Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of William Seward Burroughs’ great quotes about writing, dreams, life, love, books, guns, and much more!

100 Top William Seward Burroughs Quotes

Quick Facts

Famous As: Novelist, Short Story Writer

Born On: February 5, 1914

Died On: August 2, 1997

Born In: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.

Founder / Co Founder: Burroughs Adding Machine company, Burroughs Corporation

Died At Age: 83

William Seward Burroughs was an acclaimed essayist, novelist, short story writer, performer and an incredible painter. Known worldwide as "William Lee", he was appreciated for his innovative arts, political views and culturally influential personality. William authored four essay collections, six short story series and eighteen novels in his life time. Even his interviews and correspondences were published in a series of five books. Lee, who had studied English at Harvard and Anthropology in Vienna, was incredibly talented in all art forms. After the U.S. Navy turned down his request of serving in World War II, he worked a variety of odd jobs in London, Mexico city, Tangier, Berlin, Paris and Amazon. The satirist rose to fame with his confessional novel Junkie in 1953. Thereafter, he produced some incredible pieces like the Nova Triology, The Red Night Triology, The Adding Machine and The Burroughs File. His controversial third novel "Naked Lunch" landed him in a court case, after it was challenged for violating the U.S. sodomy laws. The novel had startling, unconventional descriptions of weird sex and drug culture that influenced American society. However Burroughs emerged as a talented writer of Beat Generation. He's said to set a landmark in paranoid fiction genre. He shared his views and thoughts on several subjects through his writings and also through the characters of his novels and books. We have scanned his writings for his most famous quotes. We are taking you through some of William Seward Burroughs’ great quotes about writing, dreams, life, love, books, guns, and much more!
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A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on.

William S. Burroughs

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

Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.

William S. Burroughs

Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside.

William S. Burroughs

Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.

William S. Burroughs

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

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

Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction.

William S. Burroughs

A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on. A psychotic is a guy who's just found out what's going on.

William S. Burroughs

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.

William S. Burroughs

If I had my way we'd sleep every night all wrapped around each other like hibernating rattlesnakes.

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

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

Love is a haunting melody that I have never mastered, and I fear I never will.

William S. Burroughs

When you stop growing you start dying.

William S. Burroughs

In the U.S. you have to be a deviant or die of boredom.

William S. Burroughs

You know a real friend? Someone you know will look after your cat after you are gone.

William S. Burroughs

There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

Never do business with a religious son-of-a-bitch. His word ain't worth a shit -- not with the Good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.

William S. Burroughs

Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is.

William S. Burroughs

Language is a virus from outer space

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

Writers, like elephants, have long, vicious memories. There are things I wish I could forget.

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.

William S. Burroughs

I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all.

William S. Burroughs

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

Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.

William S. Burroughs

Smash the control images. Smash the control machine.

William S. Burroughs

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

The face of 'evil' is always the face of total need.

William S. Burroughs

Knowing you might not make it... in that knowledge courage is born.

William S. Burroughs

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.

William S. Burroughs

There couldn't be a society of people who didn't dream. They'd be dead in two weeks.

William S. Burroughs

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

Whether you like it or not, you are committed to the human endeavor. I cannot ally myself with such a purely negative goal as avoidance of suffering. Suffering is a chance you take by the fact of being alive.

William S. Burroughs

Thou shalt not be such a shit, you don't know you are one.

William S. Burroughs

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

How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.

William S. Burroughs

Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.

William S. Burroughs

The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set-up by the non-dreamers

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

William S. Burroughs

Open your mind and let the pictures out

William S. Burroughs

As soon as you know you are in prison, you have a possibility to escape.

William S. Burroughs

In homosexual sex you know exactly what the other person is feeling, so you are identifying with the other person completely. In heterosexual sex you have no idea what the other person is feeling.

William S. Burroughs

That old feeling is still in my leaking heart.

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

It's the little touches that make a future solid enough to destroy.

William S. Burroughs

Confusion hath fuck his masterpiece.

William S. Burroughs

In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen

William S. Burroughs

Paranoia is just having the right information.

William S. Burroughs

The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself.

William S. Burroughs

How long does it take man to realize that he cannot want what he wants? You have to live in hell to see heaven.

William S. Burroughs

Danger is a biologic necessity, like dreams. if you face death, for that time, for the period of direct confrontation, you are immortal.

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

As one judge said to another judge: be just. And if you can’t be just, be arbitrary

William S. Burroughs

When I become death. Death is the seed from which I grow.

William S. Burroughs

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

The American uppermiddle-class citizen is a composite of negatives. He is largely delineated by what he is not. - pg. 41

William S. Burroughs

Too perfect to be sexually attractive.

William S. Burroughs

In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality. It is as final as the mountains: a fact. There it is. When you realize it you cannot complain.

William S. Burroughs

What a horrible loutish planet this is. the dominant species consists of sadistic morons, faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid hate. hopeless rubbish.

William S. Burroughs

Dream long enough and dream hard enough you will come to know dreaming can make it so...

William S. Burroughs

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

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

And if you're doing a deal with a religious son of a bitch, get it in writing.

William S. Burroughs

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.

William S. Burroughs

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

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.

William S. Burroughs

When he smiled the fear flew away in little pieces of light...

William S. Burroughs

Last night I woke up with someone squeezing my hand. It was my other hand.

William S. Burroughs

Is Control controlled by its need to control? Answer: yes.

William S. Burroughs

People have nothing to say, but they are afraid of saying nothing, so what they do say comes out flat and vapid and meaningless. The shadow of death is on every face.

William S. Burroughs

Like Spain, I am bound to the past.

William S. Burroughs

The study of thinking machines teaches us more about the brain than we can learn by introspective methods. Western man is externalizing himself in the form of gadgets.

William S. Burroughs

Jesus Christ said 'by their fruits ye shall know them,' not by their disclaimers.

William S. Burroughs

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

William S. Burroughs

I prefer cats to people, for the most part. Most people aren't cute, & if they are cute they rapidly outgrow it

William S. Burroughs

A writer does not own words any more than a painter owns colors. So lets dispense with this originality fetish… Look, listen and transcribe and forget about being original.

William S. Burroughs

Cowboy: New York hood talk means kill the mother fucker wherever you find him. A rat is a rat is a rat is a rat. Is an informer.

William S. Burroughs

If I knew how much you loved me, I would’ve shot you sooner.

William S. Burroughs

Well as, one judge said to the other, 'Be just and if you can't be just be arbitrary.' Regret cannot observe customary obscenities.

William S. Burroughs

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

You need a good bedside manner with doctors or you will get nowhere.

William S. Burroughs

It is not the intensity but the duration of pain that breaks the will to resist.

William S. Burroughs

Cat hate reflects an ugly, stupid, loutish, bigoted spirit. There can be no compromise with this Ugly Spirit.

William S. Burroughs

America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians... the evil was there... waiting.

William S. Burroughs

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.

William S. Burroughs

Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.

William S. Burroughs

NOTHING happens by coincidence.

William S. Burroughs

He is a boy sleeping against the mosque wall, ejaculates wet dreaming into a thousand cunts pink and smooth as sea shells...

William S. Burroughs

When you cut into the present, the future leaks out

William S. Burroughs

Tell Allen I plead guilty to vampirism and other crimes against life. But I love him and nothing else cancels love.

William S. Burroughs

O death where is thy sting? The man is never on time...

William S. Burroughs

The broken image of Man moves in minute by minute and cell by cell.... Poverty, hatred, war, police-criminals, bureaucracy, insanity, all symptoms of The Human Virus.

William S. Burroughs

He remembers his fathers last words: “Stay out of churches, son. All they got a key to is the shit house. And swear to me you’ll never wear a lawman’s badge.

William S. Burroughs

Fear of death is form of stasis horrors. The dead weight of time.

William S. Burroughs

A phenomenon must be to some extent comprehensible to be perceived at all.

William S. Burroughs