23 of the Greatest Quotes from Charles Bukowski

quotes from Charles Bukowski

I don’t throw around the words “hero” or “icon” very much, but Charles Bukowski falls into both categories for me.

He was a man who wrote beautiful things about some of the darkest aspects of life. In 1946 Bukowski started a 10 year long, cross- country binge that lead to him becoming one of the most influential writers in American history. Stephen Kessler, a book critic in San Francisco, once said of Bukowski: “Without trying to make himself look good, much less heroic, Bukowski writes with a nothing-to-lose truthfulness which sets him apart from most other ‘autobiographical’ novelists and poets. Firmly in the American tradition of the maverick, Bukowski writes with no apologies from the frayed edge of society.”

Two life lessons I personally adhere to from Bukowski are:

“I am a series of small victories and large defeats and I am as amazed as any other that I have gotten from there to here.”
“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
Here are a few others that I think we can all relate to:
“Pain doesn’t make anything, nor does poverty. The artist is there first. What becomes of him depends upon his luck. If his luck is good (worldly-speaking) he becomes a bad artist. If his luck is bad, he becomes a good one.”
“It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”
“the way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head”
“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”
“You are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you.”
“She’s mad but she’s magic, there’s no lie in her fire.”
“Sex is interesting but not totally important. I mean, it’s not even as important (physically) as excretion. A man can go 70 years without a piece of ass but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.”
“Boring damned people. All over the earth. Propagating more boring damned people. What a horror show. The earth swarmed with them.”
“Don’t feel sorry for me because I am alone, for even at the most terrible moments, humor is my companion.”
“On such jobs men become tired. They experience a weariness beyond fatigue. They say mad, brilliant things. Out of my head, I cussed and talked and cracked jokes and sang. Hell boils with laughter.”
“If you want to know where God is, ask a drunk.”
“I would say that Mickey Mouse has a greater influence on the American public than Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Rabelais, Shostakovitch, Lenin, and/or Van Gogh. Which says ‘What?’ about the American Public. Disneyland remains the central attraction of Southern California, but the graveyard remains our reality.”
“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.”
“Find what you love and let it kill you.”
“Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must live.”
“I wanted the whole world or nothing.”
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubt, while the stupid people are full of confidence.”
“Nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this is it.”
“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.”
“I’ve had so many knives stuck into me, when they hand me a flower, I can’t quite make out what it is. It takes time.”
“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”

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