‘The Way OUT is the Way IN’: Junk and the Subversion of the Nation/Symptom in William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch
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In his introduction to a collection of work entitled Man at Leisure by the author of Young Adam and Cain’s Book Alexander Trocchi, William Burroughs described its author as a ‘cosmonaut of inner space’. In so doing Burroughs turned Trocchi’s own description of the role of a writer on the author himself. Trocchi shared a number of lifestyle similarities with Burroughs. Both writers identified with the Beat movement, were published by Olympia Press, prosecuted for obscenity and addicted to heroin and (as their as yet unpublished extensive private correspondence indicates) were well acquainted with one another. Yet it is in the essential concern of their writing that a more meaningful similarity emerges: a naked engagement with authenticity and a desire to separate that which Nietzsche termed ‘the way of seeing from the origin of seeing’. Reading the work that is later to characterise Burroughs’ own style seen in Naked Lunch, the same description of the writer as a cosmonaut of inner space may just as aptly be applied to Burroughs himself.