William S. Burroughs quotes

  • Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Inspirational #Crazy #Caring

  • After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Gun #People #Shooting

  • The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Cat #Pet #Doe

  • I am trying like Klee, to create something that will have a life of its own, that can put me in real danger, a danger which I willingly take on myself.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Real #Trying #Danger

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Travel #Math #Science

  • Black magic operates most effectively in preconscious, marginal areas. Casual curses are the most effective.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Black #Magic #Casual

  • If after having been exposed to someone's presence you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Anemia #Needs #Like You

  • After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager.'
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Funny #Hilarious #Witty

  • After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Military #Gun #People

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Hate #People #Important

  • Writers, like elephants, have long, vicious memories. There are things I wish I could forget.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Memories #Elephants #Long

  • Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Change #Believe #Raw Materials

  • Evidence indicates that cats were first tamed in Egypt. The Egyptians stored grain, which attracted rodents, which attracted cats. (No evidence that such a thing happened with the Mayans, though a number of wild cats are native to the area.) I don't think this is accurate. It is certainly not the whole story. Cats didn't start as mousers. Weasels and snakes and dogs are more efficient as rodent-control agents. I postulate that cats started as psychic companions, as Familiars, and have never deviated from this function.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Dog #Cat #Thinking

  • Artists to my mind are the real architects of change
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Real #Artist #Mind

  • Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Change #Art #Real

  • I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #One Day

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Art #Writing #Pages

  • Time is what death needs to grow people in.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Time #People #Needs

  • There are no innocent bystanders ... what are they doing there in the first place?
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Bystanders #Firsts #Innocent

  • Language is a virus from outer space.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Space #Viruses #Language

  • As a young child I 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Children #Boys #Yellow

  • There is in fact something obscene and sinister about photography, a desire to imprison, to incorporate, a sexual intensity of pursuit.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Photography #Desire #Facts

  • Thanks, for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business. Thanks, for a nation of finks.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Country #Mind #Thanks

  • The underground press serves as the only effective counter to a growing power, and more sophisticated techniques used by establishment mass media to falsify, misrepresent, misquote, rule out of consideration as a priori ridiculous, or simply ignore and blot out of existence: data, books, discoveries that they consider prejudicial to establishment interest...
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Book #Discovery #Media

  • I began to get a feeling (...) of being the only sane man in a nut house. It doesn't make you feel superior but depressed and scared, because there is nobody you can contact.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Fear #Men #Nuts

  • Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Alive #Panic #Realization

  • There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing... I am a recording instrument... I do not presume to impose “story” “plot” “continuity”... Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function... I am not an entertainer...
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Writing #Psychics #Stories

  • Death needs time for what it kills to grow in.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Needs #Grows #Time Of Need

  • Too perfect to be sexually attractive.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Perfect #Attractive #Sexually

  • That old feeling is still in my leaking heart.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Heart #Feelings #Stills

  • Love is a haunting melody that I have never mastered, and I fear I never will.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Love #Heartbreak #Haunting

  • Cheat your landlord if you can -- and must -- but do not try to shortchange the Muse.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Change #Trying #Muse

  • For years I wondered why dreams are so often dull when related, and this morning I find the answer, which is very simple - like most answers, you have always known it: No context ... like a stuffed animal set on the floor of a bank.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Dream #Morning #Simple

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Clients #Junk #Doe

  • 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…
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Dream #Real #Home

  • when I become death. Death is the seed from which I grow.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Burroughs #Grows

  • I miss you so much your absence causes me, at times, accute pain. I don't mean sexually. I mean in connection with my writing.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Pain #Mean #Writing

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Psychics #Junk #Relief

  • 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
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Art #Philosophy #Independent

  • This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games. All games are basically hostile. Winners and losers. We see them all around us: the winners and the losers. The losers can oftentimes become winners, and the winners can very easily become losers.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #War #Games #May

  • Like Spain, I am bound to the past.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Past #Spain

  • If, after spending time with a person, you feel as though you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that person in the future.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Spending Time #Lost #Feels

  • Danger is a very rare commodity in these times, monopolized by intelligence agencies and stuntmen.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Agency #Commodity #Danger

  • We must all face the fact that our leaders are certifiably insane or worse
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Leader #Insane #Faces

  • You know, they ask me if I were on a desert island and I knew nobody would ever see what I wrote, would I go on writing. My answer is most emphatically yes. I would go on writing for company. Because I'm creating an imaginary-it's always imaginary-world in which I would like to live.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Writing #Creating #Islands

  • If the mortality rate seems high we must realize that Nature is a ruthless teacher. There are no second chances in Mother Nature's Survival Course.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Mother #Teacher #Second Chance

  • You do an awful lot of bad writing in order to do any good writing. Incredibly bad. I think it would be very interesting to make a collection of some of the worst writing by good writers.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Writing #Thinking #Order

  • I see painting as an evocative magic, and there must always be a random factor in magic, one which must be constantly changed and renewed.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Magic #Painting #Changed

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

    #Real #Impact #World

  • Which came first the intestine or the tapeworm?
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Advice #Firsts #Intestines

  • My general theory since 1971 has been that the word is literally a virus, and that it has not been recognized as such because it has achieved a state of relatively stable symbiosis with its human host; that is to say, the word virus (the other Half) has established itself so firmly as an accepted part of the human organism that it can now sneer at gangster viruses like smallpox and turn them in to the Pasteur Institute.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Past #Half #Symbiosis

  • Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don't make compromises. Don't worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work ... and if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Successful #Names #Worry

  • Hemingway was a prisoner of his style. No one can talk like the characters in Hemingway except the characters in Hemingway. His style in the wildest sense finally killed him.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Character #Style #Prisoner

  • As an old junk pusher told me, 'Watch whose money you pick up.'
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Junk #Watches

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Dream #Moving #America

  • Paranoia is just having the right information.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Information #Paranoia

  • You see, control can never be a means to any practical end...It can never be a means to anything but more control...like junk..
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Mean #Junk #Ends

  • If I knew how much you loved me, I would’ve shot you sooner.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Shots

  • Once the law starts asking questions, there's no stopping them.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Law #Asking Questions #Liberty

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Book #Writing #Exercise

  • The face of "evil" is always the face of total need. A dope fiend is a man in total need of dope. Beyond a certain frequency need knows absolutely no limit or control. In the words of total need: "Wouldn't you?" Yes you would. You would lie, cheat, inform on your friends, steal, do anything to satisfy total need. Because you would be in a state of total sickness, total possession, and not in a position to act in any other way. Dope fiends are sick people who cannot act other than they do. A rabid dog cannot choose but bite.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Funny #Dog #Lying

  • No atomic physicist has to worry, people will always want to kill other people on a mass scale. Sure, he's got the fridge full of sausages and spring water.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Spring #Water #Worry

  • Virtue is simply happiness, and happiness is a by-product of function. You are happy when you are functioning.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Happiness #Virtue #Function

  • When you cut into the present the future leaks out.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Cutting #Leaks

  • The face of evil is always the face of total need.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Evil #Faces #Needs

  • Junk turns the user into a plant. Plants do not feel pain since pain has no function in a stationary organism. Junk is a pain killer. A plant has no libido in the human or animal sense. Junk replaces the sex drive. Seeding is the sex of the plant and the function of opium is to delay seeding. Perhaps the intense discomfort of withdrawal is the transition from plant back to animal, from a painless, sexless, timeless state back to sex and pain and time, from death back to life.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Sex #Pain #Animal

  • No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Organization #Needs #Body

  • Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Clients #Junk #Ultimate

  • Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #World #Mark #Beats

  • Be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Arbitrary

  • Perhaps all pleasure is only relief.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Relief #Pleasure

  • Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Communication #People #Scary

  • The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You don't buy love for nothing.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Cat #Shelter #Want

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Positive #Hate #People

  • In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Grief #Sadness #Sentimentality

  • It's the little touches that make a future solid enough to destroy.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Littles #Enough

  • Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Hipster #Men #Acting

  • A functioning police state needs no police.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Government #Police #Atheism

  • A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Beautiful #Cat #Eye

  • How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Hate #Conformity #I Hate

  • Never interfere in a girl and boy fight.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Girl #Fighting #Boys

  • God save the Queen and a fascist regime … a flabby toothless fascism, to be sure. Never go too far in any direction, is the basic law on which Limey-Land is built. The Queen stabilizes the whole sinking shithouse and keeps a small elite of wealth and privilege on top. The English have gone soft in the outhouse. England is like some stricken beast too stupid to know it is dead. Ingloriously foundering in its own waste products, the backlash and bad karma of empire
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Karma #Queens #Stupid

  • Smash the control images. Smash the control machine.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Machines

  • Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Cat #Pet #Individualism

  • Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Superficial #Relative

  • I am not a person and I am not an animal. There is something I am here for something I must do before I can go.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Animal #Persons

  • You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Fake People #Fake #Quality

  • The people in power will not disappear voluntarily, giving flowers to the cops just isn't going to work. This thinking is fostered by the establishment; they like nothing better than love and nonviolence. The only way I like to see cops given flowers is in a flower pot from a high window.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Love #Flower #Thinking

  • My relationships with my cats has saved me from a deadly, pervasive ignorance.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Ignorance #Cat

  • The way to kill a man or a nation is to cut off his dreams, the way the whites are taking care of the Indians: killing their dreams, their magic, their familiar spirits.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Dream #Cutting #Men

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Art #Mean #Writing

  • Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Love #Natural #Painkillers

  • Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ***** the result is the same: addiction.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Addiction #Ass #Results

  • I bear my burden proudly for all to see, to conquer prejudice and ignorance and hate with knowledge and sincerity and love. Whenever you are threatened by a hostile presence, you emit a thick cloud of love like an octopus squirts out ink...
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Hate #Ignorance #Octopus

  • Cats didn't start as mousers. Weasels and snakes and dogs are more efficient as rodent-control agents. I postulate that cats started as psychic companions, as Familiars, and have never deviated from this function.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Dog #Cat #Psychics

  • Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Facts #Sometimes #Paranoia

  • Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use any other drug with special horror.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Funny Sarcastic #Alcohol #Drug

  • Happiness is a byproduct of function, purpose, and conflict; those who seek happiness for itself seek victory without war.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #War #Victory #Purpose

  • 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 defense or reserve.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Hurt #Feelings #Risk

  • 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.
    -- William S. Burroughs

    #Writing #Psychics #Space