Don’t Question My Domain!

“It is telling that ‘addiction’ implied that one is acted upon or spoken for by an external-made-internal entity. One facet of Burroughs’s approach to addiction falls very much along these lines, signaling an internalized possession, a kind of subjectivation of a user by some externalized force or entity usually figured as the ‘controllers,’ the Nova Mob, and so on. Yet it is also interesting that the ‘addict’—as emerging from the disciplinary enclosure of institutionalized medicine and psychiatry—is traditionally viewed by these disciplines that Burroughs tries to disassemble. In Burroughs, the subject-as-addict, the modulatory subject, attempts to release himself from the nightmare of possession, from the trap of being spoken for by an-other; the definition of addiction in the traditional sense is implicitly a definition of the control society itself, something that Burroughs spent his entire life describing and attempting to eradicate.”

—Jason Morelyle, in “Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs” (as collected in Retaking the Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization, 2004)

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