PRINT May 2010



Visitors to Marina Abramović’s exhibition “The Artist Is Present,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010. Photo: Carolina A. Miranda.

AMONG THE MORE STRIKING aspects of interviews with William S. Burroughs—Beat author and theorist par excellence of addiction in all its iterations—is a strong and prescient Malthusian streak running through his words. Time and again, his interlocutors would pose questions about writerly craft only to discover that Burroughs refused to discuss his fiction apart from the larger forces that both generate and are shaped by the “top-heavy” societies responsible for dwindling natural resources (and, he was wont to add, for financial cataclysm in turn). His fiction, it seems, was for him perhaps anything but. At the time, of course, this kind of talk seemed like the ranting of a madman; today, one can’t pick up the newspaper without coming across commentary on population’s impact on nature and culture, whether the matter at hand pertains to carbon footprints and ecology or to

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