Monthly Archives: August 2009

Freedom to come

‘When did things first go awry? When did the mist descend and freedom slip between my fingers? Was it when you turned up, when I started talking to you? Was it you, did you replace my freedom, are you my freedom to come? If not, what freedom is this that’s always on the other side? I dreamed of a dying life or living death, like a healthy open wound. The freedom of a desert or of an abyss, the source and death of all echoes, that’s how I imagined it. Or as an endless sea that gives birth to and drowns all life.’

A ‘biographical’ note by William Burroughs

I have no past life at all being a notorious plant or ‘intrusion’ if you prefer the archaeological word for an ‘intruded’ artefact. I walk in passport was allegedly born St. Louis, Missouri, more or less haute bourgeois circumstances – that is he could have got in the St. Louis Country Club because at that time nobody had anything special against him but times changed and lots of people had lots of things against him and he got his name in the papers and there were rumours of uh legal trouble. Remember? I prefer not to. Harvard 1936 AB. Nobody ever saw him there but he had the papers on them. Functioned once as an exterminator in Chicago and learned some basic principles of ‘force majeure’. He achieved a state of inorganic matter in Tanger with chemical assistants. Resuscitated by dubious arts he travelled extensively in all directions open to him.

In any case he wrote a book and that finished him. They killed the author many times in different agents concentrated on the road I pass, achieving thereby greyhounds, menstrual cramps and advanced yoga to a distance of two feet legitimate terrain… And never the hope of ground that is yours

william seward burroughs

The terrible truth

‘Don’t tell me. Isn’t it obvious I don’t want to hear it? Just let me get a little close to it, you know it better than I. I know it too, just don’t let me get too close or far, I couldn’t bear it.’

Quiet authority

Objective, impartial, balanced, that’d what he should be, X tells me, like a seasoned BBC war correspondent or a veteran psychoanalyst. The quiet authority of a seasoned professional, that’s what he should cultivate, he says. The sober objectivity of a scientist, like Richard Dawkins, that’s what he should strive for, he says. The world-weary scepticism of an English intellectual. That would save him, he says, that would socialise him.


It’s a paradox, X tells me, my life, I know you know it is, so why don’t you tell me once and for all, why don’t you tell me I’m living in it? Apply your famous logic, he says, tell me where I made the wrong turn.


It was when he realised life was opaque, X tells me, like a cat’s gaze, that’s when he started sensing freedom. That was when the words emerged from the hoard he didn’t know he had, in their infinite opacity.

Point of no return

There’s no going back, X tells me, he can’t return. What was the title of that famous play, he says, You Can Never Go Home? There’s No Going Back? He can’t even remember the time before he started talking to me, he says. When did he start talking to me in the first place? he asks. He’s stumbled well past the point of no return, he says, that much is clear. That is unless he creates a point of return, he says, and creates something behind that to which he can return, because you can only return to what you create. But a return to what you’ve created is hardly a return, he says.