“It is precisely by breaking down the whole concept of privacy that the monopoly the Nixon Administration wishes to set up will be broken down. When nobody cares, then the shame ceases to exist and we can all return to the Garden of Eden without any God prowling around like a house dick with a tape recorder. Books and films in which the sex act is explicitly represented are certainly a step in the right direction. It is precisely this breakdown of shame and fear with regard to sex that the Nixon Administration is all out to stop so it can continue to use shame and fear as weapons of political control.”
– William Burroughs
Few individuals have expressed with feral honesty and brutal clarity the hidden forces which seek to control and manipulate humanity as the Black Pope, William Burroughs. Upon reading these words describing the sinister control mechanisms of the Nixon Administration one soberly realizes that not much has changed in today’s modern climate. The use of shame and fear as mechanisms of control continue to infiltrate not only the political realm but the spiritual environments as well.
The Elemental Message of Resistance
Burroughs contributed a large body of work pregnant with important spiritual implications but perhaps his most powerful elemental message is the message of resistance. Today the virus of modernity continues to replicate within society seeking to control on all levels any manifestation of chaos or individualistic expression. This virus seeks to homogenize and commodify its host using the facade of “morals” to transform any expression of individual manifestation into standardized pablum.
This is one of the main reasons why Burroughs feral creations of word-play were such a threat to the establishment and to this day continue to shock and instill fear in Right Wing political circles and conservative religious groups of all persuasions. While these mechanisms of control are often easy to spot in the political realms of double-speak and media manipulation, in the arena of the spiritual the control mechanisms often remain hidden.
The spiritual realm of conservative western systems is often an easy giveaway with forces sympathetic to the status quo parroting moralistic diatribes against the usual suspects: gay and lesbians, minorities and anyone who falls outside of their “picture perfect” white bread worldview. Burroughs explains that when he “was in high school in the 1920’s, anybody expressing doubts about our treatment of Indians, capital punishment, the natural inferiority of blacks, the abomination of being a queer or a dope fiend, would have been shunned by his schoolmates as a dangerous radical or practitioner of the hideous vices he defended.” This Right Wing Christian world view, labeled by Burroughs as being infected by the “RIGHT Virus”, insidious infiltrates into Eastern systems of spirituality as well.
This is all too common in the modern environment of cafeteria new age spiritualism but is actually deeply rooted in many of the more “traditional” groups which label themselves as “dharmic” or “yogic”. The American Yoga scene espouses cliché moralistic memes about “yogic ethics” yet rarely if ever makes honest attempts at commenting upon valid social issues which demand a critical discriminating perception.
Veneer of the Iconoclast
Charismatic leaders claiming to be “gurus” even espouse Right Wing / Left Wing ideas demanding economic and political views of their followers under the veneer of being iconoclastic revolutionaries. However, when one peers beneath the surface, disturbing traces of racism and questionable political ties to Right Wing / Left wing groups are discovered.
Right Wing / Left Wing Evangelical morals are replaced by Right Wing / Left Wing Hindu morals claiming that only a “sattvic” view of life, politics, sexuality or economics is the “natural way”. Of course these “sattvic” views once again adumbrate Burroughs comments about his experience growing up in the 1920’s and target anyone outside of their “sattvic” life as radicals, social outcasts or evil degenerates.
These religious groups also typically promise a “coming golden age” of peace and harmony, which strangely does not include the individuals which do not fit into their unique “sattvic” worldview. These hidden Right Wing approaches are the most dangerous as they lure individuals in under the guise of a radical spiritual iconoclasm yet ultimately create a new type of standardized homogenized approach which fears any type of chaos and belief which challenges their “traditional” world view.
The RIGHT Virus
This is the RIGHT Virus described by Burroughs; those following their worldview are enlightened and anyone who challenges their world view is portrayed as evil; they must be “RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT” to use Burroughs verbiage. Modern day political or spiritual groups which espouse world-views of “US v. Them” are unique methods of control which use fear and shame as tools of manipulation.
Individuals who have cultivated a state of mind comfortable with the uncertainty and chaotic nature of the world can easily see through this façade and read the warning signs which are often colored with an attractive sugary coating. The individual who exists outside this hive mentality is often label as demonic or dangerous yet in actuality is immune to the myopic RIGHT Virus.
Reading the Word
One of the unique ideas of Burroughs which can be used to facilitate this immunity is introduced within his ideas of teaching creative writing. Burroughs would often state that he had come to doubt whether one could teach creative writing, however one could teach creative reading. This is a unique idea which can be unfolded in a gnostic perception of reality whereby the individual learns to “read” the various expressions of reality, the varied expressions of “the word.”
Burroughs clearly viewed both reading and writing as a magical operation which if cultivated and honed could allow the individual to break free from the mechanistic control of political, moral and spiritual manipulation. This requires that the individual must have a broad “reading list”, one which includes ideas and materials which the political and spiritual control mechanisms list as dangerous, subversive or radical.
The alien individual must allow his or her worldview to be colored by a broad range of shades and tones which exist outside of the traditional spectrum. One’s palette must be broadened and matured and subtle tones and flavors will start to take shape and appear out of the darkness which is feared by the group mentality.
At this point the individual can learn to see a unique independent view of reality, one which is not encumbered by the manipulation of a control system masquerading as an enlightened spiritual world-view. This method of “reading” demands that the individual step outside of the comfortable and predictable paradigms of reality and enter into realms which exhibit traits of chaos and uncertainty.
A Stranger in Their World
Certainly these kind of exercises are not encouraged by the modern mindset and are patently denied by the majority of political and spiritual paradigms both modern and traditional.
As expressed in the the gnostic Mandean literature:
“I remain a stranger in their world….They whisper. They say among themselves, ‘Where does this alien come from? He doesn’t speak like us.’ I didn’t listen to their speech raging against me.”
Burroughs ideas and writings encourage this alien world-view of true individualism and freedom from the machine of modernity / standardization and immunity from the “RIGHT Virus.” The Leviathan of archonic mechanization and homogenization uses political and spiritual systems to its advantage offereing seemingly attractive pathways to enlightenment which only lead to a manufactured mythos of exclusivity and moralistic judgment.
The Spirit of the Black Pope calls to the alien individual from the Land of the Dead with a message of resistance.
Who will listen?