A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture

William S. Burroughs Wrote Without Words?

Geoffrey V. Carter, Saginaw Valley State University

(Published: February 5, 2015)

Burroughs’s laughter over confusing “words,” instead of “verbs,” is what gets me. He can’t stop chuckling that he “wrote without words” in someone else’s dream. “That may mean something to you,” says the flabbergasted audience member. But what could his laughter mean? Certainly his description of his writing can be mundane (i.e., “Well there’s not much to tell. I just sit down and write”). Could “writing without words” free ourselves of the notion that we can control language? To imagine writing done without language as we know it? A Language Without Words.