William S. Burroughs

Burroughs as a person is important to me for two reasons. Make that, three actually.

The first reason is that he is one of the very few writers on magickal or energetic reality, or whatever you want to call it, who genuinely understood darkness. He wasn’t a healer or a prophet trying to tell you how to live your life. He was a writer and essayist, artist in words, explorer in the landscape of the mind and in the energetic sense I think he was a warrior.

“It was a hectic, portentous time in Paris, in 1959, at the Beat Hotel, No. 9, rue Git-le-Coeur. We all thought we were interplanetary agents involved in a deadly struggle… battles… codes… ambushes. it seemed real at the time, from here, who knows? We were promised transport out of the area, out of Time and into Space. We were getting messages, making contacts. Everything had meaning.The danger and the fear were real enough. When someone is trying to kill you, you know it. Better get up off your tail and fight.”

The second reason is that he wrote about what happens when you lose.

“Remember when I threw a blast of energy and all the light in the Earl’s Court area of London went out, all the down the North End Road? There in my five-quid-a-week room in the the Empress Hotel, torn down long ago. And the wind I called up, like Conrad Viedt in one of those sword-and-sorcery movies, up on top of a tower raising his arms: ‘Wind!Wind!Wind!‘ Ripped the shutters off the stalls along Worlds End and set up tidal waves killed several hundred people in Holland or Belgium or someplace.

It all reads like sci-fi from here. Not very good sci-fi, but real enough at the time. There were casualties… quite a number.

Well there isn’t any transport out. There isn’t any important assignment. It’s every man for himself. Like the old bum in the dream said: Maybe we lost. And this is what happens when you lose.”

The third reason is that from everything I’ve read and seen he seemed to be, if not what would classically be called kind, then in possession of an unusual brand of integrity which filled its place.

Edit: Quotes are taken from The Western Lands, by William S. Burroughs.

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