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Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 8 months ago

 Ticket That Exploded






“You know about the Logos group?? . . claim to have reduced human behavior to a predictable science controlled by the appropriate word combos. . . You ‘run’ traumatic material which they call ‘engrams’ until it loses emotional connotation through repetition. . . This tool is especially liable to abuse” (20-21).





This passage screamed “word authority” at me. The idea of using the repetition of words as a way to de-sensitize people (and then control them) is very interesting. Human language is such a dangerous tool because it doesn’t have inherent meaning. Saying the same word over and over actually distances the subject further from what the object actually is. If there is no way to access the object, than the subject is constantly subjected to language to describe it. I think Burroughs is perhaps issuing another warning here: Addiction to language can be used against you. If all the ethos is removed from language, leaving simply the logos, anything can be justified, including milking semen from men and then hanging them after three weeks.





Also, it is exceedingly difficult/deceptive to use ellipses when trying to quote different parts of Burroughs.





“Bradley was in a delirium where any sex thought immediately took three dimensional form through a maze of Turkish bath and sex cubicles filled with hammocks and swings and mattresses vibrating to a shrill insect frequency that danced in nerves and teeth and bones” (23).




These sex skins that take over a person’s body and give the immense pleasure seem to blend junk and sex into one parasitic creature. Pleasure destroys free will and eventually life. The description of the society that milks men’s semen seems to warn against this pleasure seeking life. If all you seek is pleasure, eventually the control society will use it against you.






I also found this passage interesting in the fact that it provides lots of connection to other things he has discussed. The hammock and the hum have been used in The Yage Letters and Naked Lunch, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in future readings as well. It seems to give empirical evidence to Burrough’s claim in the atrophied preface of Naked Lunch that these cut ups can be accessed at a multitude of different intersection points.







Here is my response to The Yage Letters. I don't know if this is a zine contribution or not, but I was intrigued by the CIA's plans to have a man in Maine while someone was on yage and see if they could telepathically communicate. My take is that Burroughs, unbeknownst to him, was communicating with a man in Maine during his trip. The following is that man's account and interpretation of descriptions from Burrough's yage trip.





Central Intelligence Agency








Ultra Classified




The Journal Accounts of Douglas J. Hopkins from July 10, 1953




Abstract: Yage’s Telepathy Agency






. . .






July 10, 1953


Phippsburg, Maine






Today, while relaxing on my hammock, a strange occurrence happened to me of which I will try to explain. I was reading the morning paper, swaying back and forth delicately over my freshly cut grass when a low hum got stuck in my ears. I thought nothing of this, and continued reading. During the business section, a voice began to talk to me. At first it was quiet, but it gradually got louder and more substantial. I explored my entire property looking for that voice, but to no avail. It neither got louder or softer as I traversed the lawn. My wife was not home at the time and I am too unfriendly with the neighbors to have asked their opinions. I concluded that the voice must be coming from somewhere within my brain but I could not pinpoint exactly where. I also concluded that the voice was not actually talking to me at all, but rather it was as though I was overhearing it, as it would not react to any sound I made. The voice only mumbled, gargled, and coughed at first, but then began giving vivid descriptions of some other worldly environment. I ran quickly to get a paper and a pen to write down what I heard.




I think the voice might be an alien life form.




Strangers arrive on rafts of old packing crates tied together with rotten rope, they stagger in out of the jungle their eyes swollen shut by insect bites. This was the first passage I managed to furiously write down (the voice changed tempo and cadence so frequently). Excitedly, I ran to the study in the house and opened all of the encyclopedias I own, looking for a place to match this description. (I own many encyclopedias; I am addicted to knowledge) The City is visited by epidemics and the untended dead are eaten by vultures in the street. Funerals and cemeteries are not permitted.






Where is this city? I cannot know. I feel as though it’s a place I’ve been to and yet it seems so strange when explained by the voice. It reminds me of supermarkets and gas stations and post offices. Each one creates a need and immediately fills it. Has it always been this way? I bought a book describing how to cheat on your taxes the other day. I paid with a credit card and it didn’t seem odd until just now. Would we even need taxes if no one cheated on them? I think I shall return the book tomorrow. The lines for the gas station haven’t been this long since 1856 where the people lined up at non-existent pumps for miles for nothing in particular. Trust me, this is going to get good. You’re going to want to be here. You will need this.




Doctors killed in treatment of diseases dormant in the black dust of ruined cities. Oh God, they are killing the doctors. Doctors are the vulture food. Or was it skilled in treatment? I am not sure which I fear more, and yet I need to go to this city. A place where the unknown past and the emergent future meet in a vibrating soundless hum. There is no past in this place. It melts with future to create an alloy of need. I needed. I need. I will need. If it wasn’t for a few errant black marks on a page, they would all mean the same thing. They all mean the same thing. They all need the same thing.




Like unseeing zombies with flesh covered teeth exploring the night looking for someone to stick something in their mouths. They indiscriminately crawl over everything; they will touch, eat, and fuck anything. They are the world’s lowest bidders.




I’m not sure if I wrote that on my volition or if the voice narrated it, but it gets something inside my blood moving. My veins scare away from the surface of my arms but I am not cold; the voice is blissfully warm. For the first time in my life, I feel as though the available space in my brain is running out. I am running out of time.




When that needle hits E I will invariably be waiting in line for gasoline. It’s my seven day fix. If I don’t get it, I can’t go to work or the store or to the post office or return that book. I am useless and stuck climbing the walls of my house reading every page of my encyclopedias.








In a moment of pure lucidity the voice left its collected manner and yelled at me you're listening in all the wrong order! But perhaps he was talking to himself or someone else entirely, because the voice would not respond to anything I asked it afterwards.




The voice said I have a list of demands! and I was ready to write them all down, because I am more than ready to fill each one. But that was the last thing the voice said to me, and I was left only hearing a faint buzz and strange blue flashes. The harder I listened for the voice, the more I heard my own echoing voice, shouting “HELLO?” around the cavern of my cranial cavity.     




And I went to my garage, rooting through old bins and looking behind forgotten shelves, searching for these worlds. And I found them in tiny little used up batteries that hadn't been thrown away and in the replacement car headlight bulbs and in every minute semi-circular dome covering the fingertips of my work gloves. I picked up a bottle of window cleaner off of the bench and I sprayed it into nowhere in particular. For the first time I looked at it and wondered why this is what they came up with for dispensing cleaning fluid. The fine blue mist hung in the air for a second before it was sucked up by the vast nothing of the garage. I felt no cleaner.












*Only fifteen words (not necessarily consecutive ones) of the preceding entry were actually based on an account presented by Doug Hopkins, who is not real. The rest was deduced, inferred, and ultimately fabricated by the CIA, which is also fictional.
















Feb 9




Things to do this weekend:






1. Pick up a half gallon of milk


2. Write paper for international relations


3. Grab lunch with Fran


4. Go to A.J.’s Annual Party


5. Meet with psych group






One thing that stuck out (and there were plenty) while I was reading Naked Lunch was Burroughs' omission of “s” on the end of letters, or using plural verbs for singular nouns: “The Old Man scream curses after him” (87). One of my theories as why this peculiar technique is used is to signal the singular noun as a symbol of a much larger group, like possibly the Old Man as an allegory for the croaker in the above example. My other theory is that it is just another way for Burroughs to make his reader slow down and really decipher what is going on. Even someone reading quickly will fumble a bit with what appears to at first be broken English. And maybe that is what Burroughs is truly trying to say, that “English” is broken, and it must be acknowledged before anything (if anything) can be done about it.








Feb 3


My first thought of Naked Lunch was that Dr. Benway is perhaps a precarious name to choose as a Wiki alias.




My second thought is that the description of Annexia was very reminiscent of the dystopian future presented in Vonnegut's short story \"Harrison Bergeron.\" Both of these realities deal with stopping people from original thought in favor of acting in a preordained way.




"Huge electric buzzers on the top of every apartment house rang the quarter hour. Often the vibrations would throw people out of bed. Searchlights played over the town all night (no was permitted to use shades, curtain, shutters, or blinds)" (Burroughs 22).




“And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains” (Vonnegut 1).




Burroughs and Vonnegut are depicting two very different underlying motivations for these extreme societies (need for drugs vs. need for equality/fairness), but the similarities are quite striking. I would recommend reading “Harrison Bergeron” in its entirety (it’s not long) as it is a very interesting short story.






mobius sez "Aye Aye! And notice that for Burroughs the mechanism is distributed across space, rather than linked to an individual. How would the experiences of these respective worlds differ?"-mobius






January 29, 2009






I am not surprised, but perhaps a little let down, after reading of William Lee/Burrough’s adventures in South America in The Yage Letters. Junky was a book that detailed the process of becoming addicted and staying addicted to heroine. It depicted brutal circumstances and symptoms and futile attempts to break out of this cyclic junky lifestyle. However, at the end of Junky, Burroughs sounds optimistic when he writes how he will go to South America and experience yage, and how perhaps its is the “final fix.” But after reading his letters to Ginsberg, I quickly came to the conclusion that yage was in no way a final fix. During his trip to Colombia, Burroughs seems to be very similar to how he was in Junky. He still does a lot of drinking, takes drugs, and pays for sexual encounters with Colombian boys. Even his yage experiences aren’t profound. His first try involves blue flashes, nausea, and vomiting. If yage is the final fix, I’m not really sure what it is fixing.




On the other hand. . . .








I guess an upside to all of this is that in letters written seven years after the experience, Burroughs describes his cut up method, designed to seemingly bring into question normal consciousness:








“Look. Listen. Hear. Your AYUASKA consciousness is more valid than ‘Normal Consciousness?” Whose ‘Normal Consciousness?’ Why return to?” (70).






I guess only reading more Burroughs will provide and definite (or indefinite) conclusions to such questions.


























“We actually looked like Indians. The others claimed they felt primitive and were laying around on the grass acting the way they figured Indians act” (123).








This line from Junky resonates with the preceding post that drug experiences (seeing God or otherwise) are formed by the experiences of the user and not merely given by some intrinsic power. Because Burroughs, Johnny, and Pete are taking Peyote, their preconceived notions about how Indians used the drug in religious ceremony and how they might have acted influences how their high feels. I think this same idea translates into seeing God while on drugs. Only the mind that has had time to ponder God and existence will experience either such thing on a trip.






There is another similar line in "God's Own Medicine:"






"De Quincey has described, under the section entitled 'The Pains of Opium,' the extreme melancholy and continual nightmares that can accompany heavy over-dosage. His nightmares involved evil Oriental faces and scenes" (110).








Again, because of opium's Eastern origins, de Quincey produces these nightmares out of his perceptions of opium.












1/21/ 09








In response to Ludlow seeing God, the hasheesh is simply a vessel to explore what can't be explored in the subjective world. Coming into contact with God has been a goal of countless men women and children since the inception of man. We want, or we need, to know what is next—what is above us, and so this what we explore when given the opportunity to shut out our normal world. We ourselves are the product of a long line of evolution, but we can't come to grips with the possibility that we are potentially the end of the line. Would a hypothetical man who knew nothing about God or religion or any conception of a higher power meet with a deity on a hasheesh trip? I would say no; there is nothing intrinsically deep with the human that creates God. Humans are made to hunt and feed and fight and run and have sex. These are imperative to the continuation of the species. It is only after you've eaten and had sex and run away from the bear (in no particular order, mind you. Whatever floats your boat), that a thought about "Why am I here?" or “How am I here?” can be manufactured. The more complex and efficient the society (i.e. the less time spent providing for the basic needs), the more religion proliferates, therefore society must create all conceptions of God. Going near a majestic mountain or a roaring waterfall or reading a beautiful poem can help us forget about the bears we need to outrun and focus more on how intricate and how purposeful the world is and ponder its source. Hasheesh is simply another way to do this.








Time gets very complicated very quickly. Does time follow the same guidelines as "thought about a higher power" does?" Did primitive humans who had no clocks or calendars think, "man this tilling is taking forever?" I thought about how Ludlow experiences this infinity during his trip. And my immediate question to that was, “would a person who lived in a world with no measured time experience a world where time was measured and quantified constantly after taking hasheesh?” Further reflection yielded that a world without time can't exist. Our standards of time (the second, minute, hour, etc) are arbitrary. But surely even in a world without these signifiers, a person would still become acquainted with time through human hunger schedules or sleep patterns. I think it is rather farfetched to assume that if we didn't know that lunch is at noon and dinner is at 6:00 we would be unable to guess when we'd be hungry again. After eating, this hypothetical person would be stricken with the terror of, "When is that hunger thing gonna happen again, if it will at all?" Humans are bound to some force, call it time or whatever, that is inescapable. It can be broken up in a million different ways, but it remains in some force, although admittedly a highly nebulous one.






















The prologue to Junky and the body of it seem to be at odds with one another. In the prologue, Burroughs describes himself as a lackluster and directionless person with no real motivation or desire to work any particular job. These qualities introduce him to the drug world: “You become a narcotics addict because you do not have strong motivations in any other direction” (xxxviii). Although these qualities can get one involved with narcotics, using drugs, maintaining the habit, and buy/selling drugs require the exact opposite attributes. Everything has a system, from the user lexicon to different strategies for robbing sleeping drunks on subways to finding the right doctors to write a fake prescription. Because the heroine business is so high risk (no pun intended), everything must be planned, which must be a testament to heroine’s addictive qualities. One of the more shocking scenes for me was when Doolie takes a cap of morphine just maintain the status quo; there is no more rush or euphoria or pleasurable experience, just the absence of want.






Burroughs’ boredom with the world comes up again when he goes to New Orleans. Even after he quits using drugs, he decides to start again anyway (“. . . I wanted to stay off, or at least I thought I wanted to stay off”). Even after all of his experiences and the difficulty of being a pusher, I kept getting the sense that there isn’t much that Burroughs particularly likes, and that dealing and taking drugs is something to do.


















Here is a blog:












The dichotomy of small vs. large is quite striking in Ludlow’s hasheesh hallucination accounts. There are times where he describes vast space: "It was an unconverging vista, whose nearest lamps seemed separated from me by leagues. I was doomed to pass through a merciless stretch of space," and other times when the details are very small: "Through every thinnest corporeal tissue and minutest vein I could trace the circulation of the blood along each inch of its progress." These perceptions are in some way constructed by Ludlow’s expectations of the drug and his past experiences. What happens during a trip is seemingly random, but perhaps even this altered consciousness still borrows from regular consciousness. For example, the doctor mentions how he thinks hasheesh is toxic. Ludlow looks this up in a book and finds this not to be true, but yet during his trip he thinks he is dying and must visit the doctor.














These distortions of size also bleed into Ludlow's perception of time. Time is something that is seemingly never too far from the mind: class in five minutes, or put that in the microwave for thirty seconds, or my dog is six years old. We use it for everything, so it's not surprising that the distortion of time, especially perceiving time as incredibly long even when no "real" time has passed, occurs during the trip. Ludlow's experience puts the whole foundation of time into question. We know that a single man cannot live long enough to see the pyramids built and crumble, but yet Ludlow perceives this during his first trip ("I will not believe you are deceiving me, but to me it appears as if sufficient time has elapsed since then for all the Pyramids to have crumbled back to dust"). Which one is correct? A rational look would suggest that the first is, but during his drug experience Ludlow would have said the second. Ludlow seems to equate his hallucinations with his "real" life when he writes "Soon after my pedestrian journey through Asia I changed my residence for a while, and went to live in the town of Schenectady." This begs the question of if the passage of time is bound to human perception or to something else.













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