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Mad nuns, torture, witchcraft, & Satan: Silent film ‘Häxan’ narrated by William S. Burroughs


A movie poster for the 1922 silent film, ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.’
 
Like many of you, I share an affinity for topics of interest that involve the guy who should have built your hotrod, Satan. Given the choice between Heaven or Hell, I just want to be where my friends are. And my post today is about as satanic as they come as it involves possessed nuns; witchcraft; grave robbery; cannibalism as well as the occasional human sacrifice. If that’s not dangerous enough for your mind, then consider the fact that the unmistakeable voice of William S. Burroughs narrates the subject of this post—the mind-fucky 1922 silent film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, a flick full of all the sacrilegious subjects I mentioned above and much much more!

Initially, Häxan is presented as a kind of historical document providing legitimate information about the origins of witchcraft and paganism. It is also widely considered to be one of the very first films to do so in such vivid detail. Director Benjamin Christensen—a former medical student—even cast himself as the devil as well as making a brief appearance as Jesus in the film. However, before Häxan could be officially released in Sweden, Swedish censors requested that Christensen omit several scenes including a rather shocking one involving a newborn baby covered in goo being held over a boiling cauldron. Many of the depictions of witchcraft in Häxan were apparently loosely based on the results of research conducted by prominent British anthropologist, Egyptologist and folklore historian, Margaret Alice Murray in her controversial 1921 book by The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. Subsequently, after its censored release and being summarily banned in several countries, the film was heralded by members of the surrealist movement—as noted in the 2011 book 100 Cult Films—who called the film a “masterpiece of subversion.” 

Christensen’s care in making Häxan look and feel realistic truly knew no bounds. To reinforce its authentic darkness and to help convey the appropriate mood that is required for demonic possession he sent one of his cameramen to take photographs of the bleak, cloud-filled skies of Norway that he used throughout the film as a backdrop. His actors are genuinely terrifying looking and appear to be deeply tormented. In other words, Häxan looks like an actual snapshot taken in Hell.
 

A disturbed nun surrounded by an equally disturbing array of torture devices from ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’

Adding another layer of satanic panic related to Häxan is a story attributed directly to Christensen himself regarding actress Maren Pedersen who played “Maria the weaver,” a witch in the film. According to Christensen, when he discovered Pedersen she purported to be a Red Cross nurse from Denmark—though when they met she was a street vendor selling flowers. While they were in the middle of filming Pederson allegedly confessed to Christensen that she believed that the devil was “real” and that she had “seen him sitting by her bedside.” So enthralled was he by Pederson’s diabolical revelation that the director decided to include it in the film’s storyline. Presumably, because the power of Satan compelled him to, of course.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Bill Paxton, William Burroughs, ‘Blade Runner’ and the making of ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’

01tigermountainposter.jpg
 
Taking Tiger Mountain is a strange film with an even stranger back story. It all began in 1974 when thirtysomething filmmaker Kent Smith saved up enough dough from making educational shorts to go off and produce his dream first feature. The folly of many first-time directors is knowing when to curb their ambitions. Smith was certainly ambitious—maybe overly so. He had an idea to make a kinda art house movie set in Tangiers—something inspired by Albert Camus’ novella The Stranger. There was no script, just a poem Smith had written on the kidnapping in 1973 of sixteen-year-old John Paul Getty—heir to the Getty oil fortune. Smith thought of his poem as the film’s framework. Add in a touch of Jean-Luc Godard and hint of Fellini and his debut feature was gonna be just peachy.

So, Smith had ambition—check. A basic storyline—check. And a nineteen-year-old actor by the name of Bill Paxton. Check.

Paxton was a hunk. A pin-up. The type of young actor who had I’m gonna be a big movie star pumping out of his pores. He had the looks, the demeanor and the talent. He was also fearless—as anyone would have to be if they were going to hook-up with Smith on a madcap movie-making adventure.

They packed their bags, leased some Arriflex Techniscope equipment and headed off to France. On arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, they discovered that their equipment had been lost in transit. It was the first of several small obstacles that eventually turned the film onto a different course. When the pair were eventually reunited with their equipment, they hired a car and headed for Spain. But the roads were like parking lots—gridlocked with holidaymakers on their way south to the coast. Eventually after a long, slow, infuriating drive, they made it to the ferry terminal and waited for the first ferry to take them across the waters to Tangiers.

As Paxton told Variety in 2015:

We got to Tangiers around midnight, and all of our equipment was impounded because we hadn’t paid the baksheesh. We got out in about 48 hours, and my attitude was “What the f–k?” I remembered I knew someone in South Wales when I was a foreign exchange student, so we drove there, and that’s where we shot the film.

 
02takingtigermopax.jpg
A young Bill Paxton as seen in the film.

Paxton and Smith traveled back up through Spain and France to England and then to Wales where things got “even crazier.”

We had purchased black-and-white short ends (film stock) from the film Lenny, and we sort of shot things as we came across them.

One guy had a Kenyan vulture, so we used that for a scene of eating my entrails. We met some girls and talked them into doing some nude scenes with us.

Basically it was a bunch of hippies running around naked. It was all silent, black-and-white footage.

They shot ten hours of footage—but what the hell to do with it all? They returned to the States. Paxton began making inroads into big screen movies, while Smith sat with his rushes wondering how to make a movie out of it.

In 1975, Smith showed the footage to a student at the University of Texas called Tom Huckabee. Nothing happened until Smith relinquished the rushes over to Huckabee in 1979. That’s when Huckabee started logging and assembling the ten hour’s worth of material together as he explained to Beatdom:

I started building scenes using the script they had which was loosely based on the J. Paul Getty kidnapping. There was no sci-fi element, no assassination, no prostitution, no feminism, or brainwashing. It was a dream film about a young American waking up on a train – with amnesia, maybe – who wanders into a Welsh town, meets a lot of people, has adventures, bad dreams, and then gets killed on the beach, or does he?

Once I had assembled all their footage into what seemed like a narrative flow, I started thinking about what the story could be. I didn’t like their story much, it was too languid for me,  disconnected, but mostly they had only shot half of it and I knew I couldn’t go back to Wales. I’d been reading Burroughs and a lot of other avant-garde, transgressive, and erotic literature. Story of the Eye was a big influence. I started reading The Job. I got the idea that he was an assassin… and maybe the idea to set it in the future.

Huckabee’s friends were all chucking in their two cents’ worth. A “mysterious guy named Ray Layton” had “the idea to make it about feminist terrorists brainwashing Billy…. and the prostitution camps.” Then Huckabee read William Burroughs’ novella Blade Runner (a movie) and the whole thing began to take shape in his mind.

I lucked into finding a backer who promised $30,000, and that’s when it got real. I remembered seeing another short film that Kent and Bill had made; a thinly veiled homoerotic portrait of Bill, called D’Artagnan. I thought it could be used to represent Billy’s brainwashing. By then I’d acquired the MKUltra transcripts and was heavily into The Job.

Huckabee approached Burroughs and obtained his permission to adapt Blade Runner into his movie. This was now the early 1980s, Ridley Scott was making a movie version of Philip K. Dick’s cult sci-fi book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Scott had also approached Burroughs to buy his title Blade Runner for his movie.

It took at least a year to write the script to conform to the footage, which by the way was 60 minutes. I knew I needed 75 min. minimum for it to be a feature. So I built five minutes of dream sequences out of outtakes, including one where I threw the film in the air and put it together as it came down – cheating a lot.

I should mention that I was fairly regularly during this time, maybe once every one or two months, on acid, mushrooms, and baby woodrose seeds… this, added with all the experimental film I was seeing, and avant-garde and erotic and left wing and feminist political literature I was reading, kept my mind open to outré thematic and formal tropes… so, say, if a scene wasn’t working I could always run it upside down and backwards… Also by then I was thoroughly versed in MKUltra brainwashing, psychic warfare, so in that respect I think I was getting a lot of that independently from Burroughs, maybe from the same source he was getting it.

Then I wrote the opening scene and shot it… and started dubbing in dialogue. I forgot to mention Woody Allen’s Tiger Lilly as an influence. First I hired a lip reader to tell me what the characters were saying and many of them were speaking Welsh.

Huckabee finished his film. Now called Taking Tiger Mountain—the title lifted from a Chinese opera—it was released in 1983. The film was described as a “unique sensory experience.” Set the near future Taking Tiger Mountain follows Paxton as:

Billy Hampton, a Texan who [has] fled from occupied America to British island in order to avoid compulsory military service. Once there, he [is] abducted by a group of sophisticated feminist terrorists, who have been opposing the oldest profession [prostitution] legalization, creating assassins by brainwashing and then setting them on the prostitution camps leaders. (They also specialize in redirecting sexual orientation and sex change operations.)

At the start of the film:

[A] quartet of middle-aged women analyze Billy and persuade him to believe that an aging major is actually a tiger sent by God to kill him. That prologue is a combination of sequences with Huckabee’s signature and those from a short film that Smith and Paxton had been working on prior to their arrival to Wales. What follows could be described as a sporadically wet psychotropic nightmare, with hypnotic soundtrack composed of gloomy drones, overdubbed dialogues, confusing monologues and omnipresent radio announcements about the war [and its] aftermath and the use of thermonuclear weapons on the United States…

More ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
An unexpected William S. Burroughs/Beatles connection
01.16.2017
08:57 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Paul McCartney


 
We all know that author William S. Burroughs is one of the “people we like” on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album cover, but did you know that Burroughs was actually around when Paul McCartney composed “Eleanor Rigby”? Apparently so. Over the weekend, I noticed the following passage in the book With William Burroughs: A Report From the Bunker by Victor Bockris:

Burroughs: Ian met Paul McCartney and Paul put up the money for this flat which was at 34 Montagu Square… I saw Paul several times. The three of us talked about the possibilities of the tape recorder. He’d just come in and work on his “Eleanor Rigby.” Ian recorded his rehearsals. I saw the song taking shape. Once again, not knowing much about music, I could see that he knew what he was doing. He was very pleasant and very prepossessing. Nice-looking young man, hardworking.

The connection here was, no doubt, author Barry Miles. Miles started the Indica Bookshop in London with McCartney’s financial backing. Miles states in his book In the Sixties that Burroughs was a frequent visitor to the shop. When the Beatles started their experimental label Zapple, with Barry Miles at the helm, the idea was to release more avant garde fare, such as readings by American poets Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Brautigan and comedian Lenny Bruce. McCartney set up a small studio that was run by Burroughs’ ex-boyfriend, Ian Sommerville, who also lived there, and this is why Burroughs would have been around.

It’s always thought that John Lennon was the far-out Beatle, but it was in fact Macca who was the one obsessed by Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage and Morton Subotnick, not Lennon (he got there later, via Yoko).
 

The “Eleanor Rigby” section from ‘Yellow Submarine.’

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Website plays William S Burroughs reading random snippets from ‘Naked Lunch’ every time you refresh
12.21.2016
08:44 pm

Topics:
Books
Literature
Science/Tech

Tags:
William S. Burroughs


 
It’s axiomatic that William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch is one of the landmark accomplishments of 20th-century American literature. All the more striking its author’s commitment to stochasticity: He insisted that its 25 chapters could be read in any order. (A later Burroughs novel Dead Fingers Talk from 1963 took random bits from Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded and combined them into a new work with a semi-coherent plot.)

Possibly related was Burroughs’ disavowal of any fixed memory of composing the work. In his 1960 preface to the book, titled “Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness,” Burroughs wrote that “I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch.”

In a most Burroughs-ian gesture, this year a “single-serving” website calling itself 23Skidoo came into being, with the promise of supplying readers with “23 random paragraphs from Naked Lunch” every time the refresh button is activated. The reader is invited to take in the newly forged juxtapositions while the inimitably phlegmatic voice of Burroughs reads from the work.

Curiously, in keeping with the general air of experimental mindfuckery, the Burroughs audio never matches the passages reproduced on the page, at least as far as I could discern. I believe that there does not exist any recording of the full novel read aloud in Burroughs’ voice—sometime during the 1990s, Hal Willner and James Grauerholz persuaded Burroughs to record portions of the book. So that might explain the discrepancy—the visual texts draw from the entire novel, but there are limitations as to how much of the book can be presented in Burroughs’ voice, so no attempt was made to match them up.

At the top of the page one sees the instruction “the ticket explodes again each time you load the page.”

At any rate, a fun, bracing project, perfect for distracting oneself from the holiday bullshit, or indeed any form of bullshit. Enjoy.
 

 
via {feuilleton}
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Let Me Hang You’: William S. Burroughs reads the dirtiest parts of ‘Naked Lunch’

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
This web oracle cuts up text and audio of William S. Burroughs’ ‘Naked Lunch’


Collage by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, c. 1965 (via Print)
 
What’s that, friend? You say you’d like to consult the I Ching, but it doesn’t have enough erotic hangings, aftosa infections, hot shots, or horrible “schlupping” sounds to speak to your personal situation? Well, the internet might have fucked up a few other things you could name, but it’s “got your six” this time.

Every time you visit this page, it displays 23 randomly selected paragraphs from William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Press the “play” button at the top and you’ll also hear Burroughs read 23 randomly selected sentences from the novel. Here’s what the oracle just told me:

1 “Don’t look so frightened, young man. Just a professional joke. To say treatment is symptomatic means there is none, except to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. And that is precisely what we attempt to do in these cases.” Once again Carl felt the impact of that cold interest on his face. “That is to say reassurance when reassurance is necessary… and, of course, suitable outlets with other individuals of similar tendencies. No isolation is indicated… the condition is no more directly contagious than cancer. Cancer, my first love,” the doctor’s voice receded. He seemed actually to have gone away through an invisible door leaving his empty body sitting there at the desk.

2 “They say somebody pushed him.”

3 The boy shied. His street-boy face, torn with black scars of junk, retained a wild, broken innocence; shy animals peering out through grey arabesques of terror.

4 “‘Doc, she sure is a dry hole…. Well, thanks for the paregoric.

5 “Brilliant chap Schafer… but…”

6 “Jesus! These ID’s got no class to them.”

7 “And I say unto you, brothers and sisters of the Anti-Fluoride movement, we have this day struck such a blow for purity as will never call a retreat…. Out, I say, with the filthy foreign fluorides! We will sweep this fair land sweet and clean as a young boy’s tensed Hank. …I will now lead you in our theme song The Old Oaken Bucket.”

8 “We sure did. And you know those citizens were so loaded on that marijuana they all wig inna middle of the banquet…. Me, I just had bread and milk… ulcers you know.”

9 The Embassy would give no details other than place of burial in the American Cemetery….

10 CAMPUS OF INTERZONE UNIVERSITY

11 “Oh say do that Star Spangled Banner yet wave…”

12 The old junky has found a vein… blood blossoms in the dropper like a Chinese flower… he push home the heroin and the boy who jacked off fifty years ago shine immaculate through the ravaged flesh, fill the outhouse with the sweet nutty smell of young male lust….

13 “Know Marty Steel?” Diddle.

14 Marvie does buy himself a shot glass of beer, squeezing a blackened coin out of his fly onto the table. “Keep the change.” The waiter sweeps the coin into a dust pan, he spits on the table and walks away.

15 All streets of the City slope down between deepen-ing canyons to a vast, kidney-shaped plaza full of darkness. Walls of street and plaza are perforated by dwelling cubicles and cafes, some a few feet deep, others extending out of sight in a network of rooms and corridors.

16 He paces around the boy like an aroused tom cat.

17 “With that milk sugar shit? Junk is a one-way street. No U-turn. You can’t go back no more.”

18 “Just two seconds,” I said.

19 “So long flatfoot!” I yell, giving the fruit his B production. I look into the fruit’s eyes, take in the white teeth, the Florida tan, the two hundred dollar sharkskin suit, the button-down Brooks Brothers shirt and carrying The News as a prop. “Only thing I read is Little Abner.”

20 Pigs rush up and the Prof. pours buckets of pearls into a trough….

21 Hauser had been eating breakfast when the Lieutenant called: “I want you and your partner to pick up a man named Lee, William Lee, on your way downtown. He’s in the Hotel Lamprey. 103 just off B way.”

22 “And all them junkies sitting around in the lotus posture spitting on the ground and waiting on The Man.

23 More and more static at the Drug Store, mutterings of control like a telephone off the hook… Spent all day until 8 P.M. to score for two boxes of Eukodol….

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
William Burroughs: ‘When Did I Stop Wanting to Be President?’
11.08.2016
11:59 am

Topics:
Literature
Politics

Tags:
William S. Burroughs


 
The March 1975 edition of Harper’s featured an interesting essayistic gallery culled from the American populace to answer the question, “When Did You Stop Wanting to Be President?” The group of respondents included Theodore Sorensen (advisor to President Kennedy), George Romney (former governor of Michigan and father to Mitt), Kevin Phillips (author of The Emerging Republican Majority), and Eugene McCarthy (longtime Congressman from Minnesota).

But there were two writers in the group that merit special attention, in part because one can scarcely imagine them sharing the same editorial space: Ronald Reagan and William S. Burroughs!!!

At that moment Reagan was a year away from a failed attempt to wrest the Republican nomination from sitting president Gerald Ford and five years away from being elected president as a reactionary fuckwit.

Reagan uses his space to spout a lot of aw-shucks baloney about not wanting to be president (“I never started”), to throw out a few potshots at FDR and government in general, and to express confidence that public confidence in the presidency is likely to go up in the future (hasn’t happened).

For his part, Burroughs spins a funny alternate vision of himself as “Commissioner of Sewers” (as the item is sometimes known) of Los Alamos. Turned off by the notion of the president “pawing babies and spouting bullshit,” Burroughs engages in a reverie of being able to use his exalted position as an opportunity to engage in wide-ranging graft and shenanigans, including pressuring the sheriff “for some mary juana he has confiscated and he’d better play ball or I will route a sewer through his front yard.”

Eventually Burroughs (or his fictional stand-in) realizes that he’s “simply the wrong shape” for that kind of position, noting that plenty of his “plump” boyhood friends had gone on to pull down hefty salaries in similar roles.

You can read Burroughs’ original article in the pages of Harper’s (click on “Download PDF”) or you can read a slightly different version of it in the Google Books preview of Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader.

More amusing, though, is to hear Burroughs read it himself, as he does after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
William Burroughs: Scans of his porn mag articles

mayfair-academy.jpg
 
Humanity’s underrated. It’s one of my tenets. It’s easier to indulge the negative than give press to the creative, the good and the generous. The other day, my colleague Martin Schneider wrote a fine post on William S. Burroughs’ connection with Wilhelm Reich and his orgone box. By its source, Martin’s post reacquainted me with Burroughs writings for porn magazines in the 1960s and 1970s.

Years, ago I had a friend who owned two pristine copies of one these skin mags. He prized these editions not for any titillation but for Burroughs’ articles contained within. I recall one was on Scientology. The other I think was on space travel.

Martin’s link led to a cornucopia of Burroughsian materials. That one individual (Jed Birmingham) has spent so much time carefully sourcing and scanning Burroughs’s adult magazine work for others to read/access/download was another confirmation of humanity’s good points.

Before Graham Masterton was better known as an author of best-selling horror fiction, he was deputy editor of “gentleman’s entertainment magazine” Mayfair. Started in 1965, Mayfair was modeled on the hugely successful Playboy magazine. The canny Masterton wanted Mayfair to be a similar mix of quality writing, top notch interviews and classy erotica. One of the best things Masterton achieved with Mayfair was to commission William Burroughs to write for the magazine.

Masterton had corresponded with Burroughs from the time the Beat writer was living in Tangiers. When Burroughs relocated to London, Masterton visited him in his cramped attic apartment to enquire if he had anything suitable for the pages of Mayfair.

From this meeting in 1967, Burroughs contributed a regular column for Mayfair under the heading “The Burroughs Academy.” The gig allowed Burroughs to write about his personal preoccupations (Scientology, sexuality, mechanisms of media and political control) and test out various ideas (drugs/space travel) in the magazine’s pages between 1967 and 1969. It also supplied him with a steady income so he could write his novels.

Mayfair was primarily sold in the UK. It had a limited circulation which meant most of Burroughs’ fans missed out on his monthly bulletins. They were eventually gathered together in (an equally hard to obtain) edition Mayfair Academy Series More or Less.

But it’s thanks to Jed Birmingham over at the Reality Studios that we can read Burroughs’ articles (though by no means comprehensive) as they were originally published in magazines like Mayfair, Screw, Swank and Wildcat.

Below are scans from Wildcat that published an extract from Burroughs’ novel Junkie, plus an interview from Swank. There are also the first four Burroughs Academy articles and one short story from Mayfair. More can be viewed/downloaded here.
 
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More readable scans of Burroughs’ skin mag articles, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘My Life in Orgone Boxes’: William Burroughs on his sexual science experiments in OUI magazine, 1977


Burroughs contemplating an orgone box
 
As a contributor to this blog, I spend a lot of my time poking around looking for suitable subjects that might please and edify the DM readership. When I come across an item uniting William S. Burroughs, Wilhelm Reich, Jack Kerouac, orgasms, heroin, Jean Cocteau, and even tangentially Kurt Cobain that has not been written about all too much, I can be sure I’m in the ballpark of a good DM post.

In 1977 OUI magazine published an item by William S. Burroughs with the title “My Life in Orgone Boxes,” in which he explained that he built his first orgone accumulator in 1949 on the farm of a friend named Kells Elvins in Texas. Among other things, in the article Burroughs addresses Jack Kerouac’s fictionalized version of Burroughs’ device as presented in On the Road but insisted that the account was “pure fiction.”

That Burroughs used an orgone accumulator is (a) pretty well known, and (b) not very surprising, given who Burroughs was. But let’s back up a moment here. What is an orgone accumulator, anyway? (It’s sometimes called an orgone machine or an orgone box.) Reich was in the first wave of post-Freudian thinkers, and he attributed his discovery of “orgone energy”—that is to say, energy with the capacity to charge organic material (cellulose), unlike electromagnetic energy—physical manifestations of sexual energy—as occurring in January 1939, after working off of Freud’s theory of the libido.
 

One of the first experimental orgone accumulators. Note the stack of Reich/orgone publications propping the door open. Much larger version here.
 
Reich was sure that he had discovered the secret to manipulating and enhancing sexual experience by removing/satisfying electric blockages within human beings. Quoting from his book The Function of the Orgasm: Sex-Economic Problems of Biological Energy (The Discovery of the Orgone, Vol. 1):
 

The orgasm formula which directs sex-economic research is as follows: MECHANICAL TENSION —> BIOELECTRIC CHARGE —> BIOELECTRIC DISCHARGE —> MECHANICAL RELAXATION. It proved to be the formula of living functioning as such. … Research in the field of sexuality and bions opened a new approach to the problem of cancer and a number of other disturbances of vegetative life.

 
Check that out: “the formula of living functioning as such,” wow. Reich’s idea was that orgone energy was virtually everywhere and pointed to both the aurora borealis and the blue tint seen in sexually excited frogs as evidence. As he put it in The Function of the Orgasm, “‘Biological energy’ is atmospheric (cosmic) orgone energy.” Then:
 

The color of orgone energy is blue or blue-gray. In our laboratory, atmospheric orgone is accumulated or concentrated by means of an apparatus specifically constructed for this purpose. We succeeded in making it visible by arranging certain materials in a specific way. The blocking of the orgone’s kinetic energy is expressed as an increase in temperature. Its concentration or density is indicated on the static electroscope by the differences in the speed of the discharge. The spontaneous discharge or electroscopes in non-ionized air, a phenomenon designated as “natural leak” by physicists, is the effect of atmospheric orgone and has nothing to do with dampness. The orgone contains three kinds of rays: blue-gray, foglike vapors; deep blue-violet expanding and contracting dots of light; and white-yellow, rapidly moving rays of dots and streaks. The blue color of the sky and the blue-gray of atmospheric haze on hot summer days are direct reflections of the atmospheric orgone. The blue-gray, cloudlike Northern lights, the so-called St. Elmo’s fire, and the bluish formations recently observed in the sky by astronomers during increased sun-spot activity are also manifestations of orgone energy.

 
It was later realized that Reich’s device for enhancing sexual stimulation with electricity was more or less a modified Faraday cage.

As Burrough writes in the OUI article, in addition to the one he and Elvins built, Burroughs also made a smaller version, a “potent sexual tool” constructed “from an Army-style gas can.” Burroughs used the smaller tool inside the larger box, “held the little one over my joint and came right off.” Then, in an aside, Burroughs explains that Jean Cocteau used to ejaculate without using his hands as a kind of party trick. Some trick!
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Unseen video of the Micronotz, Kansas punk comrades of William S. Burroughs, a DM premiere


Randy “Biscuit” Turner’s cover art for the Micronotz’ third LP, The Beast That Devoured Itself
 
Last year, I posted about the Micronotz (originally named “The Mortal Micronotz”), a punk band from Lawrence, Kansas that released four albums and a live EP between 1982 and 1986, all out of print for yonks. Hoboken’s Bar/None Records has just digitally reissued the band’s entire catalog, and to celebrate, we’ve got previously unseen video of the Micronotz playing at Minneapolis’ First Avenue 31 years ago, to the day!

As you may know, William S. Burroughs was a punk sympathizer. He sent the Sex Pistols a telegram as a gesture of solidarity in ‘77, and when he moved to Lawrence in ‘81, he gave the local teenage punk band a song lyric he’d written. This nursery rhyme about a woman eating her children became “Old Lady Sloan,” a thrash tune on the debut The Mortal Micronotz. Years later, the author contributed to a Micronotz tribute album, doing his own interpretation of “Old Lady Sloan.”
 

 
The Micronotz’ early records have the anger and momentum of punk, and the melodies and chords are continuous with garage rock tradition (i.e., not Flipper). They played with everybody, or everybody who came reasonably close to Lawrence: X, REM, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, Suicidal Tendencies, TSOL, et al. They even opened for SPK at the mindhurting Lawrence show captured on The Last Attempt at Paradise. American Hardcore (the book) likens them to the ‘Mats:

TAD KEPLEY (Anarchist activist): The Micronotz from Lawrence were one of the original American Hardcore bands. They started playing in 1980, and broke up in 1986 after an album on Homestead. They never got the recognition they deserved. They were along the lines of the Replacements — and were equally as popular in the Midwest. They played Minneapolis all the time at First Ave/Seventh Street Entry, and they played Oz in Chicago. The first Micronotz record and EP could easily fall under Hardcore — the other bands back then certainly considered them to be Hardcore.

 
More Micronotz after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Let Me Hang You’: William S. Burroughs reads the dirtiest parts of ‘Naked Lunch’


 
In the mid-90s, at the request of his longtime collaborator producer Hal Willner and his manager James Grauerholz, William S. Burroughs recorded selected readings from his notorious novel Naked Lunch—some of the raunchiest and dirtiest parts of what was (and still is) a notably raunchy and dirty book—that were to be set to musical accompaniment.

Wilner brought in guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Wayne Horvitz and violist Eyvind Kang, but the project was eventually scrapped

The project was revived when Wilner was introduced to prolific weirdo garage rocker King Khan through Lou Reed, and he realized that Khan was well suited to put music behind Burroughs’ dry narration. Khan brought on Australian psych rockers band Frowning Clouds and M Lamar (who happens to be the identical twin brother of Orange Is The New Black‘s Laverne Cox) to help.

The resulting album Let Me Hang You will be the first full-length release on Khan’s new record label Khannibalism with the Ernest Jenning Record Co. It comes out this Friday and you can preorder it now. Listen to the full album below. Extremely NSFW.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Gus Van Sant’s early William S. Burroughs adaptation, ‘The Discipline of DE’
07.11.2016
12:25 pm

Topics:
Literature
Movies

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Gus Van Sant


 
In Drugstore Cowboy, Gus Van Sant’s breakthrough 1989 portrait of junky culture, the appearances of William S. Burroughs as the older addict Tom inevitably lent a dose of reality to the proceedings. That movie, however, was not Van Sant’s first encounter (so to speak) with Burroughs. A decade earlier, Van Sant directed a short movie called “The Discipline of DE” that was an adaptation of a Burroughs story of the same name.

“DE” here stands for “Doing Easy” and is synonymous with zen practice applied to everyday existence. In the short film (9 mins.), Van Sant respectfully stays very close to the source material. The story, which is from Burroughs’ 1973 collection Exterminator!, actually is scarcely a story at all, it is more like a brief guide to zen practice. Burroughs introduces the reader to a figure that combines traditional values and the methodical military approach to life, 65-year-old Col. Sutton-Smith. After a reverie in his past the Colonel “is jolted back to THE NOW” as the predictable rhythms of some dreary short story suddenly snaps to the crisp how-to imperative statements of a self-help manual. 

Midway through, Burroughs/Van Sant switches to the figure of “an American student” to illustrate the benefits of learning to stop fighting the seeming hostile intent of objects in our daily lives: “You will discover clumsy things you’ve been doing for years until you think that is just the way things are”—eventually you will attain “the final discipline of doing nothing.” The movie has something of the deadpan style of Jim Jarmusch, whose breakthrough feature Stranger Than Paradise came several years after this.

Van Sant’s mentor Ken Shapiro, who later directed the Chevy Chase vehicle Modern Problems, serves as the movie’s narrator—since much of the movie is excerpts from Burroughs’ story, that’s rather an important role in this instance.

In 1991 Van Sant told the magazine LA Style:
 

I believe the properly manipulated image can provoke an audience to the Burroughsian limit of riot, rampant sex, instantaneous death, even spontaneous combustion. ... The raw materials of inspiration include elements as primal and potentially frightening as violence, sex, and death—which have haunted us since we were reptiles slithering on the ground. Only in our dreams can we make the journey back through labyrinthine, DNA-encoded history to our fiery, barbaric origins. But the primitive world of blood and flame is still with us.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Photos relating to Brion Gysin & William Burroughs’ famous cut-up experiments available on eBay
06.15.2016
01:02 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Brion Gysin
cut-ups


 
In 1959, painter Brion Gysin, a close friend and collaborator of William S. Burroughs, discovered a montage technique that produced what he called “cut-ups.”

What happened was, Gysin needed to cut some papers with a razor blade and so placed layers of newspapers on the table in order to avoid scratching up the surface. When he looked at the patterns he had accidentally created in the newspapers, he noticed that the sliced-up text and images offered interesting juxtapositions. He soon produced a book called Minutes to Go with Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and the South African poet Sinclair Beiles that employed the concept.

Burroughs pushed the cut-up idea further, speculating that the technique could reveal the “true” meaning of a given text and flirting wth the notion that cut-ups could yield key information about the future, saying, “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.”
 

Brion Gysin
 
Recently, David Dawson put up a sale (not an auction) on the Irish version of eBay featuring “a group of 5 photographs related to the Cut-Ups.” In 1982 Dawson co-founded, with Roger Ely and Genesis P-Orridge, the Final Academy celebration of Burroughs’ work held over several days in London and Manchester, which included appearances by Burroughs, Gysin, John Giorno, and others.

The prints come from negatives in the archive of Anthony Balch, who among other things once filmed Burroughs purchasing a parrot, which led to Genesis P-Orridge finding the discarded footage after Balch’s death and then editing it for the Final Academy event mentioned above.

The lot costs £125 (about $175).
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
When Joy Division met William S. Burroughs


 
When you consider all of the famous and infamous people who William Burroughs met in his lifetime, maybe the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game should be adapted for the late Beat author. I’d have a “Burroughs” of one, as I met him (briefly) in Los Angeles in 1996 at his big art opening at LACMA.

At the Reality Studio blog, there’s a fascinating tale, told in great detail, about the time Joy Division shared the same stage with Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Cabaret Voltaire in Belgium. Ian Curtis was an avid reader and favored counterculture fare like J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Hermann Hesse. William Burroughs was one of his biggest heroes.

Joy Division was given its first opportunity to play outside the United Kingdom on 16 October 1979. That alone would have distinguished the gig for the band, but of special interest to Curtis and his mates was the fact that they would be opening for Burroughs. The avant-garde theater troupe Plan K, which had made a specialty of interpreting Burroughs’ work, were founding a performance space in a former sugar refinery in Brussels, Belgium. The opening was conceived as a multimedia spectacle. Films were to be screened — among others, Nicholas Roeg’s Performance (starring Mick Jagger) and Burroughs’ own experiments with Antony Balch. The Plan K theater troupe were to perform “23 Skidoo.” Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire were to give “rock” concerts. And Burroughs and Brion Gysin were to read from their recently published book, The Third Mind.

Before the evening’s events, Burroughs and Joy Division gave separate interviews to the culture magazine En Attendant. Graciously provided to RealityStudio by the interviewer and the organizer of the Plan K opening, Michel Duval, these have been translated from the French and are reproduced here for the first time since their publication in November 1979. You can read the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with Joy Division, as well as the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with William Burroughs.

After Burroughs’ reading brought the opening of Plan K to its climax, Curtis attempted to introduce himself to his literary idol. This meeting, like so many things about both Curtis and Burroughs, has already become legend — which is another way of saying that its factual basis may have receded into darkness. If you search around the internet, you’ll see sites describing the encounter in terms like this: “Unfortunately when Ian went up to talk to him the author told Ian to get lost.” And this: “Burroughs probably was tired and bored with the concerts and when Ian went up to talk with him the author told Ian to get lost. Ian got lost immediately, not a little hurt by the rebuff.” Chris Ott’s book Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures repeats the story, and Mark Johnson’s book An Ideal for Living asserts that Burroughs refused to speak to Curtis.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stained glass windows of Aleister Crowley, Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Cash, JG Ballard & many more


 
In 2010 and 2011 the English artist Neal Fox executed an utterly gorgeous series of stained-glass windows in imitation of the iconography of saints found in cathedrals all over Europe. The series included Johnny Cash, J.G. Ballard, Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Hofmann, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Serge Gainsbourg, Aleister Crowley, William S. Burroughs, Billie Holiday, and Francis Bacon.

Now, it’s perfectly possible that you will see these images and think, “Wow, those paintings in the stained-glass style are awesome.” So it’s important to emphasize that these are not paintings, Fox actually created the stained-glass windows themselves—in fact, he worked with traditional methods “at the renowned Franz Mayer of Munich manufacturer” in order to produce a dozen windows, each using leaded stained glass in a steel frame and standing 2.5 meters tall.

Put them all together in a room, as the Daniel Blau gallery in London did in 2011, and you have “an alternative church of alternative saints.” Here is what that room looked like:
 

 
The Daniel Blau show was called “Beware of the God.” Alongside the well-known provocateurs and trouble-makers like Crowley and Hawkins is a figure that might challenge even the most astute student of antiheroes, a man named John Watson. Far from the complacent invention of Arthur Conan Doyle, this John Watson is the artist’s grandfather, described by his loving grandson as a “hell raiser” and “a World War II bomber pilot, chat show host, writer and publisher, who in his post war years sought solace in Soho’s bohemian watering holes.”

Quoting the Daniel Blau exhibition notes:
 

As traditional church windows show the iconography of saints, through representations of events in their lives, instruments of martyrdom and iconic motifs, Fox plays with the symbolism of each character’s cult of personality; Albert Hoffman takes a psychedelic bicycle ride above the LSD molecule, J G Ballard dissects the world, surrounded by 20th Century imagery and the eroticism of the car crash, and Johnny Cash holds his inner demon in chains after a religious experience in Nickerjack cave.

 
You can order prints of some of these images for £150 each (about $214).
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The drugless turn-on: Own a Brion Gysin Dreamachine
03.25.2016
09:05 am

Topics:
Art
Drugs

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Brion Gysin
Dreamachine


 
Soleilmoon Recordings, the excellent Oregon label that is home to much of the Legendary Pink Dots’ catalog, announced yesterday that they’re accepting pre-orders for a run of Dreamachines. The Dreamachine, you’ll recall, is the flickering device invented by Brion Gysin that produces closed-eye hallucinations “on the natch.”

For handy people, there’s always the option of building your own, but for those of us who are all thumbs and won’t be scraping together £600 for a made-to-order aluminum model anytime soon, Soleilmoon’s Dreamachine is attractively priced at $130.
 

 
The complete package, which Andrew McKenzie of the Hafler Trio has been working on for ten years, includes a vinyl Dreamachine, McKenzie’s book about the device, and a DVD with 5.1 surround audio. Note that it does not include the turntable or the suspended light bulb:

The package released by Soleilmoon includes a fully functional Dreamachine, designed to Brion Gysin’s specifications, printed and die-cut on sturdy, flexible and long-lasting vinyl. It’s ready for use, right out of the box. Simply connect the overlapping velcro-lined edges, center the cylinder on an LP, lock it in place with a few pieces of sticky tape and then place it on a turntable, preferably one that can rotate at 78 RPM, although 45 RPM will work, too. Hang a lightbulb inside, then seat yourself near the rotating cyclinder, close your eyes and wait for the dreamstate to be induced.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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