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Thursday, November 06, 2003

Rat Interviews Burroughs/1968 

R: The movement is developing a different definition of news, a different description of what is important. If we controlled a television station, our news would be substantially different than Walter Cronkite.

B: If we controlled television, then we control America.

R: What would it mean if we had one station? We could, like the German SDS, make a demand for TV time. And then escalate our demand to a whole channel. What would happen if we got a channel?

B: We got to get them all. as soon as we get them all, we control this whole stupid middle class. We've got America.

R: You think the war is going to be fought out among the middle class and not among the poor?

B: Yes. Of course there is a way of eliminating the whole stupid middle class.

R: Yah, you know, you saw Daley's program. They talked about how there were plans to even put LSD in the water supply. Of course that's unworkable because LSD is an acid and a base neutralizes it, so it never could go through the water system. But let's say something like LSD could be put into a water supply of a city, what do you think it would do?

B: Well, I'm all for eliminating the whole stupid bourgeois middle class. I think the whole strata should be eliminated.

R: Do you think as human beings they are even alive?

B: They're not alive. They're talking tape recorders. It's not a question of eliminating human beings, it's a question of eliminating walking tape recorders.

R: Their children are realizing that too. That's one reason long hair scares them. So, their own children are throwing it up, saying, "Your lives are nothing. Your lives are dead plastic existences."

B: Yeah. It's not a question of eliminating human beings, it is a question of turning off tape recorders.

R: Do you think the poor are less tape recorders?

B: Much less. They've been up against something. They have to be alive to survive.

R: And the middle class person has to be dead to survive. Because if he's alive, he gets kicked out. He gets squashed in the system, like a bug among the gears. If the guy in the office shows any streak of originality, of individuality, then he's crushed. Because his boss can't stand that. If he questions why should I push these papers around, BAMM, he's crushed.

B: Those alive in this system are the people on the bottom.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Vale Interviews Burroughs/Dead Fingers Talk 

V: I'm interested in turning-points in history, like, in 'Cities of the Red Night', there's that story of Captain Mission, which presented an entirely different possibility for the Americas which didn't happen.

B: There are lots of those turning points, dates; important, crucial dates. One of them is certainly (although it isn't a clear-cut date like a battle or something, but it's one of the great dates in history) - Systemic Antibiotics. Because before that, boy, you got an infection, you were dead! It's nothing now to have an infection, and pneumonia was a BIG killer. So, that's a very big date...

V: I think the birth control herb you mentioned could be equally important.

B: Absolutely. And, of course, August 6, 1945. Godalmighty, the atom bomb, what a date! [laughs]

V: What do you think about the recent assassination attempts on Reagan, the Pope...

B: It looks like it's going to get very dangerous to be a pope or a president or a prime minister. The time may come when they can't get anybody to take the job!

V: It seems like they weren't totally serious. Using a .22...

B: Well he was a nut, the other guy wasn't. The terrorist, Ithink he was really trying. If it had been a .45 I think it might have been 'it'. De Gaulle had real professionals after him for years and they didn't succeed, because his body guards knew what they were doing. That's the point---they would never have let anyone get that close to Le General. But here was this guy in the press circles, he had no press credentials. If they're going to let people come around the president without even checking to see whether they're who they say they are, it's just ridiculous. Not only should they have checked the press credentials, but they should have put all the fucking reporters through one of those metal detectors. Because a nutty reporter could get the idea of assassinating the president--same thing would happen. They really should exercise some precautions--they always wait until it happens before they do anything. A bodyguard has to be telepathic. Oh, absolutely! He's got to be able to see around corners. And another very important thing is--looking up. A lot of people don't do that. The American Secret Service--they don't have it! They're not alert like that.

V: How can we improve our telepathic abilities? Are they genetically limited?

B: No, I think everybody has them. It's just a question of pressure. Pressure! Those guys had to do that, or they'd find somebody that would. In other words, if they were going to be bodyguards to De Gaulle, they had to be intuitive. Not just telepathic, but intuitive--know something's wrong: I don't like the looks of that guy...or, that window...or, that's a bad place there...

V: Why are bodyguards doing such a bad job these days?

B: They're just not paying attention to what they're doing, that's all. They've never been up against real professionals. Well, they're not now--Hinckley's not a professional. But De Gaulle's bodyguards were up against army officers with money and weapons and knowing how to use them--not .22 pistols! And they tried and they tried but they never got him... The week before President Kennedy was assassinated, he was in New York. He stopped at a red light and some girl rushed up and photographed him from a distance of three feet. Someone said, "She could have assassinated the President!" That was a week before Dallas! But that didn't seem to inspire them to tighten their security. Of course, the protection from a rifle with a telescopic sight is not so easy. But De Gaulle's men--they covered all the buildings on the route... That Ruby and Oswald thing stunk to high heaven, the whole thing...

V: What do you think of the theory that Jonestown was a CIA experiment in mass mind control?

B: It's conceivable, conceivable. We know that they've performed such experiments in countries like Brazil...and Athens, the whole junta was CIA-inspired. In Brazil all these experiments in control and torture, etc. were definitely CIA organized--we know that. They sent all these torture experts down to South and Central America. Did you see 'City Under Siege'--I think that was the name of it. It was about...one of these CIA torture experts was kidnapped by the Tupamaros in Uruguay. He was sent down there as a police advisor. So they kidnapped him and they finally killed him. And then-at the end of the movie-you see another one getting out of the plane...

V: Do you think they could take a disoriented person out of prison and program him to become an assassin and the person wouldn't really know exactly what he's doing?

B: I think it's possible, but it seems to me it's more trouble than it's worth. If you really want the job done you don't want a disordered person--of course you've got an alibi there, no one can pin it on you, but...still, it's an around-the-world-oxcart way of doing it! But it's certainly within the range of possibility.

V: What about telepathic suggestions to subjects while they're asleep?

B: Well they wouldn't have to be telepathic--they could do that with microphones, sort of subliminal microphones. As to how effective the suggestions would be I just don't know. All these people are talking about hearing voices, telling them to do these things. Now here do the voices come from? Well this is one of the symptoms, of course, of schizophrenia, and we know now that the voices come from a non-dominant brain hemisphere, whichever that is. In fact you can produce voices by electrical stimulation of the non-dominant brain hemisphere in normal subjects. So that's the line to take--if you can get it into the non-dominant brain hemisphere, then it has this terrific power: people can't disobey it. But only certain people would be subject to that sort of conditioning...

V: How can we strengthen our psychic defenses?

B: There are whole books on that. Dion Fortune wrote a fairly good book, 'Psychic Self-Defense'. It's not a bad book--old-fashioned--but there's some good tips in there. How to know when you're under psychic attack, what to do about it, and so on. There are quite a few--that's a fairly good one. There's something by David Conway called 'Magic: An Occult Primer'--that's a very good book.

V: Have you heard anything new in the field of biological warfare?

B:Well, we know that the English had what they called a 'doomsday bug' in World War II - which was created by exposing viruses to radiation and producing mutated strains. That's more than FORTY YEARS AGO! They've come a long way since then! And also there are ethnic weapons that would attack only whites or blacks or mongoloids or whatever because of their racial enzyme differences. So they can devise a plague that would attack only one ethnic group. That also is pretty old: the first statement about that was over fifteen years ago. So they've come a long way on that one too.

V: What do you think of the hardcore survivalist movement in the USA? Stockpiling dried food, weapons...?

B: It could be, I suppose, a good idea, but then there's the question, you might not be able to get to your stash! [dryly] And you gotta be able to defend it and all that! You have several priorities: our first priority is weapons, second is drugs, third is tools, antibiotics...

V: When you say tools, do you mean like water purification devices?

B: No no no. I mean tools! Hammers, saws. If you don't have them, it's very bad!

V: By the way, do you still record your dreams?

B: Oh, of course! I'll write down a few notes, and then if it's worth bothering with, I'll write it out in a diary form...

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

1984 Interview with William S. Burroughs 

Q: With 'Cities of the Red Night' and 'Place of Dead Roads,' you're writing in a more narrative way than you have in the past. How does that square with your opinion that words have become outmoded? Is that at all contradictory?

B: No, there's no contradiction involved. I set out to write straightforward books, and the content required that. I don't say, "I have to do this" or, "this has to be square with that" at all. Every book requires something different.

Q: In 'Cities of the Red Night,' you touch upon the virus concept--you indicate that humanity itself began as a virus...

B: Oh yes, that's the viral theory of evolution. It's finding more and more credence. The virus changes in several generations, which would then be genetically conveyed. It's quite a respectable theory of evolution at the present time. They're getting further and further away from Darwin, and coming to the tentative conclusion that evolutionary change is biological mutation over one or two generations, possibly through a virus. No virus we know at the present time acts in this way--that is to say, would affect biologic alterations, then genetics. But such a virus may have existed in the past.

Q: That sounds a bit like Lamarck's theory of evolution, where the animal stretches its neck to reach the fruit on the tree and then passes on this characteristic to its offspring.

B: Of course, that's the biologic heresy of the inheritance of one characteristic. That's quite different. The virus theory is more Darwin. The Darwin theory would be that the virus occasioned certain biologic changes, which then were genetically conveyed.

Q: I've been interested in your 'cut-up' theory of writing for a long time, ever since I read 'The Job' some years ago...

B: It's simply the old montage method that's old hat in painting applied to writing. It's closer to the facts of human perception, because whenever you walk down the street or look out the window, your consciousness is affected by random factors. In other words, life is a cut-up.

Q: In 'Cities of the Red Night,' you deal with cut-ups as a form of psychic research. Is that based on any research or experience of your own?

B: Oh yes, it's based research of my own, naturally. If you take say, a time segment and start cutting it and playing around with it, often quite interesting things will emerge.

Q: The method in the novel was to read and then have sounds interspersed...

B: Yes.

Q: What would be the theory behind that? Synchronicity?

B: No theory behind it, it's just a fact. Just a phenomenon.

Q: In 'The Job,' you cited a case where you displaced a restaurant that had served bad food by your use of tape recordings. How did that work?

B: I don't know why it works. You simply make recordings in front of the restaurant, and you take pictures as you make the recordings. Then you play the recordings back in front of the place and take more pictures...

Q: In front of the owners, or the workers?

B: It doesn't matter.

Q: Is it necessary to distort the recordings?

B: Not necessary at all. What you're doing actually, you're sort of making a hole in time. People are hearing what happened yesterday, and they think it's happening right now, so it makes a hole in time through which something can cause a disruption.

Q: How did you stumble upon this method?

B: It came from a series of experiments with actual street recordings, making recordings and playing them back in the streets. When you do that, you find that very interesting things will happen.

Q: I think people are still uncomfortable with this sort of acausal view of the world.

B: I've never subscribed to cause and effect.

Q: In 'The Job,' you seemed optimistic that the world was changing for the better. That was in the 1970's. Are you disappointed with what has happened since then?

B: Well...it's been small changes. Like the fact that many of the objectives that people, the hippies, were trying to attain in the '60s have been attained: end of the Vietnam War, legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, minority rights, the end of censorship. These are very important gains.

Q: I actually didn't expect you to say that...

B: Well, why not? That's happened...

Q: Well, somehow I thought you were concerned with something more fundamental, such as the power structures, and how they weren't brought down by the generation that came of age at that time.

B: No, no--any political change comes in small gains. Gains like that are valuable.

Q: Are you sympathetic to libertarian ideas? Does the Libertarian Party hold any attraction for you?

B: I don't even know what that is.

Q: They believe in as few laws as possible across the board, even down to building codes.

B: That's sensible enough, of course. The fewer laws, the better.

Q: By the way, do you mind me asking you about your opinions from the '70s?

B: No, but opinions are meant to be changed. It's very unlikely that an opinion wouldn't have undergone some alteration.

Q: Back then, you discussed restructuring society to phase out the family. If that actually happened, what would form social bonds in its place?

B: Well, there isn't any clear-cut substitute for that.

Q: That was a utopian speculation?

B: Yes.

Q: It's something you can envision, but not in the near future.

B: It's not easy to envision. I mean, OK, you can have people brought up in some kind of state institute, but then you're back to the same thing. That wouldn't necessarily be any improvement.

Q: What about segregation of the sexes? Is that an idea that still appeals to you?

B: Yes, I would say so. Evolutionary mutations can occur quite rapidly in small, isolated groups. They took a small group of fish and put them in an entirely different environment, and over several generations they got quite different biologic changes. So I'd like to see more small, isolated groups with very different orientations.

Q: And one way of breaking that down would be male/female systems of groupings?

B: Yes, that would be one way. Of course, the very contrary is happening. You've got less and less of that, and more uniformity and standardization. But biologically, ultimately the only possibility for any species to survive is mutation. All species are doomed like all individuals, but the point is, can they change?

Q: Another point you've touched upon a great deal is dualism, which I guess in part means male/female, yes/no, right/wrong and so forth. Do you see any progress being made overcoming that?

B: No, I don't.

Q: It seems like a lot of your ideas are concerned with unity of some kind...

B: Yes. Like the dominant and nondominant brain hemispheres. It would be biologically desirable if they could somehow merge instead of posing a duality.

Q: Some people would call that a spiritual idea. Do you think of yourself as a spiritual writer? Does that word give you problems?

B: No, it doesn't give me any problems at all. There's no distinction--in other words, any problem is a spiritual problem.

Q: Do you think that your views on drugs have been misinterpreted at all by your fans?

B: I don't know. What views?

Q: I believe that you've said from time to time that harder narcotics are not good for the human body and don't produce any desirable effects...

B: I would certainly say that's true of cocaine.

Q: What about heroin or morphine?

B: No, there's a place for heroin and morphine. The ill effects have been vastly overestimated.

Q: I think you made the statement at one time that 'junk is death.' Am I taking that statement out of context?

B: Probably. I may have made such a statement, but we do know that people live to a ripe old age on it.

Q: I think what I was getting at was that people may have misinterpreted what you've written on the subject, that they should emulste your entire life to get to the point where you are now. Would that be misconstruing your experiences and your thinking?

B: Well, yes. I don't see any reason why they should.

Q: Has it ever crossed your mind that people may misinterpret what you've written?

B: Well, that's inevitable that they'll misinterpret a great deal of it.

Q: It seems that drugs across the board are still identified with rebellion, and that may be a naive idea.

B: A very naive idea indeed, but all sorts of problems are created by legislation against drugs.

Q: An awful lot of your ideas have been appropriated into a pop context, especially by musicians and writers. Is that a compliment, or does that make you feel uncomfortable?

B: I don't react to that in any way. If pop groups want to make use of them in any way they want, I consider that for the good.

Q: Have the popular arts--particularly pop music--progressed from the time that you were in your 20s? I mean people who have been influenced by your ideas, like Patti Smith and Jim Carroll...

B: Well, in my 20s, musicians only played in night clubs and road houses and maybe made $100 or $200 a week. Playing to mass audiences in places like Shea Stadium is an entirely new phenomenon. It began really in the late '40s--I'm talking about the beginnings of pop music, the skiffle groups and that sort of thing.

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