Tag Archives: william s. burroughs

William Seward Burroughs II (5 February 1914 – 2 August 1997) was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century.” His influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.

After being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve in World War II, he dropped out and became afflicted with the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life, while working a variety of jobs. In 1943 while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the mutually influential foundation of what became the countercultural movement of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac called Burroughs the “greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift,” a reputation he owes to his “lifelong subversion” of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism.

Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict, as he lived throughout Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, the South American Amazon and Tangier in Morocco.

     –   Junkie (1953): His first confessional novel, a seminal text on the lifestyle of heroin addicts in the early 1950s.
     –   Naked Lunch (1959): A book structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes that Burroughs has stated are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the US to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone. The vignettes (which Burroughs called “routines”) are drawn from Burroughs’ own experience in these places, and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, “Majoun” — a strong marijuana confection — as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently). Perhaps his best-known novel, fraught with controversy that underwent a court case under the U.S. sodomy laws, and made into a movie by David Cronenberg.
     –   The Nova Trilogy: The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Ticket That Exploded (1961-64): Self-described by Burroughs as an attempt to create “a mythology for the space age” that utilizes cut-up and fold-in fiction, a style that facilitates non-linear storylines.
     –   The Wild Boys (1971): A free-associated, stream-of-consciousness book is settled in an apocalyptic near-future. The main plot shows the struggle between the wild boys – a revolutionary tribe of youths, living in a instinctual state existing outside the conventions of civilization, and free from mechanisms of social control like religion, nation and family – and the remnants of civilization itself, living an hedonistic and paranoic existence in totalitarian enclaves. It has been described by some critics as a homosexual version of Peter Pan.
     –   The Red Night Trilogy: Cities Of The Red Night, The Place Of Dead Roads, The Western Lands (1981): A series of non-linear stories exploring themes of past and future, time and travel. The Western Lands is inspired by the Egyptian Book Of The Dead, exploring after-death states by means of dream scenarios, hallucinatory passages, occultism, superstition, and Burroughs’ view of reality.

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Superman is a Rocker: Robert Pollard and the Third Mind

According to modern day magickians like Alan Moore, “Art is magick, because art transforms consciousness”. By that definition, some of the world’s greatest mystics don’t ever actually identify themselves as such. In my world, Robert Pollard is probably the most potent of these closet sorcerers, unassumingly churning out tune after tune ad infinitum from his...Read...
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Swahili – Self-Titled Album Review (w/ Full Album Stream)

The relationship between ritualistic drumming and consciousness alteration is an age old tradition stemming largely from the overlooked shamanic cultures of antiquity. It should go without saying that viewing the supposed “triumph” of Western materialism thought over the more “primitive” concepts of animism is a retardedly short-sighted way of oversimplifying the universe, but that’s the...Read...
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SIFF 2010 The Rest of the Fest Film Recaps

And so another year’s Seattle International Film Festival comes to a close. You might be saying “Hey! You only watched like eight movies? What kind of publication is this?!” Tut tut, readers.  We here at Redefine watched a boat load of movies! We just couldn’t find the time/space/wherewithal to write about every single one. But...Read...