The William Burroughs Centennial. Author and visionary, William Seward Burroughs was born, exactly one hundred years ago today, on this very day. What better way to celebrate than by hearing his seminal Naked Lunch (in an authorized abridged version read by the author). This recording first appeared on a 3-CD set released by Warner Brothers in 1995, with an original score by Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, and Wayne Horvitz, and produced by James Grauerholz and Hal Willner
[2015 update – this recording of the abridged version of Naked Lunch read by William S Burroughs is no longer available on You Tube]
Interviewer [Jurgen Ploog – from Klaus Maeck‘s 1991 William Burroughs – Commissioner of Sewers] : Lets get back to the subject of the writer. What is the original field of the writer? what mechanisms should he consider, work on..?
WSB: The word “should” should never arise. There is no such concept as “should” with regard to art or anything, unless you specify. In other words, if you’re trying to build a bridge, then you can say we should do this and we should do that, with respect to getting the bridge built, but it doesn’t float in a vaccuum, My feeling about art is that, one very important aspect of art is that it makes people aware of what they know and don’t know that they know. Now this applies not only to.. to all creative thinking, For example, people on the sea-coast, in the Middle Ages, they knew the earth was round, they believed the earth was flat because the church said so. Galileo says.. tells them the earth is round, and nearly was burned at the stake for saying so. (Paul) Cezanne shows people what objects look at, seen from a certain angle, in a certain light. and literally, people just thought he’d thrown paint on canvas, and they attacked his..his canvases with umbrellas when they were first exhibited. Well now, no child would have any difficulty in seeing a Cezanne, There’s.. Once the breakthrough is made, there is a permanent expansion of awareness, but there’s always reaction of rage, of outrage, at the first breakthrough, and, for example (James) Joyce then made people aware of their..their stream-of-consciousness, at least on one level, on a verbal level, and he was, at first, accused of being unintelligible. I don’t think many people now would have any difficulty with Ulysses.
So, the artist, then, expands awareness, and once the..once the breakthrough is made this becomes part of the general awareness.
One hundred years. Thank you William, for permanently expanding our general awareness.