Apocalyptic Addiction: William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch
MetadataShow full item record
Burroughs created a new type of apocalyptic novel with Naked Lunch. In Naked Lunch the apocalypse is systemic, and takes place over a span of time, rather than being caused by one cataclysmic event. Burroughs shows that all human beings participate in an unintentional conspiracy to destroy humanity, that no one person is safe, and no one person is outside of the system, so no one can stop the apocalypse from occurring. We are all addicts. We all have an insatiable need that we are at the mercy of, and we all live within a system where power and control are not used to serve and protect humanity, but rather are addictive substances as deadly as junk. Within this system, Otherness is incredibly dangerous to control addicts. An Other cannot be controlled, and therefore poses a tremendous threat to the addict. Otherness must be removed. It is in that removal of Otherness by invading the body, and using technology, that the apocalypse is allowed to occur. Burroughs views the source of humanity as the ability to be an individually thinking and feeling human being, and the removal of Otherness turns human beings into insect-like monsters who cannot think or feel or act. By removing Otherness, humanity is destroyed. In Naked Lunch there is no hope for humanity. Burroughs creates this dismal image to sound a warning. If the political systems in the modern world continue to go unchecked, and continue to be ruled by men who care more about their own power than the populations they are supposed to be protecting and serving, humanity will, no doubt, over time, come to an end.