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Top 300 William S. Burroughs Quotes (2024 Update)
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William S. Burroughs Quote: “Scientology is a model control system, a state in fact with its own courts, police, rewards and penalties.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “There couldn’t be a society of people who didn’t dream. They’d be dead in two weeks.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “I was asked: “Why did you stop writing?” I would not know any more than I would know why I started writing. Try not to be as obtuse as you are.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Todos creemos al principio que podremos controlarlo. Luego dejamos de querer controlarlo.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “I feel there is some hideous new force loose in the world like a creeping sickness, spreading, blighting. Remoter parts of the world seem better now, because they are less touched by it. Control, bureaucracy, regimentation, these are merely symptoms of a deeper sickness that no political or economic program can touch. What is the sickness itself?”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “A phenomenon must be to some extent comprehensible to be perceived at all.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Many of my characters first came through to me as voices. That’s why I use a tape recorder.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The American upper-middle-class citizen is a composite of negatives. He is largely delineated by what he is not. Gains went further. He was not merely negative. He was positively invisible; a vague respectable presence. There is a certain kind of ghost that can only materialize with the aid of a sheet or other piece of cloth to give it outline. Gains was like that. He materialized in someone else’s overcoat.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “A narcotics agent infiltrated the beatniks by writing bad poetry. WE are not bad writers but our purpose is ultimately the same: to expose and arrest Novia Criminals. In The Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Novia Express i have shown who they are and what they are doing and what they will do if they are not arrested. These books were written to expose and arrest criminals. Minutes to go. This is war to extermination.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “After the shot he collapsed on the bed and lay there inert, but something was stirring in his spine from neck to the tail – and now pieces tore loose in the eggs and then a red, glistening head emerges in reeking yellow slime – and then the whole centipede crawling out quick.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The aim of education is the knowledge, not the facts, but of values.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “I had the feeling that some horrible image was just beyond the field of vision, moving, as I turned my head, so that I never quite saw it.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The only possible ethic is to do what one wants to do.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The American uppermiddle-class citizen is a composite of negatives. He is largely delineated by what he is not. – pg. 41.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Abandon all nations, the planet drifts to random insect doom.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The simplest questions are the most difficult.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “His face with lined with suffering in which his eyes did not participate.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Lee finished his third drink and turned to Allerton. “I figure to go down to South America soon,” he said. “Why don’t you come along? Won’t cost you a cent.” “Perhaps not in money.” “I’m not a difficult man to get along with,” said Lee. “We could reach a satisfactory arrangement. What you got to lose?” “Independence.” “So who’s going to cut in on your independence? You can lay all the women in South America if you want to. All I ask is be nice to Papa, say twice a week.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “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 Quote: “There is a kidney-shaped fish pool outside the picture window. I cleaned it out and put in some large goldfish I bought in a bait store. The cats are always trying to catch the fish, with no success. One time the white cat leapt for a frog across the pool. The frog dove in and the cat fell in. He is trouble-prone.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Gilbert and George said: “But don’t you see? That’s how Bacon is. He is absolutely right to behave as he wants.” Not as he wants. As he has to behave. An artist must be open to the muse. The greater the artist, the more he is open to “cosmic currents.” He has to behave as he does. If he has “the courage to be an artist,” he is committed to behave as the mood possesses him. “That’s the man who booed Princess Margaret!” – the peasantry shrink back from his sulfurous glow.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The most deadly picture is a picture of nothing at all. The colors are there, but there is no image, nothing.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “It is more profitable to give wages than to receive them.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Nobody’s busting into YOUR apartment at three in the morning, are they? Well, then don’t worry about what they’re doing in South Korea and places like that. It’s like the standard of living. Are you content to achieve your higher standard of living at the expense of people all over the world who’ve got a lower standard of living? Most Americans would say yes. Now we ask the question, are you content to enjoy your political freedom at the expense of people who are less free? I think they would also say yes.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “How did we all get here? Spot of trouble in our old countries.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Political conflicts are merely surface manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “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 Quote: “In the beginning his flesh was simply soft, so soft that he was cut to the bone by dust particles, air currents and brushing overcoats while direct contact with doors and chairs seemed to occasion no discomfort. No wound healed in his soft, tentative flesh... Long white tendrils of fungus curled round the naked bones.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “A typical modern Puritan, she was able to believe in sin without believing in God. In fact, she felt there was something soft and sinful about believing in God. She rejected such indulgence like an indecent proposal.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Brain eating birds patrol the low frequency brain waves.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “It is indeed difficult to make a living as a writer, and my advice to anyone contemplating a literary career is to have some other trade.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Junk sickness is the reverse side of junk kick. The kick of junk is that you have to have it. Junkies run on junktime and junkmetabolism. They are subject to junk climate. They are warmed and chilled by junk. The kick of junk is living under junk conditions. You cannot escape from junk sickness anymore than you can escape from junk kick after a shot.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “A Cross roads of Space – Time travel, winds of change and death, dispersion. A waiting room – where you grab a quick drink – before your train leaves. Cold fear of being left alone in the waiting room after all the trains had left.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Chicago: invisible hierarchy of decorticated wops, smell of atrophied gangsters, earthbound ghost hits you at North and Halsted, Cicero, Lincoln Park, panhandler of dreams, past invading the present, rancid magic of slot machines and roadhouses.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Don Juan says anyone who always looks like the same person isn’t a person. He is a person impersonator.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The magical medium is being bulldozed away. No more green reindeer in Forest Park. The angels are leaving all the alcoves everywhere, the medium in which Unicorns, Big Foot, Green Deer exist always growing thinner, like the rain forests and the creatures that live and breath in them. As the forests fall to make way for motels, and Hiltons and McDonald’s, the whole magical universe is dying.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “New Orleans is a dead museum.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “It is simply that I divide people into those who matter and those who do not, and I have no concern with quantitative criteria.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “And all that I was before is out there in the darkness looking for me.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “You know the experiment with rats where they are subject to this electric shock and dropped in cold water if they so much as move at a female. So they all become fruit rats and that’s the way it is with the etiology. And shall such a rat squeak out, ‘I’m queah and I luuuuuuuuve it’...”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The world network of junkies, tuned on a cord of rancid jissom, tying up in furnished rooms, shivering in the junk-sick morning.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “How long does it take a man to learn that he does not, cannot want what he ‘wants’?”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “I could have been a successful bank robber, gangster, business executive, psychoanalyst, drug trafficker, explorer, bullfighter, but the conjecture of circumstances was never there. Over the years I begin to doubt if my time will ever come. It will come, or it will not come. There is no use trying to force it. Attempts to break through have led to curbs, near disasters, warnings. I cultivate an alert passivity, as though watching an opponent for the slightest sign of weakness.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “You think I am innarested to hear about your horrible old condition? I am not innarested at all.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Musical intelligence. Agent attends a concert and receives his instructions. Information and directives in and out through street singers, musical broadcasts, jukeboxes, records, high school bands, whistling boys, cabaret performers, singing waiters, transistor radios.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “You don’t sell a film by saying you won’t show it. There may be secrets too horrible for a man to know and keep his own sanity but that won’t go down in Hollywood, Mister.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “I am the cat who walks alone. And to me all supermarkets are alike.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “But just wait until your thinking is basically different from the thinking of a boss or a teacher. You will find out that you aren’t supposed to think. Life is an entanglement of lies to hid its basic mechanisms.”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “The Hindus teach that the Heaven World is more dangerous for the soul than the Hell World, since it is more deceptive and conduces to the fatal error of overconfidence and assumption of immunity. Like a fighter the soul must be constantly in training lest it grow soft on an ephemeral throne. So the splendor of the palace, the constant parades, the state barges, the gold and lapis lazuli, the chariots and bowmen, eat away one’s awareness of the ultimate reality of conflict...”
William S. Burroughs Quote: “Kid, it was tasty.”
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