INTERVIEW  
                             with  
                      WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS 
                          conducted by 
                          Gregory Corso 
                              and 
                         Allen Ginsberg 
  Originally appeared in Journal For the Protection of All People 
                              1961 
                       Transcribed by Flesh  
                              1992 
B= William Burroughs 
C= Gregory Corso 
G= Allen Ginsberg 
 
C: What is your department? 
 
B: Kunst unt Wissenschaft 
 
C: What say you about political conflicts? 
 
B: Political conflicts are merely surfaced manifestations. If   
   conflicts arise you may certain powers intend to keep this   
   conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the   
   situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts 
   is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you  are      
   charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you 
   the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him
   to follow, obey the cloth. 
 
C: Who manipulates the cloth? 
 
B: Death 
 
G: What is death? 
 
B: A gimmick. It's the time birth death gimmick. Can't go on much
   longer, too many people are wising up. 
 
C: Do you feel there has been a definite change in man's makeup?
   A new consciousness? 
 
B: Yes, I can give you a precise answer to that. I feel that the
   change the mutation in consciousness will occur spontaneously
   once certain pressures now in operation are removed. I feel that
   the principal instrument of monopoly and control that prevents
   expansion of consciousness is the word lines controlling thought
   feeling and apparent sensory impressions of the human host. 
 
G: And if removed, what step? 
 
B: The forward step must be made in silence. we detach ourselves
   from word forms-this can be accomplished by substituting for  
   words, letters, concepts, verbal concepts, other modes of     
   expression; for example, color.  We can translate word and   
   letter into color (Rimbaud stated that in his color vowels,   
   words quote "words" can be read in silent  color.) In other   
   words man must get away from verbal forms to attain the      
   consciousness, that which is there to be perceived at hand. 
 
C: How does one take that "forward step," can you say? 
 
B: Well, this is my subject and is what I am concerned with.     
   Forward steps  are made by giving up old armor because words are
   built into you---in the soft typewriter of the womb you do not
   realize  the word-armor you carry; for example, when you read
   this page your eyes move irresistibly from left to right      
   following the words that you have been accustomed to. Now try 
   breaking up part of the page like this: 
     Are there      or just     we can translate 
   many solutions         for example color    word color 
     in the soft typewriter                                   into
   political conflicts             to attain consciousness 
                      monopoly and control 
 
C: Reading that it seems you end up where you began, with politics
   and it's nomenclature: conflict, attain, solution, monopoly,  
   control--so what kind of  help is that? 
 
B: Precisely what I was saying---if you talk you always end up with
   politics, it gets nowhere, I mean man it's strictly from the  
   soft typewriter. 
 
C: What kind of advice you got for politicians? 
 
B: Tell the truth once and for all and shut up forever. 
 
C: What if people don't want to change, don't want no new        
   consciousness? 
 
B: For any species to change, if they are unable and are unwilling
   to do so--I might for example however have suggested to the   
   dinosaurs that heavy armor and great size was a sinking ship, 
   and that they do well to convert to mammal facilities---it would
   not lie in my power or desire to reconvert  a reluctant      
   dinosaur. I can make my feeling very clear, Gregory, I fell like
   I'm on a sinking ship and I want off. 
 
C: Do you think Hemingway got off? 
 
B: Probably not. 


               (Next day) 
 
G: What about control? 
 
B: Now all politicians assume a necessity of control, the more   
   efficient the control the better. All political organizations 
   tend to function like a machine, to eliminate the unpredictable 
   factor of AFFECT---emotion. Any machine tends to absorb,      
   eliminate, Affect. Yet the only person who can make a machine 
   move is someone who has a motive, who has Affect. If all      
   individuals were conditioned to machine efficiency in the     
   performance of their duties they would have to be at least one 
   person outside the machine to give the necessary orders; if the 
   machine absorbed or eliminated all those outside the machine the
   machine will slow down and stop forever. Any unchecked impulse
   does, within the human body & psyche, lead to the destruction
   of the organism. 
 
G: What kind of organization could technological society have   
   without control? 
 
B: The whole point is I feel the machine should be eliminated. Now
   that it has served its purpose of alerting us to the dangers of
   machine control. Elimination of all natural sciences----If   
   anybody ought to go to the extermination chambers definitely  
   scientists, yes I'm definitely antiscientist because I feel that
   science represents a conspiracy to impose as, the real and only
   universe, the Universe of scientists themselves----they're   
   reality-addicts, they've got to have things so real so they can 
   get their hands on it. We have a great  elaborate machine which
   I feel has to be completely dismantled--- in order to do that
   we need people who understand  how the machine works ---the mass
   media---paralleled opportunity. 
 
G: Who do you think is responsible for the dope situation in     
   America? 
 
B: Old Army game, "I act under orders ." As Captain Ahab said,  
   "You are not other men but my arms and legs---" Mr. Anslinger
   has a lot of arms and legs, or whoever is controlling him, same
   thing as the Wichman case, he's the front man, the man who has
   got to take the rap, poor bastard, I got sympathy for him. 
 
C: Could you or do you think it wise to say who it will be or just
   what force it will be that will destroy the world? 
 
B: You want to create a panic? That's top secret----want to swamp
   the lifeboats? 
 
C: O.K. How did them there lifeboats get there in the first place?

B: Take for instance some Indians in South America I seen. There
   comes along this sloppy cop with his shirt buttons all in the
   wrong hole, well then, Parkinson's law goes into              
   operation---there's need not for one cop but seven or eight,    
   need for sanitation inspectors, rent collectors, etc.; so after 
   a period  of years problems arise, crime, dope taking and     
   traffic, juvenile delinquency---So the question is asked, "What 
   should we do about these problems?" The answer as Gertrude Stein
   on her deathbed said comes before the question--- in short   
   before the bastards got there in the first place! that's all--- 
 
G: What do you think Cuba and the FLN think about poets? And what
   do you think their marijuana policy is? 
 
B: All political movements are basically anti-creative----since a
   political movement is a form of war. "There's no place for   
   impractical dreamers around here" that's what they always say. 
   "Your writing activities will be directed, kindly stop horsing 
   around." "As for the smoking of marijuana, it is the          
   exploitation for the workers." Both favor alcohol and are     
   against pot. 
 
C: I feel capitol punishment is dooming U.S.A. 
 
B: I'm against Capitol Punishment in all forms, and I have written
   many pamphlets on this subject in the manner of Swift's modest
   proposal pamphlet incorporated into Naked Lunch; these pamphlets
   have marked Naked Lunch  as an obscene book, most all methods
   of Capitol Punishment are designed to inflict the maximum of  
   humiliation---note attempts to prevent suicide. 
 
G: What advice do you have for American youth who are drawn to   
   political action out of sympathy for the American revolution--- 
 
B: "I wouldn't be in your position"---old saw. If there is any   
   political move that I would advocate it would be an alliance  
   between America and Red China, if they'd have us. 
 
C: What about the Arab peoples---how are they faring? 
 
B: They're stuck back thousands of years and they think they're  
   going to get out with a TV set. 
 
C: What about the Negros, will they make it---not only the ones in
   the South, but everywhere? 
 
B: Biologically speaking the Afro-asiatic block is in the        
   ascendancy---always remember that both Negro and White are    
   minority groups---the largest race is the mongoloid group. In 
   the event of atomic war there is a tremendous biological      
   advantage in the so-called underdeveloped areas that have high 
   birth rates and high death rate  because, man,  they can plow 
   under those mutations. The country with a low birth rate and low
   death rate will be hardest hit---and so the poor may indeed   
   inherit the earth, because they're  healthier. 
 
G: What do you think of White Supremacy? 
 
B: The essence of white supremacy is this: they are people who want
   to keep things as they are. That their children's children's  
   children  might be a different  color is something very alarming
   to them---in short they are committed to the maintenance of   
   static image. The attempt to maintain a static image, even if 
   it's a good image, just won't work. 
 
C: Do you think Americans want and could fight the next war with
   the same fire and fervency as they did in World War 2? 
 
B: Undoubtedly, yes---because they remember what a soft time they
   had in the last one---they sat on their ass.