Full fifty percent of all English lit majors went through, at some point in college (usually freshman year) a Beatnik phase. Nobody actually likes the Beats, mind you. But, when you’re 19, it’s the cool thing to do. So you pick up On the Road and Howl and Naked Lunch, and you take them with you so that others can espy you carrying them. Occasionally, you’ll thumb through a copy, scanning the words, tittering at the curses. None of it actually makes sense, mind you. It was all incoherent garbage — poems about assholes and heroin and little bugs that fuck you.
Eventually, you’ll grow out of the phase, begin to appreciate well-constructed prose with coherent meaning, maybe switch your major to political science for a year before deciding to go to law school. You can also stop wearing combat boots with shorts. It’s uncomfortable. And you know what else? It’s OK to appreciate and even date women who shower occasionally. But keep those books on your bookshelf to serve as a reminder of the period in your life when you tried to be something you weren’t. Honestly, liking Burroughs and Bukowski and Ginsberg isn’t really cool, unless you live in the 1960s and your whacked out on heroin.
Shit, I’m describing myself again.
Anyway, there’s a documentary coming out about William S. Burroughs, who actually was an interesting guy, even if his poetry was jumbled rubbish (also: Naked Lunch was horrible, both the book and the movie). It doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate and respect the author for his accomplished life and the way he pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment, although that whole shot his wife thing is not so cool when you’re 30; it’s kind of fucked up, in fact. Actually, when you consider it, that whole activist generation had some problems with women. See also: Jerry Rubin.
But that’s another subject. Here’s the trailer for William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, which features some pretty cool people, like Peter Weller, John Waters, and David Cronenberg (also note: It’s OK to admit you really didn’t care for early Cronenberg, or Crash or eXistence. It doesn’t make you an uncool person). It’s a documentary about a creepy old man who really liked guns.