Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Revisiting Naked Lunch

A couple of years ago, just after I published Nothing is Right, I wrote a post about Naked Lunch and the way that it helped to shape my outlook as a writer. At the time, I was still wrestling with some of my own perceptions of myself, and while the main focus in the post is a good one, it's a bit less precise than I'd like it to be, and it also uses some language that I've come to accept is problematic.

This year, as I work through Imaginary Friends, I've been re-reading some of the literature that helped me make sense of society at large and interpersonal relationships in particular. I've been into Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, some old C.S. Lewis (who I never really liked all that much after my age was greater than the number of my fingers, but whatever), and these writers definitely show up in the text in some fairly obvious ways. (Pirsig's pretty responsible for the whole "Thoughts on Writing" introduction.)

I've also been re-reading some people who have less visibility in the text--Joyce, London, Burroughs, Hunter Thompson, Alice Walker--and I've been at that because I see echoes of their motivations in the larger project that I'm after with Shaping Clay. I've also been meaning to start writing reviews and 101-style literary interpretation essays that are aimed at connecting neurodivergent readers and writers with some of my personal favorites in accessible ways.

Today, I'm happy to point you to Neuroqueer, where one of those essays has been posted. This isn't my last word on Burroughs, though. In addition to the essay, I've also penned a ninth part to my Thoughts on Writing series, and it focuses on how learning to appreciate Naked Lunch in silence, to absorb its events and free-associate meanings from them, how that helped me to come to terms with some of those perceptions of myself that I had previously disassociated from.

That poem/essay will be available in the Typed Words, Loud Voices anthology that will be released, alongside Defiant, as part of Autonomous Press's launch at the SDS conference in Atlanta this coming June. I wish I could show it to you before that, but what can I say? I've assigned the rights to a publisher, and that means I have to be patient.

In addition to that contribution, I also have a Part 10 piece ready to roll out on Neuroqueer when the "What is Neuroqueer?" forum posts, and while it doesn't directly reference Burroughs, its radical divergence from traditional essay structure owes much to his work. I'm also working on a Part 11 that will likely meditate on his work some more, along with a large number of other works.

That will post here, so it's very likely that you'll see parts 9, 10, and 11 in reverse chronological order. I can't help but think that that is exactly what Burroughs would have wanted out of a project that had its initial inception in the degraded crannies of his work.