Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Doctor Will See You Now: Dr. Benway

From Everything2:
Had it not been for Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's borrowing of the name 'Steely Dan', Dr. Benway would unquestionably have been the most famous of William S. Burroughs' ghastly characters.

Benway made his first appearance in Naked Lunch, but he cropped up in many of Burroughs' works. He is a man of science - a surgeon by trade, but not a good one, by hippocratic standards. His real talent seems to lie in the area of behavioral psychology. He applies his medical knowledge as an instrument of the state, which seems to be interchangeable in Burroughs' vision with society.

Benway is a complex character - at once a pitiful quack, an evil genius, a tool, and a cruel mastermind. He is the perpetrator of unspeakable horrors, but his personna is somehow humorous, too.

As a scientist, Dr. Benway is keenly interested in technology, and Burroughs often uses him to expound on technology's implications for the individual, as mediated by society and the state.

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