A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture


Zach Whalen, University of Mary Washington

(Published: February 5, 2015)

Removing Burroughs's words but not Burroughs himself leaves behind inhalation (sharp, slow, quick), swallows, coughs, page turns, pencil scratches, others’ coughs, traffic, a train. This is not silence: this is not empty. The content is, rather, the sonic space inhabited closely by the bodies of Burroughs and his audience, their attention and distractions. In Audacity, where sounds become lines, these moments are easy to isolate—smoothly ascending curves punctuated with sharp plosive peaks. In juxtaposition, their assembly is tense, intimate, ambiguous. But not empty.