Charles Bukowski: Madness is Never Ordinary


“In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of “sadism” it is because it exists, I didn’t invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds.” — Charles Bukowski

The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski“‘Would you suggest writing as a career?’ one of the young students asked me.
‘Are you trying to be funny?’ I asked him.
‘No, no, I’m serious. Would you advise writing as a career?’
‘Writing chooses you, you don’t choose it.’”

“There’s a lot of murky downgrading of Hemingway now by critics who can’t write, and old ratbeard wrote some bad things from the middle to the end, but his head was becoming unscrewed, and even then he made the others look like schoolboys raising their hands for permission to make a little literary peepee. I know why Ernie went to the bull-fights – it was simple: it helped his writing. Ernie was a mechanic: he liked to fix things on paper. The bullfights were a drawing board of everything: Hannibal slapping elephant ass over mountain or some wino slugging his woman in a cheap hotel room. And when Hem got in to the typer he wrote standing up. He used it like a gun. a weapon. The bullfights were everything attached to anything. It was all in his head like a fat butter sun: he wrote it down.”

STORY: Dirty Realism: The Anti-Social Satire of Charles Bukowski

The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski - Part 1

The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski, Part 1, BBC Documentary

With me, the racetrack tells me quickly where I am weak and where I am strong, and it tells me how I feel that day and it tells me how much we keep changing, changing ALL the time, and how little we know of this.”

STORY: Bukowski’s ‘Born Into This’ – Treachery, Hatred, Violence, Absurdity

The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski - Part 3

The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski, Part 3, BBC Documentary

Writing by Charles Bukowski

often it is the only

thing between you

and impossibility.

no drink,

no woman’s love,

no wealth


match it.

nothing can save




it keeps the walls



the hordes from

closing in.

it blasts the


writing is the



the kindliest

god of all the


writing stalks


it knows no


and writing laughs

at itself,

at pain.

it is the last


the last


that’s what

it is.

from blank gun silencer – 1991

Buy Tales of Ordinary Madness, by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski - The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski - Part 4

The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski, Part 4, BBC Documentary

Photo from Joe Nolan’s Insomnia

Opening quote from Bukowski’s response to the Dutch banning “Madness” in 1985 — Boing Boing

Updated 1 June 2019

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About The Outpost regularly posts articles, photo essays, features, and documentaries from around the web that illuminate the challenges to coexistence between city and wild, developed and developing, human and other. To reach out, write to jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow us on Twitter @WilderUtopia