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Retaking the Universe

Retaking the Universe

Davis Schneiderman | Philip Walsh


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Book Details


William S. Burroughs is one of America's most influential and widely studied writers. A leading member of the Beat movement, his books and essays continue to attract a wide readership. His films, paintings, recordings and other projects that grew out of his literary production, together with his iconic persona as a counter-culture (anti-)hero, mean his work has become a broad cultural phenomenon.

This collection of essays by leading scholars offers an interdisciplinary consideration of Burroughs's art. It links his lived experience to his many major prose works written from 1953 on, as well his sound, cinema and media projects. Moving beyond the merely literary, the contributors argue for the continuing social and political relevance of Burroughs's work for the emerging global order.

Themes include: Burroughs and contemporary theory; debates on 'reality'; violence; magic and mysticism; cybernetic cultures; language and technology; control and transformation; transgression and addiction; the limits of prose; image politics and the avant-garde.
'These essays testify to the continuing relevance of Burroughs' words and project in the twenty-first century'
Steven Shaviro, author of Doom Patrols and Connected
'Schneiderman's and Walsh's new collection should mark the beginning of a new and wider view of the contemporary implications of Burroughs's thought. This book is retaking the universe of Burroughsian interpretation - starting now'
James Grauerholz
'The first serious and well conceived study of Burroughs' global influence'
Victor Bockris
'El Hombre Invisible goes global. Thanks to Schneiderman and Walsh's Retaking the Universe, Burroughs finally manages to storm the theory studio'
Sylvere Lotringer, Editor of Semiotext(e) and Burroughs Live.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
Foreword xi
Introduction: Millions of People Reading the Same Words 1
Part I: Theoretical Depositions 11
1. Shift Coordinate Points: William S. Burroughs and Contemporary Theory 13
2. Exposing the Reality Film: William S. Burroughs Among the Situationists 29
3. Reactivating the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Burroughs as Critical Theorist 58
4. Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs 74
5. Excursus: Burroughs, Dada and Surrealism 87
Part II: Writing, Sign, Instrument: Language and Technology 93
6. Burroughs's Writing Machines Anthony Enns 95
7. Totally Wired: Prepare Your Affidavits of Explanation 116
8. New World Ordure: Burroughs, Globalization and the Grotesque 132
9. Nothing Hear Now but the Recordings: Burroughs's Double Resonance 146
10. Guerilla Conditions: Burroughs, Gysin and Balch Go to the Movies 161
11. Cutting up Politics 175
Part III: Alternatives: Realities and Resistances 201
12. The Map and the Machine 203
13. The High Priest and the Great Beast at The Place of Dead Roads 225
14. A Camera on Violence: Reality and Fiction in Blade Runner, a Movie 241
15. William S. Burroughs, Laughter and the Avant- Garde 258
16. Lemurian Time War 274
Contributors Notes 292
Index 295