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Ghost of Chance: William Burroughs' Risk Interzones

Abstract : Following a master class taught in Santiago de Compostela to post-graduate students from the Department of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature (“William Burroughs' Outerspace in the Blogosphere”) the idea for this talk comes as a sort of natural cultural excrescence from an initial observation of Burroughs' experimental routines with language in the early sixties. Systematic and hazardous linguistic manipulations of pre-existing phrases or texts led the author of The Naked Lunch (written uncontrollably ten years before) to a state of mental deprivation and utter misery. Thirty years later, William Burroughs was still alive – haphazardly – as he produced a last work of fiction entitled Ghost of Chance which is the object of the proposed study, a book that has received very little critical attention so far. Not only does it abound in those momenta of temporal undifferentiation to which the call for papers alludes, but it also re-enacts a practice that has been recurrent in Burroughs' life: an anti-disciplinarian discipline that left him a passive catalyst of pre-recorded side-effects (!) of the future, barring the way to any claim to authorship or control. In this Action Joe kind of tale (starring a historical “Captain Mission”), chance and hazard are reunited as in a film by Werner Herzog or a novel by Vladimir Sorokin–on the page, in life or within the mythopeiea which is the texture of our becoming.
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Submitted on : Sunday, May 10, 2020 - 4:08:13 PM
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Didier Girard. Ghost of Chance: William Burroughs' Risk Interzones. Pratiques du Hasard, 2012, 978-2-35412-168-6. ⟨halshs-02568866⟩

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