Naked Lunch was originally published with the title “The Naked Lunch” in Paris in 1959. But, because of U.S. obscenity laws and Burroughs frankness about UFOs and aliens, the complete American edition did not follow until 1962.
However, a special 50th anniversary edition with rare outtakes and interview transcripts has just been published, and based on the complete Burroughs writings that were in the possession of the great American poet Allen Ginsberg.
Time magazine put “Naked Lunch” on its list of “100 Best English-language novels,” and its fame also extended to the 1991 film “Naked Lunch” by David Cronenberg.
Burroughs states in his introduction that the famed Beat writer Jack Kerouac suggested the title. "The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”
Burroughs and UFO encounter
The legendary UFO and alien close encounter writer Whitley Strieber stated in an interview about his meetings with Burroughs – who he called “one of my favorite authors” – that he read Strieber’s “Communion” books and wished to encounter the “visitors” firsthand.
Burroughs had already had a taste of meeting with aliens during a much documented 1976 visit to meet with friend Ken Kesey at his Bray’s Point home. Today, there’s a tree at Bray’s Point that includes Burroughs initials “WSB” carved in it near the Kesey summer home.
“Burroughs was on the list of visitors to Bray’s Point,” explained Steve Hallett , a retired logger from the region who’s hobby is collecting artifacts of the coastal Native American tribes that “worshipped the hovering flying discs.”
Hallett is also a member of the Oregon UFO group called the “watchers,” who frequent the areas along the central Oregon coast that include Stonefield Beach and Bray’s Point. In fact, Hallett likes to joke that “all roads lead to Bray’s Point and UFOs.”
At the same time, Hallett notes an interesting convergence at Bray’s Point back in 1976 – the location of author Ken Kesey’s summer home – that links the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek with UFO events that are still breaking in today’s world.
Both Burroughs and Hynek attended Kesey’s 1976 “Intrepid Trips Society for Aesthetic Revolutionary Training “ Festival in Eugene and Bray’s Point. It was also known as the First and Last Annual Poetic Hoo-Haw, and featured other top writers and thinkers of the day.
Burroughs went deep to unearth alien life
“Burroughs uses Naked Lunch to take on everything, framing a work of literary resistance on the most fundamental terms,” writes David L. Ulin who produced a special afterword for the 50th anniversary edition of Naked Lunch. Ulin is the author of “The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith.”
Along those lines, the editors of Naked Lunch point to the many “myths surrounding Burroughs beliefs in UFO and alien life on Earth.
For instance, the 50th anniversary edition includes “outtakes and interview transcripts” that were considered too crazy because of his “alien talk,” in the sixties when civil rights and women’s rights trumped those who believed in visitors from another planet.
“Every race and condition and potentiality no matter now vile and horrible must merge into new forms. Just as the disciplines of physics, literature cannot maintain separate existence in the ‘light’ of the facts of ESP and alien life. This understanding that we are not alone will knock down our wall of misunderstanding with a sledgehammer,” write Burroughs in his Naked Lunch outtakes.
Moreover, Burroughs describes the alien’s he encountered as having “faces with the eerie innocence of old peoples.”
Overall, the writer’s words about UFOs and aliens are veiled within a text that both disturbs and inspires, say fans.
“Nature has a way of biting back, and teaching us lessons. Why should we not look for answers about alien life? It’s fear of finding out that’s kept this from being the story of the century,” said Burroughs during one of his last interviews about UFO sightings before his death.