William S. Burroughs (February 05, 1914 - August 02, 1997)
Born: 5th February, 1914
Died: 2nd August, 1997
Nationality: American writer
Region: Saint Louis, Missouri, Lawrence, Kansas
Notable works: "Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict", "The Yage Letters", "The Naked Lunch", "And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks"

William S. Burroughs Facts

Biography

William S. Burroughs, in full William Seward Burroughs, (born February 5, 1914, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.--died August 2, 1997, Lawrence, Kansas), American writer of experimental novels that evoke, in deliberately erratic prose, a nightmarish, sometimes wildly humorous world. His sexual explicitness (he was an avowed and outspoken homosexual) and the frankness with which he dealt with his experiences as a drug addict won him a following among writers of the Beat movement.

Burroughs was the grandson of the inventor of the Burroughs adding machine and grew up in St. Louis in comfortable circumstances, graduating from Harvard University in 1936 and continuing study there in archaeology and ethnology. Having tired of the academic world, he then held a variety of jobs. In 1943 Burroughs moved to New York City, where he became friends with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, two writers who would become principal figures in the Beat movement. Burroughs first took morphine about 1944, and he soon became addicted to heroin. That year Lucien Carr, a member of Burroughs's social circle, killed a man whom Carr claimed had made sexual advances toward him. Before turning himself in to the police, Carr confessed to Burroughs and Kerouac, who were both arrested as material witnesses. They were later released on bail, and neither man was charged with a crime; Carr was convicted of manslaughter but was later pardoned. In 1945 Burroughs and Kerouac collaborated on a fictionalized retelling of those events entitled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. Rejected by publishers at the time, it was not published until 2008.

In 1949 he moved with his second wife to Mexico, where in 1951 he accidentally shot and killed her in a drunken prank. Fleeing Mexico, he wandered through the Amazon region of South America, continuing his experiments with drugs, a period of his life detailed in The Yage Letters, his correspondence with Ginsberg written in 1953 but not published until 1963. Between travels he lived in London, Paris, Tangier, and New York City but in 1981 settled in Lawrence, Kansas.

He used the pen name William Lee in his first published book, Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict (1953, reissued as Junky in 1977), an account of the addict's life. The Naked Lunch (Paris, 1959; U.S. title, Naked Lunch, 1962; film 1991) was completed after his treatment for drug addiction. All forms of addiction, according to Burroughs, are counterproductive for writing, and the only gain to his own work from his 15 years as an addict came from the knowledge he acquired of the bizarre, carnival milieu in which the drug taker is preyed upon as victim. The grotesqueness of this world is vividly satirized in Naked Lunch, which also is much preoccupied with homosexuality and police persecution. In the novels that followed--among them The Soft Machine (1961), The Wild Boys (1971), Exterminator! (1973), Cities of the Red Night (1981), Place of Dead Roads (1983), Queer (1985), The Western Lands (1987), and My Education: A Book of Dreams (1995)--Burroughs further experimented with the structure of the novel. Burroughs (1983), by filmmaker Howard Brookner, is a documentary on the artist's life.

Top 64 William S. Burroughs quotes

Language is a virus from outer space.
Language
Outer
Outer space
Space
Virus
Perhaps all pleasure is only relief.
Only
Perhaps
Pleasure
Relief
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.
After
Allowed
Always
Away
Guns
Hell
Live
Military
Only
People
Police
Shooting
Society
Sure
Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use any other drug with special horror.
Alcohol
Any
Horror
National
Other
Our
Regard
Special
Tend
Use
Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.
Behind
Believed
Change
Desperation
Drastic
Drastic change
Escape
Ever
Everything
Hope
Leave
Material
Only
Raw
A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on.
Going
Knows
Little
Paranoid
Someone
Who
You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
Any
Fake
Good
Good meal
Meal
More
Quality
Than
You
The face of evil is always the face of total need.
Always
Evil
Face
Need
Total
Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact.
After
Architects
Artists
Change
Fact
Implement
Legislators
Mind
Political
Real
Who
Which came first the intestine or the tapeworm?
Came
First
Which
There couldn't be a society of people who didn't dream. They'd be dead in two weeks.
Dead
Dream
People
Society
Two
Two weeks
Weeks
Who
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.
Any
Because
Been
Business
Caused
Folks
Has-been
Mind
More
Most
No business
Own
Smallpox
Than
Black magic operates most effectively in preconscious, marginal areas. Casual curses are the most effective.
Area
Black
Black magic
Casual
Curses
Effective
Effectively
Magic
Marginal
Most
A functioning police state needs no police.
Needs
Police
Police state
State
Admittedly, a homosexual can be conditioned to react sexually to a woman, or to an old boot for that matter. In fact, both homo - and heterosexual experimental subjects have been conditioned to react sexually to an old boot, and you can save a lot of money that way.
Admittedly
Been
Boot
Both
Conditioned
Experimental
Fact
Heterosexual
Homo
Homosexual
In fact
Lot
Matter
Money
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.
Any
Designed
He
His
Man
More
Present
Remain
Space
Space travel
State
Than
Travel
Anything that can be done chemically can be done by other means.
Anything
Done
Means
Other
Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.
All the facts
Facts
Having
Just
Paranoia
Sometimes
Smash the control images. Smash the control machine.
Control
Images
Machine
Smash
Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.
Cats
Creatures
Like
Practical
Pure
In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.
Deep
Place
Sadness
Sentimentality
Be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary.
Arbitrary
Just
Just be
You
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
Everything
Nothing
Permitted
True
The only possible ethic is to do what one wants to do.
Ethic
Only
Possible
Wants
I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all.
Am
Back
Come
Day
Far
Getting
I am
One day
Out
How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.
Conformity
Dedicated
Hate
How
Producing
Those
Who
Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.
Frightening
Only
People
Silence
Who
Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative.
Going
Knowledge
Only
Relative
Superficial
Your
Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside.
Beat
Cannot
Inside
Mark
World
You
Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.
Answer
Learn
Mind
Most
Questions
Relax
Wait
Will
You
Your
Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.
Acting
Advantage
Being
Every
Every man
Himself
His
Inside
Man
Parasitic
Who
After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager.'
After
Any
Look
Manager
Outer
Outer space
Planet
Say
See
Space
Visitor
Want
Would
The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You don't buy love for nothing.
Buy
Care
Cat
Course
Does
He
Itself
Love
Nothing
Offer
Offers
Services
Shelter
Wants
Happiness is a byproduct of function, purpose, and conflict; those who seek happiness for itself seek victory without war.
Conflict
Function
Happiness
Itself
Purpose
Seek
Those
Victory
War
Who
Without
A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering.
Beautiful
Blazing
Blue
Burning
Cat
Eyes
Flame
Hair
Pure
Rage
Sparks
Standing
Standing up
Up
Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.
Beg
Buy
Client
Crawl
Ideal
Junk
Merchandise
Necessary
Product
Sales
Sewer
Talk
Through
Ultimate
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.
Care
Cut
Dreams
Familiar
His
Indians
Magic
Man
Nation
Off
Spirits
Taking
Way
Whites
Virtue is simply happiness, and happiness is a by-product of function. You are happy when you are functioning.
By-product
Function
Happiness
Happy
Simply
Virtue
You
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.
Based
Games
May
Nature
Other
Ours
Principles
Seems
Sort
Time
Universe
Universes
War
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.
Characters
Except
Finally
Hemingway
Him
His
Like
No-one
Prisoner
Sense
Style
Talk
Wildest
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.
Acting
Am
Area
Been
Explorer
Exploring
I am
I see
Inner
Maker
Map
No point
Point
Psychic
I started to write in about 1950; I was thirty-five at the time; there didn't seem to be any strong motivation. I simply was endeavoring to put down in a more or less straightforward journalistic style something about my experiences with addiction and addicts.
About
Addict
Addiction
Any
Down
Experiences
Journalistic
Less
More
More or less
Motivation
Put
Seem
Simply
Most serious writers refuse to make themselves available to the things that technology is doing. I've never been able to understand this sort of fear.
Able
Available
Been
Doing
Fear
Make
Most
Never
Refuse
Serious
Sort
Technology
Themselves
Things
Most people don't see what's going on around them. That's my principal message to writers: 'For God's sake, keep your eyes open. Notice what's going on around you.'
Around
Eyes
God
Going
Keep
Message
Most
Notice
Open
People
Principal
Sake
See
Them
I see no reason why the artistic world can't absolutely merge with Madison Avenue. Pop art is a move in that direction. Why can't we have advertisements with beautiful words and beautiful images?
Absolutely
Advertisement
Art
Artistic
Avenue
Beautiful
Beautiful words
Direction
I see
Images
Madison
Madison avenue
Merge
Move
You must learn to exist with no religion, no country, no allies. You must learn to live alone in silence.
Allies
Alone
Country
Exist
Learn
Live
Must
No country
Religion
Silence
You
Thinking is not enough. There is no final enough of wisdom, experience - any... thing.
Any
Enough
Experience
Final
Thing
Thinking
Wisdom
Some people like neat suburbs. I always am attracted to the rundown and the old and the offbeat.
Always
Am
Attracted
Like
Neat
Offbeat
Old
People
Some
Some people
Suburbs
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.
Advancement
Any
Basic
Between
Body
Freedom
Knowledge
Needs
Only
Organization
Organizational
Policy
Thought
Scientology is a model control system, a state in fact with its own courts, police, rewards and penalties.
Control
Courts
Fact
In fact
Model
Own
Penalties
Police
Rewards
State
System

William S. Burroughs essays

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