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Naked Lunch at 50:
An Interview with William S. Burroughs (excerpt)

JM: In all of your books, you refer over and over again to “the Orgasm Death Gimmick,” which is a swindle created by the Nova Mob, interstellar criminals who have invaded earth and keep themselves invisible so we won’t know they are here. What is the Orgasmic Death Gimmick?

WB: It’s just one of their many gimmicks. You see, in general, like a stage magician, they don’t want people to know how their tricks work. The Orgasmic Death Gimmick is rather complicated. It could be called the whole birth-death cycle of action, persuading people that birth and death are realities.

JM: The most frequent complaint against your books is simply that they are disgusting. How do you react to that complaint?

WB: Well, “disgusting” doesn’t refer to the books but to the subjective reaction of the person making the complaint. I don’t think that anything is disgusting per se. These words “disgusting” and “filthy,” etc., have prevented us from undertaking any scientific experimentation in sexual matters. How far would people get in physics if discovery was described as disgusting — “Your formula is disgusting and filthy”? Not very far.

JM: You were addicted to opiates for 15 years, and have been off them for seven years now. Would you explain how you got addicted?

WB: Addiction is a disease of exposure. Doctors and nurses, for instance, have a high addiction rate. I took a shot of morphine, liked it, and eventually became addicted. It takes quite a while. It took me three months the first time. This nonsense of people becoming addicted with one shot is medically unsound. 

JM: But weren’t you aware of the dangers of addiction?

WB: The Federal Narcotics Bureau does a grave disservice by disseminating a lot of misinformation. Most of what they say is such nonsense that I didn’t believe them about addiction. I thought I could take it or leave it alone. For instance, they give out that marijuana is a harmful and habit-forming drug, and it simply isn’t. They claim that you can get addicted to opiates with one shot, and you can’t. They over-estimate the physical bad effects, and so forth. So a lot of people just don’t believe anything they say. When I said it was a disease of exposure, I meant that people will take anything that gives them a lift, whether it’s alcohol or cocaine or the consciousness-expanding drugs or opiates. In Iran, until recently, they sold opium in shops legally, and they had 3,000,000 addicts in a population of 15,000,000. I don’t believe that all those people were escaping from “complexes” or anything of the sort. They were simply exposed to it.

JM: A final question. You books state bluntly that all the “boards, syndicates and governments of the earth” are under the control of the Nova Mob, who have seduced them into becoming “power addicts,” and you imply that “power addiction” is the worst kind of addiction. What are the motives of the Nova Mob? And what can we do about it?

WB: The Nova Mob doesn’t have motives, as we understand motives. “Sex is profoundly distasteful to a being of my mineral origin,” as a leader of the Nova Mob, Mr. Bradley-Mr. Martin, said on one occasion.

JM: By the way, why is the leader one person with two names?

WB: Mr. Bradley-Mr. Martin is two people because it is a statement of the impasse of dualistic universe which he has created, they have created. I think that any dualistic universe ends in Nova. Mr. Bradley-Mr. Martin is a kind of God. A God of stupidity, cowardice, ugliness … the spirit of our age. As for what we can do about it, I don’t have any politics. I feel that as soon as politics arises, things are already in a hopeless state of deterioration. As soon as you have a problem, it’s insoluble. These things should never have been allowed to happen. I’ve seen villages in South America with no police whatever. Then the cops would arrive, then the sanitary inspectors, and before you know it they’ve got all the problems — crime, juvenile delinquency, the whole works — just like us. I have no message to give the politicians of the world. They’re all completely addicted to promiscuous verbalization and I’m quite sure they would not be at all interested in hearing about cut-ups and hieroglyphics and still less interested to hear about silence.


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