The Body Builder

What happens between my legs is like a cold drink to me, it is just a feeling cold round stones against my back sunshine and shadow of Mexico. I know that other people think of it as something special to do with how they feel about someone else and there is a word love that means nothing to me at all. It is just a feeling between the legs, a sort of tingle.                               Burroughs, “The Dead Child,” The Wild Boys

 Silver jockstraps and glider boys… Pan parties like its 1969. The humour and irony in scenes like the Americans forces against the Wild Boys in North Africa are almost prophetic of the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. All the old favourites are here: the great Slashtobitch, the playboy A.J., Johnny – and pages upon pages of rectal mucus and “buttocks like worn ivory.” A fair romp of gay anarchy and frolicking revolution from the grassroots, the Wild Boys are also experts in guerrilla warfare and assassination. The old gardener working for the Colonel for ten years has only been biding his time until the opportunity to strike. Eighteen-inch Bowie knives (one of Burroughs’ personal favourites I take it) are strapped to springs which cut back and forth in a rapid fashion, tearing opponents to shreds. Like the gang of rollerboys skating into a line of riot police. The blood went everywhere.

The Burroughs war machine rumbles to a climax in the The Wild Boys, the first novel after the trilogy beginning with The Soft Machine. At work is the viral program, as WSB attempts to spread the Word-virus and cut lines between word and image that form the building blocks of association – the organs of the socius – in the State apparatus, substituting marriage and heterosexual love (“Mother and I would like to know”) as THE model for sexual practices in a Western society for more exotic forms of bodily communication:

The Body Builder. The monk is wrapping flesh sheets around the two skeletons. Two youths have been formed. Mouth rectum and penis sealed.                                                           “The Miracle of the Rose”

 Pure literature. To ecko Mr Nietzsche, I love those who write in blood. I am emale – the dead child – left my mother when I was five. I never experienced any sadness at this sundering of familial ties, just accepted this statement of fact as children will wisely accept what is told them before the adult habit of doubting has formed. Psychoanalysts will tell you, of course, there is a fundamental error in your programming, a repression of affect from all those years of longing for a mother in absentia. Result: adult neuroses is formed. Wising up the marks to the “afterlife” of the cure (terminable or interminable?), the Immortality con and the Garden of Delights, Burroughs cuts and ties in the lines of association (Two youths have been formed) moving back and forth from a nostalgia for the 1920’s, the decade of his birth (the penny arcades and books for boys from his youth), to a hopeful future in space travel, making pornography for an age when the tyranny by those agents of control working undercover in marriages, families, big businesses and world governments, is broken.

“A writer may find it difficult to make the reader see a scene clearly and it would seem easier to show pictures. No. The scene must be written before it is filmed. The new look in blue movies stresses story and character. This is the space age and sex movies must express the longing to escape from flesh through sex. The way out is the way through… The scene where Johnny has crabs and Mark makes him undress… Who are these boys? Where will they go? They will become astronauts playing the part of American married idiots until the moment when they take off on a Gemini expedition bound for Mars, disconnect and leave the Earth behind forever…”                                                                                                                      “A Silver Smile”

 That some people might be offended and disgusted by this writing is inevitable and the old party line levelled against Socrates will be eckoed: “He’s corrupting the minds of the youth.” (And Burroughs uses such pleasant titles for his chapters.) The overtly and oft-repeated misogynistic and militant, homosexual aesthetic being directly espoused here makes this novel a tough read for fourth wave, post-reality feminists and perspiring metrosexuals. The Wild Boys is more concerned with the politics of friendship than homosexualising the planet. Still I wouldn’t recommend this book to my mother. Definitely not for the faint-hearted ME’s but there has to be a selection principle.

In a time when so many pin their hopes on a “second life” in “cyberspace” and the “Internet revolution” to build MUD houses for “virtual communities” (every community is “virtual” IE it has a ruling idea or set of values), it’s refreshing to find Burroughs building a body without organs in writing the idea of a sexual revolution armed to the teeth (with eighteen-inch Bowie knives) back when the sixties was oozing with hippie and beat culture, slops of love going all round. Instead of working out one’s self in Second Life, it might be wiser to lift weights in the bright sunshine without, exercise and enjoy your self.

I am emale.

Running off to join the Wild Boys.


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