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 Naked Lunch

Status: Submitted 20000323
This article was jointly written by EJ Spurrier, HJ Burdett and myself.

%t Naked Lunch
%n 8R
* (although the film can't claim to be...)
%s A Book And A Film
%i Book Review:  _Naked Lunch_
%i Film Review:  _Naked Lunch_
%a Edward Spurrier  (
%a Howard Burdett  (
%a Alex Gough  (
%d 20000316
%x Bad Taste
%x Enlightenment
%x Lunch
%x Lunchtime
%x Throwing Book
%x Bluffers Guides, The
%k Naked, Lunch, Drugs, Insects, Psychedelic,
     Film, Movie, Plot, Book
%k Stephen Hawking, Fantasy, Novel

Naked lunch tells the story of how an initially sane and well adjusted insect exterminator falls prey to mind altering drugs. At first everything seems strange and the associated sub-culture perplexing but he soon steps beyond the point of redemption and the drugs produce another reality for him. Soon the bugs he once killed take on a life of their own; instructing his every move until he is forced to perform a mission for them. Exactly what this involves and what might happen to our doomed star next is quickly lost as his delusions pass beyond the point of grandeur and innto the distorted worlds of bad taste and weirdness.

The book of _Naked Lunch_ [1] remains one of the great literary works of our time. This can only be a testament to the fact that almost no one has read it and nobody could possibly understand it without recourse to something illegal or prohibitively expensive. To an armchair beatnik the book occupies the same bit of coffee table as a bluffer physicist's _Brief History of Time_ -- the first seven pages well thumbed before the reader was driven off by confusion [2]. Much the same could be said of the film.

The film _Naked Lunch_ remains today as one of the greatest psychedelic film experiences available without actual drugs, despite attempts from such upstarts as _Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas_ and the indescribably bizarre _Dougal and the Blue Cat_ [3].

The film takes a rather different direction than the book; rather than describing the under-culture, its beliefs and the resulting delusion, the film plays as a continuous, single-track description of a man's life on the edge of reality. Though seeming to open on typical bohemian culture, the dividing line between reality and fantasy quickly disappear; at first the viewer is challenged to draw the line, before it sinks inexorably from view leaving us with a seemingly continuous illusory experience, punctuated periodically with references to the world we started in.

By the end of the film, the first question asked will always be "What the hell happened there then?", generally followed by the never-ending discussion of what the actual plot was. This is a futile exercise as it is unlikely that even the film's director knew what was going on at the time.

This is certainly a work of some genius, but exactly what species or genus this genius was remains a mystery to most viewers. Suffice it to say that this is a film that, unless your brain rejects it entirely, will stay with you for a very long time; these kinds of visions and nightmares are not easily forgotten. Good? Bad? I've seen it five times, and I still don't have a clue. If you ever get the chance to watch this film, go for it. If afterwards you find yourself believing that you understood what happened you are best advised to seek the services of those nice men who wear white coats. [4]

[1] Burroughs, William S., 1914-, ISBN/ISSN : 0586085602 (paperback)
[2] If you wish to live as a bluffer, it is best to buy hard-backed coffee-table books so that visitors will be unable to tell if it has been read or just left to collect dust and compliments.
[3] In Dougal and the Blue Cat, they investigate strange noises from the old treacle factory and discover that everything in the garden is not quite as rosy as it seems [5].
[4] These are not to be confused with the Men in Black. Although both groups seek out people who are out of this world, they each do so in a very different context.
[5] No really, this isn't a lie.

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