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William Burroughs' A Thanksgiving Prayer

by Critical Commons Manager

The visual montage overlaid on images of writer William Burroughs is an excellent example of contrapuntal imagery. The words of Burroughs' poem starkly contrast the stereotypically pro-American patriotic iconography, creating an ironic juxtaposition of word and image through vertical montage. The full text of Burroughs' poem is here: Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts. Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison. Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger. Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot. Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes. Thanks for the American dream, To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through. Thanks for the KKK. For nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches. For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces. Thanks for “Kill a Queer for Christ” stickers. Thanks for laboratory AIDS. Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs. Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind the own business. Thanks for a nation of finks. Yes, thanks for all the memories—all right let’s see your arms! You always were a headache and you always were a bore. Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

William Burroughs A Thanksgiving Prayer rhetoric of the montage

A spoken word video of William Burroughs performing A Thanksgiving Prayer with visual overlays

from A Thanksgiving Prayer (1986)
Creator: William Burroughs
Distributor: Dead City Radio, Island Records
Posted by Critical Commons Manager