Perhaps one of the most colorful
writers to emerge from the Beat period, William S. Burroughs
has led an extremely interesting life.
Born in St. Louis, Mo. on February 5, 1914, Burroughs grew up
under fairly comfortable circumstances. He attended Harvard University
and graduated in 1936. He was well known for his openly homoerotic
tendencies and frequently wrote about his experiments with narcotic
In 1951 Burroughs, on a jaunt to Mexico, shot his second wife,
Joan, in an accident where he reportedly attempted to mock a
scene from the William Tell Overture. He then spent much of his
life wandering through South America, experimenting with drugs
and gathering research for his future writings.
Perhaps he is best known for helping establish the collage technique,
a writing style many perceive to be pretentious and confusing.
Most of his writing centered around the underworld and drug sub-cultures
and his film, Naked Lunch, achieved cult status.
In addition to his numerous books, Burroughs once made an appearance
in the Gus Van Sant film, Drugstore Cowboy where he played
an older man serving as a momentary mentor to Matt Dillon's character.
Many of his other titles include: The Ticket That Exploded,
Nova Express, The Last Words of Dutch Schultz,
The Wild Boys, Exterminator, Cities of the Red
Night, and Queer in which he explored his own homosexuality.
Many critics often question Burrough's literary merit, observing
that much of his work is mundane rambling that encourages and
glorifies a world of drugs and immorality. Others admire him
for his artistic integrity and cite his credentials as evidence
of his status as a visionary.
Burroughs died at age 83 in 1997.
Quick Fix ( Top of Page
To put the country simple, earth has a lot of things other folks
want...like the whole planet. And maybe these folks would like
a few changes
made. Like more carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, and room for
their way of
life. We've seen this happen before, right in these United States.
Your way of life destroyed the Indian's way of life.
The Indian reservation is extinction.
But I offer this distinction.
I'm with the invaders, no use trying to hide
that. And at the same, I disagree with some of the things they
Oh were not united anymore than
Oh we're not united anymore than you are.
Conservative factions is set
on nuclear war as a solution to the Indian
I don't claim that my methods
are one hundred percent humane, but I do say,
if we can't think of anything quieter, and tidier than that...
We are all not that much better
than new earth aches.
There is no place else to go
The theater is closed
There is no place else to go
The theater is closed
Cut word lines
Cut music lines
Smash the control images
Smash the control machine.
The Place of Dead Roads (excerpt) ( Top of Page
Kim has never doubted the possibility of an afterlife or the
existence of gods. In fact he intends to become a god, to shoot
his way to immortality, to invent his way, to write his way.
He has a number of patents: the Carsons spring knife, an extension
of the spring blackjack principle; a cartridge in which the case
becomes the projectile; an air gun in which air is compressed
by a small powder charge; a magnetic gun
in which propulsion is effected by compressing a reversed magnetic
field. "Whenever you use this bow I will be there,"
the Zen archery master tells his students. And he means there
quite literally. He lives in his students and thus achieves a
measure of immortality. And the immortality of a writer is to
be taken literally. Whenever anyone reads his words the writer
is there. He lives in his readers. So every time someone neatly
guts his opponent with my spring knife or slices off two heads
with one swipe of my spring sword I am there to drink the blood
and smell the fresh entrails as they slop out with a divine squishy
sound. I am there when the case bullet tbuds home-right in the
stomach ... what a lovely grunt! And my saga will shine in the
eyes of adolescents squinting through gunsmoke.
Kapow! Kapow! Kapow!
Kim considers that immortality
is the only goal worth striving for. He knows that it isn't something
you just automatically get for believing some nonsense or other
like Christianity or Islam. It is something you have to work
and fight for, like everything else in this life or another.
The most arbitrary, precarious,
and bureaucratic immortality blueprint was drafted by the ancient
Egyptians. First you had to get yourself mummified, and that
was very expensive, making immortality a monopoly of the truly
rich. Then your continued immortality in the Western Lands was
entirely dependent on the continued existence of your mummy.
That is why they had their mummies guarded by demons and hid
good. Here is plain G.I. Horns.... He's got enough baraka to
survive his first physical death. He won't get far. He's got
no mummy, he's got no names, he's got nothing. What happens to
a bum like that, a nameless, mummyless asshole? Why, demons will
swarm all over him at the first checkpoint. He will be dismembered
and thrown into a flaming pit, where his soul will be utterly
consumed and destroyed forever. While others, with sound mummies
and the right names to drop in the right places, sail through
to the Western Lands.
There are of course those who
just barely squeeze through. Their mummies are not in a good
sound condition. These second-class souls are relegated to third-rate
transient hotels just beyond the last checkpoint, where they
can smell the charnel-house disposal ovens from their skimpy
balconies. "You see that sign?" the bartender snarls.
MAGGOTTY MUMMIES WILL NOT BE
"Might as well face facts
... mv mummy is going downhill. Cheap job to begin with ... gawd,
maggots is crawling all over it ... the way that demon guard
sniffed at me this morning. . . Transient hotels ... And here
you are in your luxury condo, deep in the Western Lands ... you
got no security. Some disgruntled former employee sneaks into
your tomb and throws acid on your mummy. Or sloshes gasoline
all over it and burns the shit out of it. "OH ... someone
is f***ing with my mummy.. .."
Mummies are sitting ducks. No
matter who you are, what can happen to your mummy is a pharaoh's
nightmare: the dreaded mummy bashers and grave robbers, scavengers,
floods, volcanoes, earthquakes. Perhaps a mummy's best friend
is an Egyptologist: sealed in a glass case, kept at a constant
tempera- ture ... but your mummy isn't even safe in a museum.
Air-raid sirens, it's the blitz! "For Ra's sake, get us
into the vaults," scream the mummies, without a throat,
without a tongue.
Anybody buy in on a deal like
that should have his mummy examined.
The Naked Lunch (excerpt) ( Top of Page )
"The Rube has a sincere little boy look, burns through him
like blue neon. That one stepped right off a Sator-day Evening
Post cover with a string of bullheads, and preserved himself
in junk. His marks never beef and the Bunko people are really
carrying a needle for the Rube. One day Little Boy Blue starts
to slip, and what crawls out would make an ambulance attendant
puke. The Rube flips in the end, running through empty automats
and subway stations, screaming: "Come back, kid! Come back!",
and follows his boy right into the East River, down through condoms
and orange peels, mosaic of floating newspapers, down into the
silent black ooze with gangsters in concrete, and pistols pounded
Hat to avoid the probing finger of prurient ballistic experts."
And the fruit is thinking: "What a character!! Wait 'til
I tell the boys in Clark's about this one." He's a character
collector, would stand still for Joe Gould's seagull act. So
I put it on him for a sawski and make a meet to sell him some
"pod" as he calls it, thinking, "I'll catnip the
jerk." (Note: Catnip smells like marijuana when it burns.
Frequently passed on the incautious or uninstructed.)
"Well," I said, tapping my arm, "duty calls. As
one judge said to another: 'Be just and if you can't be just,
be arbitrary.' "