May 31, 2009

The Ghost of William S Burroughs

Last week, I went on a 10 day roadtrip with my brother across the US from Newport Beach California to New York City. This post will mark the first in a series about that experience. While passing through St. Louis Missouri, I took the opportunity to visit the grave of one of my favorite artists William S Burroughs, laid to rest in the Burroughs family plot in the beautiful Belfontaine Cemetary.

The large obelisk is the grave Burrough's grandfather, inventor of the calculator (called "The Adding Machine" back then, it's also the title of one of Burroughs' book of essays)

I was surprised at how modest his grave is. Lacking flowers, I left behind a seashell I picked up off the shore of the Pacific.


Andrew Trembley said...

Almost right.

Burroughs' grandfather, William Seward Burroughs I, invented a mechanism that ensured the crank pull speed and force on a mechanical adding machine would always be consistent. Adding machines before this were prone to mechanical errors and incorrect calculations.

Burroughs' parents sold their stock in the company some time before the '29 crash for about $200,000. The details are in Barry Miles' biography, William S. Burroughs, El Hombre Invisible. I've misplaced my copy, or I could pull the exact details.

Brian Kenny said...

Thanks Andrew! You're right, the obelisk grave is Burrough's grandfather, his father's name was Mortimer.

Joe said...

WSB is my hero. The man's imagination and verbal punch outshine the work of practically every other twentieth-century novelist. It rises above the artist's personal torments and flaws.

The Place of Dead Roads still inspires me, and he was the one Beat whose talents ripened as he got older ... even long after the novelty of the Beat movement faded in the public's mind.

I'm glad you were able to visit his grave site and pay homage. Your work, too, bears some of his energy, daring, and beauty. I think perhaps Burroughs inspired more musicians and visual artists than he did writers.

Anonymous said...

hi brian

i love uncle bill, his aztec knucles tap sad universes on my window

ive never seen his gravestone before, thank you, id love to drill a hole through it

hail satan !


No-sin-mis-chancletillas said...

Wowwwwww!! Amazing travel!!! kiss