I admit I am not hip, even when it comes to literature. I hadn't ever read Bukowski, one of the major indicators of being literally hip, until this year. I had read some of the angel-headed hipsters; the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", but until last year I'd never read any William S. Burroughs.
Then I read "Junky" and spent the entire time thinking in the back of my mind that I'd take a bullet over an addiction to H (Heroin) any day of the week even if a man named Keith Richards (now a pirate and sometimes member of the great Rolling Stones) says nicotine is a harder habit to kick than the H. I am basically admitting that I was traumatised by Burroughs frank portrait of addiction and bewildered by his style.
I've been reading "The Naked Lunch" this past week and brough it along to Amsterdam with me. It might have been an odd choice. Hard drug use isn't as common in Holland thanks to the more liberal view on soft drugs such as marijuana and hashish that can be purchased in coffeeshops (by those over 18). But there is a gritty past. A past where Burroughs might have felt at home in this city. He might have appreciated it when he wasn't high on H, but Naked Lunch, if it is about anything, is all about how someone who does H needs to do H and all they think about is getting some H and doing it and when they'll do H again.
Now Burroughs style is what - though the subject matter is often hard to read about because it intrigues me while at the same time scaring the complete shit out of me because of the emotions his writing evokes- really makes him unique in my eyes as a writer. After the first five sentences in Junky I knew I was being played. It reminded me of watching a magnificient orchestra backing a star violinist who plays some beautifully intricate piece so well it seems simple. Pluck, pluck, pluck. . . . he weeds out the flowers . . . the music of their perfectly pitched hums resonate . . . . Burroughs style is rough and heavily punctuated and not only by mere symbols of punctuation. He jabbers nonsense about some pretty heavy shit and in the ramble that we've been told over the years that junkys are supposed to have . . . the scatter and the mess that comes with a life spent a slave to the junk until you .... well, that might be due in part to Burroughs use of cut up.
"The cut-up technique is an aleatory literary technique in which a text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text. Most commonly, cut-ups are used to offer a non-linear alternative to traditional reading and writing."
And in case after reading that you're thinking to yourself what the heck is an "aleatory literary technique" (because I was), it's the "incorparation of chance into the process of creation" derrived from the Latin word alea, which meant to roll the dice cause it's "Vegas baby". Sorry for The Swingers reference but it was such a money moment....
Now Wiki also says that,
"The concept can be traced to at least the Dadists of the 1920s, but was popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by writer William S. Burroughs, and has since been used in a wide variety of contexts",
no mention of Brion Gysin in the first sentence of the Wikipedia page? That's a bit weird to me.
The book I have besides me, "The Third Mind" by Burroughs considers Brion Gysin the inventor of the technique.
"The 'cut-up' was in fact the invention of Brion Gysin, American painter and poet, which Burroughs utilised to his own ends, and Gysin is co-author of this book. Burroughs points out that a roughly similar technique, although using different mechanics, can be found in Eliot's "Waste Land" and some of the work of (Tristan Tzara) and (John) Dos Passos and there are many parallels in the other arts. This volume expounds the theory, shows how it was put into practice and gives many examples of the cut-up method successfully used to make discoveries that sometimes merge on the mystic and produce many interesting and poetic results on the page. The Third Mind is an important source book for the expansiion of literature as art."
Tristan Tzara was my introduction to the cut-up technique. Tzara offered to make a poem (Collage) by pulling words out of a hat and wrote a manifesto about "How to Write a Dadist Poem". I remember when I first heard this particular story about Tzara and thinking it was the inspiration for poetry magnets.
Brion Gysin accidentally re-discovered the cut-up technique when he placed layers of newspapers as a mat to protect a tabletop from being scratched while he cut papers with a razor blade. Upon cutting through the newspapers, Gysin noticed that the sliced layers offered interesting juxtapositions of text and image. He began deliberately cutting newspaper articles into sections, which he randomly rearranged. The book "Minutes to Go" resulted from his initial cut-up experiment: unedited and unchanged cut-ups which emerged as coherent and meaningful prose. South African poet Sinclair Beiles also used this technique and co-authored Minutes To Go.
Gysin introduced Burroughs to the technique at the Beat Hotel. The pair later applied the technique to printed media and audio recordings in an effort to decode the material's implicit content, hypothesizing that such a technique could be used to discover the true meaning of a given text.
Below is the first part of an interview with Burroughs that is available on YouTube in case you're interested.
The above video is one of Burroughs collaborations with Kurt Cobain of Nirvana called "The "Priest" They Called Him".
http://www.allmusic.com/album/r541727 - Burroughs cut-ups
I might write more after I read The Third Mind, but in the meantime must take a bath and get myself ready. Today I'm going to this amazing festival at ADM Terrain. You can find out more information here: http://www.admfestival.nl/ (it's in English).
Here is an amazing website with photos from other ADM festivals http://www.thehospages.com/pictures/2009-parties/2009-08-29-adm-aardefestival/index.php
I can't wait! I'm going to try and get a seat on the shuttle boat and see how late I come back home (it goes until 5 am). I have a friend of a friend who is working there, so even though I'm going alone, I should be okay. Just need to get a few provisions namely: 1) something to protect me from the obvious rainfall that is going to occur at some or all of the time today, 2) a smaller bag that closes up because the only thing I brought for a bag is my Goyard tote bag which is pretty much an invitation to someone to try and pickpocket me, 3)some snacks in case the food isn't tempting, 4) possibly a new dress or something equally cute to celebrate what I'm pretty sure is going to be the best festival ever.
See, what I know so far from my Dutch friends who live here is that the ADM terrein is sort of like a no man's land. They don't play by the rules and it's sort of like a little village of squats and squatters full of artists and non-comformists. There's going to be music, theater, art, fun stuff, children's stuff, and god knows what else.
Plus did I mention I get to go there on a boat (maybe....if there's room....please let there be still room) run by http://www.theblackfish.com/ , which is an environmental organisation that protects the oceans so my fare is going to a good cause too. In fact, all the money (tickets are 15,00 euros) is going to various good causes.
Non-comformity, generosity, and a party too? I bet Burroughs would approve.
Though I still feel very unhip.
Hence the possible need for some new threads.