What Gets You Thinking?

A minute or two after I popped the words – What gets you thinking? – into the title box of this post, while I was quickly browsing William Burroughs quotes and had just read this one:

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. A psychotic is a guy who’s just found out what’s going on.”

― William S. Burroughs

My partner walked into the room to share something which had just got him thinking. What he shared was one of those things which once you start thinking about them can lead you to the places in William Burroughs’ quote above and/or to the thought that:

“I am getting so far out one day I won’t come back at all.”

― William S. Burroughs

If you do manage to get so far out with your thinking that it changes your perception of the world and reality (which perhaps you thought you knew but now you’re not so sure as it all looks and sounds different), and then suddenly come back from all the way out there, you might feel like an alien visiting this planet and:

“After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager.”

― William S. Burroughs

Except, since you’ve lived here, you know that it is a futile request and that there is no manager. Sure there are lots of people who claim to be and insanely want to be the manager of Earth, of humans and the humaniverse.

“Is Control controlled by its need to control? Answer: yes.”

― William S. Burroughs

And there are those who think that they are the ‘real’ managers (the secret behind the scenes puppetmasters)…

“I know this one pusher walks around humming a tune and everybody he passes takes it up. He is so grey and spectral and anonymous they don’t see him and think it is their own mind humming the tune.”

― William S. Burroughs

and sometimes we pretend that they are our managers because it’s a relief to have someone else in charge to blame.

“Last night I woke up with someone squeezing my hand. It was my other hand.”

― William S. Burroughs

There are different types of thinking. So the question – What gets you thinking? – should have an accompanying question about what type of thinking is occurring.

There’s the going around in circles type of thinking, which includes the confirming your bias thinking, and the I don’t want to think about this which is why I’m always thinking about this thinking.

There’s the end of the world is nigh type of thinking, which is a close relative of the hell is other people type of thinking, and the what’s the point in thinking thinking.

“Thou shalt not be such a shit, you don’t know you are one.”

― William S. Burroughs

There’s the thinking yourself out of a hole, a tight spot, a rut type of thinking, which works well with the thinking yourself into a hole, a tight spot, a rut thinking (which is not the same as the thinking in circles thinking even if they seem similar) as you can reverse engineer the thinking (both ways).

There are so many types of thinking that there are thinkers who think about thinking and list, categorise, describe, and study them to make thinking easier for everyone else, but they often end up making thinking more complicated and confusing.

“Language is a virus from outer space”

― William S. Burroughs

It might appear as though I am one of those, but my making a list thinking is about as functional as my ability to remember to take the list with me when I actually need it.

If you don’t believe me (and questioning thinking is a fun type of thinking, mostly when you’re using it on others rather than using it on yourself, or when others are using it on you and doing it without thinking about the answers they get to their questioning thinking thinking) you’re welcome to accompany me on a trip to the shops, especially the supermarket or DIY store – please wear comfortable shoes and bring your own transport to make your escape when you can’t stand anymore of my dithering thinking.

“There are no innocent bystanders … what are they doing there in the first place?”

― William S. Burroughs

One of my favourite types of thinking is the thinking but not thinking, where you are thinking but it’s contemplative.

It’s a bit like taking a relaxing walk through the archives of your mind (I like to imagine that the archives of my mind look like one of those impressive libraries with floor to very high ceilings shelving, moveable ladders, and a spiral staircase to get to that special rare books section, where everything is arranged neatly, but my mental archives are more like a tiny cramped secondhand bookstore filled to bursting with dusty tomes, where people – mostly me – keep dumping books and… I’ll tidy that up later but I never do), perhaps guided by someone else who has just given you something to hmmmm think about and it changes how you see the same old same old – things may magically rearrange themselves.

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”

― William S. Burroughs

If you’ve made it this far – How and Why?

Perhaps you’re one of those people who finds my posts to be – thought-provoking – and you like having your thoughts provoked. In case you’re wondering, people regularly tell me that my posts are thought-provoking, and it seems to be a compliment.

I’m one of those people who likes having my thoughts provoked – I didn’t at first or maybe at second… but I grew up in an environment where it happened all the time.

“The first and most important thing an individual can do is to become an individual again, decontrol himself, train himself as to what is going on and win back as much independent ground for himself as possible”

― William S. Burroughs

I’ve adapted myself to it and it has adapted itself to me. We’ve been through a lot together, gotten to know each other better, learned to work with each other rather than against.

Yes, I am talking about thinking as though it was a person. It is to me. Perhaps because I’m an only child who spent much of my time alone, and lonely. Thinking offered to be my friend.

It has been a very good friend. It has also been an enemy. It has been a friend while it was being an enemy – there are different types of thinking (yes, that again!).

Sometimes while being a friend, ally and protector… it made me a target of the thinking of others.

“There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business.”

― William S. Burroughs

Especially when others are being told by their own thinking that other others are thinking bad thoughts about them.

People who think that your thoughts are as absessed (that’s a typo… I think I’ll leave it as is – do you know why?) with them as their thoughts are obsessed with themselves will be certain that you’re thinking about them – if you tell them you weren’t, they’ll be even more upset and won’t believe you anyway – and will also be certain that you couldn’t possibly be thinking anything good about them.

“Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.”

― William S. Burroughs

Why did I use that quote there?

Because in my experience of my own self-hate and the self-hate of others… self-hate is a parasite. One of those parasites which gains control of your brain, and makes you say and do things you wouldn’t do or say if you were in control.

I can give you examples of real parasites which do that – there’s one which makes those infected with it seek out water so that it can get out and infect others.

“When you cut into the present, the future leaks out”

― William S. Burroughs

Does that make you go – Yuck!

It makes me go – Yuck!

Something else which made me go – Yuck! Which got me thinking about many things, including my – Yuck! – reaction, was an article I read the other day about something I wasn’t really interested in at the time of clicking on the article.

It was one of those ‘news’ items which isn’t really News, but which many online News sites have.

The basics of it were – a woman (who had enough ‘power’ and was in enough of a ‘powerful position’ to have a news item written about her and her opinion) was criticising a recent successful TV show, The Bodyguard (which I haven’t watched), for having too many strong and powerful female characters. This woman felt it was unrealistic (it’s a TV show!!!) and was hurting the #MeToo and female equality movements.

The bit where I went – Yuck! was when it was explained that this woman was a TV show writer for a different/rival channel (however the news item was written by and for the channel which created the TV show she was criticising… so, were her words taken out of context, was she made into a baddie, was my – Yuck! manipulated out of me? And other questions which get me thinking).

“The face of ‘evil’ is always the face of total need.”

― William S. Burroughs

I could have gone – Yuck! about her opinion, but it was just one person’s perspective and it was worth considering – she could be right, she could be wrong, she could be both right and wrong.

Awhile ago I read an interesting article about how what we see on TV and in film affects what we accept and don’t accept in real life. It’s a form of subliminal programming.

There’s a film which kind of says the same thing – Tomorrowland – and which warns people about buying into the negative view of humans and the world propagated by the Media (have you ever wondered why news sites are so negative? They usually blame it on us – the readers – according to them we prefer feel-bad stories to feel-good stories, and they need to make money… but is that true or has it become true because they’ve said it enough times?)

“The junk merchant doesn’t sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client.”

― William S. Burroughs

Sometimes to get the change you want, you have to make believe that it is already happening, has happened – create the new normal, and then watch it become the new normal.

What do you think?

15 thoughts on “What Gets You Thinking?

Add yours

  1. Thank you. 🙂

    I used to worry about normal a lot. Not so much anymore. There is a “collective normal” of course – some of it is stupid and some of it necessary and required. But most of the time “my normal” works pretty well if I let it take its course.

    Your comments about prominent figures tapping into our normal is also what I was trying to get at, so both of you expressed and explained better. 🙂

    Yes – I get it about having something come back, or connecting with someone who says something you’re worried about saying. The “art” of being normal. 🙂


  2. Burroughs was a much mentioned name in the stuff I read in my 20s, his quotes prompted me to return to this post a second time.

    Your typo ‘absessed’ has me imagine a thick yellow liquid discharging from the brain…lol yes, abscess. Perhaps my brain has it that’s why my thinking is obscured sometimes. I’m joking here and not having the medical condition Hee…

    I look at the different types of thinking in me as different selves. Other than being Pisces (twin aspect), in my ZiWei chart both the sun and moon resides in my Life House, again emphasis the multiple aspects in my character 🙂 At times when I don’t understand the cause/result of some issues, I will attribute these workings to my twin self or a third one and let them explain/study the case. A thinking mind is always conflicting themselves and in contradiction

    When as kids we were denied self expression, grew up repressed and required to conform to some conventional system, this early imprint on our character made it difficult for us to change/accept new ways of things later even as we found freedom to express and do the things we want. Letting go of past selves and beliefs need time and patience, and is necessary. But letting go is easier to say than done. Sometimes I’d like to merge/integrate these old and new types of thinking to one unified self but there is problem in finding a perfect balance… then came to the conclusion that some things that need to go, have to go and there is no finding to the perfect balance — meaning to life doesn’t lie in being perfect

    “Sometimes to get the change you want, you have to make believe…” I would say you have to believe rather than make believe (sounds weak) if you the change 😉 reach out, touch faith


    1. And now I have that song stuck in my head, thank you very much for that! 😉

      Actually I think that what you said here – “Sometimes I’d like to merge/integrate these old and new types of thinking to one unified self” – is an excellent approach to letting go, because it takes into account the difficulty of letting go and considers that perhaps letting go doesn’t mean removing something so much as moving it from where it is stuck into where it can evolve. For instance you can’t really let go of ego, but ego can move from being a painful experience into being a positive influence and ally. It’s not so much a letting go of something so much as a transformation of it (I have natal Pluto/Sun (and by transit atm too) = the ego must be transformed/transmuted).

      I agree that there is a problem in finding a perfect balance. While exploring astrology, and reading up on the sign of Libra to better understand my Libra/Aries axis, an astrologer pointed out that the Libra scales weren’t supposed to be perfectly balanced at all (they’re just sometimes drawn that way), that instead they were supposed to swing, as through the swing from one extreme to another an understanding of the two sides of a whole was possible. The real balance isn’t about a static status, but about swinging to and fro, occasionally finding the sweet spot in the middle but not getting stuck there trying to cling to it.

      Perfection is an ideal – ideals at best are supposed to inspire us to move towards them (chase after them, etc), the important thing isn’t the ideal and getting it, it’s the moving towards it and all we do and learn as we move. In other words it’s the journey, not the destination which matters. Ideals at their worst keep us stuck on the spot, unable to move, perhaps trapping others too on a pedestal of perfection/idealism (don’t move or it’ll all come tumbling down!).

      Pisces, like Libra, has to keep moving. Both have duality, and within each duality there are more dualities, the whole is a part of a greater whole. The symbol for Pisces is very similar to the Yin/Yang symbol, where one side has a piece of the other side embedded within it.

      The symbol for Capricorn is a goat who can’t swim because of it’s hooves and can’t climb because of its fish tail, and yet it tries to do both. It’s an awkward mountaineering mermaid 😉


      1. ‘Awkward mountaineering mermaid’ love the humor in that expression 😉 Yes! You surprised me by noticing that, at first I was like ‘Where did I mention a song?’, then I remember. That song came in my head as I was finishing the comment.

        I read your new post last night after I finished my letter. For me, your latest post and this have a connection. Reading them again have shed some new light for me.

        This post (owing to Burroughs’ quotes) took me back two decades, where I was trying to free my repressed self, find freedom and expression. Liberating myself from old systems and beliefs was gratifying and was healing for me in a way. Those days I don’t see things as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, rather I see it as ‘right’ or ‘left’, two ways which way is up to you as long as you do no (not deliberate) harm to anyone. So the question of sins and virtues was never in my context at that time.

        In these recent years, I seemed to have slide back to the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ thinking. If ask what do I consider a virtue now? Immediately I’d answer Integrity. Ask that back in time, I’d pause and reflect the question back at you (like what you did in your post). Seems to me now I’ve been degenerating. Really. Thank you for your posts! (They are reminders for me.)

        Shyness. Do you know I’m feel shy too? Haha…of course, you don’t, no one does. Even my conscious self don’t think that most of the time now. I have little problem with socializing in a group (though I feel uncomfortable sometimes) becos I know the attention won’t be on me. Even when the attention is on me, for example, performing on stage, I’m not that frightful as surely there will be someone who does worse than me or someone so prominent that will divert the attention away from me. However, I’m shy when it’s one-on-one. I remember now in my first few relationships, it was always the girls who took initiatives in almost everything lol. The ‘shy’ meme image which is in several of your posts is kinda relatable and yes, funny. Am I consider shy?

        ‘But are shy people really humble and modest or just trying to avoid humiliating themselves with their immodesty?’ Shy people are not necessary humble and modest, some are trying to avoid humiliating themselves with their immodesty (in my case). Maybe I have outgrown my shyness in the past or simply misunderstand myself? 🙂

        Last night came across Niccolò Machiavelli ‘The Prince’, some chapters content are intriguing.

        ‘Many writers have dreamed up republics and principalities such as have never been seen or known in the real world. And attending to them is dangerous, because the gap between how men live and how they ought to live is so wide that any prince who thinks in terms not of how people do behave but of how they ought to behave will destroy his power rather than maintaining it. A man who tries to act virtuously will soon come to grief at the hands of the unscrupulous people surrounding him. – Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince’


  3. “Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for an answer.” I get this quote completely because for me, it’s true. It’s my normal. That also makes me “love it.” Is that because someone else, a famous person whom others respected for his thinking, said it, drew attention to it, made it feel important? Or is it just because he said something a lot of people experience, only better and more succinctly?
    Before knowing me, my M would have said that that’s balderdash, that thinking is someone you do, not something you wait for while you do something else. So his normal got changed and became his new normal.
    Thought-provoking post. I had to say it … it’s a little joke, 😉 but it’s also true. 🙂


      1. See, now, the other day I did something which I don’t normally do. You’d commented and then added a typo fix comment after that. I deleted your typo fix comment after fixing the typo in your comment as per your typo fix comment. But this one… this one I’m leaving because it’s a brilliant typo! And I love your “Yikes.” 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! You! 😀

      That’s a wonderful observation. I saw a headline last night for an article about the most pressing concerns of students these days, which said ‘Am I normal?’ was a top concern. While something may be normal for us, we’re not always sure that our normal is normal for anyone else but us, and that sometimes creates tension, anxiety, leading to self-doubt and so on. So when someone who is a prominent figure says something which taps into our normal, and maybe says it in a way which expresses it and explains it better than we think/feel we ever could, it hits a sweet ‘I love it’ spot. It is both because they’re prominent, and because by saying it they showed us that this normal for us is also normal for others too. What is true for us, is true for them too, and that makes us feel connected.

      It can also be wonderful to discover new normals and truths – thinking is something you do, and it is also something you wait for while you do something else 🙂

      It is also something which leaves you to go elsewhere sometimes… there was something I was thinking about and it just went… oh, it’s back! I love it when someone says something which you’re thinking but would probably never say out loud because you’re worried about other people getting shocked/offended = thinking you’re an ass, and those people you were so worried about cheer the person for saying it and say “That’s what I was thinking but didn’t have the gumption to say it!”


  4. Love the way you think…and your ability to articulate those thoughts! I hesitate to say “we think alike” cuz then we wouldn’t be thinking outside the box? Maybe it really is a matter of perspective that affects the thought process. And, just as I do think similar thoughts on some things…there are things you think that I do not share similar thoughts. Anyhow, I like this one…
    “thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking”
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


    1. Thank you very much 🙂

      You could look at “cuz then we wouldn’t be thinking outside the box” as a box, and then that makes saying “we think alike” as leaping out of the box 😉

      It is equally delicious to share similarities as it is to have differences, to not share similarities. It’s a bit like ice cream. Say we both love ice cream, this similarity makes us connect, and feel the joy of that connection. However how we experience our love of ice cream is most likely very different, and that adds to the joy of the connection because you can share your experience with me and vice versa and maybe that will open up new doors of perception of the experience of loving ice cream. There may be differences we can’t understand – such as I love green tea ice cream and you think green tea should never be an ice cream flavour – which might highlight what makes us unique, what disconnects to allow the individual to be an individual.

      I love the Goethe quote – his quotes are like ice cream!


      1. Funny, I love green tea ice cream! Lol…also love “red bean” ice cream. (love love love sushi😁) Now take vanilla…its just too boring to eat by itself, right?
        Another Goethe: “nothing is more frightful than imagination without taste”


        1. Haha 😀

          There’s a weirdly wonderful Japanese TV show about this guy who loves sweets – https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80175348 – the way they film the food is definitely out of the box! I’ve only watched a couple of episodes because I got distracted by and sucked into K dramas (where food is an important element in the stories).

          My favourite Japanese TV show also involves food (and made me voraciously hungry while watching it) –


  5. The last paragraph is an actual ‘thing’ btw. What we PERCEIVE is reality..to us if to no one else. I like these quotes and I’ve garnered several of them for future use. One will be used today to respectfully tweak the nose of an old man I know who is frothing at the continued idiocy of American politics. He has high blood pressure and is an old fellow, who served in some war or other (I believe Vietnam) and has honor and integrity and finds ranting about the problem his way of ‘fighting’ this latest war. Now and then we cross words about semantics. Today was just such a day when I asked him how he could tell what ‘side’ his opponents were on – right or left – because apparently they’re the same people, they just jump side to side, depending on sound bites and opportunities for spreading their stupidity with a wider audience and so forth.


    1. I got all the quotes from goodreads, if you want to check out more from WB – https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/4462369.William_S_Burroughs

      William Burroughs had quite a bit to say about politics and America, and about this planet/universe. Since you mentioned that your old fellow is fighting a war, this quote might be apt:

      “This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games. All games are basically hostile. Winners and losers. We see them all around us: the winners and the losers. The losers can oftentimes become winners, and the winners can very easily become losers. ” ― William S. Burroughs

      Exploring history, it does become increasingly hard not to end up perceiving what is happening now as being a do-over of what happened before. In other words – history keeps repeating. They may have different names and faces but they’re same people doing/saying/thinking the same things causing the same things to happen.

      There’s a very weird and thought-provoking film – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_Who%27s_Back_(film) – which is a satirical look at modern day politics and the use of media. What you said reminded me of it.

      Thank you for sharing 🙂


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