by Ryan Kelly
[The eloquent Ryan Kelly fashions some great, thought-provoking pieces at Medfly Quarantine. I seldom agree with his opinions on specific films these days, a sure sign that the reason I return to his blog again and again is his potent, concise writing.]
Junk is the mold of monopoly and possession. The addict stands by while his junk legs carry him straight in on the junk beam to relapse. Junk is quantitative and accurately measurable. The more junk you use the less you have and the more you have the more you use. All the hallucinogen drugs are considered sacred by those who use them—there are Peyote Cults and Bannisteria Cults, Hashish Cults and Mushroom Cults—”the Scared Mushrooms of Mexico enable a man to see God”—but no one ever suggested that junk is sacred. There are no opium cults. Opium is profane and quantitative like money. I have heard that there was once a beneficent non-habit-forming junk in India. It was called *soma* and is pictured as a beautiful blue tide. If *soma* ever existed the Pusher was there to bottle it and monopolize it and sell it and it turned into plain old time JUNK.
“Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness”
David Cronenberg‘s adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ junkie manifesto Naked Lunch surely ranks as one of the great film adaptations of all time—as much a biography of the novel’s troubled author as an adaptation of his most well known work, which Cronenberg has cited as his favorite book of all time. Since the novel only barely has a plot, Cronenberg was forced to improvise much of the content of the picture, and the result is an often hilarious, occasionally tragic, perpetually surreal film—one that dramatizes Burroughs’ psychological state at the time he wrote the famed novel. In spite of the numerous alterations to the text, this is a surprisingly faithful adaptation, as Cronenberg’s film is a scathing satire that attacks Capitalism, drug culture, Corporate America, even the creative process—ultimately, it’s as true to Burroughs’ novel as any adaptation could possibly be, while also a new dimension to the text: an extremely moving portrait of its author.