaline, Banisteriopsis caapi, LSD6, Sacred Mushrooms or any other drugs of the hallucinogen group... There is no evidence that the use of any hallucinogen results in physical dependence. (pp. 199-201)
    • Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use of any other drug with special horror. (p. 201)
    • The junk merchant doesn't sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client. (p. 224)
    • Cut word lines - Cut music lines - Smash the control images - Smash the control machine - Burn the books - Kill the priests - Kill! Kill! Kill!
    • As a young child Audrey Carsons wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous. They lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow pongee silk suit. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle.
    • Faced by the actual practice of freedom, the French and American revolutions would be forced to stand by their words.
    • There is simply no room left for 'freedom from the tyranny of government' since city dwellers depend on it for food, power, water, transportation, protection, and welfare. Your right to live where you want, with companions of your choosing, under laws to which you agree, died in the eighteenth century with Captain Mission. Only a miracle or a disaster could restore it.
    • Remember the Italian steward who put on women's clothes and so filched a seat in a lifeboat? 'A cur in human shape, certainly he was born and saved to set a new standard by which to judge infamy and shame.'
    • Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
    • It would be certainly a very foolish thing: try paint the Internet, start making oil-on-canvas paintings out of the computer world.
    • A paranoid-schizophrenic is a guy who just found out what's going on.
    • America is not so much a nightmare as a non-dream. The American non-dream is precisely a move to wipe the dream out of existence. The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set up by the non-dreamers.
    • Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.
    • Kerouac (editing Naked Lunch): Bill, what is all this stuff about young naked boys being hanged in limestone caves? Burroughs: No idea. I know I'm some kind of interplanetary agent but I don't think my signals are decoding properly.
    • Communication must become total and conscious before we can stop it.
    • Confusion hath fuck his masterpiece.
    • Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.
    • General procedure: Read and learn all you can about problem. Look at problem from a point of zero preconception. Devise variations and alternative solutions. Check back to see if your solution has workable advantage over solutions previously arrived at . . . To carry the method a step further than solution of purely technical problem where purpose is implicit in the artifact: devising more efficient gun, tool, boat, signal system, medical or interrogation procedure.
    • Heroin is a vitamin...don't let anyone tell you different heroin IS a vitamin...there's nothing in the game plan...that says that all vitamins have to be good for you.
    • I am not one of those weak-spirited, sappy Americans who want to be liked by all the people around them.I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do. The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. My affections, being concentrated over a few people, are not spread all over Hell in a vile attempt to placate sulky, worthless shits.
    • I think all novelists particularly are engaged in the creation of Tulpas. That is exactly what they are doing. Ahh... they are trying to create characters that have an existence apart from the novel, apart from the page.
    • If you're doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch, get it in writing. His word isn't worth shit. Not with the good lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.
    • I'm running out of everything now. Out of veins, out of money.
    • Images. Millions of images. That's what I eat.
    • I say we are here in human form to learn by the human hieroglyphs of love and suffering. There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without reserve or defense.
    • Jesus Christ, by their fruits ye shall know them, not by their disclaimers.
    • Language is a virus.
    • Love! What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. LOVE
    • Madness is confusion of levels of fact... Madness is not seeing visions but confusing levels.
    • Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.
    • Most of the trouble in this world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has.
    • No job too dirty for the fucking scientists.
    • No one owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.
    • Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it 'creative observation'. Creative viewing.
    • Now the perpetrating of miracles constitutes a brazen attempt to loosen up the universe. When you set up something as MIRACLE, you deny the very concept of FACT, establish a shadowy and spurious court infested by every variety of coyote and shady fixer beyond Court of Fact.
    • Shoot the bitch and write a book. That's what I did.
    • Son, never listen to a priest or a policeman...the only thing they have is the key to the shithouse.
    • Survive, it's the name of the game. Would I give a shit about these people?
    • The mark of a basic shit is that he has to be right.
    • The 'Other Half' is the word. The 'Other Half' is an organism. Word is an organism. The presence of the 'Other Half' is a seperate organism attached to your nervous system on an air line of words can now be demonstrated experimentally. One of the most common 'hallucinations' of subject during sense withdrawal is the feeling of another body sprawled through the subject's body at an angle...yes quite an angle it is the 'Other Half' worked quite some years on a symbiotic basis. From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.
    • There couldn't be a society of people who didn't dream. They'd be dead in two weeks.
    • There is no line between the 'real world' and 'world of myth and symbol.' Objects, sensations, hit with the impact of hallucination.
    • There's something wrong with that boy. He frowns for no good reason.
    • Thou shalt not be such a shit, you don't know you are one.
    • Thou shalt not blow pot-smoke into the face of my pet. Say's whom who want's to get high.
    • Thou shalt not drop an atom bomb or even shit one out in the first place - I'm talking to you, Robert Oppenheimer.
    • 'Treatment is symptomatic' - which means in the trade there is none.
    • When I become death, death is the seed from which I grow.
    • Word is a virus.
    • Words, colors, light, sound, stone, wood, bronze belong to the living artist. They belong to anyone who can use them. Loot the Louvre!... Steal anything in sight.
    • william s. burroughs

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