Saturday, August 23, 2014

William Burroughs: Advice for Young People

I happened to talk to my wife about William Burroughs during a short drive this morning. It reminded me of two things: Reading Naked Lunch in high school and Burroughs' Advice for Young People.

I read Naked Lunch in a 10th grade American Literature class as an elective because my teacher thought it might mean something to me. It did not. The book was so far above my head that it might as well have been Joyce’s Ulysses (which is still hard for me to read). Reading Burroughs made me think, and as a result, I came back to Naked Lunch many times over the years. As I matured, I started to grasp more of the meaning behind his words. It was my first confusing introduction to non-linear fiction. It blew my mind then. It still does.

Advice for Young People is a short video clip of Burroughs dropping wisdom. I’ve watched it a few dozen times in my life.

While I was writing this post I told my wife that one of the reasons I love her is that we can talk about Burroughs at random and its as normal as if we were talking about the latest sitcom. I also mentioned that I have few other outlets for this level and type of communication. If I mention Burroughs in my social circle, I get blank looks. There are a few exceptions, my friends Brad and Rich come to mind, as does my son Jon, but after this short list, it’s a cultural wasteland. Of course, my wife’s response to my heartfelt declaration was, “I got a purse!”