Burroughs has said recently that he’s interested in extending his vision outward, rather than inward. The two modes of perception of course go hand in hand, but coming from an experimental novelist, this statement is a great encouragement because modem fiction has grown solemn and rancid through self-regard, apparently forgetting in its condition of autohypnosis that there’s a whole big dangerous world out here just longing to be illumined and mythologised.
Burroughs’ particular problem is that for too long his great gift has been sidetracked by techniques of anti-writing and half-baked mechanistic theories. He has wanted to destroy the world by destroying its linguistic foundation and whereas this was an exciting proposition twenty years ago, even a salutary one, now it is no longer enough. The proximity of chaos is something we live with daily and therefore Burroughs’ persistent attempts to promote chaos out of order is no longer brave – it is enfeebled.
Sensing this, Cities of the Red Night represents a return to writing in the true sense: images and ideas manifested and made coherent through the conscious manipulation of language. The cut-ups have gone (with a few brief exceptions whose residual presence serves to illustrate their lack of contemporary usefulness). The