Naked Lust: Obscene Relationality and the Turn to Queer Experimental Literature
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This chapter argues that William S. Burroughs turns to experimental literature to displace queer social imagination from explicitly representational narrative forms to the affective relations of reading. I locate this turn against the Naked Lunch obscenity trial, demonstrating that the obscenity of queerness in the pre-Stonewall period rests on the representation of homosexuality as a political collectivity. In response, Burroughs creates an aesthetics of queer spectrality that immerses readers within the text’s eroticism, rewriting reading as a collective yet phantasmatic encounter with queer affect. The chapter traces the emergence of this aesthetic politics through Queer, Naked Lunch and the cut-up trilogy of The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, and Nova Express.