In the annals of centipede phobia, William S. Burroughs stands alone. The man loathed the beasts, loathed them with a loathing that would not die. Had he lived to see Web videos of pet centipedes with pinkies (hairless baby mice) in their death grip—a thriving subgenre, on YouTube, of what might be called predator porn—Burroughs would surely have emptied his beloved .38 (a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson, which he slept with every night) into his computer.
In Burroughs’s novels, centipedes are the emissaries of a Venusian fascism, a mind-controlling horror so virulently opposed to free thought, racial tolerance, gay rights, and other mile-markers of human progress—in fact, so hostile to mammals in general and Homo sapiens in specific—that they are literally from another planet. Like the aliens in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jack Finney’s bad dream about the loss of individualism (whether to suburban conformity or communist infiltrators, we’re never quite sure), Burroughs’s centipedes don’t just want to knock us off our perch as evolution’s crowning achievement; they want to parasitize us, puppeteer us.To read Dery's entire article, click HERE.
Back in 2006 I wrote my own article about William Burroughs for New Dawn Magazine, analyzing Burroughs' fiction from the perspective of Gnostic mythology. This article later became Chapter 13 of my first book, Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form. Reading both pieces back to back would no doubt reveal illuminating connections between the two articles with regard to Burroughs's view of what he called "The Reality Studio" and its labyrinthine system of control. To read my WSB article, "William S. Burroughs: 20th Century Gnostic Visionary," click HERE.