The Death Dwarf in the Street

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(Excerpt from Nova Express)

William S. Burroughs

Biologic Agent K9 called for his check and picked up supersonic imitation blasts of The Death Dwarfs — “L’addition — Laddition — Laddittion — Garcon — Garcon — Garcon” — American tourist accent to the Nth power — He ordered another coffee and monitored the café — A whole table of them imitating word forms and spitting back at supersonic speed — Several patrons rolled on the floor in switch fits — These noxious dwarfs can spit out a whole newspaper in ten seconds imitating your words after you and sliding in suggestion insults — That is the entry gimmick of The Death Dwarfs: supersonic imitation and playback so you think it is your own voice — (do you own a voice?) they invade The Right Centers which are The Speech Centers and they are in the right — in the right — in thee write — “RIGHT” — “I’m in the right — in the right — You know I’m in the right so long as you hear me say inside your right centers ‘I am in the right'” — While Sex Dwarfs tenderize erogenous holes — So The Venusian Gook Rot flashed round the world —

Agent K9 was with The Biologic Police assigned to bring the Dwarf Plague under control by disconnecting the dwarfs from Central Control Station: The Insect Brain of Minraud enclosed in a crystal cylinder from which run the cold wires to an array of calculating machines feeding instructions to The Death Dwarf In The Street — The brain is surrounded by Crab Guards charged from the Thermodynamic Pain and Energy Bank — Crab Guards can not be attacked directly since they are directly charged by attack — K9 had been in combat with The Crab Guards and he knew what can happen if they get their claws on your nerve centres —

K9 left the café and surveying the street scene he could not but feel that someone had goofed — The Death Dwarfs had in many cases been separated from the human host but they were still charged from Central Control and yacked through the streets imitating words and gestures of everyone in sight — While Sex Dwarfs squirmed out of any cover with a perfunctory, “Hello there,” in anyone who stood for it, dissolved erogenous holes immediately attacked by The Talk Dwarfs so that in a few seconds the unfortunate traveller was torn to pieces which the dwarfs snatch from each other’s mouth with shrill silver screams — In fact the noxious behavior of this life form harried the citizens beyond endurance and everyone carried elaborate home-made contrivances for screening out the Talk Dwarfs and a special plastic cover to resist erogenous acids of the Sex Dwarfs —

Without hesitation K9 gave the order: “Release Silence Virus — Blanket area” — So The Silence Sickness flashed round the world at speed of light — As a result many citizens who had been composed entirely or work went ape straight away and screamed through the streets attacking the passers-by who in many cases went ape in turn as The Silence Sickness hit — To combat these conditions, described as “intolerable,” political leaders projected stern noble image from control towers and some could occupy and hold up the ape forms for a few days or weeks — Invariably the leader was drained by the gravity of unregenerate apes, torn in pieces by his relapsing constituents, or went ape himself on TV — So the Survivors as they call themselves lived in continual dread of resistant dwarfs always more frantic from host hunger — Knowing that at any minute the man next to you in the street might go Mandril and leap your your throat with virginal canines — K9 shrugged and put in a call for Technicians — “The error in enemy strategy is now obvious — It is machine strategy and the machine can be redirected — Have written connection in The Soft Typewriter the machine can only repeat your instructions since it can not create anything — The operation is very technical — Look at a photomontage — It makes a statement in flexible picture language — Let us call the statement made by a given photomontage X — We can use X words X colors X odors X images and so forth to define the various aspects of X — Now we feed X into the calculating machine and X scans out related colors, juxtapositions, affect- charged images and so forth we can attenuate or concentrate X by taking out or adding elements and feeding back into the machine factors we wish to concentrate — A Technician learns to think and write in association blocks which can then be manipulated according to the laws of association and juxtaposition — The basic law of association and conditioning is known to college students even in America: Any object, feeling, odor, word, image in juxtaposition with any other object feeling, odor, word or image will be associated with it — Our technicians learn to read newspapers and magazines for juxtaposition statements rather than alleged content — We express these statements in Juxtaposition Formulae — The Formulae of course control populations of the world — Yes it is fairly easy to predict what people will think see feel and hear a thousand years from now if you write the Juxtaposition Formulae to be used in that period — But the technical details you understand and the machines — all of which contain basic flaws and must be continually overhauled, checked, altered whole block of computing machines purged and disconnected from one minute to the next — fast our mind waves and long counts — And let me take this opportunity of replying to the criticisms of my creeping opponents — It is not true that I took part in or instigated experiments defining pain and pleasure thresholds — I used abstract reports of the experiments to evolve the formulae of pain and pleasure association that control this planet — I assume no more responsibility than a physicist working from material presented to an immobilized brain — I have constructed a physics of the human nervous system or more accurately the human nervous system defines the physics I have constructed — Of course I can construct another system working on quite different principals — Pain is a quantitative factor — So is pleasure — I had material from purge trials and concentration camps and reports from Nagasaki and Hiroshima defining the limits of courage — Our most precise data came from Lexington Ky. where the drug addicts of America are processed — The pain of heroin withdrawal in the addict lends itself perfectly to testing under control conditions — Pain is quantitative to degree of addiction and stage of withdrawal and is quantitatively relieved by cell-blanketing agents — With pain and pleasure limits defined and the juxtaposition formulae set up it is fairly easy to predict what people will think in a thousand years or as long as the formulae remain in operation — I can substitute other formulae if I am permitted to do so — No one has given much thought to building a qualitative mathematics — My formulae saw to that — Now here is a calculating machine — Of course it can process qualitative data — Color for example — I feed into the machine a blue photo passes to the Blue Section and a hundred or a thousand blue photos rustle out while the machine plays blues in a blue smell of ozone blue words of all the poets flow out on ticker tape — Or feed in a thousand novels and scan out the last pages — That is quality is it not? Endingness?”

“Green Tony squealed and I’m off for Galaxy X — ”

“The whole mob squealed — Now we can move in for some definitive arrests — Set arrest machinery in operation — Cover all agents and associations with juxtaposition formulae — Put out scanning patterns through coordinate points of the earth for Mrs. & Mrs. D — Top Nova Criminals — Through mind screens of the earth covering coordinate points blocking D out of a hand a mouth a cold sore — Silver antibiotic handcuffs fitting D virus filters and — Lock — Click — We have made that arrest — You will understand why all concepts of revenge or moral indignation must be excised from a biologic police agent — We are not here to keep this tired old injustice show on the road but to stop it short of Nova — ”

“Nova — Nova — Nova — ” shriek the Death Dwarfs — “Arrest good kind Mr. D? — Why he paid for my hernia operation — ”

“That did it — Releases Silence Virus — Blanket Area — ”

“Thinking in association blocks instead of words enables the operator to process data with the speed of light on the association line — Certain alterations are of course essential — ”

Nova Express was originally published on November 9, 1964 by Grove Press in New York. It was published in an edition of 10,000 copies and reprinted in paperback the following year. (Maynard & Miles A10)

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