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
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