"Writing is fifty years behind painting“, says William Burroghs, quoting Mr. Brion Gysin, in The Job, “Why this gap? Because the painter can touch and handle his medium and the writer cannot. The writer does not yet know what words are. It is to be hoped that the extension of cut-up techniques (...) could lead to a precise science of words and show how certain word combinations produce certain effects on the human nervous system”.
Very few writers had spoken up about the ancient machine we all inherit, the mother language, the common tongue. While his fellow artists, the painters, were drawing a meteoric journey through abstraction, most writers were using nineteenth century patterns to reflect a fragmented reality. Mr Burroghs was not only a writer but a full artist on a tremendous self-imposed quest to find a real way of communication between human brains. Cut-up techniques, tape recorders, scientologist ideas, alien invasions, hard /soft drugs experiences, sexual cataclysms... were his “mediums” to achieve an expanded conscience in order to discover the inputs –words, images, radiations, orgasms...- that make the brain function. If Mr Burroughs were still living among us, he would probably consider the Internet as the global human nervous system he was talking about. The office of Narrative Science, the company that designs algorithms that could write articles and win the Pulizter Prize, sounds like one of his Naked lunch plots. May be its possible to honour his memory by creating a “Burroughs algorithm”, turning rough data into powerful awareness.