Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

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Expense_Account
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Name a Burroughs book: Junky

Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by Expense_Account » Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:05 am

In the Burroughs-verse, not only are most of the characters male, but most of the named characters are homosexuals (my choice or by circumstance) and, beyond that, there are sexual rites for body transformation and dreamwalking while getting fixed.

Now, the film had a certain "straightening" of Burroughs, deflecting the sexuality toward grotesque machines.

In my Gay & Lesbian Literature class, all the professors were loathe to touch Burroughs. They didn't seem to think he represented anything in the evolution of gay literature. How could this be true? Or is the sex in Burroughs books so alien that it doesn't seem to have anything to do with real-world sexuality?

I guess, I ask this question to gay readers: how much of WSB's sexual writing is sacred to his text? Are the genders of the characters themselves sacred?

If a book was translated for screen, and a character was made female (or M2F transgender), would it be a disservice to Burroughs and his hard-core fans?

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David D
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by David D » Mon Sep 01, 2014 3:34 am

I think the queer aspect is such an inherent part of the worldview that you really can't cut it out of Burroughs' books without making a travesty of them (gahd, with a pun that corny, how will I convince anyone it wasn't intended).

Then again, I'm actually quite fond of Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, which I presume is the film you refer to. So I guess it depends what aspect your adaptation will want to focus on. Because I do believe that an adaptation is always (should always be) a selection that says more about the 'adapter' than about the original artist/artwork. In that sense any adaptation is free to do whatever it wants to do ... reminds me of that quip Burroughs quoted somewhere -- though I forget who he got it from and I'm away from my books right now -- "They haven't done anything to my books; they're still right there on the shelf."

If that's your line, I highly recommend Jamie Russell's book Queer Burroughs. I remember not quite agreeing with everything he wrote, and the book does have a bit of that almost monomaniac obsessive focus that I often find a tad irritating in most studies from the gender/lbgtq department, but overall I found it a very valuable addition to the Burroughs shelf ...
"Most people simply aren't human so far as I am concerned."

edward_de_vere
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by edward_de_vere » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:30 pm

Expense_Account wrote:In the Burroughs-verse, not only are most of the characters male, but most of the named characters are homosexuals (my choice or by circumstance) and, beyond that, there are sexual rites for body transformation and dreamwalking while getting fixed.

Now, the film had a certain "straightening" of Burroughs, deflecting the sexuality toward grotesque machines.

In my Gay & Lesbian Literature class, all the professors were loathe to touch Burroughs. They didn't seem to think he represented anything in the evolution of gay literature. How could this be true? Or is the sex in Burroughs books so alien that it doesn't seem to have anything to do with real-world sexuality?

I guess, I ask this question to gay readers: how much of WSB's sexual writing is sacred to his text? Are the genders of the characters themselves sacred?

If a book was translated for screen, and a character was made female (or M2F transgender), would it be a disservice to Burroughs and his hard-core fans?
When Burroughs adapted Alan Nourse's novel The Bladerunner, he made the protagonist a recovering heroin addict and a homosexual, neither of which was in the book. If WSB took that liberty with someone else's source material, I'm sure he'd have no major objections to others taking liberties with his material, as Cronenberg did with Naked Lunch. In any case, the biggest problem I have with Cronenberg's film isn't that it makes WSB too straight, but that the film has virtually no scenes from the novel, just some lines ripped awkwardly out of context.

Having said that, while I can see how a heterosexualized adaptation of Naked Lunch would work (i.e. the fact that most of the sex is male to male is incidental to the broader themes of addiction, control, and degeneration), in works such as The Wild Boys or his final trilogy, the homosexual aspect is so central to the book that I don't see how a straight version would have much of a connection to the original work. But then, I probably find Burroughs' earlier works more relatable because the specifics of the sexuality are incidental rather than central.

edward_de_vere
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by edward_de_vere » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:40 pm

Expense_Account wrote:In the Burroughs-verse, not only are most of the characters male, but most of the named characters are homosexuals (my choice or by circumstance) and, beyond that, there are sexual rites for body transformation and dreamwalking while getting fixed.

Now, the film had a certain "straightening" of Burroughs, deflecting the sexuality toward grotesque machines.

In my Gay & Lesbian Literature class, all the professors were loathe to touch Burroughs. They didn't seem to think he represented anything in the evolution of gay literature. How could this be true? Or is the sex in Burroughs books so alien that it doesn't seem to have anything to do with real-world sexuality?

I guess, I ask this question to gay readers: how much of WSB's sexual writing is sacred to his text? Are the genders of the characters themselves sacred?

If a book was translated for screen, and a character was made female (or M2F transgender), would it be a disservice to Burroughs and his hard-core fans?
In case you haven't seen it, Cronenberg responds to (in my opinion rather shrill and obnoxious) accusation of "straightening" Burroughs in this interview:

http://www.davidcronenberg.de/gaylunch.html


http://realitystudio.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1557

Expense_Account
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Name a Burroughs book: Junky

Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by Expense_Account » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:19 am

In case you haven't seen it, Cronenberg responds to (in my opinion rather shrill and obnoxious) accusation of "straightening" Burroughs in this interview:
http://www.davidcronenberg.de/gaylunch.html
http://realitystudio.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1557[/quote]

I'll check it out. My main thing is a lack of female characters. That's a screenplay type of thing anyway. Johnny Yenshe might was well be a ladyboy. Countess di Ville isn't around long but any glamorous actress could chew the scene with her for a bit. The commisar creates a woman out of Carl's flesh with the green jelly, does he not? And maybe I&I, the Intolerable kid, is a female punk rocker with a mustache and a bowl cut giving it to the man.

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davee_mac
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by davee_mac » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:24 am

testing testing

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davee_mac
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by davee_mac » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:58 pm

every time I type a long reply to this thread it goes to 'page doesn't exist' WTF I give up

edward_de_vere
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by edward_de_vere » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:28 pm

davee_mac wrote:every time I type a long reply to this thread it goes to 'page doesn't exist' WTF I give up
I had the same problem, not on this thread, but on another one. It worked a day later, but by then I forgot what I was going to say!

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Jim Pennington
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Re: Homoexuality -- Sacred or Superfluous?

Post by Jim Pennington » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:42 pm

same prob for me too... and i just remembered my two-pennyworth:
Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture by Arthur Evans

It is erudite, illuminating but possibly over-stated once you plough through this historical analysis:
The roots of gay oppression by Norah Carlin from International Socialism:

http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=310

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