William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Synopsis: William S. Burroughs: featuring never before seen footage as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues. Born the heir of the Burroughs' adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems, and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned their decision in 1966, ruling that the book had an important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century. William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering,
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Yony Leyser
Production: Oscilloscope Pictures
  1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
87 min


[ V. Vale ] Burroughs himself

never identified with

the Beat Generation.

He was the godfather and mentor.

He was a bit older.

And since he was also

Harvard educated,

he just brought in

a whole bunch of ideas...

just from classical education

that he had.

And invented a style of book


I mean, it was so original.

And anything that's

so original like that,

eventually lasts.

[ Burroughs ]

Cut... Angle... Word line...

This matter... res... the...

ripples... with cortex...

In the vague description...

which an area...

evasion... experience...

will project...

further experience...

when accompanied... of mass...

but limited...

I think probably Freud

would think him to be...

deeply, deeply troubled.

Profoundly mentally ill.

Everybody was enamored

by William because he was

famous before anybody else.

And he was also famous

for all the wrong things.

He was the first person

that was famous for things

you were supposed to hide.

He was gay. He was a junkie.

He didn't look handsome.

He shot his wife.

He wrote poetry about

assholes and heroin.

He was not easy to like.

[ Ira Silverberg ]

Class was an essential factor

in the work and life.

William came

from a very traditional,

upper-crust, American family.

Though the fortune

may have been lost,

the breeding was deep

and instilled.

And thus the gentleman

we know was bred.

I could totally relate

to the dry thing...

salesman thing that

he'd created. You know.

And this very

underplayed thing...

just very, very removed...

very removed.

Also very, very interested

in death.

And I think that's

what scared Americans...

more than his writing itself.

If he'd had that worldview

and he was writing in a more

polite way...

and if it didn't have to do

with guns and junk.

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Yony Leyser


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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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