William Seward Burroughs
February 5, 1914 - August 2, 1997
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Reader Comments from Sunday August 3, 1997
The significance of Wm. S. Burroughs is that he embodied America in the 20th century. Now that he is gone, we are living in afteramerica. Peace.
Houston, TX - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 23:57:58 (EDT)
I was first introduced to William S. Burroughs about ten years ago when I stumbled across the album "You're The Guy I Want to Share My Money with," which also featured Laurie Anderson and John Giorno. I blew alot of minds with that record, I seemed to be the first person I knew who had ever heard of him. I patiently read Naked Lunch twice and appreciated the fact that it was not an easy read.
Ontario, CA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 23:54:16 (EDT)
It has been a sad year, with Timothy, Allen, and now William passing.
New Haven, CT USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 23:50:34 (EDT)
When Wild Bill saddled up and rode out of town Saturday evening , he took a great many other folks with him. Inspector Lee, Kim Carsons, El Hombre Invisible, Meester Weeli and all the rest posse'd out alongside him.
Arcata, Ca USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 23:47:58 (EDT)
I feel this death to be shocking and very final. His work
and readings reached inside my soul and provided a tactile
sense for thought and speech that I had never experienced
before. It established a new frame of reference through
which I could better understand most works of art.
Emporia, KS USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:54:16 (EDT)
Try as I might I could not grok what WSB was doing when I tried to read his work. And then a chance happening when an enlightened friend played the Giorno Poetry Sysytems LP containing WSB reading his Dinosaurs routine. When I heard that voice, its inflection injecting meaning into the text, I got it. Ever since that experience I have been hooked on WSB's writings and recordings. His prose is groundbreaking and his voice is music. Long live the art of WSB.
Chicago, IL United States - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:50:28 (EDT)
Although it seemed he would live forever, we knew he could not.
New York, NY USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:44:28 (EDT)
This world is a better place because of the works of this great man. I am just just happy that he was with us for as long as he was.
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:35:58 (EDT)
The work and writings of WSB confronted and challenged my previously-held narrow-world view when I first started to read
him as a Post-grad political science student. His surreal
and subversive books opened up a new way of thinking for me,
encouraging me to question all that is conservative, all that
seeks to repress creativity and imagination , and all that seeks
to maintain and abuse power. It is a bit of a shock to learn
of his death, although it is not really a surprise, given his age and his long life of battling drugs. I always thought of
him as being an almost immortal, wizened wizard, who was able
to endure the most ravaging excesses. But, death must come
to all, as it must, and it finally has caught up to "Unca Bill"
as I liked to refer to him. While I had no real desire to
replicate or imitate his life - shooting your wife and heroin
addiction holds no great appeal for me - just reading his books
and listening to his CDs - with that awesome, low, gravelly
voice - gave me an insight into another world, expanding my
conscioussness, "changing my head", freaking me out.
Sydney, NSW Australia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:30:22 (EDT)
BACK IN THE 60'S I discovered William Burroughs along with Ginsberg and Keroauc and became a fan of them all. I found the article on the front page of AOL where it told of Williams untimely or better yet, unfortunate death. My interest developed further due to my brothers friendship with Bill thus creating a closer link. Recently I was fortunate enough to have received a personally autographed copy of Junkie as a get well gift from Bill which my dear brother got for me upon his last visit with Bill in June. My heart is saddend at Bills death and know he will be greatly missed yet loved by many for as long as humanity exists.
Great Neck, NY USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:22:31 (EDT)
William S. Burroughs was truly a literary giant whose influence will be felt for generations to come. The cutup method that Burroughs developed with Brion Gysin has provided many artists a new objective through which to develop their literary perspective. The first cutup I ever read of his from The Third Mind blew me away...I'm sure that many participating in this tribute feel the same way about the sum of his writing. He had so much courage, and it was this fearlessness that made his art shine in a world of homogenized, pop-culture conformity.
Verdun, QC Canada - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:22:25 (EDT)
I first saw bill burroughs at the 'Final Solution' academy at Heaven, London in 1983. the tired old man mounts the steps to the podium clutching his plastic shopping bag of notes. Clears his croaky throat and at once silences a hall full of punks and psycho trash with random snippets of his writing. No one person has changed my life as much as him. Bon voyage WSB.
mullumbimby, nsw australia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:13:29 (EDT)
Thank you for the opportunity to say goodbye to WSB. I found this page in a random search of burroughs related material and it seems I've found the right place. There is a sense of loss but little sorrow in the pasing of WSB; he gave us more years and more wisdom than we could have hoped. we remember Bill with a smile washed with tears. To all the johnsons everywhere: mind your own business and let your business be that of the mind.
E.Lebanon, ME USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:12:04 (EDT)
As he had once said, he was possessed by demons from the day he killed Joan. He must have exorcised them by now.
Orange, NNSW Australia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:08:46 (EDT)
My friend Varna brought me a copy of Naked Lunch in the summer of 1965. "wildest thing since Candy -man just read the page 90 rim job". It was wild, but,unlike Varna I turned back to page one and the way I viewed literature was forever changed for the better. I'm a big tough guy but the news brought a tear to my eye. We're going to miss you Will.
Fort Worth, TxTxTxTx...t - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:02:17 (EDT)
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 22:00:29 (EDT)
He wrote the only book that ever made me cry (Western Lands). I got to the end and lost it. I've been somewhat afraid to pick it up again, although none of the other books have had a similar effect.
Athens, GA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:58:57 (EDT)
Singapore - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:44:24 (EDT)
I heard the news of Bill's passing while on a music video shoot, and although we had to get on with the job somehow we ended up with probably more gun and drug references than will be allowed on kiddy hour music television. I had just re-read the Ted Egan bio, closing the book on Friday ...
Sydney, NSW Australia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:39:01 (EDT)
Adios to you who taught me the meaning of the word maricon I went to a halloween party as yr dead wife the final jolt that anyone will ever recieve from you is simply yr peaceful passing which will shock and hurt the people that your writing meant so much to i guess that i am left to yr voice on the keroac tribute cd talking about the old west...adios
Burlington, Vt US of A - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:34:38 (EDT)
The first book of William Burroughs I read was Junky. I wasn't familiar with his work. The only thing that I saw was Naked Lunch. A friend of mine and I, who is no longer here today, got high and went to an "arty" theatre and thought we were cool for seeing this surreal experience of William Burroughs. I could'nt follow the picture but I had an enjoyable time and was inspired to follow up on his work. I read Junky and fell in love with his words, his use of language and the fact that he was able to be a part of my life along with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. It is a shame that we all grow old and die. But with men like Burroughs and countless others, inspiration will continue to breed and fester into the minds of those looking. Thank You Mr. Burroughs.
La Junta, Co usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:31:21 (EDT)
Well; Bill Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg
and many others in this game, are gone . I have a special
place for Bill Burroughs' writing and his wild - chance,
gifted, dramatic and sometimes magical-tragical life of
lives. He damm well took life and lived it, every word was paid for with sweat; I salute this fine "advanced
scout". The english phase "a one off" certainly applies
here. There ain't never gonna be another you - Bill.
Toronto, - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:28:01 (EDT)
For some reason, I thought that junk would somewoh preseve your tissue, make you plastic and forever. Didn't you feel that way at one time? But perhaps it just made you look older sooner. Hell, seeing your picture, you looked more like 150, than 83. But now you don't look like anything, I guess. Just a mound of dirt, or is it an urn of ashes? Either way, you saw a hell of a lot, and you could not have left your body without a great deal of wieght, experiance, emotion. I hope you've found your jungle paradise with young native boys masturbating languidly under the trees and enough Yage to last eternity. Maybe where you are you won't have to deal with finding anymore cures. Anyway, thank you for your inspiration, and for your books, and for being a notorious fag before sitcom dike's were "in". May you rest in peace, and may your spirit continue to make young men cum and twist in thier Naked Lunch dreams.
Ashland, OR - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:24:13 (EDT)
I'm real happy I got to see WSB enjoy an hommage show I put together for him in Montreal 1989. Possibly, Huncke and Wsb saw each other there for the last time too. I can't begin to fathom the influence he's had upon me. I had a vivid dream about him just last week. I would like to thank Ira Silverberg for making it possible for me to meet the man back in '84.
Toronto, Canada - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:21:43 (EDT)
La Junta, Co - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:20:55 (EDT)
I met Bill when he started shooting at the gun club where I was president. Our friendship of some 15 years grew out of our common love of guns and shooting, as well as literature and experiences in Africa and Europe. He was what one would call a gentleman of the old school, and was unfailingly gracious and free with his time. I could call, then drop by to visit at practically any time, and was always made to feel welcome. I think I became a part of a sort of extended family of people who loved him. His death takes from us all a marvelously powerful mind, and leaves a hole in our lives.
Shawnee, KS - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 21:08:53 (EDT)
First Huncke, then Ginsberg, now Burroughs. Huncke never got too far off the streets despite a literary carrer that, until his death, many of us never knew about. Ginsberg, deservedly, entered the American literary pantheon despite a life's work that wouldn't play too well in Greater Utah, USA. Burroughs never really got the respect of those who make the survey-course syllabi, but at least he got the Nike ad, along with all the dubious perks that come with being a Living American Countercultural Icon. I wonder if he enjoyed the irony.
Mystic, CT USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:56:41 (EDT)
I was introduced to Bill a few years ago through my father. I was ten then, and had never heard of him before then. We visited him a few times after that, but not very often. This past year tho', I saw him about once a week, when we'd go shooting out at our friend Fred Aldrich's. Occasionally, he'd shoot up some shirts and sign them, but most of the time, we'd just shoot targets and metal spinners. He was a good shot even though he was old and quite frail, while I'm don't aim very well even tho' I'm pretty young. I never read any of his books, but I read a couple pages of My Education, and the first chapter of Ghost of a Chance. He was a good man and a genius. After we shot a few rounds, we'd go inside and have drinks and a snack or two, and I'd sit and listen while everyone else would discuss and debate the problems of the world. I saw him just last Tuesday in realitivly good health and condition. We went out and shot some then went inside and he signed the Bullet Hole shirt I was wearing. We were supposed to go shooting again on Wednesday, but I guess that's not going to happen now.
Shawnee, KS - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:50:48 (EDT)
william s. burroughs was an individual who, through his writing, allowed me to begin to really think for myself and recognize whole new worlds which existed beyond my realm of knowledge. over the past 8 or 9 years, burroughs' writing has made me laugh, think, brood, and cry; his death is that of the first major iconic figure in my life, which is difficult in all rights. it is the passing of an age, the closing of a time.
st. louis, mo USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:37:41 (EDT)
I first read Naked Lunch as a profoundly closted teenager. I guess it was an illicit thrill. Now, that I'm out and proud, I realise the old man has taught me the importance of being queeeerrr....the importance of being yourself. The importance of experimentation and discovery.
Brisbane, Qld Australia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:10:53 (EDT)
Farvel, El Hombre Invisible.
Wellington, New Zealand - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:10:52 (EDT)
I'm too young to know so much about william burroughs.
Hamburg, Germany - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:10:21 (EDT)
Let he who lived the most die at last.
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 20:09:10 (EDT)
Read the man's works! There is no greater eulogy.
Santa Cruz, CA USofA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 19:29:40 (EDT)
"When I become death, death is the seed
Naperville, Il USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 19:00:00 (EDT)
When I first started to get into W.S.B., it didn't eat me up.
SF, CA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 18:51:47 (EDT)
If he were here, he would kill us all.
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 18:27:32 (EDT)
Seeing the news in the NY Post and NY TIMES, the feeling of "Oh, no." Loss of Beat icons (avatars of existencialistas)|
I met WSB at NYU reading and via Nova Convention in 70s-80s.
During my correspondence with the late artist, David Wojnarowicz (goombah & former co-worker in 70s Bookstore days), he in Paris, me in NYC, we explored Burroughsian text and art forms.
Later, a 1982 postcard from William S. Burroughs, of the Oakland Bay Bridge (curiously, no postmark, but a stamp that dates it to 1982) from WSB, in response to a letter on democracy, authoritarian dilemmas, popular struggles, and who knows what else, says:
"Dear Mr Napoli:
Thanks for your letter. Perhaps you overcomplicate a very simple message:
Planet Earth is a penal colony. latterly an extermination camp. What to do?
Sauve qui peut.
William S. Burroughs"
Though straight work/family duty (values evidently WSB did not share) reduced time available to me to ponder visions of Johanna and Beat lit'ry bliss, the ongoing existence of Burroughs (like Allen Ginsberg, like Timothy Leary, like Jerry Garcia) added energy and psychic walls to bounce off. As artists, they helped to push back the borders, so in rare moments one could ponder life "sans frontieres."
Goodbye, Mr. Burroughs, you will get yer Nobel Prize in Heaven.
NYC, NY USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 17:41:27 (EDT)
I AM DYING, MEESTER?
Oakland, CA Interzone - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 17:08:18 (EDT)
We are all here to go...
Auckland, New Zealand - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 17:01:45 (EDT)
So long, junkie, wife-killer, poet ...
Washington, DC - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 16:52:45 (EDT)
The doors of the sky are opened for me
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 16:26:03 (EDT)
He was a good driver. You can tell as soon as someone touches the wheel...
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 16:22:26 (EDT)
Hearing the news of his death, I almost felt movement under
my feet, the kind of movement that we all feel when a giant
falls to the ground and the impact of his or her body shakes
the Earth one last time (in life) to remind us to sit up and
pay attention. The man may now be gone, but his work will
always be there to shake us up a bit when we need it. Rest
in peace, William S. Burroughs.
Des Plaines, IL USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 16:19:49 (EDT)
Someone here wrote about syncronicity. Friday, Aug.1, I
found a picture of Ginsberg with Wm.B in my attachments file
on my computer. I have no idea where it came from or who's
email it was attached to. Last night, Sat.2/Sun.3, I dreamed
that I was giving CPR to my father who was dying of a heart
attack. This morning I got the news of Wm.B's passing.
Los Angeles, CA Estados Unidos - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 15:45:52 (EDT)
His voice is now silent.
Canada - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 15:28:22 (EDT)
Burroughs had a knack for rendering the corporate shadows into a prose which will remain viable and resilient into the next millenium. He impacted my meta-programming neuro-circuits during my adolescence and I want to thank him for altering my consciousness forever. You will be missed Bill Burroughs. 'time to forget a dead empire and build a living republic'
mpls, mn usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 15:08:13 (EDT)
"Bill's meat (still good)"
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 14:59:33 (EDT)
I found "The Naked Lunch" very entriguing and wanted to know more about the man behind the story.
San Marcos, Tx - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 14:57:33 (EDT)
A flaming talent in a dawn
little rock , ar usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 14:20:43 (EDT)
Deeply thinking of it,
Arcata, Ca. USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 14:09:28 (EDT)
I first heard of WSB and Naked Lunch in my second year of
college. We were to do a comparison between to litreary
eras. My friend and I chose Romantics and Beats.
Frankenstein and Naked Lunch became our main points,
as the class cringed on the seat's edges and the professor
smiled wryly through his overgrwon Ginsburg-like beard.
State College, PPA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 13:37:06 (EDT)
You were there
San Francisco, CA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 13:31:32 (EDT)
"Observation has convinced me that salvation lies in not in receiving love, but giving it. A persistent and disastrously mistaken goal is expressed in the formula: 'I will be saved if someone loves me.'"
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 13:31:14 (EDT)
...and now he's gone. I have thought about Bill pretty much on a daily basis for nearly 3 decades now, or ever since reading THE SOFT MACHINE (my 1st encounter with his work, actually). Like Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski, Burroughs was influential in my life. "My affections being concentrated on a few people, are not spread all over Hell in a vile attempt to placate sulky, worthless shits." Damn straight, Bill. Without him, existence would have been a lot less interesting.
Burlington, VT usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 13:25:17 (EDT)
It's funny. I had just gotten back from the video store tonight with a copy of "Chappaqua," with Burroughs, Ginsberg, R. Shankar, Ornette Coleman and others. Turned on the news before watching the movie and heard the story. It was weird seeing him in this movie, made 37 years ago. He looked a lot younger, but his voice sounded like an old man's even then. It was about a young junkie and his journey through the "Swiss sleep treatment," trying to kick alcohol and opiates. Burroughs plays the guy's pusher, and also an early prototype of Dr. Benway. Kind of an impressionistic movie. Burroughs' cut-up techniques were laced throughout the movie, maybe spontaneous experiments in the editing room.
Oakland, CA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 13:22:32 (EDT)
...ALL ACTIVE AGENTS...CALLING ALL AGENTS...ACTIVE...
Phoenix, AZ 85004 - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 13:18:31 (EDT)
Last night as my sis bounced hereandback on the net i saw a
graphic which reminded me of the cut up technique,
don't know why, it just did.
Olympia(reader), WA Cascadia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 12:57:34 (EDT)
Such a wonderful page!! I came to read it on the death of Burroughs (August 3)...and to just soak in some energy from him and Allen. And to remember how much the Beats were an influence on my own poetry and desire to be a poet. Am flashing back to my teens and wanting sooooo much to be On The Road...thank you for your efforts
- Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 12:52:17 (EDT)
...just feel alone in the world now that Burroughs is gone...hopefully he is making the afterlife safe for idiots like us...
San Antonio, TX USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 12:24:00 (EDT)
My heart is now in pain, learning of the death of uncle Bill in something as impersonal as a chat room I'm floored.Frist kia took Bukowski, then Ginsburg, and now one of her most beloved and misunderstood sons William S Burroughs. No more will we be able to stand out and over look interzone without fighting back a tear from our eye. Right now I sit at this computer and punch in words knowing good and well that these words are a virus, and that through the loss of control,throught time,dope and sex and religion, we will all find freedom. But today I cry and look through several of Uncle Bills Books for Quotes that might ease the pain. Sleep well old friend, you are truely safe now don't worry there are no nova police there. IO CHAOS IO CHAOS IO CHAOS
phx, az usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 11:41:03 (EDT)
I heard the news at 2:11 in the a.m.. I thought it was a dream or maybe I simply dismissed it as one.
Brooklyn, NY - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 11:39:32 (EDT)
expecting the move west for some time now. . . i asked bobby "what the hell happened to my "10% file under burroughs" cd when i got home from work on friday. he'd been listening to it all day; the beat cd two or three times, then the beats cd on repeat for god knows how many hours. . .
seattle, wa usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 11:13:48 (EDT)
...shields his eyes against the glare of the setting sun,
London, UK - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 10:46:51 (EDT)
William S. Burroughs was a man whose work changed the lives of anyone who had the good fortune to read it.I know he changed mine.
Lafayette, In Tippicanoe - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 10:31:38 (EDT)
What a slap to wake up to. I first looked over Naked Lunch
in a treatment center. They wouldn't let me keep any Bukowski
Lovecraft stuff but let Naked Lunch set on the night stand
(typical administrative missing the Boat self-assured knowledge
of what we are allowed to learn, know, and enjoy). Never met
the man myself, only spent time in his books, always fascinated
at the thinking and questions they always opened in my own
skull. Always impressed with his honesty (that kind it's
getting harder and harder to find). Thankful he lived as long
as he did. Hopeful we won't forget his messages or give in
to the deafening, empty drone of noise that keeps filling
those spaces our friends' deaths leave.
Augusta, KS usa - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 10:21:16 (EDT)
I heard of Burroughs death on public radio. I didn't know what to think of at first, sort of the way I felt on the passings of Ginsberg and Laura Nyro. 1997 is a sad year indeed.
Des Moines, IA USA - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 10:06:34 (EDT)
Ironically, I stayed up late last night writing Burroughs a letter. If I'd been watching TV instead, I would have seen the announcement. I prefered finding out through friends anyway. I owe WSB and many like him my love of reading and writing. My love of the strange and obvious. Here's to the man who always had his finger on the pulsing vein of life.
Sterling, VA United States - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 09:54:56 (EDT)
TV news... a hot summer day...the 3rd of August...
Rome, Italy - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 09:26:28 (EDT)
William S. Burroughs has been one of the greatest influences on my life. I was honoured to spend some time with him in January of 1995 - one of the greatest moments of my life so far.
London, UK - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 08:29:22 (EDT)
Just finished reading "on the road" two days ago after a lifetime of intending to and spent 20 minutes at dinner last
dallas, - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 08:23:22 (EDT)
Brisbane, QLD Australia - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 08:03:06 (EDT)
In England, the first thing I hear on the news as I wake up. Shocked but not surprised, he was an old man but remarkebly well for his age and lifestyle, somehow always thought that nothing could end his life, that he'd make a hundred, guess he didn't.
Reykjavik, Iceland - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 07:42:15 (EDT)
Implosion of a beat.
Norcross, GA America - Sunday, August 03, 1997 at 07:34:49 (EDT)
This Burroughs memorial project is brought to you via Malcolm Humes & The Burroughs Files, hosted by Hyperreal and Sunsite UNC.