First I have to say that I LOVE William Burroughs’ work!
“It is generally assumed that spoken word came before the written word. I suggest that the spoken word as we know it came after the written word. In the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was flesh…human flesh… In the beginning of writing.”
This quote is towards the very beginning of the Electronic Revolution part 1 and it sets the tone of the entire works. Very years, people have debated whether the chicken came before the egg or the egg before the chicken, yet what about words? Words, both written and spoken, formulate the avenues of communication between human beings. They have created wars and peace, they have lead t life and death, and regardless of if the words were quoted correctly, words are remembered. So why does it matter, which one came first? I believe that for Burroughs, the written is more important because it is documented and can survive the test of time. Like viruses. Viruses start off as just these small organisms yet they can grow and cause great destruction. Basically, what I’m trying to say is the the written word is a virus with substance that can be used to create vaccines. To right the wrongs that may have been said, to incorporate various different cultures, and to explicitly express the workings of the human brain. When we want someone to learn to talk or to communicate, we read to them, written words.
The Soft Machine
“Rats was running all over the morning—Somewhere North of Monterrey went into the cocaine
business—By this time fish tail Cadillac—people—civilians—So we score for some business and
get rich over the warring powers—shady or legitimate the same fuck of a different color and the
general on about the treasure—We rigged their stupid tree limb and drop the alien corn— spot of
business to Walgreen’s—So we organize this 8267 kicked in level on average ape—Melodious
gimmick to keep the boys in line—I had learned to control Law 334 procuring an orgasm by any
image, Mary sucking him and running the outfield”
I think that Burroughs’ use of common vulgarity and cutup confusion allows this story to really represent a “Trip”. It is common knowledge that Burroughs took a lot o drugs while writing his works so its not hard to assume that the junkie in the texts is a layer of Burroughs himself. By merging the cutup method, realism, and a sense of magicalism, Burroughs is displaying the depth that can be obtained regardless of ones situation. You can be caught up in a the drug business and still have the mental capacity to understand high end literary works.
Combined these two works experiment with the human body and its understanding of self. Meaning the understanding of the body’s limitation both internally and externally. Yes, the body carries thousands of little viruses and organisms that can and do function without the host’s knowledge of them every being there. Until there is a written texts addressing the body’s problem, prevention, and a cure. Writing is like that. It exist on it’s own until someone tries to discover a new element or tries to present a uniformed way the body is supposed to be. Burroughs makes sure that nothing is just one thing and that it can be seen in multiple ways because every individual is different and those differences are the key.
It could be the key to politics or the key to beat a drug addicted. The point is that our lives are a cutup of all of our experiences and “self-recordings” that we use to re-write our day to day.