https://newrepublic.com/article/116474/ ... ghs-affair
Although I obviously disagree with his completely negative assessment of NL, his review is worth reading because it contrasts Burroughs with Henry Miller, with whom he is frequently compared. As most readers here know, RS has a great article on the surprising lack of connection (personal or professional) between the two writers:
http://realitystudio.org/scholarship/he ... -overview/
Among the reasons given for this lack of affinity are differences in worldview due to a generation gap (Miller was about a quarter century older than WSB) and different sexual orientation. Wain thinks that the most important divide between the two writers is more fundamental, having do with their attitude towards life:
I agree that Wain's description gets at why in spite of superficial similarities (stream of consciousness writing style, pornographic content, explorations of the underbelly of society, interest in Spengler's theories), one really can't speak of Burroughs and Miller in the same breath. Miller thinks that life is beautiful, that people generally have a lot to offer, and that the world is a great place in spite of its flaws. Burroughs takes a much darker view, especially in his earlier works - that desire and pleasure are addictive traps, that most people's lives are driven by their addictions, first and foremost a desire for power over others, and that human life isn't something beautiful but a host for disease and parasites prior to inevitable death. Where Wain is wrong is in dismissing WSB's view as something fundamentally flawed and incorrect.The idea seems to have got about that Burroughs is the same kind of writer as Henry Miller; indeed, I have seen it stated several times that Naked Lunch is, so to speak, Miller’s Tropics carried a stage further. In fact, they are writers of entirely opposite tendency. Miller is an affirmative writer. He preaches incessantly, and his “message,” boiled down to its essentials, is that happiness is attainable by anyone who sheds his responsibilities and lives by impulse, never doing anything that he doesn’t feel exactly like doing at that moment. ...
Miller, then, is contagious because he is an enjoyer. The “freedom” he proclaims would in practice turn out to be self-defeating, but at least it is a freedom to enjoy life. Burroughs, by contrast, belongs more to the tradition of Celine. He doesn’t want to enjoy himself and he doesn’t want us to, either. Imagine him looking at a landscape and getting anything out of it! The nearest he gets to a description of pleasure, of anybody doing anything because they liked it, is (at the worst) in his obsessive descriptions of fearful sadistic violence
Burroughs does belong to the same tradition as Celine (and Beckett, even though Beckett was not a direct influence), while Miller belongs to the "celebrate myself" tradition of Walt Whitman. I think that this fundamental difference in attitude towards the world and humanity is why one never really took much interest in the other.