A Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs

Discuss

33 Responses to “A Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs”

  1. ablebody says:

    and pie!

  2. jesusio says:

    I went to school at ASU which; at the time, had the largest collection of William S Burroughs. I asked the older lady in Special Collections for a first edition Olympia copy. She not so slyly and loudly whispered to her coworker, “Oh, he wants that pervert author’s book.”
    God bless your dirty old soul.

  3. Marja Erwin says:

    Didn’t he kill his wife and speculate about killing all womyn?

  4. Wigwam Jones says:

    Thanks for a nation in which all can speak their mind, even when it is filled with hatred for the system that protects those rights.  The irony is staggering, but illustrative.  For this, I give thanks.

  5. JohnBerry says:

    Yes, recite this every year because it so adequately reflects who we truly are and what we stand for as a nation. Of all the peoples on the earth we are the uniquely destructive ones. The selfish and materialistic ones. We are a cautionary tale of evil. A people who are mostly evil, always. The voice of a one-percenter of the past reminding us that we are only rapacious and mercenary. If only we were as enlightened and altruistic as he. If only…

    • joshuaammon says:

      A man walks into a bar and says to the bartender “hey does it smell i little funny in here to you?”
      Bartender says:”Hey who do you think you are?  You got a problem with bars eh?  Why don’t you get the hell out of here?”
      The man responds, “no seriously, it’s just, it smells like something died here.  You don’t notice it? Man the stench is awful.”
      Bartender says, “I see you, you bar-hating son-of-a-bitch!  If you’re gonna bring that hateful shit in here then you should just get out!”
      Man investigates:”Oh my God! There’s a bunch of dead rats in your bathroom!  You should really call someone man, that’s dangerous and disgusting.”
      Bartender yells, “oh so you think my beer is dangerous and disgusting?  Just talking shit about my bar?  Think you’ll just waltz in here. enjoy the atmosphere and then start criticizing MY bar! Get outta here you asshole.”

  6. Ian Wood says:

    Thankfully, I am not weighed down by the Bronze Age magical belief in the generational transmission of sin.

    • retepslluerb says:

      Sure, because the War on Drugs isn’t still ongoing, vulgarisation  (especially of American politics right now) isn’t still happening, there’re no hate crimes. Well, golly, thanks. 

      • Ian Wood says:

        Put Burroughs in his own context, and maybe you’ll understand what I meant by that.

        There’s a certain mindset that regards the slaughter of the natives as America’s original sin, followed quickly by slavery, all of which tainted the entire experiment. It’s an interesting pattern to perceive, but it’s mystical thinking and I don’t buy it. Every individual is responsible for his or her own actions. To you, the War on Drugs is “ongoing,” vulgarisation is “happening,” and hate crimes just “are.” Very passive. Fixing these things is an active process. And in my eyes, this particular rending of our garments on Thanksgiving is lending credence to the notion that we all are somehow responsible for the “sins” of our forebears. We’re not. We’re responsible for our own actions, first, and in the larger social sense we have a certain responsibility to mitigate the harm that other individuals are doing, right now, in the present.

        I’ve got a shelf full of Burroughs. This has gotten a bit predictable, is all, and I think it contributes to a worldview that motivates through guilt and shame rather than love.

        • lozhuf says:

          Although I understand and agree with the sentiment that the guilt of the crime is on the original perpetrator, I believe that Burroughs is rather mocking the patriotic apple-pie vision of america’s history, the flawless funny-hat-wearing puritans sharing a meal with the feather-wearing indians. A vision which seems to have been hammered deeply into the psyche of a lot of americans.

          • Ian Wood says:

            OK, fine. Are you going to engage the funny-hat people? No, you’re not. Any more than you’d attempt to engage a Southern Baptist on the issue of gay marriage.

            The term of art is “fish in a barrel.”

            Can we be done with the easy targets now, please? Prove yourselves against hardier edifices. Demonstrate some skill.

  7. Halloween_Jack says:

    That’s the one where he mentions “laboratory AIDS”, right? I’ll pass.

    • querent says:

      Hey, Charley Darwin was wrong about the transmission of acquired traits, but he did get a lot of things right.

      Not referring now to the comment to which I replied: it’s neat to see the vitriol and knee jerk defensiveness surface even here, on bb.  “I didn’t do it!”  Nobody said you did, friend.  And as for…

      “Thanks for a nation in which all can speak their mind, even when it is filled with hatred for the system that protects those rights.”

      …go ask Scot Olsen.  Or maybe Bradley Manning.  Or, hell, go ask Fred Hampton.  Or Emma Goldman.

  8. Mister44 says:

    Man – what a downer.

  9. figurative says:

    Oh, please.  Thanks for the parents of William Burroughs who gave us a drug addicted wife-killer.

    • Yeah, and thank you’re parents while you’re at – for giving us one more out of literally millions of anonymous internet commentators who will never have anything even remotely like the talent, enduring influence and global cultural importance of William Burroughs.  Congratulations for not having killed a spouse – that’s quite a life achievement.

      • Ian Wood says:

        Look, WSB was a deviant, as am I. Wrote some tasty stuff. Tell you what, you go shoot up in Tangier for awhile and live off of boxed brown sugar then come back and crit figurative for awhile. Brave enough for you? Burroughs had a stipend. He skated. He was a product of the system he despised. Without his family money, we’d never have heard of him. It’s the very fact that the system supported his excess that makes him notable. Doesn’t mean he’snot notable. Just means that he was a product of the system. Like you. And me. Except I’ve TOTALLY rediscovered the addictive personality thing and am doing original stuff now.

        • liquidstar says:

          Hmmmm.  Is that why he was obsessed with cut-ups?  What was that all about anyhow?er for awhile and live off of boxed brown sugar then come back and crit figurative for awhile. Brave enough for you? Burroughs had a stipend. He skated. He was a product of the system he despise stuff. Tell you what, you go shoot up in Tangier for awhile and live off of boxed brown s

        • “It’s the very fact that the system supported his excess that makes him notable.”

          Dude, I don’t get your point.  He wasn’t notable because his parents were wealthy, or because of the system he grew up in.  He was notable because he wrote books that influenced JG Ballard, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, David Cronenberg, William Gibson and countless other people across various artistic disciplines.  We’d never have heard of him without his parents money alright – you try making a living off writing explicitly homoerotic sci-fi prose poetry experimental collages in the 1950s, 60s, or ever.  There are plenty of heirs to money who lived far more extravagantly than Burroughs ever did, and contributed nothing to our culture in the process.

          • 3lbFlax says:

            Amen to all that. It’s not like Burroughs was living the high life in the slightest – you just have to look at some photos from the Beat Hotel era to see that. The man pretty much had a hat, a coat and a typewriter. He was able to use his money to travel, with clear benefits to his work and our culture. It’s a bad day that brings Burroughs-bashing to boingboing.

  10. querent says:

    Thanks Bill.

  11. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Even from the grave, Mr. Burroughs still manages to get his finger up the occasional tight ass.  Posterity indeed.

  12. lorq says:

    “Thanks for Indians, to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.”

    Ouch.  Good line.

  13. daemonsquire says:

    Criminy, I’m not sure which tone is more negative: that of Mr. Burroughs’ Thanksgiving Prayer, or of the comments here.  I browsed through a few previous years’ collections of comments regarding this annual posting, to see if it’s always been some sort of contest to out-troll and out-world-weary ye aulde world-weary troll-meister (or however it is y’all might characterize this: that’s what it reads like, to me).  My favorite exchange comes in 2009, between a Kyle Armbruster and our host.  Mr. Armbruster notes that, “Remembering the failings of one’s nation breeds humility, and is as important as celebrating its successes”, to which Mr. Pescovitz replies, “We have a lot to be thankful for here in the US, and plenty of room for improvement too.”

    But, yeah, whatever, I get all that, and I’m so beyond it, now.

Leave a Reply