TagWilliam S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs documentary from 1985

burroughs the movie

UBU Web is running the 1985 documentary Burroughs: The Movie for free. This should help tide you over until the new Burroughs documentary comes out.

The streaming version is no longer available, but the film makers are remastering the project

You can also check out William S. Burroughs: The Man Within and William S. Burroughs Commisioner of Sewers

(via Dangerous Minds)

Photographs of William S. Burroughs’ Stuff

william burroughs stuff

Photographer Peter Ross has been allowed to photograph William Burroughs’s stuff from a New York apartment he once lived in.

William Burroughs lived for many years in the former locker room of an 1880s YMCA, on the Bowery in New York City. The almost windowless space was known as The Bunker. When he died in 1997, his friend and mine, John Giorno, kept the apartment intact, with many of Burroughs’s possessions sitting as they were. Part of the space is now used for Buddhist teachings, and the apartment is a wonderful mix of Buddhist wall hangings and pillows and carpets and Burroughs’ personal furniture and collections.

The Morning News: William Burroughs’s Stuff

(via Kottke)

The surprising thing is that this place exists. He lived out his final days in Lawrence, KS. Did he also keep an apartment in NYC?

Update: A few more pics here (via Metafilter)

Excitement as Biological Neccessity

William S. Burroughs said:

Danger is a biological necessity for humans, just like sleep and dreams. If you face death, for that time you are immortal. For the Western middle classes, danger is a rarity and erupts only with a sudden, random shock. And yet we are in danger at all times, since our death exists. Is there a technique for confronting death without immediate physical danger? (quoted from Hashisheen: The End of Law)

But this is at least partially incorrect. Western middle classes, at least those of us in the United States, typically face physical danger multiple times per day. Driving is amongst the most dangerous activities in modern society – 114 people die in car crashes per day. Cars accidents deaths per year are more than double the number of murders per year. The average American spends 101 minutes driving each day. We confront death every day, and we barely even notice.

The dangers involved in driving are commonplace, boring. New dangers though – new dangers are exciting. Perhaps Michael Skinner was more correct when he said:

Geezerz need excitement
If their lives don’t provide them this they incite violence
Common sense simple common sense

Lost and the occult introduction: 23

lost numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42

There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the ABC television series Lost. Lost is sprinkled with references and allusions to the occult and esoteric secrets. Perhaps the most explicit reference is the use of the number 23. Since the release of the Jim Carrey movie,the significance of that number has become widely known.

But Lindelof and company started sprinkling the number throughout the first season, over 2 years before the movie. The number comes from Robert Anton Wilson, as Lindelof has confirmed at various times, including in this Entertainment Weekly interview:

My father was into the Illuminati and the number 23, so he was a big reader of Robert Anton Wilson. So there was some intentionality behind it, but we had no idea, no grand design behind the Numbers. But suddenly, the No. 1 question stopped being ”What is the Monster?” and went to being ”What do the Numbers mean?” This isn’t to say that the Numbers don’t mean anything. We just had no idea it had this potential to get totally out of control.

And also on this Maybe Logic Academy page, quoting from the Chicago Tribune:

But for Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of the ABC drama Lost, “It is a good lucky number. The first thing I do when I get to Las Vegas, every time I go, is I drop $50 on the number 23. It hasn’t hit yet, but one of these days…”

Lindelof has been fascinated by the 23 enigma since his childhood and has made the number part of the mysteries on Lost.Jack Shepard’s seat on doomed Oceanic Flight 815 was in Row 23. Twenty-three passengers from the tail section of the plane survived the crash. And the number is among Hurley’s winning lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 that end up bringing him and the other survivors bad luck.

Though Lindelof said the number 23 is often purposely used on Lost, he sometimes is just as surprised as some fans when it pops up. Conspiracy or coincidence? It’s a perfect illustration of the 23 enigma.

Who was Robert Anton Wilson? And why is the number 23 significant?

robert anton wilson

Robert Anton Wilson was an author who researched and wrote about, amongst many other things, the occult and secret societies. He is perhaps most famous for his Illuminatus novels and his non-fiction Cosmic Trigger series. I think any fan of Lost would especially enjoy reading the first Cosmic Trigger book, Wilson’s autobiographical detailing his “stranger than fiction” life.

One of Wilson’s fascinations was the number 23. He discovered it by way of two other writers: James Joyce and William S. Burroughs. Wilson claimed Joyce was fascinated by the date April 23: the day Shakespeare was born, and the day he died. Burroughs became obsessed with the number after the following bizarre incident:

In the early ’60’s in Tangiers, William Burroughs knew a certain “Captain Clark” who ran a ferry from Tangiers to Spain. One day, Clark said to Burroughs that he’d been running the ferry 23 years without an accident. That very day the ferry sank, killing Clark and everyone aboard. In the evening, Burroughs was thinking about this when he turned on the radio. The first newscast headlined the crash of an airline plane on the New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was listed as Flight 23.

Wilson, and later his readers, began compiling more and more 23 synchronicities. Here are a few from Fusion Anomoly:

W is the 23 letter of this alphabet. The symbol for that letter is two points down and three points up.

The human biorhythm cycle is generally 23 days. One measures a circle beginning anywhere.

It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.

The human body has 46 chromosomes, which are paired, in somatic cells. Generative cells have half this number, 23, which is the number of chromosomes each parents gives to human

23 Axioms in Euclid’s Geometry.

The Knights Templars had only 23 Grandmasters. Jacques de Molay was the 23rd and last of the Templar Grandmasters.

23 is the first prime number in which both digits are prime numbers and add up to another prime number.

There are many, many others. Here’s another lengthy list. And here’s a list to uses of 23 in the show.

And 23 is just scratching the surface. We’ll be looking at Lost’s references to the occult, secret societies, conspiracies, utopian engineering, mad science, underground culture, numerology, geomancy, alchemy and more. Keep watching this site, or subscribe by RSS, for more occult secrets!

Burroughs on Scientology

William S. Burroughs on Scientology:

In view of the fact that my articles and statements on Scientology may have influenced young people to associate themselves with the so called Church of Scientology, I feel an obligation to make my present views on the subject quite clear.

Some of the techniques are highly valuable and warrant further study and experimentation. The E Meter is a useful device … (many variations of this instrument are possible). On the other hand I am in flat disagreement with the organizational policy. No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought. Suppose Newton had founded a Church of Newtonian Physics and refused to show his formula to anyone who doubted the tenets of Newtonian Physics? All organizations create organizational necessities. It is precisely organizational necessities that have prevented Scientology from obtaining the serious consideration merited by the importance of Mr. Hubbard’s discoveries. Scientologists are not prepared to accept intelligent and sometimes critical evaluation. They demand unquestioning acceptance.

Mr. Hubbard’s overtly fascist utterances (China is the real threat to world peace, Scientology is protecting the home, the church, the family, decent morals … positively no wife swapping. It’s a dirty Communist trick … national boundaries, the concepts of RIGHT and WRONG against evil free thinking psychiatrist) can hardly recommend him to the militant students. Certainly it is time for the Scientologists to come out in plain English on one side or the other, if they expect the trust and support of young people. Which side are you on Hubbard, which side are you on?

Ali’s Smile: Naked Scientology by William S. Burroughs (PDF)

Correct Burroughs paranoid quote?

Dr. Menlo’s looking for the exact “A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on” William S. Burroughs quote. There are a few permutations of it on the web, and I’ve yet to find a single actual citation. Did he say it in an interview? Was it in one of his books?

Leave Doc a comment.

Update 2: The Cynics Lexicon (Google Books link) sources the sources the quote to Friends magazine as opposed to Friend. I’m guess it was this magazine.

Update: At last, a textual citation. Wikiquote lists the quote as “A paranoid man is a man who knows a little about what’s going on” and cites Friend magazine in 1970.

(Thanks to Joseph Matheny for the Wikiquote link!)

William S. Burroughs interview with Jimmy Page

jimmy page and william s. burroughs

WB: I was thinking of the concentration of mass energy that you get in a pop concert, and if that were, say, channeled in some magical way…a stairway too heaven…it could become quite actual.

JP: Yes, I know. One is so aware of the energies that you are going for, and you could so easily….I mean, for instance, the other night we played in the Philadelphia Spectrum, which really is a black hole as a concert hall….The security there is the most ugly of anywhere in the States. I saw this incident happen and I was almost physically sick. In fact, if I hadn’t been playing the guitar I was playing it would’ve been over somebody’s head. It was a double-neck, which is irreplaceable, really, unless you wait another nine months for them to make another one at Gibson’s.

Rock Magic: Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, And a search for the elusive stairway to heaven originally published in Crawdaddy Magazine, June 1975.

(via LVX23)

For more on Burroughs check out our dossier on him

Eyes Wide Shut: Genesis P Orridge on Brion Gysin

A Guardian article about Gysin by P Orridge

To me, Gysin was the source of the energy we associate with the most radical experiments of the Beats. He was the real source of the ideas; other people just applied them. That was a really important shift in my appreciation of the Beatnik phenomenon. From that moment I was hooked, fascinated and impressed by each layer of Gysin I discovered. As I peeled things away over the years, I was never disappointed. There was never an end to it. He was the only person I’ve met whom I would unquestioningly call a genius.

Guardian: Eyes wide shut

(via Disinfo)

Good William S. Burroughs Site

I hadn’t seen this Burroughs site before. Here’s an excerpt from Nova Express:

Fastest brains preserved forever – Only form of immortality open to the Insect People of Minraud – An intricate bureaucracy wired to the control brains directs all movement through telepathic misdirection and camouflage -The partisans make recordings ahead in time and leave the recordings to be picked up by control stations while they are free for a few seconds to organize underground activities – Largely the underground is made up of adventurers who intend to outthink and displace the history of Minraud – Purges are constant

Link

(via Dr. Menlo).

Black Magic Mind War

William S. Burroughs on high tech mind control:

Now anyone who has lived for any time in countries like Morocco where magic is widely practiced has probably seen a curse work. I have. However, the curses tend to be hit or miss, depending on the skill and power of the operator and the susceptibility of the victim. And that isn’t good enough for the CIA or similar organization: “Bring us the ones that work not sometimes but every time.” So what is the logical step forward? TO DEVISE MACHINES THAT CAN CONCENTRATE AND DIRECT PSYCHIC FORCE WITH PREDICTABLE EFFECTS. (See the chapter in the Iron Curtain book on PSYCHIC GENERATORS.) I suggest that what the CIA is or was working on at the top secret Nevada installation may be described as COMPUTERIZED black magic. If curse A doesn’t make it, Curse Program B automatically goes into operation and so on.

Black Magic Mind War

(via New World Disorder)

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