William Burroughs in January 1960 Mademoiselle

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Mademoiselle, Jan 1960W.S. Burroughs is an American in Paris whom the Saturday Review describes as “a writer of great power and artistic integrity.”

Cable: “What do you want in the next decade for world, not self”


Chere Mademoiselle:

I am placed by you in the otherworldly, selfless and detached position of a losing better [sic] before and/or after the race. I have nothing to lose. I won’t be there for the finish. Safe in Not-Self, I firmly extol the virtues of every horse until starting time: High Metal (carrying a lot of weight): Conversion and Peace. Houses of flexible, translucent but decently opaque — in the right places — plastic, all hues, inflatable and deflatable, for the Pause That Refreshes, Helicopters and every kind of motor vehicle. Gadgets, contrivances in dazzling number and variety, all mute and odorless. Soft sidewalks, floors, steps. Stratosphere Purple has become a household word.

China Boy (good mud runner): Too little and too lately known, has developed a formidable boardinghouse reach with an Old China Hand. Is it fragile? Will it break? The Colonial Dames are invited to drink the bitter tea of General Yen. (Yen means opium need, or perhaps just plain need. Yen pox is opium ash taken with hot tea, if any) Will they accept? He shrugged and reached for his yen pox, and China Boy kicked his brains out at the first hurdle and re-regulated him to his Club Seat in Not-Self.

Bet my last Non-Self coupon on North Sea Bubble (unknown stable): Came from nowhere in the Stretch and crossed the Finish Line with a burst of silent fireworks. I could not hear the cheers. My ears stopped with dust, sealing wax, losing stratosphere tickets in Parimutuel Purple and other Not-Self debris, which swept across the track in a black wave of protest…

Photo Finish. Foul Claimed. The Judges’ Box is empty. Outraged spectators forced the winning horse to eat his jockey, establishing an ominous precedent, inviting carnivorous disaster into Green Pastures.  

Please Accept My Most Distinguished Sentiments.

Official in Absentia

William Seward Burroughs

p.s. The Sacred Geese are equipped with outboard marine motors.

This text by William S. Burroughs was published in the January 1960 issue of Mademoiselle magazine. It was republished by RealityStudio on 16 February 2009. See also Jed Birmingham’s introduction to Burroughs’ text in Mademoiselle.

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