William S. Burroughs: Nova Express



William Burroughs is getting quite a lot of my attention recently, what with seeing an exhibition of his art work (see this post), reading this book and using him in my last digital art work, Composition No.3

 Excerpt from draft 6 of "Nova Express" a film by Andre Perkowski

To say this novel (written in 1964) is 'out there' sums it up quite simply. It is completely 'other'. Reading it, I try to imagine I can hear his voice. This definitely helps, I'm not quite sure why though, maybe it helps with the rhythm of the work. Burroughs had a distinctive southern drawl and if you've heard any recordings of him it's easy to conjure up his voice because nobody else really sounds like him. The novel was written using what Burroughs called 'the fold-in method', a relative of the cut-up, which he developed with Brion Gysin. This was a technique of merging different texts together, probably achieving a smoother integration than the cut-up method.

It's going to take a while to finish it as I can't read too much at any given time because of its extreme nature. Reading it at night, in bed, I find it difficult to stay awake, although that's not because it's boring. I think it's due to the way the writing is analogous to the fragmented  mini-dreams we sometimes experience in the hypnagogic phase before we fall into deep sleep.

Although the book was written in 1964 it's relevant to today's society since it tackles the abuse of power, violence, materialistic obsession, hero worship and hypocrisy. Set in the future but rooted in the America of the 1960s, we're taken on a interplanetary and hallucinatory cops and robbers journey. The Nova Police and The Nova Mob battle it out in an apocalyptic scenario featuring such characters as Izzy the Push, Hamburger Mary and the Subliminal Kid.

Here's an inspired mix that Robin (Timewriter) put together. Coincidentally, he sometimes goes by the name of El Hombre Invisible and Uranian Willy, who are also a characters from this book.


















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