Cosmo Stott

My passion for the Beats, which focuses mainly on the work of William Burroughs but is by no means limited to him, was first ignited in High School where, as a druggy and bookish teenager with a burgeoning interest in the counter-culture, I discovered the work of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in the library, beginning to read them with an early fascination. They opened a door to a culture of art, literature and rebellion which has very much informed my world view and has remained with me to this present day. It was not long before I discovered Naked Lunch in my local bookshop and, reading that this man Burroughs was a life-long Junky who had shot his wife and had a lived a very out of the ordinary life, as well as being the older, wiser and weirder figure that Kerouac and Ginsberg both looked up to, I knew that he must be added to my reading list. And he has never left. I was blown away, became obsessed and resolved to find out as much about him and his work as I could.
I became fascinated with his theories of control and ‘word as virus’, his obsession with the ‘Ugly Spirit’ that he felt had possessed him following his wife’s death, and the seething repulsion that he managed to conjure up in many would-be readers, particularly of the classmates who I subjected to lengthy readings from my own copy of Naked Lunch and who began to view me as something of a terrorist under Burroughs’ tutelage. This interest stayed with me and, after electing to study English Literature at the University of Glasgow, I wrote my final year undergraduate Dissertation on Burroughs and the cut-up technique, entitled ‘Sexual Dissidence, Collage and Liberation in William Burroughs’ Nova Trilogy’, in which I argued for the revolutionary potentials of the method and it’s roots and similarities to Avant-Garde collage movements. Having achieved a first in this exercise, I continue to study Burroughs in my own time and am currently at work on a novel where he features as a significant character.