Friday, May 18, 2007

Burroughs explains opiates

Why he used them for more than to get high.

When I first read Naked Lunch I have to say that it was the transgression in Burroughs' talk about opiate use that I really noticed--along with the homosexuality --and that I didn't think there was anything more to it. I thought that his opiate stories were simply glorified and purposely shocking descriptions of why exactly he liked to get fucked up. But, it appears that there was much more than simple transgression in his use of drug experience description in his novels, which makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Interzone, a collection of shorter earlier writings by Burroughs, in the part called "Lee's Journal" has a passage that pretty much tells what exactly Burroughs sought to get out of the opiate experience beyond getting high.

Following a passage dealing with the increasing amount of Control through bureaucracy in the post-war world he says:

"Junk is a key, a prototype of life. If anyone fully understood junk, he would have some of the secrets of life, the final answers"

He then goes on to talk about how light withdrawal from opiates leads to dream states.
By proto-type of life I understand him to be referring to the primal life, the primal slime from which life grows, to the basic lizard brain that deals with pain and pleasure and little else.

Although the passage is very brief, in the context it's meaning is clear: Burroughs used junk in as a passport to non-ordinary states of consciousness that can give one a different perspective on life and society, in the same way other people have used marijuana or hallucinogens for the same purpose.

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