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Other Life

Justin Murphy



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Literary Outlaw: The Life of William S. Burroughs

• 83 min

A deep dive into the life of William S. Burroughs based on a close reading of Ted Morgan's 1988 biography, Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs. Burroughs is one of the most independent creative spirits of the 20th century. My goal is to understand how he did it; how he remained so free but was also so influential and successful. I discuss his transformation from a heroin addict living off his parents' allowance to an internationally acclaimed writer, who was inducted into the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. Hear about his unique brand of conservative anarchism, his significant influence on the counterculture of the '60s and '70s, his parenting, and the social-psychological correlates of his creative freedom. Burroughs was a blend of the Yankee inventor and the fire-and-brimstone Methodist preacher. We explore his grandfather's invention of the arithmometer and his uncle Ivy Lee's career as a public relations expert. These stories shed light on the roots of Burroughs' radical literary career, which combined a penchant for invention with a desire to go his own way and attack the respectable order of things. I also discuss Burroughs' late entry into writing and his experiences as a heroin user and a criminal, which taught him a lot about how the world works. I explore his failed attempt to build a commercial farm, his theory of 'factualism', which anticipates Nick Land and Deleuze, and much more. What did you think of this format, dedicated to a close reading of a great writer's biography? I'd love to hear from you. Chapters 00:00 William S Burroughs' Unconventional Life06:30 Burroughs' Complex Heritage16:55 Burroughs' Late Blooming30:40 The Critical Importance of Small Private Friend Groups43:49 Lessons From Burroughs' Life50:25 What Wild Looks Like: An Anecdote59:08 Did Burroughs Murder his Wife?07:35 The Controversial Success of Burroughs' Novels15:27 More Lessons From the Life of BurroughsOther Life✦ Quit your passive media consumption and read great books every day. https://otherlife.co✦ Get the bi-annual print edition and other perks by becoming a dues-paying member. https://otherlife.co/upgrade IndieThinkers.org ✦ If you're working on your own writing, join the next cohort of https://IndieThinkers.org

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