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Charles Bukowski Quotes On Love, Life, Death And Motivation

From the moment his first novel was published in 1971 Charles Bukowski was recognised as a unique and intelligent literary voice. Whilst he was seen by some as just a pulp writer, his funny affecting writing struck a chord with the lovelorn, the fed-up and those that just couldn’t stand their go-nowhere, boring jobs. 

All of the quotes below demonstrate Bukowski’s unique literary style and we’re sure you’ll find something here to make you think about what’s going on in your life.
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.

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If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.

We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.

Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.



Do you hate people? I don’t hate them…I just feel better when they’re not around.

Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.

Even though I write about the human race, the further away from them, the better I feel. Two miles is great; two thousand miles is beautiful.

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I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.

If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.

Humanity, you never had it to begin with.

Style is the answer to everything.

If I stop writing I am dead. And that’s the only way I’ll stop: dead.

It’s when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order to simply make a poem, that you fail.

Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.

Sometimes I feel as if we are all trapped in a movie. We know our lines, where to walk, how to act, only there is no camera. Yet, we can’t break out of the movie. And it’s a bad one.

Having a bunch of cats around is good. If you’re feeling bad, you just look at the cats, you’ll feel better because they know that everything is just as it is. There’s nothing to get excited about. They just know. They’re saviours.

I loved you like a man loves a woman he never touches, only writes to, keeps little photographs of.

Never envy a man his lady. Behind it all lays a living hell.

To do a dull thing with style-now that’s what I call art.

It wasn’t my day. My week. My month. My year. My life. God damn it.

You’ve to die a few times before you actually live.

People are strange: They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.

Almost everyone is born a genius and buried an idiot.

When I say that basically writing is a hard hustle, I don’t mean that it is a bad life, if one can get away with it. It’s the miracle of miracles to make a living by the typer.

I have no definite talent or trade, and how I stay alive is largely a matter of magic.

We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.

Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live.

If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose.

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.

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.

Some people like what you do, some people hate what you do, but most people simply don’t give a damn.

Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.

Those who have been writing literature have not been writing life.

My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the ‘light’ and never mentioned the other, then as an artist, I would be a liar.

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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.

Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.

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.

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.

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.

She’s mad but she’s magic, there’s no lie in her fire.

Don’t feel sorry for me because I am alone, for even at the most terrible moments, humor is my companion.

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them; I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence.

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts. While the stupid ones are full of confidence.

Boring damned people. All over the earth. Propagating more boring damned people. What a horror show. The earth swarmed with them.

The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you’ll live 10 times longer than if you have 10. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It’s truly ridiculous.

Sometimes I’ve called writing a disease. If so, I’m glad that it caught me.

I can relax with bums because I am a bum. I don’t like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don’t like to be shaped by society.

I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been in a room… I’ve felt suicidal, I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt awful … awful beyond all , but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me…or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I’ve never been bothered with because I’ve always had this terrible itch for solitude…

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.

We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our education system.

I am not a snob; it is simply that I am not interested with what most people have to say, or what they want to do — mostly with my time.

If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

My love is a hummingbird sitting that quiet moment on the bough, as the same cat crouches.

There are only two things wrong with money: too much or too little.

My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the ‘light’ and never mentioned the other, then as an artist, I would be a liar.

Find what you love and let it kill you.

Somebody once asked me what my theory of life was, and I said, ‘Don’t try.’ That fits the writing, too. I don’t try; I just type.

I would be married, but I’d have no wife, I would be married to a single life.

If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.

I wasn’t much for a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.

The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole goddamned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves.

Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.

The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.

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?

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.

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.



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