Burroughs, Word Virus

| April 21, 2012

Burroughs, “The Beginning is Also the End” in The Burroughs Files.

“You are confused about the word ‘self’.  I could by God sit there forever if I had a self to sit in that would sit still for it.  I don’t.  As soon as I move in on any self all that self wants is to be somewhere else.  Anywhere else.  Now there you sit in your so-called ‘self’.  Suppose you could walk out of that self.  Some people can incidentally.  I don’t encourage this but it happens and threatens to become pandemic.  So you walk out of your body and stand across the room.  Now what form would the being that walks out of your body have?  Obviously it would have precisely your form.  So all you have done is take the same form from one place to another.  You have taken great trouble and pain (believe me there is no pain like flesh withdrawal consciously experienced) and you have gotten precisely back where you started.  To really leave human form you would have to leave human form that is leave the whole concept of word and image.  You cannot leave the human image in the human image.  You cannot leave human form in human form.  And you cannot think or conceive in non-image terms by mathematical definition of a being in my biologic film which is a series of images.  Does that answer your question?  I thought not.”

“The entire human film was prerecorded.  I will explain briefly how this is done.  Take a simple virus illness like hepatitis.  This illness has an incubation period of two weeks.  So if I know when the virus is in (and I do because I put it there) I know how you will look two weeks from now: yellow.  To put it another way: I take a picture or rather a series of pictures of you with hepatitis.  Now I put my virus negatives into your liver to develop.  Not far to reach: remember I live in your body.  The whole hepatitis film is prerecorded weeks before the opening scene when you notice your eyes are a little yellower than usual.  Not this is a simple operation.  Not all of my negatives develop by any means.  All right now back to basic junk.  Some character takes a bang of heroin for the first time.  It takes maybe sixty consecutive shots before I can welcome another addict.  (Room for one more inside, sir.)  Having taken one shot it becomes mathematically probable that taken, he will take another given the opportunity and I can always arrange that.  One negative developed makes others almost unavoidable.  The same procedure can be applied to any human activity.  If a man makes a certain amount of money by certain means he will go on making more money by the same means and so forth.  Human activities are drearily predictable.  It should now be obvious that what you call ‘reality’ is a function of these precisely predictable because prerecorded human activities.  Now what could louse up a prerecorded biologic film?  Obviously random factors.  That is someone cutting up my word and image lines at random.  In short the cut up method of Brion Gysin which derives from Hassan I Sabbah and the planet Saturn.  Well I’ve had a spot of trouble before but nothing serious.  There was Rimbaud.  And a lot of people you never heard of for good reasons.  People who got too close one way or another.  There was Tristan Tzara and the Surrealist Lark.  I soon threw a block into that.  Broke them all down to window dressers.  So why didn’t I stop Mr. Gysin in his tracks?  I have ways of dealing with wise guys or I wouldn’t be here.  Early answer to use on anyone considering to interfere.  Tricks I learned after the crash.  Well perhaps I didn’t take it seriously at first.  And maybe I wanted to hear what he had to say about getting out.  Always keep as many alternative moves open as possible.  Next thing the blockade on planet earth is broken.  Explorers moving in whole armies.  And the usual do-good missions talk about educating the natives for self government.  And some hick sheriff from the nova heat charging me with ‘outrageous colonial mismanagement and attempted nova’.  Well they can’t hang a nova rap on me.  What I planned was simply to move out the biologic film to planet Venus and start over.  Take along a few good natives to stock the new pitch and for the rest total disposal.  That’s not nova that’s manslaughter.  Second degree.  And I planned it painless.  I dislike screaming.  Disturbs my medications.”