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Paper Topic:

Oral presentation

This was motivated by , on the one hand , an interest in the work of William S . Burroughs , a rogue literary figure par excellence , and , on the other hand , the wish to investigate the ways in which literature can subvert society 's mainstream values and norms . The research I conducted has therefore sought to cover those aspects in Williams S . Burroughs work which provide a commentary and /or critique of contemporary capitalist society . As concerns secondary readings , a series of postmodernism and capital society theorists - Frederic Jameson , Jean Baudrillard and Guy Debord - have

proven quite useful in providing the theoretical tools for investigating these themes in Burroughs 's works Jean Baudrillard 's notion of simulacra , Guy Debord 's concept of the society of the spectacle ' and Frederic Jameson 's definition of the postmodern space ' have been the key-concepts around which my analysis of Burroughs ' deconstruction of the capitalist society was conducted . The dialogue between these theoretical notions and my reading of Burroughs ' work has resulted in the decision to investigate Burroughs ' work from the point of view of two main themes : the deconstruction of the society of the spectacle ' and the configuration of cities as emblems of decay and superficiality

In Burroughs ' work , there are recurrent themes and motifs hallucinogens , viruses , or reality scripts ' and all sorts of control devices and matrices . These control matrices are epitomized in The Nova Express by the two gangs - the Nova Mob and the Nova Police . The latter are struggling to bring to the fore the artificial nature of the reality script , thus to foreground the spectacularity of the reality forged by the Nova Mob . The world presented in this book has many affinities with the structuralist definition of language and reality as an arbitrary system of signs - ultimately , the reality script itself appears as just one sign in this system whose expansion and existence has come to elude its very creators . Burroughs seems to intend to lay bare the artificiality of the society and the ways in which master discourses can take over and control humans ' perception of reality , as well as shatter a firm sense of identity . In Burroughs ' world , man has become an automaton , with pre-established tasks and preferences , so engrossed in the carrying out of the functions prescribed by the reality script ' that he can no longer recognize his alternative status : puppet and spectator

The same features become apparent when investigating the nature of the space and of the cityscapes present in Burroughs ' novels . The postmodern city , as defined by Frederic Jameson , is a palimpsest of surfaces , with no profound hold of reality or history . In his novels , Burroughs underlines this superficiality of the spectacular city by creating desolate landscapes which bear only vague traces of human life

One of the surprising results of this research was Burroughs extreme clarity of anticipation as concerns postmodernist capitalist society , as his vision informs and complements very well the theories of the postmodern production of space . Possibly , the best realization of this has been this dialogue that was created between Burroughs visions of the American capitalist society and contemporary theoretical interpretations


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