Two of the earliest things that I read by William Burroughs were The Job, a book’s worth of interviews conducted by Daniel Odier, along with some shorter pieces that focused on revolution (and revolutionary technology for lack of a better term) and The Third Mind, his enigmatic collaboration with painter Brion Gysin about the “cut-ups” literary technique, and its occult implications. The cuts-up technique holds that if you randomly rearrange words via chance operation, that you’ll find their “real” meaning or encourage some sort of prophecy to leak through. Sort of like those “Magnetic Poetry” refrigerator magnets used as a Ouija board, to put it simply…
The “occult Burroughs” is my favorite aspect of his work. When the topic veers towards the use of occult technology in the employment of revolution, I prefer that even more (like “The Revised Boy Scout Manual”).
Burroughs had a strong interest in the occult all of his life, but aside from his own writings, there were precious few interviews where he’s speaking openly about his magical interests. The interviews that come to mind immediately are the ones Vale did in RE/Search #4/5 and a late in life Q&A that (I think) was conducted by the great Kristine McKenna around the time of Burroughs’ big LACMA art show in 1996 (I can’t find it online). Burroughs’ major biography, Literary Outlaw by Ted Morgan, barely touches on the subject, as if a major component of his subject’s worldview had sailed right over Morgan’s head, although Barry Miles’ more sympathetic El Hombre Invisible is much more satisfying in this regard.
Below, William S. Burroughs lectures to his writing class at Naropa University, on “wishing machines,” the paranormal, synchronicity, propaganda and dreams. You can hear Allen Ginsberg’s voice in a couple of places. Taped in Boulder, Colorado on June 25,1986.
This month marks the 33rd anniversary of Paul McCartney getting busted for 7.7 ounces of pot in Japan. A half pound of pot! What was he planning to do? Have a smoke-in with Godzilla and Gamera?
I was out in New York and I had all this really good grass. We were about to fly to Japan and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there. This stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.
I didn’t try to hide [the pot]. I had just come from America and still had the American attitude that marijuana isn’t that bad. I didn’t realize just how strict the Japanese attitude is.”
Perhaps Paul’s bag of pot wasn’t the real issue with the Japanese. Maybe they just wanted to fuck with the guy who did this:
After spending nine days in jail, McCartney was released on January 25th.
Johnny Carson had a bit of fun at McCartney’s expense in one of his monologues which aired on January 17, 1980.
For the past 34 years Jay Blakesberg has been photographing the Grateful Dead and its offshoots. His archives are comprised of tens of thousands of photos of the Dead community: musicians, roadies, friends and the fans, Deadheads.
We sure were having fun…so enjoy the photos and let them bring you back to another space and time where we all created individual experiences that changed our lives and blew our minds…It was a truly unique time in our pop culture history and every one of us are better people because we experienced it!” Jay Blakesberg
Here’s a handful of pictures I particularly like. Deadhead Dervishes..
While under the influence of laudanum (tincture of opium), a young and very stoned Thomas De Quincey put pen to paper and attempted to capture the elusive moment:
In a clock-case housed in a warm chamber of a spacious English mansion (inevitably as being English, so beautifully clean, so admirably preserved, [noise there is none, dust there is none, neither moth nor worm doth corrupt] how sweet it is to lie! – If thieves break through and steal, they will not steal a mummy; or not, unless they mistake the mummy for an eight-day clock. And if fire should arise, or even if it should descend from heaven is there not a Phoenix Office, able to look either sort of fire (earthly or heavenly) in the face ... Mummy or anti-Mummy, Skeleton or Anti-Skeleton, the Phoenix soars higher above both, and flaps her victorious wings in utter defiance of all that the element of fire can accomplish—making it her boast to ride in the upper air high above all malice from earthly enemies….
Bonhams Fine Books And Manuscripts in San Francisco was offering De Quincy’s ode to O for sale but it appears to have been sold. The expected going price was between $800-1200.
I doubt these displays ever convinced any kids to abstain from drugs (come on, who just walks around with a poppy?), but they’re sort of beautiful in a Joseph Cornell meets Hunter S. Thomspon kind of way. I’d put one on my wall, anyways.
Celebration (aka Celebration At Big Sur) was a concert/gathering held in September of 1969 (one month after Woodstock) at the Esalen Institute in the Big Sur mountains of California. The musical line-up included Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, John Sebastian, Mimi Farina and Dorothy Morrison & the Combs Sisters. The Incredible String Band were there but sadly do not appear in the film.
I spent some time at the Esalen Institute in 1969 when I played the mridangam in the orchestra of hippie theater company The Floating Lotus Magic Opera. I remember soaking in the steamy hot tubs that overlooked the Pacific ocean, mystical fog rolling up the cliffs as the sun shimmered and melted into the west. The experience was greatly enhanced after eating a tab of licorice-flavored Batman acid.
With its upbeat energy and ageing, dancing flower children, Celebration may have been the last wisp of 1967’s Summer Of Love vibration before the Aquarian Age was beaten into the ground by a pool stick three months later at Altamont.
Having been at both Big Sur and Altamont, the experience was as different as peyote is from meth.