William S. Burroughs, fully William Seward Burroughs II

William S.
Burroughs, fully William Seward Burroughs II
1914
1997

American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist, Painter and Spoken Word Performer

Author Quotes

Visual art and writing don't exist on an aesthetic hierarchy that positions one above the other, because each is capable of things the other can't do at all. Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

What Hassan i Sabbah learned in Egypt was that paradise actually exists and that it can be reached. The Egyptians called it the Western Lands.

Which came first the intestine or the tapeworm?

You sometimes wake up from a dream and think, "Thank God, I didn't really do that!" Reconstructing a period of blackout you think, "My God, did I really do that?" The line between saying and thinking is blurred. Did you say it or just think it?

I know this one pusher walks around humming a tune and everybody he passes takes it up. He is so grey and spectral and anonymous they don't see him and think it is their own mind humming the tune.

If all pleasure is relief from tension, junk affords relief from the whole life process, in disconnecting the hypothalamus, which is the center of psychic energy and libido.

I'm running out of everything now. Out of veins, out of money.

It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin - music, sculpture, writing, painting - and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results. Paintings were originally formulae to make what is painted happen. Art is not an end in itself, any more than Einstein's matter-into-energy formulae is an end in itself. Like all formulae, art was originally FUNCTIONAL, intended to make things happen, the way an atom bomb happens from Einstein's formulae.

Last night I encountered a dream cat with a very long neck and a body like a human fetus, gray and translucent. I don't know what it needs or how to provide for it. Another dream years ago of a human child with eyes on stalks. It is very small, but can walk and talk "Don't you want me?" Again, I don't know how to care for the child. But I am dedicated to protecting and nurturing him at any cost! It is the function of the Guardian to protect hybrids and mutants in the vulnerable stage of infancy.

Man is a political animal' said Aristotle telling one of the greatest lies in human history. For every man has more in common with the hills and with the stars than with other men.

NAKED Lunch -- a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.

Oh be careful! There they go again! said the old queen as his string broke spilling his balls over the floor.... Stop them will you, James, you worthless old shit! Don't just stand there and let the master's balls roll into the coal-bin!

Sit down on your ass, or what's left of it after four years in the navy.

Tell the truth once and for all and shut up forever.

The ears were large, flaring forward, the eyes limpid amber, in which the pupil floated like a glittering jewel, changing color with shifts of the light: obsidian, emerald, ruby, opal, amethyst, diamond.

The price an artist pays for doing what he wants is that he has to do it.

There are no innocent bystanders ... what are they doing there in the first place?

They tend to be suspicious, bristly, paranoid-type people with huge egos they push around like some elephantiasis victim with his distended testicles in a wheelbarrow terrified no doubt that some skulking ingrate of a clone student will sneak into his very brain and steal his genius work.

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and ? in spite of true romance magazines ? we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely ? at least, not all the time ? but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don't see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.

Whatever happened to God's justice? I am convinced that God exist and God is one asshole.

While in general I avoid the use of torture - torture locates the opponent and mobilizes resistance - the threat of torture is useful to induce in the subject the appropriate feeling of helplessness and gratitude to the interrogator for withholding it. And torture can be employed to advantage as a penalty when the subject is far enough along with the treatment to accept punishment as deserved. To this end I devised several forms of disciplinary procedure. One was known as the Switchboard. Electric drills that can be turned on at any time are clamped against the subject's teeth; and he is instructed to operate an arbitrary switchboard, to put certain connections in certain sockets in response to bells and lights. Every time he makes a mistake the drills are turned on for twenty seconds. The signals are gradually speeded up beyond his reaction time. Half an hour on the Switchboard and the subject breaks down like an overloaded thinking machine.

You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative

I lay down and tried to sleep. When I closed my eyes I saw an Oriental face, the lips and nose eaten by disease. The disease spread, melting the face into an amoeboid mass in which the eyes floated, dull crustacean eyes. Slowly, a new face formed around the eyes. A series of faces, hieroglyphs, distorted and leading to the final place where the human road ends, where the human form can no longer contain the crustacean horror that has grown inside it.

If everyone is to be made responsible for everything they do, you must extend responsibility beyond the level of conscious intention.

In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.

Author Picture
First Name
William S.
Last Name
Burroughs, fully William Seward Burroughs II
Birth Date
1914
Death Date
1997
Bio

American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist, Painter and Spoken Word Performer