Hunter S. Thompson Quotes: The World According To The Doctor Of Gonzo

Wit and wisdom from the great hellraiser, 10 years after his death

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Ten years ago, as per his instructions, guests at Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral watched as his remains were loaded into a rocket at the top of a 150ft tower and fired into the sky, and then clinked together their glasses of whisky in remembrance. "He loved explosions," Thompson's widow Anita said at the time.

‘Explosions’ is a good way to describe what, as a writer, he left behind: some 38 books and countless newspaper and magazine articles – including several for Esquire – written in a exhilarating and fearless style that would come to known as ‘gonzo journalism’.

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To mark the anniversary of his death, we round up just a small sample of the wit and wisdom that marked him out as a pioneering writer, a counter culture icon, and, as Thompson himself would have it, one of ‘the crazy ones who never die’.


"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity."

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"Some may never live, but the crazy never die."

"Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished and hoarded and worshipped and fondled like a priceless diamond."

"Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.”

"He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master."

"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used."

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity."

"As long as I'm learning something, I figure I'm OK - it's a decent day."

"There is no fool like a careless gambler who starts taking victory for granted."

"By any accepted standard, I have had more than nine lives. I counted them up once, and there were 13 times I almost and maybe should have died."

"I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours."

"Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning."

"I wasn't trying to be an outlaw writer. I never heard of that term; somebody else made it up. But we were all outside the law: Kerouac, Miller, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kesey; I didn't have a gauge as to who was the worst outlaw. I just recognised allies: my people."

"There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”

"I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing."

"Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio."

"A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance."

"We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and – in spite of True Romance magazines – we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely – at least, not all the time – but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness."

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