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Retaking The Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization Paperback – July 20, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Schneiderman's and Walsh's new collection should mark the beginning of a new and wider view of the contemporary implications of Burroughs's thought. This book is retaking the universe of Burroughsian interpretation - starting now. -- James Grauerholz The first serious and well conceived study of his [Burroughs's] global influence. -- Victor Bockris El Hombre Invisible goes global. Thanks to Schneiderman and Walsh's Retaking the Universe, Burroughs finally manages to storm the theory studio. -- Sylvere Lotringer, Editor of Semiotext(e) and Burroughs Live. More than any other writer of the last fifty years, William Burroughs cracked the code of the hyperreal, ultra-commodified society of control, and charted out possible lines of escape. These essays testify to the continuing relevance of Burroughs' words and project in the twenty-first century. -- Steven Shaviro, author of Doom Patrols and Connected Schneiderman's and Walsh's new collection should mark the beginning of a new and wider view of the contemporary implications of Burroughs' thought. This book is retaking the universe of Burroughsian interpretation -- starting now. -- James Grauerholz

About the Author

Davis Schneiderman is Chair of the American Studies Program and an Assistant Professor of English at Lake Forest College, Illinois. He is currently engaged in research on Burroughs's connections to literary plagiarism and issues of digital copyright.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (July 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745320813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745320816
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,528,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Watching a big color TV exploding on pavement from a great height was a favorite Zeppelin pastime. The previous year at an old battleground, the Edgewater Inn in Seattle, Led Zeppelin had thrown all their televisions into the sea below. As [band manager] Peter Grant was paying the bill, the hotel manager wistfully remarked that he had always wanted to chuck a TV out the window himself. 'Have one on us,' roared Grant, and peeled off another $500 bill. The manager went right upstairs and heaved a big Motorola off the balcony."

--from Stephen Davis's Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga (1985)
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"It's junk!" William Burroughs was quoted as telling Peter Weller about Percodan, in William S. Burroughs: A Man Within: Similarly, I could have used this advice/advocacy when I was put on Zyprexa, which gained me 70 lbs., more of an "effect" than a "side effect," dwarfing the purported promise and leaving aspirin's margin of error in the shade. ("Someday ..." I guess, implicitly, was the idea!) Being a guy, I guess it didn't do me as much harm as the twenty-something female grad. student in English at the University of Chicago I met at that school's hospital's psyche ward (misspelling deliberate!) -- but, what did SHE know?

This is the World We Live In: and, if you don't want to read
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This text joins what appears to be a growing number of books collecting critical essays on Burroughs' work.

The attempts to address Burroughs' relevance in the "Age of Globalization" are tenuous at best; Some authors wisely avoid the subject altogether, while others make a very shoddy job of it. It seems this was a term employed just to sell the concept of the book.

The earlier essays in the text, drawing parallels betweens Burroughs' work and other contemporary movements (Surrealism, Dadaism, etc.) are the most valuable.

Halfway through the book, however, one author writes his essay in a way that can only be described as "fan fiction," and things start to go downhill from there. I actually had to stop reading the book toward the very end, in the middle of a ridiculous essay that tried to connect dots between Burroughs and Crowley. There may be some connections worth mentioning between the two, but they were not at all well illustrated here; citing trends in the comic book industry didn't help the authors' cause or credibility. This, after a too long (and very messy) essay that tried to squeeze Burroughs' humor through some of the most excruciatingly dull scholarly language...

That aside, the book was not a total waste of time for this long-time Burroughs scholar. Start with the "At The Front" collection for a much better survey of Burroughs essays through the years.
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Format: Paperback
Even the best ¨critical¨ ¨theory¨ is just stuff that's been made up to sound big and clever - and this anthology's no different. Some of the pieces are better than others - in that they correlate more with my personal prejudices. One might expect a book about WSB and Globalisation to critique Burroughs's engagement with the Control Machine: Nike/Gap ads, work with corp-rockers U2 blah blah, publication by Murdoch and so on. Strangely this is all omitted. There's not much point pretending it didn't happen just coz it's too hard for you. At least WSB never pretended he was a lefty like these guys do.
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