Welcome, reader! According to Antony Hegarty in this second decade of the new century our future is determined. What will it be? Stays all the same and do we sink away in the mud or is something new coming up? In this blog I try to follow new cultural developments.

Welkom, lezer! Volgens Antony Hegarty leven we in bijzondere tijden. In dit tweede decennium van de eenentwintigste eeuw worden de lijnen uitgezet naar de toekomst. Wat wordt het? Blijft alles zoals het is en zakken we langzaam weg in het moeras van zelfgenoegzaamheid of gloort er ergens iets nieuws aan de horizon? In dit blog volg ik de ontwikkelingen op de voet. Als u op de hoogte wilt blijven, kunt u zich ook aanmelden als volger. Schrijven is een avontuur en bloggen is dat zeker. Met vriendelijke groet, Rein Swart.

Laat ik zeggen dat literaire kritiek voor mij geen kritiek is, zolang zij geen kritiek is op het leven zelf. Rudy Cornets de Groot.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas.

Het is juist de roman die laat zien dat het leven geen roman is. Bas Heijne.

In het begin was het Woord, het Woord was bij God en het Woord was God. Johannes.

donderdag 17 maart 2011

Documentary: A Man Within, about William S. Burroughs

Yony Leyser talked to a lot of friends and collegues of Williams Burroughs (St. Louis, Missouri 1914), who was one of the founding fathers of the Beat generation, introduced new forms in literature and attacked hypocrism all of his life. As a gay person he especially criticized the sexual ideas of a restricted country. Moviemaker John Waters says the fifties were a terrible time and actor Peter Weller adds that the Beat generation with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, who doesn’t look at all like a revolutionary, resisted the norms of the middle-class white society.

We see Ginsberg and Burroughs later on in this documentary, in which beautiful iron figures sometimes show up, talking together. Burroughs says the Beat generation was more a sociological than a literary movement and Ginsberg adds that it also had a spiritual dimension. Later in the documentary Ginsberg askes Burroughs if he wants to be loved and Burroughs answers: not really and after a silence he adds: maybe by my cats.
A young lover says that Burrouhgs found cats easier to love than human beings.
Freud woud have diagnosed him as mentally ill, says his neighbour Dennis. John Waters says he was not a sympathetic person. Burroughs himself says he was not a rebbelion and recited his cynical Thanksgiving Prayer with the following starting and ending lines:

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

If you want to read the complete poem and hear his slow but convincing voice go to: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/modlang/carasi/thanksgivingprayer.htm

Biographer Victor Bockris says Warhol and Burroughs looked like eachother because theu both stood up in what they believed in. Burroughs wanted to break down barriers, especially to gave way to the gay liberation movement. Peter Weller says Burroughs was not part of it. He did not want to be labelled. Musician Patty Smith says he was connected with everything and everybody in the fifties and gave a lot of names to bands. Literary agent Ira Silverberg sees a lonely man underneath his three piece suit. Neighbour Dennis says he was both very liberal and uncomfortable with his own sexuality. Genesis P-Orridge met him in the seventies in London and says that he liked young hustlers because of his fear of pain. Regina Weinreb, who published about the Beat generation, says he usually had an uneasy relationship with women, but she had a good time with him.

Patty Smith notices he loved Brion Guysin, a painter and a storyteller, who was his friend for many years in Paris. Brions ideas meant a lot to Burroughs development as a writer. He started to experiment with cut up novels. Genesis says his development made him to an outcast and brought him in conflict with the powers that be, social norms and the legal system.

Burroughs grew up in a rich middleclass family, but the house keeper offered him opium. He was addicted but warned others not to use it. When Peter Weller was on the set of Naked Lunch (1959) with Burroughs he saw him take a pill and noticed the distinction between the actor and the hooker. Burroughs was also fascinated by weapons. He always had loaded guns everywhere in the house, says the young lover. It made him feel secure to be able to defend himself.
Joan Vollmer was in 1944 the charming roommate of Edie Kerouac-Parker. Burroughs and Vollmer started drinking and experimenting with drugs. In 1951 in Mexico-City Burroughs killed her by accident when he wants to shoot a bottle from her head. Musician Laurie Anderson says it marked him forever and haunted him. Allen Ginsberg offered to help. His talented son Billy wrote books but had a problematic life. Burroughs was not a good father. Billy died when he was 33 years old from alcoholism and left Burroughs crying, says his friend John Giorno. Genesis says he felt guilty for neglecting his son.

The punks saw Burroughs as their role model. Iggy Pop says that Burroughs felt no affinity for rock and roll. Words are akward and imprecise, says Burroughs himself.
In his last years he lived with James Grauerholtz in Kansas. James says he got milder and more friendly. In 1997 he died. Genesis was sad, but happy about his last words in his diary. Love, what is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. It took him a whole life to come to that conclusion, she says.

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