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William S. Burroughs fronts Yellow Magic Orchestra, reprograms your mind
12.07.2017
09:29 am
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William S. Burroughs fronts Yellow Magic Orchestra, reprograms your mind


 
For 1993’s Technodon, Yellow Magic Orchestra acquired vocal tracks from cyberpunk novelist William Gibson, dolphin-dosing scientist John C. Lilly, and Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs.

Burroughs’ contribution to the album’s first song, “Be A Superman,” is a short vocal sample, structurally integral, information-poor. But on “I Tre Merli” (“The Three Blackbirds,” an image from a Wallace Stevens poem that points directly to Burroughs and Gysin’s “third mind”), Burroughs reads a few lines from The Job. His text comes from the book’s “DON’T HAVE TO THINK” section, which describes an exercise for “becoming oneself” through liberation from mental conditioning. According to this counterintuitive practice, you find your true self by pretending to be other people:

What I am here to learn is a new way of thinking. There are no lessons and no teachers. There are no books and no work to be done. I do almost nothing. The first step is to stop doing everything you “have to do.” Mock up a way of thinking you have to do. This is one exercise derived from Scientology we have all studied at one time or another. Exercise loosens the hold of enforced thinking and extends the range of don’t have to think.

Example: You have to run the things you are going to do today write letters call so-and-so take clothes to laundry see about getting the radiators fixed. You run these items ten times when once is already too much. So mock up a run of imaginary errands. Now mock up some thinking you don’t have to do. Select a person whose way of life is completely different from yours and mock up his thinking.

(Example: You have to mock up interviews or situations in which you play an effective role before imaginary audience. Well, mock some up. Now mock up some enforced thinking you don’t have to do, somebody else’s enforced thinking what Dutch Schultz the numbers racketeer had to think, what a hotel manager has to think what a poor Moroccan farmer has to think.)

 

Genesis P-Orridge models a YMO shirt on the back cover of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Greatest Hits’
 
A few paragraphs down, Burroughs provides a negative definition of this “new way of thinking”:

The new way of thinking has nothing to do with logical thought. It is no oceanic organismal subconscious body thinking. It is precisely delineated by what it is not. Not knowing what is and is not knowing we know not. Like a moving film the flow of thought seems to be continuous while actually the thoughts flow stop change and flow again. At the point where one flow stops there is a split-second hiatus. The new way of thinking grows in this hiatus between thoughts. I am watching the servants on the floor pointing to the map and not thinking anything about what I see at all. My mind moves in a series of blank factual stops without labels and without questions. The objects around me the bodies and minds of others are just there and I move between them without effort or comment. There is nothing to do here, no letters to answer no bills to pay no goals barriers or penalties. There are no considerations here that would force thinking into certain lines of structural or environmental necessities. The new way of thinking is the thinking you would do if you didn’t have to think about any of the things you ordinarily think about if you had no work to do nothing to be afraid of no plans to make. Any exercises to achieve this must themselves be set aside. It’s a way you would think if you didn’t have to think up a way of thinking you don’t have to do. We learn to stop words to see and touch words to move and use words like objects.

Too, lenticular printing in the Technodon booklet displays somewhat Burroughsian messages from Jenny Holzer when you view the pages through the textured cover of the jewel box:

SLIPPING INTO MADNESS IS GOOD FOR THE SAKE OF COMPARISON

MEN DON’T PROTECT YOU ANYMORE

PEOPLE WHO DON’T WORK WITH THEIR HANDS ARE PARASITES

WHAT URGE WILL SAVE US NOW THAT SEX WON’T?

MURDER HAS ITS SEXUAL SIDE

DEVIANTS ARE SACRIFICED TO INCREASE GROUP SOLIDARITY

LET YOUR HAND WANDER ON FLESH TO MAKE POSSIBILITY MULTIPLY

GO WHERE PEOPLE SLEEP AND SEE IF THEY’RE SAFE

YOU ARE TRAPPED ON THE EARTH SO YOU WILL EXPLODE

MUCH WAS DECIDED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN

Can’t argue with that last one.

“Be A Superman”:

“I Tre Merli”:

YMO plays ‘Technodon’ at Tokyo Dome, 1993, with WSB on the big screen:

Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.07.2017
09:29 am
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