James Grauerholz, "The Death of Joan Vollmer Burroughs: What Really Happened?"[ American Studies Department, University of Kansas, 2002]
(70 pages of pure erudition, love and sorrow) http://www.stevesilberman.com/downloads/deathofjoan-full.pdf
Dream Record: June 8, 1955
A drunken night in my house with a
boy, San Francisco: I lay asleep:
I went back to Mexico City
and saw Joan Burroughs leaning
forward in a garden chair, arms
on her knees. She studied me with
clear eyes and downcast smile, her
face restored to a fine beauty
tequila and salt had made strange
before the bullet in her brow.
We talked of the life since then.
Well, whatʼs Burroughs doing now?
Bill on earth, heʼs in North Africa.
Oh, and Kerouac? Jack still jumps
with the same beat genius as before,
notebooks filled with Buddha.
I hope he makes it, she laughed.
Is Huncke still in the can? No,
last time I saw him on Times Square.
And how is Kenney? Married, drunk
and golden in the East. You? New
loves in the West—
Then I knew
she was a dream: and questioned her
—Joan, what kind of knowledge have
the dead? can you still love
your mortal acquaintances?
What do you remember of us?
faded in front of me— The next instant
I saw her rain-stained tombstone
rear an illegible epitaph
under the gnarled branch of a small
tree in the wild grass
of an unvisited garden in Mexico.
[William Burroughs: from his Introduction to 'Queer']
The event towards which Lee feels himself inexorably driven is the death of his wife by his own hand, the knowledge of possession, a dead hand waiting to slip over his like a glove. So a smog of menace and evil rises from the pages, an evil that Lee, knowing and yet not knowing, tries to escape with frantic flights of fantasy: his routines, which set one's teeth on edge because of the ugly menace just behind or to one side of them, a presence palpable as a haze.
Brion Gysin said to me in Paris: "For ugly spirit shot Joan because . . ." A bit of mediumistic
message that was not completed—or was it? It doesn't need to be completed, if you read it: "ugly spirit shot Joan to be cause," that is, to maintain a hateful parasitic occupation. My concept of possession is closer to the medieval model than to modern psychological explanations, with their dogmatic insistence that such manifestations must come from within and never, never, never from without. (As if there were some clear-cut difference between inner and outer.) I mean a definite possessing entity. And indeed, the psychological concept might well have been devised by the possessing entities, since nothing is more dangerous to a possessor than being seen as a separate invading creature by the host it has invaded. And for this reason the possessor shows itself only when absolutely necessary.
In 1939, I became interested in Egyptian hieroglyphics and went out to see someone in the
Department of Egyptology at the University of Chicago. And something was screaming in my ear: "YOU DONT BELONG HERE!" Yes, the hieroglyphics provided one key to the mechanism of possession. Like a virus, the possessing entity must find a port of entry.
This occasion was my first clear indication of something in my being that was not me, and not under my control.