100 Top William Seward Burroughs Quotes
Novelist, Short Story Writer
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Founder / Co Founder:
Burroughs Adding Machine company, Burroughs Corporation
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!
A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on. 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. Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death. Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside. Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing. 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. Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape. Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction. 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. Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. If I had my way we'd sleep every night all wrapped around each other like hibernating rattlesnakes. 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 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 Love is a haunting melody that I have never mastered, and I fear I never will. When you stop growing you start dying. In the U.S. you have to be a deviant or die of boredom. You know a real friend?
Someone you know will look after your cat after you are gone. There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business. After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager. 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. Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. Language is a virus from outer space Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact. Writers, like elephants, have long, vicious memories. There are things I wish I could forget. There are no innocent bystanders ... what are they doing there in the first place? Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage. I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all. 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. Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive. Smash the control images. Smash the control machine. 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. The face of 'evil' is always the face of total need. Knowing you might not make it... in that knowledge courage is born. 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. There couldn't be a society of people who didn't dream. They'd be dead in two weeks. A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering. 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. Thou shalt not be such a shit, you don't know you are one. 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. How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity. Like all pure creatures, cats are practical. The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set-up by the non-dreamers Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted There is in fact something obscene and sinister about photography, a desire to imprison, to incorporate, a sexual intensity of pursuit. Open your mind and let the pictures out As soon as you know you are in prison, you have a possibility to escape. 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. That old feeling is still in my leaking heart. Cheat your landlord if you can -- and must -- but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It's the little touches that make a future solid enough to destroy. Confusion hath fuck his masterpiece. In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen Paranoia is just having the right information. The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. How long does it take man to realize that he cannot want what he wants? You have to live in hell to see heaven. Danger is a biologic necessity, like dreams. if you face death, for that time, for the period of
direct confrontation, you are immortal. Happiness is a byproduct of function, purpose, and conflict; those who seek happiness for itself seek victory without war. As one judge said to another judge: be just. And if you can’t be just, be arbitrary When I become death. Death is the seed from which I grow. 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. The American uppermiddle-class citizen is a composite of negatives. He is largely delineated by what he is not.
- pg. 41 Too perfect to be sexually attractive. 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. 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. Dream long enough and dream hard enough
you will come to know
dreaming can make it so... 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. If, after spending time with a person, you feel as though you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that person in the future. And if you're doing a deal with a religious son of a bitch, get it in writing. 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. 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. When he smiled the fear flew away in little pieces of light... Last night I woke up with someone squeezing my hand. It was my other hand. Is Control controlled by its need to control? Answer: yes. 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. Like Spain, I am bound to the past. 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. Jesus Christ said 'by their fruits ye shall know them,' not by their disclaimers. Tell the truth once and for all and shut up forever. I prefer cats to people, for the most part. Most people aren't cute,
& if they are cute they rapidly outgrow it 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. 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. If I knew how much you loved me, I would’ve shot you sooner. Well as, one judge said to the other, 'Be just and if you can't be just be arbitrary.' Regret cannot observe customary obscenities. 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.. You need a good bedside manner with doctors or you will get nowhere. It is not the intensity but the duration of pain that breaks the will to resist. Cat hate reflects an ugly, stupid, loutish, bigoted spirit. There can be no compromise with this Ugly Spirit. America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians... the evil was there... waiting. 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. Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts. NOTHING happens by coincidence. He is a boy sleeping against the mosque wall, ejaculates wet dreaming into a thousand cunts pink and smooth as sea shells...
When you cut into the present, the future leaks out
Tell Allen I plead guilty to vampirism and other crimes against life. But I love him and nothing else cancels love.
O death where is thy sting? The man is never on time...
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.
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.
Fear of death is form of stasis horrors. The dead weight of time. A phenomenon must be to some extent comprehensible to be perceived at all.