[William Burroughs. Photograph by Allen Ginsberg ]
William Burroughs on Creative Reading continues
WSB: Any further questions?
Student: What do you think of all these codes in Lord Jim. You know, he’s writing about all these kind of unexplained code and then, at the end, he’s… he’s killed, kind of, by the native’s code, and Brierly’s suicide that’s a kind of code. I’ve been kind of wondering what Conrad was thinking when he put all these open-ended codes of conduct into the book?
WSB: Yeah, well, so he says, faith in a fixed code of conduct. Now, this … Read More
WSB: I’ve got The Treasures of Sierra Madreon here. Now that, it’s sort of axiomatic that good films are not made from good books. The Treasures of Sierra Madre, I think, is a much better film than it was a book (that is, I read the book after seeing the film. I found the book quite a disappoinment, it didn’t have the punch that the film had at all) . I was trying to think of a case of a really good book that has been made into a good movie, … Read More
Student: It’s a (Joseph) Conrad short-story. And the last half of the movie (version).. It’s straight Conrad – two totally paranoid traders, in the heart of the Congo, have a real Gothic Western shoot-out, They think that they’re leading each other on, (but…)
WSB: No, I haven’t, I haven’t read it yet.
Student: (You really have to…)
WSB: Yeah, but there’s some.. there’s some very … He … Read More
Our transcription of William Burroughs’ 1980 Naropa lectures continues from here – . Burroughs on Conrad.
WSB: An Outcast of the Islands – how many of you have read it? That was, I believe, his second book, No-one? – [surveys the class] – No-one has read it. It’s.. the characters.. there’s nobody comparable to Jim [in Lord Jim], everyone’s more simplified, much more simple characters in that book, and the emphasis seems to be on the sets more than on the characters, but it’d make a good film, because it is essentially a novel of rather … Read More
WSB: There really is so many parallels here that I’m sure that Fitzgerald must have read Lord Jim and certainly was influenced by it and there’s a great deal of similarity. They’re both these very improbable Romantic heroes. How many of you saw the… either of the films. Were they any good?
Student: Not The Great Gatsby
WSB: The Great Gatsby.. Well, I don’t think that The Great Gatsby is film material. I mean all of … Read More
WSB: Last year I applied these exercises in consideration to a book by Stephen King called The Shining – How many of you have read it? [a show of hands ] Well, in this book there’s a warning of future events which takes the form of a word seen in the mirror, that is, backwards – The word was “Redrum”. Well, how many of you immediately saw that this is “Murder” spelt backwards? – No?
Well, it took me three days I’m ashamed to say. Now, hold the word “Patna” up to the mirror … Read More
… in media res.. William Burroughs is talking about Joseph Conrad
WSB: ….oh he’s a very great writer, my god! He’s a great creator of character. You can see the characters – Elmer, Lingard… Not interesting people, for the most part, at all, but, like, neither is (are) (Jean) Genet‘s characters interesting in themselves but he manages a transmutation there that makes a really dull person like Willems in An Outcast of the Islands interesting -Lingard, they’re all dull people
WSB: Well, I think we can now have some questions now..we’ve got about an hour left..
I don’t think we need a microphone (sic). Go ahead.
[Editorial note: Oh yes we do! – Many of the audience questions, as they appear on the tape, are considerably hard to decipher (even Burroughs himself has difficulties at times deciphering things). Burroughs himself … Read More