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Letters to the Editor

Letter: No Burroughs fan

January 17, 2014

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To the editor:

Can’t say I agree with your paean of praise for William S. Burroughs (“A Century of Burroughs,” Journal-World, Jan. 12). Drug addict, murderer, destructive iconoclast, panderer of famous personality could best describe this “architect of culture.” While I’m not an art or literary expert, for the sober, his writings are obtuse, vulgar and inscrutable, and his art (e.g. shotgun blasts of paint cans) falls into the category of high-priced trash. The photos accompanying the article reflect a bitter old man, seemingly enthralled with violence, destruction and mere celebrity. 

After “more than a few vodka drinks” anyone can mock the American dream, and his criticism smacks more of intellectual condescension than any form of constructive alternative. Perhaps I lack post-modern sophistication, but I’m not convinced that we should be proud that Burroughs “chose Lawrence to be his home.”

Comments

William Enick 3 months ago

Two quotes from William S..."In the U.S. you have to be a deviant or die of boredom." ( And the other...) "Cheat your landlord if you can--and must--but do not try to short change the Muse."

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Ron Holzwarth 3 months ago

When I was in Junior High School, I went to the public library in the small town that I lived in, and saw a book on display, 'Naked Lunch', by William S. Burroughs. I had heard that name before, and I knew he was a famous writer. I took the book home and started to read it.

I was totally shocked on the first few pages. I wondered why in the world the library had a copy of such utter trash, and not only that, allowed a 13 year old to check it out and take it home!

A couple pages later, started to wonder about something. Why can I read this, but I'm not allowed to take home XXX hardcore porn at the age of 13? That didn't make any sense at all.

And then, I was totally shocked at what was written on page 22. I stopped reading right there.

I will never forget that phrase after all these years, since about 1968, or that exact page number. Exactly what is stated on page 22 of 'Naked Lunch' is far too obscene to repeat here. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

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Clark Coan 3 months ago

Great letter. Burroughs should not be honored. He: 1) killed his wife; (2) molested Moroccan boys; (3) was a lifelong heroin addict; (4) wrote gibberish; and, (5) promoted and gloried drug use.

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Greg DiVilbiss 3 months ago

I love the positive nature of Lawrence...

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Elston Gunn 3 months ago

Lawrence was never William Burroughs' home. He was a broke has-been looking for a cheap place to die. It's disgusting to me that we would name anything in this town after a self-hating hack like him. Furthermore, I've really had it with the smug hicktown mentality that has been engulfing Lawrence since the mid-80's. Everything from fascination with "celebrities" who come here to morons who like to refer to Lawrence as "Little Berkley", as if that were some kind of honor. I still remember the day Matt Dillon arrived here to film that horrible "Kansas" movie. He was astonished and appalled at the Welcome to Mayberry bandwagon awaiting him at the Eldridge Hotel. I was embarrased. Most of the development explosion that ocurred in the mid-80's that turned Lawrence into a JO County bedroom community can be blamed on fools running their mouths about how special Lawrence is. One might argue that development is key to the survival of this town. I disagree. Having KU here pretty much guarantees that. Then we have this annoying phrase about "keeping Downtown Lawrence vibrant". Vibrant. DL is now a mess of bars and fly by night boutique stores. Even the solid stores are moving South because the rent in DL is so "vibrant". I grew up and have lived most of my life here. It's a nice little midwest town. Leave it at that and leave it alone.

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Scott Morgan 3 months ago

A unique and vibrant little area of the world Lawrence is indeed. Don't agree with Lawrence politics, but the energy of this city is so wonderful. William S. Burroughs seems to me is a poor choice for hero status in my opinion too.

I agree, pretty disgusting bitter old man in his Lawrence years.

Especially when he himself could only muster a "cheap to live here" reason for even being in Lawrence. Have to chalk it up in the same category as Che Guevara and his admiring following of T-shirt wearing uninformed.

On the other hand, driving by his former home is on my bucket list.

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Bob Gent 3 months ago

Succinct and to the point. I couldn't have said it better.

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