William S Burroughs at 101 – All of the focus on the Centennial last year, but the time has come around again. February 5 – It’s William Burroughs’ birthday.
To celebrate we’re running this audio – an inspired July 1985 reading at Naropa (select readings from 1983’s The Place of Dead Roads and 1986’s The Cat Inside).
[After some announcements regarding upcoming Naropa activities from Anne Waldman,
(and additional announcements from Allen), Allen, (at approximately two-and-three-quarter minutes in), introduces William Burroughs]
AG: William Burroughs at the present age of seventy-one, has been teaching at Naropa steadily, every summer (maybe one exception…I’m not sure, I don’t think any were missed) since he was sixty years old – which is eleven years – one of our first adjunct instructors in the poetics department, and he has been faithfully helping us out in uniting the poetic community and inspiring the younger students here (as all over America and all over the world) with his intelligence and his insight, prajna wisdom, and cutting-through humor. At the moment, the bound copies of an antique manuscript from 1953 called Queer is circulating among reviewers with a 1984-85 introduction by Mr Burroughs occupying about a third of the space of the book, linking his thought of 1953 and his thought and emotion of 1985. So that will be the next book published. He’s also working on a long-range novel, the end of his trilogy, Cities of the Red Night, The Place of Dead Roads – the third volume, the first draft of which, I think, is almost done, is The Western Lands, part of a long-range writing project that’s occupied, I guess, the last ten years. Very few writers have that much patience and devotion and energy with their work (certainly, I don’t!). Not many prose writers even have that sense of long-range composition, but Mr Burroughs has pursued his subject, which is control and consciousness, examination of basic good, for the last forty years, as I remember, and is now at the height of his powers, not only with the new manuscript, Queer, the new novel-sequel, The Western Lands, but also a very acute curious book on.. called (The) Cat Inside. Mr Burroughs has six cats in Lawrrence, Kansas, upon all of whom he projects his imagination (and he is, like T.S.Eliot, St Louis confrere, also interested in cats as a medium between himself and the public). And so there’s a big cat book, the manuscript of which Mr Burroughs has here. So he’ll be reading from The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and other notes. So we’ll have all new fresh intelligence from William Seward Burroughs.
WSB: Thank you. [He begins] – “I’d like to pass along a flatly insane recent news story – “A man swimming in a canal in Florida attacked two alligators with his fists screaming obscenities. The alligators dragged him down and drowned him. And the Sheriff’s office said that no attempt would be made to locate or sanction the alligators”. I guess he got what he was looking for.”
How many of you have read my novel, The Place of Dead Roads? [minimal show of hands] – Good, excellent. You’ll remember that Kim Carson and Mike Chase get greased in the end (not that they’re likely to stay dead, in this league of operatives, dying is like trading in your old car, time for a new chassis). Now I just wonder how many of you figured out who killed them? – Yes? (it has to be someone I didn’t tell, because I told quite a few people here – did I tell you? – (Yes) – well, no, that’s not fair then, no, it has to be someone that I didn’t give the answer to) – huh – looks like I really wrote a whodunnit – so but obviously, the whodunnit, the obvious suspects are not the ones. It wasn’t Bickford’s agents at all – and the clue’s to be found on page 126 – “Kim was aware of the danger from Joe the Dead but thought he could handle it” – Famous last thoughts! Joe says “Here I am the best technician in or out of hell and he brings me back from hell to make sling shots and scout knives and zip guns. Yeah, leave the details to Joe. He left one too many. Joe laughs, a dry rustling sound like a snake shedding its skin. I lifted that out of a spy novel, good enough to steal.
Joe the Dead belongs to a select breed of outlaws know as the NO’s, natural outlaws dedicated to breaking the so-called laws of the universe foisted upon us by physicists, chemists, mathematicians, and biologists, and above all, a monumental fraud of cause and effect, to be replaced by the more pregnant concept of synchronicity – why, it almost fits right into a song, it must be the matter – synchronicity. Ordinary outlaws break man-made laws. Laws against theft and murder, of course, are broken every second. You only break a natural law once. To the ordinary criminal breaking a law is a means to an end – obtaining money, removing an obstruction. To a NO, breaking a natural law is an end, the end to that law. Ordinary outlaws specialize in accordance with inclination and aptitude, or they did. Many of them are on the endangered species list with the gliding lemurs, the rusty-spotted cat and the monkey-eating eagle (well, the monkey-eating eagle will not be missed by the monkeys).
Consider the Murphy Man. How many of you know what a Murphy Man is? Not one. Your Murphy Man steers the mark to a non-existent whore, having located an apartment building without a doorman and with the front door open. It’s mostly a black art. Only a black man has the Murphy Man boy’s cool insinuating familiar and the Murphy Man face – sincere, unflappable, untrustworthy. He spots a mark from out of town away from wife and kids for a night on the town. “Looking for some action, friend?” – “Well, uh, yes…” – The Murphy Man makes a phone call: it’s all set up. He leads the mark to this apartment.”Go up one flight, first door on your left, 1 A. Prime-grade, friend, and she’s ready and waiting” and he gives him a big toothy smile. I wonder if there are any Murphy Men left?
And then there was the practitioners of the Hype or the Bill, that was a short-change routine. You start with twenty dollars. You get the change on the counter and then, “Aw, wait a minute, I don’t want to take all your change, give me ten” (and counts it back minus the ten). It’s hard to get a conviction because nobody can explain exactly what happened. I’ve had it explained to me many many times and I still don’t see how it works. But the basic principle can be found in a sketch by Edgar Allan Poe on nineteenth-century hustlers, who were known as Diddlers – Now a diddler walks into a tobacco store and asks for a plug of tobacco, and when the plug is on the counter he changes his mind, “Give me a cigar instead”. He takes the cigar and starts to walk out. “Oh, wait a minute, you didn’t pay me for the cigar”, “Of course not. I traded it against the tobacco plug”, “Well I don’t recall you paid me for that either”, “Pay you for it! Why, there it is! None of your tricks on traveling men”. There was a neat little double-bind there somewhere.
Unobtrusive, insistent, practitioners of the Bill were almost always addicts. I wonder if there are any hype men left?
Remember Yellow Kid, while in the Big Store? he would set up a whole prop brokerage office. The old-time bank robbers and the burglars who knew what they were looking for and the pickpockets trained from early childhood (the best came from Columbia they tell me). Where are they now, the Murphy Men? and the hype artists?, the Big Store? – Gone, all gone. Ou sont neige d’antan.
Oh yes (well here) – noteworthy is the hideously sordid yachting scandal still practiced – Now, they’re going to buy a boat together and sail to the South Seas. This swindle requires mark and swindler live in the same trailer, get drunk together every night and lay the same whore. Yellow Kid Weil would’ve been scandalized. “Never drink with a savage” was one of his rules. Well, ordinary outlaws specialize and so do the NOs. Joe the Dead specializes in evolutionary biology. He dedicates his dearly-bought knowledge of pain and death to cracking two biologic laws: Law 1 – Hybrids are permitted only between closely-related species and then grudgingly. The Biological Police bluntly warn: “To break down the lines that Mother Nature in her right wisdom” (I can smell it from here) “has established between species is to invite biological and social chaos”. Joe says “What do you think I’m doing here? Let it come down”
Rule 2 – An evolutionary step that requires biological mutation is irretrievable and irreversible. Newts start life in the water with gills. At the determined time, the newt sheds his gills and crawls up onto the ordained land, now equipped with air-breathing lungs. The newt then returns to the water where he lives out his days. It might be convenient to reclaim his gills and breathe underwater again? “No glot clom Fliday”, says the Cosmic Uncle. It’s the law.
So for starters, Joe pulls a baby mule out of the cosmic manger. There is Mary – Mother Mule, and John [Joseph] – the father – and the impossible child with a glowing pulsing halo.
(Incidentally, the fact that John [Joseph] was a part-time veterinarian might, shall we say, illuminate without denying, the Virgin Birth. After all, a sterile syringe is not a corrupt and impure member, so she can still qualify as the Virgin Mary).
A Kansas vet, known as Joe Lazarus, after he was pronounced dead at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, having been kicked in the head by a mule, was the instrument of altered destiny. Like Saint Paul, knocked off his ass on his ass on his way to Damascus, Joe Laz, following his miraculous recovery, knew what he had to do. He set out to produce a fertile mule. He exposed sperm from his horses and donkeys to orgone and radiation in the magnetized pyramid. It didn’t hack it. So Laz went further, he rigged a magnetized manger and bombarded the copulating animals with Deadly Orgone Radiation – D.O.R – and he sewed himself into a goat skin and whipped his beasts to wild Pan music – any woman hit by the whip of the Goat God will conceive in nine months – and finally he created a fertile mule. Skeptics pronounced Joe Laz’s mule the most colossal hoax since the Virgin birth.
“I had it up my sleeve,” Joe deadpanned.
A quiet, enigmatic, former herpetologist resident in Florida challenges Rule 2. His name is Joe Sanford. Bitten by a king cobra, he recovered and devoted himself to a study of newts and salamanders. Sanford claims to have re-instituted gills into air-breathing newts by injections of a lamb-placenta concentrate, the same preparation used in fact by Doctor Kniehaus in Switzerland to turn back the clock for his wealthy patients, to name a few (this is true now) Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Pope Pius XII, President Eisehower (I remember Eisenhower waving a tiny American flag from his hospital bed with a big stupid grin on his face and wondering if he would ever die). Winston Churchill couldn’t qualify because he couldn’t or wouldn’t lay off the sauce for six weeks, which was a pre-requisite for the Kniehaus treatment (no exceptions). You will note that rule 2 carries the implicit assumption that time is irreversible. Sanford made a hole in time and Joe sloshes through the hybrids. “All is in the not done, the diffidence that faltered... Let others quaver out: “I dare do all that become a man, who dares do more is none“. Not so, says Joe. /He who dares at all, must dare all./ When mules foal,/ Anything goes,/ When mules glow/ Anything foals./ Hybrids Unlimited…/ HU HU HU.”
It is not necessary to prove, simply to state. This is a biologic revolution fought with new species and new ways of thinking and feeling, a war where the bullet may take milleniums to hit. Like the old joke about the.. someone makes a swipe with a razor, you know, and.. “Well, missed me that time” – ” (but) just try and shake your head three hundred years from now”
This is a…Dead Souls..this is a.. (yeah, from Gogol, of course), a film-idea loosely suggested by a sci-fi book called Lost Souls. “Dead Souls’ postulates that a soul is an electro-magnetic field (possibly several of them, in a complicated grid) designed to occupy and activate a certain organism. While infinitely less vulnerable than the artifact it occupies, the soul can be dispersed and destroyed by a nuclear blast. This is, in fact, the sensitive function of the atom bomb – a Soul-Killer. “Stacked up, you understand, like cordwood and non-recyclable by the old Hellfire, like fucking plastics”. We have to stay ahead of ourselves and the Ivans lest some joker endanger national security by braying out, “You have souls, you can survive your physical death!“. Ruins of Hiroshima on screen. Pull back to show Technician at a switchboard. Behind him three middle-aged men in dark suits with a cold dead look of heavy power. The Technician twiddles his knob.”All clear”. “Are you sure?” – The Technician shrugs. ” The instruments say so.” Oppy, he says, Thank God it wasn’t a dud” – “Oh, uh, hurry with those print-outs, Joe”, “Yes, sir”. He looked after him sourly, “Thank Joe it wasn’t a dud. God doesn’t know what buttons to push.” However, some tough old souls, horribly maimed and very disgruntled, do survive Hiroshima and come back to endanger national security. So the scientists are put to work to devise a Super-Soul-Killer. No job too dirty for a fucking scientist (not even the worst of all crimes – Soul-Murder). They start with animals and there are some laboratory accidents. “Run for your lives, gentlemen! A purple-assed baboon has survived ’23 Skiddoo!” “It’s the most savage animal on earth” – The incandescent baboon soul rips through a steel door like wet paper. (and) We had to vaporize the installation, lost expensive equipment and personnel.
Irreplaceables, some of them. Real soul-food chefs cordon bleu, you might say.
There’s an interesting detail from the book. The Soul-Killer gives off a smell of burning plastic and rotten oranges. Anything so bizarrely arbitrary is good enough to steal.
I’ll been reading some trash sic-fi unspeakable horror book and suddenly I yelp out “GETS, GETS, GETS” (good enough to steal). Like that agent shedding his… with a laugh like a dry rustling sound, like a snake shedding its skin, that’s “GETS”. Well, trial and error, we now have Soul-Killers that won’t quit, state of the park, sure the big fart. We know how it’s all going to end. The first sound and the last sound.
Meanwhile, all personnel on Planet Earth confined to quarters, permanent party, you might say. Convince them they got no souls, it’s more humane that way. Scientists always said there is no such thing as a soul and we’re here now in a position to prove it. Total Death. Soul Death. It’s what the Egyptians called the Second and Final Death. This awesome power to destroy souls forever is now vested in far-sighted and responsible men in the State Department and the CIA.
The President with his toadies and familiars is now five hundred feet down in solid rock with enough find foods, wine, liqueurs, hash, coke,and heroin to last for a hundred years and the longevity drugs to enjoy (held off the market in the interests of national security).
The President appears on national tv with his well-cut suit hanging loose on his skinny frame to pipe out an adolescent treble, alternately pompous and cracking: “We categorically deny that there are any [crack] so-called “Fountain-of-Youth” drugs procedures or treatments [crack] that are being held back from the American people [crack]”. He flashes as boyish smile and runs a comb through his unruly abundant hair. “And I categorically dismiss as without foundation rumors that I myself and the First Lady, my fag son, my colleagues in the Cabinet, are sustaining themselves on state-of-the-art vampiric technology,drawing off from the American pimples [crack giggle] so-called “energy units”! . His hair stands up and crackles, and he gives the American people a finger “I got mine, fuck you! It’s every crumb for himself.
Well, I hesitated to read this piece because..not wishing to identify myself with the subject but, I nominate for the most flatly disgusting passages in recent fiction – a typical interview between the young Intelligence operative and The Chief:
“When Peter walked into the office, The Chief smiled. Agents have been known to get frostbite from The Chief’s smile. “Having trouble with the Jew boy?” “He’s a bit stand-off-ish”, said Peter noncommittally. “Sure he is. We’ll treat a kike like a high-class Jew and a high-class Jew like a kike – and he will come right back moaning for more. Come on, right out with it, “You want to know a nice gentile Country Club? Well, we like nice Jews with atom bombs and Jew jokes”. Ah, Peter could see the Chief as some cold-eyed old exterminator deciding on the bait to poison a warehouse full of rats… a little molasses, a little tinned salmon, plenty of arsenic. Peter knew he was in the presence of greatness. He squirmed with the schmaltz and then broke out fulsomely, “I’m just beginning to realize what a cold-hearted bastard you are!” The Chief was pleased. He couldn’t help squirming a little but his voice was cool. “Well, that’s one way of looking at it. I call it “Staying on top of an op””. “The casualties could run into the millions”, “The billions, Peter, the billions”, The Chief spread his hands and smiled.”Outsiders, none of our people will be touched.
Operation Bunker.” – “How long?” “Long enough for things to cool down. Then we emerge like the Phoenix, (without of course the inconvenience of being burned) . “Just drop him a few hints. Room in the bunker for the right kind of Jew. You know what I mean…. white Jews. None of that Galacian trash. Now they tell me Portuguese Jews are the best kind like Portuguese oysters.” Peter squirmed deliciously, this was true greatness. You can’t fake the real thing. “You are a cold-hearted bastard! “, he ejaculated. White-out and back. “He’s coming around, Chief, just like you said he would.” Suddenly, out of a clear sky (he) says “it’s the kikes in our race that give us a bad name” ” Any trouble with the cracker, boy?” “Not a peep I gave him the old white schmaltz, right down the line, like you told me: “What are you doing over there with the niggers and the apes. Why don’t you come over here where you belong and act like a white man, huh? – Always a place in the Bunker for the right kind of darky, you know”. “He swallowed that did he? I thought he would. Believe me. He’s in the American Dream, like all niggers…well, as one menstruating cunt said to another, “I guess it’s in the rag, Mary””. The chief smiled slow and dirty.”
It is Colonel Bradfield’s job to investigate the practical potentials of ESP, sorcery, witchcraft, the lot He doesn’t give a shit for natural laws, what is and isn’t possible. All he cares about are results. “Bring me the ones who work” “What you bring this old beast in here for?” A withered old man dressed only in a loin cloth, stiff with yellow piss-stains, stinking like a snake cave in spring sits down in a leather armchair. Fumigating the chair will be inadequate the Colonel decides. “He’s a natural Chief, he can throw an operative curse”.” I don’t doubt it, he can kill by proximity. “He’s got a good track record, Chief”, “Sure, Sure”. And eighty years in the making. So how did he get that way? To be a magician you got to be inhuman in some way. Easiest thing is to eat your own shit and eat it steady. You eat it in and shit it out and eat it in again, it gets eviler and dirtier, a stink nobody can smell and live. But who am I to be critical? Trouble is it just isn’t practical” “But Chief, no trays, nowhere to put trays for us” “The Hell there isn’t. You think the Ivens aren’t into this shit, up to the ass? You can..they can.. make up the evidence. We all do it and no one can trace it. Big deal! eighty shit-eating years!. to turn out one old human centipede (who) can throw a curse if you hold him steady on target. I can train an agent in hours with untraceable poisons and toxins, electronic devices to produce arhythmic heartbeats.” “He died in his sleep dreaming about a beautiful deadly woman and all he wanted to do was die in her arms”. See what I mean? We don’t need it”. “But, Chief, we can’t just throw away a thing like this?” “Indeed, where can we throw it? It’s radioactive, get it out of here, for starters, and take the chair out with it. Thank you.”
I’ve been reading a lot of these doctor books lately (and) my Doctor Benway really shines forth as a model of responsibility and competence by comparison! Perhaps the most distasteful book of this genre is called A Pride of Healers. It needs to be remembered there’s a pathology of who decides if a patient’s got cancer or don’t got it. The doctors open her up and anything suspicious they send a hunk down to pathology and then they stand around, twiddle their scalpals and wait for the green light – its malignant boys, let’s go . So in this pride of prowling healers the runty, ugly, half-impotent pathologist finds a big surgeon humping his old lady. So he carefully frames the adulterous surgeon for a prostate cancer, falsifying the results and everybody knows there is only one answer to that. The surgeon is castrated and his nuts sent down to Pathology. Holding the nuts of his enemy in his hand gets him aroused and he surprises his wife by a real pimp fuck. She’s got another surprise from him – as she comes, he shoves the severed nuts down her throat. As the Germans say, unappetitlich, unappetizing.
Well most of them aren’t as lurid as that, just ordinary, no-good, greedy, callous, bigoted humans, with a grossly inflated self-image.
Here is my sense from final diagnosis: Attractive, red-haired, empty as an empty waiting-room. Well, how can anyone believe in God or ESP or anything like that, in the face of these vast medical complexes, monuments to progress and science and rationality and healing?
This wretched specemin has fallen for a nineteen-year-old nurse. He fucked her in a broom-closet that reeked of Mr Clean. He has proposed. She has accepted. Then she comes down with a bone cancer. They have to take off her left legs (her left leg, stat, scalpels crossed, it hasn’t spread). Does he still want her? She tells him to take five days and think it over. He does. With bleak clarity he sees the years to come. Oh yes, he can see where his own interests are involved. He is striding towards surgery. “It takes guts to practice surgery he says (it sure does, what would we do without them?) Striding toward surgery, tho’ the patient is clearly terminal (he would operate on a mummy) and she’s scrambling along on her prosthetic. “Will you shake the lead out?” “I’m doing the best I can, darling”, “Why don’t you go back to your crutches, he thinks, irritably. Aloud he says, “Why don’t you jet-propel on your stinking farts?” – Admittedly his words were somewhat unkind. But cancer does stink. . Of course it’s not her fault that she’s in this loathsome condition, or is it? His mother always said: “Son, in this life, everybody gets exactly what they want and exactly what they deserve”. People who think they are getting what they deserve tend to believe it.
Another flash – ‘Incongrously, Mike thinks of an old joke. The eternally travelling salesman protaganist of the eternal dirty joke. Salesman spots an attractive woman in the club car.As fate would have it, she is in the lower berth just opposite his upper birth. And he is eye-balling her. She pops out a glass eye. She takes off her wig. She spits out her false teeth. She unhooks her wooden legs, looks up at him pertly and says, “Anything you want?” “You know what I want. Take it off and throw it up here.” He starts laughing. She demands why and finally he tells her. She hits him with her prosthetic, requiring five stitches. “Look, darling, I’ve been thinking it over, and..” She throws an ashtray at him.”
The Medical Riots of 1999. It is estimated that ten thousand doctors, medical bureaucrats, directors of pharmaceutical companies, were massacred in the week of the Long Scalpels. The killings were not by any means random. The rioters had lists: “There’s the bastard that let me pass a kidney stone in the emergency room.” It stacked up and up. Unnecessary operations, patients dying in the emergency room. “We cannot accept medical admissions from emergency”. Ambulance calls disregarded. “I can’t send an ambulance unless I know what’s wrong with her”, “She’s having a HEART-ATTACK!” “I can’t send an ambulance unless I know what’s wrong with her”. SHE’S HAVING A CORONARY!” “I can’t send an ambulance…”. Potentially beneficial and harmless products kept off the market… lethal products kept on the market. A recent example is the.. are the.. so-called non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis. Don’t ever let any doctor talk you into using them. I took one pill (and) I’ve never been as sick in my life. In England, eight people died of liver failure caused by this shit and still they won’t withdraw it – just change the trade-name.
I saw a tv show where the company representative, the lies just oozing and slithering out of him, tried to tell a woman her hepatitis must have come from some other cause. “I know it was that medicine”, and I know a nurse who got hepatitis from this stuff.
Well, it was a Burn Unit walk-out that set off the riots. I have this from nurses who have worked in burn units – absolutely no morphine or other pain-killers are ordered for the patients, otherwise there could be a danger of addiction for patients who may be in treatment for months. Even the dying are denied morphine if they have the misfortune to die in the Burn Unit. “But, doctor”, my nurse-informant protests, “the patient will be dead in twelve hours”. “Don’t you think I know that? This is the Burn Unit and we are under Burn Unit rules. These hands are securely tied by two-hundred-thousand-a-year. Every day Burn Unit patients have the raw cavaties scrubbed out with a stiff brush to clear away dead skin and flesh. The patients scream with agony and very few nurses can take it. Well, a team of amateur astronauts who call themselves the Spacers landed in the Burn Unit when their home-made space rocket exploded. After the first scrub-out, they issued an ultimatum – “Morphine every four hours as long as we need it or we walk out”. “What is this nonsense, there will be no more morphine and you are not going anywhere”.“Meet my brother the lawyer, doctor”. “Do you propose to hold these people against their will?” “It’s for their own good. If they leave the hospital they will be dead in a few days from infections”. They set up a private clinic in a loft . Clashes with police raiders searching for narcotics, three patients shot to death, the walk-out spread like a toppling forest-fire – “MORPHINE OR WALK!” “MOW! MOW! MOW!” The doctors paw the ground uneasily, like cattle smelling danger. In seventeenth-century London everybody got fed up to the mouth with the lawyers and the cry went up “Kill all the bloody lawyers!” Whereupon even the most elderly or infirm scrambled off with the agility of rats or evil spirits. Hampered by inflated self-image the healers did not acquit themselves as well. “What are we waiting for, a hospital bed?” ” Kill all the fucking croakers!”. Security steps nimbly aside and the crowds rush in.. “Got a hotshot cutting doc here. You think he needs an operation?” – “Hell, yes, a Gut-ectomy” Paging Doctor Doctor Streusschnitt (that’s Sloppy-cut). Enter Doctor Streuschnitt, accompanied by his scapel-bearers carrying two-foot knives and saws. “You is filled up with unnecessitated parts, two kidneys?, Sure upon is a Jew. Heraus mit!. The inner parts should not be so close in together, crowded – they need lebensraum – der Vaterland!”
[At approximately forty-three minutes in, Burroughs shifts gears] – Well, I will turn now to the cat book – The title is The Cat Inside – “May 4th 1985. I am packing for a short trip to New York to discuss the cat book with Brion Gysin who is going to do the illustrations . In the front room, where the kittens are kept, Calico Jane is nursing one black kitten” (it’s a little calico cat, she had five kittens) – “I pick up my Tourister. It seems heavy, I look inside and there are four kittens…”Take care of my babies. Take them with you wherever you go”” – “I’m selecting cat food at the pet shop in Dillon’s (supermarket) and I meet an old woman. Seems her cats won’t eat any cat food with fish in it. Well, I tell her, mine are just the opposite. They prefer their fishy foods like Salmon Dinner and Seafood Supper. “Well”, she says, “they certainly are company”. And what can she do for her company when there is no Dillon’s and no pet shop? What can I do? I simply could not stand to see my cats hungry.”
“Well, of course, there are many wild cats, some of them that could be tamed, cats that weigh only three pounds. However, they’ll be fewer and fewer exotic beautiful animals. The rain forests of Borneo and South America are going…to make way for what?. At Los Alamos Ranch School, where they later made the Atom Bomb and couldn’t wait to drop it on the evil East, the Yellow Peril, the boys are sitting on logs and rocks eating some sort of food. There is a stream at the end of a slope. The counselor was a Southerner with a politician look about him. Like many Southerners, he was a natural orator, just naturally full of bullshit. He told us stories by the camp-fire, culled from the racist garbage of the insidious Sax Rohmer” (you remember Sax Rohmer, who created The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu? Hearst Yellow Peril? – and Fu Manchu went on and on like Tarzan, you thought he was dead and then he’d pop up again. He also wrote books about evil Egyptians, The Green Eyes of Bast, (and) the unspeakable Bazarada, “who was told that he looked more like a beautiful evil woman than a man, up to his crotch in unspeakable rites and depraved practices and secrets so foul no decent man may learn them and live. Basic postulate – East is cruel, depraved, devious and immoral, anti-Christ, anti-American, and, in a word, evil. West is humane, decent, wholesome, straightforward, moral, sincere, and god-fearing – in a word, good. Good for what exactly?) – “Suddenly a badger erupts among the boys – don’t know why he did it just playful, friendly and inexperienced, like the Indians who brought fruit down to the Spanish and got their hands cut off. So the counselor rushes for his saddlebag and gets out his1912 Colt 45 auto and starts blasting at the badger, missing him with every shot from six feet. Finally, he pus his gun three inches from the badger’s side and shoots. This time the badger rolls down a slope into the stream. I can see the stricken animal, the sad, shrinking face, rolling down the slope, bleeding, dying. “You see an animal and you kill it, don’t you. It might have bitten one of the boys””
“This book [The Cat Inside] is about inter-species contact, not interspecies communication. There is a basic difference between communication and contact. Communication is designed to avoid contact, maintain a distance across which communication can take place. Contact involves identification with the creature you contact, and this can be very painful. Communication can be forced. Contact cannot. You cannot force anyone to feel. This cat book recounts my own experiences with inter-species contact. You know when it happens. It can’t be faked. And, in this case, of course, contacting the badger is very painful indeed – he just wanted to romp and play and got shot with a 45 – Identify with that. Feel that. Contact that.
I don’t know how many of you saw the tv short on Bigfoot – “Tracks and sightings in the Norhtwest mountain areas. Interviews with local inhabitants. Here is a three-hundred-pound female slob: “What in your opinion should be done about these creatures if they exist ?” A dark shadow crosses her ugly face and her eyes shine with conviction “Kill them! They might hurt somebody”” – “A specemin of homo-sapiens green, with a longer-range rifle with telescopic sights, close-cropped beard, trying to look like an adventurer and looking like a marginal freelance journalist who writes for survival. He is quite sure Big Feet are out there in those hills and proposes to kill a specemin. If I lived in the area I would be more worried about this jerk with his rifle than about Bigfoot. But I suspect Bigfoot to be a fake like the Barnum & Bailey Unicorn. Well, a camera team just happens on Bigfoot with their cameras all set up and ready to go – Lights! Action! Camera! – There he is about a hundred yards away, walking with a strange slow gait, taking six feet in a stride, like a moonwalk. Scientific stride experts say this is not a human stride. Well, certainly not at twenty-four-frames-per-second. I suspect it to be a man in a gorilla suit projected in slow-motion.”
‘When I was four year old I saw a vision in Forest Park, St Louis. My brother was ahead of me with an air rifle, I was lagging behind and I saw a little green reindeer about the size of a cat. Clear and precise in the late afternoon sunlight as if seen through a telescope.” – Well, can those images,those visions, be photographed? Certainly, anything that can be seen can be photographed. And anything that can be photographed can be faked. “The magical medium is being bulldozed away. No more green reindeer in Forest Park, angels are leaving all the alcoves everywhere. The medium in which Unicorns, Bigfoot, Green Deer exist, always thinner, like the rain forests and the creatures that live and breathe in them, as the forests fall to make way for motels and Hiltons, the whole magical universe is dying.”
“Well, life such as it is, goes on. Dillon’s is still open. I am the cat who walks alone. To me all super-markets are alike.”
This is the end – “We are the cats inside. We are the cats who cannot walk alone, and for us there is only one place. Walk alone for us” – Thank you [Burroughs acknowledges enthusiastic applause – and offers an encore] –
[At approximately fifty-six-and-a-half minutes in, the tape continues with Burroughs reading several further sections from The Cat Inside]
“An English cat-hater of the upper classes (he became a Lord in the course time so I hear), well this limey sunovabitch confided to me that he had trained a dog to break a cat’s back with one shake. And I remember he caught sight of a cat at a party and snarled out through the long yellow horse teeth that crowded out of his mouth, “Nasty stinking little beast!” Well I didn’t know anything about cats at the time. Now I would get up from my chair and say,”Pawdon me, old thing, if I toddle along, but there’s a nasty stinking big beast here.
” Warning to all young couples who are expecting a blessed event – get rid of that family dog! – “What! Our Fluffy harm a child? Why, that’s ridiculous” Long may your child live to think so, little mother… fondly dandling their child and drooling baby-talk when Fluffy, in a jealous rage, rushes on the baby, bites through its skull and kills it.” – (that’s an actual case, and there are many, I read one quite recent one – “Jealousy Caused Dog to Kill My Child”, a small dog too, it was a Scottish terrier.) – “Dogs are the only animals other than Man with a knowledge of right and wrong. So Fluffy knows what to expect when he is dragged whimpering from under the bed where he cowers. He realizes the full extent of his trespass. No other animal would make the connection . Dogs are the only self-righteous animal.”
And another horrible practice – walking to hogs – Hear Clem and Cash, down in the Everglades of Florida get their jollies killing wild hogs with knives “Jump on the hog’s back and cut its throat” But they couldn’t indulge their loutish pastime without a pack of thirty yipping, yelping hounds to distract and immobilize the pigs. When your hounds stand and bay at pigs, you got to get there fast because a hog’s tusk can open up a dog like a surgeon’s scapal. And sometimes you arrive too late. It brings tears to the eye to see a courageous dog half gutted-out, coming back for more. To whose eyes does this bring tears, you bestial redneck. Pigs out there minding their own business, living on roots and berries, and out-charges Clem and Cash and their horrible hounds.
“I am not a dog-hater. I do hate what man has made of his best friend. The snarl of a panther is certainly more dangerous than the snarl of a dog, but it isn’t ugly, because a cat’s rage is his own, beautiful, all its hair standing up and crackling with blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering . (But a) Dog’s snarl is ugly, a redneck lynch-mob Paki-basher snarl, the snarl of somebody who’s got a “Kill A Queer For Christ” sticker on his heap, a self-righteous occupied snarl. When you see that snarl, you are looking at something that has no face of its own. A dog’s rage is not his. It’s dictated by his trainer. And the lynch-mob is dictated by their horrible conditioning.
Cats were held in veneration by the ancient Egyptians. To harm a cat was a capital crime.
Dogs, of course, started as sentinels, and that’s still their chief function in farm and village to give notice of approach , as hunters and guards, and that is why they hate cats. “Look at the services we provide and all cats do is loll around and purr.. it takes a cat half an hour to kill a mouse. All cats do is purr and alienate the Masters’ affection from my honest shit-eating face.” The cat does not offer for its services, the cat offers itself .Of course he wants care and shelter. You don’t buy those for nothing. Like all pure creatures cats are practical..”