Levitation thanks Gordon Gilbert and the Yippie Museum Café (yippiemuseum.org)
and each of the readers for sharing with our readers this continuing series
in tribute to the Beat writers.
Videos of William
Burroughs to be shown as the audience arrives
Notes - Gordon Gilbert
... I Ran Into a BOY, Named ANGELO..." from Junkie, 1970's Vintage Penguin
Edition, p. 114
from My Education: A Book of Dreams
from With William Burroughs: Report from the Bunker [edited] by Victor
of the Croup (Prat Felicities): Molly Bloom and Inspector Lee"
"The Boys from St. Louis" (Fold-in Technique) & "Cut-up Last
Toronto with musician
of the earth come out" excerpt from The Job,
Interviews with William S. Burroughs by Daniel Odier
"Atrophied Preface" excerpts from Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
from the BENWAY and HOSPITAL sections in Naked Lunch
Voleurs" from The Adding Machine
from pages IX, Xli, 19, and 78 of Junkie (2003, Penguin)
KILL CELLS AND FUTURE FOR NEW CANCER HOLES"
Beginning is Also the End" from The Burroughs File
& an excerpt from "Electronic Revolution" from The Job: Interviews
with William S. Burroughs
& 42nd Street"
Words & Announcements - Gordon Gilbert
William S. Burroughs
(also known by his pen name William Lee)
February 5, 1914 - August 2, 1997
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
Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and
four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews
He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and
musicians, and made many appearances in films.
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.
Much of Burroughs's
work is semi-autobiographical
was his first venture into a non-linear style. Scenes were slid together with
little care for narrative. He described Naked Lunch as a book that could
be cut into at any point. Although not considered science fiction, the book
does seem to forecast-with eerie prescience - such later phenomena as AIDS,
liposuction, autoerotic fatalities, and the crack pandemic.
in the United States, Naked Lunch was prosecuted as obscene by the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, followed by other states. In 1966, the Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court declared the work "not obscene" on the basis of criteria
developed largely to defend the book. The case against Burroughs's novel still
stands as the last obscenity trial against a work of literature-that is, a work
consisting of words only, and not including illustrations or photographs - prosecuted
in the United States.
Burroughs's major works can be divided into four different periods. The dates
refer to the time of writing, not publication, which in some cases was not until
- Early work (early
1950s): Junkie, Queer and The Yage Letters are relatively straightforward
linear narratives, written in and about Burroughs's time in Mexico City and
- The cut-up
period (mid 1950s to mid 1960s): Naked Lunch is a fragmentary collection
of "routines" from The Word Hoard - manuscripts written in
Tangier, Paris, London, as well as of some other texts written in South America
such as "The Composite City", blending into the cut-up and fold-in
fiction also heavily drawn from The Word Hoard: The Soft Machine, Nova
Express, The Ticket That Exploded, also referred to as "The Nova
Trilogy" or "the Nova Epic", self-described by Burroughs as
an attempt to create "a mythology for the space age". Interzone
also derives from this period.
and subversion (mid 1960s to mid 1970s): This period saw Burroughs continue
experimental writing with increased political content and branching into multimedia
such as film and sound recording. The only major novel written in this period
was The Wild Boys, but he also wrote dozens of published articles,
short stories, scrap books and other works, several in collaboration with
Brion Gyson. The major anthologies representing work from this period are
The Burroughs File, The Adding Machine and Exterminator!.
- The Red
Night trilogy (mid 1970s to mid 1980s): The books Cities of the Red
Night, The Place of Dead Roads and The Western Lands came
from Burroughs in a final, mature stage, creating a complete mythology.
produced numerous essays and a large body of autobiographical material, including
a book with a detailed account of his own dreams (My Education: A Book of