A Thanksgiving Prayer

|

Holiday greetings from William S. Burroughs:

NEXT: Chicago Defies the Second Amendment

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. What, did someone burn the turkey THIS early?

  2. You’re Welcome!

  3. Thanks for nothing, you fraud.

  4. No one does self-hate like an all-american beat “poet.”

    WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WOOHOO!

  5. Thanks for not warning me about reading Junkie before Naked Lunch and realizing it’s the same damn book, you prick.

  6. Excerpted from the Howard Zinn Variety Hour.

  7. better then ayn rand, you dorks. why is it most libertarians idea of literature never goes beyond ayn rand, tolkien or science fiction satire (1984, fahrenheit 451 etc.) the beats were an interesting movement for what it was and burroughs was the most interesting and libertarian friendly of the bunch.

  8. For a real holiday treat, here’s one of O. Henry’s very best. Cheers!

  9. Aren’t all junkies libertarians anymore?

  10. Thanks be to Reason for posting, giving me something to view other than the Macy’s parade on this holiday. Bless you heathens.

  11. @ t.j.:

    I think some of it is generational. I’m in my early thirties, and if I self-identify as a libertarian now, it’s largely because of all the P.J. O’Rourke, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, and Peter Bagge I’ve read, as well as some of the half-assed libertarianism picked up from listening or watching to Denis Leary, Dennis Miller, or Bill Maher, or the more full assed variety espoused by Penn Jillette. Ayn Rand has never really figured into the equation. I suspect you might hear more of those names bandied about more frequently in the future.

    Although given the popularity and general currency of Ayn Rand, Tolkien, Bradbury, Heinlein et al I don’t think libertarians will ever be able to completely shake the grip these authors have on the collective imagination.

  12. It’s possible to adore a writer’s literary output AND find their political opinions boneheaded. Or vice versa.

  13. I might have found this cool when I was in college 20 years ago.

  14. What a dick!

  15. I’m thankful for the Beats.

    Thanks be to Reason for posting, giving me something to view other than the Macy’s parade on this holiday.

    Best moment of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ever.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all.

    Holiday Brie

    1 wedge brie
    1/2 c dried cranberries
    1/2 c raw almonds
    1/2 c walnuts (or whatever nut you prefer)
    Water crackers

    Warm the nut and berry mixture in microwave or oven. Place half of the berry and nut mixture in the bottom of a (microwave/oven safe) serving dish. Place brie on top of the mixture, and then cover brie with the remainder. Bake or microwave until brie is gooey. Serve with water crackers. (Make sure to use unsalted nuts, and bust them up a bit if they’re whole.)

  16. That was inspiring! *Sigh*

  17. Best moment of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ever.

    A real live Rickroll! It was the bestest Thanksgiving present of all.

    We discovered that the best way to survive the various incarnations of Hannahs and Montanas was to mute it and crank The Hives.

  18. William S. Burroughs is among the most overrated American writers of all time. He was an asshole. The LitCrits thought it cool to elevate his mindless dreck. Garbage.

    God Bless America and all the faggots too. What other nation would tolerate a druggie like WSB, a spoiled fucking child.

  19. man, he had just about the best reading voice ever.

    Thanks for not warning me about reading Junkie before Naked Lunch and realizing it’s the same damn book, you prick.

    huh?

    junkie is a straight-up potboiler; naked lunch is, like, way not.

  20. So did he or did he not kill his wife in cold blood?

  21. It’s possible to adore a writer’s literary output AND find their political opinions boneheaded. Or vice versa.

    Ayn Rand for vice versa?

  22. Thanks for not warning me about reading Junkie before Naked Lunch and realizing it’s the same damn book, you prick.

    Yeah…wow. Just, no.

  23. Put this beer bottle on your head… hoooold still…

  24. Why do I not find it odd that a poster child for modern socialism is so filled with hate and negativity? After all he is just another semi-bi-sexual drug addict pseudo-writer that lived off the capital from mom and dad for the majority of his life. I wonder what he may have done or produced had he been made responsible for his life and actions.

    Had he been forced to honor his enlistment in the armed forces maybe he might have done something heroic.

    Had he been convicted of the murder he committed maybe he would have understood real suffering.

    Had he done something requiring real courage or conviction maybe he would have been happier.

  25. Thanks for trilion dollard bailouts and otherwise making rich people richer through the powers of government. Thanks for the rest of the people who wear rose colored, patriotic glasses and don’t even know it.

  26. Two eds? This can’t be good.

  27. Why do I not find it odd that a poster child for modern socialism is so filled with hate and negativity?

    In what sense is William Burroughs a “poster child for modern socialism”? (And is his rant any more “filled with hate and negativity” than your response to it?)

  28. “Why do I not find it odd that a poster child for modern socialism is so filled with hate and negativity? After all he is just another semi-bi-sexual drug addict pseudo-writer that lived off the capital from mom and dad for the majority of his life. I wonder what he may have done or produced had he been made responsible for his life and actions”.

    how does any of this make him a poster child for modern socialism? if he’d lived off welfare and got government grants to write his books (unlikely with the kind of stuff he wrote) then you might be able to say he was a poster child for modern socialism but that’s not the case. he lived off family money till he made some of his own. i don’t see the hypocrisy there. are you one of those people who think people who have money and success can’t ever be unhappy?

    “Had he been convicted of the murder he committed maybe he would have understood real suffering.”

    did you know william burroughs? pretty presumptous to say the man never suffered. granted he more then likely should have done some time for something as stupid as he did (shooting someone when aiming for a glass on their head) but everything one might read about that spells out that it had a massive effect on his life and propelled him towards his writing career. you don’t like william burroughs, his writing style and/or what he has to say. fine but this is a bunch of shit to presume you know his life like this just because there aren’t any examples in his biography of the kind of heroism and suffereing you can respect.

  29. wow, you guys know very, very little about wsb, huh?

    “Why do I not find it odd that a poster child for modern socialism is so filled with hate and negativity?”

    wsb was a socialist in the same way that karl marx was a breakdancer. your statement makes very little sense in the context of, like, information and stuff.

    a better starting point would have been trying to imagine a synthesis of paleoconservatism mashed up with radical queer utopias.

    oddly enough, there was a book done about 15 years ago called “queer burroughs” in which the author argued that wsb’s fixation on guns, obsession with self-defense and fairly strident paleoconservative/libertarian/mind your own business roots were part of his co-option by his financially comfortable midwestern upbringing. it struck me as fairly myopic as well. but, contra your beliefs, his popularity with “modern socialists” has never been as strong as it was in the 80s and 90s, especially within the academy – due in some part to both his cosmic misogyny and political hodge-podge.

    “So did he or did he not kill his wife in cold blood?”

    cold blood? no. stupid drink-addled accident and gross negligence, one he spent his whole life trying to alternately understand, forget or gloss over with his hyperactive, cartoonish misogyny during his periods of collaboration with gysin.

  30. part of the reason most of people here haven’t taken the time to understand burroughs is because of the left’s domination over the arts and all things counterculture. i want to find more people out there who like punk rock and art films who didn’t vote for barack obama (or ralph nader even). and i’m not talking about some ironic republican thing like vincent gallo does.

    libertarians need to scurge their conservative wing that resents hipsters and become a political philosophy for people beyond sci-fi dorks and “get off my property” hicks. how libertarianism doesn’t have a lock on all “fuck the government” type punk rock baffles me and i see as libertarian’s fault for not being more appealing just as much as it is the pushy left.

  31. expecting really coherent political thought from artists and musicians is the first mistake, i think. it may very well be the first mistake when dealing with anyone, as tribal concerns tend to loom large.

    but with artists, it’s not their main focus, and even when it is, it’s still chained to a larger engine – the music has to come first. even someone like woody guthrie or fela kuti, whose work was explicitly political…the emotional impact and technical concerns of the music that expressed and enveloped their political thoughts was still at the forefront.

    secondly, a lot of this comes from pedigree, as you note. a lot of libertarians come from conservative or republican origins; a lot of artists come from the exact opposite. conservatives tend to view the arts as suspect as best – at least anything modern – and this filters through.

    but anything pro-corporation – or even having the appearance of being pro-corporation, which is what some knee jerk libertarians end up slathered in – is never going to catch on with artistry anyway. they’re two wildly different concerns working with two different parts of life, though some musicians are excellent businessmen and some businessmen have proven themselves to be excellent blues artists, as the current bailout mania is showing us time and again.

  32. “part of the reason most of people here haven’t taken the time to understand burroughs is because of the left’s domination over the arts and all things counterculture.”

    QFT – Burroughs gets thrown in with the other beats, many of whom were socialists, but his politics were vastly different. As were Kerouac’s.

    Burroughs was REALLY into guns, for a time had his own farm with illegal Mexicans working on it, disliked women, and as a masculine homosexual couldn’t stand effeminate men. His basic political philosophy was leave me the fuck alone.

  33. thanks, mark and dhex. i really liked your responses to my irritated rants against libertarians (i do it out of love, i want libertarism to spread)

    “…a lot of this comes from pedigree, as you note. a lot of libertarians come from conservative or republican origins; a lot of artists come from the exact opposite. conservatives tend to view the arts as suspect as best – at least anything modern – and this filters through.

    but anything pro-corporation – or even having the appearance of being pro-corporation, which is what some knee jerk libertarians end up slathered in – is never going to catch on with artistry anyway. they’re two wildly different concerns working with two different parts of life…”

    so so true. and i hate it about both groups of people. i’m so irritated by college hipster lefties who hate free markets and conservative libertarians who roll their eyes at the majority of the arts.

  34. ” Burroughs gets thrown in with the other beats, many of whom were socialists, but his politics were vastly different. As were Kerouac’s.

    Burroughs was REALLY into guns, for a time had his own farm with illegal Mexicans working on it, disliked women, and as a masculine homosexual couldn’t stand effeminate men. His basic political philosophy was leave me the fuck alone.”

    oh i know. but i think the people i might meet who know/like burroughs probably identify with the left though(because of reasons i talked about above about counter culture)i think lefty hipsters who probably hate the nra or gun rights activists, who like burroughs or hunter s. thompson just kinda ignore the gun thing about them.

  35. Burroughs gets thrown in with the other beats, many of whom were socialists

    Most of them weren’t. Burroughs and Kesey were basically libertarians. Kerouac was a McCarthyist. Snyder was some sort of Buddhist individualist anarchist. Dylan was a Midwestern populist isolationist. Even Ginsburg and Ferlinghetti, who were definitely on the left, always identified more with the anarchist tradition than with Marxism, which sometimes led them to un-PC positions. (Ferlinghetti, for example, was a fierce critic of federal subsidies to the arts.)

  36. it’s almost like “socialist” has become a meaningless umbrella term for “people i do not like” rather than a reasonable description of someone’s political positions.

  37. True, Jesse. I never really added it up that way, but I was probably thinking more of the second-wave of beats (who were really just anti-capitalist hippies) like Hoffman.

  38. @ t.j.: That’s one of the reasons why I subscribe to reason and comment on this blog – the writers and commenters – even when we don’t share the same interests, culturally speaking – seem genuinely passionate about whatever it is they are into that isn’t directly related to a libertarianism.

    re: the Burrough’s trust fund comments:

    I really haven’t read any Burroughs since I left college, but it was my understanding that the amount of money in his trust fund was greatly exaggerated. It was enough to get by, but there was a point when the cash ran out.

    As for the knee-jerk reaction of calling people socialists, well, it took me awhile, but after reading a number of works by, interviews with, and articles about, Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs, any “left wing” admiration is purely an attempt to co-opt, appropriate, or project the reader’s own values on Thompson and Burroughs.

    It’s a little reductionist on my part, but it sounds like both men only really cared about shooting guns, getting laid, getting drunk, and experimenting with narcotics. There is nothing in their work that would suggest that they believed passionately in advancing a single payer health care system, for example, or mandating subsidies for ethanol producers.

  39. The trust fund wasn’t huge, but the important thing is it freed him from needing a day job. Not only did he have unlimited free time for recreational drug use or any other activity, he could travel.

    It may be reductionist but not off-base. Burroughs and Thompson had strong views on authority in general and the Drug War, but they weren’t deep political thinkers at the policy level.

  40. First I never called him a socialist I said he was a poster child for it. Just as Bill Clinton was a poster child for the NRA by using an “assualt” shotgun to hunt ducks after he helped to ban assualt weapons.

    What would you call the person:
    Who does not support themselves?
    Who survives off the labor and product of others?
    Who refuses at all stages of his life to be responsible for the dire consequeces of his actions?
    Who buckeled with every challenge life handed him?

    I do not count the suffering one feels because of their lack of courage to be responsible as suffering. They have control and if they hold themselves responsible they are mature. I only consider it suffering if the circumstances are beyond their control and they must adapt and overcome.

    Did the law force him to deal drugs? No
    Did the law force him run to Mexico? No.
    Did The Gun force him to pull the trigger? No.
    Did Mexico force him to run back to the United States? No.

    Any pain he may have felt for the actions he “chose” was only a small part of the responsibility he refused to take. It was not suffering because he caused it and therefore deserved it. That is not suffering, that is delayed justice.

    So he enjoyed the comforts of living in and being a citizen of the country that gave him the ability to be the person he was. Sorry if I see his rant as the comentary of a spoiled child.

  41. Whoa Karl. Are you sure your name isn’t Mr. A?

  42. Kerouac was a McCarthyist.

    Uhm…what? I’m no literary historian on Kerouac’s works, but a friend of mine who worshipped the ground he walked on said he was a Taoist.

  43. So he enjoyed the comforts of living in and being a citizen of the country that gave him the ability to be the person he was. Sorry if I see his rant as the comentary of a spoiled child.

    that’s an interesting version of the “people who don’t want to pay more in taxes are selfish” rant.

    kudos!

  44. @ old bull lee:

    I’m not sure where you fall on the trust fund issue, so this is more about clarifying my thoughts on the subject. I don’t think it’s really cool to take anyone to task for their good luck – there are a lot worse ways of coming into a fortune than a trust fund from IBM.

  45. I’m with you on that mark. Although when I read Burroughs’ biography I was just a little jealous since I’m an aspiring writer WITH a day job. 🙂 I read somewhere that around 90% of published authors have to work other jobs for a living, but I’m not bitter – as Wilde said, “All art is quite useless.”

  46. jealous since I’m an aspiring writer WITH a day job.

    We’re all aspiring writers with day jobs.

    Oscar Wild also said: Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

  47. Wilde…

    sheesh… this post-thanksgiving drowsiness has got to stop.

    I will use the preview button
    I will use the preview button
    I will use the preview button

  48. What would you call the person:
    Who does not support themselves?
    Who survives off the labor and product of others?
    Who refuses at all stages of his life to be responsible for the dire consequeces of his actions?
    Who buckeled with every challenge life handed him?

    Human?

  49. Uhm…what? I’m no literary historian on Kerouac’s works, but a friend of mine who worshipped the ground he walked on said he was a Taoist.

    Kerouac may be the first person in American history to fuse an appreciation for Westernized Eastern philosophy with support for Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.