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

We must find out what words are and how they function. They become images when written down, but images of words repeated in the mind and not of the image of the thing itself.

When people start talking about their bowel movements, they are inexorable as the processes of which they speak.

Writing prejudicial, off-putting reviews is a precise exercise in applied black magic. The reviewer can draw free-floating disagreeable associations to a book by implying that the book is completely unimportant without saying exactly why, and carefully avoiding any clear images that could capture the reader's full attention.

I don't know what falling in love for me is. The concept of romantic love arose in the Middle Ages. Now remember, the Arabs don't even have a word for love?that is, a word for love apart from physical attraction or sex. And this separation of love and sex is a western concept, a Christian concept. As to what falling in love means, I'm uncertain. Love, well, it means simply physical attraction and liking a person at the same time.

I think that Richard Nixon will go down in history as a true folk hero, who struck a vital blow to the whole diseased concept of the revered image and gave the American virtue of irreverence and skepticism back to the people.

If you are asking me what the individual can do right now, in a political sense, I'd have to say he can't do all that much. Speaking for myself, I am more concerned with the transformation of the individual, which to me is much more important than the so-called political revolution.

In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas, a cosmonaut of inner space, and I see no point in exploring areas that have already been thoroughly surveyed.

Junk short-circuits sex. The drive to non-sexual sociability comes from the same place sex comes from, so when I have an H or M shooting habit I am non-sociable. If someone wants to talk, O.K. But there is no drive to get acquainted. When I come off the junk, I often run through a period of uncontrolled sociability and talk to anyone who will listen.

Like pregnant women lose their teeth feeding the stranger, junkies lose their yellow fangs feeding the monkey.

Most people don't see what's going on around them. That's my principal message to writers: 'For God's sake, keep your eyes open. Notice what's going on around you.'

No one owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.

Perhaps all pleasure is only relief.

Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.

The best way to keep something bad from happening is to see it ahead of time... and you can't see it if you refuse to face the possibility.

The first and most important thing an individual can do is to become an individual again, decontrol himself, train himself as to what is going on and win back as much independent ground for himself as possible

The rudeness of many Americans depressed him, a rudeness based on a solid ignorance of the whole concept of manners, and on the proposition that for social purposes, all people are more or less equal and interchangeable.

There is no line between the 'real world' and 'world of myth and symbol.' Objects, sensations, hit with the impact of hallucination.

To be an outlaw you must first have a base in law to reject and get out of, I never had such a base. I never had a place I could call home that meant any more than a key to a house, apartment or hotel room. ? Am I alien? Alien from what exactly? Perhaps my home is my dream city, more real than my waking life precisely because it has no relation to waking life?

We will endeavor to halt the Industrial Revolution before it is too late, to regulate population at a reasonable point, to eventually replace quantitative money with qualitative money, to decentralize, to conserve resources. The Industrial Revolution is primarily a virus revolution, dedicated to controlled proliferation of identical objects and persons. You are making soap, you don't give a shit who buys your soap, the more the soapier. And you don't give a shit who makes it, who works in your factories. Just so they make soap.

When they started saying that American literature did not exist and that English was bad, I lost my composure and told them that the Spanish literature deserved to be in the toilet, hanging on a nail next to the catalogs late Montgomery Ward.

You are a Shit Spotter. It's satisfying work? We have observed that most of the trouble in the world has been caused by ten to twenty percent of folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus. Now your virus is an obligate cellular parasite and my contention is that evil is quite literally a virus parasite occupying a certain brain area which we may term the RIGHT center. The mark of a basic shit is that he has to be right. And right here we must make a diagnostic distinction between the hard-core virus-occupied shit and a plain, ordinary, mean no-good son of a bitch. Some of these sons of bitches don't cause any trouble at all, just want to be left alone.

I don't make myself work. It's just the thing I want to do. To be completely alone in a room, to know that there'll be no interruptions and I've got eight hours is exactly what I want -- yeah, just paradise.

I think the ideal situation for a family is to be completely incestuous.

If you consider any set of data without a preconceived viewpoint, then a viewpoint will emerge from the data.

In the City Market is the Meet Caf‚. Followers of obsolete, unthinkable trades doodling in Etruscan, addicts of drugs not yet synthesized, pushers of souped-up harmine, junk reduced to pure habit offering precarious vegetable serenity, liquids to induce Latah, Tithonian longevity serums, black marketeers of World War III, excusers of telepathic sensitivity, osteopaths of the spirit, investigators of infractions denounced by bland paranoid chess players, servers of fragmentary warrants taken down in hebephrenic shorthand charging unspeakable mutilations of the spirit, bureaucrats of spectral departments, officials of unconstituted police states, a Lesbian dwarf who has perfected operation Bang-utot, the lung erection that strangles a sleeping enemy, sellers of orgone tanks and relaxing machines, brokers of exquisite dreams and memories tested on the sensitized cells of junk sickness and bartered for raw materials of the will, doctors skilled in the treatment of diseases dormant in the black dust of ruined cities, gathering virulence in the white blood of eyeless worms feeling slowly to the surface and the human host, maladies of the ocean floor and the stratosphere, maladies of the laboratory and atomic war... A place where the unknown past and the emergent future meet in a vibrating soundless hum... Larval entities waiting for a Live One...

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