Quotations from William Burroughs


V. Vale at RE/Search pored through 845 pages of Burroughs Live and pulled out some gems. Here are a few choice William Burroughs observations from Vale’s latest newsletter. Read all of them and subscribe to the newsletter. Burroughs was quite perceptive and his quotes don’t need explanation or comments.

“The first problem is that of overpopulation.”

“All is illusion…”

“It’s all in Korzybski. SCIENCE AND SANITY is one book I insisted that everybody in my class read. It saves so much time. This entire either-or thing just doesn’t correspond to what we know about the physical universe…There’s no such thing as “good or bad” or “beautiful or ugly” floating around in a vacuum…Otherwise you just get tied up in these verbal arguments that really mean nothing. For example, take a word like “Communism or Fascism” – well, they don’t mean one goddamn Thing. You have as many definitions as you have people who use them, so why use them at all? The educational system today has just been permeated with its either-or thinking.”

“What’s required is a cultural revolution.”

“[On Warhol]: I don’t think that there is any person there. It’s a very alien thing completely and totally unemotional. He’s really a science-fiction character.”

“I.Q. tests measure nothing but the ability to do I.Q. tests.”

“This has been happening for many, many years—for thousands of years – that your privacy is invaded.”
“The control machine is simply the machinery—police, education, etc – used by a group in power to keep itself in power and extend its power.”

“The whole concept of revolution has undergone a basic change with the introduction of heavy weapons… with heavy weapons five percent can keep down 95 percent by just sheer force, if they have to.”

“This is a game universe. Basically there’s only one game and that game is war.”