Friday, March 09, 2012
"William S. Burroughs: The Man Within" and the Beat Generation
To go along with “Naked Lunch” (March 2), there is a 2010 documentary, “William S. Burroughs, A Man Within”, from director Yony Leyser and Oscilloscope Films. It’s narrated by Peter Weller, who had starred in the aforementioned feature. It credits Burroughs (and Ginsberg) as creating “The Beat Generation”. It also mentions that he was a grandson of the founder of the Burroughs Corporation, which competed as a player in the mainframe computer market until the mid 1970s.
Burroughs is described as a “deconstructor of labels” and didn’t like to be characterized as “gay” or as anything (he was indeed married). He said that American society had denied people “the right to mind their own business.”
The film summarizes the obscenity trial over “Naked Lunch”, where a Massachusetts court in 1966 found that the work did have redeeming social value. In the book, Burroughs referred to himself by a pseudonym, William Lee.
Burroughs would move to Lawrence, Kansas (where KU is located – that’s where I got my own MA in 1968), in 1981, where he died in 1997, with a statement about love being the last found in his personal journal.
The film uses some simple animation to illustrate Burroughs’s mindset, and these correspond to the “monsters” in Naked Lunch.
The official site is here.
The video above includes some of Burroughs's "advice". The Sarasota Film Festival showed this film,