Mind Control and the Liberating Counter-Language of William S. Burroughs by Rocket Kirchner

William S. Burroughs

Image by Christiaan Tonnis via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
January 19, 2016

From the beginning of time, the human race has been buried under an avalanche of a graveyard of definitions, immersed from birth till death.

Language is the number one form of mind control, framing issues barraging us day and night with government propaganda, corporate agendas, images, simulations, you name it. What is one to do?

Well, first off one can just drop out of society and lapse into silence as Wittgenstein did. The trouble with that is that you are still stuck with the you that has been formed with the society that you grew up in. Besides, it runs contrary to our deepest needs as social animals for the need of human touch, love exchange, and community.

There is another alternative. This one is to battle mind control language with counter-language. No one did this better than American writer William S. Burroughs. No one. Because Burroughs saw language as a virus of word and image that locks and controls the mind, that the mind must be free from. Derrida and Foucault got bogged down in theorizing their post-structuralism and deconstructionism that seem to put all context to fixed meaning as illusion of the rational subject, leaving what Habermas referred to as “Linguistic Nihilism” completing the trajectory of Semiotics to nowhere.

The political reaction to mind control language has been Agitprop, or seeking in a Chomsky-like manner to reframe questions that have been improperly framed by the powers that be. Why? Because the questions themselves are loaded to maintain mind control through incessant presentations, so that controlling human behavior brings about the endgame of retaining power. Orwell spoke of non-totalitarian societies such as England as being less obvious in mass control over the Vox Populi, hence more deadly.

A valiant effort has been made by great thinkers, activists, and artists to reframe and deconstruct this all pervasive and oppressive linguistic maze of organized thought, but alak and alas they have all fallen short in the battle… except Burroughs. Burroughs went to war, language war. It was Burroughs and Burroughs alone using what he called the guerilla war of word – images language to combat control language. He did it. He really did it!

Just how did he do it? He used what is called “Random Cut Ups.” He did this in 3 books: Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded and Nova Express. The process he uses is really fascinating and also his public readings of these works. The process goes thus: He writes a coherent novel. Then he takes random sentences, and cuts them out and places them randomly in other places in the same novel. This was very cutting edge work done back in the late 1950s. One might be tempted to see these books as leading to a dead end. But they don’t. They are exciting and effective in approach.

I am not saying that Burroughs’ work offers any ultimate hope per se, but it is a great place to begin to dislodge places our thoughts that have been controlled. This revolution of counter-language breaks up years of control language and smashes it to pieces. There is no debate with Burroughs and his work. There is only hard edge language war. He does not negotiate with the enemy, theorize, pull down or re-frame. He decimates. Carthage must be destroyed and salted over so that nothing more can grow there from the language control monsters.

Once you read or hear Burroughs you are de-centered, jumbled up, thrown down, spun around, vertigone. The leveling of the playing field by a counter-language assault is the actual force itself of deconstructing, reframing, and liberating all in one fell swoop. It is The Discombobulation, The Scorched Earth, The Zen slap down. From there on out everything is Tabula Rasa, for we are on our own to think and feel and choose as we please without the brainwashing of language control.


The Heat Closing In by William S. Burroughs

steve reeves on Jan 4, 2012

from the archives

Rocket Kirchner: Edge of the World

Manufacturing Consent (1992) + Manufacturing Consent 25 Years Later

The Wires that Control the Public Mind (2008)

Edward Bernays and the Art of Public Manipulation

The Century Of The Self By Adam Curtis (2002; must-see)


17 thoughts on “Mind Control and the Liberating Counter-Language of William S. Burroughs by Rocket Kirchner

  1. Pingback: First They Come For The Artists by Rocket Kirchner | Dandelion Salad

  2. Quite the opening here! Shiny black FBI shoes, yes indeed.

    I found Nova Express quite extraordinary, even if Mr Lee was in league with the devil. But McLuhan I’m not so comfortable with. He coined the mantra turn on, tune in and drop out for Leary. Edmonton Alberta sure is a long way from everywhere.

    Seems like the entire post-nuclear US consciousness was orchestrated by the OSS/CIA. Hard to be an independent artist when that Mighty cold-war Wurlitzer was grinding out its totalitarian tunes, pushing psychedelic mayhem and funding deadly MK-ULTRA spook psychiatry. Sinister, weird and ugly in the extreme.

    McLuhan’s touchstone was Joyce. But who can find anyone who has truly read Finnegans Wake and is capable of persuading us of the fact?

    • yes well David , there is a Joyceian characteristic to Burroughs in jumbling up the reader. Also – Rimbaud ; derangement of the senses.

      it is just that Burroughs actually reading his stuff in public thru the airwaves and videos instead of being limited to an Irish pub or the left bank of Paris. his style really is front line battle even in all its humor . What the Vox Populi really does not get is that mind control is real .

      Burroughs knew this . His mission was serious . .. and very effective to the international community .

    • Faye, that is a great comment, but has been said many times before. Let me make this clear: I don’t think McLuhan is outdated. He has a lot of insight into how the media and global communication works.

      However, he is another Guardian of the status quo of language.

      On the other hand – Burroughs is actually a warrior against language constructs.

      I would strongly recommend “Against Interpretation” by Susan Sontag to more understand in general what the problem is and those who want to break it to pieces. Avant Garde musical composer John Cage is another great example as Sontag points out.

  3. Human brain to human interface and computer to human brain and body via cybernetic implants is faaaaar beyond Neuro linguistic programming (language) alone.

  4. Language needs a medium…The Medium, when used effectively, is still the Message.

    Marshall McCluhan is as relevant as ever!

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