Dr. Benway  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Benway is the name of a character in many of William S. Burroughs' novels, including Naked Lunch. Usually referred to as "Dr. Benway" or "Doc Benway," (his first name is not revealed), he was used by the author to parody the medical profession and, perhaps, the misuses of science in general. More of a maverick surgical artist than a doctor, Benway lacks a conscience and is more interested in his performance (and his next fix) than his patients' well-being.

In the 1991 film adaptation of Naked Lunch, Benway was portrayed by Roy Scheider.

The character of Dr. Benway, a perverse, power-seeking, drug-addicted surgical artist in William S. Burroughs' experimental stream-of-consciousness dystopia, Naked Lunch (1959), and other writings, exhibits distinctive psychopathic personality traits such as pathological selfishness and a depraved indifference towards the wellbeing of others — most notably his patients. Among his other activities, Benway is an illegal drug pusher and manufacturer. At one point, he is reduced to performing subway abortions after his medical license is revoked.

In the often shifting context of the fragmented — and often hallucinatory — narrative, Dr. Benway serves as a satiric personification of what Burroughs perceives as the ruthless, parasitic amorality of the American healthcare system and the medico-pharmaceutical industry at large. The primary incentive of these technocratic corporate entities is a calculated and thoroughgoing industrialized perversion of the Hippocratic Oath — profit based on a legalized monopoly of the drug trade and mind control.

Internet persona

The character and surname was appropriated for what was perhaps the first online persona ever recognized. His posts were posted on the Community Memory BBS, the first electronically accessible Bulletin board system.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dr. Benway" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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