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Naked Lunch

William S. Burroughs

  (It occurs to me that preliminary Yage nausea is motion sickness of transport to Yage state.…)

  ‘All medicine men use it in their practice to foretell the future, locate lost or stolen objects, to diagnose and treat illness, to name the perpetrator of a crime.’ Since the Indian (straitjacket for Herr Boas – trade joke – nothing so maddens an anthropologist as Primitive Man) does not regard any death as accidental, and they are unacquainted with their own self-destructive trends referring to them contemptuously as ‘our naked cousins,’ or perhaps feeling that these trends above all are subject to the manipulation of alien and hostile wills, any death is murder. The medicine man takes Yage and the identity of the murderer is revealed to him. As you may imagine, the deliberations of the medicine man during one of these jungle inquests give rise to certain feelings of uneasiness among his constituents.

  ‘Let’s hope Old Xiuptutol don’t wig and name one of the boys.’

  ‘Take a curare and relax. We got the fix in …’

  ‘But if he wig? Picking up on that Nateema all the time he don’t touch the ground in twenty years.… I tell you, Boss, nobody can hit the stuff like that.… It cooks the brains.…’

  ‘So we declare him incompetent.…’

  So Xiuptutol reels out of the jungle and says the boys in the Lower Tzpino territory done it, which surprises no one.… Take it from an old Brujo, dearie, they don’t like surprises.…

  A funeral passes through the market. Black coffin – Arabic inscriptions in filigreed silver – carried by four pallbearers. Procession of mourners singing the funeral song … Clem and Jody fall in beside them carrying coffin, the corpse of a hog bursts out of it.… The hog is dressed in a jellaba, a keif pipe juts from its mouth, one hoof holds a packet of feelthy pictures, a mezuzzoth hangs about its neck.… Inscribed on the coffin: ‘This was the noblest Arab of them all.’

  They sing hideous parody of the funeral song in false Arabic. Jody can do a fake Chinese spiel that’ll just kill you – like a hysterical ventriloquist’s dummy. In fact, he precipitated an anti-foreign riot in Shanghai that claimed 3,000 casualties.

  ‘Stand up, Gertie, and show respect for the local gooks.’

  ‘I suppose one should.’

  ‘My dear, I’m working on the most marvelous invention … a boy who disappears as soon as you come leaving a smell of burning leaves and a sound effect of distant train whistles.’

  ‘Ever make sex in no gravity? Your jism just floats out in the air like lovely ectoplasm, and female guests are subject to immaculate or at least indirect conception.… Reminds me of an old friend of mine, one of the handsomest men I have ever known and one of the maddest and absolutely ruined by wealth. He used to go about with a water pistol shooting jism up career women at parties. Won all his paternity suits hands down. Never use his own jism you understand.’

  Fadeout … ‘Order in the Court.’ Attorney for A.J., ‘Conclusive tests have established that my client has no uh personal connection with the uh little accident to the charming plaintiff.… Perhaps she is preparing to emulate the Virgin Mary and conceive immaculately naming my client as a harumph ghostly panderer.… I am reminded of a case in fifteenth-century Holland where a young woman accused an elderly and respectable sorcerer of conjuring up a succubus who then had uh carnal knowledge of the young person in question with the under the circumstances regrettable result of pregnancy. So the sorcerer was indicted as an accomplice and rampant voyeur before during and after the fact. However, gentlemen of the jury, we no longer credit such uh legends; and a young woman attributing her uh interesting condition to the attentions of a succubus would be accounted, in these enlightened days, a romanticist or in plain English a God damned liar hehe hehe heh…’

  And now The Prophet’s Hour:

  ‘Millins died in the mud flats. Only one blast free to lungs.

  ‘“Eye Eye, Captain,” he said, squirting his eyes out on the deck.… And who would put on the chains tonight? It is indicated to observe some caution in the upwind approach, the down wind having failed to turn up anything worth a rusty load.… Senoritas are the wear this season in Hell, and I am tired with the long climb to a pulsing Vesuvius of alien pricks.’

  Need Orient Express out of here to no hide place(r) mines are frequent in the area.… Every day dig a little it takes up the time.…

  Jack of phantoms whisper hot into the bone ear.…

  Shoot your way to freedom.

  ‘Christ?’ sneers the vicious, fruity old Saint applying pancake from an alabaster bowl.…‘That cheap ham! You think I’d demean myself to commit a miracle? … That one should have stood in carny.…

  ‘“Step right up, Marquesses and Marks, and bring the little Marks too. Good for young and old, man and beast.… The one and only legit Son of Man will cure a young boy’s clap with one hand – by contact alone, folks – create marijuana with the other, whilst walking on water and squirting wine out of his ass.… Now keep your distance, folks, you is subject to be irradiated by the sheer charge of this character.’

  ‘And I knew him when, dearie.… I recall we was doing an Impersonation Act – very high class too – in Sodom, and that is one cheap town.… Strictly from hunger … Well, this citizen, this fucking Philistine wandered in from Podunk Baal or some place, called me a fucking fruit right on the floor. And I said to him: “Three thousand years in show business and I always keep my nose clean. Besides I don’t hafta take any shit off any uncircumcised cocksucker.” … Later he come to my dressing room and made an apology.… Turns out he is a big physician. And he was a lovely fellah, too.…

  ‘Buddha? A notorious metabolic junky … Makes his own you dig. In India, where they got no sense of time, The Man is often a month late.…“Now let me see, is that the second or the third monsoon? I got like a meet in Ketchupore about more or less.”

  ‘And all them junkies sitting around in the lotus posture spitting on the ground and waiting on The Man.

  ‘So Buddha says: “I don’t hafta take this sound. I’ll by God metabolize my own junk.”

  ‘“Man you can’t do that. The Revenooers will swarm all over you.”

  ‘“Over me they won’t swarm. I gotta gimmick, see? I’m a fuckin Holy Man as of right now.” ‘“Jeez, boss, what an angle.”

  ‘“Now some citizens really wig when they make with the New Religion. These frantic individuals do not know how to come on. No class to them … Besides, they is subject to be lynched like who wants somebody hanging around being better’n other folks? ‘What you trying to do, Jack, give people a bad time? …’ So we gotta play it cool, you dig, cool.… We got a take it or leave it proposition here, folks. We don’t shove anything up your soul, unlike certain cheap characters who shall be nameless and are nowhere. Clear the cave for action. I’m gonna metabolize a speed ball and make with the Fire Sermon.”

  ‘Mohammed? Are you kidding? He was dreamed up by the Mecca Chamber of Commerce. An Egyptian ad man on the skids from the sauce write the continuity.

  ‘“I’ll have one more, Gus. Then, by Allah, I will go home and receive a Surah.… Wait’ll the morning edition hits the souks. I am blasting Amalgamated Images wide open.”

  ‘The bartender looks up from his racing form. “Yeah. And theirs will be a painful doom.”

  ‘“Oh … uh … quite. Now, Gus, I’ll write you a check.”

  ‘“You are only being the most notorious paper hanger in Greater Mecca. I am not a wall, Mr. Mohammed.”

  ‘“Well, Gus, I got like two types publicity, favourable and otherwise. You want some otherwise already? I am subject to receive a Surah concerning bartenders who extendeth not credit to those in a needy way.”

  ‘“And theirs will be a painful doom. Sold Arabia.” He vaults over the bar. “I’m not taking any more, Ahmed. Pick up thy Surahs and walk. In fact, I’ll help you. And stay out.”

  ‘“I’ll fix your wagon good, you unbelieving cocksucker. I’ll close you up tight and dry as a junky’s asshole. I’ll by Allah
dry up the Peninsula.” ‘“It’s a continent already.…”

  ‘Leave what Confucius say stand with Little Audrey and the shaggy dogs. Lao-Tze? They scratch him already.… And enough of these gooey saints with a look of pathic dismay as if they getting fucked up the ass and try not to pay any mind. And why should we let some old broken-down ham tell us what wisdom is? “Three thousand years in show business and I always keep my nose clean.…”

  ‘First, every Fact is incarcerate along with the male hustlers and those who desecrate the gods of commerce by playing ball in the streets, and some old white-haired fuck staggers out to give us the benefits of his ripe idiocy. Are we never to be free of this grey-beard loon lurking on every mountain top in Tibet, subject to drag himself out of a hut in the Amazon, waylay one in the Bowery? “I’ve been expecting you, my son,” and he make with a silo full of corn. “Life is a school where every pupil must learn a different lesson. And now I will unlock my Word Hoard.…”

  ‘“I do fear it much.”

  ‘“Nay, nothing shall stem the rising tide.”

  ‘“I can’t stem him, boys. Sauve qui peut.”

  ‘“I tell you when I leave the Wise Man I don’t even feel like a human. He converting my life orgones into dead bullshit.”

  ‘So I got an exclusive why don’t I make with the live word? The word cannot be expressed direct.… It can perhaps be indicated by mosaic of juxtaposition like articles abandoned in a hotel drawer, defined by negatives and absence.…

  ‘Think I’ll have my stomach tucked.… I may be old, but I’m still desirable.’

  (The Stomach Tuck is surgical intervention to remove stomach fat at the same time making a tuck in the abdominal wall, thus creating a Flesh Corset, which is, however, subject to break and spurt your horrible old guts across the floor.… The slim and shapely F.C. models are, of course, the most dangerous. In fact, some extreme models are known as O.N.S. – One Night Stands – in the industry.

  Doctor ‘Doodles’ Rinderpest states bluntly: ‘Bed is the most dangerous place for an F.C. man.’

  The F.C. theme song is ‘Believe Me If All These Endearing Young Charms.’ An F.C. partner is indeed subject to ‘flee from your arms like fairy gifts fading away.’)

  In a white museum room full of sunlight pink nudes sixty feet high. Vast adolescent muttering.

  Silver guard rail … chasm a thousand feet down into the glittering sunlight. Little green plots of cabbage and lettuce. Brown youths with adzes spied by the old queen across a sewage canal.

  ‘Oh dear, I wonder if they fertilize with human excrement.… Maybe they’ll do it now.’

  He flips out mother of pearl opera glasses – Aztec mosaic in the sun.

  Long line of Greek lads march up with alabaster bowels of shit, empty into the limestone marl hole.

  Dusty poplars shake across the red brick Plaza de Toros in the afternoon wind.

  Wooden cubicles around a hot spring … rubble of ruined walls in a grove of cottonwoods … the benches worn smooth as metal by a million masturbating boys.

  Greek lads white as marble fuck dog style on the portico of a great golden temple … naked Mugwump twangs a lute.

  Walking down by the tracks in his red sweater met Sammy the Dock Keeper’s son with two Mexicans.

  ‘Hey, Skinny,’ he said, ‘want to get screwed?’

  ‘Well … Yeah.’

  On a ruined straw mattress the Mexican pulled him up on all fours – Negro boy dance around them beating out the strokes … sun through a knot-hole pink spotlights his cock.

  A waste of raw pink shame to the pastel blue horizon where vast iron mesas crash into the shattered sky.

  ‘It’s all right.’ The God screams through you three thousand year rusty load.…

  Hail of crystal skulls shattered the greenhouse to slivers in the winter moon.…

  The American woman has left a whiff of poison behind in the dank St. Louis garden party.

  Pool covered with green slime in a ruined French garden. Huge pathic frog rises slowly from the water on a mud platform playing the clavichord.

  A Sollubi rushes into the bar and starts polishing The Saint’s shoes with the oil on his nose.… The Saint kicks him petulantly in the mouth. The Sollubi screams, whirls around and shits on the Saint’s pants. Then he dashes into the street. A pimp looks after him speculatively.…

  The Saint calls the manager: ‘Jesus, Al, what kinda creep joint you running here? My brand new fishskin Dégagées …’

  ‘I’m sorry, Saint. He slipped by me.’

  (The Sollubi are an untouchable caste in Arabia noted for their abject vileness. De luxe cafés are equipped with Sollubi who rim the guests while they eat – holes in the seating benches being provided for this purpose. Citizens who want to be utterly humiliated and degraded – so many people do nowadays, hoping to jump the gun – offer themselves up for passive homosexual intercourse to an encampment of Sollubis.… Nothing like it, they tell me.… In fact, the Sollubi are subject to become wealthy and arrogant and lose their native vileness. What is origin of untouchable? Perhaps a fallen priest caste. In fact, untouchables perform a priestly function in taking on themselves all human vileness.

  A.J. strolls through the Market in black cape with a vulture perched on one shoulder. He stands by a table of agents.

  ‘This you gotta hear. Boy in Los Angeles fifteen year old. Father decide it is time the boy have his first piece of ass. Boy is lying on the lawn reading comic books, father go out and say: “Son here’s twenty dollars: I want you to go to a good whore and get a piece of ass off her.”

  ‘So they drive to this plush jump joint and the father say, “All right, son. You’re on your own. So ring the bell and when the woman come give her the twenty dollars and tell her you want a piece of ass.”

  ‘“Solid, pop.”

  ‘So about fifteen minutes later the boy comes out:

  ‘“Well, son, did you get a piece of ass?”

  ‘“Yeah. This gash comes to the door, and I say I want a piece of ass and lay the double sawski on her. We go up to her trap, and she remove the dry goods. So I switch my blade and cut a big hunk off her ass, she raise a beef like I am reduce to pull off one shoe and beat her brains out. Then I hump her for kicks.’

  Only the laughing bones remain, flesh over the hills and far away with the dawn wind and a train whistle. We are not unaware of the problem, and the needs of our constituents are never out of our mind being their place of residence and who can break a ninety-nine year synapses lease?

  Another installment in the adventures of Clem Snide the Private Ass Hole: ‘So I walk in the joint, and this female hustler sit at the bar, and I think, “Oh God, you’re poule de luxe already.” I mean it’s like I see the gash before. So I don’t pay her no mind at first, then I dig she is rubbing her legs together and working her feet up behind her head shoves it down to give herself a douche job with a gadget sticks out of her nose the way a body can’t help but notice.’

  Iris – half Chinese and half Negro – addicted to dihydro-oxy-heroin – takes a shot every fifteen minutes to which end she leaves droppers and needles sticking out all over her. The needles rust in her dry flesh, which, here and there, has grown completely over a joint to form a smooth green brown wen. On the table in front of her is a samovar of tea and a twenty-pound hamper of brown sugar. No one has ever seen her eat anything else. It is only just before a shot that she hears what anyone says or talks herself. Then she makes some flat, factual statement relative to her own person.

  ‘My asshole is occluding.’

  ‘My cunt got terrible green juices.’

  Iris is one of Benway’s projects. ‘The human body can run on sugar alone, God damn it.… I am aware that certain of my learned colleagues, who are attempting to belittle my genius work, claim that I put vitamins and proteins into Iris’s sugar clandestinely.… I challenge these nameless assholes to crawl up out of their latrines and run a spot analysis on Iris’s sugar and her tea. Iris is a who
lesome American cunt. I deny categorically that she nourishes herself on semen. And let me take this opportunity to state that I am a reputable scientist, not a charlatan, a lunatic, or a pretended worker of miracles.… I never claimed that Iris could subsist exclusive on photosynthesis.… I did not say she could breathe in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen – I confess I have been tempted to experiment being of course restrained by my medical ethics.… In short, the vile slanders of my creeping opponents will inevitably fall back onto them and come to roost like a homing stool pigeon.’

  Ordinary Men and Women

  Luncheon of Nationalist Party on balcony overlooking the Market. Cigars, scotch, polite belches.… The Party Leader strides about in a jellaba smoking a cigar and drinking Scotch. He wears expensive English shoes, loud socks, garters, muscular, hairy legs – overall effect of successful gangster in drag.

  P.L. (pointing dramatically): ‘Look out there. What do you see?’

  LIEUTENANT: ‘Huh? Why, I see the Market.’

  P.L.: ‘No you don’t. You see men and women. Ordinary men and women going about their ordinary everyday tasks. Leading their ordinary lives. That’s what we need.…’

  A street boy climbs over the balcony rail.

  LIEUTENANT: ‘No we do not want to buy any used condoms! Cut!’

  P.L.: ‘Wait! … Come in, my boy. Sit down.… Have a cigar.… Have a drink.’

  He paces around the boy like an aroused tom cat.

  ‘What do you think about the French?’


  ‘The French. The Colonial bastards who is sucking your live corpuscles.’