Burroughs: The Movie (1983) Movie Script

I'm very pleased tonight...
to introduce a man who,
in my opinion...
is the greatest living
writer in America.
Reading selections from
Naked Lunch and Nova Express...
in his first television
appearance ever...
here is Mr. William Burroughs!
Twilight's last gleamings.
SS America off Jersey coast.
Uh, ladies and gentlemen,
there is no cause for alarm.
We have a minor problem
in the boiler room...
but everything is now under -
- Sound effects of a nuclear blast.
The explosion splits the boat.
Dr. Benway, ship's doctor...
drunkenly added two inches
to a four-inch incision...
with one stroke of his scalpel.
"Perhaps the appendix is already out,
Doctor," the nurse said...
- peering dubiously over his shoulder.
"I saw a little scar."
"The appendix out?
I'm taking the appendix out!
What do you think I'm doing here?"
"Perhaps the appendix is
on the left side, Doctor.
That happens sometimes,
you know."
"Stop breathing down my neck!
I'm coming to that.
Don't you think
I know where an appendix is?
I studied appendectomy
in 1904 at Harvard."
He lifts the abdominal wall
and searches along the incision...
dropping ashes from his cigarette.
"And get me a new scalpel.
This one's got no edge to it."
- He thrusts a red fist at her.
The doctor reels back
and flattens against the wall...
a bloody scalpel clutched in one hand.
The patient slides
off the operating table,
spilling intestines across the floor.
Dr. Benway sweeps instruments,
cocaine and morphine into his satchel.
"Sew her up. I can't be expected
to work under such conditions."
Dr. Benway pushed through
a crowd at the rail...
and boarded the first lifeboat.
"Y'all all right?" he says,
seating himself among the women.
"I'm the doctor."
I remember one thing about him,
that he kept ferrets in his room.
He was the only Harvard student
that had ferrets as pets.
And I admit, I couldn't
imagine having such things...
but there was Bill
and there were the ferrets.
I didn't feel at all comfortable
with Bill.
My first thought was,
"Man, this guy's gotta be heat."
William is, like,
never sees anybody...
never goes out,
hates parties...
and-and lives a completely
enclosed - enclosed life, you know?
William would make a great prisoner.
You know?
I mean in solitary.
He, uh, bewilders me
just a little bit, even now.
There's no one more - He's
up there with the pope, you know?
You-You can't revere him enough,
you know?
He's one of the greatest minds
of our times, you know?
You wouldn't know shit
about Burroughs...
unless you knew him for a long time
and through various crises...
to see how he responded,
how he acted.
Well, Kerouac said
that Burroughs was...
the most intelligent man
in America.
I probably repeated that
a million times.
He's a hard guy to get into bed.
That's why I like him, I think.
I was born February 5, 1914,
in Saint Louis, Missouri.
As a young child, uh,
I wanted to be a writer...
and I wrote descriptions
of corn dances in New Mexico...
that were much praised
by my English teachers.
But it was many years...
before I came back to any -
even any attempts to write.
I thought that
they led very glamorous lives...
uh, living in Tangiers
and smoking hashish...
and sniffing cocaine in Mayfair.
It struck me as being
a very glamorous...
and easy and pleasant life.
Little did I know.
"When Kim was 15,
his father allowed him
to withdraw from the school...
because he was so unhappy there...
and so much disliked...
by the other boys and their parents.
'I don't want that boy
in the house again,'
said Colonel Greenfield.
'He looks like a sheep-killin' dog.'
'It is a walking corpse'...
said a Saint Louis
matron poisonously.
Years later,
Kim settled that account.
When informed of her death,
he said...
'Well, it isn't every corpse
that can walk. Hers can't.'"
"'The boy is rotten clear through,
and he stinks like a polecat'...
Judge Farris pontificated.
Now this was true.
When angered
or aroused or excited...
Kim flushed bright red...
and steamed off a rank,
ruttish animal smell.
'The child is not wholesome'...
said Mr. Kindhart
with his usual restraint.
Kim remembers
his father's last words.
'Stay out of churches, Son.
And don't ever let a priest near you
when you're dying.
All they got a key to is the shit house.
And swear to me you will never
wear a policeman's badge.'"
I never felt that I really belonged at all...
in the whole Saint Louis,
uh, social structure.
There was just
something wrong there.
Now there's -
This is, uh - Corner wall.
Now that's Dr. Senseney's old house.
It was his wife...
who said about me that
I looked like a walking corpse.
Uh, years later when I heard
that she had died, I said...
"It isn't every corpse that can walk.
Hers can't."
"I can divide my literary production
into sets.
Where, when and under
what circumstances produced.
The first set is a street of red brick houses...
with slate roofs, lawns in front
and large backyards.
The address is
4664 Pershing Avenue...
and the house is still there."
Do you wanna stroll over there?
You see -
You can see all the rooms.
See the little room
to the side there?
That was my father's study.
Nothing here but the smell of empty years.
How many years?
I can't be sure.
I remember a dream
of my childhood.
I am in a beautiful garden.
As I reach out to touch the flowers...
they wither under my hands.
I wonder whatever happened
to Otto's boy...
who played the violin.
You had -
Otto was your gardener here even?
Yes, and he went with us
to Price Road.
I see. Did you know him a lot
when you were a little kid?
- Oh, yes.
- Older man, a black man.
All the time I was out talking
to him because, um...
you know, he was gardening there
and I was out looking at the flowers...
and I had my pet toad.
When I would be working...
he - he would come out and help me.
You know, he was - he was like this.
- But he would come out and -
- That's true, yeah.
try to help me, you know,
to have my work done.
And I had a boy...
and-and I-I got all
their clothes to clothe him.
- How old is your son?
- Oh, he's dead now.
- He is -
- He died in '52.
He has been dead a long time.
He played the violin, I remember.
That's - That's right.
He can remember.
- He-He played -
- His name was Harold.
- Harold! He remembers.
Yes, his name was Harold.
As I recall in, uh, 1958, '59...
I wrote - when I was writing
Naked Lunch, I wrote a line:
"I wonder whatever happened
to Otto's boy who played the violin."
Well, I had a sort of a premonition
at that point that he was dead...
and I asked about it
in my next letter to Otto...
and he told me that, uh...
Harold had died in 1952,
St. Luke's Hospital.
He did not say from what cause.
Now we had
an old Irish crone living here...
working here for a while...
who taught me
how to call the toads.
And I could come out here
and call a toad.
There was a toad who lived
under a rock right by the pool...
and he'd come hopping out
right to my feet.
- Familiar.
- How was this toad called?
- I don't remember.
It was a little sound.
You could hardly hear it,
sort of a hum.
You'd sort of move around...
and then you'd zero in.
Now you've got the toad.
- There he is, and out he comes.
A lost art,
calling - calling the toads.
This porch was here.
Now one of the pictures
that we have...
of me and my brother together
in Western clothes...
was taken on that porch.
I'm sure that's Dad.
- Yeah.
- It looks just like him.
Well, I don't know who this is.
Do you know who this is?
Any idea?
It says "Mortimer Perry Burroughs."
So maybe it's Dad
when he was young.
Uh, yes, I think it probably is.
The whole family story
of my father's side,
it gets very, very shady.
What kind of man was your father?
He was very mysterious, very reticent.
The only thing he told me was...
that he was beaten
if he ever went into his father's study...
or disturbed his father
while he was working.
That he had very little time
for the children.
That was the impression I had.
My grandfather invented
the Burroughs adding machine...
and founded
the Burroughs Corporation.
The family shares would be worth
$60 million today...
but the family sold out
for a fraction of that...
so I never got a penny from it.
What did your mother look like?
Oh, she was, uh, she was thin.
She had a thin face.
She had a very spiritual,
a very ethereal face.
She had a great, um,
sort of instinct about people...
and we were quite chummy.
- Your mother and you?
- Yes, oh, very.
Oh, Grandma,
she'd had about 13 kids.
This grim old woman who said...
"I'd rather see a son of mine
come home dead than drunk."
And all her sons were
these alcoholics, you know?
Oh, Grandmother,
oh, Grandmother, what the fuck?
And her husband -
She-She kept forgetting
her husband's intemperance.
Her husband drank, it seems.
- Another drunk.
Yes. Yes, indeed.
It's in the family.
That is me.
It's one of the, uh -
"William Seward Burroughs."
Well, that must be Laura Belle.
That's when we were very young.
You've got a sweet,
angelic expression there, Mort.
You looked pretty cute yourself.
I tried to read Naked Lunch.
I read halfway through it
and I pitched it.
It-It didn't make much sense to me.
And, frankly, it didn't appeal to me.
I didn't see any real necessity
for the language he used.
I know he was using it
for the shock, uh, purpose.
But, uh, to me, it doesn't do that.
It just sort of disgusts me.
Well, this was the bedroom
that I shared with Morty.
As a child I was very much
afraid of the dark...
and afraid to be alone...
particularly at night.
So I preferred to have someone
in the room with me.
Sometimes when we were out
at the other place, I remember...
if my parents were out...
the butler would have to come up
and sit in my room...
and if Mort was out,
until Mort came home.
Yes, I was afraid of the dark.
I was afraid of lightning,
all these things.
They don't bother me anymore.
You begin to see there is no boy
there in the dark room.
He was looking at something
a long time ago.
Changed place, sad image...
circulates through
backwards time.
Dead young flesh and stale
underwear. Bending sex words.
Little Blue Books.
Adventure stories.
Coming of Age in Samoa...
The Book of Knowledge
and Dorian Gray.
Music of East St. Louis.
Warm spring wind blows
faded pink curtains...
in through the open window.
A child reads a letter.
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I am going to join the wild boys.
When you read this,
I will be far away."
Well, all these, um,
experiences from my childhood...
typical of Saint Louis in the '20s...
and any Midwestern town
in the '20s...
actually was a very important
source material for my books.
It's found in - in every book actually.
In Junkie, in Naked Lunch...
in The Wild Boys, Exterminator!
- You've -
- A recurrent theme.
You've said that a lot of your work,
or almost all your work...
is essentially autobiographical.
Yes, anyone's is.
Do you ever wish
you could go back to live then...
live here again back in the early '20s?
Oh, that's a recurrent, um...
a recurrent theme
in many, many books...
- of people going back to another era.
- Mmm.
Yeah, yes, well, I don't -
It just, uh, it just won't work.
That's all.
You can't get there.
Now if you can,
certainly only as a spectator.
At 15, I was sent to Los Alamos
Ranch School for my health...
where they later made
the atom bomb.
It seemed so right somehow,
like the school song.
Far away
and high on the mesa's crest
Here's the life
that all of us love the best
Far away
and high on the mesa's crest...
I was forced to become a Boy Scout...
exercise before breakfast...
and ride a stubborn, spiteful,
recalcitrant horse.
I formed a romantic attachment
to one of the boys at Los Alamos...
and kept a diary of this affair...
that was to put me off writing
for many years.
I persuaded my family
to let me remain in Saint Louis...
so my things were packed
and sent to me from the school.
And I used to turn cold...
thinking maybe the boys are
reading it aloud to each other.
When the box finally arrived...
I pried it open
and threw everything out...
until I found the diary
and destroyed it forthwith...
without even a glance
at those appalling pages.
This still happens
from time to time.
I will write something
I think is good at the time...
and looking at it later, I say...
"My God,
tear it into very small pieces...
and throw it
into somebody else's garbage can."
After graduating from Harvard...
I studied medicine in Vienna
for about six months...
when the war broke out in 1942.
I was in the army
for about six months...
In 1944, I met Jack Kerouac...
Joan Vollmer, Allen Ginsberg...
and also, um, Herbert Huncke...
and some of the characters
that later appear in Junkie.
I know Allen and Greg
and, uh, and Kerouac...
and they all spoke of him
as the sort of daddy...
big daddy.
Bull. Jack called him Bull.
Everything that Jack says is
to be taken with,
uh, considerable reserve.
He was always writing fiction...
and, uh, he liked to think of me
as a teacher.
He pushed these categories
onto people.
Now you're going to be a teacher,
and you're going to be whatever.
So I don't think they're to be taken,
um, too seriously, but I -
Well, I turned him on
to some books...
Spengler and on to Cline.
You know what line of yours
Kerouac liked the best?
"Motel, motel, motel.
Loneliness moans
across the still, oily tidal waters
of an East Texas bayou."
- You remember? Is there -
Do you know that?
- Yes, yes.
He wrote me a letter
and then he spoke about it.
He said that that was
the first time he dug your prose...
because of your ear as a musician.
They were quick to pick up on his work...
because of its unique and...
you know, obviously great qualities.
And so they're in-in,
you know, "geniusville."
On 115th Street, in the apartment
we shared with Joan and Jack...
do you remember when
we played out routines at that time?
Do you remember the characters?
Uh, well, I remember some of them.
You-You played
the well-groomed Hungarian.
Yes, my dear.
I was the well-groomed Hungarian...
and I am still here with you now...
and I have been wanting to know...
do you by any chance
have some shade of recollection...
of the, uh, personage that you
yourself identified in those days?
Um, I think
I was playing sort of a, um...
an Edith Sitwell part.
Mmm, quite right, yes.
I got in drag...
and I looked like
some sinister old lesbian.
I do believe you-you also affected
the title of a baroness?
Uh, definitely, yes.
And-And do you remember the liaison
that we had...
to bring the foolish, rich, young...
ruddy-cheeked American
to my art gallery?
Oh, of course, yes.
You know, Americans, they are
so full with money, it is a duty.
Yes, it is for the very choice
American you brought.
So relieve them of a little bit, huh?
- He had a straw hat.
Do you remember this?
- Yes, yes.
What was that magic name
30 years ago?
- He was an American
named Kerouac.
- Yes.
He was a nice boy, very nice boy.
He was a writer,
a very good writer.
- A good writer.
- Very good writer, very American.
Later he became quite well known,
I'm given to understand.
- Very famous.
- Very famous.
He wrote some book called
On the Route I think.
- En Route. En Route.
- En Route.
Well, I remember the line from Howl...
"I've seen the best minds
of my generation...
starved, hysterical, naked" -
You can't even quote it right.
- "Looking for an angry fix." Okay.
- Oh, that, you got that.
Uh, Burroughs fell in love
with me and I -
and we slept together
and I saw his very soft center...
where he felt isolated
and alone in the world...
and really needed a human,
humane, uh, gift in return.
A feeling, you know, of affection.
And since I did love him and did have
that respect and affection...
I think he responded.
So I kind of felt privileged
that I had -
"J'ai seul la clef
de cette parade sauvage."
I alone had the key
to this savage parade...
which was the key
of, uh, tenderness.
Willy -
I've known Willy a long fucking time...
about 40 years.
I was just thinking
of, uh, Willy in the old days...
when Willy was
a more robust figure...
and used to speak
with a thunder in his chest...
as he chased skirts
around Saint Louis.
- Yes, yes.
That was - That was many years ago.
Like when we were
in the military school,
they called me "The Terror."
- Yes, I remember.
Yes, I used to be quite a -
quite a woman chaser.
- You were.
- Willy the lover. I'm telling you, man.
That was the line
that always got 'em.
He tore open his shirt,
"There's a thunder in my breast!"
- They all fell flat on their backs.
- That got 'em. That got 'em.
Every time, every time.
Yeah, Willy was pretty funny.
Willy -
Actually, Willy's a very warm guy...
- once you get through to Willy.
You've surely heard him sing
his sentimental songs...
like "Adis, Muchachos."
Adis, muchachas
His morals are probably Boy Scout
morals, true blue, you know?
And the last thing
he wants anyone to know is that.
Tell me, Willy,
what have you been up to lately?
Oh, well, I've been giving readings
in punk rock clubs.
Twenty-one readings.
- That's the proper side of your life.
- Yes.
Now tell me about the other side.
There isn't very much
other side, Lucien.
Now, Willy, I know
you're doing disreputable things.
- No.
Just going to my methadone clinic
can hardly be called disreputable.
No, that's highly constructive,
I must say.
Sort of a buxom Irish maid,
as I remember,
said that she had heard...
that opium gives people
pleasant, beautiful dreams.
And since I was much plagued
by nightmares as a child...
in fact it was, uh,
one of the real influences
in my childhood...
the fear of nightmares.
And, uh, so she said that opium -
When she said
that opium gave you sweet dreams...
I thought, "Well, that's for me.
I'm gonna get some of that."
The boy looked up...
into the sailor's dead,
cold, undersea eyes.
The sailor leaned forward...
and put a finger
on the boy's inner arm.
He spoke in a dead, junkie whisper.
"With veins like that, kid,
I'd have myself a time."
Phil White, uh...
- the character sailor
in The Naked Lunch -
- Right.
uh, and myself...
got him started, in
a manner of speaking, on morphine.
Well, there was a knock on the door...
and I opened it and there stood Bob...
with this very
sedate looking gentleman...
who turned out to be Bill Burroughs.
He was wearing
a snap-brim fedora hat...
gray gloves...
one of which
he was carrying in his hand...
and he was sort of standing there...
looking down his nose
as only Bill can...
you know, just sort of peering
into the room...
taking everything in,
you know, the site.
As soon as I could,
I called Bob in the other room...
and I said, "Hey, man,
what is this dude out here?"
I said, "Man, you brought heat here.
You'd better get him out."
He says, "Oh, he's fine.
He's good people.
Just don't worry about it.
He's a nice guy."
Where'd you get money from
when you were scoring?
Uh, well, stealing.
They were bringing in stuff
from stolen cars and -
Fritz, the old, uh,
elevator man, said...
"Tell Mr. Huncke all right...
bring the stuff
that you steal from cars...
but do not leave the car
in front of the place."
Huncke got -
stole a script - prescription pad...
from an old doctor in Brooklyn...
and Bill wrote up some phony scripts
signed by the doctor...
which he cashed
right around Columbia.
I got busted. Bill got busted.
And then I think his family sent
up money to get him out...
or his father came,
or maybe his brother came.
We were all very upset
and very desolate...
because this was the first ring of iron
I'd heard around the -
in our small circle there.
He's probably the only guy I know...
who was really just full-out junkie...
who managed to come back to -
you know, and, uh, kick it and so on.
Very rare.
I started out to be a doctor.
Studied for almost a year in Vienna.
That-That was one -
That would be one
of my alternative professions...
if I hadn't have been a writer.
The other career that I missed out on
was espionage.
I was almost accepted
by, um, Colonel Bill Donovan...
and then I ran into somebody
that really hates me...
or hated me at that time...
my housemaster at Harvard,
a guy named Baxter...
and he put the skids to me.
So, I might've been -
might've been head of the CIA.
Let me explain
how we make an arrest.
Nova criminals are not
three-dimensional organisms...
but they need three-dimensional
human agents to operate.
Now a single controller can operate...
through thousands of human agents...
but he must have a line
of coordinate points.
Some move on junk lines
through addicts of the earth.
Others move on lines
of certain, uh, sexual practices.
It is only when
we can block a controller
out of all coordinate points...
and flush him out
that we can make an arrest.
Fade out to a shabby hotel
near Earls Court in London.
One of our agents
is posing as a writer.
He has written
a so-called pornographic novel
called Naked Lunch...
in which the orgasm death
gimmick is described.
That was the bait,
and they walked right in.
"The lavatory had been locked
for three hours solid.
I think they're using it
for an operating room.
I can't find his pulse, Doctor.
"Doctor Benway."
- Cardiac arrest, goddamn it!
- Adrenaline, Doctor?
No, the night porter shot it
all up for kicks.
"Picks up one of those vacuum cups...
at the end of a stick
they use to unstop toilets.
He advances on the patient."
Make an incision, Doctor Limpf.
I'm gonna massage the heart.
"Dr. Limpf shrugs
and begins the incision.
Doctor Benway washes
the suction cup...
by swishing it around the toilet bowl."
Shouldn't that be sterilized,
Very likely,
but there's no time.
"Watching his assistant make
the incision...
he sits on the suction cup
like a cane seat."
You young squirts
couldn't lance a pimple...
without an electric vibrating scalpel...
with automatic drain and suture.
All the skill is going out of surgery...
all the know-how and make-do.
"'Did I ever tell you about the time
I performed an appendectomy...
with a rusty sardine can?'"
And once I was caught short
without instrument one...
and removed an uterine tumor
with my teeth.
That was in the Upper Effendi...
and besides, the wench is dead.
The incision is ready, Doctor.
"Dr. Benway forces the cup
into the incision...
and works it up and down.
Blood spurts all over the doctors,
the nurses and the wall...
and the cup makes
a horrible sucking sound."
I think he's gone, Doctor.
Well, it's all in a day's work.
"He walks across the room
to a medicine cabinet."
Some fucking drug addict has
cut my cocaine with Sani-Flush.
"'Nurse, send the boy out
to fill this Rx on the double.'"
- Thank you.
We thought
you went into exterminating.
Weren't you doing that also
in Chicago? Yeah.
I was known as the exterminator.
By whom?
- Housewives.
Housewives and cockroaches.
You got any bugs, lady?
- Oh, you're gonna leave?
- Have a good supper, Willy.
Pass our regards around.
With Herbert Huncke?
- Good night.
- Good night, Willy.
Have a nice supper.
Bill had moved in with Joan Adams...
in her apartment
up on 115th Street and -
Right next to the university.
Jack and I decided that Joan
and Bill would make a great couple...
that they were a match for each other,
fit for each other...
equally attuned and equally witty
and equally intelligent...
equally well read,
equally refined of mind.
She was a very, very learned,
very bright...
very beautiful woman.
- So she and Bill -
- And she adored Bill.
Well, we had all these very,
really, in retrospect...
very deep conversations...
about very fundamental things.
I say,
her intuition was absolutely amazing.
He would lie around
on the long couch talking.
She sometimes
would lie down next to him...
and put her arm
around his, uh, abdomen.
One time she said...
"Well, you're supposed
to be a faggot...
but you're as good as a pimp in bed."
Those were her very words.
Well, I thought this was nonsense
and I still do.
I was, uh, with Lucien
on a trip to Mexico...
and we were with Joan
until about, uh...
24 or 48 hours before she died.
It had to be the longest
drunken driving trip...
that I've ever taken in my life, which -
Joan Burroughs and I were
at the wheel...
and Allen, who didn't drive...
and Billy Jr. and Julie were
the unwilling passengers.
He was going around
these hairpin turns - turns...
and she was urging him on,
saying, "How fast can this heap go?"
While me and the kids were
cowering in the back.
Joan and I were drinking
and driving so heavily...
that at one point
we could only make the car go...
if I lay on the floor
and pushed on the gas pedal...
while she used her one good leg
to work the brake and the clutch.
It was a pretty hairy trip, but Joan
and I thought it was great fun.
Allen, I don't think, did,
and surely the kids didn't.
"Dream record, June 8, 1955.
A drunken night in my house
with a boy. San Francisco.
I lay asleep. Darkness.
I went back to Mexico City...
and saw Joan Burroughs
leaning forward in a garden chair...
arms on her knees.
She studied me with clear eyes
and downcast smile.
Her face restored to a fine beauty
tequila and salt had made strange...
before the bullet in her brow.
We talked of a life since then.
'Well, what's Burroughs doing now?'
'Still on earth. He's in North Africa.'
'Oh? And Kerouac?'
'Jack still jumps
with the same beat genius as before.
Notebooks filled with Buddha.'
'I hope he makes it,' she laughed.
'Is Huncke still in the can?'
'No, last time I saw him
on Times Square.'
'And how is Lucien?'
'Married, drunk and golden
in the East.'
'New love is in the West.'
Then I knew she was a dream
and questioned her.
'Joan, what kind of knowledge
have the dead?'"
Joan was, uh, not making it with Bill...
and was a little irritated with him.
Bill had been off
with a young friend.
Um, I had talked to her
the day before.
Julie, her daughter,
was actually quite cute...
and was flirtatious.
And I said, "She's gonna
give you some competition."
And Joan said,
"Oh, I'm out of the competition."
So she'd sort of given up
on love life.
We were down in Mexico...
when she began, uh,
drinking quite heavily.
She'd put away a quart
of tequila a day.
Just sort of slugging it down
all day, you know?
Never showed the least sign
of, uh, being drunk.
My impression, when we left...
was that there was something
scary about her, suicidal.
That day I knew something awful
was going to happen.
I remember
I was walking down the street...
and tears started
just streaming down my face.
Well, if that happens to you,
watch out, baby.
You see, I've always felt myself
to be controlled at some times...
by this completely malevolent force...
which Brion described
as the "ugly spirit."
But my walking down the street...
and tears streaming down my face...
meant that I knew
that the ugly spirit...
which is always the worst part
of everyone's character...
would take over and that
something awful would happen.
I took a knife
that I had bought in Ecuador...
uh, and left it with a knife sharpener
to be sharpened.
I went back to the apartment...
where we were all meeting...
and with this terrible sense
of depression.
And foolishly, of course,
in order to alleviate the depression...
I started tossing down the drinks.
Then I said to Joan, "It's about time
for our William Tell act."
And she put a glass on her head...
and I had this piece
of, uh,.380 junk.
Just as she had said to Lucien,
"How fast can this heap go?"...
I think she said to Bill,
"Well, shoot that off my head."
I fired the shot.
The glass hadn't been touched.
Joan started sliding down
towards the floor.
Then Marcus said -
walked over
and took one look at her.
He said, "Bill, your bullet has hit
her forehead."
I said, "Oh, my God."
I always thought that
she had kind of challenged him
into it and led him into it...
that it was sort of
like using him to -
that she was, in a sense,
using him to...
get her off the earth, 'cause I think
she was in a great deal of pain.
The ambulance came.
The police came.
I went down
to police headquarters with them.
I hadn't been there five minutes
when my lawyer walks in.
He said, "Don't say anything, Bill.
Don't say anything.
Um, this is a shooting accident."
Had you done
the William Tell thing before?
Never. Never.
Just an absolute piece of insanity.
I hate to see
The evening sun go down
I hate to see
The evening sun go down
It makes me think I'm
On my lastgo-round
Years later, I think it was, Bill -
I've heard a few different things
from Bill.
He says that he wept a great deal.
He also said that, uh...
one time, many years ago,
he was puzzled...
by what got into him
that he would actually pick up on it.
My whole life has been a resistance
to the ugly spirit.
Oh, absolutely.
I've felt it,
lived with it day and night.
Well, it gave Bill,
certainly, a taste of mortality.
It opened him up quite a bit.
It was then that he began writing.
It was then that Bill got very serious...
and began casting about
for something to do...
to connect to himself,
to the reality around him.
Uh, I think it grounded him a bit...
'cause it's from then on,
as I remember...
that he begins writing Junkie.
Growing up, you know,
my grandparents raised me...
because after that tragic accident,
you know...
when I was much younger,
with my mother and everything...
Bill went and started traveling
around the world and stuff...
but we kept in
sort of psychic communication...
one way or another,
most of my life.
Just as I reached puberty...
he started sending me copies
of Rimbaud to read...
and stuff like that.
Every so often, um...
things like a plaster cast of
a shrunken head from the Amazon...
would appear in the mail
and things like that.
Beautiful Amazonian butterflies
in little glass cases...
and-and things like that.
You know, I'd keep in touch
with physical objects
that he would send me.
I started to write
in Mexico in 1948...
and that's where my first novel,
Junkie, was written...
and published in 1953...
owing to the good offices
of Allen Ginsberg and Carl Solomon.
I remember when I took...
the first manuscript of Junkie
to one of the publishers.
He said, "Well, if this were written
by Winston Churchill...
it would be interesting...
but as it is not written
by anybody in particular...
it isn't such good prose,
forget it."
This is from Junkie.
"I've just arrived
at this tenement apartment.
After Joey went out...
I noticed another man
who was standing there looking at me.
Waves of hostility and suspicion...
flowed out from his huge brown eyes...
like some sort of television broadcast.
The effect was
almost like a physical impact.
The man was small and very thin...
his neck loose in the collar of his shirt.
His complexion faded from brown
to a mottled yellow...
and pancake makeup
had been heavily applied...
in an attempt
to conceal a skin eruption."
And what was my reaction to Bill...
and Bill's comments
about me in Junkie?
I rather resented
having a scrawny neck.
But other than that, I - I -
you know, I was pleased
that he'd even considered me...
worth commenting about,
in a matter of speaking.
It doesn't say "scrawny neck"
in here at all.
I simply said that his neck was loose
in the collar of his shirt...
which isn't at all the same thing.
I don't find that a bit offensive.
Look at this cover.
In January of 1953...
in the days that
I remember him first in Tangier...
he was full of
the most extraordinary energy.
He could punch a typewriter...
or he could punch
a tape recorder to death...
in shorter time
than any man I've ever known.
He had such enormous energy
in those days...
and such enormous intention
behind what he was doing.
He lived in a very comfortable hotel...
where he practiced pistol shooting
and typewriting...
and was extraordinarily amusing.
The stories that he told,
and his wit, and his invention...
which he was just turning
into literature at that time...
because, as he said himself,
he began to write very late in life.
And during the years in Tangier...
he had written a very, very great deal
in a rather short time.
I wrote very intensively...
for about two years...
and this material,
most of this material, um...
went into Naked Lunch.
That is, Naked Lunch was extracted
from this material...
and also all the notes
that I had written...
while addicted
over a period of eight years.
He spent a great deal of his time...
dashing through the streets madly
from one pharmacy to another...
getting chemicals that he could use
and boil down and inject.
But gradually he began to become...
more and more
invisible in the streets...
as the winter wore on...
and all the Spanish kids
called him the "hombre invisible."
He went to the cafs that those boys
went to and saw a lot of them...
and then became great friends
with Kiki...
who would become
one of the characters of his writings...
throughout the years, in fact.
For about eight years, in Tangiers...
I was writing sporadically...
and a lot of this material was
in the letters to Allen Ginsberg...
which have recently been published.
I was surprised,
reading back over that...
how much of Naked Lunch
is in those letters.
"Dear Allen, Kiki comes on more
affectionate all the time.
A real sweet kid.
He is helping me get my clothes off.
I can just barely make it
around the room, my ankle hurts so.
I must see a doctor tomorrow.
What a bum kick
to die in this awful place.
This German cat practices something
he calls 'technological medicine.'
'You can get by with one kidney.
Why have two?
Yes, that is a kidney.
The inside parts should not be
so close in together crowded.
They need lebensraum
like their Vaterland. '"
"The people ask...
what would lead me
to write a book like Naked Lunch?
Well, 'leads' is a good word.
Yes, one is slowly led along
to write a book...
and this looked good,
no trouble with the cast at all...
and that's half the battle,
when you can find your characters.
The more far-out sex pieces...
I was just writing
for my own amusement.
I would put them away
in an attic trunk...
and leave them
for a distant boy to find.
'Why, Ma, this stuff is terrific!
And I thought he was just
an old book-of-the-month cornball.'"
William Burroughs,
when you were in London...
you'd already broken onto the scene,
of course, with Naked Lunch -
Nova Express
was out in '64, wasn't it?
But what were you writing then?
Well, let's see. I wrote The Job
when I was in Duke Street.
I also wrote Wild Boys,
partly there and partly in Marrakech.
- That's absolutely your table, isn't it?
- Yes, it is.
- The one thing that was part of the -
- Mm-hmm.
- Part of the - Part of the work.
- Yes, right here.
I also wrote, um, Exterminator!...
and Port of Saints...
- and The Last Words
of Dutch Schultz.
- Oh, yes.
- So I was quite, uh - quite prolific.
- Pretty prolific.
I think he was here
in London, as a matter of fact...
when I came across the, uh...
to me, happy accident of the cut-ups.
There are many ways
in which cut-ups can be done.
One very simple way
that I've used frequently...
is just take a page, cut it down
the middle and across the page...
so you now have four sections...
and you rearrange the sections
in a different order.
And when this happens, of course,
you get new word combos.
You also get new words created
by the cut-up.
It occurred because I had
a number of sheets of newspaper...
some British newspapers,
an American newspaper
published in Paris...
and some other things that
happened to be lying on my desk...
when I took a Stanley blade
and cut through them.
And these little bits and pieces
looked so amusing to me...
that I started jiggling them around
as one would in a collage.
This was simply, of course,
applying the montage method...
which was really rather old-hat
in painting at that time, to writing.
As Brion said,
writing is 50 years behind painting.
"Listen to my last words anywhere.
Listen all you boards, governments...
syndicates, nations of the world.
And you powers behind
what filth deals...
consummated in what lavatory...
to take what is not yours...
to sell out your sons forever...
to sell the ground
from unborn feet forever.
I bear no sick words, junk words...
love words, forgive words from Jesus.
I have not come to explain or tidy up.
What am I doing over here
with the workers, with gooks...
the apes, the dogs, the errand boys,
the human animals?
Why don't I come over with the board
and drink Coca-Cola or make it?
Explain how
the blood and bones and brains...
of 100 million, more or less, gooks...
went down the drain in green piss...
so you on the board could use
bodies and minds and souls...
that were not yours, are not yours,
and never will be yours.
You have the wrong name
and the wrong number...
Mr. Luce Getty Lee Rockefeller.
Don't let them see us.
Don't tell them what we are doing.
Not the cancer deal with
the Venusians, not the green deal.
Don't let that out.
Disaster. Unimaginable disaster.
Crab men, tapeworms...
intestinal parasites.
Like Burroughs,
that proud American name.
Proud of what exactly?
Would you all like to see exactly
what Burroughs has to be proud of?
The Mayan caper,
the centipede hype...
the short-time racket,
the heavy-metalgimmick.
All right, Mr. Burroughs,
who bears my name...
and my words bear it all the way
for all to see...
in Times Square, in Piccadilly.
Play it all, play it all, play it all back.
Pay it all, pay it all, pay it all back.
No, no, no.
Premature, premature, premature.
Are these the words
of the all-powerful boards...
and syndicates of the earth?
I say to all:
These words are not premature.
These words may be too late."
Every particle of this universe
contains the whole of the universe.
You in yourself have the whole
of the universe.
I cut you up in a certain way,
I cut up the universe.
But all of Burroughs seems to be,
to me, to be coherent...
once you know his method.
Uh, you know,
what Lucien calls charlatanism...
is actually experimental writing.
You can otherwise call
Czanne a charlatan...
for trying to work with hot plains
advancing and cool plains receding...
in the optical field of the eyeball.
So Burroughs, in cutting up...
was creating gaps in space,
gaps in time also...
as Czanne,
or as meditation does.
If, uh- This is Wittgenstein.
If you have a prerecorded universe...
in which everything
is already prerecorded...
the only thing
that is not prerecorded...
are the pre-recordings themselves.
So with my cut-ups, I was
attempting to tamper with...
the basic pre-recordings.
And I think I have succeeded
to some modest extent.
Well, I first met William in his works.
I was 14. I was a boy in Kansas...
living in a small town...
and I thought I was the only person
in the world who had ever...
thought about sex with other boys...
or sex with alien boys,
for that matter...
or drugs,
or mental explorations of this kind.
And then I found this book.
There were these twins
in my childhood...
and one of them -
I don't remember which one -
gave me the book Naked Lunch.
I was 14 and I read it, and, um,
it changed my life.
James came first to see me...
having read Bill,
and having read my work...
and I was sort of available
and right there.
Bill had just come back to America.
So James had come to offer
his services to me as a secretary...
and I was sort of hoping lover...
'cause he was kind of cute
and he was 21 and funny.
But Bill had just come back, and I
was worried about Bill getting straight.
I said, "You want to be my secretary?
First thing to do is go down
and see Burroughs."
So I called William.
And he says, "Yeah, I'm at
452 Broadway, the subway."
You know what I mean?
And on about the third or fourth visit...
I said, "I need a place to stay."
And he said,
"Why don't you move in here?"
They had some sort of
love affair also...
'cause James was quite open
and dug Bill.
It was, uh- It was interesting.
It was really kind of my first -
There had been other things, but
it was my first experience with a man.
William is sort of, um -
I don't know how long he has been.
Maybe always.
He's sort of - I wanna say
spaced-out and kind of magical...
at the same time about mail
and communications that come in...
which is my specialty,
and the forms of communication.
So, I took over more and more
until finally I was handling everything...
except the fact that
he lived from day to day...
and the fact that he created.
So I realized
that it was like a manager.
And I know, it is true, that he feels
that I make the right decisions.
Shall I sign it William?
Mmm, yeah, you know Burt.
Sure do. Huh?
- How would you sign it for Burt?
- Well -
Well, that's fine.
Now this I haven't even looked at.
A family picture.
Oh, my God. Look at this old photo.
Well, I think -
maybe I touched on this before...
but since his son died -
since Billy died this year -
I've always felt - See,
I always felt funny dealing with Billy.
I loved Billy and, uh,
felt like a brother to him.
But you know how it is
between brothers.
There's a little rivalry.
Especially if one brother is a fuckup...
and the other is
an extraordinarily competent...
accomplishing person...
which is the one that I was, of course.
But I felt like he looked at me
as a reproach...
a living reproach, that I was the son
that William wanted, and not he.
Of course when they got together,
father and son...
as all fathers and sons,
there was a great deal of contention...
as there was
between me and my father...
as there was also
a great deal of empathy.
I would say that Willy had
a good deal of empathy with Bill...
and dug him,
admired him a great deal.
Actually loved him a great deal,
I would say.
But Willy was also very difficult
to be with...
and, you know, burned down a lot
of situations where he might have -
Well, I mean,
people wanted to take care of him.
I found this in the trash, and it plays
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"...
which I thought was kind of nice.
And my grandmother used to
call me "little lamb" all the time.
So it all clicked, you know,
all this synchronicity and stuff.
The pills. Also it has no eyes,
which I identify with that too.
Billy is sort of the last beatnik.
And Billy sort of
held out for principles...
that are all in Jack Kerouac's
On the Road...
that everyone else had long
abandoned, you know?
Like, all the beatniks became
the hippies that became the yippies...
that became whatever
through the decades.
And Billy held on to these principles
in a certain way, you know...
of not wanting to compromise
in any sense...
as opposed to what everyone thought
the gods are...
which is William and Allen Ginsberg
and all those heroes.
All the men who had turned
every nuance into something
that supports them...
in some fashion,
either money or fame or this or that.
Joan, while she was pregnant,
was eating a lot of amphetamines.
So I don't know what effect
that had on his nervous system.
I saw his correspondence with Bill.
It was real easy to see
from his correspondence...
that there was a great ambivalence...
that - that - that William was a -
He loved Billy, Billy was his son...
and yet he didn't know how,
what he could do.
I knew that there had been
a lot going down...
before I ever came in the picture
and that Billy felt the same way.
He admired - In fact, almost to
Billy's detriment in some ways...
he admired William so much
that he wanted to be a writer himself.
I'd come, uh, back from New York
just in time to keep from dying.
I just wrote Speed
to figure out what had hit me.
The same thing
as writing down a dream.
I just wanted to know, uh,
keep track of the people that I'd met.
There's a closet full of stuff.
And there was about two books
of prose and poetry...
which we're now typing up.
What is it
you went through last year, Billy?
Liver transplant...
which is one whopper
of an operation.
It was absolutely terrible.
It couldn't have been worse.
It - It - You know -
Made him an invalid, of course,
for the rest of his life.
And, um, he was really lucky
to live that long. It's, um -
Lots of them don't.
He had the liver transplant,
and he's completely wiped out.
And he's a junkie on top of it,
so he won't drink.
And then he's an alcoholic
on top of being a junkie.
And every time you see him
he's just almost in a state of collapse.
So a year and a half ago
I said to myself...
"This is really the last time
I'm gonna see you."
But it never was, you know.
Just like everyone who's, you know -
they go on forever.
Well, let's face it. Anyone who's
a devout Christian at this point...
is sort of beyond redemption.
I mean, holy shit.
I mean, who wants to hear about that?
Well, that depends on what kind of
concept they got of Christianity.
One thing I've been exercising on is,
um, who gets a dime, or a quarter.
When I'm walking down the streets
with all the spare changers...
and it's getting to be fun.
This guy's got a more honest attitude,
and this and that.
And one guy came up and said,
"Give me a fucking quarter.
I'm a wino."
So he got his quarter real quick.
It's an old, old technique.
You shouldn't fall for it.
This guy, you should have seen him.
Tell him - Just hand him
the Town & Country.
There's a whole section in there
on work in Boulder.
Also, there's a -
Down the street there
there's a dishwasher wanted sign.
- Where is it?
- In that, um, greasy Greek restaurant.
- Um - Um -
- Dino's?
Nah, they won't hire me,
'cause I was in there...
back when I was doing
a lot of drinking a couple of times...
and I applied once
and the guy remembered me.
He took one look and said,
"Forget it."
Well, you gotta apply anyway.
There's one thing
I wanted to ask you. How's Al?
- Who?
- How's Allen?
I don't know. I haven't seen him.
- You're going tomorrow.
- I'll see you before I do.
- You will?
- Yeah.
- You'll drop by?
- Yeah, I will.
- That's a beautiful coat, Bill, really.
- Isn't it hot?
Yeah, it looks like, um,
the Yukon, you know.
Yeah, like that guy -
Okay, the bill torn.
I won't say.
- Good night.
- Good night.
- Good night, Bill.
- Good night, Bill.
Sweet dreams.
Nice seeing you.
Thanks for coming down.
- Good night.
- Good night.
He was sitting in his robe
at the big table in the bunker...
having some toast and coffee
for breakfast.
He finished that,
and he had a cigarette.
And I said, "Bill, I have some
very bad news, but I have to tell you.
Billy died this morning."
And he got up from the table
and walked into his room.
I knew that he was in there, feeling
and remembering all the years...
that Billy had been his son.
Everything would come back to him
in a moment like that.
Now that he is gone,
I feel like I'm a son to William.
I think he was very fond of Willy.
There was a kind of unspoken charm
between them.
'Cause they were very much alike
in temperament.
Billy Jr. was quite a great writer
and quite a sharp mind.
Brilliant pantomimist, or imitator,
or inimitable -
you know, as a prose writer.
He had a good sense
of dialect and fact.
An amazingly factual writer,
like his father.
So I - I don't know
what effect it has on Bill.
He doesn't -
He seems to be stoic about it...
"Kim decides to go west
and become a shootist.
If anyone doesn't like the way
he acts and looks and smells...
they can fill their grubby peasant paw.
Kim's training as a shootist begins.
He meets a wise old assassin,
whispering Kes Mayfield.
The old man didn't seem to hear.
He spoke to the air in front of him.
Your hand and your eyes know
a lot more about shootin' than you do.
Just learn to stand out of the way.
His empty eyes, old, unbluffed,
unreadable, rest on Kim.
'City boy, did you ever see
a dog roll in carrion?'
'Yes, sir.
I was tempted to join him, sir.'
'Kim, if you had your choice,
would you rather be...
a poisonous snake or nonpoisonous?'
'Oh, poisonous, sir, like
a green mamba or a spitting cobra.'
'I'd feel safer, sir.'
'And that's your idea of heaven,
feeling safer?'
'Yes, sir.'
'Is a poisonous snake really safer?'
'Not really. But he must feel good
after he bites someone.
Safer? Yes, sir. Dead people are
less frightening than live ones.'
'Young man,
I think you're an assassin.'
'I want to be one, sir.'"
Well, I would use any weapons
at my disposal...
in order to defend my premises.
I wouldn't hesitate.
Wouldn't hesitate at all.
Well, we'll try this one.
Did it stick? I heard it plop.
Yes, it did.
I'm shooting just right
up the middle of this thing.
This is my, uh, steel cobra.
- Should I demonstrate it?
- Yes, please.
Stand back. Stand back.
This is, uh - It's the spring blackjack.
Now it's in probe position, see?
If I were starting from scratch,
I'd hit him across the face...
and see how that went.
So instead of that, if you had
a razor-sharp, double-edged knife...
you could whip it out
and cut someone's throat...
before he knew what was happening...
right in the middle of a sentence.
You see, I don't wanna hear what
you've got to say and, whoomp.
This knife is nice, but my one
in the bank vault is so much better.
But that could certainly
confound a mugger.
He with his little puny switchblade.
Oh, here it is. Yes.
Now that's a regular blackjack.
A blackjack is an elegant weapon.
Well, I think
you're ready for any invasions.
I hope so, yes.
I'm not anticipating any trouble...
'cause I don't like violence.
The bunker here
has virtually no windows.
And, uh - But as soon as I saw it...
I said that
it was suitable for my purposes.
It's quiet and secluded.
And it's very warm in winter
and very cool in summer...
because the walls are thick
and it's well insulated.
Um, I know that some
of my guests here have seen a ghost.
I gave it the name Toby.
I can't say that
I have seen this apparition...
but I've been aware of its existence.
This, of course, used to be
a locker room in a YMCA.
This room, and we would assume...
that it might be a ghost
left over from that period.
Well, actually I don't have
a hard and fast schedule...
but if I'm working and working well -
I usually get started on my work.
I get up about 9:00.
Then I'm ready to work
by 10:00 or 10:30...
and I will work through,
more or less...
until 6:00 in the evening.
I don't usually work at night.
And see, I don't eat lunch normally...
or I may just have a sandwich
or a snack in my room.
But normally I don't eat lunch.
So that is the time in which I work.
The late morning
and the early afternoon.
And then
what do you do in the evening?
Well, various things.
Visit friends, have dinner, read...
watch television sometimes,
if there's anything interesting.
Various, rather mundane
and trivial occupations and activities.
I'm the old Irish tenor
brought back from the grave.
What about one of
the really good Irish tunes?
Oh, Danny boy
- The pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to dale
and down the mountainside
- Oh, Danny boy
- These were all registered recorded...
- copyrighted-
- Oh, Danny boy
I don't want Burt Bacharach
to start stealing our stuff.
Oh, Danny boy
Oh, Danny boy,
I love you so
- Are you making this up?
- No, I am not.
That is the truth.
Well, I work in
a number of different ways.
It depends upon where I am.
Sometimes I'm working
from some notes I made.
Sometimes I'll get up in the night
and make notes...
and work on those the next day.
Or I may know pretty well
where I am in the narrative...
and I can go right on from there.
There will be long periods in which -
Well, not so long,
but, say, a month or so...
sometimes more,
in which it's very difficult to write.
And I've found that the remedy
is not to try and force yourself...
but to do something else,
to do editing...
reading or some other activity.
How long have you
been keeping scrapbooks?
Oh, I started years and years ago,
about 10 years ago, no 15 years ago.
But they develop. This one is,
I think, much more precise.
At first I just sort of
put things in that interested me...
and now I have to have
a very definite reason...
for a picture or news item
to go into the scrapbook.
I keep files. I say,
"There is something I may use"...
but it may be a year or two years
before I find a place to use it.
I began writing dreams down
long before I began to write.
For example,
I meet a character in a dream.
Then I may find a photo that
has something of the character in it.
Over a period of years,
I've filled a number of scrapbooks...
with these identikit pictures.
Usually my characters
are composites...
of many people from dreams...
photos, people I know...
and quite frequently, of course,
characters in writing.
"Here is
Arthur Thom Robb - T-H-O-M -
chairman of the White People's
Committee to Restore God's Law.
And he's a good ol' boy too.
Not a finer man in Bass, Arkansas,
than old Thom Robb.
After praising the courageous Anita,
he gets down to committee business.
'White People's Committee
is not embarrassed to admit...
that we endorse and seek
the execution of all homosexuals.
God's law calls for the death penalty...
for the faggot slime,
the whole filthy lot of them.'
He is also the publisher of
a book called The Negro, a Beast...
and his rag is replete with references
to, quote, 'rabid sex-perverted Jews.'
He's gonna apply God's law...
to the Jews, the blacks,
the Hispanics and the Chinese.
Done bit hisself off quite a tamale.
About 50 million folks he's gonna kill,
some of whom might even resist."
My old assassin in
"Tio Mate Smiles" in The Wild Boys -
I would like to kill somebody
before I die...
and I hope it's, you know,
preferably one of these fag baiters.
Gay state. That's what I'm aiming for.
And I want us to be as tough
as the Israelis.
Anybody fucks around
with a gay anyplace in the world,
we're gonna be there.
Well, we're a minority.
Why the hell don't we have the right
to protect ourselves?
Let's build up an international
organization with false passports...
guns on arrival.
The whole lot - the whole terrorist lot.
We are a precarious minority.
We gotta fight for our lives,
you understand?
If they oppose the gay state...
we're gonna find 'em,
track 'em down and kill 'em.
Why not?
"Yes, this world would be a pretty
easy and pleasant-like place to live...
if everybody could just mind his own
business and let others do the same.
But a wise old black faggot
said to me years ago...
'Some people are shits, darling.'
I was never able to forget it."
I owe my good health
at a rather advanced age...
after some lapses
of what some people...
would call into unhealthy conduct...
as entirely due to the orgone box.
Not much light in here.
It's a little spooky.
He said it gave off
this strange blue light.
- Damn. Well, that looks like -
- Would you like to get in there, Terry?
- I'll get in there with you, William.
- I'll get in.
- All right. I'll get in there with you.
- Okay.
- I'll get in back. You get in front.
- Okay.
- Don't you try and, you know -
- Don't you worry, Terry.
All right. Let's close this for a minute.
Close the door. We gotta get
our orgones here organized!
- Yeah. Good.
- I feel it.
You can feel it, yes.
Well, I don't know about that.
Sort of tingling.
That's not - That might be the dope.
I think - Yeah. Well,
maybe you've had enough exposure.
- I think the first exposure
should not be too long.
- Is that a cut there?
I wouldn't want you to be overexposed
to these potent rays...
- which are unlike -
- I'll tell you one thing, I wouldn't
want to spend my life in there.
Like California, I like to visit it,
but I don't wanna live there.
The rays given off by radiation,
these are beneficent.
It's a beneficent radiation.
- Ah, yes. Well, I feel a little better.
- I'm sure you do.
Great poet and prophet...
and perhaps the most
influential writer of our times...
grand, groovy and beloved
William Burroughs.
Thank you.
Well, I'm sorry that Dr. Benway
can't be here in person...
but he does send a message.
"I am a practitioner of medicine.
I learn from my patients,
and my patients learn from me.
I am glad to report that everything is
now well under control in Jonestown...
and I have a few more calls
to make tonight."
But you, William Burroughs...
you realize that your body...
you're moving towards death.
I wonder, just finally, will death
come to you as a kind of cheat?
Do you think
"I'm cheated of more experience"...
or will you think, "What a relief!"
No, neither.
Um, quoting again from my book...
"Kim felt that immortality was
the only goal worth striving for."
Um, I feel that an afterlife
is quite a possibility.
It depends on you.
- I've just finished.
Time Out.
I just happened to get that number...
with you on the cover.
That's really how I knew that you
were first here before you rang me.
But, um, it's, um -
I was interested in what you said,
that, um, you really write
to make people aware...
what they know themselves.
Well, that is perfectly true.
I haven't got - I just paint.
Just not for that reason at all.
I just paint...
to try and excite myself,
which doesn't often happen.
One of my more successful readings...
is on the whole mummy idea.
See, their belief was that
you had to have a mummy
in order to be immortal.
If anything happened
to your mummy, your immortality
was completely nullified...
which seems
a pretty extraordinary idea...
and a very precarious
sort of immortality.
"The most precarious...
shortsighted, unpleasant...
and downright stupid
immortality blueprint...
was drafted by the ancient Egyptians.
First, you had to
get yourself mummified,
and that was very expensive...
making immortality
a monopoly of the truly rich."
"Well, here is plain G.I. Ollie.
He's got enough baraka -
that's sort of vigor and vitality -
to survive his physical death.
Well, he won't get far.
He's got no mummy,
he's got no name, he's got nothing.
What happens to a bum like that?
A nameless, mummiless asshole?
Demons will swarm all over him
at the first checkpoint.
Mummies are sittin' ducks.
No matter who you are,
what can happen to your mummy...
is a pharaoh's nightmare.
The dreaded mummy bashers
and grave robbers...
scavengers, floods, volcanoes,
earthquakes, explosions.
'For Ra's sakes, get us
into the vaults!' they scream...
without a throat, without a tongue...
a silent scream of abject terror.
Now perhaps a mummy's best friend
is an Egyptologist."
That's why they - Of course, that's
how they produce this marvelous stuff.
'Cause in a way, they thought -
Because a lot of that stuff was
not made by individual artists.
It was just made by
a lot of workmen, you know...
who were working on prolonging,
as it were, the idea of prolonging life.
Well, they were working on
prolonging someone else's life.
Someone else's. Exactly.
Yes, they got a raw deal, didn't they?
A very raw deal.
A very raw deal indeed.
"Daddy Long Legs looked like
Uncle Sam on stilts...
and he ran this osteopath clinic
outside East St. Louis...
and took in a few junkie patients.
Doc Benway and me was holed up
there after a rumble in Dallas...
involving this aphrodisiac ointment...
and Doc goofed on ether
and mixed in too much Spanish Fly...
and burned the prick off
the police commissioner.
So we come to Daddy Long Legs
to cool off.
One day, we were sittin' out in
the lawn chairs with lap robes -
it was a fall day -
leaves turning, sun cold on the lake.
Doc picks up a piece of grass.
'Junk turns you on vegetable.
It's green, see?
A green fix should last a long time.'
We check out of the clinic
and rent a house...
and Doc starts cooking up
this green junk.
The basement is full of tanks,
smell like a compost heap of junkies.
So finally he draws off
this heavy green fluid...
and loads it into a hypo
big as a bicycle pump.
'Now, we must find a worthy vessel,'
he says.
We flush out this old goofball artist...
and tell him it is pure Chinese "H"
from the Ling Dynasty...
and Doc shoots the whole pint
of green right into the mainline...
and the yellow jacket
turns fibrous gray-green...
and withers up like an old turnip.
And I say, 'I'm gettin' out of
here, me.'
And Doc says,
'An unworthy vessel, obviously.
I withdraw from the case.'"
Oh, it's a long, long while
From May to December
You know, this is nice. You can come
back and settle down with one's cats.
And the days grow short
Plant asparagus beds and birdseed.
I mean, excuse me, grass seed.
Well, it'll be birdseed
if we don't get it in pretty soon.
Hunting and fishing, you know.
Come here, Russki.
Ah, very well.
That better be good enough.
Good cat, Russki.
And these few precious days
I'd like to kill a pheasant, and
Kansas is known for its pheasants.
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. And
pheasant season's coming up too.
- I know it is.
- Wayne knows all about that stuff.
Well, you'll -
By God, get out and kill a pheasant.
- If it's the last thing we do.
- Yes, absolutely.
I will do this then.
You have to be awfully careful
cooking pheasants.
- They tend to get dry.
- Mmm.
Same problem with quail.
- I almost forgot. We have to cook it.
- What?
- Oh, we have to cook it and eat it.
- Well, naturally.
That's the whole point.
That's the whole point
in killing a bird is to eat it.
I wouldn't kill anything I didn't
intend to eat, except a possum.