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william burroughs and the dreamscapes of the dalai lama
24-09-2019, 07:54 AM
Post: #1
william burroughs and the dreamscapes of the dalai lama
Wrought iron railings ring the gallery of the Redmond Barry reading room in the State Library of Victoria and far below the green glass lights of the study carrels illuminate the pretty faces of the students cramming for exams while I sit up here above the vast space and wrestle with Time, my breathing troubled by dust mites that escape, invisible, from the 1927 Black edition of J. W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time; and I struggle with a dream, the memory of dream, where William S. Burroughs, and a Time Bandit dwarf dressed in a dark jumpsuit and wraparound shades, tried to assassinate the Dalai Lama, a dream that terrified me when I had it, and still terrifies me now, thirty-three years later, though Burroughs and the dwarf have long since passed on.

The dark satires of William S. Burroughs deal, above all, with overcoming the limits of ordinary consciousness through word-as-virus, drugs, magic, sex, telepathy, writing, and, of course, dream. Back in 1962, Burroughs was famously praised by Norman Mailer as ‘The only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.’ Neither Mailer nor Burroughs is alive today. If Burroughs were alive, he would be a centenarian. He was born on February 5th, 1914. His writing intersected with my life in 1970, when I was sixteen: Naked Lunch was like a depth charge in the mind-stream.

No matter how Burroughs’ views might have transformed or evolved over his eighty-three years of life, his genius always included singular approaches to time, space and consciousness. He thought of his work as a practical exploration of dream travel, telepathy, and psychic possession; and post mortem experiences as recounted in the Books of the Dead of Mayans, Egyptians and Tibetans. Burroughs went where many other writers would be horrified to venture. These explorations in his writing were not just ironic satires of the human condition, but a speculative search for new forms of consciousness.

In The Place of Dead Roads (1984), Burroughs has this to say about his protagonist, Kim:

Kim knew he was in a state of Arrested Evolution: A.E. Kim knows that the first step towards space exploration is to examine the human artifact with biologic alterations in mind that will render our H.A. [Human Artifact] more suitable for space conditions and space travel… We are like water creatures looking up at the land and air and wondering how we can survive in that alien medium. The water we live in is Time. That alien medium we glimpse beyond time is Space. And that is where we are going. Kim reads all the science fiction he can find, and he is stunned to discover in all these writings the underlying assumption that there will be no basic changes involved in space travel.

Burroughs’ writing is not without a large dose of dark irony:
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