Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986
William S. Burroughs
For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts
thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison
thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot
thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes
thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through
thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces
thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers
thanks for laboratory AIDS
thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs
thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business thanks for a nation of finks yes,
thanks for all the memories… all right, let’s see your arms… you always were a headache and you always were a bore
thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

“Thanksgiving Prayer” was a poem first included in the chapbook Tornado Alley. Director Gus Van Sant then put together this montage whose power derives almost solely from Burroughs’ reading and, perhaps, the strange sad-old-man expression of his staring eyes at the end.
One of the many things that make William S. Burroughs unique among writers is the fact that he spent a lot of his creative energy not writing, presumably as a way to accomplish his mission of “rubbing out the word.” Burroughs painted, experimented with collage, manipulated tape recordings, collaborated on film projects, toyed with weird contraptions like the orgone accumulator and Brion Gysin’s dream machine. His interest in technology ran from the sophisticated down to the homely, as his usage of scissors and guns can attest. Contemplating the extraliterary range of Burroughs’ work, you can’t help but get the sense that he accomplished in aesthetics what Malcolm X sought to accomplish in politics with the slogan “by any means necessary.” Burroughs may have been a writer, but for him the tools of the trade were not confined to typewriters or pens. He wrote with anything that could make a mark or leave a trace, a tape effect or a shotgun blast.(via RealityStudio)

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