He was a genius. He never lived by the rules. He drank more than he was supposed to, he had more mistresses than anyone would find acceptable, and he didn’t live in a way anyone would recommend. He didn’t write about pleasant things, but instead about the sometimes harsh reality which is all around us.
Here are 25 brilliant quotes from Charles Bukowski, one of the most intelligent and witty writers ever to grace our lives.
- Just living until you die is hard work.
- I don’t believe that it’s possible to make the world a better place. I just believe we can try to stop it getting worse.
- When you drink the world is still out there, but for the moment it doesn’t have you by the throat.
- You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.
- All women are different. On the whole, they seem to be a combination of the best and the worst, both magical and terrible. However, I’m pleased that they exist.
- While men are busy watching football or drinking beer or hanging around bowling alleys, these women think of us: they focus on us, study us and decide what to do: accept us, kick us out, exchange us for something better or just kill us.
On talent and writing
- Writers are desperate people. And when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.
- At 25, anybody can be a genius. At 50, you have to do something to become one.
- Ambition rarely helps talented people. Having good luck is something else entirely. Talent always drags its feet behind it.
- An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
- Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.
- Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and eight times out of nine I’ll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities.
- It’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.
- Potential, I said, doesn’t mean a thing. You’ve got to do it. Almost every baby in a crib has more potential than I have.
- If you succeed in deceiving somebody, it doesn’t mean that he is a fool. It just means that he trusts you more than you deserve.
- Beauty is nothing, beauty won’t stay. You don’t know how lucky you are to be ugly, because if people like you, you know it’s for something else.
- To see some old trash on the screen has become so common today that people have ceased to think about the fact that they only ever watch trash.
- Love is only for guitarists, Catholics and chess fanatics.
- Sex is a great thing only when you’ve got nothing else to do.
- Loneliness strengthens me; to be without it is like being without food and water. Every day without it weakens me. I’m not proud of my loneliness, but I depend on it.
- I know my own shortcomings far too well to demand reciprocal love.
- I’m married but I don’t have a wife. My wife is my own life.
- I’m usually bad, but when I’m good, I’m damn good.