UC Berkeley Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal

A Premier Humanities Research Journal at the University of California, Berkeley

William S. Burroughs, the Beat Generation and Postmodernism

Lisa Zettl

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I.               REINTERPRETING REALITY AND DOMINATING DISCOURSES

So let us be beat and angry, and pervert: if it helps to dethrone the falsity and rottenness of morality and puked way of living.

(Harris and MacFadyen 2009, 2)

Postmodernism is a critical response to existing discourses[1] of predominant systems like politics, society, philosophy, and economics, which constrain our common perceptions of our selves, society and language. It maintains that we cannot rely on our so-called reality anymore because it is a construct of our own minds. So is language.[2] And if these discourses have a major influence on the way we think, speak and act, do they not influence human identity totally? And do we not have to react to secure ourselves? Do we not have to escape from this fixed reality – to be able to reinterpret different discourses by ourselves?

Within the framework of the seminar Postmodernism and the Novel this paper will give an overview of this postmodern discussion and further elements of postmodernism with general reference to the emergence of the Beat Movement and its rebellion against the falsity of the dominating American cultural order and its ethical morals. In particular, William Burroughs’ intensely discussed multisided novel Naked Lunch will be considered. On the one hand it shows convincingly through its narrative technique that language can construct reality and contaminate it at the same time. On the other hand the story is a severe broadside at the “1950s middle-class values in scenes of sexual degradation, drug-induced hallucinations […] in a world where heroin (“junk”) is the only real commodity” (O’Donnell 2010, 14).

Just as Burroughs exposed in his works the fatal constraints that social and political discourses impose by controlling the subject in his total being, we as readers have to realise while reading Naked Lunch that we can construct and reinterpret every text anew. By internalising this conception we can construe discourses at all times anew and do not have to be afraid of their suppressive dominance anymore. At this juncture the focus of this work will be on the Beats’ and Burroughs’ critique of the evil aspects of the control exerted by the dominating discourses of society and politics.

II.             POSTMODERNISM AND THE BEAT MOVEMENT

Before analysing Burroughs­’ Naked Lunch and its postmodern elements, it is important to concentrate first on the postmodernist claim that reality and language have no final truth and have to be seen as constructs of dominating systems. Second, I shall draw a line from the chameleonic period of postmodernism to the birth of the Beat Generation and its intention to expose the duplicity and rottenness of the prevailing American politics and values, taking also into account the response of the Beatniks “to the dominating passivity of the age” (Tytell 1976, 12).

2.1 Postmodernism and Constraints of Political and Social Discourses

Because of the variety of postmodern concepts, this short introduction to postmodernism is limited to those that are necessary for putting the Beat Movement and later Naked Lunch into the context of this period. “Postmodernism manifests itself in many fields of cultural endeavour” (Hutcheon 2002, 1) and reveals that “some of the dominant features of our way of life” (Hutcheon 2002, 2) are in fact constructs of our own society. The dominant features that are significant for this analysis can be found in political systems[3] like the McCarthy era[4] in the United States.

According to Michael Foucault, when we use language in different discourses such as politics, society, and philosophy we establish them as naturally given and trustworthy. But “the central argument of deconstruction depends on relativism” (Butler 2002, 16), which internalises “the view that truth itself is always relative to the differing standpoints and predisposing intellectual frameworks of the judging subject” (Butler 2002, 16). In fine there is no possibility of final or true definitions when every reality depends on different points of view. There will be no ending for interpretation because interpreting means effecting “a further defining move, or ‘play’, with language” (Butler 2002, 17). Understanding this is essential for liberating oneself from constraining systems and will be discussed in conjunction with Burroughs’ critique of social and political control.

In this connection Michael Foucault’s analysis of power and his adoption of “the victim’s position” (Butler 2002, 45) is also relevant. Foucault considers that intending “to exercise power [always undermines] humanitarian egalitarianism” (Butler 2002, 45). Thus accepting generally admitted principles without questioning them allegorises “a system of control” (Butler 2002, 46). Here it is appropriate to add that by relying on universal fundamental reasons we commit ourselves to unfreedom. What we have to prohibit by focusing on Michael Foucault’s idea of episteme,[5] which by predisposing conditions delimits our “totality of experience in a field of knowledge” (Butler 2002, 46). Consequently our perceptions in our day-to-day life are scotched by theoretical structures of society, which we acknowledge as given truths.

Therefore we should not avoid liberating ourselves from these theoretical and empirical chains by feeling free to play with our imaginations and deconstructing our interpretations each time anew.

2.2 Postmodern Aspects in Beat Literature

Postmodernism as a significant category was evolved in America from the Sixties onward “mostly with regard to the crisis of civilization” (Hoffmann 2005, 33). With this “most explosive decade” (Hoffmann 2005, 33) a time “of enormous hope, idealism, energy, creativity, overreaching, arrogance and sheer folly” (Hoffmann 2005, 33) was inaugurated. Postmodernism offers a serious response to the emerging unawareness of the American population of being subjected and controlled “by the ideologically motivated discourses of power” (Butler 2002, 50) in their own society.

In post-war America there were many artists who dealt with the existing condition of American politics and values, which “accepted man as the victim of circumstances, and no longer granted him the agency of his own destiny” (Tytell 1976, 9).

C. Wrights Mills[6] saw the emergence of a ‘mass society’ composed of isolated units, formed by media, encouraged only to consume, never to decide.

(Tytell 1976, 8 )

Following World War II, the Cold War and the military interventions in Vietnam “[t]he post-war era was a time of extraordinary insecurity, of profound powerlessness as far as individual effort was concerned” (Tytell 1976, 5). Other effects of the political and cultural developments in this time were an encouragement of “consumerist conformity” (Johnston 2005, 105) and the creation of stereotypes, which as a result of mass production standardised individuality and reduced it to a “consumer commodity” (Johnston 2005, 106).

Against this background the Beat Movement as a group of young writers and artists was escaping from these socio-cultural conditions. They felt subordinated and controlled by this world of monotonous consumption. The Beatniks saw in this “commodity-driven” (Johnston 2005, 107) culture and in the impending technological developments, which “invade privacy” (Tytell 1976, 5), an opportunity to question and to refuse “to accept the social given” (Tytell 1976, 9). They were “a crystallization of a sweeping discontent with American virtues of progress and power” (Tytell 1976, 4).

What was the effect on a generation of such a politics of infidelity, such a time of false securities and mistrust?

(Tytell 1976, 7)

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs tried to unmask in their works and in their way of life “cultural taboos” (Tytell 1976, 34) such as sexual repression, drug addiction etc.

In three works particularly, Naked Lunch, “Howl”, and On the Road, the Beats reacted to the embalming insecurities that had quelled the spirit of a generation.

(Tytell 1976, 11-12)

The Beatniks opposed “the simplifications of society” (Hoffmann 2005, 34) and the disconcerting refusal to question authority with their counterculture and their understanding of a “new sensibility” (Tytell 1976, 34). They attempted to alter the perceptions of their fellow men, to clear their one-sided acceptance of an all-inclusive truth and to appeal to them to take their lives in their own hands. Not only were their writings important for deconstructing the social given and espousing freedom of action, but also for determining how “they chose to live” (Tytell 1976, 10). Madness was their “breakthrough to clarity” (Tytell 1976, 11), and drugs, sexual candour and similar experiences paved the way for their rebellious movement.

William S. Burroughs in particular used his drug experiences to liberate himself from the social control surrounding him and as a basis for writing his stories. In which junk seems to be the only way out of the dominating systems[7] and discourses, which according to Foucault control us by letting us think they are total and reliable truths. They prevent us from interpreting our reality with the help of playing with language and “to question how we represent – how we construct – our view of reality and of our selves” (Hutecheon 2002, 40).

In the following chapters Burroughs’ multisided novel Naked Lunch will be discussed in detail with the focus on how and whether Burroughs has developed a method to expand the perception of his readers and to open their minds to the possibility of many different perspectives of reality.

III.           NAKED LUNCH – A FROZEN MOMENT

I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch. The title was suggested by Jack Kerouac. I did not understand what the title meant until my recent recovery. The title means exactly what the words say: NAKED Lunch – a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.

(Burroughs 2010, 199)

William Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch had to face a major censorship trial in America (Skerl 1985, 35). Because of its obscenity in language and its critical and offensive statement about the American consumer society Naked Lunch was not seen as a valuable literary work. This trial “was the final step in eliminating censorship of the printed word in the United States today” (Skerl 1985, 36).

Nevertheless it was not censored and by reading the novel the public got a chance to realise “what is on the end of every fork” (Burroughs 2010, 199). In this frozen moment the human being realises “his cannibalism, his predatory condition, and his necessary parasitism and addictive nature” (Mottram 1977, 15). So Burroughs managed to liberate himself from a certain kind of social control – not with the help of drugs, but with his own writing of Naked Lunch, and gave his readers the possibility of unmasking their miserable reality of addiction and passivity and their parasitic way of life. So in one single moment everything is totally clear and the human being understands his subordinated position in society. Once we are aware of the dominating discourses and their effect upon us, we are able to distance ourselves and find some way out of this one-sided truth.

On the basis of William Burroughs’ major influence as a writer of the Beat Generation and his vision of the demonic American society his work Naked Lunch will now be analysed in the context of addiction, the evils of social control and his narrative collage technique.

3.1 Postmodern Elements in Naked Lunch

All benches were removed from the city, all fountains turned off, all flowers and trees destroyed. Huge electric buzzers on the top of every apartment house […] Searchlights played over the town all night (no one was permitted to use shades, curtains, shutters or blinds). No one ever looked at anyone else because of the strict law against importuning, with or without verbal approach, anyone for any purpose, sexual or otherwise.

(Burroughs 2010, 20)

One has to look at Naked Lunch as “a vision of cannibalism, a state of »total emergency«” (Mottram 1977, 31). The whole story consists of a range of science fiction, pornography, manipulating doctors and political parties, detective stories and more. These motifs all include “a paranoid view of the world that Burroughs accepts as valid” (Skerl 1985, 42). This novel shows William Burroughs’ perception of the worst expected state of American society in the fifties and “can be seen as the disjointed memories and hallucinations of withdrawal” (Skerl 1985, 36).

3.1.1      The Algebra of Need – Junk as the ultimate merchandise

As almost a lifelong addict to drugs and as a homosexual William Burroughs experienced the “repressive social control of sexuality” and “the direct metabolic control of the body associated with heroin” (Ayers, 1993, 223). His works, especially Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, The Ticket that Exploded and Nova Express, focus on these experiences and express themselves in hallucinatory imaginations evoked by taking drugs.

In his hallucinatory visions the “naked need” (Burroughs 2010, 19) is reflected in total addiction. The pure need for something also controls the human being in his existence, and the more he is addicted, the more controlled will he be.

The face of “evil” is always the face of total need.

(Burroughs 2010, 201)

In Naked Lunch the word ‘junk’ becomes a synonym for every kind of addiction, and if an addict gets to the state of total need – the results can be predicted. What is meant by the Algebra of Need is that if someone is in absolute need of anything his behaviour will get mathematically predictable. And he will be controlled by those who are in power (Miles 1993, S. 105). Junk as “the ideal product…the ultimate merchandise” (Burroughs 2010, 201) gives power and control to the “junk merchant” (Burroughs 2010, 201). The addict is sold to the addicting product and becomes unfree in a world which is governed by those who strive inexorably for power. Junk with its metabolic effects can be seen as a paradigm of social control (Ayers 1993, 223-224).

You would lie, cheat, inform on your friends, steal, do anything to satisfy total need. Because you would be in a state of total sickness, total possession, and not in a position to act in any other way.

(Burroughs 2010, 201)

The dominant pushers act according to Burroughs precisely through a “pyramid of junk, one level eating the level below” (Burroughs 2010, 200) to monopolise their power. The addict in his inferiority is exposed to their totalitarian repression. According to Jennie Skerl, Burroughs establishes connections to social institutions, which are “built upon this cannibalistic structure [and] are also viruses or cancers[8]” (Skerl 1985, 39). Further it must be recognised that even those who seem to be predominant are also manipulated by “their own need to control and dominate” (Johnston 2005 108).

With the Algebra of Need Burroughs opens up a new discourse, which again controls us, makes us unfree and constrains us in the face of being subjected. Consequently even drugs are not a dependable rescue from the dominating systems, but reduce us to the total reality of pusher and parasitic junky.

3.1.2      The Evil Aspects of Control

In Naked Lunch Burroughs describes the dire effects of social control and tries to unmask them. His own resistance is shown in numerous drug treatments and in his openness about his homosexuality in a world that denounces these so-called human failings. Besides the angle of total drug abuse and its controlling, dominating features, Burroughs evidences, that there are even more indications of control, surrounding and humiliating us. The basis of addiction, its consequences, and the following topics of sexuality as pornography and the evil of the social system will show that the human being has to resist many different forms of efforts that while resorting to violence want to oppress him.

The orgasm-death of the hanged man, a recurrent image, also illustrates the evil of the social system based on the Algebra of Need.

(Skerl 1985, 39)

In Naked Lunch addiction is defined not only in terms of drug addiction, but also in the context of sexuality as pornography. In sections of Hassan’s Rumpus Room and A.J.’s Annual Party it is shown that every protagonist is not free, but  used and under the control of someone else.

“Stand up and turn around,” he orders in telepathic pictographs. He ties the boy’s hands behind him with a red silk cord.

“Tonight we make it all the way.”

“No, no!” screams the boy.

“Yes. Yes.”

(Burroughs 2010, 63)

The chapter Hassan’s Rumpus Room is a seemingly never ending series of pornographic intercourse. The illustration of the boy that is hanged and ejaculates while his head snaps pictures perfectly the dominance of one who forces the sexual act upon his inferior opponent. The hanged man stands for “the ultimate victim and parasitic dummy” (Mottram 1977, 17). The victim has no chance but to succumb to the humiliating sexual preferences of his counterpart, and in the end has to die while feeling lust.

This scene is played out again in the section A.J.’s Annual Party, in which two men and a woman are having sex with one another in a most bestial way. The reader can always picture the total anxiety of the victim:

Johnny screams and whimpers…His face disintegrates as if melted from within….Johnny screams like a mandrake, blacks out as his sperm spurts, slumps against Mark’s body an angel on the nod.

(Burroughs 2010, 81)

As Johnny was hanged Mary wants to hang Mark, but he turns the situation around. Again the victim screams and excretes, but in the moment of hanging experiences a wave of lust through her body. In the sexual intercourse the victim anxiously enjoys the brutal situation and his inferior position, but has no control and no influence on the further procedure.

These two shocking scenarios are described as being as brutal and humiliating as possible, in order to cast the reader into a possible reality in which power is an “extreme mental and physical humiliation and reduction, within another person’s absolute control” (Mottram 1977, 18). Thus sexuality is yet another social discourse, especially in the American society of the fifties, which delimits our conduct.

Another important discourse which controls us as socially given is shown in Naked Lunch in the chapters Benway and Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry. Dr. Benway plays a very interesting role in almost every novel of Burroughs and is literally the embodiment of “a manipulator and coordinator of symbol systems, an expert on all phases of interrogation, brainwashing and control” (Burroughs 2010, 19). The picture of the utopian and corrupt city Interzone[9] as a credible depiction of present metropolises is also important for understanding the dominance of social and political control. Interzone can be seen as the modern city which combines all the cultural systems and peoples of the world that internalise “commerce, sex, addiction, political manipulation, and rivalry” (Skerl 1985, 37).

[T]he most important characters representing social controllers are doctors.

(Skerl 1985, 39)

Doctors use the rapid developments in science and technology “to control and degrade man” (Skerl 1985, 39). Dr. Benway, Dr. Fingers Schafer and Dr. Berger in their madness utilise the human body and mind for experiments and play directly into the hands “of repressive social systems, using [their] knowledge to control human behaviour” (Skerl 1985, 40). With IND (Irreversible Neural Damage) Dr. Benway creates a man trapped in a body without mind.

“Yes,” says Benway,” they still have reflexes. Watch this.” Benway takes a chocolate bar from his pocket, removes the wrapper and holds it in front of the man’s nose. The man sniffs. His jaws begin to work. […] His whole body writhes in peristalsis.

(Burroughs 2010, 28)

And when they are useless subjects – end-products without profit for science and the social system – they are useless disposal material: “They don’t come back, won’t come back, once they’re gone” (Burroughs 2010, 29). The human being becomes a removable and exchangeable subject and is reduced to the state of an animal. Benway further experiments with drugs and makes his patients addicted in order to extend his knowledge and control. He has worked in the states of Annexia and Freeland, in which repressive control will be exerted daily. The dominant groups such as the police use torture to acquire information, to humiliate the citizens and to spread anxiety and total subjectedness. In such a totalitarian society there is no sense of privacy or freedom for the citizens.

No one was permitted to bolt his door, and the police had pass keys to every room in the city.

(Burroughs 2010, 21)

A battle for power is also pictured in “three conspiratorial parties of Interzone” (Skerl 1985, 40). The Liquefactionists, the Divisionists and the Senders seek absolute power over the human individual. As addicts of control they repudiate “individualism and nonconformity” (Skerl 1985, 38). They want to transform every single human being into a reflection of “the person or force in control” (Skerl 1985, 40) by either liquidating, cloning or brainwashing through mental telepathy. A closer look at the party of the Senders – representing total addiction – reveals one of Burroughs’ major themes, as elucidated in chapter 3.2, namely control on the basis of addiction. They use their knowledge of science for evil purposes that “underlie all the evils of control” (Skerl 1985, 40).

Addiction as the number one virus[10] of the world is a major problem and will always be used to repress human identity. In the context of these social discourses our way of living is totally controlled and undermined.

3.2          The Importance of the Narrative Technique in Naked Lunch

What is simply needed to control the human being besides addictive substances, repressive provisions and science? What do all of these dominating systems have in common? William Burroughs contends here that control is mainly achieved through language – the simple word. With the help of language we create a fixed reality, only in which we are allowed to move. We receive our permitted linguistic usage from established systems and do not question it.

But as I tried to explain at the beginning of this paper, our reality and our language system are nothing but constructs of our society which constrain us, and will thus have to be abandoned. William Burroughs as his alter ego Agent Lee writes about evil and destroys it. In the introduction to Naked Lunch Burroughs tells about his drug addiction and treatment, his sickness with this virus, but does not prepare the reader for the following ride through hell. While reading the novel the reader is cast into multiple different sequences, gets to know numerous characters and loses the ground of a reliable reality. There are no fixed points to which the reader can cling, and with detailed brutality he is given insight into Burroughs’ confused drug hallucinations.

This book spill off the page in all directions, kaleidoscope of vistas, medley of tunes and street noises, farts and riot yips and the slamming steel shutters of commerce[…].

(Burroughs 2010, 191)

In the Atrophied Preface Burroughs explains the situation of his alter ego Agent Lee in its relation to the past and the future. Consequently the reality of his situation is not a fixed state, but is rather a mixture of every impression he once gained and will maybe gain in the future. Burroughs does not even try to offer the reader a structured system of plot, language and themes. The narrative perspective has no direction and anchor points, neither in time nor in space.

Naked Lunch is a blueprint, a How-To Book…Black insect lusts open into vast other-planet landscapes…Abstract concepts, bare as algebra, narrow down to a black turd or a pair of aging cojones….

(Burroughs 2010, 187)

Furthermore, the text is the disjunction between the life and the art of William Burroughs. He combines in his novel biography and fiction: the object – he himself – tries to escape from the existing “terroristic universe” (Hoffmann 2005, 485). Naked Lunch has “a deconstructive attitude toward form and structure” (Tytell 1976, 13). Burroughs’ collage technique is fundamental for the comprehension of his “attempt to restructure the grammar of perception” (Tytell 1976, 14). The reader is cast into a sequence of chapters which can be read in any order.

You can cut into Naked Lunch at any intersection point.

(Burroughs 2010, 187)

Hence Burroughs appeals to the reader to open his mind to the unstructured plot. The reader should not waste time by searching for objective points of reference, because everything in front of him is a stream of consciousness:

There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing…I do not presume to impose “story” “plot” “continuity”…Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function…I am not an entertainer

(Burroughs 2010, 184)

If we as readers internalise the aforesaid statement while reading Naked Lunch and follow our own perceptions of the fragmentary sequences, we shall be able to interpret the whole text anew at every moment of reading. We shall not see dominating discourses of language anymore, but play with a language that allows us to form all our perceptions anew.

IV.          RESISTANCE AGAINST ASPECTS OF CONTROL

The Beat Generation and especially William Burroughs were not afraid of living their own lives and choosing their own kind of reality on the basis of their awareness that all dominating discourses in the time of the American post-war area are sheer constructs of the present society. As a result of questioning the existing social order they found a way to condemn its control.

Furthermore, this interpretation has shown that with his conjunction of life and art William Burroughs creates a world that is neither unreal nor real – he establishes a new world “that emphasizes its own artifice in order to liberate readers from imprisonment within the constructs […] of the “real” world” (Bolton 2010, 54). Burroughs does not rely on dominating discourses or a given reality, and through his mosaic narrative technique he shows the reader how to create new images and new possibilities of playing with language. But at the same time he depicts with Naked Lunch an evil possibility of modern cities and their historical and political problems. Thus the reader has not only to liberate himself from the control of language and its influence by creating his own perceptions, but also has to face the evils of social and political control in his own society.

Naked Lunch – as the frozen moment – is like an awakening to clarity of vision and the first stage of releasing oneself from the dominance of social systems. In this novel we can identify our self-made constraints such as political parties and mad scientists, which by degrading us and reducing us to the level of totally repressed human beings rule over our world. I call these constraints self-made, because we are willing to be subjected by them. We do not question the social given – and as long as we live in our accepted constructs of reality and do not realise that there are other possibilities to choose, we shall be controlled, humiliated and repressed.

—LISA ZETTL.

Lisa studies Comparative Literature and Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. She will pursue a B.A. degree in Comparative Literature and Philosophy and is now in her fourth semester of studying.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

4.1 Primary Literature

BURROUGHS, William S., 2010. Naked Lunch. The restored Text. London: Fourth Estate.

4.2 Secondary Literature

AYERS, David, 1993. The Long Last Goodbye: Control and Resistance in the Work of William Burroughs. Journal of American Studies, 27 (2), 223-236.

BOLTON, Michael Sean, 2010. Get Off the Point: Deconstructing Context in the Novels of William S. Burroughs. Journal of Narrative Theory, 40 (1), 53-79.

BUTLER, Christopher, 2002. Postmodernism. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

HARRIS and MACFADYEN, ed., 2009. Naked Lunch @50. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press

HOFFMAN, Gerhard, 2002. From Modernism to Postmodernism: Concepts and Strategies of Postmodern American Fiction. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

HUTCHEON, Linda, 2002. The Politics of Postmodernism. New York: Routledge.

JOHNSTON, Allan, 2005. Consumption, Addiction, Vision, Energy: Political Economics and Utopian Visions in the Writings of the Beat Generation. College Literature, 32 (2), 103-26.

MILES, Bary, 1993. William Burroughs.El Hombre Invisible. A Portrait. New York: Hyperion.

MOTTRAM, Eric, 1977. William Burroughs: The Algebra of Need. London: Boyars.

O’DONNELL, Patrick, 2010. The American Novel Now. Malden: Willy-Blackwell.

SKERL, Jennie, 1985. William S. Burroughs. Boston, Mass.: Twayne.

TYTELL, John, 1967. Naked Angels. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.


[1] “A ‘discourse’ here means a historically evolved set of interlocking and mutually supporting statements, which are used to define and describe a subject matter” (Butler 2002, 44).

[2] According to deconstruction and to the “postmodernist conclusion, that universal truth is impossible” (Butler 2002, 16): “the relationship of language to reality is not given, or even reliable, since all language systems are inherently unreliable cultural constructs” (Butler 2002, 17).

[3] Linda Hutcheon is also saying in The Politics of Postmodernism that politics and postmodernism are inevitably connected (Hutcheon 2002, 2).

[4] The McCarthy era was a time after World War II in which America strived for an anti-communist society. If people were suspected of being communists, they were persecuted and interrogated with impermissible methods.

[5] Michael Foucault established in his works Les mots et les choses and L’archéologie du savoir the idea of ‘episteme’, which means, that the structure of our way of thinking, speaking is shaped by “historical states of particular societies” (Butler 2002 46).

[6] C. Wrights Mills was an American sociologist who occupied himself with structures of powers established in modern societies.

[7] Here it has to be mentioned that this is only in the beginning of Burroughs’ writing. The later chapter Algebra of Need will explain that junk and any kind of addiction are also a form of control.

[8] Cancer in Naked Lunch is a virus „which take[s] over the healthy social body and wrap[s] it to fill the needs of a parasitic organism” (Skerl 1985, 39).

[9] Interzone, the chief setting in Naked Lunch,  is not located. “It is a composite of all the places that were the scenes of Burroughs’s drug quest” (Skerl 1985, 37).

[10] William Burroughs sees in the “junk virus” the “public health problem number one of the world today” and Naked Lunch “treats this health problem” (Burroughs 2010, 205).

—About Lisa Zetti—-

Lisa studies Comparative Literature and Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. She will pursue a B.A. degree in Comparative Literature and Philosophy and is now in her fourth semester of studying.

17 thoughts on “

  1. September 3, 2012Sister +a0I am taking a short break now. Need to fiisnh the project by Wednesday. Then I will take a day off for myself on Saturday, to the beach and shopping:)))

  2. September 3, 2012Working is good keeps the mind functioning but sleep is good too you’ve wkreod long enough stop for the day and rejuvenate yourself in your favorite way

  3. aap jankari ke sath agar nange copmetur ki tasweer bhi de te to bahut achha hota.is bahumulya jankari ke liye bahut bahut dhanyabad.a bucket of thanks. isi tarah aur jankari aap dete rahiye.

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