Language Is a Virus
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Language Is a Virus" (1986) is musical composition by American performance artist Laurie Anderson. She based the title of the song on the oeuvre of William S. Burroughs, which uses the metaphor of a virus to refer to language. The composition was first released on the album Home of the Brave. Burroughs's The Ticket That Exploded (The word is now a virus) is the novel that most elaborates on the viral concept of language. Franca Bellarsi writes: "Besides addiction, the virus image represents the other metaphor that informs all of Burroughs's work. This second metaphor is of course directly derived from the first."
Laurie Anderson mistakenly says that the phrase can be found in the work of Burroughs:
- "In 1980, I wrote a song for William Burroughs called 'Language Is a Virus.' This was a quote from one of Burroughs' books."--Laurie Anderson, "Laurie Anderson,", page 99.
- "The Electronic Revolution", 1970, an essay collection by William S. Burroughs
- Home of the Brave (soundtrack), 1986, a music album by Laurie Anderson
- Virus B-23, a fictional disease invented by William Burroughs
- Memetics, Richard Dawkins' theory suggesting that cultural information is transmitted among people in a virus-like fashion