Fatal Hieroglyph: Mexico for Writers of Exile Malcolm Lowry and William Burroughs
This essay explores the representation of Mexico in the work of British modernist writer of exile Malcolm Lowry and of U.S. Anglo-American post-war, postmodern writer of exile William Burroughs. Lowry’s Under the Volcano (1947) and Burroughs’s trilogy The Soft Machine (1961), The Ticket that Exploded (1962), and The Nova Express (1964) represent Mexico as a land of fatal hieroglyphs, as itself a fatal hieroglyph. Theoretically, a hieroglyph, as a condensation of space and time, is always already fatal — “an anticipation of the end in the beginning” [Jean Baudrillard]. The fatal sign constitutes an attempted exorcism of conventional reality governed by the status quo. For Lowry and Burroughs, Mexico as place and text is the locus of the exorcism of demons, personal and cultural. In turning Mexico into a fatal hieroglyph of doom, both modernist and postmodernist writers draw on a long tradition of stereotyping primitivizations of Mexico. However, in the cases of Lowry and Burroughs, these stereotypical primitivizations also function as alternative modes of knowledge, symbol-making, and anti-narration, deliberate plumbings of the non-linear, irrational, and trans-temporal to deliver a backhanded blow against the European and Gringo colonizer / conqueror in Lowry’s case and the malaise of Anglo-American military-industrial capitalism in Burroughs’s.
ANDERSON, Norman. Ferris wheels: an illustrated history. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press, 1992.
ANZALDÚA, Gloria. Borderlands/La frontera: the new mestiza. 1st ed. San Francisco: Spinster/Aunt Lute Co., 1987.
BAUDRILLARD, Jean. The ecstasy of communication. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988.
BURGIN, Victor. The end of art theory: criticism and postmodernity. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, International, Inc., 1986.
BURROUGHS, William. Interviews. In: ODIER, Daniel. The job: interviews with William S. Burroughs. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.
BURROUGHS, William. Queer. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1985.
BURROUGHS, William. The soft machine. In: Three novels: the soft machine, nova express, and the wild boys. New York: Grove Press, 1980.
BURROUGHS, William. The ticket that exploded. 1962. Reprint, New York: Grove Press, 1987.
CONNELLY, Frances S. The sleep of reason: primitivism in modern European art and aesthetics, 1725–1907. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.
CURTIS, Walt. Mala noche, & other “illegal” adventures. Portland: BridgeCity Books, 1997.
DECKARD, Sharae. “Perverse paradise”: Malcolm Lowry and the writing of modern Mexico. In: DECKARD, Sharae. Paradise discourse, imperialism, and globalization. New York: Routledge, 2010.
GUNN, Drewey Wayne. American and British writers in Mexico, 1556–1973. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1969.
LOWRY, Malcolm. Under the volcano. 1947. Reprint, New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1965.
SCHREIBER, Rebecca M. Cold war exiles in Mexico: U.S. dissidents and the culture of critical resistance. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
SKERL, Jennifer. William Burroughs. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1985.
SPENDER, Stephen. Intro. In: LOWRY, Malcolm. Under the volcano. 1947. Reprint, New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1965, pp. VII-XXVI.
VALJAK, Domagoj. Influential writer William Burroughs accidently shot and killed his wife while demonstrating his “William Tell act.” In: The vintage news. 25 January 2017. Available at: < https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/01/25/influential-writer-william-burroughs-accidentally-shot-and-killed-his-wife-while-demonstrating-his-william-tell-act/>. Last visited: 21 May 2017.
WATSON, Steven. The birth of the beat generation: visionaries, rebels, and hipsters, 1944–1960. New York: Pantheon, 1998.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
O envio de qualquer colaboração implica, automaticamente, a cessão integral dos direitos autorais à PUC Minas. Solicita-se aos autores assegurarem:
- a inexistência de conflito de interesses (relações entre autores, empresas/instituições ou indivíduos com interesse no tema abordado pelo artigo), e
- órgãos ou instituições financiadoras da pesquisa que deu origem ao artigo.
- todos os trabalhos submetidos estarão automaticamente inscritos sob uma licença creative commons do tipo "by-nc-nd/4.0".