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William S. Burroughs quotes

1914 - 1997, American author and painter

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

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

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

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

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.
William S. Burroughs

How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.
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

The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.
William S. Burroughs

Most of the trouble in the 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

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

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

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

Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use of any other drug with special horror.
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

When you stop growing you start dying.
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

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

A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on.
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

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

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

In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.
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

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

You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
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 is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.
William S. Burroughs

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

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

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