... And the final reason is that we shouldn't throw away any part of Naked Lunch, even ones parasitic upon it — which would include Burroughs' own “Deposition” — without looking closely at it first. For this is the irony: although the genetic myths have promoted lazy readings of Naked Lunch, they themselves have been very lazily read — repeated a lot, but never closely examined. And so, before looking into Naked Lunch's manuscript history, let's consider the mythic version of Naked Lunch's writing as told by that most potent mythmaker of them all: Jack Kerouac.
We begin with sausages — or to be more precise, “bolognas” — which feature in Kerouac's account of helping Burroughs in Tangier, during spring 1957, turn his mess of writing into a manuscript. This is how Kerouac famously describes his collaboration with “Bull Hubbard” on “Nude Supper” in Desolation Angels (1965):
When I undertook to start typing it neatly double-space for his publishers … I had horrible nightmares … like of pulling out endless bolognas from my mouth, from my very entrails, feet of it, pulling and pulling out all the horror of what Bull saw, and wrote…
There are two things here. Firstly, Kerouac's notorious nightmares arise not just from reading the text of Naked Lunch but from typing it — and not just from typing it, but from trying to do so “neatly double-space for his publishers.” That is to say, making it into a clean copy — which inevitably recalls all those legends of the manuscript's disgusting physical condition: blood-stained, the ends of the pages eaten away by rats, etc. This is the context for Kerouac's nightmares, the paradox of trying to accommodate Burroughs' toxic writing to the needs of general cultural production, to make Naked Lunch fit for public consumption.
The second thing would be the bolognas themselves. Sausages are, of course, made of the very cheapest cuts, those parts of the animal that are better left unnamed — the otherwise unspeakable and unsalable body parts that make me glad to be a vegetarian. Kerouac's point, in short, is that Naked Lunch comprises all that is impossible to swallow if you actually see what is on the end of your fork. No mere load of baloney, Kerouac's sausages make a precise reading of the book's title. ...
~ more... ~
[ Via Naked Lunch @ 50 ]