William Burroughs

Sometimes being paranoid is just a matter of having all the facts.

I love cats. I especially like the ones that squeal when I hold 'em over the bathtub. Quoted in On the Road


Junk is a cellular equation that teaches the user facts of general validity. I have learned a great deal from using junk: I have seen life measured out in eye droppers of morphine solution. I experienced the agonizing deprivation of junk sickness, and the pleasure of relief when junk-thirsty cells drank from the needle. Perhaps all pleasure is relief. I have learned the cellular stoicism that junk teaches the user. I have seen a cell full of sick junkies silent and immobile in separate misery. They knew the pointlessness of complaining or moving. They knew that basically no one can help anyone else. There is no key, no secret someone else has that he can give you.

I have learned the junk equation. Junk is not, like alcohol or weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a lack. It is a way of life.

To me, tea heads are unfathomable.


Unpaid bills unanswered letters each simple task an agony to perform every day a little worse and the worse it got the less was happening as the structure quietly foundered whole apartment blocks phone in to say they won't be coming to the office that day and nobody is there to take the calls. The writer flinches from his typewriter the cop turns sick with the sight of his badge. Tools fall from slack hands plows gather dust in ruined barns. Fanatical sects spring up wrecking whole districts in whirlwind riots. A few minutes later the rioters sit in the wreckage stirring blood with a stick staring into space with dead hopeless eyes. Last twitches of the dying west.

Language is a virus from outer space.


Junk is the ideal product...the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy...The junk merchant does not 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. He pays his stuff in junk.

The face of "evil" is always the face of total need.

Hustlers of the world, there is one Mark you cannot beat: The Mark Inside.

This is a yen of the brain alone. A need without feeling and without body, earthbound ghost need, rancid ectoplasm swept out by an old junky coughing and spitting in the sick morning.

Certain passages in the book that have been called pornographic were written as a tract against Capital Punishment in the manner of Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal. These sections are intended to reveal capital punishment as the obscene, barbaric and disgusting anachronism that it is. As always the lunch is naked. If civilized countries want to return to Druid Hanging Rites in the Sacred Grove or to drink blood with the Aztecs and feed their Gods with the blood of human sacrifice, let them see what they actually eat and drink. Let them see what is on the end of that long newspaper spoon.

I was standing outside myself trying to stop those hangings with ghost fingers...I am a ghost wanting what every ghost wants--a body--after the Long Time moving through odorless alleys of space where no live is only the colorless no smell of death...Nobody can breathe and smell it through pink convolutions of gristle laced with crystal snot, time shit and black blood filters of flesh.

The physical changes were slow at first, then jumped forward in black clinks, falling through his slack tissue, washing away the human lines...In his place of total darkness mouth and eyes are one organ that leaps forward to snap with transparent teeth.

America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting.

Something falls of you when you cross the border into Mexico, and suddenly the landscape hits you straight with nothing between you and it, desert and mountains and vultures; little wheeling specks and others so close you can hear wings cut the air (a dry husking sound), and when they spot something they pour out of the blue sky, that shattering bloody blue sky of Mexico down in a black funnel...Drove all night, came at dawn to a warm misty place, barking dogs and the sound of running water.

The Judge: "Everything indicates that you have, in some unspeakable manner uh...assimilated the District supervisor."

Western man is externalizing himself in the form of gadgets.

Confusion hath fuck his masterpiece.

Last night I woke up with someone squeezing my hand. It was my other hand...

The addict regards his body impersonally as an instrument to absorb the medium in which he lives, evaluates his tissue with the cold dead hands of a horse trader. "No use trying to hit there." Dead fish eyes flick over a ravaged vein.

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...

In no other culture in the history of the world has the use of narcotics, both legal and illicit, become so strange and integral a part of the overall scene. And reviviscent addiction has reached such prevalence and intensity that, in the larger view, it can no longer matter whether it be considered a 'crime' or a 'sickness' -- it is a cultural phenomenon with far more profound implications than either diagnosis suggests.

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. _The Human Virus can now be isolated and treated_.

Motel... Motel... Motel... broken neon arabesque... loneliness moans across the continent like fog horns over still oily water of tidal river...

The Word is divided into units which be all in one piece and should be so taken, but the pieces can be had in any order being tied up back and forth, in and out fore and aft like an innaresting sex arrangement. This book spill off the page in all directions, kaleidoscope of vistas, medley of tunes and street noises, farts and riot yipes and the slamming steel shutters of commerce, screams of pain and pathos and screams plain pathic, copulating cats and outraged squawk of the displaced bull head, prophetic mutterings of brujo in nutmeg trances, snapping necks and screaming mandrakes, sigh of orgasm, heroin silent as dawn in the thirsty cells, Radio Cairo screaming like a berserk tobacco auction, and flutes of Ramadan fanning the sick junky like a gentle lush worker in the grey subway dawn feeling with delicate fingers for the green folding crackle...