Sohm Archive: The Beat Scene

Along with John Cage, the American writer William S. Burroughs was one of the most important cult figures of his generation. For the impulses they provided to the literature, music and art of the early 1950s, and for questioning insular genre categorizations as well as the idea of the unattainable »masterwork,« both Cage and Burroughs are to be regarded the fathers of inter-media art. Under the pseudonym William Lee, Burroughs published his first novel »Junkie« in 1953, the confessions of a drug addict, which caused a sensation in a society only outwardly saturated and showed that society an entirely different reality.

The Sohm Archive not only encompasses the writings of Burroughs but also those of other Beat authors such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Brion Gysin, Gregory Corso and - already a member of the second »Beat generation« - Charles Bukowski. A small, run-down hotel in Paris would give this unconventional attitude, this whole new outlook on the world, its name: It was at the Beat Hotel in the Quartier Latin that Burroughs and his friends invented the trailblazing method of the »cutup« by cutting up texts- irreverently and irrespective of context - with scissors. [ IC ]

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