William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers
“Art makes people aware of what they know and don’t know.”
William Burroughs said in this interview with (“pilot & writer”) Jürgen Ploog.
“Once the breakthrough has been made there’s a permanent expansion of awareness. But there’s always a reaction of outrage at the first breakthrough.
The artist expands awareness, and once the breakthrough is made, it becomes part of the general awareness.”
The conversation between the two men forms the basis of Klaus Meck’s documentary William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers. Filmed in what looks like a hotel room, the duo’s dialog is inter-cut with clips of Burroughs reading extracts from his work, including “The Do Goods” and “Advice for Young People.”
Ploog’s questions rather randomly move from writing (where Burroughs claims if he hadn’t succeeded getting his novel Junkie published, he might never have become a writer); to religion and reincarnation; through Cezanne and Art and onto animals (where WSB discusses why humans empathize more with predatory animals than with their prey). Their disjointed Q&A has a strange “episodic” quality to it but Burroughs (and his encyclopedic knowledge) is fascinating throughout.