William S. Burroughs by Phil Baker

By Phil Baker

Along with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs (1914––97) is an iconic determine of the Beat iteration. In William S. Burroughs, Phil Baker investigates this cult writer’s lifestyles and work—from small-town Kansas to manhattan within the ’40s, Mexico and the South American jungle, to Tangier and the writing of Naked Lunch, to Paris and the Beat resort, and ’60s London—alongside Burrough’s self-portrayal as an explorer of internal area, reporting again from the frontiers of experience.

After unintentionally taking pictures his spouse in 1951, Burroughs felt his future as a author used to be sure up with a fight to return to phrases with the “Ugly Spirit” that had possessed him. during this attention-grabbing biography, Baker explores how Burroughs’s early absorption in psychoanalysis shifted via Scientology, demonology, and local American mysticism, ultimately best Burroughs to think that he lived in an more and more magical universe, the place he despatched curses and operated a “wishing machine.” His lifelong preoccupation with freedom and its opposites—forms of keep watch over or addiction—coupled with the globally paranoid imaginative and prescient of his paintings should be obvious to conform right into a better ecological obstacle, exemplified in his suggestion of a divide among respectable humans or “Johnsons” and those that impose themselves upon others, wrecking the planet within the process.

Drawing on newly to be had fabric, and rooted in Burroughs’s weak emotional lifestyles and seminal friendships, this insightful and revealing learn offers a strong and lucid account of his profession and significance.

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50 49 4 Go South, Young Man Returning to St Louis in the summer of 1946, Burroughs was pleased to find Kells Elvins was there with his wife and son, after war service as a us Marine captain. Elvins and Burroughs dreamed up get-rich-quick patents together (of the everlasting lightbulb variety, including a home dry-cleaning machine) but Elvins had a more solid option with farming, and he persuaded Burroughs to join him. Elvins was growing citrus and cotton in Texas, and Burroughs bought fifty acres of cotton land with money from his parents.

22 40 Joan Vollmer in the Forties, photographed by Allen Ginsberg. No digital rights Around ten years younger than Bill, Joan was an elegant young woman and a great reader: she could talk about philosophy, and she liked to read Proust, or simply the newspapers, in a bubble bath. She had been married and had a young daughter, Julie, and she was a strong character and sexually outspoken. She told Burroughs he made love like a pimp (intended as a compliment, and one that Burroughs always took pride in).

At least wish me luck. And let me stay ready to help you any way I can. 34 Burroughs’s sadness over Marker had meanwhile been compounded with another grief. On the sixth of September 1951 Burroughs heard the fluting whistle of an itinerant knife grinder, and he went out to get a knife sharpened. It was a Scout knife he had bought in Quito while travelling with Marker. As Burroughs walked towards the knife grinder’s cart he was suddenly overcome by intense feelings of despair, loss and doom, and tears began to stream down his face.

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