Archive for the ‘Burroughs’ Category

The Illuminatus Trilogy: Notes For a Potential Reader

June 26, 2009

It’s been some days now, that I took the farewell from Stella Maris, Mavis, Lady “are you a turtle?” Velkor,  the midget, Hagbard Celine, Malaclypse and, the best of them all, Chips, and went on with my hempless routine. Departure wasn’t easy, for these people have made me really happy.

Never mind, their presence is everywhere:  the books I read, the movies I see, the Game, the media, mediums and the coincidences I’m part of – they are everywhere.

Destroy All Rational Thought

So what is The Illuminatus Trilogy?

Don’t believe a word from that book’s cover – it’s one big rubbish aimed to be “attractive” to some people, as this book is, in its essence, resistible to any categorization. It’s not a sci-fi book, and it’s not a “conspiracy” book, it’s simply an irrational book, which you will find clear and shiny as Lucily diamonds.

R.A.W and Shea rationally destroy all rational thought. Here are some notes on that remarkable process:

Space

“It’s like a split-screen movie, but split a thousand ways, and with a thousand soundtracks.”

This is how the Book describes itself, and indeed, that’s what you are about to experience.

Think of it this way: a film viewed through a thousand-squares’ monitor, like an eye of a fly, each square presenting part of the film. As this is a book, not a film, the way to achieve this sub-framing of narratives is via the Cut-Up Technique – that which Brion Gysin invented and Burroughs adopted.

So there’s a story, but it was cut into endless pieces, and the book is the pasting of them all, not in a rational-linear order, but rather in chaotic one. It takes time to get used to it, to tame our attention to those jumps in Space.

Time

“This tomorrowtodayyesterday time is beginning to get under my skin. It’s happening more and more often”

The Book’s Time’s a liquid, pouring in any direction. There’s no past, present, future in the sequencing of events; it’s the tomorrow-today-yesterday world.  So hold tight, for you are just about to begin a trip.

Personalities

The world of a Book: space, time, people.

Forget what you know about Personalities & Characters. Here, anyone is anyone. There are always more personalities in what is supposed to be a single character, and often characters are seeing the world through the heads of other characters. You will find no salvation in trying to nail your cognition to a single personality – they are all constantly shifting around.

The I

Oh, the I, the Narrator, the one in charge. Who’s, indeed, the one in charge here?! I wish I knew that answer. The I is nothing but an Illusion. Most of the time, if there’s a multiple-parties’ conversation, the I is allocated to the one who speaks currently. So you tap into that conversation where everybody’s  I. Fuck it, get loose, you got nothing to lose.

Fog

There is a thick fog of hemp’ smoke to the ceiling of the Book. This book is meant to be INHALED!

Surprise, Surprise!

And yet, it all makes sense and the reading streams smoothly, and it is funny and intriguing!

I seriously think it’s a mystery. Those guys, Shea & Wilson, have deciphered something about the human brain, i.e. that it can see clearly through Chaos! The Book itself is constantly smoking good, quality dope, so its Characters can clear their mind and open their eyes;  same effect is achieved for the Reader (800 pages of top quality hemp) – you’re tripping all the way to the end, and the trip is lucid and crystal-clear.

The Story

Like any great work of art, the medium & the message, the structure & the narrative,  are synchronized. So, similarly to the free structure, space, time,  the I and the Characters of the book, so is the story telling us about people breaking space, time, the I, and anything else of an ordinary order.

What a wonderful world is this Book.

Robert Shea & Robert Anton WilsonRobert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

Einstürzende Neubauten – Stella Maris

Advertisements

“When I become death” according to Levinas

July 3, 2007

Emmanuel Levinas’ La Mort et Le Temps (English translation in God, Death and Time) opens with a reading of Heidegger´s Sein und Zeit, a reading that evolves around the themes of the carnival, the essence of time, the nature of death, the type of questions to which answers are not the right answer, and finally – literature as a masking process (rather than a revealing one).

[But maybe I’m wrong. It could well be that Levinas says nothing of the above themes, and that it is my own philosophical delusions, the consequences of my posts here on Foucault, Lyotard, Barthes, Deleuze, and Burroughs.]

Emmanuel Levinas

The Carnival.

The carnival represents the absolute assimilation of a human being with the role assigned to him/her by the system. Yet by this assimilation the human being ceases to be a human being, for being a human is to continuously question “Being”, i.e. to be a critical being towards Being, constantly reassessing the possibilities of an always changing existence. This is when Levinas uses the term ek-sistence – existing from the outside (and it is also where the two reasons of the first Emmanuel – K. – are fully present).

The critical spectator stands behind the curtain, looking inside the theater, considering her options on stage. This cannot be done while on stage, while wearing the mask of the carnival.

And yet. “Behind the curtain there is nothing to see… nor beneath it”, says Deleuze, following Foucault. The critical being is therefore not to be imagined out of stage; s/he is not to be imagined as a passive spectator. Rather, the critical being is assimilated into the system’s role, while continuously challenging that role. Indeed, says Deleuze, behind the curtain there is nothing to see, “but it was all the more important each time to describe the curtain”. So we are in the carnival, but we don’t play wholeheartedly. We’re aware of the play, and we improvise whenever we see fit.

The Question.

The question of being is a question to which answers are not the right answer, the first trait of Being, being the mark of that Question. Barthes maintains that those questions of Being can only live within Literature, but he also maintains that Literature is a carnivalesque mask. The only way to cope with these contradictions is to follow Foucault’s advise: “We have to move beyond the outside-inside alternative; we have to be at the frontiers. Criticism indeed consists of analyzing and reflecting upon limits.” (What is Enlightenment).

Cain: marked by the Question of Abel’s death – a bookmark on Cain’s Time axis.

Time.

Time, explains Levinas, is the Other. The infinite time is the antipode of the finite human, the Other remaining necessarily out of our reach. Time, therefore, represents all possible Otherness.

Time is the Other. What a strange sentence. The Rhizome of the nomadic others is a Rhizome of Time Capsules.

Ich und Du.

The Other, through his facial movements conveys a message to the spectator, who is consequently responsible for processing the message, and of providing an answer. We can therefore say that Communication creates responsibility which, in turn, creates individuality: “I” is responsible for this and that person, because there are communication links between us.

We’ll see next that communication is a mask; like literature it does not reveal [things from behind the curtain], but rather conceals [the true essence of being]. Facial movements are answers. But Being is being a Question.

What does the nomadic Rhizome mask? What does Time mask? Is Time the Curtain?

As for Death.

When I become death

As for Death – death needs time for what it kills to grow in. Death needs the Other, just like “I” needs it. But why does Death need Time?

Think of Death as a bookmark, engraving a point on our time axis. This point, says Levinas, opens a gate to a communication-free world – the end of exchanging answers. Finally, we, the dead, can realize our human potential of being a pure question. The cover story of our life, the Literature told by our face, by our facial movements is finally completed. The End.

When we become death, death is the seed from which we grow – the seed of the pure Question.

Trading Time in InterZone

June 23, 2007

 

You hit Interzone with that grey anonymously ill-intentioned look all writers have.

“You crazy or something walk around alone? Me good guide. What you want Meester?”

“Well uh, I would like to write a bestseller that would be a good book, a book about real people and places…”

The Guide stopped me. “That’s enough Mister. I don’t want to read your stinking book. That’s a job for the White Reader.” The guide’s face was a grey screen, hustler faces moved across it. “Your case is difficult frankly. If we put it through channels they will want a big piece in advance. Now I happen to know the best continuity man in the industry, only handles boys he likes. He’ll want a piece of you too but he’s willing to take it on spec.”

“The Name is Burroughs”, from The adding machine by WS Burroughs.

Burroughs, Interzone

The writer comes to Interzone looking for something that will help him create a world for his book, something that can be arranged by the Continuity Man. Interzone is not a normal place, and neither is that something wanted by the writer. Such deals smell Faust.

So what is it that the Continuity Man can offer?

Maybe it is this alien, yellowish parchment of continuous time on top of which the writer can engrave his space-less story?

In Condition for a postmodern Time travel I have offered an interpretation of a Lyotard’s paragraph, depicting stories as parallel worlds that have different time axis – not only because the story’s time does not correspond with our time axis, but also because it is architected differently, the time of the story being space-less and continuous, making the story incompatible with the process of memorization and accumulation [of facts], a feature that turns the story into a world whose relevance is always the pragmatic present.

[It’s strange how Lyotard can explain Burroughs’ Interzones and Continuity Men, and how all these posts eventually encounter each other…]

And see “When I become death” according to Levinas for more on Time.

Burroughs’ Death needs Time

March 8, 2007

William S. Burroughs

“Death needs Time for what it kills to grow in”, William S. Burroughs, Dead City Radio, Ah Pook.

I’ve been thinking for a while now about this phrase “death needs time for what it kills to grow in” trying to figure it out. Interpretation-wise, this is a dangerous game, as Burroughs is known for using cut & paste techniques, trying to destroy any rational thought. And yet, from a modern perspective, the potential randomness behind the order of the words shouldn’t and even must not persuade us in the futility of giving it a sense. After all, that’s exactly what life is – random events to which we try to give some meaning.

Time

There are several possible viewpoints about Time: Time as a continuity and unity; Time as a collection of independent Time Capsules, a label aggregating all those capsules together.

Time as a continuity and unity allows for better Control – there’s time to order things in Space. It may also lead to either an indifferent position in the spirit of what has been will be again, or to a satisfied one, in the spirit of the problem is solved; there’s nothing more that can be done.

Time as a fragment of Time, as an endless recursive fractal, is what I read in Foucault’s Modernism, which prefers seeing Time in its particularity, in its decomposition. A Time Capsule: just born, already dead.

The Time Capsule

What’s inside the Time Capsule?

Everything, I suppose. I’m thinking of any Time Capsule as a cosmic Monad where the fight takes place, where a human tries to redefine… Space. Modernism tries to redefine Space within a single, ephemeral, insignificant, derisory Time Capsule. And Space is us. And so Deleuze can righteously call Foucault “the historian of the present”, for there’s an Entire Life inside the Time Capsule.

Or am I wrong? Maybe it’s not Life inside the Time Capsule, but rather…

Death?

See my previous post on the death of Baudrillard, where I quote Deleuze from his lecture on Leibniz and the nature of the Monad (I’m rephrasing [remixing] everything):

To be born is to start dying.
To live is to be dying.
To die is to complete living.
And so to die is to complete to be dying.

Again:

Birth=to start dying;
Life=to be dying;
Death=to finish being dying.

Our mission here, in this Space, is to die.

But, wait! Beware! all this happens inside a single Time Capsule. Don’t get depressed – you’ll be restarting the whole process of dying in just about a moment.

Death needs Time for what it kills to grow in. Death grows inside the Time Capsule. The Time Capsule is the container of Life. Death grows in Life.

Textual Landing Fields – Edgar Allen’s PoeTic

February 14, 2007

I was happy and surprised to reread Poe’s The Poetic Principle, for I unexpectedly met there, right on the first page, some recently acquired friends, namely the 2nd and the 3rd, paragraphs.

Two paragraphs, 20 lines, that few words, and still – the impact is that of a tactical nuke.

Lyotard, Foucault, Derrida – to name just the recent French figures – were, I feel, regulars over this textual place. I’m talking about the revulsion of the epic, “the best epic under the sun, is a nullity: – and this is precisely the fact”, says Poe. But this concluding sentence does not, in any manner, preclude epic oeuvres. Rather, it’s the reader who should slice and dice the oeuvre: “Follow the Poetic Principle”.

The reader may rely on the author’s suggested division – like chapters, numbering, or any other structural indices (starting, as Poe suggests, from Paradise Lost Book II); or the author’s thematic division – here I am reading Foucault, who is always suggesting several possible starting points to his essays (at least those I’ve read) by constructing as many in-world landing fields (“Wait… wait! Time, a landing field”, but that’s another borrowed poem already).

“Minor Poems”: If there’s something I’ve noticed, although Tabula Rasa, while reading Foucault, is his lovely insistence on adding the minor tag to almost everything. A precaution, I thought; a necessity, I reckon now. So when Foucault starts his formidable lecture of Kant’s Was ist Aufklärung by stating “a minor text, perhaps” [3rd paragraph…] – well, that’s a great sign of admiration and respect.

I’ll make it short, than:

Lyotard: my previous post on Lyotard’s modern/post-modern should be placed in a dialogue with PoeTic.

Foucault: finding the PoeTic principle in the epic which is our life is what makes a human a human. (and see Foucault’s “What is Enlightenment?”)

And finally – blogging – the author deconstructs his own epic.

poetic2.JPG

A Spooky TAZ in Burroughs’ FoucaulPticon

January 16, 2007

1428175.jpg

DJ Spooky’s Rhythm Science has this track where the voice of William S. Burroughs is remixed. Obviously, the choice of text is significant. Here’s it:

william-burroughs-wsbliteraryoutlaw.JPG

To achieve independence from alien domination and to consolidate revolutionary gains, five steps are necessary:

Space 1: Proclaim a new era and set up a new calendar

Space 2: Replace alien language

Space 3: Destroy or neutralize alien gods

Space 4: Destroy alien machinery of government and control

Space 5: Take land and wealth from individual aliens.

Reminder: State’s control is space-oriented.

So now we got Foucault, linked to Bey, who’s linked to Laswell and also to Burroughs, who’s linked to DJ Spooky, who’s remixing Laswell as well as Burroughs, and not any text of Burroughs, but rather a next-step-text, an how-to text that goes with the spirit of them all.