William Burroughs believed that language is a virus. He didn’t mean this figuratively. He believed that language literally is a virus that controls what we think. We are infected like your computer is prone to a Trojan Horse. It is inside us, actively forcing its will on our minds, preventing them from doing whatever they want. If I say black cat, you will not imagine a witch’s broom, a bowling ball, or a flaccid penis. But, now you have. This is why he would write words, cut them up and reorganize them.
This is an exercise. It is an exercise in using words in order not to be limited by them. I am coughing and sneezing them until I’m healed. I have nothing to say because if I do say anything, then I am controlling me, and in turn infecting you. And, I can’t do that to you, you simple tangerine, you leaf-filled balloon, you wetsuit dollhouse, you ripe and inflatable pistol. Your heart beats black pepper shaken on sparrows. Your body is not all those things you’ve been told: a canvas, a temple, a machine. It is a minefield of buried bombs you ignite every time you take a step on the fingerbones of someone else’s nonsense, every time you believe it when they point to your existence.
Another exercise is this: Once a leaf fell. It was yellow and you are the only one who saw it drop from the tree. “That is beautiful,” you said to yourself, “and I am the only one who witnessed it.” What you didn’t say to yourself is that it was beautiful because you saw it, because you named it leaf, because you accused it of being yellow, because you didn’t have the inclination to brand it marigold, saffron, jasmine, lemon, Mikado, maize or mustard. If you weren’t infected by the virus, what would you have thought about a yellow leaf falling from a tree? What would you have thought if you didn’t conjure your last love, your childhood mittens, a swimming pool, a detached sadness you step on then explodes in you, a map of your life where the continents are divided by your civil wars, a time when you did something just because it was expected of you or a promise you broke just because it confined you?
I would tell you what you would think if the leaf fell and if you weren’t infected, but I cannot. I am the one who just saw a yellow leaf fall to the ground, and I was moved to tell you, to make the experience yours as well as mine. I needed, from the wordthrone that seats the certainty of my existence, to ensure that its brief green life and its theatrical yellow death mean everything.
posted by holly, a nonsense sharp shooter.