William S. Burroughs

William Seward Burroughs II, was born in St. Louis on 5 February 1914. He was brought up in a world of relative prosperity and comfort by the Burroughs Adding Machine Corporation. He was named after his grandfather, who was the inventor of this adding machine. He is 8 years old when he uses his first gun and writes “The Autobiography Of A Wolf”. Rejects parental advice to make autobiography a biography. Burroughs, then 13, discovers Jack Black’s autobiography, You Can’t Win. He falls in love with the outlaw and underground lifestyle. Black introduces Burroughs to the idea that he could be a part of the Johnson Family. Published in the John Burroughs review in 1929. A brief essay entitled “Personal magnetism”. It was his first attempt to debunk control systems. Sent to Los Alamos Boys School in New Mexico. Later, he claimed that he only learned a hatred for horses. In 1936, he graduated from Harvard. New York, 1939. He cuts off his left little finger. He shows it to his analyst, who then takes him to Bellevue. Burroughs informs a psychiatrist that it was part of an “initiation ceremony into Crow Indian tribe”. A. J. Cohen, Exterminators, offers him a job in Chicago during the summer of 1942. He later claimed that he knew the location of all the roaches when he entered an apartment. The next year, he moves to New York. Around this time, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac become friends with Lucien Carr, Lucien Carr, David Kammerer, and Lucien Carr. On 13 August 1944, Lucien Carr kills David Kammerer in self defense. Kerouac, Burroughs and others are taken into custody as material witnesses after they failed to report the murder. They collaborated on a novel that was based on the events called And the Hippos Were Boil in Their Tanks. It was rejected by many publishers and never published. Joan Vollmer meets Burroughs. They experiment with drugs and other extreme behaviors together with Ginsberg, Kerouac and others. Around this time, Herbert Huncke meets her. Joan is soon addicted to Benzedrine inhalers when Kerouac introduces her to them. In 1946, Burroughs injures himself with a morphine Syrette. Discovers junk ecstasy, begins addiction. Burroughs sees a waitress bring him a skull on an empty tray in the middle of his junk despair. He says, “I don’t want your fucking brain.” “Take it back!” Joan moves in and they fall in love. Joan says to him that he makes love like a pimp. Burroughs was arrested in April 1946 for fraud to obtain narcotics. Joan is admitted to Bellevue with severe amphetamine psychosis. Burroughs tries to rescue Joan from New York. William Burroughs III was born. He convinces her to go to East Texas with him. Huncke eventually moves in to live with them. They live in a tiny house near New Waverly and grow marijuana. William Burroughs III was born on 21 July 1947. In August 1947, Allen Ginsberg (and Neal Cassady) visit. 1948 saw the Burroughs move to New Orleans. As immortalized in On the Road, Kerouac’s and Cassady’s visit. Burroughs is taken into custody in New Orleans for drug possession. He decides to not stand trial and moves his family to Mexico City in 1949. Burroughs suggests to Joan that they do their William Tell act on Thursday, September 6th, 1951. Joan balances a highball on her head and turns her head one way. She says, “I can’t watch this, you know I can’t stand the sight blood.” Burroughs fires at Joan and hits her in the side of her head, killing them both. He later states that he is forced to the terrible conclusion that Joan’s death would have prevented him from becoming a writer. Burroughs visits Columbia in 1953 to discover the Yage entheogenic vine. He meets Richard Evans Schultes who gives him advice about the plant. He writes to Ginsberg about his experiences. These letters are published later as The Yage Letters. Burroughs moves to Tangiers in Morocco in 1954. Paul Bowles introduces Burroughs. Brion Gysin is a key catalyst for Burroughs. Starts his first forays into releasing his word hoard and deeper cravings for junk. In 1956, Kerouac and Ginsberg visit him. Burroughs is helped by Kerouac to arrange the “routines”, which would become The Naked Lunch. The title was inspired from a Kerouac suggestion years earlier. He leaves Paris to visit Ginsberg in Paris in 1958 after becoming sick in Tangiers. Maurice Girodias, of Olympia Press, meets him and decides to publish The Naked Lunch. In 1960, moves to London. In August 1961, Ginsberg and other travellers are back in Tangiers. They meet Timothy Leary, who gives them all mushrooms. Burroughs does not enjoy the experience and warns: “Urgent Warning. I believe I’ll be staying here in shriveling envelopes full of larval flesh… This is one of the most vile cases this department has ever seen. He writes prolifically, lives nomadically for the 60’s, and returns to New York in 1974. For 24 years, he hasn’t lived in the US. James Grauerholz is Burroughs’ life manager. He helps him organize and publish his writings. Burroughs’s son, Billy, is killed in a ditch following a lonely and hard life. Burroughs and Grauerholz move to Lawrence, Kansas. Burroughs is elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in May 1982. Burroughs died in Lawrence, Kansas on August 2, 1997 from a heart attack. He was 83 years of age. from www.popsubculture.com

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