William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers

1991 profile of the American Beat writer

From Open Culture: 'When German filmmaker Klaus Maeck, for example, needed a star for the dream sequences in Decoder, a low-budget dystopian tale of the government weaponizing emotion-killing muzak, he recruited Burroughs. The two men’s acquaintance proved even more fruitful than that: in 1991, Maeck directed the hour-long documentary William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers. In it, he takes an in-depth interview with Burroughs, a series of his readings, a collection of his appearances in other movies, and even images of his paintings, then cuts them up (as is the Burroughs sensibility) and reassembles them using all the finest — or at least the strangest — visual effects and video filters the early nineties had to offer. Should documentarians work this way? Burroughs himself, in one of the film’s interview segments, has an answer: “There is no such concept as ‘should’ in art. Or anything.”' [Read More]

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