April 28, 2011

burn the books kill the priests kill kill kill

They're putting William Burroughs's The Soft Machine on trial in Turkey. It isn't clear to me what penalties the book will face if convicted, but the article reads as though they are gearing up for a criminal trial with the book itself as the defendant.

As for the specific charges, "incompliance with moral norms" and "hurting people's moral feelings" aren't matters I'm qualified to assess. But it's hard to argue with these: "lacking unity in its subject matter," "incompliance with narrative unity," "using slang and colloquial terms," "concentrating on the banal, vulgar, and weak attributes of humanity," and "the application of a fragmented narrative style." If those features really are subject to criminal penalties in Turkey, this book's goose, to the extent that books can be said to possess cookable geese, is cooked.

I can well relate to the book's reflexive response: "just google me," it said, through its lawyers. "I think you'll find that I'm a pretty big deal." I've tried this on behalf of my own books when they've been attacked, dismissed, or ignored, and I can say from bitter experience, Soft Machine, it just doesn't work. Finding out what a big deal you are (or, let's be honest, used to be) will just make your accusers angrier at you.

But, for what it's worth, I do join you in calling for an end to investigations that constrain your activities as well as an end to the prosecution of books for any reason whatsoever. Good luck with that.

(via Reason.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at April 28, 2011 05:23 PM | TrackBack