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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Page 2

William S. Burroughs

  “As a prisoner serving a life sentence can think only of escape, so Kim (this is my hero) took it for granted that the only purpose of his life was Space travel. He thought of this as not so much a change of a locality but as a change of dimension, the basic change of a being with all its surroundings like the switch from water to land. But you see, there had to be the air-breathing potential first. That’s where you start. And what is it that you must alter in order to make these changes.

  “The first step towards Space exploration was to examine the human artifact with biologic alterations in mind that would render our human artifact more suitable for Space conditions and Space travel. Now we are like water creatures looking up from here at the earth and the air and wondering how we can survive in that alien medium. Fish didn’t have the capacity to do that: we do. The water we live in is Time. That alien medium we glimpse beyond Time is Space. And that is where we are going... Kim read all the science fiction books and stories he could find and he was stunned to find the assumption, the basic assumption, that there is no real change involved in Space travel, same dreary people playing out the same tired old roles. Take that dead act into Space. Now here they are light years from Planet Earth watching cricket and baseball on a vision screen.... can you imagine taking their stupid pastimes light years into Space. It’s like the fish said, ‘Well, I’m gonna just shove this aquarium up onto the land and there I’ve got everything I need...’ (laughter)... you need entirely too much.

  “Well, to begin with there is the question, of weight, the human organism weighs about 170 pounds and that is a decided disadvantage. But also this breathing- eating-excreting-dreaming human organism must have its entire environment, its awkward life process encapsulated and transported with it... into Space. And one wonders - Kim goes into his academic act, letting his bifocals slip down onto his nose like a professor launching into a well-worn joke - one wonders, gentlemen, if this crew doesn’t perhaps have a pet elephant essential to its welfare that it’s gonna take along...”

  Now, regarding this question of weight, we have a model at hand of a much lighter body, in fact a body which is virtually weightless and I’m referring to the astral dream body, which some scientists don’t believe in. But this model gives us a clue to the changes we must undergo. When I say must, I am speaking not in moral, but in biologic terms. And the dream also gives us insight into Space conditions. One of the more interesting facts of dream research, has established that dreaming is a biologic necessity. You see, they can tell now when an animal or a person is dreaming by the brainwaves, the REM waves, and research has established that if dream sleep is cut off every time they see sleep brainwaves they wake the animal up - no matter how much dreamless sleep he is allowed, irritability, restlessness, hallucinations and eventually coma, convulsions and death would result. He’d show all the symptoms of sleeplessness no matter how much sleep he was allowed... I don’t know what Freud would have made of that... Kim saw dreams as a vital link to his biologic and spiritual destiny in Space, and deprived of this airline he would die. The way to kill a man or a nation is to cut off their dreams in the way that whites took care of the Indians, they cut off their dreams, their magic, and they tended to die out.

  So I’m starting here with a basic assumption which of course many of you will, cannot accept: that our destiny - again I’m talking about our biologic destiny - is in Space, and that our failure to achieve this is the basic flaw in the human artifact.

  That’s why it’s back here, down here with the flintlock instead of being somewhere up here.

  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse By William S. Burroughs Page 4 of 4

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  Document ID: 78ba5c50-a2f4-491e-ad74-e38eb0f0fc75

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  Document creation date: 11.4.2012

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  Document authors :

  William S. Burroughs


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