Substance Abuse In William Burroughs's Naked Lunch

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“A bookworm with strong homoerotic urges, a fascination with guns and crime and a natural inclination to break every rule he could find, there seemed to be no way [William] Burroughs could ever fit into normal society” (Asher). The Midwestern (St. Louis) and upper class lifestyle did not fit who Burroughs really was. After graduating from Harvard, Burroughs’ parents accepted their son’s need to find his place in society, so they “continued to support him financially as he experimented with various lifestyles” (Asher). Burroughs was a rebel figure who had trouble finding his way. He traveled around a lot and fell into drugs and substance abuse to free himself from the built-up conventions of society. Burroughs began writing after he met Jack…show more content…
This book was first published in Paris in 1959 and was banned in the U.S for its crude content until three years later in 1962. The main character in the book, William Lee, represents William Burroughs himself. The book was written while under the influence of drugs, and is shown through a number of disconnected events strung together with no clear plot. These events formed into chapters, and “Burroughs himself stated that they [chapters] could be read in any order” (Jones). The disconnectedness of the events in the novel relates to how one becomes disconnected to the real world while under the influence of drugs. The book starts with William Lee running from the cops as he wonders where he is going to get his next fix from. Burroughs doesn’t waste any time in getting right into the action. This, in many cases, is the life of a drug addict. Some addicts spend their entire lives on the run with the one focus: getting their next fix. The interzone in this book gives good example as to what it is like while under the influence of drugs. It is a strange alternate dimension used to display the dreamlike and hallucinatory state one gets into while on drugs. The question, “Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk” (goodreads) is asked while in the interzone. Dr. Benway tells William Lee of this strange phenomenon that was obviously a hallucination of some sort. It…show more content…
This is the same way that jazz musicians perform their solos and improvisations. They simply blow freely and play whatever comes to mind. William Burroughs was an expert on writing freely, exhibiting a stream of consciousness. “It takes a peculiar species of genius to make what is essentially stream of consciousness nonsense (at least to some anyway) and bring meaning and substance to it” (Jones). He showed his appreciation and love of jazz music by incorporating the styles, rhythms, and improvs in his writing. Interestingly enough, jazz also showed appreciation for Burroughs’ work when he was published twice in the jazz magazine Metronome. In the publication, “The editorial comment stresses the connection between junk and jazz with Burroughs’ pieces deglamorizing the heroin scene” (Birmingham). Even people at the time knew the influence that drugs and jazz had on William
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